Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grate - FULL

Thanksgiving (U.S.) is right around the corner. Guess who's thankful? Me! Guess who's cooking? Me! Guess who is still working on the menu? Uh, Me!

I've been pondering what I'm thankful for this season. And the one thing that keeps coming to the top of my list is my husband. More than ever I appreciate the balance he brings to me as a person and to our family. I spent too many years resenting our differences, when I should have been appreciating our differences. We each bring different strengths to the table, and that's what makes us a strong team.  

It has been quite a few years since I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Or Christmas dinner for that matter. I either brought a dish to a friend or family's house, or I made reservations. I resented (there's that word again) the work and clean up.

But I am cooking this year. And I'm not dreading it. I've been thinking about what might have caused the change in my attitude. I'm pretty sure this blog and the reason I started writing it is a big part of the change. I've been focusing on caring for my family by preparing meals for them. I think it's changing my perspective. And everyone on the home front said, "Yay!"

I still haven't decided exactly what is going to be on the menu. I'm not completely behind on the shopping; I have a turkey thawed and waiting in the frig. I considered one of Rachael Ray's 60 minute Thanksgiving meals (here, here and here), but in the end I decided to go a more traditional route. I might get too much resistance to a completely new menu. 

A couple of menu items are non-negotiable: mashed potatoes and cornbread dressing. The cornbread dressing is a recipe from my southern mother-in-law that this Yankee girl has come to love over the years.  And the kids have informed me that Stove Top stuffing is also a must.

Other than those few things, I'm still up in the air for what's going to be on the table in less than 2 days. I'm considering a brine for the turkey, and a sweet potato custard instead of casserole. I would like to start a tradition of trying one or two new recipes every year.

Have you ever brined a turkey? What are you "must-haves" on the holiday table? Are you going to try a new recipe this year?

While looking online for brining recipes, I read here that using a previously frozen turkey is not generally a good idea because of they are injected with a sodium solution. But I did stumble across this idea here for cooking a turkey by spatchocking. Hmm.