Let the holidays begin

It’s that time of year again! Let me say that again-It’s that time of year again!!!! In case you missed it I love this time of year! The crisp morning air mixed with the aroma of coffee perking and the anticipation of the coming days where the aroma of cinnamon, sage and roasting turkey will fill the cabin, yes I do love the holidays. I have so much to be Thankful for I am almost overwhelmed by the emotions. 

Holidays, for some can mean a time of stress, shopping and fretting over things that won’t matter in the coming years. For all of you reading this I would like to ask a favor-please take a minute to relax, breathe in a deep breath and ask yourself “What kind of memories are we building”? I posed this question to myself years ago and decided that very few fancy decorations and expensive gifts would be remembered in the future BUT laughter, good food and happy times would be traditions that would. With that realization I found freedom. My children have begun getting the holiday bug too with reaching the age where they too can take part in preparing the meal and atmosphere  that takes days to complete. 

Thanksgiving for us has always been a time of sharing and caring. Being off grid some things have changed but the meaning has not. It is a time of Thankfulness and building memories. This year is going to be a turning point for me. My children are already coming into their own with Cati taking on the responsibility of official pie baker  last year was her first “almost by myself” run and this year I will resist all urges to “help” and quietly sit on the sidelines and relinquish that department to her. I have so much to be thankful for but I might add there’s a bit of me that will shed a few silent tears at the thought of my babies growing up. Cami is not much for cooking, she doesn’t have the desire and I don’t push but I am sure she will find a project to commemorate the holiday with. A true artist in mind, body and soul she will create something memorable. Caleb, my youngest son who is at the age where he wants to be a man but still not sure how, will busy himself with getting firewood to keep the stove stoked. Caleb will have the most important job of all. My dear son who is warring with himself right now and looking for the direction he wants to take in life, will provide the most basic element yet the most crucial to keep both our bodies and our hearts warm. I hope each child realizes how each has a unique talent and gift that completes our family circle.

Yesterday we butchered a turkey. Let the preparations begin.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes. 

Cornbread dressing *note* this is one of those recipes that require self adjusting, meaning if you have to add a bit more or reduce the liquid then do so. Begin by baking the cornbread a day or two before. 

Cornbread-2 cups cornmeal, 1 1/2 cup flour, 2 eggs beaten slightly, 1 stick butter melted, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt. 2 1/4 cups milk. Mix the dry ingredients then together well then add milk, eggs and butter stirring only until combined-you should have a thick batter.coat a cast iron skillet with oil and sprinkle in some cornmeal to coat bottom before pouring batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. *note this recipe is not what we call “eatin” cornbread it’s “dressing” cornbread. Cool then crumble into bowl and set aside. ****If you don’t have a cast iron skillet you can use a large cake pan to bake.

Dressing

Cornbread crumbled

6 cups dried bread crumbs

2 large onions diced

1 bunch diced celery

1 whole clove garlic minced or 2-3 tsp jarred minced garlic

6 eggs slightly beaten

1 stick butter melted

2 pounds breakfast sausage crumbled and cooked and drained

4 cups chicken broth 

2 cups apple juice you can substitute water

2 tbsp rubbed sage

1 tsp salt 

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp poultry seasoning

Optional-1 cup dried apples, 1 cup dried cranberries 1 cup chopped walnuts-I use all 3

Sauté onions and celery until transparent.

Mix it all up well in a large bowl-it should be thick like brownies for a drier dressing or for moister add chicken broth to thin like a cake batter. Pour in a couple large cake pans and bake at 350 for about an hour or until center is firm to the touch. I like to bake some in a loaf pan for later. Remove from pan and wrap in plastic wrap, chill and slice then brown in skillet for breakfast. Served with maple syrup and butter it’s much like scrapple but with a twist!

This makes a huge batch. It freezes well though or you can cut in half.

Brine for turkey-

If you want a turkey that will be moist, tender and look like it came out of a cook book -brine it!

24 hours prior to cooking-

1 1/2 cups canning salt

1 orange unpeeled cut in wedges

1TbSP rubbed sage

1 TBSP minced garlic

1 TBSP dried  rosemary 

Large container like a cooler

Squeeze oranges to juice and toss juice and oranges in container-add remaining ingredients. Add 1/2 gallon hot water and mix thoroughly. Add enough ice to chill.

Place turkey in brine then add ice and water to cover bird. Stir it around to mix brine and let sit 24 hours adding ice if needed to maintain a temp 36-40 degrees. 

To prepare turkey remove from brine and pat dry-butter the entire bird lightly and place in pan breat side down. Add just enough water or broth to pan to cover bottom 1/2 inch. Roast in oven at 325 for 2 hours. Remove from oven and carefully insert 2 meat forks (one in each body cavity) then flip breast side up. Return to oven for remainder of cooking time. It takes about 15 minutes per pound of bird but the easiest way to check for doneness is a meat thermometer inserted in thigh it should read 165

Let bird “rest” 30 minutes covered with foil and a heavy towel before carving.

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