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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 05:27 pm:   

I'm cooking spaghetti right now. Later on this week I expect to be baking a sweet potato pie. I hope to be making dressing, because no one among my in-laws can make dressing.

And then on Saturday we're eating out with my parents.

I am thankful.
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ccfinlay
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 05:43 pm:   

Holy cow, I love good sweet potato pie. It's so much better than pumpkin pie. But my plaints on this account have been falling on deaf ears for years.
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 06:30 pm:   

I've never made one before.

And then because #1 Daughter doesn't like pie, I"m going to find some sort of recipe for a pumpkin cake.
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Marian Powell
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 08:49 pm:   

Or pumpkin mousse???
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Marian Powell
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 08:56 pm:   

And ccfinlay, how come if you want a sweet potato pie you don't cook it???
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 09:29 pm:   

Good point, Marian.
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Clint Harris
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 10:40 pm:   

We're making "drunkey" this year. That's a turkey cooked in about four ounces of gran marnier and a pint of orange juice with some orange slices and twigs and sprigs thrown in for taste.

The concoction makes a great screwdriver to get the morning going for a long cooking holiday. That is without the rosemary and thyme. Drink first, add spices to the turkey, not your cup. Enjoy a tender, orange-tangy turkey about four hours later.
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John Kratman
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 03:51 am:   

Clint,

Got room for one more? My mother-in-law's turkey is so dry if I buried a slice of it in my back yard it would turn Northern Rhode Island into Arrakis.
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Clint Harris
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 07:38 am:   

LOL! Don't forget the gravy, John. It will allow you to fold space with your mind.
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Lee S.
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 08:06 am:   

"We have Folded Space from Icks. We seek sustenance at your table."
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John Kratman
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 10:06 am:   

The gravy must flow...
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Alex Boomer
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 10:19 pm:   

No one here gets too excited about Pumpkin pie anymore. My famous apple pie recipe has been usurped by my GF's son. I refuse to admit that it's any better; but he loves making them.

My kids insist on my Lemon Merengue, improved from my mother's improvements.

The recipe isn't important. Here are the Key elements:

* Must be fresh squeezed lemon juice. (which tastes really good and not too tart because:-)
*Use two to three times the amount of lemon juice called in the original recipe, (1/2 to 3/4 cup), no water, a touch more corn starch to make sure it thickens.
* No less than 4 egg whites for a nine inch pie. Pile the merangue high!


And here's the kicker:
**** Graham cracker crust. Crumble one block of graham crackers, chop in: half a cube of butter, third cup brown sugar, hint of cinnamon. form it into the pie plate. No need to precook the crust.
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Marian Powell
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 02:07 pm:   

Only a hint of cinnamon? That's blasphemy!
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Alex Boomer
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 05:17 pm:   

Heaps of cinnamon to taste };-}
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Sam Hidaka
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 11:47 pm:   

My mother-in-law's turkey is so dry ...


Okay . . .

There are two things to do to avoid dry turkey.


1) Brine the turkey before cooking.

This should be done for turkey, regardless of cooking method.

Brining will keep the meat moist, and also tenderizes the meat.


Immerse the turkey overnight in a brine solution. The brine should consist of one cup of kosher salt and a half-cup of sugar per gallon of liquid. (You can toss in a some whole cloves, and a small handful of whole peppercorns -- but that's optional.)

If you don't have kosher salt, you can use table salt (though if you do, un-iodized salt is preferred -- iodized salt is healthy, but tastes medicine-y). If you use table salt, you need slightly less than a cup per gallon (table salt has smaller granules than kosher salt, so you get more when measure by volume), but there's no problem with having too much salt.

Any type of sugar is fine. I prefer unrefined sugar (I generally use Splenda for my sugar needs, but for this, you need real sugar). Processed white sugar, brown sugar, or honey is fine.

The important ingredient is the salt. All the sugar does is add balance, so the turkey doesn't end up tasting salty. The turkey will absorb a very small amount of the salt in the brine, so if anyone is on a low-sodium diet . . . uh . . . don't tell them. (Anyone on a low-sodium diet shouldn't be eating a traditional turkey dinner, anyway.)

For the liquid, water is fine. Using apple cider imparts a pleasant flavor to the turkey, but if you end up needing five gallons of brine, using cider can cost you $20 or so -- whereas tap water is free, and the amount of salt and sugar used costs nickels and dimes.


Find out how much brine you need before making it.

Use the smallest stockpot large enough to hold the entire turkey. (Depending on the size of the turkey, it'll probably be the largest stockpot owned by anyone in your extended family.) If you're cooking a birdzilla-sized turkey, you may need to use an ice chest.

Put the turkey in the container, and then pour tap water over the turkey. Measure the amount of water you need to completely submerge the turkey -- that's how much brine you'll need.

Make the amount of brine you need. Just pour the liquid, salt, and sugar into the stockpot (or ice chest) and mix until the salt and sugar dissolves.

Then put the turkey in the brine, and leave it over night.


When ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse, and dry.

If you don't brine, you would need to season the turkey liberally with salt and fresh ground pepper. But because of the brine, you don't need additional salt -- just plenty of freshly ground pepper.


2) Cook the turkey quickly in high heat.

The traditional method of cooking the turkey all day at 350 degrees is simply wrong. It pretty much guarantees a dry turkey. (The 350-degree method goes back to the Pilgrims, who didn't have ovens that could heat to higher temperatures.)

Cook the turkey un-stuffed, at 500 degrees for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours (it'll be a bit longer for a bird-zilla).

This will get the turkey fully cooked before it has a chance to get dry.

Stuffing that's cooked in the turkey tastes good. But by the time you pour gravy on it, you won't be able to tell the difference. And a stuffed turkey takes so long to cook that by the time it cooks through, the outer portions are leathery.


Before putting the turkey in the oven, slather it with room-temperature butter (use your hands -- go ahead, get messy). I prefer to mix a handful of fresh sage, minced, in one stick of room-temp butter, and then slather that on.

For the first hour, baste the turkey every 30 minutes. For the second hour, baste it every 20 minutes. After the second hour, baste it every 10 minutes.

Baste thoroughly -- but do it as quickly as possible, to prevent the oven temperature from dropping too much while you have the oven door open.


Cooking a turkey in high heat, and basting often, will yield a moist turkey.


When cooking at 500 degrees, the turkey will get fully browned in about 2 hours. If it's not cooked through yet, tent the turkey with aluminum foil, to prevent blackening.


You can tell that the turkey is fully cooked by the looseness of the hip joints.

Before cooking, grab the drumstick by the foot end, and feel how tight the hip joint is.

After cooking for 2 1/2 hours, and at every subsequent 10-minute basting period, feel the tightness of the hip joint. When it feels like you could pull the thigh from the body, it's fully cooked.

Take the turkey out of the oven, and let it rest for 20 - 30 minutes. If you carve a turkey that's just out of the oven, the juices will run -- adding to dryness. Letting the turkey rest will allow the meat to re-absorb the juices, for moister meat.


Additional tips.

Place a wire rack in the roasting pan -- and put the turkey on the rack, instead of directly in the roasting pan. (If you don't elevate the turkey, it'll be swimming in the drippings -- which will braise the turkey instead of roasting it. Braising is a perfectly good cooking technique, but it's not what you want to do with your Thanksgiving turkey.)

Also, I prefer to elevate the rack high enough that the entire turkey sits above the sides of the roasting pan -- to ensure that the underside gets evenly cooked. I use balls of crumpled aluminum foil under the corners of the rack.


Your oven probably has two cooking racks. Take one rack out, and put the remaining on at the lowest level. This will give you the maximum room to stick your hand in to baste.


Pour a cup or two of water in the roasting pan before you start cooking. This will keep the initial drippings from burning. (And this is an additional reason to elevate the rack.)


Don't discard the pan drippings. The pan drippings, some flour, and some seasoned salt are the primary ingredients of really good gravy. (It's really easy to make gravy that's a zillion times better than anything that comes out of a jar or can.)
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Fabrice Doublet
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 07:13 am:   

Happy thanksgiving to all of you.
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Marian Powell
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 08:21 am:   

Thank you, Fabrice. Does France have anything equivalent to Thanksgiving (really it's just a modern version of a harvest festival)
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Fabrice Doublet
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 09:15 am:   

No, no equivalent. Businesses tried to implant Halloween in France. Without much success so far.
Perhaps they should give Thanksgiving a try.

But turkey is often one of the Christmas delicacies.
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John Kratman
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 12:03 pm:   

Thanks, Sam.

Do you have any instructions for disarming a belligerent mother-in-law? :-)
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Clint Harris
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 12:31 pm:   

Vodka, John. Lotsa lotsha vodka...*hic*

What works for me is to throw the kids at 'em and sneak off with my wife to watch a movie at the theatre. It's a win-win!
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David Marshall
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 01:30 pm:   

Happy Thanksgiving to all.
And may all your turkeys be on the table, not on the page. :-):-)
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Ruth J. Burroughs
Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 09:18 pm:   

Follow these instructions at your own risk.

Do not follow these instructions if you're stuffing the bird.

Lazy gal's cooking method:

If the turkey is still frozen after trying to thaw it, melting it with hot water, and taking a hammer and chisel to it, and you still can't get the gizzard bag out, cook it out. This is dangerous, and probably not good for your health, especially if the bag is plastic. (don't forget to check it soon after, repeatedly, or you'll ruin the turkey) But once it's warm enough the bag comes out easily.

Once the turkey is properly thawed, just add some water to the bottom of the roasting pan and salt to taste, then cover the bird with aluminum foil or cover. Bake at around 450% until done. Depends on your oven. Gas, electric, etc.. How to know when it's done. Take it out after an hour or two and stick a kife in the thigh. If you see blood, it's not done.

Seriously;o)

Happy Thanksgiving!
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T. L. E.
Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2007 - 05:57 am:   

Mmmm, we're having roast beef and dumplings at a neighbor's nearby farm. We'll have turkey for xmas.
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2007 - 07:30 pm:   

*sigh*

I will make up for this to myself at Christmas time.
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Marian Powell
Posted on Friday, November 23, 2007 - 10:15 am:   

Anyone have an usual Thanksgiving? I had a normal, satisfying feast with friends but I heard about something odd. Instead of turkey, one of the guests described a central "bird" called, I think, a "turducken". You stuff a chicken, put it inside a duck and put the chicken stuffed duck inside a turkey. Then you cook it at 200 degrees for 12 hours. She said it was absolutely delicious. I'm just sort of stunned.


Sam, thanks for the detailed recipe. I hope I never need it. I have devoted a part of my life each November to not being the one who cooks the turkey.
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Alex Boomer
Posted on Friday, November 23, 2007 - 12:28 pm:   

I once stuffed a turkey with a stuffed Pheasant. Most Excellent!

Fortunately no one has threatened me with a Tofu Turkey Lately.

Hmmm..... Don't LOOK like a Turkey, Don't SMELL like a turkey, don't TASTE like a Turkey.

That thing is not a turkey! You know... some people just shouldn't even try to eat together.
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Friday, November 23, 2007 - 09:31 pm:   

I may try to have a Turducken roll for either this Christmas or next year.
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Ruth J. Burroughs
Posted on Sunday, November 25, 2007 - 10:02 pm:   

I just baked some butternut squash last night. I put it in some peanut butter drop cookies but the first batch burned because I followed the directions.

I tried the rest of the batch on the top grill and put the oven down to 250 instead of 375. The choc. chip and the rest of the peanut butter cookies baked well.

My oven is old and small so I'm not sure I could try Sam's recipe but a good friend said he just had it that way over Thanksgiving and it was really good.

Mine did end up greasy on the bottom of the pan but it was a Plainville and it came out really moist and tasty. Plus it wasn't frozen and the legs weren't handcuffed together with that "impossible to get off" piece of metal.

Marian, that turducken sounds interesting but it might be too greasy for some people's tastes. I like duck myself.
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 04:29 am:   

Well, my Thanksgiving day was rotten, foodwise. My in-laws do not understand food. They cook for the lowest common denominator. Experimentatoin? Hell no. Spices or exotic ingredients (like, to them giblets would qualify as exotic)? Unheard of.

On the other hand, my parents took us ot to a fantastic German restaurant Saturday night. Best food I've had at a restaurant all year.
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Marian Powell
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 07:19 am:   

Are your inlaws from the Midwest, perchance? I ask because I was an adult and away from home before I learned that spinach was anything other than a limp pile of overcooked seaweed and liver anything but a piece of leather. And I once met someone who thought the way to cook artichoke was to boil it until the entire head was tender.

I think it was Jean Kerr, the humorist, who wrote how here mother-in-law had never heard of corn on the cob so she cooked it five hours until the cobs were tender!

Of course, I'm the one who, as a child on myfirst visit to a Chinese restaurant, started to eat my cloth napkin thinking it was an eggroll! :-)
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Alex
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 11:02 am:   

GF is thirty years out of Montana, and usually a great cook; but once in a while something comes out like Momma used to make. Ooph. Prepare for a monument to blandness.

The Midwest has no monopoly on awful cooking. My ex' mother from Mass. is the only person I know who can make fresh-picked vegetables taste like they came out of a can. Boil 'em to death in a vat of water, for half an hour, until they turn into a nasty tasting, pulpy paste.

I suspect that gawdawful preparation of vegetables is a somewhat generational phenomenom. Year-round access to fresh vegetables, shipped from all over the planet, is a quite new-fangled concept. Our parents were browbeaten into "learning to like" (or else) pasty goo out of a can; because there was little alternative in the dead of winter.

It's no wonder that kids traditionally hate vegetables. My kids love vegetables, because no one ever tried to cram canned spinach down their throats.
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GSH
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 12:32 pm:   

Hmm... In defense of the Midwest: My late grannie could put out a spread of traditional Indiana country cooking that would rival almost anything. Of course you had to set aside any thoughts about the condition of your arteries when you sat down at her table. On the other hand, she lived past ninety-nine, and was able to juggle ten-pound iron skillets for most of those years. She once told me that her bread, rolls, biscuits, and cornbread had never been quite the same since she lost her wood stove.
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GSH
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 01:01 pm:   

How often, BTW, does the topic of cuisine turn up in science fiction and fantasy?

Gene Wolfe gave some thought to cooking in Memorare. (F&SF, April 2007) I remember Commander Riker wolfing down a tasty bowl of live grubs in one or another episode of Star Trek. Generally speaking, though, dietary matters just don't get all that much attention. (Unless, of course, human protagonists are on the menu.) Maybe it's only that such details don't stick to the ribs of my memory?
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Alex
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 02:34 pm:   

Hmmm.... Now that you mention it, most spacefaring adventurers tend to sqeeze something nameless out of some kind of "bulb" and call it good.

Fantasy heroes shoot arrows at whatever critterss are handy and toast bits over a fire on a stick.

Nicolas van Rijn was fond of fine dining.

Hobbits, of course.
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GSH
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 03:42 pm:   

Interesting cookbooks! Both of the McCaffrey cookbooks appear to be serious, without exotic ingredients requiring time travel or FTL grocery delivery systems. The Karl Würf volume might have more limited usage--say, if you found yourself adrift at sea, or a member of some modern day Donner Party.

Yep, hobbits were serious chow hounds. Little folk burn calories quicker. It's a matter of greater surface area at reduced sizes and a higher rate of heat loss. Sam told us all about preparing rabbits.

What goes in, of course, must eventually come out. Which leads us to wonder if Hobbiton had flush toilets or was dotted with rustic outhouses. And what about the elves? Very decorous folk in all matters. Were there flush toilets high up in trees? Or did they call out a warning in their melodious voices before tipping a chamber pot over the rail? Such mysteries will probably never be resolved.
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Lee S.
Posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 04:43 pm:   

Elvish, like French, makes even the most mundane comments sound as if they were a spoken treatise on the beautiousness of lillies as they sway and wave in a gentle sun-kissed wind....

"Lookout below!" seems so much less crass when rendered into the immortal tongue of the Firstborn.

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