Post Thanksgiving Thoughts, 2006
1. Begin the meal by giving thanks. This year our Grace was extemporaneous, but here's a prayer I still recall from the Episcopal prayer book, which I chose at my Father's request when I was a teenager to use before dinner at our house:
"Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all Thy mercies; And make us mindful of the needs of others. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord; Amen."
2. Set a pretty table. Even though you have a cold, even though there are only five of you this year, even though Grandma's china needs to be hand washed and you are tempted to skip it this year... haul it out and make a fuss over the table setting anyway. Use a shimmery table cloth, light candles, use the funky gold and black mid-century tumblers with the celestial theme that you bought at the antique store, just because they are so dramatic, use the red cloth napkins because they are the only ones that sort of go with the gold cloth, heap a bunch of glimmery gold-bronze-champagne mini Christmas ornaments in a curvy crystal bowl... Because remember you eat with your eyes first, and that includes a sumptuous visual backdrop for the feast. And because everyone likes it!
3. Remember to order a fresh turkey in your desired size range well in advance of the holiday. Otherwise you will have to buy one that is too big for your roasting pan, (22 pounds), and is a tad inconvenient to handle, like I did this year, even though in actual fact we love turkey leftovers and we do in fact have a freezer.
4. Never trust those tables that estimate how long it will take your turkey to roast. Even though it is very big, it will NOT take you seven hours, or even five hours. In fact it is likely to be done a couple hours early.
5. If the turkey is done way too early, turn the oven down and don't panic. Just keep it warm. It was juicy and delicious anyway, and I had ample time to "carve" (and by this I mean carve with a knife and at times to rip to shreds with my bare hands) the beast.
6. It's true: According to Alton Brown, it is not necerssary to baste a turkey. Turkey skin is in fact waterproof, and repeatedly opening the oven only increases the cooking time (although I could have used a bit more time this year...)
7. I totally love my Polder Cooking Timer and Thermometer. Pure genius: I insert the probe into the roast, let the wire snake out the closed oven door to the digital display on my counter top. I set the target temperature (161 degrees for turkey) and compare it to the current internal temperature of the meat. When it reaches the target temperature, it beeps at me and I know it is done to my specification. How did I live without this thing in years past?
8. Maybe I really ought to try brining the next turkey before roasting. My friend Emmy tried it this year and says she'll never do it any other way again.
9. Dash on over to Simply Recipes for Elise's roundup of turkey leftover recipes! Yum.
10. It's time to get a decent stock pot. Mine is too small. Put it on The Wish List.
11. Turkey soup has curative, anti-cold properties. Time to cook up a hot batch for supper!