My great grandmother’s name was Ila. She was feisty and strong. So much so, that she insisted on splitting wood at 6:00 a.m…when she was 80. She lived until she was 96 and passed away only a few years ago. She was known mostly to family and anyone else as Maw Chapman. For Thanksgiving our entire family of about 35 crammed into her maybe-900-sq-foot house and had some of the best Thanksgivings ever. I loved it and miss those gatherings in her house. Maw loved to cook for these get togethers and she cooked on a wood burning stove, even after, we installed an electric oven. So, by the time we all arrived it was close to 700 degrees in the house and we had to sneak and open the front or back door to try and cool down the house.
Maw loved Jesus. She read the Bible all the time. In fact, she helped start the church that most of the family still attends today. But. Maw had one cuss word. She only used it when she was cooking. And only if things started going South. It started with S. And she said it under her breath and sometimes would leave out the “i”. Because that was better. And it was only acceptable if she said it-not you. And she would deny it if you asked her (but might crack a sly smile at the mention.)
So as I set out to make our first Team Hucks Thanksgiving meal at home, I put on Maw’s apron, promised my husband I wouldn’t fall apart and vowed to only use Maw’s cuss word if, and only if , the circumstance was dire. I almost made it.
First off, let me confess something. In my last post, I told you I was (baking/roasting/cooking/frying?) my first turkey. Turns out I kind of cheated. As I counted the people that would be at our Thanksgiving (1-2-3 done), I realized that roasting (yes, decided to roast), a 15 lb full on, Norman Rockwell turkey would be a bit overdone. No pun intended. Plus I have a slight aversion to taking the insides out of a bird. Seriously. I haven’t baked a whole chicken ever. For that one reason. So, I decided to roast a nice, innards-already-removed, 7 lb turkey…breast. I still had no idea what I was doing, so turkey with legs or turkey without-either one was still going to be a big step for me.
I decided to brine the turkey (let’s do it up right after all). I remembered to take the turkey out of the freezer on Tuesday night-win #1. I made the brine Wed night, chopped all the fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, cracked myself up humming the Simon and Garfunkel tune (I know. So cliche.), washed the turkey, dunked it in the brine and put it safely in the fridge. I went to bed with visions of the cover of Southern Living in my head. It was going to be awesome.
We woke up Thursday morning and I made some waffled french toast (waffle iron+french toast= genius). It was after breakfast, AFTER the turkey had been brine-igating all night long, when I decided to check out Pioneer Woman’s website to see how she brines a turkey. The first line I read: “It’s never a good idea to brine a frozen turkey”. WHAT?! Maw’s cuss word almost escaped.
It was too late to turn back. So, I checked my schedule (make fun, but this schedule saved Thanksgiving) and got busy making the sides and the cake. By the time I was ready to dress the turkey, Maw’s cuss word was far, far from my mind. I made the baste? rub? topping? whatever you call the stuff you put on the turkey. I read the recipe-“work the skin away from the bird, without tearing it and rub the rosemary/olive oil/garlic between the layers.” Come again? Sticking my hand between the skin and the turkey? Are they serious? If I don’t like taking the innards out-there’s no way I’m going to be on board for this. BUT. It’s Thanksgiving. Its my first turkey. I’ve already committed. I’m going in. It went down like this:
Me: “Gross..gross…oh my word…this is gross…”
Darrin: “you want me to do it?”
Me: “No, it’s my turkey, I can do it. How far do I still have to go?”
Darrin: “Um. Most of it.”
Me: “Really?? Ok. I gotta tag out. If you pull the skin up and I stuff it, I still get credit yes?”
Me: “Ok, you do it. And stop laughing.”
Turkey basted/stuffed. Time to put it in the oven. Pictures taken. Prayers uttered-please let this turkey be good. Timer set. Here we go. Turkey had been in the oven a good hour when I reviewed the recipe. “Put a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the roasting pan.” Um. Nary a drop of water was in the pan I had proudly put in the oven a whole HOUR ago. Maw’s cuss word? Not yet. Still good.
Took the pan out, added the water, covered it back up and put it back in the oven. Whew. It was then that I recalled all the pictures I had seen of turkeys roasting in ovens on commercials, in magazines, in cookbooks. Wait. There was no cover. Not once had I seen a picture of a nice bronze roasted turkey in an oven in a roasting pan with a LID. I got my phone, immediately went to butterball.com and asked the question-do you cover a roasted turkey with a lid? No. No, you don’t. How would it get nice and brown if it was sweating under a lid? Yet, there was my turkey, newly added water, roasting nicely…under a lid. For the last hour and a half. Sigh. This is when it escaped. Maw’s cuss word. It was quick. And I left out the “i”. Sort of. I took off the lid, slid it back in the oven and hoped for the best. At least there was cake. And cake? I know cake. It would rock.
Thanks to my handy dandy schedule (thank you mom), everything came out of the oven around the same time. Despite the shenanigans, the turkey looked awesome. We took pictures. We filled the island with food. We put Tucker in his newly assembled high chair. He was not a fan. We ate. We talked about how thankful we were for Tucker. We finished with some darn good cake. It was a great day. And yes. The turkey was good. Must’ve been Maw’s cuss word. Or maybe her apron. Either way, we felt overwhelmed throughout the day with gratitude to our God for the miracle of Tucker and all that God has answered. We are humbled by his blessing on our family this Thanksgiving. It will be one we remember forever. Our first real holiday away from the hospital. Our first Thanksgiving as a family of 3. Our first turkey…breast :-). As I’m writing this post our bellys are full and our hearts swollen, with all the blessings in our life for which we are so very grateful. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord. Thank. You. Lord.
These are just some of the things we’re thankful for this year:
- Tucker. Ray. Hucks.
- God’s favor and blessing on our life this last year
- Sister Shubert yeast rolls
- My dad, Ray, who turns into a big kid whenever he’s around the grandkids
- A mom and mother in law that love on Tucker and spoil him every day while we’re at work
- Maw Chapman’s apron and fiesty gene
- Medical Technology and NICU nurses
- A niece and nephew who delivered a surprise Thankful Turkey for our centerpiece
- A treat on our doorstep this morning to kick off Christmas
- Paula Deen
- Tucker’s chin dimple from Paw Paw Mickey
- A brother in law and sister in law who put together Tucker’s nursery while we were in the hospital
- No oxygen. No monitors. No feeding tube.
- Swings and vibration pack and plays
- Drive thrus
- Tucker’s laugh
- Bing Crosby’s Christmas Album (Heather) Kenny and Dolly’s Christmas album (Darrin)
- Friends and family who covered Tucker in prayer and loved us through the most challenging year of our life
Tucker’s appointment with the pediatric neurologist went great. She felt like he was right on track and said that if she didn’t know, she wouldn’t be able to tell he was a preemie! Praise God! She did an assessment and told us what to look out for and we don’t have to go back for 3 months. Hooray! We do, have one big prayer request. Tucker has had a little stomach issue for over 6 days now. He’s not running a temp and is acting pretty normal but we’re going through a lot of runny diapers. We’re taking him in tomorrow morning, per our pediatrician (yay Sat pediatrician appointments!) if he doesn’t improve this afternoon. Please pray that he’ll start feeling better and that there isn’t a more serious issue looming.
We hope you had the most wonderful Thanksgiving. We missed our extended family but we had a cozy, most perfect first family Thanksgiving at home. With a plate overflowing of things for which we are grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving Friends.
Love, Team Hucks
“In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18
8-1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup sea salt
1-1/2 teaspoons crushed dried rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons dried savory
8-1/2 cups ice water
1. In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, and savory. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to be sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
2. When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean 5 gallon bucket. Stir in the ice water.
3. Wash and dry your turkey. Make sure you have removed the innards. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator overnight.
4. Remove the turkey carefully draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine.
5. Cook the turkey as desired reserving the drippings for gravy. Keep in mind that brined turkeys cook 20 to 30 minutes faster so watch the temperature gauge.
Heather’s One Cuss Roasted Turkey
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste
1 (12 pound) whole turkey
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, basil, Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt. Set aside.
3. Wash the turkey inside and out; pat dry. Remove any large fat deposits. Loosen the skin from the breast. This is done by slowly working your fingers between the breast and the skin. Work it loose to the end of the drumstick, being careful not to tear the skin.
4. Using your hand, spread a generous amount of the rosemary mixture under the breast skin and down the thigh and leg. Rub the remainder of the rosemary mixture over the outside of the breast. Use toothpicks to seal skin over any exposed breast meat.
5. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Add about 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Roast in the preheated oven 3 to 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the bird reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).
Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/4 t. ground allspice
- 1/2 cup whole milk
Instructions for Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 9-inch round cake pans with Pam.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin until smooth.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, soda, nutmeg, salt and allspice. Gradually add to batter mixture, alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans, and bake for 22 to 27 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sugared rosemary and cranberries just before serving if desired. Store cake in refrigerator.