Breathing Room: Thanksgiving Day Emergency Cooking Aid

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Someone in my social media feed suggested in a few years it would be obvious artificial intelligence was to the internet what microplastics are to the environment.

Another pundit cracked wise yesterday about AI, wondering how many cooking disasters would happen today because folks relied on answers they found on the internet.

The amount of crap out there on the internet generated by AI is already dangerous. It’s not helped by the business models search engines and browsers use to elevate content.

The biggest challenges on Thanksgiving are generally about cooking a turkey. Butterball brand has answered related questions for years now and is trustworthy source because their brand is at stake – they’re committed to your positive turkey cooking experience.

But here’s the nature of the problem: if you should search Google for “Butterball turkey how to” the top result is goddamned dead bird site X.

You can’t blindly trust cooking information off X right now; there’s simply too much false information and spoofed accounts. This scenario should also tell you something about X: they spent a huge wad of cash to be the first search result instead of spending money on moderation to fight back the proliferation of crap on X.

Go directly to Butterball.com instead, double checking the URL to make sure you didn’t enter a typo.

The same goes for instructions on any brand name product – don’t search for them without first going directly to the brand’s site.

The next best alternative for information is going directly to food and cooking sites you’re already familiar with and trust – like

foodnetwork.com

bonappetit.com

allrecipes.com

whatscookingamerica.net

seriouseats.com

thekitchn.com

marthastewart.com

saveur.com.

These links are not endorsements, merely shared for ease of access and AI avoidance. One personal exception is whatscookingamerica.net — this has been my favorite site for cooking prime rib and standing rib roast. Never had a bad meal relying on their information.

~ ~ ~

If you’re one of those folks who need help today, feel free to ask in comments here if you don’t trust the results you’ve received online. The community here is pretty good at finding factual material.

I’ll offer something tried-and-true which I’ve made in volumes to keep on my shelf after forgetting to buy pumpkin pie spice mix one year but needing it at the last minute.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Per pie:

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Sometimes I add more ginger and cloves for a spicier tasting pie.

Don’t have pumpkin pie spice mix, but also don’t have all those ingredients? Do what you can with what you have on hand, be creative. Add more vanilla to the pumpkin batter, maybe even add some finely grated lemon rind to replace the ginger.

And if your guests don’t care for the result, blame AI search results.

Then go to penzeys.com and order their pumpkin pie spice mix to restock your shelf. That’s another tried-and-true resource.

One more warning: there has been a proliferation of phishing in search engines using the same technique the dead bird site applied, only buying “sponsored” slots at the top of results pages.

As a rule I never, ever click on “sponsored” links anymore. Too many have been bought by crooks who spoof a similar-looking domain name, use nearly identical content matching real brands, and then attack folks who click on their fallacious link.

~ ~ ~

Other emergencies which may occur on Thanksgiving:

– If you are going to attend a family event at which there are persons who make you uncomfortable, plan ahead for an emergency exit. Organize an “emergency” call or text placed by a trusted friend at a specific time(s) so that you can gracefully leave before things get worse.

– Fires are the most common accident on Thanksgiving. Make sure flammable non-food items are kept clear of the stove or grill. Have a box of baking SODA (never powder) or salt for small grease fires, sprinkling the powder directly on the flames and not from the side. A pot lid may also work to suffocate small fires. Keep ready an appropriate fire extinguisher on hand though once used the cooking area will be contaminated. Better to prevent fires including avoiding overloading electrical outlets and power strips. Can’t hurt to read this overview before getting too deep in the kitchen: https://lifehacker.com/how-to-put-out-every-kind-of-kitchen-fire-1849732334

– Burns and cuts are the most common kitchen injuries on Thanksgiving Day. Make sure you have your first aid kit at hand. Go to this link for more information about treating injuries: https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/kitchen-first-aid

– Know where to take injured if the person needs more help than you can offer. What’s the closest emergency room or urgent care facility? Have you checked the route from your house for recent road construction? I mention this because a couple friends have had to drive to the ER during the last two weeks, one in the middle of the night. Thank goodness there wasn’t any impediment on the road.

– Learn unexpectedly you’ve been around someone who has COVID? Get away from them, leave closed spaces. Viral load matters; the more virus particles, the sicker you are likely to become even with a vaccine or booster, though vaccine/booster makes it far more likely you’ll have a mild to asymptomatic case. Gargle with salt water and use a saline nasal spray immediately after an unexpected exposure to reduce the amount of virus particles in your throat; saline lavage regimens have reduced illness due to COVID (see https://acaai.org/news/new-study-gargling-with-salt-water-may-help-prevent-covid-hospitalization/). And for gods’ sake wear an N95 mask in public shared spaces with persons whose health status you don’t know because the pandemic isn’t over no matter how much corporations want you to believe otherwise.

~ ~ ~

Got any tips you want to share for last-minute problems on Turkey Day? Share in this open thread.

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86 replies
  1. WheelyCurious says:

    1) Seems like most fried-turkey fire videos are because the turkey displaces so much oil that it overflows into the flames below. lol. sorry.

    2) The last couple years that we’ve used the turkey bags that keep even the white meat moist, the turkey actually falls apart when I try to take it outta the roasting pan. My wife said she googled cooking times when using a bag. When I looked, the first source (which seemed legit) said to subtract an hour from the regular without-a-bag cooking time.

    3) Super easy, seemingly fancy app recipe:
    Cut French bread thin on a diagonal into lotsa slices.
    Cut thin wedges of Brie cheese and put ’em on the bread on a baking pan.
    Place sliced (not slivered) almonds on the cheese. Push down a little or they just all fall off.
    Put oven rack 2nd from top and the baking pan on there.
    Broil on high for 2.5 – 4 mins.
    Watch very closely when you hit 2.5 mins. These go from perfect to burnt in like 0.00001 minutes. Almonds and bread should be brown -edged with just a hint of black

    4) Turkey bird has two cavities: front and back. If you don’t find gibblets in the larger, check the smaller.

    5) Turkey bags are great, except – they can fall and stick to the wonderful, delicious, crispy skin. So, I’m gonna switch to tin foil cover or try to build a little tin foil wall to keep the bag off the skin.

    6) Don’t over-stuff the turkey or your stuffing will be mush. Leave space. Cook extra stuffing in a casserole dish for 20 mins at 350^ with some turkey fat trimmed from the butt-end of the turkey or a separate turkey leg stores usually sell just past the raw meat toward prepared meats and hot dogs and stuff like that.

    7) Latino is Spanish for Native American. Funny how so many people claim to be “1/47th Cherokee” or whatever but also trash folks from south of the Border.

    Just a couple things I’ve learned.

    Happy Turkey Day.

      • WheelyCurious says:

        Sorry, maybe a little flippant. Was just calling out the notion that “Native American” includes all of the Americas. Some folks seem to mythologize/elevate Native Americans from North America while denigrating those from South and Central America. Not suggesting that’s the case on this site, more in our larger society.

        • Rayne says:

          Dude. You pulled that crap after I’d written I’m a descendant of indigenous Pacific Islanders, used the word “indigenous” three times in my post.

          While colonialism is a global phenomenon, Thanksgiving in the U.S. is an American holiday. We’re talking about Native Americans who were affected by this country’s colonialism. We’re not talking about Spain’s or Portugal’s colonialism in central and south Americas for that reason.

    • P J Evans says:

      You can pack dressing around the bird after you turn it over – remove the rack, though. You’ll get stuff near the bird that’s moist and near the pan edge that’s crispier.

    • LargeMoose says:

      I cook my turkeys in the oven, with a pan of boiling water sitting on the bottom of the oven itself. The turkey is in a separate pan on a shelf above the water pan, with the lid sitting in the pan at an angle so all the drippings go into the turkey pan, but the bird is almost totally uncovered. The boiling water keeps the turkey from drying out, and the skin, sprayed with a bit of EVOO, tends to become crispy, like Peking Turkey. I start off at 450F for 10 minutes, then down to 350F until the digital thermometer says ~170.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Fried turkey videos display more problems than displacement alone. The bird should be dry and free of both water and ice and when they’re not, the disasters shown on YouTube occur. Water/ice turns to steam rapidly and increases immensely in volume, thus turning the oil into a fine mist that fills the air and ignites easily.

      Mythbusters tested the “30’ flame myth” and saw flames going over 20’ but not 30’ so they said the myth was busted but noted that it is not a good idea to deep fry turkey that is still frozen with ice hidden in its cavities. I say the myth is confirmed as 30’ is a very high ceiling and 24’ flames will set almost any house ablaze, the whole point of the “myth”; the 30’ “requirement” is being interpreted a bit too literally, IMHO.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        My daughter and son-in-law have been hosting the family Thanksgiving for a couple of years now, and SIL decided he wanted to try deep frying the turkey. He does it in the back yard (has to be a non-rainy day; so far, so lucky) and we’ve not had a problem. Of course, he’s an engineer, so he approaches the task differently than many of the YouTubeDudes in the accident videos. It’s incredibly tasty and (surprise) not at all greasy.

  2. Hug h roonman says:

    Thanks Rayne and everyone else here at EW, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Another outstanding site for all things Grilling, Smoking, Food Science and Safety, Recipes, Equipment related (albeit a fairly primitive interface)
    amazingribs.com

    I alternate between wet and dry brining Turkey, this year overnight Buttermilk fresh Herb Brine roasted Low and Slow on the Rotisserie.

    FYI- If you are preparing a wet Brined Bird adjustment should be made when using pan drippings for gravy as they will be very salty from the brining process. I’m using zero sodium Chicken Stock with the Turkey Giblets and will add flavor and seasoning by judiciously adding small amounts of pan drippings at the end.

    Again thanks to all!

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for the reminder about sodium. I will be making stock from the back, neck, and wing tips I remove from the turkey before brining — no salt added.

      • Peterr says:

        I don’t brine and just use a spray of olive oil to hold a little salt and pepper to the skin. Then I use the carcass (not skin) for making stock, and don’t add any salt to that at all. When I use the stock, I don’t have to worry about how much salt is in it, because the answer is none.

    • Baltimark says:

      Just want to second the value of amazingribs.com for all matters related to any kind of grilling and smoking. Its corollary cookbook, MEATHEAD, is outstanding in its verve, its recipes, its analytical myth busting, and its guidance on general techniques. That and Serious Eats’ J Kenji Alt’s The Food Lab are easily the two most valuable guides I have for outdoor cooking (even as the purview of the latter is far, far more broad — but then again full-spectrum grilling/smoking entails plenty of indoor work with scratch sauces, reductions, marinades, mops, etc.).

  3. Ladyfair says:

    I have found that vegetable oil is the best to use in coating the turkey skin before baking. Check the brownness level of the skin about 3/4’s time in the oven, then place a foil tent cover over the bird to prevent the skin from drying out or burning.
    If you stuff the bird, take the stuffing out before you start to carve. A large spoon works wonders.

    Trying to bake several things at once but they have different oven temperature requirements? Usually the bird cooks at 325 degrees, keep the oven at 325 but add 10 minutes to the additional casseroles that cook at 350.

    I have been a long time reader and have learned much from everyone here. Thank you to all !

    • LizzyMom says:

      Unless your turkey is really small, it benefits from resting for a while. My 20-25 lb turkey gets pulled out of the oven a good hour or so before serving (covered with towels) to rest and “rehydrate” (pull the juices back into the meat).

      During that time I bake everything else that needs baking.

      Just in case you are wondering: when I cut the turkey which has been out of the oven resting, the meat is still too hot to touch with your fingers. And, because of the resting, even the breast meat is juicy and tender (most folks who complain about turkey being dry have had one that has been cooked too quickly, at too high a temp and without resting).

      • Rayne says:

        Good point about resting. All meat benefits from resting under cover immediately after removal from heat. It actually continues to cook for 5-20 minutes depending on the meat, whether beef steak or roast turkey. Even burgers should sit for 5 minutes.

  4. HanTran says:

    I will offer a couple of more very dependable and very useful sites. For both recipes and instructions on just about everything the New York Times cooking site is fantastic and is frankly the only reason I subscribe. For baking instructions and recipes King Arthur is hard to beat. Gobble gobble gobble you all.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    My leftover turkey favorites are shepherd’s pie, with diced turkey replacing the ground beef, and diced turkey, cream cheese, and bits baked in a flaky pastry envelope, a kind of turkey Wellington.

    • Peterr says:

      That’s the great thing about leftover turkey. We’re heading into winter here in the northern hemisphere, and so shepherd’s pie, turkey soups, and other other warm dishes are wonderful. I put some of today’s leftovers in the fridge for sandwiches and quick meals, and diced the rest for those yummy warm comfort food meals to come.

      Hmmm . . . the prediction for Saturday night around here is the first snow of the season . . .

  6. Chetnolian says:

    Shepherd’s pie; ground beef? I always though shepherd’s pie had to be lamb, or indeed proper old mutton. The clue’s in the name. The turkey substitute sounds good though.

    • Rayne says:

      Though the original shepherd’s pie might have been mutton, I guess it depends on what one has been shepherding. I can readily see turkey as a shepherded flock; here in Michigan it’s not uncommon to have flocks of wild turkeys large enough to stop traffic like sheep might in parts of the rural UK.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I was lazily trying to substitute the what-do-I-do-with-this leftover turkey for the usual minced beef or shredded lamb or mutton, but forgot to whom I was speaking. Cookbooks and the media are woefully unreliable in distinguishing between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie (and usually stick to the mashed potatoes). Thankfully, pedants are not. :-)

      • SteveBev says:

        I believe that the oldest British recipes used the terms cottage pie and shepherd’s pie interchangeably for pies made with mashed potato toppings and shredded diced or minced meat, gravy and vegetable fillings, not least because it’s a dish of leftovers bulked up, often using different meats in the same dish, using whatever was to hand. I think the tendency to distinguish cottage pie as beef and shepherd’s pie as lamb is relatively modern ie late 20th century and became more pronounced as supermarket convenience products became more common, though cook books do not reliably make the same distinction. Cottage pie is IMHO a style of dish not a recipe title – and always was in every restaurant I worked.

  7. higgs boson says:

    My favorite leftover turkey recipe:

    TURKEY TETRAZZINI
    4 T butter
    2 T butter
    4 T flour
    2 c turkey stock
    1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
    2 T sherry
    1 c cream
    2 1/2 c diced, cooked turkey
    1/2 lb spaghetti
    1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
    Melt 4 T butter with flour. Cook for 3 min, stirring. Add stock, cook until smooth and thick,
    stirring constantly. Saute mushrooms in 2 T butter until wilted. Add to sauce along with sherry,
    cream, and turkey. Cook spaghetti and drain. Grease an 8″ x 12″ baking dish. Add half the
    spaghetti and cover with 1/2 of the turkey mixture. Repeat. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
    Bake uncovered at 350F for 30 min or until bubbly and brown.

    (really hope I formatted that correctly)

    This recipe is so good, I cook turkey just so I can have leftovers

    • Rayne says:

      Turkey tetrazzini was one of three dishes you could guarantee my mom would fix after Thanksgiving before she gave up leftover duties to my dad. It was also one of the earliest casserole-type dishes I learned how to cook as a kid, as soon as I mastered a Bechamel sauce. My version includes garlic, sauteed onions, and a sprinkle of thyme.

      The other dishes were turkey crepes and a casserole I have forgotten because I disliked it so much (it had tomato sauce and raisins in it, the entire combination I find an abomination).

      • nord dakota says:

        Have you ever read any Shirley Jackson? In Life Among the Savages (children and a husband) she mentions a casserole involving whipping cream, black olives, and tuna.

        Turkey curry, with cranberries, is sometimes a leftover.

        I love turkey sandwiches on white bread with just mayo.

        • Rayne says:

          Love Jackson’s horror works; her short story The Lottery remains an all-time favorite since I first read it in third grade. I know I’ve read Life Among the Savages but I think it didn’t stick with me because it wasn’t as gripping as her more terrifying stories. I’ll have to add it to my TBR list for a refresher. A casserole with whipping cream, black olives, and tuna wouldn’t put me off; I love salade niçoise which pairs tuna with olives, wouldn’t be a far walk for me. (You know, the same salad substituting leftover turkey for tuna might be pretty tasty.)

          Speaking of horror stories, the deliberately-forgotten leftover turkey casserole may have been a pathetic midwestern reinterpretation of a middle eastern/Spanish/Moroccan/Turkish dish with a spicy tomato sauce and raisins as a stand-in for dates. The raisins were what turned me off; I can’t abide them in cooked foods. It’s like running across a rabbit turd in your meal. Just, no.

            • Peterr says:

              Growing up, my dad and mom would jest about how hot chili should be. Mom did not care for spicy stuff, and dad loved it, so mom would put the chili powder on the table for him to boost the heat. Every time mom cooked chili, dad would make a big show of taking a bite, then reach for the chili powder and add what he felt was appropriate.

              One night, dad took his usual first bite, reached for the chili powder, and stopped. “This is great as it is! What did you do different?” Mom answered “Nothing. It’s my usual recipe.” Then she took a bite, spit it back out, and went running for a glass of milk.

              After a bit, they figured out that instead of adding a certain amount of chili powder, mom used that much cayenne pepper by mistake. Dad loved it (and so did I). Mom didn’t eat any of it so that meant for more for us.

              Pro Cooking Tip: check the label before adding anything to the pot.

              • Rayne says:

                Brilliant! I’ve made the mistake recently of using the taekyung chili powder instead of paprika — mostly because I’d forgotten to relabel the recycled paprika can when I put the taekyung in it. The t’chicha (barley-tomato soup) probably turned out more like it would in north Africa than I’d anticipated. Whew!

            • Alan Charbonneau says:

              Reminds me of Good Morning World, a sitcom that was on only one season, 1967–1968. Billy De Wolfe requested escargot with lime and garlic. Goldie Hawn didn’t have lime and garlic, so she used lemon and onion. De Wolfe said “I applaud your ingenuity”
              (I remember that line from hearing it once at the age of 13, yet I can’t remember where I park my car!)

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Decades ago, my mother was fretting over what to give me for my birthday. I told her I would love for her to write down her favorite recipes on index cards and put them in a small file box. She did, and even decoupaged the box!

        One day an acquaintance was telling me that she was going to make some picadillo for supper, with some leftover potatoes and beef she had. I remarked that my mother’s recipe for that didn’t have potatoes in it. But it did have beef. She told me that was because hers was a Mexican recipe and mine was Cuban.

        I haven’t had it in years, but I really like it with black beans and yellow rice. And, yes, it has raisins (as well as green olives, almonds, onion, garlic, green pepper, tomatoes or tomato sauce, cinnamon, chili powder, and cumin.)

        This is different than my mom’s recipe, but you get the idea:

        “Cuban Picadillo Recipe”

        https://www.seriouseats.com/cuban-picadillo-recipe

        • Rayne says:

          The more I think about it, the casserole-which-remains-forgotten was probably a bastardized version of picadillo.

          I know Filipino/Pinoy have a version of picadillo, too, which makes sense given how much influence Spanish have had on the Philippines. I wonder how it differs from Mexican and Cuban versions?

          Thanks for sharing the picadillo recipe.

  8. nord dakota says:

    I’m working, and the people my son (who is grown up now and has his own place) and I usually join have all decamped for grandma (now great-grandma)’s home other side of the state (on of the grandkids has been updating me on life with a crazy Sioux mother and grandmother and miscommunications given 7 siblings and a grandma with hearing problems and having to correct the news constantly, and it’s hilarious). Cooking a small turkey on Sunday.

    I was bottom of the barrel broke for a lot of years. One year I discovered I did not have milk in any form for pumpkin pie. But we’d scored a gallon of partly melted and refrozen ice cream from someone so used ice cream and reduced sugar. Made an awesome pie. I switched to sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin a long time ago, I like a denser pie, less custard-y.

    If I’d had the time, I’d have made lefse. But discovered last week that Thanksgiving was 6 days away, I thought it was still early November somehow.

    • Peterr says:

      Don’t wonder — do it. If you cook something with chicken, you can usually swap it out for turkey with no problem.

    • blueedredcounty says:

      P J, Peterr is right! I started making my chili with ground turkey about 10 years ago, and I won’t make chili with anything else now. I’ll switch up the beans (I like black beans, but sometimes visiting family doesn’t), but the constants are ground turkey and some beer (in the chili, and then in me).

    • Rayne says:

      Had it in all of those and tostadas as well– yum. My favorite commercial salsa with lighter meats like turkey and chicken is Herdez Guacamole Salsa. Toss some chopped turkey in a well-oiled frying pan with a healthy sprinkle of homemade taco seasoning, cook through until hot and fragrant, throw in tortilla of choice with Monterey Jack cheese and a selection of vegetables like lettuce, shredded radishes, chopped tomatoes, pickled jalapenos, just usual taco/tostada toppings. So good.

      For anybody else reading this, I make my own taco seasoning mix which I use for tacos, burritos, enchiladas.

      Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

      4 tablespoons chili powder
      2 tablespoons cumin
      1 tablespoon paprika
      1 tablespoon salt
      1 teaspoon garlic powder
      1 teaspoon dried onion
      1 teaspoon oregano
      1 teaspoon black pepper
      1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional, helps meat mixture thicken and spices stick)

      2 TBSP mix = 1 package seasoning

      Use 2 TBSP to 1 pound of meat and 3/4 cup water, mix well and cook over medium heat until water has been absorbed/evaporated.

      • Peterr says:

        I make up a big batch of taco seasoning (6 parts chili powder, 3 parts cumin, and 1 part cayenne pepper), and keep it in an old shaker bottle.

        • Rayne says:

          LOL That’s about the same ratio chili powder/cumin/other pepper I use, just less fussy measuring.

          I didn’t specify but I use hot paprika, dare not go full cayenne or Thai Dragon because of my spouse whose taste for heat has fluctuated over the years.

      • Rayne says:

        Oooh, orange…I didn’t think to try that with turkey meat though I use it with pork carnitas. Thanks for that link!

  9. wa_rickf says:

    Any Ina Garten recipe is fail safe. Ina knows how to put ingredients together and her recipe directions are always flawless.

      • wa_rickf says:

        Great suggestion Rayne. Thank you.

        I clicked barefootcontessa.com, scrolled down to have a look at the page, and a Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake recipe came into view.

        OMG. That sounds so delicious!!!!

    • dannyboy says:

      Ina Garten really screwed the employees of her Barefoot Contessa shop in East Hampton. I hate to be the one to deliver these downer notes (but I did wait until Thanksgiving passed).

      • Rayne says:

        You’re being a royal pain in the ass posting far too many chatter-y comments which add little to conversation and in a very narrow window of time, in addition to posting comments like this one which are contrary without being helpful.

        Consider your audience AND the site itself: what are you adding constructively to either with your comments? If you’re looking for a place to shit post and dump your emotional baggage, this is not the place for it.

          • bmaz says:

            Hi there “Danny Boy”, no your latest BS response comment is not going to be approved either. And, as to Rayne and me “bonding” against you, we have been here forever and know how to keep the site running. We neither need your help, nor advice. You have proved to be an unserious pain in the ass, and we don’t need any of that currently. Also, too, I had previously warned you about serial spamming of threads with comments of nothing. Get lost.

  10. e.a. foster says:

    Use a computer to find receipes? yikes. what could possibly go wrong.
    If I ever have to bake or cook something I’ll just use my Mother’s cook books from the early 1950s.
    Never really learned how to cook, that is why you have domestic units. Did however learn to make a turkey dinner for 14 and an angel food cake with 7 minute icing. That is the extent of my cooking.

    The sibling used turkey meat for all the receipes requiring meat, had ground turkey, turkey burgers, turkey bacon, turkey pepperoni, etc.

    Love sheppards pie. when I split the sheets with the spousal unit, there went the best sheppards pie I ever had. Should have planned that better by stocking the deep freeze with sheppards pie for 6 months. He had trained as a professional chef and worked at a number of high end places in his misspent youth.

    Canada had their Thanksgiving dinners last month. From the reading I’ve done over the years it would appear Thanksgiving dinner is a bigger thing in the U.S.A. and there are more family get togethers than in Canada for the event. Even back in the 60s, 50, 70s never noticed any neighbours having company for Thanksgiving dinner.

    There is nothing you can do to a Thanks giving main event that can not be fixed with lots of gravy. As to pumpkin pie or other desserts, if it isn’t exactly what you thought it would taste like, add whipping cream, lots of it.

    Hope every one had a great dinner and enjoyed their family and friends.
    Hope Rayne does another column like this next year. Its fun!
    Thank you!

    • Rayne says:

      Until the emergence of AI, using the internet to find recipes has been a boon. I’ve been able to find recipes and necessary ingredients I couldn’t find pre-internet, and I’m a collector of cookbooks (I own about 90).

      As for using a computer instead of a cookbook: I can’t search 90 cookbooks for a keyword unless I commit hours/days/weeks to doing so. But I can check my decades-old plain text locally-stored collection of recipes in seconds for every occurrence of “maple syrup” or “sweet vermouth” or “beans.” What I really want is a database for recipes; I have yet to find one which isn’t commercialized, an annoyance to install and maintain (looking here at many open source solutions), and a pain for non-techies to use. Computers should be the perfect cookbook but for the lack of a simple database. (No, absolutely no, I am not going to port to Microsoft Access.)

      Glad you could drop in, hope we’re all here next year to talk about both a successful election, successful prosecutions, and a successful turkey day feast.

      • e.a. foster says:

        90 COOK BOOKS? O.M.G.!
        From your previous posts I concluded you do know how to cook, do a fair amount of it, and are very good at it.
        You also know how to use a computer well.

        Now me, can’t cook, no expert with computers. I do have friends who are excellent cooks who filled in between domestic units and room service. I can turn a computer on and off and type on it. That is about it.

        I’ll be back next year! Your posts about cooking and events at home are always fun. Just from reading your posts about holidays and during covid, if you ever write a book, I’d buy itl
        Thank you.
        Also thank you to Marcy Wheeler and bmaz for their contributions to helping a lot of us make sense of what is going on around us.

      • e.a. foster says:

        I decided to use the term to refer to a husband, wife, partner, friend with benefits, etc. regardless of sexual orientation, who share a unit in which they live and may or may not have an emotional connection to. Its neutral and therefore no one gets offended.

  11. PeaceRme says:

    I did make a big mistake because I googled it instead of trusting my cooking “instincts”. We always have wild rice on thanksgiving. Not uncle Ben’s mixed with white rice but organically grown and harvested by American Indians, wild rice harvested by people who own the rights to these lakes that have wild rice for maybe thousands of years.. My granny always prepared it,(we suspect that she was part American Indian), and my mother continued the tradition. And I am doing the same. I’ve made it many times.

    But I was making more than usual and googled it. I followed the instructions, (3 qts to 2.5 cups of rice) Usually, I measure by my fingers where the rice lands on my joint and then use triple the water. Sometime I eye ball this or use a knife or finger to measure. It’s always turned out perfect,

    My wild rice was mush because it was way too much water. (And I soaked them.) Another online hint that makes them cook faster. Not something I usually do. Clean them, rinse them, over and over, yes. But I never soaked them before. Mush. So sad. But Christmas is coming and next time I’ll go old school and trust myself.

  12. posaune says:

    Hope it’s ok to share this story about my sister and Thanksgiving Eve:
    It was sometime in the 1980s. My sister had just turned 18 and got her driver’s license. She was just absolutely obsessed with being able to take the family car to herself for an entire day. Endless begging. Finally, my mother relented — on two conditions: 1. Lisa was to drop her off at work (she would work late and get a ride home); 2. Lisa was to pick up the specially ordered fresh, organic (!) turkey from the butchers and bring it home.

    My mother worked late; her friend-ride picked her up and me as well, at the train station coming home from college. Friend dropped us off at home. The house was dark — Lisa was no where to be seen, nor the car. We entered the kitchen to find a Perdue chicken in the sink. My mother was furious–absolutely furious! Lisa, of course, out with her friends, forgot about the turkey until too late and the butcher closed – scrambling to Safeway settling for a chicken. My mother finally decided, after some cool-down and discussion with me and my brothers, that we would go ahead with T-Day dinner as usual and we would all pretend it was a turkey. Dinner came, we all sat down — each person commented how tender the turkey was — “best turkey you’ve ever made, Mom,” and so forth. With each comment, my sister hunkered down further in her chair, finally bursting into sustained tears, claiming she didn’t mean to be so irresponsible. One of the more memorable Thanksgivings.

    • Rayne says:

      Open thread, of course you could share this — and it’s the best possible comment I could expect in a Thanksgiving open thread! Thanks for sharing that, hope your sister looks back on the experience with laughter.

  13. Harry Eagar says:

    I am a bit late to this as I was busy in the kitchen, but what the heck.

    Baste the turkey with tallow. Get beef fat from your butcher (if your meat source even does any cutting; most don’t). Fry the grease out.

    You will get a difference in flavor and the skin might also be a little crisper.

  14. bloopie2 says:

    Post-prandial Thanksgiving question. How is it that every year, in January, I carefully pack up all the outdoor Christmas lights, in working order, and store them safely away in the basement; and every year, the day after Thanksgiving, I unpack them to prepare for stringing them outdoors, and many of them don’t work? Really. Oh well, at least this year it’s not cold rain out there. As for leftovers, hot turkey sandwiches, with cranberry sauce or gravy … can’t wait!

  15. Alan Charbonneau says:

    In years’ past, I cooked the pumpkin soup recipe in Richard Nelson’s American Cooking (Nelson plagiarized much of the cookbook, but the pumpkin soup recipe was fantastic!). It had a potato and leeks base to which milk and pumpkin were added later in the process. In the last few minutes, parmesan cheese was added along with spinach. It was savory and wonderful.

    Rayne is right about AI. On YouTube, I keep getting Ukraine war updates that have stock footage and robotic voices. That sucks.

    My raised beds are almost finished. I finished painting one frame today that will be mounted tomorrow after a day to let the enamel dry. After that, it will be one top frame to paint and mount.

    The frames and roofing panels have roofing paint which reflects a great deal of the light hitting it and makes a beautiful contrast to the frames. I have cover crops planted until spring and they are getting huge! I cut a flattop on one with a cordless hedge trimmer to keep the sprinklers from being blocked. The other three haven’t yet been touched and now I’m thinking I should simply turn off the sprinklers during the time we are gone (in early Dec we’re taking 18 days to go on a cruise to New Zealand via Australia.😁)!

    https://x.com/NASA_Gardens/status/1728184455108472892

    • fatvegan000 says:

      Love your beds – so luxurious – nice work! I’m experiencing envy here.

      I plant rye/vetch/pea late fall. Even if it weren’t so beneficial, I’d plant it just to see the beautiful, thick green-ness in the early Spring when most everything else is still dead and brown.

      Everyone’s food sounds great. My family are all grumpy-ass conservatives (yikes!) and won’t stand for anything but the same boring old dishes every year. Since we have so many differences already, I keep my mouth shut and eat the vegetarian sides on the holidays so no one is put out.

  16. Former AFPD says:

    Today in this house, there will be turkey enchiladas with homemade red enchilada sauce. This dish is a labor of love and scrumptious. The extended family drives by to pick up a tray for a household as the day passes.

  17. John Paul Jones says:

    No one has addressed it, so here goes – tho of course all that means is that I’m slightly OC about this.

    Okay, so pumpkin pie recipes usually specify something like 450F for 15 mins, then reduce to 350F for about 55 mins and then test for doneness. The initial heat burst is clearly meant to solidify the crust before the liquid filling has a chance to soak in and mush it.

    So a couple of years back I found a recipe on the internet calling itself paté sucre, and it results in a pastry that is more like a cookie than regular old Joy of Cooking basic pie recipe. Tastes great. But using the 15 + 55 regime, I found the top edges of the crust burned and overall the result was a little too hard. Just a bit. I suspect it’s the sugar that is responsible for this, but also the density of the dough is different; you can’t really roll it, so you have to do your best and then press in the rest as you would for a cheesecake base.

    My question is: does anyone have a successful timing for such a pumpkin pie crust? 12 + 58? 10 + 60? Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • Rayne says:

      Sorry not to get back to this sooner. I have suggestions:

      — A popular measure for preventing pie crust from overbrowning is aluminum foil placed along the edge of the pan over the crust until the last 10-15 minutes of baking. This may be the simplest approach which doesn’t require any change to timing or temperature.

      — Try putting the pie on a lower rack and not the top rack; if you have a stone/tile or griddle you can put on the top rack, this may also help. The uppermost portion of the oven is where hot air will rise and pool, making goods on the top shelf brown the most while the lowest shelf will cook more from the bottom being closest to the heat element in electric ovens or burner in gas ovens.

      — Try not making the temperature adjustment at all, but instead use a pizza stone or unglazed quarry tile on a rack in your oven. Make sure the stone/tile preheats in the oven long enough so that it is the same temperature as the air in the oven before you put in the pie. Use a metal pie pan and not a glass one so that the heat from the stone is conveyed directly to the crust right away. Recall that with electricity, glass and ceramic are insulators while metal is a conductor; also works the same way with heat energy. Eventually glass and ceramic will get hot like the pizza stone/tile and hold heat longer, but they take longer to transfer heat to contents unlike metal. Putting the filled metal pie pan on a preheated cast iron griddle in the oven may also work to transfer heat rapidly to the bottom to set crust.

      Personally, I have lined my 3 oven racks with pizza stones as they hold heat longer and prevent the heating element from cycling on more often. Each rack becomes a slightly different zone — if I need to brown the top, I put the food on the top. If I need slower, even cooking, I put the food in the middle. For fast bottom heat I put the food on the lowest rack. Homemade pizza, for example, I put on the bottom shelf first for 7-10 minutes to set the crust; using a peel I move it to the top shelf during the last 7-10 minutes to brown the cheese and toppings. It took a little trial and error to get this down. Make a bunch of small pies and bake each one differently until you master the best solution for your oven. Good luck!

      • John Paul Jones says:

        Wow! Just wow! Thank you so much. Probably the best solution for me to adopt is (1) metal tray (I’ve been using stoneware and pyrex) and (2) the pizza tile. I will report back on results after Christmas. I had been focussing too much on temperature, I think, and not enough on alternate pathways. Thanks again.

  18. morganism says:

    I keep trying the Tettrazini, and never happy with it. Next time gonna go with hash browns or cubes, and just make a chunky hash with some heat, and maybe black beans in it.

  19. DChom1234 says:

    Sidebar to turkey cooking: Turkey carving. The ER was hoping on Thursday with those needing finger triage and stitches.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You published this comment as “DC1234”; I’ve changed it to your regular username as it meets site standard. Thanks. /~Rayne]

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