Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A quick turkey dinner


I had a frozen turkey that I had put by about a year ago. (Yes, a whole year!) I decided I'd better go ahead and use it, so I took it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator it went to thaw. It weighed about 14 pounds and I left it to thaw for 5 days. At that point I hadn't even decided for sure what I was going to do with it. But since we did not have Thanksgiving Dinner here at our home, we were not covered up with leftovers, so I chose to make a simple, traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner just for me and my husband. (I mentioned using the carcass to make soup on an earlier post.) So, here is what I did.

The Turkey ~ Wash in cold water, remove the giblets and/or neck from the cavities, wash those and put them in a pan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until thoroughly done. In the cavity of the turkey, place a large peeled onion and a mixture of dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme tied up in a little piece of cotton cloth. Put the bird in a roasting pan that has a lid. Rub the skin with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and some more of that same herb mixture. Put the lid on the pan and place in a 350 degree F. oven on the middle rack.

"Stuffing"~ In a cast iron frying pan, melt 1/2 cup butter and add a large diced onion, 2 cups of diced celery (I pulled mine out of the freezer. I often dice and freeze celery so it won't go to waste and is ready to use in soups and things). Saute', stirring often until the vegetables start to get limp. Then, take about 1/2 loaf of bread (I used my homemade whole wheat, but you could use any bread you have, and it's a good way to use stale bread) and cut it into little cubes. Put them in the pan and continue to cook for a little while, stirring. Take some of the liquid from cooking the giblets/neck (my bird didn't come with giblets) and mix in an egg. Pour that over the stuffing. Add some more of that same herb mix mentioned above. Stir it all up well and turn off the heat. Add more of the broth if needed to make it moist but not soggy. Cover the pan with either parchment paper or waxed paper and then with aluminum foil. You could use a lid, but then your pan might not fit in the oven with the turkey. During the last hour of roasting the turkey, put this pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Then it will be done at the same time.

Mashed Potatoes ~ Scrub as many potatoes as you think you will need and cut them in quarters. Do not peel if the skins are decent. Put them all in a Crock Pot, cover with water and cook either on high for about 2 hours or low for 4 hours. Then when everything is done, drain off most of the water and add some butter, milk, salt and a little garlic powder and mash thoroughly.

Gravy ~ When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and use your baster to take out the pan drippings. If you don't have a baster, with a little help, pour the drippings out. Put them all in a saucepan. Add enough of the aforementioned broth to make the amount of gravy you would like to have. You will have to gauge the amount of thickening by how much liquid you are now using. For 1 cup of liquid, use 1 Tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch or 2 Tablespoons of unbleached mixed in a little warm water. When it all comes to a boil, then slowly add the thickening, stirring carefully to prevent lumping. Add any little bits of meat from the neck and dice the giblets too. Simmer until thick, then taste it and see if it needs anything else, like a little more salt or pepper, but it probably won't.

Cranberry Sauce ~ I LOVE cranberry sauce! Put 2 cups of cranberries in a saucepan, 1/2 cup honey, or if you don't mind the mild molasses flavor, you can use 1 cup of Sucanat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and chill if you like, but you don't have to have it cold if you are doing this at the last minute.

Vegetables ~ Just pick what you like off the shelf or out of the fridge and cook them! We had some home canned green beans with this meal. Corn and sweet potatoes are more traditional.

There you go! It sounds complicated, but it's simply not. Roast turkey is one of the easiest things to cook, and there are always nice leftovers for soup, sandwiches, salads, etc.

Here is one thing I like to do with some of the leftovers. Cut some of the turkey meat into bite sized pieces, and mix with enough stuffing to fill a pie plate. Pour some of the gravy over that and top with mashed potatoes and bake it at 350 degrees F. until heated through. I call it "Thanksgiving Pie."

This post is shared at Traditional Tuesday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kefir - Chapter 6


My kefir grains are so happy right now. Growing fast and making lots and lots of lovely liquid kefir. Since my goats will only be milked for 3 more months (and "dried off" for 2 months prior to kidding in early May) I have decided not to sell any grains for a while so I can get a good supply of liquid kefir for that dry period. Kefir will keep almost indefinitely in the refrigerator. I took a picture of the grains for you this morning. See?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A simple gathered Apron


This week we had the 2nd in a series of Basic Sewing Classes here for some of the women in my Church. The first lesson (info to come) involved lubricating their sewing machines and we made a pillowcase. This time, we made simple gathered aprons! I was SEW impressed with the progress and enthusiasm of these women. Here is a link to the rather pathetic, simple instructions I wrote out for the apron: https://acrobat.com/#d=xQk9Zlpi*IzdCJjD15zZzQ

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kefir - Chapter 5

Kefir sourdough bread ~ 2 loaves

1. Mix together 1 cup liquid kefir and 1 cup whole wheat flour and let it sit covered with a towel for 2 days.

2. Mix together
All of the starter
2 cups warm water
4 cups whole wheat flour

3. Let that rise until double in volume (takes a few hours) and then add:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons sea salt
Unbleached white flour - enough to make the dough kneadable (is that a word?)

4. Knead on surface dusted with the unbleached flour, adding enough, a little at a time to prevent sticking. Knead for 10 minutes.

5. Wash bowl, oil well and return dough. Cover with damp cloth and let sit in a warm place until the dough is double in volume.

6. Form into 2 loaves and place them in oiled medium sized bread pans.

7. Allow to rise until double and then place in a preheated 450 degree F. oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees F. Bake approximately 45 minutes.

8. Cool loaves on wire rack.

This bread keeps well, is only slightly sour, raises nicely. It freezes well too. Makes fabulous toast!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kefir - Chapter 4



Here is a photo I took of a bowl of liquid kefir. I hope you can see how lovely and thick it is. I had just drained this from the grains. It will sit in a jar on the counter for another 24 hours before we drink it.

This is my favorite way to use the kefir - just drink it. It took quite a while to accustom myself to the taste, but now I really like it. I don't know if it's true or not, but I have read that the word "kefir" means "feel good."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kefir - Chapter 3

As I mentioned, I sell my excess kefir grains on eBay. I'll certainly never get rich doing it, but I get a small amount on each batch. The most important thing, though, is sharing the knowledge and a chance to learn about this miracle food! Here are the instructions I email to each customer:


Here is what to do with them:

When they get to you, pour the contents of the plastic bag into a glass jar that has a lid. Just barely cover them with milk, put the lid on, loosely, (or you can cover with a coffee filter and rubber band, and set it on your kitchen counter. 24 hours later, strain it into a bowl through a stainless steel or plastic strainer. Kind of shake it around to get the liquid to come out into the bowl. Put the grains back into the jar, cover with milk again and put the lid back on loosely. No need to wash the jar every time.

Soon, within 24 hours you should see that the milk has fermented, getting rather thick looking and it will “separate” in the jar into thick white liquid and whey. When you notice some activity, then it will be safe to start drinking the kefir. Personally, I like mine at room temperature with some honey stirred into it, or plain with nothing added. After you strain it out, put the liquid kefir into another loosely covered glass container and let it sit at room temperature until the next day. THEN use it. Of course, you can refrigerate the liquid kefir at this point, if you like, in a tightly covered jar. It will get a little fizzy. And currently, I just leave my jar of liquid kefir at room temperature all of the time. I just pour in the day's kefir and mix it up with what was already in there. It is working wonderfully well.

When the grains seem to be working vigorously, you should be able to start adding MORE milk each time, and as they multiply, you can use more and more. There is a website with oodles of information about kefir. There is no one right way to do everything. Different individuals have different approaches and you can see what works for you and pleases you. Here is the site: http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/Makekefir.html

Like I mentioned, I sometimes drink mine with honey. Some people like it straight or in a fruit smoothie. If I need sour milk or buttermilk in a cooking recipe, if the amount is 1 cup, I use 1/2 cup kefir mixed with 1/2 cup fresh milk. It works very well and saves money too.

Doing all of this takes less time than reading about it. If you have extra liquid kefir, just keep it in the fridge in a glass jar, this time covered tightly and it will keep a LONG time. Or, you can leave it out, loosely covered, as I mentioned. When I get lots of extra liquid kefir, maybe ½ gallon, I make fresh kefir cheese ~ kind of like making yogurt cheese. Strain it for 24 - 48 hours through a cloth and then store in fridge. It is a nice substitute for sour cream.

After your kefir gets going good, if you want it to propagate more quickly, you can gently pull apart the bunches of grains and then put them back in milk. They will grow more rapidly then.

You may notice that seasonally your liquid kefir will lose its lovely thickness and become thin and “grainy.” Do not be concerned. This is a natural part of the process.

Kefir, for me, has been an acquired taste. I’ve been brewing it for about 2 years now and oh, I really love my kefir.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Kefir - Chapter 2

Kefir is wonderfully versatile. Here are some of the things I've used it for and I have included one recipe so far. I will post the others as time goes on:

Fresh kefir cheese (excellent used just like cream cheese)

Liquid kefir to drink straight and in smoothies

Liquid kefir as a culture for making raw milk hard cheese

Liquid kefir mixed half and half with fresh milk as a substitute for Buttermilk in baking

Kefir is a superior probiotic, and culturing your milk with kefir makes everything more "bioavailable"

I have used liquid kefir to make a sourdough starter for bread - very easy and very yummy bread

On Dom's Kefir site, he tells how to make a Yorkshire Curd Tart that is fantastic!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kefir - Chapter 1

Have you ever heard of "kefir"? It is a cultured milk product similar to yogurt or buttermilk, but different, of course, with a vastly more interesting history and loads of health claims. Last year, not long after I got my 2 milk goats, I ran into the concept of kefir, and bought some kefir "grains" on eBay. Kefir grains are little gelatinous globs that are a community of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. When you steep them in milk, after 24 hours you have liquid kefir. You strain out the grains (which continue to multiply happily) and let the milk sit at room temperature for another day before drinking, storing, or using it. If you would like to read more about kefir than you thought possible, google for "Dom's Kefir Making Site." As I understand, the grains were present in the Caucasus region of Russia for so long that the origins have been lost in history. They are called, "The grains of the Prophet Mohammed." No one knows how they came to be, but there are theories, one of which is that the Biblical manna fell into some milk. They were confined to that area of the world, being held sacred, until the 20th Century when someone got them out and they spread across the whole world, and now you can buy them on Ebay, for goodness' sake! In fact, that is where I sell my extras. More to come...

Friday, December 4, 2009

I just want to share!

Hello and welcome to my new blog! I have created this space as a place where I can share my homemaking endeavors. I hope the information might be helpful to others.
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