Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

We had our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday -- delicious!

Because I had done the bulk of the cooking/baking on Wednesday, yesterday was more relaxed (until just before dinner was served, of course). Or if not "relaxed," at least "better paced."

Because the oven would be occupied for several hours while cooking the turkey, we made the dinner rolls first of all. Older Daughter loves dinner rolls, so they're a "must" at Thanksgiving.

The milk/sugar/shortening is heated to between 120 and 130F before adding it to the flour and yeast (any hotter and it kills the yeast; any cooler and the yeast doesn't have the warmth it needs to be effective).

Oops, short a couple of eggs. Time to raid the chicken coop.

Everything assembled.

Older Daughter kneads.

First rising, set behind the woodstove to stay warm.

While the dough rose, Don went out to cut firewood. Here he's tuning up the chainsaw.

After several days of unrelenting pouring rain and lots of wind, yesterday was calm and sunny (though chilly), a good day for outdoor work. Here Ruby watches Don wielding the saw.

The rest of the critters just soaked up the sunshine.

After cutting, Don split the firewood. Usually that's my job (and the girls' job is to move and stack the wood), but we were all busy in the kitchen. So Don did the splitting, and the girls will move and stack the wood today.

Meanwhile I caught up on the laundry.

When the bread dough had risen...

...Older Daughter punched it down.

Then I rolled and cut the rolls, while she brushed them with melted butter and shaped them.

We put the cookie sheets with rolls around the woodstove for the second rising.

Baked and ready to eat, yum!

Meanwhile, Don sharpened the knives. Several years ago our pastor joined us for Thanksgiving, and he generously offered to carve the bird. To our embarrassment, every knife in our knife drawer was too dull to carve. Ever since, Don makes sure to sharpen things up before they're called upon to ceremoniously carve the bird.

Next up: the centerpiece of the feast.

Seventeen pounds, so about 4 1/2 hours of cooking time. By the way, the "suggested" price was $1.38/lb, but I got it for $0.88/lb. I'm going to keep an eye out for post-Thanksgiving sale prices. Turkeys are so simple to roast and provide so much meat (and broth) that they're a good bargain if the price is right.

Time to take down and wash the roasting pan and the carving board.

A word about the carving board. Several years ago while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I lamented that I didn't have a wooden carving board like my mother's. Don inquired as to what the carving board was like. I sketched out an idea, he disappeared into the shop and emerged two hours later with a solid maple board with walnut handles. What a blessing it is to have a woodworking husband!

Back to the turkey. I rinsed and patted it dry...

...then rubbed it all over with shortening.

Into the oven to roast. The little red thingy is a thermometer the growers insert which pops up when the turkey's internal temperature is high enough. Quite handy.

I took the turkey out every half hour or so and basted it with plain water. This mixed with the turkey's juices to make a nice broth, the basis for gravy.

While the turkey was roasting, I pressed the woodstove into service to reheat the wild rice stuffing as well as keep the rolls warm.

Before our friends arrived for dinner, we all split off to do our barn chores: Older Daughter filled the water tanks, Younger Daughter fed and watered the chickens, I cleaned and freshened Matilda's stall, and Don fed the cattle.

Then back inside to greet our friends Mike and Judy, and set the table.

The turkey, out of the oven.

Lydia parked herself under the table. Y'know, just in case.

Don carved (with the nice sharp knives).

That brought Lydia to attention!

Ready to join with our friends and enjoy God's bounty!

I've been simmering the carcass all night. Turkey broth canned up in the pantry, good for lots of things!

I hope your Thanksgiving was as blessed as ours!


  1. years ago when i was first married, my father gave me two was a black iron skillet handed down from his mother, and the other was a huge carving board that he had made for me. and i still use and admire these gifts to this day...

  2. Yes, our Thanksgiving was blessed. We used Skype to visit with our grandchildren, daughter, and son-in-law so many miles away. We had retired friends over for dinner and a little relaxation. In spite of what is going on in the world around us (and here in CA it is a bit worse) we are blessed by a loving God who provides for us. We have so much to be thankful for, including this blog which has taught me so much. I am truly thankful for people who have been put into my life, both in real life, and across the internet. Now, I'm off to prepare to can up some cranberry pear chutney.

  3. Patrice,

    Please tell Don the cutting board he made for you is beautiful. In fact, I showed your picture to my husband and told him, that's a cutting board. I hinted to him to make one for me. You can't find a good cutting board in the stores around here.

    Our Thanksgiving was blessed too.

    Lydia has the perfect seat in the house. She makes sure when food falls it's all cleaned up. Gotta love your dogs. Ours were under the table praying we would conveniently drop meat.

    Great radio show interview this morning.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to your family,

    If interested in purchasing extra turkeys while on sale it is always good to purchase the largest turkey you can find. I read many years ago that a domestic turkey has only 12 pounds of bones, so anything over 12 pounds is pure meat. I always search for the largest one, usually 22-25 pounds. Later when the kitchen isn't busy I will slow roast one to can for later use. Last year I had 5 large turkeys in my freezer. Now I have many pints of canned turkey and stock. Yum. I will be showing my husband the cutting board also.

  5. Excellent advice -- thank you!

    - Patrice

  6. Your turkey is beautiful! It sounds like you had a very special day. We celebrated Thanksgiving at family's home, so today I bought a turkey breast which will give me turkey leftovers for the next several days! Love those turkey sandwiches! I am with you on the wild rice dressing - mine is llike yours, only I substitute about 1 cup of water with white wine. Yummmm!


  7. Patrice:

    It's advised not to rinse a raw turkey; just spreads pathogens in and around the sink and doesn't really accomplish anything that cooking doesn't take care of. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture advises against the practice. Here's one link I found about the subject:

    One less messy step that can be eliminated, yeah!

  8. I always can the left over turkey and stock too.

  9. I recognize that tag, we got our turkey from the Modesto Winco also at $.88/lb. It was very good! We bbq'd ours, which we've done several times before. You put a roasting pan in the bottom and keep a couple of inches of water (along with fruit juice and seasonings) to provide moisture. Hmnnn.

  10. We got our turkey from the Modesto Winco - the tag looks to be the same - also at $.88/lb. We bbq'd ours, have several times. The key is putting a pan of water/fruit juice/seasonings in the bottom so it stays moist. Yum yum.