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SQUARE PEG, ROUND HOLE
22 November 2012
I made the mistake of watching The Food Network over the weekend. I have long followed The Pioneer Woman's blog and was thrilled a year or so ago when the Food Network invited Ree Drummond to do a show--and then gave her her own series. She is likeable, engaging, has great food and cute kids and a lovely basset hound.
The show I watched was her preparation for a Thanksgiving feast, which included brining a turkey. I have long heard about brining turkeys, but have never tried it. Drummond made it look so easy and raved about what a huge difference it made in the turkey.
I decided that this would be the year I would brine a turkey.
The first thing I needed was a brining bag, like a huge zip-lock bag which would hold a 20 lb turkey and 2-3 gallons of liquid. Could I find one locally? Of course not. Our local hardware store, the week before Thanksgiving, had NO bags and had only one on order, which would not arrive until after Thanksgiving. Amazon had them, but I couldn't get one in time. (If the brining turns out to be wonderful, I will order ahead for next year)
Well, I would improvise. I would just put my turkey in a garbage bag. Problem solved.
To make the brine, you bring all the ingredients (apple juice, water, spices, orange peel and fresh thyme) to a boil and then let it sit until it cools. Sounds easy. But it calls fr 3 cups of apple juice and 2 gallons of water. I tried three different big pots before I discovered that I had nothing large enough to hold that amount of liquid. I would have to reduce the water to 1-1/2 gallons.
I did that, brought it all to a boil and then let it steep until cool. Hours and hours and hours before it cooled. In fact, I ended up putting it in a bath of cool water and then a different pot. It took about 4 hours before it was slightly warm, not cool. But I finally decided to go ahead and pour it over the turkey anyway.
I had thought of using a small garbage bag, but that size would hardly hold a chicken, much less a 20 lb turkey, so I figured I'd use our regular size garbage bag. But when I got out the bag and opened it, I was hit with a blast of perfume...I had forgotten these were bags designed to cover any offending odor of garbage.
OK. What to use. What to use. I thought maybe the turkey would fit in the pot that now held the brining liquid, but obviously that wasn't going to work.
I went looking for any container I might have that would be large enough (what kind of equipment does that Drummond woman have anyway??)
I remembered the trash bags in the garage so decided to use one of those. Those will hold a small tree, so I was sure I could fit a 20 lb turkey in one. Walt was supposed to be going to the opera, but fortunately he had not left yet, since getting this set up was definitely a two person job. He must have asked me 6 times if the thing might possibly leak. I confidently told him no. (So far so good, but I'm having nightmares of going out into the kitchen and finding a big pool in front of the refrigerator)
The problem is that the bag is so big that I don't know if any brine is coming in contact with the turkey at alll, since it all seems to have collected along the side instead of around the turkey--but I can't see through the black bag. I'm supposed to turn the turkey half way through the brining process, but I think I'm just going to leave it alone. Maybe we'll just have a half-brined turkey.
Walt left for San Francisco and was gone about 5 minutes before I spied a plastic container in the family room that looked like it would have been the perfect thing to use for the turkey, but I wasn't going to try to empty that and refill with turkey in brine all by myself.
After the angst and confusion, I was ready for a nap and had just settled into my chair and was drifting off to sleep, when I got a phone call from someone who didn't like one of the three reviews I had written this weekend and was calling to explain reasons for all the "bad" things I had said. This pissed me off royally because I went out of my way to say as many good things as I could about the production, and even wrote that some of the things I didn't like might not have been the result of director choices, but of the script. I also didn't mention the people in the cast who were terribly miscast and should not have been playing the roles they were playing because this is not a professional theater and I was trying to be positive.
I was so angry after the phone call that I couldn't get back to sleep. I was ready to quit reviewing shows all together because I'm so sick of trying to be supportive and then being taken to task for it.
Then Sheila started barking and barking and barking and is now locked in the house.
I bought a Dungeness crab to have for dinner tonight. I think that was appropriate, because I certainly am feeing crabby after my fight with the turkey and the phone call and the barking dog. Maybe a crab will sweeten my disposition in time to give thanks for all the good things in my life.
Update 5 p.m.
Obviously I had to do something. I decided I could move the trash bag into the plastic container (which I confirmed would fit in the fridge. I did. It fit.
The turkey is now brining in the proper position, I don't have to
worry about leaks any more and maybe this will all turn out ok after all.
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