Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Perfect Turkey, More Snow, and Menu for Hope

Look what I woke up to again this morning!

22 Degrees, Perfect Snow Weather

Yup, that would be the low 20's on the thermometer, meaning absolutely perfect snow weather. So, while all those trolls (what we Yoopers call folks who live below the Mackinac Bridge) are getting up to 2" of rain and fog, we are getting snow up here along the shores of Lake Superior. So much snow that this is what the snow plow man has left me at the foot of our cottage driveway!

7' Pile of Snow at Cottage

That pile is almost 7' tall and you just barely see the small lake the cottage sits on beyond the trees. Lake Superior is pretty angry today too as we are getting high winds with a Gale Warning out on the lake and the prediction of blizzard like conditions this evening all through Sunday.

Allegedly I'm scheduled to fly back to NYC on Monday but Northworst Airlines has already put up weather waivers for MSP and DTW airports through Monday so who knows. It took me three days to get here last week and looks like it will take me three days to get home. Drat, I have to stay nestled snuggly and warm at the cottage with nothing to do but bake and cook. Darn, Darn, Darn... (Do you think my boss, who reads The Sour Dough occasionally thinks I'm upset enough about possibly not being able to make it home to be in the in office on Tuesday?!)

Normally, when I'm up at the cottage during the winter, I just use one of the family snowmobiles through the back woods between the cottage and the main house (They are only about 1/2 mile apart as the crow flies through the woods). But with snow as deep as it is right now, I'd have a good chance of getting it buried in the ungroomed conditions of the woods. It has been a good thing that Mom is letting me drive her Jeep this week.

Mom's Snow Covered Jeep

I don't think I've had it out of 4 wheel drive once and often have to put it in low gear to get up the steep driveway to the cottage.

This morning as I was knocking the snow off my boots after shoveling the back porch, I noticed the spot next to the back door, which is our main door for the cottage, where thirty years of family members and friends have knocked either sand off their shoes or snow off their boots before coming into the cottage.

Cottage Boot Knock Mark

That spot is a lot like those marks on the doorways of some houses where generations of children are measured to show how tall they are growing. The sound of someone knocking snow off their boots always signaled company. My folks are big on company and sharing an evening of food, libations, and laughter with our extended family and neighbors.

This visit home has been no exception as every night we've put out a spread of appetizers, baked goodies, and Christmas cheer to a group of friends and family. It has been the tonic I needed after the rather sad and stressful past few months. The good wishes of everyone has been healing and the fact that my Mom has let me have complete free rein in the kitchen to bake and cook to my heart's content has brought comfort to me.

Speaking of cooking, look at the Christmas Turkey!

The Perfect Christmas Turkey

Is that not the most perfectly golden brown turky you have ever seen?

I was rummaging around through some old cookbooks at my Mom and Dad's house on Christmas Eve when I stumbled upon the 1955 version of the McCall's Cookbook that my father's mother used. I opened up the book to the picture of the most beautiful golden turkey. I decided to follow the method in McCall's to see if I could get our Christmas turkey to look as good as the one in the picture. I think I succeeded nicely and it was the moistest and most flavorful turkey I've ever done.

Menu for Hope has been extended until December 31st. So, you still have a chance to place a bid for either the adorable and delightful LA Burdick Chocolate mice (UE05)

Menu For Hope V Prize: Burdick's Mice

or a Day of Breadmaking with Breadchick (UE06)

Menu for Hope V Prize: Day of Bread Baking with Breadchick

or any other cool prize from my fellow food bloggers on the Menu for Hope donation page at First Giving.

As of this morning we had raised almost $42,000 for the WFP's school lunch program for the children of Lesotho.

OK, off to town with Mom before the weather and roads get really nasty. We have some after Christmas shopping to do (my mom is the queen of after Christmas shopping for next Christmas) and I have already read the three books I brought with me, meaning I need to stop in the bookstore to find a few more because I may stuck here until the spring thaw in late May.

Perfect Golden Turkey
adapted from the McCall's Cookbook

1 9 - 12lb turkey, with giblets removed
(If your turkey was frozen, make sure completely unthawed)
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
1 stick unsalted butter
4Tbsp salted butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a cereal bowl, combine 1/2 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of ground pepper and set aside. Cut onion and celery into large chunks and set aside. Cut stick of butter into half. With one half, divide into 4 Tbsp chunks. With the other half, slice lengthwise into 4 strips and set aside.

Place roasting rack in roasting pan deep enough to come up 1/2 way on the turkey and set aside.

Remove the tail piece and any excess fat and skin from the neck and tail area. Check cavity to make sure any giblets have been fully removed, the neck has been removed and any excess fat and remaining bits of innards have been fully cleaned out.

Wash and completely pat dry with paper towels the inside and outside of the turkey. Place on large cake sheet or jelly roll pan lined with paper towels, breast up.

Rub a hand full of salt and pepper mixture into cavity and fill cavity with onion and celery chunks and the 4 Tbsp chunks of butter. Sprinkle a hand full of salt and pepper mixture into cavity with onions, celery, and butter.

Loosen skin around neck and between legs and lower back/thigh creating four deep pockets between meat and skin. Rub a small hand full of salt and pepper mixture in each pocket on the meat under the skin and put one long slice of butter in each pocket. Pat skin down to close off pocket.

Baste breast side with 1/2 of the melted butter and rub with 1/2 of the remaining salt and pepper mixture.

Place turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack and baste back side of turkey with remaining melted butter and rub with remaining salt and pepper mixture.

Place turkey in oven, breast side down, and bake for 2 1/2 hours, basting with juices or additional melted butter every 30 minutes. If turkey starts to over brown, loosely cover turkey only, not the entire pan, with foil.

After 2 1/2 hours, turn turkey over so the breast is on top, baste with juices or melted butter and bake until internal temperature of meat is 180 degrees at the thickest part of the turkey thigh. If turkey starts to over brown, loosely cover turkey only, not the entire pan, with foil.

Remove turkey from oven and let stand covered for 5 - 10 minutes. To recrisp the skin, pop back into oven for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.