Thanksgiving   Leave a comment

I love Thanksgiving! There are other holidays that I like, but Thanksgiving is my favorite.

One, I love the fall colors associated with it. Decorating for thanksgiving is fun with its oranges, deep yellows and faded greens. Two, I like having a day when I treat my family to foods we don’t eat all that often.

I have a smack-awesome turkey recipe that is incredibly easy, complements of my dad, a professional chef. First, always start with a frozen turkey. That fresh turkey everybody insists upon could be several days old by the time it hits your table and that increases the risk of salmonella and degrades the flavor. A frozen turkey is factory frozen within an hour of butchering, which means that until you start thawing it, it’s not aging, growing germs, etc. It’s WAY fresher than a fresh turkey. After it thaws (in the refrigerator or – in my case, our barely above freezing arctic entryway — which takes about 36-48 hours depending on turkey size), rinse the turkey inside and out. DO NOT PUT STUFFING IN THE TURKEY. That’s just asking to get sick as uncooked turkey juices drip into the stuffing that, by virtue of being inside the turkey, will never get hot enough to cook the turkey juices. “Stuffing” should be prepared separately. You need a black enamel baking pan. No bags, no aluminum throwaway broiling pan. Trust me — the pan is worth the cost. Lining it with aluminum foil makes it easier to clean, but the flavor is not as good. Cooking is sometimes about trade offs. Put your bird in the pan. Grease the breast with shortening or butter (whatever you like best, but shortening doesn’t burn, which makes it my preference). Sprinkle salt on the breast and legs (don’t overdo this). Pat to assure it adheres.  Pour a quarter cup of liquid in the bottom of the pan (orange juice is my favorite, but chicken broth or water will do; my brother uses apple juice; my best friend uses white wine). Insert a meat thermometer in the inner thigh. DO NOT RELY ON THE POP UP BUTTON. These are unreliable. Put the lid on the pan. Place the pan in a 325 degree oven. Now you have to do math. The turkey needs to cook about 15 minutes for every half pound. My 22-pound turkey is set for 330 minutes (5 1/2 hours). Set a timer and forget about it. Go cook potatoes or play Monopoly. Don’t check on it, don’t baste it. Just let it cook. Every time you lift that lid, you let precious moisture escape from the turkey. Basting doesn’t reverse that process. Just leave it alone. The turkey won’t be quite done when the timer goes off. The meat thermometer will show you still have about 10 degrees to go.  Take the lid off, slide the pan back into the oven and walk away for about 20 minutes. The breast will brown up and the thermometer will read about five degrees below done. Put the pan somewhere the dog can’t reach. Put the lid back on the pan and get the rest of the meal done. The turkey will actually keep cooking and bring the temperature up to 180 degrees. If you pull the turkey out of the oven at 180 degrees, it will be overcooked by the time it actually stops cooking. I bump the heat to 350 now and slide in my rolls and supervise my son as he smashed potatoes and yams. My daughter also contribute (she inherited my dad’s flair for food). About 20 minutes later, my husband or I start slicing the turkey, which is so juicy sometimes the wings fall off when we pull it from the pan. You will also have a lot of pan drippings for gravy using this method.

So why do I like Thanksgiving besides knowing the secret to a no-fuss juicy turkey with a nice crackly brown breast?

Christmas has become so commercialized that it is hard to find the true meaning anymore. God left the glory of heaven to step into our filthy and mean world to become one of us and die for our sins, so that we don’t have to stand the consequences of our willful disobedience of Him and can one day join Him in heaven. We forget that, focus on the presents, the music, the decorations and the SHOPPING. Since the Christmas season now starts in the marketplace before Halloween, many of us are just glad its over come Boxing Day (and no, I’m not Canadian; I just appreciate the day). I do my Christmas shopping in September and October (better prices then and the stores are less frantic). Other than that, I don’t start Christmas until tomorrow — period, you can’t make me. Our family has a gratitude list we do every Thanksgiving. What are we grateful for? We raze each other if anyone cops out and says Thanksgiving dinner or our family without adding other more difficult to quantify gratitudes. For me, this year, I’m grateful I got fired from my long-time job this spring. It opened up new opportunities for me and yesterday, I ended my probationary period at a much better job. God had plans and He turned something bad into something good.

So today, folks, just pause and ask yourselves, “What am I grateful for?” Ask your family or friends. What does this accomplish?

In the mad dash for Christmas that starts tomorrow, you will probably be buying stuff nobody needs for people who may not even want it. You will rush around like a mad person, getting frustrated and overheated and you’ll really want to strangle Rudolph if you hear that song one more time. That’s an inevitable part of a commercialized Christmas. But if you’ve started the season with some thought about what in your life is worthwhile, it will all be a little easier and maybe on December 25, you’ll pause and think about the real reason for Christmas. For my family, that baby lying in a manger, already on the pathway to death for our sake, is the reason for Christmas and, somehow, listing what He’s done for us over the last year, helps us to hang onto that meaning as the rest of you rush around wishing Rudolph ill.

Posted November 22, 2012 by aurorawatcherak in Faith

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