Thankful for a Seagull

Today, I count my dear readers among my many blessings. There is so much to be thankful for that it leaves me almost speechless this morning. Today, I will once again start a new year of gratitude tracking, and if you have never done this, list at least three things each day that you are grateful for, I highly recommend giving it a try! With gratitude for your friendship today! – D

Animal Wonder

A lone seagull at Bolivar A lone seagull at Bolivar

On this wonderful Thanksgiving Day, most of us have turkeys in mind when we think of birds, not seagulls. So, what does this unassuming little seagull have to do with Thanksgiving?

There is a story that goes along with this gull sighting, and it is a story that I want to share here sometime. I will just say for now that I am thankful for this little bird that almost made me cry crocodile tears when I saw it a few years ago. This is far from my best bird photo, but it is one that is near and dear to my heart because of the circumstance where I saw this bird.

We will be enjoying another fabulous meal together with family at our home today, and I will most definitely give thanks for my many blessings once again. I wish you all a very…

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Thanksgiving Lunch Lists

This is the week to make the lists and check them twice – the Thanksgiving lunch list and the grocery shopping list to go with it.  I recently discovered the free Keep app, and it has been such a blessing to keep all of my food lists on it.  The lists sync automatically on my phone, my tablet and my laptop, and I am loving it.  Sometimes technology is a truly great thing to help out with the little things.

Thanksgiving Lunch List
Our Thanksgiving meal lineup this year!

While I normally purchase most of our groceries at the club store these days, I will no doubt purchase some things at our local grocery store for Thanksgiving, too.  The Thanksgiving week sale ad just came out, so it is time to look over the shopping list one last time and schedule a trip to the grocery store at a time that is not as crowded.  I’ve stood in too many ridiculously long lines at the grocery store on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, sometimes to just purchase one item that I forgot on a previous trip.  I’m so done with that nonsense now, if at all possible, and working carefully on the shopping list in advance has helped to prevent such unneeded stress.

I intentionally planned leftovers from lunch for our camping trip and to send home with others for a second meal.  While the lineup is not low-carb by any stretch, I will try to only partake of very small portions of the items that are not “legal” for me.  I’m still not ready to risk sabotaging my diet too much at this point, after working so hard to lose the weight this past year.

So far this week, I’ve finalized the lunch list, and I am finalizing the shopping list.  I’ve also made good progress on house cleaning, as there will be little time for that next week as I prepare our meal and get things ready to leave in the RV later on Thanksgiving Day.  I also made the pie crusts and put them in the freezer.  I used Pioneer Woman’s “Perfect Pie Crust” recipe this time because it is easy to make, makes two at once, tastes great and freezes quite well.  Making traditional pie crusts is not one of my best talents, to be sure, and this recipe is a very simple one.  It can also be found in her holiday cookbook, too.

With both Thanksgiving and our next RV trip coming right up, things are going to be pretty hectic here until early December.  We also have both movie and play tickets that I am excited about, as well as an evening out with two of my best friends.  I will continue to post over at Animal Wonder for the rest of this month to meet the blogging goal there, but I doubt that I will be back here to post until after our trip, unless I somehow get ahead of schedule.  I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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Wordless Wednesday – Fun in the Snow

And looks who's the big dog now!
And looks who’s the big dog now!
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Slip and Slide

First Snow
First Snow

What a roller coast weather week we’ve had!  After the first two cold fronts moved through early last week, we went from 82 degrees on Monday afternoon to 19 degrees by Wednesday morning.  The temperature never broke the freezing mark for over sixty hours, then it hit finally 72 degrees on Saturday afternoon.

This morning it is a balmy…

First Snow 2

… 13 degrees and feels like *5* degrees!

Unfortunately, the roads are very icy, and four people lost their lives yesterday in our area due to traffic accidents.  The accidents occurred as the ice and snow fell yesterday afternoon, and hearing news like that always makes me so sad.  Hopefully, we will thaw out later this afternoon, but for now, I’m home with the pups and just enjoying some good coffee this morning.

The pups have had a ball in the snow, and I have laughed so much at their antics.  Red has pretty much gone crazy in the snow every time he has been out, and the cold and wet doesn’t seem to bother either of them.  Having this comical element in this frozen setting has certainly been fun.

We put up our Christmas tree and put up the outdoor lights on Saturday afternoon, and I may just spend the next couple of days decorating the tree and transitioning the house to holiday festiveness.  I’ve come to learn over the past few years that I truly enjoy the holidays even more when I can decorate the house ahead of time and not stress over rushing to get it done after Thanksgiving.  We are typically gone in the RV after Thanksgiving anyway, and getting ahead of the game just seems to help so much.  I also have to decorate my mother’s apartment, and she does not want her Christmas decorations up prior to Thanksgiving.  So, that is just one more thing on the to-do list after Thanksgiving.

I won’t decorate our dining room table and kitchen for Christmas yet, though.  I will keep those decorations reserved for Thanksgiving until after our trip.  We will be enjoying our Thanksgiving lunch at home, and I have been researching some new recipes to possibly prepare this year.  I’m not concerned about straying from my diet for just a day or two, but it would be nice to find a couple of diet-friendly side dishes to add to our food line-up.  One nice advantage to going camping after Thanksgiving is all of the walking and hiking that we get to do to help get rid of those extra calories we consume at lunch!

It’s time for another cup of coffee on this cold, cold morning!  Have a blessed day!

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Turkey Talk

I follow Food Network on Facebook, and last Friday, they posted something that gave me a bit of concern, especially for younger cooks or even older cooks who are just now looking into the possibility of cooking the big bird for the first time.  I know that feeling all too well.  I’ve been there myself, and I suspect many of you have been there, too.  I just hate to see anyone stress for no reason over something like this, so I would like to share some helpful information about a particular point they attempted to make on Friday.

In what I believe was an honest attempt to help those who are looking to cook a turkey for the first time, or perhaps cook a better turkey for the first time, someone at Food Network posted a “top ten” list of things *not* to do.  Here is a quote of the first item on their list.

Turkey Taboos: 10 things NOT to do this Thanksgiving

1. Use a frozen turkey

While I understand that the taste of a fresh turkey is very likely a fabulous thing, the vast majority of people around this country do not have access to purchase a fresh turkey.  And even if they do have a turkey farm nearby, the cost is often quite expensive, sometimes close to $100 for a fresh bird of any size!  So, for item #1 on this list of things to not do in preparing a turkey, I think this needs to be considered in the real world where most of us live and certainly not list it as a “taboo.”  Good grief! “smh”  By the many comments on their post that basically said the same thing I’ve shared, I’m in the majority of folks that disagree with their take on item #1, too.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or bad in preparing a turkey that was first frozen.  Let’s let one of Food Network’s own explain this little fact further.

One of Food Network’s most popular, long-time personalities and one of their best chefs, in my opinion, is Alton Brown and his long-running show is Good Eats.  I have always enjoyed watching his show over the years because he often shares the science behind his preparation method in an entertaining way.  I have also shared here on a couple of occasions that I only use Alton Brown’s turkey preparation recipe when cooking our bird for the holidays because it produces the best turkey I’ve ever eaten.

Alton is on record in the following video (from about five years ago) about fresh vs. frozen turkeys, and I hope that by sharing his video, perhaps a few cooks this year will not waste their time and money in search of a fresh turkey.  Hubby and I fell into that trap ourselves a few years ago, and we ended up just purchasing a frozen bird anyway.

Perhaps Food Network should have consulted with one of their most popular chefs before posting item #1 on their list?

And while we’re talking turkey today, here is another great video by Alton that is both entertaining and informative.  This is the exact process that I use to prepare our bird.  The turkey sits in the brine overnight prior to cooking the next morning, and we put the bucket either in our spare refrigerator or outside with a cover over it on our patio table, as our overnight temperature is often pretty much perfect for this process in late November and December.  If the temperature outside is warmer where you live, you might just keep it in your refrigerator overnight in a brining bag or keep it in a brining bag in a well iced cooler overnight.  As Alton mentions in the video, the salt concentration will also help to keep bacteria formation down during the brining process, so don’t skimp on the salt that is listed in the recipe.  This is one of his classic videos and a spoof on Mystery (Food) Science Theater.

Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, also follows this same basic procedure, too.  I watched a rerun of one of her earlier Thanksgiving shows on Saturday morning to see how similar her turkey preparation is to Alton Brown’s method, although she basted her turkey every 30 minutes while cooking.  My experience with Alton’s recipe is that basting really is not necessary because the bird is so moist without it.  No sense making this harder than it needs to be.

Ree’s holiday cookbook is absolutely fabulous, and her Thanksgiving recipes in the book are worth the price of the whole book.  Best. Mashed. Potatoes. Ever!  I received my cookbook as a thank-you gift from a sweet friend last year, and while I cannot eat these types of foods day in and day out, these recipes are truly wonderful for all of the holidays listed in the book.

Pioneer Woman Holidays_sm

Brining is the key, even for a properly thawed frozen turkey.  You may also read elsewhere to not brine anything but a fresh turkey.  Feel free to just ignore those comments.  Just rinse the bird *very well* for several minutes after the brining process.  Ree rinses her turkey, then puts it in a separate bucket of cold water for 15 minutes to help rinse away as much of the salt as possible.  After rinsing, just pat the turkey very dry before putting it in the oven.  The result will be a great entrée that is very moist and flavorful, as long as Alton’s directions are followed according to the recipe at the link below.  Don’t forget the covered rest time of 15 minutes after baking, which is important.  Seriously, this is absolutely the best turkey we’ve ever had.

Alton Brown’s 5 Star Turkey Recipe

There is a good reason why this particular recipe remains one of the top recipes at Food Network’s site year after year.  😉

To see some of my previous detailed posts on preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, just check out the links below.  I’ve noticed that some folks have already been doing just that, and I hope my information is helpful to you!

 Best Thanksgiving Meal Ever
(very detailed prep by day)

Easy Thanksgiving Lunch

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