Blessings and Recipes for Thanksgiving

This year I have had two major surgeries, I have lost my job of nineteen years, and my disability insurance company hasn’t paid since early September. Oh, and I’m in constant pain that’s bad enough that I take multiple medications every three hours around the clock to try to control it and still have days when I simply can’t function. But I have more to be thankful for this year than I’ve ever had before – or perhaps I just appreciate it more. I have a loving, supportive family. I have friends who have done everything in their power to keep me from falling apart . . . and they have succeeded! I have a roof over my head and food to feed my family today. I try not to worry about tomorrow, because I’ve done everything in my power and my future is in God’s hands. I’m learning to trust Him and understand that I really don’t have to be in control of everything all the time. That is perhaps the greatest blessing. I wish more of my wonderful family could be here today to celebrate, but maybe I can arrange that next year 🙂

Now on to the recipes!

Taylor emerging from the indoor fryer (a low counter helps)

Brined and deep-fried turkey: I named him Taylor (I always name my turkeys). I thawed him early so I could use the neck and organs for gravy (see below). Last night I rinsed him thoroughly and placed him in a cooler just large enough to hold him (he’s a fifteen-pound bird). I then dissolved 1 cup Kosher salt and 3/4 cup brown sugar in a large saucepan of boiling water. I covered Taylor with ice and then poured the brine over him. Then I added cold water to completely cover him and patted him good-night. We use the deep-frying instructions from the Bob and Tom Show website, and for the past three years we’ve used an indoor fryer. I know that sounds scary, but it’s actually much safer than the outdoor variety, and cooking times are much easier to estimate. When you use an outdoor fryer the temperature and the wind can make a difference of hours in your cooking time. And, of course, the turkey is delicious!

Since I am currently completely unable to multitask (I can’t even listen to the radio while I drive) I had to spread out my Thanksgiving prep over several days. I made gravy from this marvelous recipe on OctoberFarm (for the second year). I made both regular and giblet gravy. For the giblet gravy I just sautéed the softer organs from the turkey in a little olive oil and garlic, minced them, and added those and some sliced boiled eggs to a portion of the regular gravy. Giblet gravy is Michael’s favorite. I personally think it’s kinda icky.

I made my Aunt Beverly’s stuffing (except I forgot and left out the apple), but I made it a day ahead and cooked it in the crockpot today (one hour on high, then two hours on low).

Dumplings are a must-have at my house on Thanksgiving, and this year I was frantic because I’d lost my recipe. Thankfully, I’d blogged about it last year, and that blog post saved my butt!

I made the broccoli-berry salad in advance because it tastes better made a day or two ahead, made a Derby Pie well in advance and hid it from the children, and made BoysRUs Beans (which involves the trinity of brown sugar, butter, and bacon) from one of my favorite Sweet Potato Queens books yesterday and cooked it about half-way so it could finish up today.

I pre-made the mashed potatoes late last night, and they turned out great because I followed my aunt’s instructions and cooked the potato chunks for exactly fifteen minutes, drained them, and then put them back in the pot on the hot burner to get the rest of the moisture out. That’s what I’d always done wrong and it makes a huge difference in the end result. I didn’t find this particular recipe until the last minute, so I left out the green onions rather than make an extra trip to the grocery, but they were still fabulous 🙂

The scalloped corn (another Beverly recipe) I made today, as well as the bread machine rolls.

Here’s the truth about the rest of the meal, though: I bought canned cranberry sauce because it’s the only kind by husband and children like. I just cut it up and put it in a pretty dish. I bought Bob Evans sweet potatoes, microwaved them, and put them in a serving dish as if I’d made them myself. And (prepare yourself) I bought a frozen lemon meringue pie and defrosted it to go with the Derby Pie. I felt guilty about it, but I was just too freakin’ tired. And you know what? My husband liked the pie so much he ate two pieces!

My FIL, Tom. As a retired butcher he always gets tapped to carve.

We all had a wonderful, relaxing meal, and my fridge is full of leftovers. I have a feeling Thanksgivings are going to get better and better around here 🙂 For the first time in a long time I’m linking up to Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop. May all of you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Priced at just $4.99, it is now available in every format your little heart could desire at Smashwords, or, if you prefer, it’s also for sale in a Kindle version at Amazon or a Nook version at Barnes and Noble!

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