Healing sometimes comes in odd forms. Last weekend, I took what was a ‘baby step’ for me in getting back into barbecuing. It was also a chance to use up some of the ‘legacy’ frozen food in the freezer.
I’ve explained before that when my wife was so very sick, she would keep up on her physical therapy, improving to the point where she’d be ready to come up the two steps from the living room to the rest of the house and therefore be able to do cooking – which was one of her greatest passions.
She would be in such good spirits that she would then send me to the store that afternoon, to get this, and that, and this other… all special things for a special dinner the next day. But the next day would bring a significant setback; one that would keep her limited to the living room. And she would be so, for a soul-crushingly long time. And so, I would quietly put the special things for the special dinner into the freezer.
So, many of the special things in the freezer have an emotional connection because of this. Pulling out that turkey breast and deciding to cook it was a way to honour my grief and deal in a gentle way with the hurt; and I decided it was a way to also honour her, and her great passion for cooking.
Getting started: I defrosted the turkey breast in the fridge for a couple days, and it no longer felt hard (icy) in the center.
I have taken to keeping bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer; they’re a lot less likely to be wasted due to neglect this way. I learned the hard way from having to throw out all levels of monetary expense for fresh ingredients because of not being able to get them cooked before they turned to… slime.
I figured a 9 × 13 pan would be about right. Into this went a bag of frozen root vegetables, a bag of sliced mushrooms, a bag of sliced onions. I messed up and forgot to salt them, but things turned out surprisingly well anyway.
On top of this went the turkey breast. I didn’t do any special preparation, because the package instructions say to leave the mesh ON for cooking. And because it was my first time with anything like this. She always wanted to do these… Maybe next time, I’ll take that mesh off and give it a rubbing of ghee. (Butter will burn, ghee won’t.)
One quick grab shot as I’m getting ready to set the pan into the Camp Chef. I started with a cold barbecue because of all the frozen veg in the glass pan, and I was worried about the heat shock shattering the glass:
I set the Camp Chef for 230°, smoke level to 10 (max). Inserted a probe into the center, and connected that to my remote thermometer transmitter.
3-1/2 hours later, the internal temperature was about 135°. I turned up the heat to 350°, and left the smoke set to 10. I figured that if I continued to smoke at a low temperature, that it wouldn’t be done for another three hours or so. I wanted to get to bed at a reasonable hour…
Here we are with the internal temperature at a nice 165°, and if you look close, you can see wisps of steam rising from the veg in the bottom of the pan.
Everything turned out GREAT. The veg had a nice smoky flavour, the onions had caramelised nicely with a hint of smoke, and even the hard stuff like the carrots had a pleasant smoky thing going on.
The turkey turned out really moist and tender, and the only hard part was getting that darn mesh off it so I could cut it up. Made for a wonderful few dinners, and I hope I honoured my sweetheart in so doing.
And I got to do barbecuing once again. Finally. I’ll get to brag about it, and about how I learned from her, when I get to see her again. Looking forward so very much to that.
All that’s left is to express my gratitude in saying a quiet Grace in a quiet house; and to share a little with Thunder.