Monday, December 1, 2014

Thankful Hearts

Our Thanksgiving ended up being quite different this year from what we had planned, but God is so good to us!  I am thankful for a loving Savior, whose plans for me are perfect.  We had planned on hosting some of our family, who then weren't able to attend because of sickness.  Since we had originally planned on hosting, we had a lot of food to eat, for just our little family.  We invited some family friends (who we see very rarely) on late notice, and to our delight, they were able to join us!  It was a day filled with sweet moments of family time, and memory-making, along with everyone going around and sharing something that they were thankful for.  I am always reminded every single day of how much I have to be thankful for, but there is something so poignant and special about setting aside an entire day specifically for that purpose.  No matter the circumstances, we serve a good God, who loves us beyond what we could fathom!

We ended up purchasing a 19 lb turkey this year - and it was my first time working with a fresh bird!  I had been debating how I wanted to roast it, and settled on brining it.  I am so glad that I did, and after eating it, I don't know if I can ever go back.  :)

I started Wednesday morning by making the brine:

It smelled absolutely heavenly!  Olivia kept asking me what I was making.  :)

And then, in went the turkey!

My recipe said to let it brine for 18-24 hours, but mine ended up in its briny bath for about 16 hours total.  Funny story about this process: do you know how hard it is to find brining bags here?  :)  My Mom had commented that she had seen brining bags at her local Wal-Mart (because, what doesn't Wal-Mart carry, right?), so I thought finding them here would be a cinch.  WRONG.  When I would ask the kind clerks at grocery stores if they knew if their store carried brining bags for turkeys, I usually got a sideways look, before being asked "Uh, brining bags?  What is that, exactly?"  Haha.  After searching online, and visiting three different stores in the area, we ended up using an oven bag (meant for actually roasting your turkey), inside our cooler.  Worked like a charm!

Thanksgiving day dawned bright and clear, and I was up with the birds to get that turkey in the oven!  After taking it out of the brine, it had to soak in fresh clean water for a few minutes.

Also, did I mention what a funny business it is to get a 19 pound turkey up from a cooler on the floor into the sink?

Nate and I ended up working as a team, and then laughing until we cried after getting it into the sink - because the turkey kept making *ahem* shall we say, inappropriate noises.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep.  ;)

We left the turkey in all it's naked glory in the sink for a few minutes, and then it was time to get it in the oven!  I was doing about 15 things at once all morning, so I didn't manage to get pictures of the roasting process, but it was actually FUN!  I roasted it covered in aluminum foil for about three hours, then took it out and gave it a rub down with rosemary, orange, sage butter.  YUM.  Back into the oven it went for another 2 hours, basting every 30 minutes, (it was my first time basting a turkey! haha!) and it came out beautifully!!

Again, I didn't think to take a picture of it looking all pretty sitting on a platter, because by this point our guests had arrived, and I was trying to finish all the last minute things up.  We ended up with four adults, and two kiddos, and we still had this much food:

There was even more on wrapped around the counter on the other side.  I may suffer from an illness.  Grand delusions of cooking for armies?  I don't know.  Either way, we all enjoyed it!

This was also my first attempt at hacking apart carving a turkey.  I watched a few tutorials, and then gave it a shot!  The meat was literally so tender that it was almost difficult to slice!  And that skin . . . crispy golden deliciousness.

And oh, the pies.  I made pecan (which we actually served at church), cherry, and pumpkin.

I had actually made the pies the night before, and wanted to use my Grandmother's pie crust recipe (which I had never tried before).  The crusts turned out beautifully, but I must confess that I was up baking them at a ridiculously late hour.  In my haste to get to bed, I put the pumpkin pie a little too high in the oven, and it scorched.  When I sent my Mom this picture, she sweetly assumed I had tried a new recipe!  ;)

We had a beautiful table too, thanks to the amazing team of Nate and Olivia.  <3

Again, I was trying to hurry and snap pictures before we prayed and started serving the food, so I didn't have time to take cute ones of the kids.  But they were extra excited to start eating!

"Happy Thanksgiving!"

Olivia shyly informed our guests that she was a "turkey ballerina" that day, to their delight.  :)  They asked her how old she was, and she proudly told them she was four.  I think mine and Nate's loud laughter at that reply was enough to let them know that it wasn't the correct response.  haha  She was sure entertaining!

We are so blessed beyond anything we could ask or imagine, and thankful to be loved, even cherished by the same One who created the heavens.  Now we turn our hearts toward Christmas, and look forward to the greatest gift we have ever been given!

A truly Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours.

Grace and Peace,