Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bumps in Turkey Road

Today hasn't been great for the prep. First, I went to brine the turkey and our Von Hanson's "Fresh Turkey (never been frozen)" was a nice block of ice. This really pissed me off, since I found this tidbit out just as I opening it to put into the brine bucket. I called VH and they said the turkeys are "flash chilled" with CO2 for shipping per federal regulations. How this is different than "freezing" isn't readily apparent to me. They said the flesh would be "firm to the touch" but that's it. Well, by bird was pretty much frozen. I had it in the sink under running water for an hour or so and that seems to have thawed it, but I still feel somewhat hoodwinked. When I get a "Fresh" turkey at other places, it's not frozen at all. The turkey has been in the fridge all night too. Next year we'll just go with a standard one at this point. Why pay extra when it's frozen and that's what we were trying to avoid in the first place.

On the side front, the yams we got for $.25/pound have gone south. The ends are all mushy. Pretty nasty. So much for the fresh, cheap veggies at Phoenix Ranch Market on 16th Street. All in all, not a good day for the food.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Preparation

Tara and I are in full Thanksgiving preparation mode. I just made the brine and it's starting it's cool down. The house smells of chicken stock and spices. We haven't quite figured out where to store it overnight, since the fridge is full already. I picked up the turkey from Von Hanson's today and it's taking up the bottom drawer. I'm sure we'll figure something out. I'm also doing a trial run of sweet potatoes. We picked up some at Ranch Market for $.25/pound and I want to make sure they'll work out. Tara make some cornbread last night and has that and a loaf of French bread air-drying for her stuffing. She's making an apple crisp right now. Since I work from home, we're both hoping it'll last until Thursday. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Strange deal

Since our friends are coming into town to have Thanksgiving dinner with us, Tara has been planning what to have for a few weeks now. We've finally gotten it all figured out and we spent today shopping for the ingredients at various stores. We had lunch at Welcome Diner and since it's just down the street from Phoenix Ranch Market, we headed there to check out the veggie selection. After we had gotten all our vegetables, we walked around the store, which is how we stumbled upon this very confusing special:

We did the math, and $2.40 for a 12-pack is a pretty good deal. Then I looked closer at the banner. The yellow sign above it says "limit 1". Huh?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wal-Mart fun

While everyone knows Wal-Mart is one of the evil empires that will end mankind at some point, for the basic staples of our shopping, we usually go there. Back when I used to work the 3pm-11pm shift when I first moved to Phoenix, Tara and I would on occasion go to Wal-Mart after I got off work. Now, during regular hours, Wal-Mart has some interesting patrons. Once it gets closed to midnight, things get even more interesting.

It's always fun at the checkout line. Seeing what some people buy and trying to figure out what the hell they are going to do with it. Once we saw people with what must have been 20 packages of Lifesavers and 30 of rolls of duct tape. Another time the guy in front of us had a table-top water fountain, scented candles, two or three types of KY and condoms. We have fun making up our scenarios for why people would require these combinations.

We were behind an older man who was buying several stacks of this appetizingly named product:

Now, I know "Spam" was taken, but was there no other name they could have chosen for this? Did the marketing guys have that day off? I just always get a laugh when we walk by this. "What's for dinner?" "Potted meat food product."

I'll pass.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mexican Wedding Cake results

I made the dough last night and after getting home from the gym, found I lacked the inclination to bake them. I got an earlier start at the gym tonight, so I had time and the energy to roll, bake, roll, and roll. The bare spots on the sides are where the powdered sugar adhered to my fingers after the second roll in the sugar. Fringe benefit, I guess. They taste great. The lower two on the far right came out much more flattened than the others and slightly crispy. In nearly twenty years of making these, that's never happened before. Very odd. They were in the middle of the sheet, and only three were affected. They still tasted good, though. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mexican Wedding Cake cookies

Growing up, I was blessed with a mother who loved holidays. Dressing up for Halloween (ok, not so much a holiday) was something she lived for. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, she'd always bake tons of holiday cookies. In addition to the sugar cookies and drop cookies, she'd make Mexican Wedding Cakes. How she started making them in Maine, I'll never know. I absolutely love them. When I started living on my own, both during college and when I moved out of state, I had to make them myself when I wanted some. She used to send or bring them to me in college, and some of my friends got addicted to them. While mine come usually come out great, Mom's are just that much better for some reason. Some of my friends would refuse my cookies and instead wait to see if Mom sent me some.

When I lived in Dallas, I'd make them during the holidays. I tried to dye them orange for Halloween one year, but that didn't work out too well. At my last job in Dallas, one of my coworkers, Connie, would pester me at least once a month all year for them. Luckily she was placated most of the year by my chocolate chip cookies. However, once Thanksgiving rolled around, it was restraining order time, as everytime she walked by my cube, she'd ask about them. Since she was over six feet tall, the cubicle walls weren't an obstacle for her.

Nowadays, it's Tara who does the pestering. To me, they are strictly a holiday season cookie. The last time we were in Maine, she tried to get Mom to admit that she made them all year, but Mom backed up my story that they are holiday cookies for us. Tara wasn't pleased.

I picked up some pecan halves last week while getting brining spices at Sunflower on Bell and tonight I toasted them in the oven. Tomorrow or Tuesday, I'm gonna make the cookies. They are really easy to make. A food processor makes them a snap.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

1 cup butter/margarine
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Cream butter and 1/2 cup confectioners sugar. Add vanilla and flour. Beat until well mixed. Stir in nuts. Chill for 1 hour. Preheat 350. 1" balls. bake on ungreased cookie sheet 15 mins +/-. Cool 2-3 minutes. Roll in confec sugar. Cool and roll again in sugar.