The Eating Holidays are Coming!!!!

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It's that time of year again when I want to completely redo everything to get ready for the holidays.  I just get into the thought process that people are coming so I need to be ready.  LOL!  Not like people aren't always visiting year 'round mind you.  Year 'round is okay for what it looks like...but when them SAME people come for the holidays it has to be mo'betta.  Don't ask for a rationale behind this way of thinking because there is none.  Seriously.  None.

But I know you probably feel me and are looking around your dining room to see what you need to do too.  LOL!  Cuz that's how we roll.

This starts with me bringing home this piece.  It was soooooooo heavy and we just loaded that sucker up any way we could.  Just slid it all cross the back of the truck.  We got it home and maneuvered it to the garage where it stayed while I worked on it.  It was a challenge because whenever I needed to move it, I couldn't without The Robinator and his schedule made that hard to be consistent.  But I finally finished it.

I stripped the top layer of the finish off and then lightly sanded it.  Then I put two coats of Minwax weathered grey stain on the top of it.  For the base, I painted it with Dixie Belle's Haint Blue.    It's the loveliest neutral color with just the tiniest bit of blue in it.  So much so that you only see it as blue in perfect lighting conditions.  LOL!  I'm talking blinds closed and ceiling light on.  Any other times it looks white.

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Because I'm going for a rustic farmhouse look in there, I distressed it lightly.  I only did that after we decided to keep it because it was too heavy to take it to my shop.  I mean...this thing is crazy heavy and we're just not built for moving stuff that can't get scratched up.  We're more of the college students you find on Craigslist kinda movers where we just pray for the best and get the worst possible outcome.  Who knew I needed so much additional storage though?  I certainly didn't and now, I have much more.  I have a whole drawer dedicated to linen napkins so I'm not scrambling looking for 8 that match and end up having to use two sets of 4.  *sigh*  And who knew I had enough small placecard holders and napkin rings to fill an entire drawer?  Not me that's for sure!  But I do.  LOL!  So yeah...next thing is to find a rug I can live with, get some cushions made for those two barrel back chairs and some kinda window treatments which don't make the room feel stuffy and I'll be ready for the eating holidays!

Thanksgiving Recipe Time!!!!!!

Here is a template for your grocery shopping:  Thanksgiving Planning Worksheet

If you're hosting, go ahead and decide on your centerpiece now so you can build your tablescape around it.  Here is a way to add some color to your table without spending a lot of money:

Easy and Cheap Fabric Tablecloth (Topper)

Things that will make your cleanup life easier?  

1.  Bake as much as you can in aluminum pans that you can throw away after.

2.  Line baking sheets with Reynolds Wrap.  You can use a knock off brand if you'd like...I guess...wait...no...buy Reynolds Wrap hell.  It's seriously the best.  You'll thank me later.

I normally have my tablescape done the night before or do it right after I put the turkey in the oven early in the morning so it's done.  

Okay...I have a lot to do!  WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!  Headed off to do all my grocery shopping!  So, so, so excited!  Thanksgiving is seriously my most favorite holiday EVER!!!!!!!!!

Thanksgiving Dinner Family Survival Tips

 

Thanksgiving Family Dinner Survival Tips

My family is not perfect.  No where next to near.  I've developed survival tips over the years.  Hopefully your family is closer to perfect and you won't need to employ any of these methods.

1.     Men...if you want to be left alone to watch games while prep work and cooking is being done...show up wearing some good smelling smell good. We never follow through with threats against a good smelling man.

2.     Unless you were INVITED to cook in someone's kitchen do NOT show up with something that needs to go in the oven. People will be using their ovens. And their stovetop. And don't send those dang tall fruit bouquets that take up room in the fridge either. We got ish in there that needs to stay cold so we can't be rearranging stuff for flower shaped pineapples on a stick.

3.     Don't go in nobody's pot without washing your hands. You will be called nasty and talked about by every woman at the house over the age of 17 if you do. And then they are going to call people who aren't even there to talk about you some more.

4.     If you are trusted to fix your own bowl of gumbo do NOT keep digging around trying to get all the sausage and shrimp. I mean really. Act like you been somewhere hell. Other people like sausage and shrimp too and don't make us count it! Anything over 5 pieces of sausage might be a deliberate act of treason. WALK THE PLANK!

5.     Don't be the drunk Uncle. Or Aunt. Or cousin, brother, sister, friend of Ricky's, etc. Drunk and family don't mix. Somebody always spills secrets or sling fighting words they didn't mean to.

6.     You know your kids act bad when your eyes aren't on them. Keep ya eyes on your kids. Last year they broke Mimi's candy dish. You know...the one with the candy stuck together that she thought the little one broke when we all know it was your kid who broke it. The little one couldn't even pick it up good.

7.     This Thanksgiving might NOT be the best time to spring your brand new interracial relationship on your family if you know good and well some of the racist family members are going to be there. 'SPECIALLY if your cousins stocked the bar something good.  Wait til' 'round 'bout say...Easter.

8.     If there is a bottle of some expensive something, let the person who bought the expensive something pour you a glass cuz if you pour it yourself...no matter how much you actually poured, the story is going to be that you drank up all the good ish same as yo' daddy used to do knowing he brought over a bottle of wine he picked up at the corner gas station.

9.     If your eyes are bigger than your stomach and you pile your plate with too much ham knowing it's one of them expensive azz honey baked hams that Nadine 'nem drove over from Atlanta with and you end up having to throw it away...LAWD HELP YOU CUZ BAAAAAAAABY...they 'gon git you. Yo azz is grass.

10.   If you know THAT cousin is going to be there...just lock your purse up in your trunk and keep your car keys in your pocket. I ain't saying he still be stealing but hey...why take the chance?

11.   You know that cousin who used to be a hellion and put the entire family through hell and back again? Well...if you heard they just got saved 6 weeks ago...steer clear of them. You ain't living NEARLY right enough for the newly saved and sanctified religious gospel.

12.   The man who owns the house should be the only man with his hand wrapped around the remote UNLESS the man of the house hands the remote to you. If he does...use that power wisely. If he comes back and you've let some whippersnapper convince you to put it on the po-rade...well...guess whose name is mud duck from now on?

13.   Don't even try to commit the name of the woman with the too short skirt your slick cousin, Rayban brings with him. You know she won't last the year.

14.   Do NOT under any circumstances bring up or even HINT AT the money a relative owes you even if they just walked in flaunting or talking about the new 80 inch flat screen tv they just bought knowing good and well your big tv is only 40 inches. Bringing it up at Thanksgiving will force Grandmother to fake a "spell" and the last time she did that she bumped her head for real when she miscalculated her faint and James didn't catch her before she hit the floor.

15.   NOTICE! THANKSGIVING IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOU TO BE IN THE KITCHEN WITH THE COOKS LEARNING HOW TO COOK! THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS GOING ON! THE SUPER BOWL OF FOOD! GO SITCHO BEHIND DOWN WITH A POTATO PEELER AND PEEL SOME POTATOES! GRAB A TERRY CLOTH TOWEL AND WIPE A BROW OR TWO! STAY OUT THE WAY AND DON'T.GET.CUT!

16.   If you know your people funny acting don't be trying to bring new people around without giving them the Cliff Notes version of who's who and what to expect. If you tell your gorgeous girlfriend with the short afro that your shade throwing Aunt will tell her that she's "...so pretty to wear your hair like a boy..." then it won't be as much of a shock when your Aunt says it.

Cuz you know GOOD AND WELL SHE WILL! She's been funny acting about hair since that perm took her hair out back in 1969.

WARN.YOUR.FRIENDS! It's the right thing to do.

17.   If you have food allergies and issues, I suggest you eat before you arrive and don't make a big deal out of what you can and cannot eat. It will be the equivalent of growing a second head and styling the hair differently on both heads. Just put what you can on your plate and tell them you got food poisoning the night before so your stomach is still all messed up and you don't want to rock the boat. EVERYONE understands the misery of "bubble guts" and they won't press you. Someone might even get up and fix you a pot of hot green tea just like you like it with some local honey they bought at the farmer's market.

Sometimes ya just gotta lie.

18.   If you have it to give...get a few hundred dollars in $20's and keep in your wallet. If cornered and asked for a "few dollars" give some of what you brought with you. Hell...it's Thanksgiving. Be thankful you have it to give.

If you don't have it to give simply say..."Man...I was just about to ask you for _____ (double the amount they asked you for)."

Watch how fast they move on to the next one.

19.   Be careful who you bring home for the first time. Nobody cares much for the new person who talks too damn much.

20.   Be prepared for SOMEBODY to accuse you of thinking you're better than them. Combat this by running to the store right quick for your favorite Aunt. You know she's outta smokes and yes...you'll still be better than them. Buy some chatzky while at the convenience store and pass it out like candy when you return. This is the equivalent of "Yeah...I'm bad" in the "better than" world.

21.  If you didn't bring anything but are leaving with more than one plate of leftovers you are clearly the person they give a pass to because they all know you're "special."

You don't wanna be that kinda "special."

22.   What NOT to Wear!

a. Mini skirts - You will be sitting down the majority of the time. Too much leg for family dinner man. TOO.MUCH.LEG!

b. Wool sweaters - The house will get hot with a crowd of folks in there. Trustme. 

c. White clothes - One word. Gravy.

d. Tight skinny jeans / dresses / tops, etc. - Your after turkey bloat will make you miserable.

e. Heels - Seriously...why? To Thanksgiving dinner? You're going to sit, eat, drink, talk ish, watch football or play games. #GIRLBYE 

f. Hoodies - You can't relax in the haze of the itus on the sofa with a hoodie unless you put the hood on. Don't put the hood on inside.

g. Super short shorts - o_0

h. Leggings - LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS!!!!!!!!!

i. Crop tops - Um...turkey bloat is deep and it's real.

j. Low cut blouses - Um...your Grandmother doesn't need to see all that. She has seen boobs and is probably over them by now.

Me? I'm wearing some version of one of these pics. LOL!

The most important thing when it comes to surviving family is to remember that you're FAMILY.  There is no need for competition, snide remarks or ugliness in any way.  Smile, be lovely and keep it moving.  Thanksgiving is to remember what we have to be thankful for and family is a MAJOR reason.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Love,

Monnie, Robby & Jaru 

 

Team Martha or Team Gwyneth? Weekend Before THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!

Alright!  It's here!  The Super Bowl of FOOD prep time!

What are you doing this weekend to prep for Thanksgiving?  

Cleaning out the fridge?

Cleaning the oven?

Dicing your trinity?

Making pie crusts?

Grocery shopping?

Completing your tablescape?

Searching for recipes?

Whatcha doing to get ready?


Who are you?  Team Martha steeped in rich traditional ways of doing things or Team Gwyneth adding a new age whimsy to the holidays?  

(I love watching them beef.  LOL!  Thanksgiving Recipe: Gwyneth Paltrow Slapping Martha Stewart In the Face)

How to Roast the BEST and JUICIEST Thanksgiving Turkey!

Fresh Or Frozen Turkey?

I always prefer a fresh turkey.  Because of this, I know I have to order it a few weeks in advance and go either pay for it completely or put a deposit down on it.  Then I pick it up Wednesday morning so I can bring it home and get it ready to brine.

If you're using a frozen turkey you should buy it on Monday so it stays in the fridge thawing until Wednesday when you need to get it ready to brine.

The next morning I get the bird out of the fridge and roast it.

 

Brining the Bird!

I always brine our turkey.  The first time I wanted to do it forever ago, I found a brine recipe by Martha Stewart and had ever intention on buying the ingredients and doing it.  Well...I needed to run by Williams-Sonoma to pick something up and saw their brining mixes.  When I read the ingredient list...sounded the same and when I did the head math it was going to cost way less than all of the ingredients THE MARTHA listed that I'd need.

So yeah...bought it and have been using it ever since:  Williams-Sonoma Brining Blend, Garlic & Rosemary 

I also bought their brining bags:  Brining Bags

And I followed the instructions on the container.  I put the bag in my big gumbo pot and put the turkey in it.  Then I add the brine, close the bag, put the lid on the pot and put it in the fridge for the amount of time I want to brine it (follow the instructions on the mix).

I've also found that the brining mixes at Whole Foods look pretty much the same so if you can't get to WS, just check out your grocery store options too.  

When you brine your turkey you are basically sealing the pores of the bird so the juices stay in while cooking.  LOL!  All that salt water just seals the skin right on up.  This way...you don't have to start with your turkey breast side down first so that the breast is guaranteed to be juicy.  The thought of my clumsy behind flipping a hot turkey mid-cooking is tragic.  Nobody wants that.  That turkey would be sliding across the kitchen floor like a fumbled football on an NFL field.  

 

Simple Roasting Instructions!

1.  Remove the second rack from the oven and tuck it by the fridge out the way.  Position the lone rack so that when you put the turkey in...it's in the MIDDLE of the oven from top to bottom and side to side.

2.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3.  Take turkey out of brine.  Drain right side up holding turkey under the wings.

4.  Put turkey on rack inside roasting pan.

5.  Put turkey neck and giblets in bottom of pan UNDER rack.  (Hopefully you have the proper rack that is not flat to allow this.)

6.  IF YOU'RE NOT STUFFING (which I never, ever, EVER do) place a lemon, cut in half, inside the cavity along with half a bell pepper and half an onion.

7.  With hands...rub turkey down really well with softened butter (If you forgot to allow your butter to soften put in the microwave for 10 second intervals checking it between intervals to see how soft it is.  Should only take one and a half interval or so depending on your microwave.).  Make sure you get all up in the crevices and everything.

8.   Sprinkle the turkey LIGHTLY with SOME of your herbs at first.  Why?  Cuz the heat and the butter is going to make most of them slide off in the beginning.  Pace yourself...it's gonna be fine...I promise!

9.  Fold aluminum foil over the wing tips.  You know...kinda like making long Erica B. style gloves for the bird so the tips don't dry out.  LOL!  

10. Using linen cooking twine, measure out twine.  I usually cut off more than I need and trim.  Pull twine out, hold arm straight in front of you and let length of twine almost reach the floor.  Double that and cut.  Starting at the center of the twine...put it under the butt of the bird, folding the butt up tightly.  Follow in a common sense way to pull the legs and wings as tight to the bird as possible without it being TOO tight so the twine doesn't cause damage to the skin.  It doesn't have to be neat...just tight.  Mmmmkay?

11.  Add 2 cups of chicken broth to the bottom of the pan along with the giblets.

12.  Make a "blanket" for your turkey by folding aluminum foil over parchment paper and cover bird.

13.  Place turkey in oven setting timer for HALF the time you're going to cook the entire bird. (Roasting time depends on size of bird and if it's stuffed or not.  Check here:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/lets-talk-turkey/CT_Index)

14.  Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.

15.  When timer goes off...you're ready to start the basting process.  You won't have much (if any) liquid in the bottom of the pan.  This will change.  LOL!

16.  I always start off with two cans of broth in the bottom of the pan along with half a stick of melted butter.  (DON'T FORGET TO REMOVE THE ALUMINUM FOIL GLOVES!!!!!)

17.  Sprinkle your bird with the rest of the seasonings you're using and (reset timer for the rest of time needed to cook your bird)  Baste the turkey using both the brush and the basting bulb.  (I use this:  http://creoleindc.typepad.com/rantings_of_a_creole_prin/2013/11/angled-dripless-turkey-baster.html)  BE QUICK!  EVERY TIME YOU OPEN THE OVEN HEAT IS ESCAPING SO YA GOTTA BE QUICK!  USE THE LIGHT ON YOUR OVEN TO CHECK IN! 

18.  I don't know how often I baste but it's prolly like every 20 minutes or so.  I'm quick.  Pay attention to what's in the bottom of the pan and adjust as needed with broth and whatnot. 

19.  Keep basting until the bird is done.  It should be a lovely golden brown.

20.  Remove and using handles on rack...remove the bird from the pan and put on a long cookie sheet cuz you're about to make the gravy.

Now, everybody has their own method to do anything so keep in mind this is the way I do it.  My turkey is always delicious and I've changed up my process over the years and perfected it.  There are, arguably, better ways to do most of this so if it makes sense and it works for you...then you know what to do.  If you're a first time turkey roaster, however...I promise you can't go wrong following these instructions.  

If you have any questions just ask and I'll answer.  I promise to be nice unless you ask me something super dooper crazy.  What's super dooper crazy you ask?  Once...on a recipe for something with shrimp in it, someone asked what could they substitute for shrimp.  

*BLINK*

I told them gummy worms because really...that's just dumb.  There is no substitution for shrimp.  Just don't put shrimp in it.  

I made the following video in 2009.  I've since changed some things up but it will help you visualize the process.  This was BEFORE really getting into filmmaking so yeah...the production quality pretty much sucks.  LOL!  Next time I roast a turkey I'll make a better one.  

I hope this helps!  I believe in you!  Your turkey is going to be FAN-TA-BU-LOUS!


Thanksgiving 2014 = Me Sad

Normally by now I'm full fledged into planning my Thanksgiving tablescape.  It's truly something I enjoy as Thanksgiving is my all time FAVORITE sit down meal holiday!  Last year I scaled it down WAY back because we were traveling with the tablescape.  Hey...I even brought the flower arrangement with me.  LOL!

This year my mommy-in-law is hosting and I'm simply providing the organic turkey.  

2009 Thanksgiving Tablescape Planning

2009 Thanksgiving Tablescape Planning

I didn't think I'd be ready to host so soon after the move so I gladly passed on it but now I'm all feeling some kinda way because I love, love, LOVE doing it.

2010 Thanksgiving Tablescape Planning

2010 Thanksgiving Tablescape Planning

And now I have nothing Thanksgivingish to do.  

*sigh*

Well...I know you know this already but here are a few of the tools I use:  Thanksgiving Planning Worksheet

Here is how I made the topper for last year's tablescape:  Easy and Cheap Fabric Tablecloth!

Yall know that all of the archives from years past are here:  Rantings of a Creole Princess

Just search for whatever you're looking for.

Now I'm all depressed because I started thinking about where in the hell I can put my Christmas tree this year.  *sigh*

Tell me something good.  Any Thanksgiving prep questions I can answer for you?  Want me to help you brine your turkey this year?  What's on your menu?  Need help cooking something?  Have a tablescape idea you need a little lagniappe to pull together?  Holla atcha girl.  I need to feel useful.

#MeSad