Archive for December 21, 2010

A Mad, Merry Dash to Christmas or a Frenzied, Fervid Rush to the Cash Register?

Like many of you, I am discouraged by the “commercial sprawl” that has ads for Christmas indulgences seeping into mid-October. Being a rebel at heart, I stubbed my toe more than once between October 21 and November 26th, racing for the remote to mute the yuletide-themed commercials insinuating themselves into my consciousness well before their time.

I’ll grant that winter weather is definitely with us. The second Saturday of this month arrived at 19° degrees (a virtual 5° with the 25-30 mile an hour winds) with a snowfall rate of 1-2” per hour that delivered an 18” accumulation by Sunday morning. But still, the premature storm of holiday spending whipped up by Madison Avenue has some strange effects, such as the neighbor’s plopping a Santa hat on his porch step jack-o-lantern and our local Garage Logician wishing everyone a Happy Hanaramakwansmas.

“You can slow down and find some peace,” I chant repetitively as I inhale (1-2-3-4), hold (1-2-3-4-5-6-7), and exhale (1-2-3-4) and start pulling gear out of the closet for my midday walk. Peering out the picture window onto the weird white winter wonderlandscape, my pup and I “wonder” whether we really want to leave the warmth of our cozy Kirknest to venture out into it.

“Even ye of the asbestos bladder cannot hold it for the next four months,” I remind my furry walking companion. So into cold-weather garb I stuff myself, giving new meaning to the phrase “the layered look.” Once wrapped in a quilted parka with my baseball cap on (for sun shielding), the hood from my sweater in use (for neck warmth), and my Dollar Store space alien sunglasses in place (for UV protection), I get a glimpse of the Unabomber staring back at me from our entryway mirror. I scare myself at this point, and I haven’t even encountered any neighborhood children yet.

 As I goose-step my way over snow-crusted walking paths, I mull over the holiday that has just whizzed past with so little fanfare, and decide to take back the holidays by revisiting Thanksgiving, making today’s subtitle Turkey Day Travails and Triumphs. With my helpful, downloaded “Countdown to Thanksgiving” checklist in hand, and after more years of cooking than I care to specify here, I thought I would have this feast down pat. Not so, perhaps because I will insist on trying out new recipes when I have twelve dinner guests sitting at my table. But there were some royal successes, too, so I will share both with you for your “helpful-and/or-amusing hints” file.

Not-So-Hot Ideas:

Basting a turkey with soy sauce, bourbon, and honey. This sounded to me like a luscious amalgam of several suggested approaches to getting that golden-glazed result we all strive for. Not so, as the soy sauce causes the skin to brown way too fast and you end up with turkey jerky instead of drumsticks and skin so dark it all has to be stripped and discarded – in spite of the foil tent. It also took me (and I am not taking literary license here) eight consecutive days of soaking and scraping and soaking and scouring to get the baked-on, caramelized honey off the bottom of my roasting pan.

My rescue plan was to reheat any slightly dry turkey meat in a hot bath of chicken broth, which does wonders to revive and moisten. I was ready to try this remedy on myself by the end of the day on 11/25. (more…)

December 21, 2010 at 3:54 am 2 comments

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