Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Preparations, Cardinal Sins, and Thanksgiving

I threatened Chinese takeout this year.

Not because I hate Thanksgiving, but because my house is a disaster from hunting, I had software issues yesterday, and just a bad day in general.  So my Chinese takeout rant was accepted, noted, and approved--if that's really what I wanted to do.

Actually, it wasn't.  I had a home-grown turkey thawed in my refrigerator (we butchered her in September), and enough stuffing to fill three birds.  The cranberry chutney I made in October and canned.  Garnet yams are on the kitchen table waiting to be cooked.  So, no.  I wasn't really serious.

My husband is good natured enough to go along with whatever I want.  But I remember while hiking, looking for nonexistent elk on a ranch him talking wistfully about turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry chutney. 

So tonight I made the mashed potatoes and brined the turkey.  Brining is an old way of making sure the meat is moist when you roast it.  Think of it like marinading.  The turkey companies brine their "self-basting" birds, but use a mixture of chemicals besides salt.  Brine is typically salt and whatever else you want to put in.

I have to brine my birds because I skin them.  I do this as self-defense against plucking.  However the downside is you risk a dry turkey because without the skin, turkey dries out.  Hence the brining. 

You can just use salt and water, or you can get creative and use fruit juices.  I use cranberry, spiced apple cider, and orange juice along with garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaf.  The spices in the apple cider add cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.  The mix is unforgettably good. 

I've gone to simpler is better.  I commit cardinal sins and use organic turkey gravy, organic packaged stuffing, organic mixed vegetables, and my mother-in-law is bringing a store-bought pie.  Some things aren't worth the hassle.  Other things, like homemade mashed potatoes, are. 

Tomorrow, I'll make the yams and probably mix up the biscuits.  That will be plenty--and very yummy. 

Have a happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Goats and the Insanity that is Hunting

Looking back at this blog, I realize I've been bad and haven't updated it.  Largely because fall is the time for general insanity known as hunting.

Lisa and Lulu
From the last week in October through the end of Thanksgiving weekend, we go chasing after animals.  This year, we got our two deer early and have been looking for elk.  Problem is, they're hard to find.  My husband managed to actually get some in his sights, but he couldn't identify whether the elk was a bull or a cow (we've only got Elk A tags which are brow-tined bull elk in our hunting unit.)  So, he passed on the shot, and we haven't seen elk since.  Typical. 

Lisa and Lulu
Lots of people have the idea that hunting is easy.  Those aren't hunters.  Hunting is lots of long hours and rather tiring.  My house is a disaster because everything except the basics gets put off for hunting. Sadly, Thanksgiving interrupts hunting.  But that's kind of important too.  We hunt for meat.  About one third of our meat comes from hunting, which is pretty important.  With the chickens, turkeys, ducks, and goats, we're hoping to provide about 70-80% of our own meat.  That would be good.

So we had the deer processed and sent two goat wethers to process.  In the meantime, I got three more does: one Alpine and two Saanens.  The alpine is a tiny little girl who didn't get a lot of food at her old home, and was adopted by another woman.  The alpine didn't get a lot of interaction because she was so small, so I got her from a Craigslist ad.  She really didn't have a name, so when I dropped by my husband's work, a woman who worked there suggested Delila.  It seemed to fit, so her name is Delila. 
Delila

Then, came Lisa and Lulu.  I bought meat at the Farmer's Market from two different ranchers.  One sells organic beef, but he also has goats.  So, he asked me if I wanted to buy two doelings.  Well, me and my big mouth, I said yes, so his wife brought his doelings here this month.  One actually won a ribbon at a fair.  Their names are Lisa and Lulu.  For a lack of better names, they have stuck. 

Well, hopefully more postings next week!