The advantages of early prep

Today I managed to do something I have *never* done before in all of my 49 years…I finished all of my Christmas shopping.  Yes, every…single…present.  Can I get a Hallelujah?

I also learned you can get a turkey that is almost too big–almost.  Years ago I purchased a roasting pan specifically designed for roasting a turkey.  A Mauviel 16 X 12 X 3 roasting pan.  It was on sale, and I had a coupon, otherwise I would have never gotten it.  It came with a heavy duty rack.  Since it had been a few years, I did NOT remember that it was recommended for a turkey up to 25 pounds.  I purchased a 27 pound turkey.  Today I was baking the cornbread for the stuffing as well as the pumpkin bread, and that little voice said “check the roasting pan”.  I took out the pan and rack, pulled the turkey out of the refrigerator and attempted to fit said turkey into the rack.  Nope, it wasn’t going to work, not unless I wanted to balance the turkey body on the rack handles.  Remembering how my Grandma cooked her turkey, I took the rack out of the pan and attempted to put the turkey in the pan.  It fit…barely.  Actually it pretty much filled the pan completely, but nothing extended over the sides thankfully.  So this Thanksgiving the turkey will be cooking while nestled in its juices, but since Grandma never used a rack I don’t think one is necessary.

This Thanksgiving I’m also doing something different from my usual routine, but it was how my Grandma did it.  I’ll bake the turkey overnight, low and slow.  I remember waking up each Thanksgiving morning when I was little to a house filled with the wonderful smell of turkey slowly baking in the oven.  She would put it in the oven very late the night before, and by lunch time the turkey was perfectly done, moist, falling off the bone tender.  After doing much research I’ve found a few professional chefs that do it this way and I’ll follow their instructions.

Our son stopped by a few days ago to help his dad move the old TV console upstairs.  It was one of the few purchases we made where the product was “made in China”, but surprisingly the console was crafted of solid wood, not particle board.  It was HEAVY, too heavy for me to be one of two people moving it.  The new TV arrived, they hauled the old one away, and we placed the new one on the buffet where it fit perfectly.  The TV upstairs was on a coffee table, so hubby and Andrew moved the console upstairs to replace the table and where everything could be organized and stored.  The coffee table is now in front of the theater recliners upstairs.

Before Andrew arrived, Katherine and I left to do some Christmas shopping.  I had promised to take her out, but still had a lot of other things to do that day.  One of those things was to put up the 14 X 9 foot tent in the backyard since it was going to freeze that night.  It was one of my schemes that actually worked well last year, placing all of my plants in the tent along with a small heater.  It kept everything alive and happy throughout every freeze.  This year I wanted to put the tent out in the yard where it would receive full sun (last year it was placed at the side of the house in the shade).  That way I could remove the top flap, open the windows and door and let the plants receive sunshine when it was above freezing, so I could keep them inside the tent instead of having to pull them out into the yard to receive sun.  This task was on my mind as we made our way home, along with everything else I needed to do.  We get home, are depositing our bags in the dining room when hubby motions me to the kitchen window, pointing outside.  Looking out, I see the family sized tent completely pitched in the middle of the yard, ready for the plants.  He grins as he tells me it was Andrew who put it up after he found out what was on his mom’s to-do list.  Tickled me to pieces, and makes me so grateful to have such a kind, thoughtful son.  It took the four of us less than ten minutes to take all the plants to the tent, as well as getting the heater set up inside.  Everything was nice and warm inside the tent as the temps dipped below freezing that night.

Tomorrow I’ll make the homemade cranberry sauce, air dry the turkeys in the refrigerator so the skin will crisp up nicely, make the biga for the rosemary potato rolls as well as chop all the onions, celery, garlic, etc, and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator.  Late that night I’ll put the large turkey in the roasting pan and slide it in the oven to slowly bake overnight.  I should have plenty of pan drippings in the morning to make a nice homemade gravy out of.

Here’s to early preparation and planning ahead–anything that will take some of the stress out of the holidays is a plus in my opinion!

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