Breathing Deeply!

Just between you and me, I’m not feeling especially jolly at the moment.

I made a Cyber-Monday vow to purchase only things we really needed that were actually on sale, despite all the glittering temptation to the contrary.

One of those things was some halibut broth and sablefish from one of my favorite west coast purveyors. I was excited about the 15% off sale. This is my idea of fast food and the freezer was running low.

I even upped for the extra-super-duper UPS shipping, even though it’s chilly here and the regular shipping would probably have done it.

All my little miracles of modern science informed me that my package would arrive between 3 and 8 pm on Tuesday.

THEN I got a special update. My prized package would arrive between 11 am and 3pm on Tuesday.

Awesome! Except for my lunch meeting with a dear friend.

Signs on every door. “OK to leave package.”

More miracles of modern science. Spent way too many moments watching a wee UPS truck wander around the screen on my phone, near my neighborhood, supposedly with my package on board until, early Tuesday evening, it wandered back off to the place where UPS trucks go to sleep.

No package at my house.

Later, a message. Package Wednesday.

Did I mention this was frozen fish???

Despite my efforts to reach them, UPS politely announced that they weren’t home and I was welcome to track another package.

I’m frustrated. There’s a lot going on here right now and this is a distraction I didn’t need.

I did/do need my fish!

I’m also pretty clear that this is not an earth-shattering event.

I have choices about where to get good, clean food, unlike many of my American and global sisters and brothers.

For the moment, I’m stuck between seriously annoyed and breathing deeply.

Both are true.

I made good choices for my family when I ordered the fish and broth.

UPS seems to think I should not have made those choices between Thanksgiving and Christmas as they are inconveniently busy just now.

While I, who have spent the last week trashing untold emails trying to convince me to buy things I don’t need, can’t help but wonder if we might not have expected there would be a few more packages in these days.

Somehow it seems that our mechanical advantages may also be our emotional challenges.

I have other things on my list for tomorrow.

Now it seems I will watch for a big brown truck while waiting for the west coast to wake up and trying to find somebody who cares that my fish has gone astray.

Then, in all probability, I’ll spend another day or two next week trying to make it all right.

The world will go on. I will not be hungry.

Millions of people are not so blessed.

So, a box gathers food pantry donations in our kitchen.

Another batch of homemade bone broth is on my list for this weekend.

And I am busy urging my senators to oppose the GOP “tax bill” which will make it harder and harder for a huge number of Americans to put food on their tables.

It’s ironic, somehow, after our annual, national food fest last week.

Food is supposed to be health and family and community. Not power.

I will, eventually, win the UPS battle, despite the aggravation.

Many are not so fortunate.

How can we help?

Breathing deeply is a start.

Action is the next step.

p.s. – My box actually arrived, still frozen! Proving, once again, that many of the things we worry about don’t actually happen, leaving more time, perhaps, for action.

 

What brunch looks like when all the turkey bones are in the stock pot!

There ain’t a body – be it a mouse or a man – that ain’t made better by a little soup.                                          

                                                                  – Kate DiCamillo                                                                   

Turkey Broth…the actual magic, right here!

Makes: 6 – 8 quarts in a 10 – 12 quart stockpot.

Notes: Consider making a big pot of turkey broth as part of a holiday tradition. It’s a great way to teach the next generations and it smells heavenly. 

I like a very clear turkey broth with a lot of depth that can be used in any number of recipes, so this is what I do. If you have a specific flavor profile in mind, feel free to adjust the herbs and veg as you like. Please resist the temptation to toss all the wilted stuff in your fridge into the pot!

Ingredients: The best stock contains a mixture of roasted and raw bones. Choose yours from the list below.

  • Carcass from ½ a roasted turkey, including some ribs and a wing, with some meat still attached. A leg is also useful if you have one left. Smoked turkey bones will work, too! If you just roasted a turkey breast, use those bones and add bones from a couple of roasted chickens.
  • Any necks, hearts, or gizzards you’ve saved. (Freeze livers separately for dirty rice, etc.)
  • Additional raw bones, about 1-2 lb. necks, backs, wings, etc. (You can use chicken bones, too, if you like.) I particularly like necks for this because they have lots of healing cartilage. Check your local farmer or an international market near you.
  • 3 Tbsp. acidic liquid. I use Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar “with the mother.” White wine or fresh lemon juice will work, too.
  • 3-4 med or large yellow onions, halved, with skins on. (Really!)
  • 3-4 whole garlic bulbs, halved, with paper on.
  • 3-4 fresh bay leaves or 2-3 dried ones.
  • Fresh thyme sprigs. The more the merrier! I use a bundle about the diameter of a quarter, tied with white cotton kitchen string. Add a 4-6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary if you like.
  • Fresh parsley stems, if you happen to have some around. Tie them with the thyme sprigs. 

Place raw bones with any gizzards or hearts into stockpot. Add cold water to cover by 2-3 inches. Add cider vinegar, white wine, or lemon juice. Cover and allow to sit, off the heat, for about 45 min. This helps pull the minerals and other goodies out of the bones and into the stock.

After you’ve soaked the raw bones, add the roasted bones to the stockpot.

Add additional cold water, leaving room at the top to add your veg and herbs. Place pot over med. high heat and bring to a very gentle boil.

After pot begins to boil gently, adjust temp to keep it from reaching a full, rolling boil. Skim whatever foam or bits of grey-ish stuff float to the surface and discard. You’ll need to skim every few minutes until it quits creating stuff to skim! (About 10-15 min. total.) This step is important! Skimming helps create a beautiful clear broth and prevents the development of any bitter taste.

While you’re skimming every few minutes, prep your veg and herbs as described above. Leaving the skin/paper on onions and garlic adds to the flavor and color of the broth. (Wipe any dirt from onion skins.) This is one reason I like organic! Try not to do this too far ahead. Onions are best used when they’ve just been cut!

Add your prepped veg and herbs gently so as not to splash yourself.

Turn the heat down to med-low. You want your broth to just simmer gently. No more boiling. It will take some practice with your particular stove to find out what works. Fiddle with it and check frequently. You want itty bitty bubbles just breaking the surface.

Cook for at least 6 hours, and not more than 16, for a clean flavor with all the nutrients pulled out into the broth. Try not to stir while it cooks. (That can cloud your broth.) You can put on a lid, partially covering the pot, for part of the cooking time to lessen the amount of water that cooks off, making the broth somewhat less concentrated, or leave the lid off and allow it to reduce more, concentrating the flavors. If you put the lid on, you’ll need the turn the heat down to keep it from coming to a boil. Turn the heat up a bit if you take the lid off. We’re still after those itty bitty bubbles!

If you wish to add additional water during cooking to increase the amount of broth, you must use very hot water, about 180-190 F.

Now is the time when you get to inhale the magic while you throw in a load of laundry and go back to your writing, pick up a paint brush, or teach your kids to play Cribbage…

When you’re happy with the color and flavor of the broth, remove from the heat and allow your marvelous creation to cool an hour or two. Scoop all bones and aromatics from the broth and discard them. (They’ve given all they had!) Remember that you’re going to use this broth to add flavor and nutrients to other recipes. Please resist the urge to add salt or adjust seasonings now.

After scooping out bones and so forth from the pot, strain into another container through a fine mesh sieve, being sure to get all the bones. You may use some of the broth immediately, if you care to. Otherwise, chill broth overnight in the fridge. You’ll know you’ve got a great batch if it gets jiggly, like soft Jell-O! (If not, it’s still a miracle! Just keep practicing.)

Transfer chilled broth to quart- and pint-sized plastic containers, (or the sizes that work for you) preferably BPA free. Leave 1 inch headroom, as broth will expand when frozen. Label, including date, and freeze until needed, up to 6 months. I try to thaw frozen broth overnight in the fridge before using. When that isn’t possible, thaw on counter and monitor so that it doesn’t start to warm.

Let the magic begin again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A dog’s perspective on Thanksgiving!

Today it’s my turn to blog…I’m Phoebe!

I’ve been here just about a year now and, even though I’m all settled in, things keep surprising me.

Like Thanksgiving, which is, apparently, one of the days called “holidays”.

Last year Sarah and I went to Camp for Thanksgiving while Mom and Dad went to hang out with our girls.

We had lots of fun at Camp. Then we came home and slept for a couple of days like we always do. That much fun makes us tired!

This year, though, we’re all home together. Luther, too, of course.

Mom and Dad believe in being flexible about when holidays happen. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Sarah and Luther and I had our Thanksgiving on Tuesday. The big dogs had turkey wings which seem to be a Thanksgiving thing. I had duck wings which are really yummy and easier for me to chew. We had kale stems and salmon oil, too. It was really good. I think I like Thanksgiving!

Mom and Dad had Thanksgiving today, which is Wednesday. (I think most people do that on Thursday.) Dad is home this week and he wanted more days to eat turkey so they just decided to do things differently. It smelled really good!

Mom says it doesn’t matter when you have Thanksgiving. It just matters that you’re together and say “Thank you” and remember that there are people — and dogs — who don’t have as much as you do.

I understand that!

Before I lived here I was chained to a fence in the sun with no food and no water. I tried to chew through the chain and kind of messed up my teeth, which I think is why sometimes I get different bones than the big dogs do.

Luther and Sarah didn’t have what they needed before they lived here, either. Mom says we can help local businesses and our farmer friends have what they need when we choose our food. I like our food friends!

I don’t really understand why, but Mom says there are also people who don’t have enough to eat. And lots who don’t have clean water. And something called healthcare, which I think is like when our Auntie Karen comes to visit.

That makes Mom sad. Sometimes it makes her mad, too. She types really hard some days. And calls people on the phone. Yesterday I heard her say that we’ll all be safer if everyone has enough.

I’m just a dog, but I agree with that. It’s hard not to get mad, or mean, when you don’t have enough and others have too much.

Here are some more things I learned about Thanksgiving this year…

There were lots and lots of things that smelled green in our fridge. You know, like leaves. Mom says that’s a new/old Thanksgiving tradition.

The turkey came from our friend, Greg.

And Mom says we’re giving away half the soup that comes from the bones.

I think, maybe, other families do Thanksgiving differently. Mom says different is ok. It sounds to me, though, like the point of the whole thing is to remember the good things and try to share them with others.

Mom has a friend we haven’t met whose name is Rumi. A long time ago, even before Pilgrims, I think, he said:

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Maybe Thanksgiving is about each of us finding our own way.

From all of us to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving! And thank you for listening. I like blogging! Love, Phoebe

PS – Mom’s going to share her recipe for turkey broth on Sunday. Save those bones! (And, please, please, please don’t give cooked bones to your dogs!!!)

 

 

 

And a smidge more heresy…

Welcome! Now that I’ve confessed that I don’t do turkey the way my granny did, it’s time to move on from dry brining (There’s still time!)  to the part that smells so good. Actual roasting!

Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!

A small amount of math is inevitable.

Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!

Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. 

Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.

If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!

(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )

Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)

Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)

  • Quartered onion, skin on.
  • A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
  • A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
  • 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
  • A handful of fresh thyme sprigs. 
  • A fresh lemon, cut in half.
  • Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
  • Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.

After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.

Then, scrub and roughly chop about:

  • 6 small carrots.
  • 3 – 4 onions.
  • 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.

Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.

Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast. 

(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do well at the same 400 F.)

Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.

* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer  minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.

If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!

Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.

Gather your family and friends and enjoy.

 

 

Heresy Alert!

True confession. I don’t do turkey the way my Granny did. It turns out there are even better options. Because I’m grateful for each of you, I’m sharing my secrets here. Feel free to share them far and wide and feed them to those you love!

Dry turkey is never on anyone’s menu, but it seems that it shows up on an awful lot of serving platters. Hence, the big name guys with the magic basting goo, turkey fryers, syringes for injecting liquid brine solutions, smearing the whole thing with butter, etc., etc. This is the way to do it Juicy meat, crispy skin, perfect flavor, all natural and with very little effort. And easy enough for a first time Thanksgiving host to manage!

Ingredient Notes: Buy the best you can get. It takes some hunting. Local farmers. Whole Foods. Dean & DeLuca, Zingermans, White Oak Pastures. Ours are Heritage breed birds, pasture raised by local, sustainable farmers. I like turkeys in the 18-20 pound range because they fit in my oven and I want lots of bones and leftover meat for soup. I can actually feed 75-100 people from one turkey by making bone broth and using it well! (You can, too!) Thaw, if needed, in a fridge. It may take up to 72 hours to thaw a turkey this size. Or, scale down, if desired!

Brining: This is optional but I highly recommend it. I’ve tried both wet and dry brines and I like dry the best. It’s easier, often cheaper, a lot less messy, and ultimately, more effective. And it has no sugar! The purpose is to season the bird, while holding juices in the muscle for a moist, tender turkey, with gorgeous, crispy, perfectly seasoned skin. Wash your hands a lot during the process! You’ll need:

Coarse grey Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground pepper (black or mixed colors)

Dried thyme (or other herbs as desired)

A pan large enough to hold the turkey loosely. (ie Eco-foil from your local supermarket. Nobody’s perfect!)

Mix together in a small bowl: 4 Tbsp. coarse sea salt with 2 Tbsp. ground pepper and 1 1/2 Tbsp crushed, dried thyme, etc., if desired. (You can also do this with just salt, in which case you may need an extra Tbsp. for coverage.) Don’t use regular table or fine grind salt! It leaves a bitter taste and you have to reduce the amount significantly so it’s hard to cover the whole bird without making it too salty.

For an 18-20 pound, thawed turkey, remove any neck and innards. Reserve them for other uses as needed. I freeze the neck, heart, and gizzard for soup stock or feed them to the dogs. The liver is great for dirty rice and may be frozen, separately. (Or added to the dog feast!) Pat bird dry, inside and out, with paper towels and place bird in pan. (If using foil pan, place that on top of a sheet tray or similar pan for stability.)

Working in the pan, season the dried inside and outside of the bird well with salt mix. Get down around the wings and legs and thighs. Pat and rub. Leave uncovered or cover loosely with parchment paper. Place in fridge, preferably the old one in the basement, and just leave it alone for up to 3 days. I like 18-24 hours. It will be fine. What you’re aiming for with the timing is that miraculous moment when the skin is crispy, the meat is juicy and tender, and the bird is perfectly salted.

You’re well on the way to the best Thanksgiving feast ever!

On Sunday I’ll be back here with roasting directions for Gorgeous, Juicy (Easy) Turkey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perils of FOMO

It’s amazing how fast chaos can sneak up on you!

Or at least how fast it seems once we begin to notice.

I got pretty busy over the last year or so. Mostly good stuff. Learning. Writing. Traveling.

Lots of it was awesome!

Then I came down with a big case of what my wise (and really talented) friend Yasmin Nguyen, at Gratitude Inspired Living,  calls FOMOFear of missing out. (Which feels rather like fear of not being enough.)

I signed up for way more learning than I could keep up with. My e-mail was overwhelming. I wanted to sleep. Or watch Grey’s Anatomy re-runs.

Then, in July, I fell down. Literally. I’m ok, but at the time it was a fairly big deal.

In August, I did it again. Much less of a deal, but still not at all helpful.

About that same time, I began learning about Intentional Creativity. And painting, which is something of a miracle in my world.

Then my friend got sick and I invested a whole bunch of September and October in prayer and presence.

All that learning I had signed up for pretty much went by the wayside. Technically, it’s still there but it has felt buried under all the overwhelm.

Except for the creating and painting. That happened. Slowly, but it happened. And as I painted, I began to learn new things.

My butt hurt less. I found new parts of me.

I woke up. (Though I’m still a fan of napping.)

One day I opened my eyes and realized that a lot of things had gotten away from me.

My sewing table was buried in miscellaneous junk. Dusty miscellaneous junk.

I couldn’t find the tape measure. Or my passport.

My closet was running over with artifacts from lives past.

You get the drift.

It’s getting better these days.

I can actually see the sewing table. And, Wednesday, I’m giving a friend a sewing lesson!

I have a new passport.

A bunch of the old stuff in my closet has been promoted to the “paint clothes” department. A bunch more is headed out the door to new lives in other places.

My freezers are full of bone broth.

Mostly, though, I’m recovering from the fear of missing out.

I have a plan. I’m going with things I believe in. Following my heart kinds of things.

I’ve dumped a bunch of email. My recycling basket is full of catalogs which are full of shiny things I don’t need.

There is space in my world. More would be good, but it’s a start!

There is meditation music playing in my house. The dogs are more relaxed which helps me be more relaxed.

Most of all, I have a sense of where I’m going. I suspect it’s like nowhere I’ve ever been before and that’s ok. It seems a little less chaos makes me feel a bit more brave.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tomorrow, chalk board paint.

And, Wednesday, meet me back here. It’s all about my super simple dry brining process for a fabulous, juicy turkey!

 

 

I got another turn!

Hi, everybody! It’s me, Luther.

I asked Mom if I could blog again because I’ve been here about nine months now and I’ve learned a lot of new things. (Mom is still in charge of spelling!)

First, I wanted you to know that I’m not nearly as scared as I used to be!

It’s kind of surprising, but pretty much everybody likes me. They pet me and rub my ears, which feels good. If they’re really nice, I let them rub my belly.

I’ve gotten to be an expert at treats and am usually the first one to sit.

I’m also really good at our new food, which I love. (Though it makes a lot of noise!)

Being brushed is awesome but I’m still not real excited about the things called scissors.

I learned that it’s ok to sleep when people walk around, especially if they’re my people.

I also learned that things change and that’s ok, too.

We’ve been playing the game Mom calls Furniture Yahtzee again. I’m not really sure what the point is but Mom carries things from one place to another and then Dad pushes furniture around. Sometimes our friend, Harry, comes to help. He gives good belly rubs!

The house feels different when we play that game, but I always know how to find my bed.

In fact, I know how to find most things now.

Mom says I don’t see too well. I heard her tell one of our friends that it’s probably because I was raised in the dark when I was a tiny puppy and some things in my eyes didn’t grow right.

I hear really well, though, and I can smell supper as soon as it comes out of the refrigerator. (We’re working on a thing called waiting!)

Lately, it’s dark more often than it used to be. Mom seems to wish for more light but somehow it all works out.

I think there are a lot of things going on around here right now.

New smells and those things Mom calls boxes on the carport, waiting for the recycling people. (I’m not sure the recycling people want to meet me!)

And lots of nights Mom gets up and helps me watch the house. She does the things called reading and writing and drinks a lot of the stuff she calls tea.

My sisters usually sleep.

Mom says progress is messy. I don’t know what that means.

We’ve also been busy making lots of bone broth. It makes the house smell really good!

Some of our friends come and sit in the rocking chair and tell us stories. Sometimes they cry.

I know about how that feels.

Sarah and Phoebe and I are in charge of something Mom calls non-anxious presence. I’m not sure what that means but apparently I’m getting better at it because now I can go cuddle, too, when somebody cries.

I’ve gotten really good at car riding. Today, we all got to go in the taxi to Camp for a quick visit because Mom had to go to a meeting. I think we had more fun than she did!

I’m still working on towels. (I think there are still a few other things on Mom and Dad’s list of things to work on, like the time we tore up the kitchen when nobody was home.)

Mom says a lot of the things we’re all learning are about something called expectations. That’s a pretty big word. I think it means that we’re just supposed to see how things turn out instead of thinking we know ahead of time how they’re supposed to be.

I used to expect that people touching me would be very scary and might hurt a lot.

Now, Mom and Dad remind me that there’s a lot of better in the world, even though there are not-better things, too.

Sometimes water leaks from Mom’s face when she says things like that, which happened this week. Something about a place called Texas.

I know my job.

I’m in charge of licking up the water.

For now, though, it’s time to get ready for supper.

Thanks for being here!

Love, Luther

P.S. – I’m supposed to say to our new friend Kim that, if Gumby and Pokey come to visit, I probably won’t eat them!