Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's all over until next year...

Are you exhausted too? Well now all that is left is the relaxing and the New Year celebrating! I hope everyone's holidays were peaceful, safe and full of fun. We had an excellent holiday. I got gifts to placate my 2 passions, cooking and knitting. And a few more things I can put candles in. I'm a big fan of candlelight during these long winter nights. I really learned to appreciate the beauty of the long winter night while spending many of them in Sweden. Everywhere there are tealights to twinkle in the dark. It's so peaceful. Funny I would find the darkness peaceful but I do. So here's to winter! We had a green Christmas day but now there is a nice little blanket of snow, another thing I find peaceful. And when the sun shines on the brilliant snow it really boosts the spirits. But I'll admit, it does look cold out there today. I think I'll stay in.... snuggle up with my knitting and maybe cook up a yummy dinner later!

Just so you know that even us expert cooks screw up, I'll share my turkey story with you. Due to the hustle and bustle, I forgot to take the bird out to defrost. I remembered on Christmas Eve. And while I didn't have a huge bird this year (about 13 pounds, 5.7 kg) it still required some time to defrost. So I left it out on the counter, not in the fridge. Part of the reason I hadn't taken it out earlier was I had absolutely no fridge space. Nada, as in - no way was another thing fitting in my fridge! I kept feeling the bird to see how the defrosting was going. I'm extremely aware of the 4 hour, 4-40 rule. This is the rule where nothing should sit out between 4 and 40 degrees for more than 4 hours. I turned the bird upside down once one end had defrosted enough so that the cold water from the bird would drip down the defrosted part. Just a side note, we had a ham in the fridge in case the turkey became in any way, questionable. So I had a back up plan (just by luck really, we were to have the ham for Boxing Day dinner).

So I kept an eye on the turkey and once it was defrosted on the outside I took it out of the packaging. It was still a little frozen inside but I was able to wiggle out the neck and the giblets. There was only the heart. I put the neck and heart aside in the fridge and added them later to the pan right before it went in the over. I salted the bird and put it in the roasting pan with lots of foil. As I mentioned, there was no room in my fridge so mister bird had to spend the night outside. Last year I had a covered pan so all I did was put something heavy on top to keep out the critters and I think I taped the lid on. This year I was using an open pan so I had to put the pan in the bbq to keep it safe. All night I dreamt about my bird making a run for it. Luckily the temperature cooperated and stayed just around freezing. When I brought the bird in the next day it had some surface freezing but at least I knew it was safe from the temperature danger zone.

I didn't have a rack to put the bird on in the pan so after rinsing the salt off, I put the bird on some celery, carrots and onion. This natural rack also added great flavor to the pan drippings which were later used for the gravy. You can do this for any roast or bird. Since I had a lack of fridge space, once we finished with our main meal we cut up the rest of the bird and put it in freezer bags. Most of it ended up in the freezer but we kept some out for munching and leftovers.

Speaking of leftovers, here is an awesome leftover sandwich. Smear a little dijon and mayo on once slice of bread and layer on some turkey. On another slice of bread smear on some leftover cranberry sauce and then layer some sliced brie cheese. Heat both slices of bread in a 325 degree oven until the cheese melts (about 5 - 10 minutes). Take it out of the oven and put the 2 slices of bread together to make a sandwich. It's very tasty!

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