Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving and the Upcoming Black Friday

Thanksgiving is a longstanding American tradition, and kicks off the insane frenzy of pre-holiday shopping with Black Friday (thank you Mr. Lincoln). I've always been a big promoter of small business and handmade for gift giving choices for the holidays, being a small business myself, I understand on the most basic level what a good holiday sales' season can do for me opposed to everyone rushing out to B&BW for their smelly goods and turning their noses up at my (and hundreds of others') rustic goods. So I'm going to post some picks/pics of quality handmade gifts that someone you know, or you yourself, might love to have rather than that dust-collecting X-Box 360 sitting next to the TV or the new coffeemaker to replace the coffeemaker you bought yourself last summer or the house slippers from The Wanda (aka Walmart) to add to the growing collection of other house slippers crammed in that bottom drawer you never open.

Without further ado ~

SeaSalted Caramel Marshmallows

Crazy Cat Lady t-shirt

Handmade Vintage Hippie Boho Bag

Watercolor Caleche Parfum Bottle

I know, nothing technologically challenging in any of these, but nice nonetheless, and special in a way that a mass produced item can never be -- unless it's perfume. And I realize that all these sellers are on Etsy, but the truth about Etsy is (or one truth) that it's got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of sellers of every ilk who even have websites off Etsy from which they sell -- Etsy is a mall for small businesses, a one-stop internet shopping extravaganza, from gourmet luxury foods to art.

Let's talk turkey. For real. How does one cook a perfect turkey? Or any fowl, for that matter? Everyone strives for that perfectly juicy, lovely browned turkey at Thanksgiving, he is, after all, the star of the show, right? As a self-taught cook beginning at the age of 10, I've learned a trick or two through sheer trial and error, and cooking that perfect turkey is one of those tricks. And the kicker is, it is so easy, sooooo easy, that some people who've slaved over a turkey with a baster will wonder why, oh, why, did grandma swear by a baster when CLEARLY it doesn't work. Here's what works, and it's a trick I've taught all my kids, who also make perfectly cooked juicy birds ~ take one lovely fat bird and wash him thoroughly, betwixt and between, under the wing and under the tail, inside and out, then dry him thoroughly. Peel a large Vidalia onion and push it as far back into the bird's cleaned cavity as it will go, then wash and peel two large carrots and two stalks of celery, chop them up and push them into the cavity as well. Then close birdies legs and begin the massage. Some of us don't buy the injected birds because, well, we're not quite sure what they're injecting in there, so we do our own form of 'injection' -- butter under the skin. And that's butter, not margarine. Wherever you can, slip bits and pieces of butter under the skin until the bird looks pocked, then melt a few pats of butter in your hands and rub the bird's frontside until well buttered, salt and pepper and place carefully into the turkey pan. The pan is important too, the best pan being those old-fashioned black pans with the white and blue speckles on them, and a nice tight-fitting lid. It's good if you put a little turkey rack on the bottom of the pan to make lifting the bird out much easier. Tie cooking thread at four points onto the pan rack and once the bird is in the pan, loosely tie the ends of the thread over the top of the bird so you can just lift the whole mess out at once when it's done. Okay, the next step is to calculate how much time and at what temperature your bird needs to cook, set the oven, let it get up to speed, close the top of the turkey pan onto the turkey, place it in the oven, set the timer and that's it. I mean it. That's it. When the timer goes off, take the turkey out of the oven and DO NOT IMMEDIATELY OPEN THE PAN! Give the bird about 15 minutes to soak up the juices and 'settle' before opening the pan to drain the juices for gravy. Put the lid back on the pan while you're prepping the final touches to your dinner, plate the big guy and serve him. I guarantee he'll be thoroughly cooked, browned and juicy. And wear Chanel No.5 while prepping dinner, for some reason dinner turns out perfectly all the way around when Chanel is involved.

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