For Your Amusement

This year's Thankgiving plan is pretty well set (actually, it's underway as the turkey is already thawing in the fridge). For your amusement at my freakish expense, voila!

Thanksgiving 2009


Brined turkey

Crockpot stuffing

Mashed potatoes


PW’s sweet potatoes*

Pickled beets

Olives & pickles

Carrots and celery

PW’s Green beans

Cranberry muffins

PW’s roasted acorn squash


Cranberry coffee cake



Shred and dry bread


Bake pumpkin pie and pecan pie

Make sweet potatoes

Make cranberry coffee cake


Begin brining turkey

Thursday Night

Turkey to fridge

9:00 a.m.

Stuffing prep

9:30 a.m.

Stuffing in crock pot (go easy on liquid, add as needed)

10:15 a.m.

Turn crock pot temperature down to low

11:00 p.m.

Turkey prep

By 11:30 p.m.

Turkey in oven (turkey lifter)

Set table

By 2:00 p.m.

Potatoes on stove, Squash into oven

2:00 p.m.

Prep sweet potatoes

By 2:15 p.m.

Sweet potatoes into oven

2:15 p.m.

Prep and cook green beans

2:30 p.m.

Mash and finish potatoes, smear squash

2:50 p.m.

Microwave beets, brown rolls

3:00 p.m.

Make gravy

3:00 p.m.

Beverages out, kettle on


Crockpot Stuffing

Melt 1 cup butter over medium heat. Cook 2 cups chopped onion, 2 cups chopped celery, 12 oz sliced mushrooms, and ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley. Spoon cooked veggies over 12 cups dry bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Season with 1 tsp poultry seasoning, 1 ½ tsps sage, 1 tsp thyme, ½ tsp marjoram, salt and pepper. Pour in enough chicken broth to moisten (up to 4 ½ cups) and add 2 beaten eggs. Transfer to crockpot. 45 mins on high then low for 4-8 hours.

PW’s Sweet Potatoes

Butter a 2-qt casserole dish. Combine 4 medium cooked and cubed sweet potatoes, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp salt. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup chopped pecans, ½ cup flour, ¾ stick butter. Spread potato mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake at 400˚ for 30 minutes.

PW’s Green Beans

Snap ends of 1 lb green beans. Melt 1 tbl olive oil and 1 tbl butter over medium-low. Add 1 cup chopped onion and 2 gloves minced garlic. Cook for a minute. Add green beans and cook until bright green. Add ½ cup chopped red bell pepper, 1 cup chicken broth, salt, pepper. Turn to low and cover, cracked a bit. Cook 20-30 mins until liquid evaporates. Add more broth if needed, but let it caramelize a bit at the end.

PW’s Roasted Acorn Squash

Cut 2 acorn squash into 8 wedges, each. Place in baking dish and drizzle with 4 dashes olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and roast at 350˚ for 20 minutes. Combine 1 stick butter, ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tbl minced fresh rosemary into paste. Smear on squash. Bake add’l 30 minutes, basting halfway.

Incredible Pecan Pie

Prepared pie crust into pan. Mix 3 beaten eggs, ¾ cup light corn syrup, 2 tbl dark corn syrup, ¾ cup brown sugar, 3 tbl butter melted, ½ cup finely crushed pecans. Spread 1 cup quartered pecans on bottom of pie crust. Pour syrup into crust. Spread pecan halves over top. Bake at 350˚ for one hour.

Alton Brown’s Roasted Turkey

Combine brine, water and ice. Place thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. Fully immerse, cover, and chill, turning once half way through brining. 500˚. Remove bird from brine, rinse in and out with cold water. Discard brine. Place on roasting rack inside half sheet pan and pat dry. Microwave 1 red sliced apple, ½ sliced onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup water 5 mins. Add to turkey's cavity with 4 sprigs rosemary and 6 sage leaves. Tuck wings underneath the bird. Coat skin liberally w canola oil. Shape double foil triangle to breast area. Remove foil. Lowest level of oven at 500˚ for 30 mins. Insert probe into thickest part of the breast and reduce oven to 350˚. Foil breast area. Set alarm to 161˚. 14-16 pound bird requires a total of 2 to 2 ½ hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for at least 15 mins.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Wrap outside of 9 inch springform pan with foil to prevent leaking. Sift together 1 ½ c flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp soda, ½ tsp cinnamon. In saucepan over medium heat, combine 2/3 c brown sugar and 1/3 c butter. Boil, then pour into bottom of pan. Sprinkle with 1 2/3 c cranberries and ½ c chopped toasted pecans. Cream together ½ c butter and ¾ c sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time, stir in 1 tsp vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with 1 c sour cream. Pour into pan. 350˚ for 60 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Serve warm.

*PW is Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, many of whose recipes I quite enjoy (well on decadent holiday-type occasions in particular, she's quite liberal in her use of sugar, butter, etc).

For comparison, I posted last year's plan here. Looks familiar, doesn't it? I'm a big fan of cut-and-paste and not-reinventing-the-wheel.


Painting Wisdom

I've recently finished painting the majority of the interior of my house: upstairs hallway, stairwell, living room, dining room, kitchen, stairwell, downstairs hallway, downstairs bathroom, and family room. It has taken me about a week and a half. And I've learned a few things ... (skip if you have no desire to ever repaint anything).

1. Paint Quality Counts -- before this, I'd always bought the cheapest paint to do the job. This time I researched on Consumer Reports and bought the Behr Premium Plus they recommended. It was great paint! Excellent coverage, beautiful, rich color, lower odor than I remember from other paints. It was a bit thicker than I was used to, but it worked beautifully!

2. Do the Math -- measure your rooms, subtract out windows, doors, archways to calculate your square footage. Look at your paint's expected coverage, divide, etc. Then, I always buy an extra gallon, just in case.

3. Prep Matters -- lay down plastic drop cloths over your furniture (I cover furniture, but not my floors), mask with painters tape, edge with an edger or brush then your rolling will be fast and easy and done. When you remove switchplates and outlet covers, stack them on your counter, but just rescrew the screws back into their holes, sans cover. You'll never lose another screw. If you intend to hang arkwork back in the same spot, it's probably better not to spackle and sand the holes, just paint over them. Even if you seal the hole with a tiny coat of paint, you'll likely still see the mark and the nail will slide right back in.

4. Take Your Time -- I did one room/section per day and allowed it to dry overnight before moving on. I could rest my arms and shoulders that way and make sure I'd adequate coverage before starting a new area.

5. Painter's Tape is Your Friend -- mask everywhere you can. Even if you have the steady hands of a neurosurgeon, you will eventually blob some sort of color where it doesn't belong, and if you've pre-taped, you should be all right.

6. Remove Tape Quickly -- as soon as you've finished working the room, while the paint is still wet, remove the painter's tape. If you wait until the paint dries, you will have created a gorgeous latex seal between your wall and your tape, requiring an X-acto knife for removal (lest you peel the tape and part of the paint comes along with it).

7. Lighting is Key -- Work in whatever time of day brings the best daylight into the room you're painting. Daylight will cast fewer shadows than houselights (unless you're using contractor's floodlights or something) and will give you a better indication of whether yo've missed any spots or if the old color is showing through your new topcoat.

8. Don't Kid Yourself -- If you can see hints of the old color through "here and there" and think your guests won't notice or that you'll get used to it ... don't kid yourself. You need a second coat. And follow the manufaturer's instructions for the second coat, or your new paint will peel the old paint off the wall in a haphazard and skin-peeling-after-a-bad-sunburn sort of way.

9. Clean Up Right Away -- I know you're feeling grimy and your clothes have paint smudges on them and there's probably paint in your hair ... but clean your materials before you shower. Not only are you still messy, so you won't mind as much getting your fingers in those edger crevices and gouging the paint out, but everything will be easier to clean while it's very fresh.

10. Some Things Shouldn't Be Cleaned -- Planning to do more painting with the same color tomorrow? Just wrap your roller tightly in plastic wrap and it will be good to go again and again until you are done with that color.

11. It's a Messy Job -- Wear old clothes. Use your fingers to scrape drips off your trim (if you haven't masked it) and then wipe your fingers on your jeans. Climb down behind your toilet and paint wrong-handed while tilting your head sideway to see under and behind the tank (I speak from experience).

12. Be Proud -- line up your used gallons of paint, to remind yourself of how far you've come. Tell everyone (repeatedly) that you're painting your house on your own. Revel in your new color ... go out and buy throw pillows, curtains, etc. to match.

I'm sure there are more things that occured to me while I worked, but I think that's the nitty-gritty of it. Next sunny day I plan to take "After" pics of the house and will share them soon.