I am back from a wonderful Thanksgiving break. I spent four days with my family in Gig Harbor. We enjoyed good food, fun games, enjoyable company, and lots of relaxation. Usually I spend a lot of time planning the Thanksgiving meal, but this year I wanted to keep it fairly simple but just as delicious as ever. So, what was on the menu? First, we spent a fair amount of time primping the turkey. But before I get into that, let me tell you where our turkey grew up. Nestled somewhere in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in northern California at the Diestel Family Turkey Ranch, our turkey as far as I can tell, had a good life. She had plenty of space to roam around on the range, ate vegetarian meals, and lived at least six whole months (I know, I thought that was short too, but that is a longer life than your average commodity raised turkey). It is a good thing she lived that long because it gave her the time to develop great flavor! Her life began at the Ranch, ended at the Ranch, and soon after she was shipped to Metropolitan Market in Tacoma where my Dad picked her up with a big smile, knowing how happy we would all be to eat her.
But our turkey's story does not end there. To ensure she would be tender and juicy on Thanksgiving day we gave her a salty bath and brined her. To create the brine, we diluted 2 cups of salt in two gallons of water and added brown sugar, chipotle peppers, coriander seeds, a cinnamon stick, and plenty of bay leaves. We put the turkey in a brine bag (a giant turkey sized Ziploc) and secured it with a concoction of bungee cords to keep it in place and soaked her overnight. By doing this, we allowed the meat enough time to absorb the brine before cooking. The brine was drained and rinsed off and the turkey was rubbed down with butter before placing it on the BBQ to slowly cook over several hours. When it reached temperature, we removed it from the BBQ and let the meat rest, to give all the juices in the meat one last chance to redistribute creating a tender and moist turkey. The turkey was a success. It was smokey from the hours spent on the BBQ with a sweet and smokey undertone from the brine infused in every bite!
In addition to the turkey, we passed around cornbread stuffing with roasted garlic, spicy sausage, and sauteed vegetables with sage and butter. We had steamed green beans with garlic and lemon juice, gravy made from the brown bits of the turkey neck and giblets, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce with cinnamon and orange zest. For dessert, we enjoyed lemon meringue pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, and an apple crostata with a cheddar crust. For drinks, we had hot apple cider and a cocktail (Bug Juice) made of apple cider, cranberry juice, 99 Apples, Buttershots, and Bourban.
I am so thankful for my family, for a place to call home, for warmth, fresh air, freedom, faith, health, love, and for our feast featuring our delicious turkey! In life, there are so many blessings all around and this Thanksgiving reminded me that they are never too far away. Appreciating life as gift, there is no greater blessing.