The Weekend After . . .

It is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Yesterday was spent fixated in front of the TV watching random shows and movies interspersed with bursts of activity as we emptied the dishwasher, gathered and reloaded it to run again.  Bit-by-bit all the tables and chairs, warming trays, crockpots, gravy bowls and such are finding their way back to their year-round homes to wait for next year’s festivities.  Another successful family Thanksgiving dinner, and we begin to plan for next year.

Now I know it sounds silly to be planning for a year away (well we won’t even get into my son’s wedding plans that started 21 months before the wedding), but let me make my point.  Every year we scramble looking for something we forgot to get out.  This year it was the Turkey platter (which thankfully I remembered was in its box under the sideboard) and serving spoons.  Yes again this year we ran out of serving spoons.  Every year we do, and every year we forget to buy some new ones.  This year we also ran out of dishes.  If you look you will see we now have 3 different types of plates, no actually 4!  My son was scheduled to work, but was able to get off so on the corner of the table we squeezed in another plate.  With the younger children we were able to get away with using dessert plates for them.  They went and grew up on us.  So we got creative and used all the plates and there you go.  I need more, so I thought about trying to find another set to match our white with the silver band set.  But you know, I think I like having the variety.  So I think I will just look for a new set I like and throw it into the mix.

This year we only had 18 for dinner.  The two fresh 10+ pound turkeys were picked up on Tuesday, brined and ready to go, one in the oven and one in the smoker.  Hubby had worked out a complete schedule for the whole week so we could all stay organized. 

The smell of onions wafted through the house.  The wild child started peeling potatoes.  The table was set, and the new place cards printed.  All was in order, the schedule working well, until . . .

Now here I must go back a bit to the planning stages.  This family is split when it comes to whether the stuffing should be in the bird or not.  We have the traditionalists who want nothing but “in the bird”.  Then we have the more cautious ones who think about the bacteria etc.  So this year we ran across a compromise.  You cook the turkey part way at a lower heat, pull it out and stuff it, then finish it off at a higher heat (thank you Pioneer Woman for that hint).  So at 11:15am Hubby pulled out the partially cooked bird to stuff it.  When he opened the oven door the wonderful smell of turkey filled the house.  Wait a minute . . . it shouldn’t smell that good yet?  Should it?  He stuck the thermometer in – it’s ready!  We don’t eat until 4!  The smoker one is nowhere near ready!

Stuffed and baked in the oven

Turkey cooked in the smoker

In Hubby’s defense he has never had to cook this small a bird before.  We have always had big ones; 25lbs or so.  This was also the first time we did fresh birds, although I don’t know if that makes a difference or not.  I would say it has to have, because it was just too weird.  But in our Funny Farm fashion, we hit the internet, and worked it out.

There are numerous posts with ideas, one most common was to wrap it in foil, a big towel, and put in an ice-chest.  We couldn’t do that as the ice-chest went yucky this summer and was tossed.  The second idea was to wrap in foil, make sure there is liquid in the pan, and turn the heat way down.  So we opted for the second, and it worked great!  Didn’t get that crispy skin, but it was juicy and the stuffing was wonderful.  The second bird in the smoker was really yummy too.So added to the list for next year – buy more serving spoons and plates.  Practice cooking smaller birds during the year.  And the last one we didn’t address, figure out a better way to place the tables.  After moving our living room wall 3’ to make a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, we have to adjust to the loss of 3’ in the living room.  You wouldn’t think 3’ would make that much difference . . .