It’s National Bacon Day and I’ve had trouble coming up with the perfect bacon recipe because it’s one of my favorite ingredients. I can’t think of many things that aren’t improved by bacon. This is the turkey I made for Christmas and it was the best one yet.
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds (you can use 1/8 cup ground mustard as well)
2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
8 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
2 onions, wedged
1lb bacon, thick cut
Six 12 ounce bottles Guinness Stout
One 12-14 lb turkey
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1. In a very large pot, combine mustard seeds, peppercorns and bay leaves. Toast over moderate heat until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
Add the brown sugar and salt and remove from heat. Add 4 cups of water and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the Guinness and 16 cups cold water. Once mixture is cool enough, add onions and bacon. Stir to combine and add the turkey, breast side down and cover. Refrigerate 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lift turkey out of brine and pick off any peppercorns or bay leaves. Pat dry and put in a roasting pan. I like to use one with a small horizontal rack in it, but the V shaped racks work nicely also. Breast side goes up this time. Scatter the onion wedges around the pan and add 1 cup of water. (Note: This will seem like a good place to use some beer or the leftover brine, don’t do it. It’ll caramelize and burn to the bottom of your pan and screw up your gravy, water is good) Use toothpicks to secure pieces of bacon all over the turkey.
You’re ready to roast the turkey for 2 hours. Remove the bacon (save the bacon) and return the turkey to the oven to roast another hour.
3. Once your turkey is ready, transfer it to a carving board. Pour the pan juices into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 3 cups (about 5 minutes). Add the turkey stock and boil. In a small bowl, mash the butter and flour to a paste. Whisk the paste into the gravy and boil until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
3a. If you don’t have 3 cups of pan juices or like a thicker gravy, do this instead: Pour juices into a saucepan and whisk in 3 Tablespoons of flour. Add the stock and deglaze the pan (if necessary). Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add 1/2 cup milk and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, 5-10 minutes. Season to taste.
4. Serve with gravy and the bacon sliced up.
Posted in Recipes
Tagged bacon, baking, beer, brine, brined, butter, cooking, dinner, draft, food, guinness, Holidays, Home, mustard, onion, peppercorns, recipe, roasted, roasting, stout, turkey
These are great winter muffins. The cranberries pop in your mouth and become addictive. I found these were better the next day when they were completely cooled.
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp fresh orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup oil
2 cups fresh cranberries
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the buttermilk, sugar, salt and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the orange zest and vanilla extract.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together until moistened.
3. Add oil and mix, mix, mix until batter is smooth and homogeneous. Fold in cranberries.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean.
Orange Simple Syrup
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice and sugar together gently until all the sugar dissolves. Brush over muffins. I also sprinkled mine with sugar for a bit more sweetness.
Posted in Recipes
Tagged bake, breakfast, buttermilk, cook, cran-orange, cranberries, cranberry, cupcake, holiday, Home, muffins, orange, recipe, simple syrup, warm
I saw this online and couldn’t resist making one for The Dude’s parents. You’ll need: a board, saw, bunch of corks, ribbon and glue.
First, get your letter(s) ready. I free handed mine with a sharpie, but you can use several sheets of printer paper to trace your pattern. Then, you’ll want to cut it out. I got The Dude to cut mine for me with a jigsaw.
Once you have it cut out (don’t worry too much about jagged edges, they’ll be covered by the ribbon) you want to lay out your corks to make sure they will fit with minimal cutting.
I chose to lay mine out in an ombre pattern (light to dark) that didn’t require any cutting of corks. Glue them in a row at a time. You might have to shave off a few edges on the corks from wine openers, but it should be pretty easy going. Glue the ribbon around the edges and you’re done!
I can’t say how important thank you notes are. I don’t give further gifts to people who don’t show their appreciation for them. So, if you’re off today, take a minute to thank the people who made your Holidays bright.
This year, the turkey was amazing (I will put up the recipe in a few days) and we had dinners with both families. I got a WiiFit board (that we’re returning because it’s not what we thought it’d be), an office chair, new shoes, a hunting back, a new purse, a toaster, lots of chocolates and a little spending money. I got myself/Hootie/Lucy a new cat box that is supposed to be easier to sift. I also got myself a flat whisk, cupcake set, 30 below rated socks, some touch screen gloves and a new water bottle. I will probably still buy myself a set of thermals and a few other things. I am also considering upgrading my phone to a Galaxy Note II, but we’ll see about that.
I celebrate Christmas, or at least have been trying to, but if you’re celebrating another Holiday, enjoy! This year has been a mixed bag for me. I started out very Ba-humbug, especially with the school shooting and resulting stupidity. I worked at it and forced it until a started to feel it. I forced myself to put up decorations, make up care packages and wrap presents. By the time I was done with that, my Christmas spirit was feeble, but alive.
I tried to build it with Christmas activities, but I didn’t get to participate in much that I wanted. The weather sucked, The Dude wasn’t into it or some other thing kept us from it. It really put a damper on my fledgling spirit. I like to put something on the front door, on the truck grill, put up a tree, go to see carolers and lights and festivals, going to buy presents and make a lot of cool stuff. A lot of my problem was expectations this year, although they were (as I felt) pathetically low. All I expected was a few decorations, I didn’t expect any presents since money’s been tight and to go out and do a few things together. I suppose I’m mostly missing the going and doing things, but those were the things I was counting on instead of presents.
We went to my mom’s for an early Christmas, which was great, except for the fight we had on the way there. He’d been complaining about having to get up to drive us there and I felt it was unfair to complain about this singular thing I wanted to go and do. Anyhow, I slept all day yesterday because I was depressed and have been putting on a brave face this morning. Christmas music while opening our few presents helped and a turkey in the oven is warming me up. My dad was overly-generous with me and it’s totally brightened my Holiday, my mom’s gifts were great too. The Dude got us a Wii-Fit board that I’ll have to check out.
Posted in Tales from the Backwoods
Tagged ba-humbug, Christmas, christmas activities, christmas spirit, Daily life, depression, dinner, fail, fit board, forced, Holidays, Home, lame, morning christmas, wii fit
These were fun and easy to make, but I had to order all my materials minus the jars from Amazon. You’ll need jars (preferably not with much writing/embossing on them), bristle or bottle brush trees, superglue or liquid nails, toy animals and imitation snow. You may also want some long tweezers or grabbers if you can’t fit your hand in the jar.
I decided to do mine right-side up because I didn’t want to build up the lid to avoid the distortion from the threading. But you could add clay to the inside of the lid to crate a raised landscape with the jars up-side down.
1. Spray paint the tops of the jars and let dry completely.
2. Pick out your trees and animals and glue them to the bottom of the jar. You may want to hold them in place so that they don’t lean. Let dry and add a bit of snow. Seal up with a touch of glue and you’re ready to gift. I’m going to have trouble parting with them, they are so cute!
Posted in DIY Projects
Tagged bunny, craft, cute, diy, family, fox, Fun, gift, Holidays, Home, moose, rabbit, snow, snow globe, tree
I saw a version of this online, but I wanted mine to be disposable once the holidays are over and they’ve used all the tea. I made this one for The Sweetness’ sister and her husband to go with the custom mugs I did a few days ago. This is also super easy and cheap.
You’ll need: Styrofoam or paper plates, a exacto knife (I used a ceramic kitchen knife), some clothes pins, glue, glitter and tea bags.
1. Make sure your clothes pins are clean. Brush on a thin layer of glue to the side that will be up. You’ll want the grabby end out to hold the tea bag. Sprinkle with glitter, shake off excess and set aside to dry.
2. Cut a hole in your first plate. I used a bowl as a guide and just worked my knife around the bowl. You’ll need more than one plate for the base of the wreath or it’ll be floppy when you try to pick it up. I used 3 Styrofoam plates, cut with the same bowl and glued together.
3. Once everything from 1 and 2 are dry you can start gluing the clothes pins around the edge of the plate. I had to use liquid nails because my plates were sloped enough that the pins wouldn’t stay, so I needed quick drying. Hot glue or super glue would be great for this. Once the pins are attached and dry, you can fill them with the tea bags and decorate it as you like. I used an extra plate to make them a monogram and a loop of ribbon to hang it with.
Posted in DIY Projects
Tagged Christmas, clothes pins, craft, disposable, diy, easy, fast, gift, giving, glitter, handmade, holiday, Holidays, Home, hostess, quick, tea, wreath
1 cup warm water (100-110 F)
1 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning (or pinch of each ground garlic, dried oregano, and dried basil)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup bread flour + extra for kneading
1 egg, whisked + 1 Tbsp. water, for egg wash
dried rosemary, for sprinkling
1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit 10 minutes to proof.
2. Stir in the salt, rosemary, seasonings, olive oil, and whole wheat flour. Add the bread flour and stir until the dough forms a ball. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until smooth.
3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl; cover; and let rise until doubled in size, about1 hour.
4. Punch down the dough and form it into a round loaf. Place it on a cornmeal dusted pizza peel or parchment paper; cover; and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, preheat oven (and pizza stone) to 400 F. Once the dough has risen, gently brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with dried rosemary.
6. Bake on preheated stone for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
*OR* Crock pot cooking: Line the crock pot with parchment or wax paper. Let dough rise the second time and turn crock pot to high setting. Don’t open the top once you start cooking or your loaf will fall. If you want the loaf to come out round, you’ll need to use 1/2 or less of the dough you made depending on the size of your crock pot. Mine took about an hour, but it’s not an exact science. I used all of mine and it makes a loaf that follows the shape of the crock pot.
Makes 1 round loaf.
Posted in Recipes
Tagged baking, bread, cooking, crock pot, cup bread flour, Daily life, dinner, dipping oil, easy, family, food, freshly ground black pepper, Home, olive oil, recipe, recipes, rosemary, vegetarian, white whole wheat flour, whole wheat flour
Today is Give Up Your Shoulds Day. I think this is a great idea. We all have these ideas in our heads about what other people expect of us and in general, these are good things, like you should wear a bra in public, you should brush your teeth, you should finish school and you should be respectful. However, a lot of us carry around shoulds that are complete BS.
I’ve actually been working on this a lot with my anxiety problems and it’s very helpful to let go of some misconceived things that you feel you are expected to do that no one truly expects. Here’s a few of my should’s that I have or am giving up:
I should clean every week. I should cook dinner every night from scratch. I should say yes to every request that’s made to me. I should put my loved ones’ needs above my own. I should be nice to everyone all the time. I should keep my feelings to myself. I should be more feminine or sexier. I should be a size _. I should have a baby by 30. I should always answer the phone.
I have adopted a ‘good enough’ policy. I keep the house and myself presentable, but not spotless. I make dinners from scratch when I want to cook. When I don’t feel like it, we whip up something from a box or the freezer or whatever. It’s good enough. I spent way too long sacrificing my own comfort for others, sometimes you need to say no. If you’re too tired, too busy or really just not interested, say no. I accept that I’m not the girliest or sexiest woman out there and that’s ok. I’m cute and that’s good enough. I’m tough and smart and that’s good enough. I’m a size 8 and that’s good enough. I’m thinking I’ll roll the dice and have a baby when I’m ready, not when news articles tell me my deadline is. Leave me a message, I’m being good enough.
Basically, I’m saying live by your own rules. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to meet some Stepford standard. Do things that make you happy just because they make you happy. Let yourself be who you are and don’t apologize for it.
By the way, today is also National Men Make Dinner Day. He may only be able to make mac n’ cheese, but if you don’t have to make it, isn’t it good enough?
Posted in A Mind on Fire
Tagged Community, Daily life, family, happiness, health, Home, Lifestyle, mental-health, Miscellaneous, Musings, Opinion, personal, pressure, psychology, Random Thoughts, Rants, Relationships, Society, Tales from the Backwoods, women, Work