Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving preparations

The last week of November is here, and that means it is time for the Thanksgiving holiday. I never had a big deal with this holiday growing up, although it was by no means traumatic or anything silly like that, just not much to-do about it. Having a good meal with immediate family was how we celebrated, as well as watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV that morning. I know Chris is used to much larger family gatherings, but we have only attended one Thanksgiving together with his family (that I recall) due to the distance between us. Instead, we have a nice dinner here in Seattle, and invite any friends who care to join us, especially those with no other plans or nowhere else to go. I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner in 2001 with the help of my mother, and I've done it alone every year since with various contributions from Chris and other dinner guests. Strangely enough, I actually like cooking this big dinner once a year and even have a spreadsheet set up with cooking times and a schedule, so that everything is ready on-time for dinner.

2008 Thanksgiving Menu
Herb/Oil Roasted Turkey
Bacon Wrapped Turkey
Pan-Baked Herb Stuffing
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
Buttermilk Rolls
Deviled Eggs
Mixed Greens with Carrots and Heirloom Tomatoes
Gluten-Free Cornbread
Pumpkin Pie (one GF, one regular)
Chocolate Pie
Homemade Vanilla Whipped Cream

Our friends Ben and Deb will be joining us, and they will be bringing an additional vegetable side dish of some sort. Chris and I are perfectly happy to have potatoes, meat, and bread, so it is good for us to have someone who actually wants a real vegetable on the table.

This afternoon I did all of my shopping, as the only things on-hand already were the two bone-in turkey breasts that Ben had brought me. I stopped by the Pike Place Market to get the herbs, potatoes, and vegetables; by Whole Foods for the bacon, eggs, cream, butter, tomatoes, and buttermilk; and by QFC for the pumpkin, evaporated milk, stuffing mix, and shortening. I also stopped by Three Dog Bakery to pick up four Thanksgiving Beast Feasts for our pack, as they love having them every year and the proceeds go to support animal charities.

So far I have made the pumpkin pies (one in a GF crust, one in a regular crust, and four single-serve glass bowls), chocolate pies (two in regular crusts), boiled the eggs, made the roll dough, and made two types of brine for the turkey breasts. I'm quite pleased with the brines that I came up with, and I hope they turn out as well as I expect. Each brine was made in a large pot on the stove, warmed until everything was dissolved and mixed thoroughly.

Savoury Brine
3 cartons organic vegetable broth
5 whole garlic cloves
whole allspice
whole peppercorns
minced toasted onion
1 1/2 cups kosher salt

Sweet Brine
1/2 gallon apple cider
maple syrup
whole allspice
one cinnamon stick
3/4 cup kosher salt

The larger of the two turkey breasts is in the savoury brine and will be roasted with herbs and oil, the smaller is in the sweet brine and will be wrapped in bacon and roasted.

Finally, I made the roll dough based on the Seattle Times recipe that Christy found last week and made for our book club. We decided that the recipe needed to be modified slightly, so I used 3/4 cup shortening and 1/4 cup unsalted butter, and added an extra teaspoon of salt. The dough tasted really great when I was done, even better than last weeks' batch, and I'm hoping the rolls come out just as well.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving!

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