Real thanks-giving: A post celebrating cooking

Our dinner turned out so very well that I have to get this written down.

The story begins when we were due to take our trailer up to the other end of the state to a ‘trailer park’ to be with family, but sometimes … things happen.

The good news is that my wife wanted to do real cooking (hooray!) for the first time since hurting her back in that accident, some 19 months ago, so we put together a Thanksgiving Celebration for just the two of us.

As I have mentioned before, she has congestive heart failure; so for this special meal we customized everything for her low-salt-diet.

We started with a fresh turkey. She wanted to “do it” the old-fashioned way. Meanwhile, we’d seen an episode of Cook’s Country that showed Julia Collin Davison starting the turkey in the oven with the breast side down. And THAT was a great idea.

(Now it’s right here that I’m calling out Cook’s Country: My wife has a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated, but she simply cannot get into the website no matter how hard she tried.) So we were limited to what we remembered from a recent episode – or one recently played on our PBS station, which means they can be from any time whatsoever.

So we started by giving the bird a coat of olive oil and rubbing it with Stephanie Izard’s Rub #1, (which I’ve mentioned before, but here’s a link), we stuffed the cavity with aromatics like onions, garlic, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

We covered a V-rack in our roasting pan with foil, and poked holes in it so the juices would drip through. The foil keeps the breast from cooking too fast while it’s on the bottom.

We started it at 400° (again breast side down); then after 40 minutes, we pulled it out and turned it breast-up. Now that sounds simple, right? After trying a couple different things, I resorted to a pair of clean potholders and just grabbed the turkey by the ends to flip it over. Success!

Then we turned the oven temperature down to 350°. Two hours later, I checked the temperature in the breast. Good thing I did!! It was just a shade overdone at 170° and the thighs were also a shade overdone at 190°- time to remove it, cover it, and put the dressing in the oven…

What about browning when cooking like this? The bird came out nicely browned, but not that deep mahogany – which some folks like – but it was nice and moist for us; and most important, it was perfectly cooked.

We didn’t do a lot of side dishes because it is just us, but I did make two pies: pumpkin (of course) and a lower-sugar pecan pie.

I’m kind of proud of that pecan pie: It’s just using the recipe on the Karo bottle, but cutting back the white sugar by almost half, and adding a good pinch of salt – which the recipe doesn’t call for. The result is still sweet, but not like the original that will give you a catch in your throat.

Of course we had a couple glasses of a nice wine with it – I pulled out the last of the bottles from a trip to the Eastern Washington wine country from a few years back.

Yes, she’s cooking! – reason to celebrate!

We’ll remember this Thanksgiving as a real time for thanks-giving. We hope that yours has been just as happy and that you have equal reason to celebrate.


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