Are you as underprepared for the the onset of the holiday season as I am?
With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I’m starting to think I should be concerned that my parents will be here tomorrow and I’ll be lucky to have the bathroom cleaned much less have gotten all holiday-ish (although, we did make some super cool leaf crafts that I’ll post her tomorrow).
But, the one thing I knew I’d be needing to do in advance is order the turkey.
The bird is one seriously big deal around our house, and while I can’t seem to cook a whole chicken to save my life, turkey is the one thing I know I can wow everyone with.
So, of course, in a need to simply indulge my mothering instinct to feed the family, I hunted down some choice spots to get that fresh foul this year.
It’s not rocket science, really. Safeway, Thrifty’s, Leungs (order ahead), Quality Foods – they all have turkey, fresh and frozen.
But, I figure if a bird was going to sacrifice itself for our holiday dinner, it was going to have done so locally and recently. So, that means hitting the butcher to get my order in.
My mother-in-law almost always treats us to a free-range, hormone-free bird from Gunter’s out on Ledingham Road. If these seriously tasty birds are your thing, get out there ASAP (like today or tomorrow) and make sure you tell the guys you want it fresh. The free-range birds are pricey, but worth every cent as holy cow are they ever delicious.
If a drive out on the highway to get turkey seems too troublesome, I recommend hitting The Butcher’s Block Meats on Fourth Street in Courtenay. I have a personal soft spot for local butchers as my mother often hit the butcher when we were kids and everything attached to those trips holds real warmth for me. The folks at BB make it so easy to shop there as they really do treat you like a friend and they’ll happily take your order for a fresh turkey that you can pick up this weekend (again, get over there today or tomorrow to order). The birds aren’t free-range. Make sure you specify that you want a FRESH turkey. Otherwise, you’ll get a previously frozen one that came from Ontario.
Soy and me don’t get along, otherwise we definitely would have tried a meat alternative and busted out the Tofurkey this year. A friend of mine in Seattle cooked one once that was absolutely amazing. So, I feel comfortable in recommending this option for those folks for whom meat is not on the menu. Edible Island on Sixth Street in Courtenay is still taking orders for those as well.
Finally, if cooking is totally not on your list of things to do for Thanksgiving, let someone else do it for you this year. The Westerly Hotel on Cliffe at 17th Street is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner special, with all the fixings. Feed your family and friends (8 to 10 people) for $129.95 (not bad when you think about it). You’ve got to make reservations. So, call 338-2745. Crown Isle also has a three-course Thanksgiving dinner after 5:30 p.m. on Sunday and Monday. The menu looks delicious with the cost for adults $30, kiddos 6-11 $13 and kiddos under 6 are $1 per year. Again, reservations are needed at 703-5050.
And, because cooking a turkey can be totally intimidating, here are some turkey tips from Eatturkey.com (there are so many here it’s not even funny) and a few of my own, learned from years of Thanksgiving disasters:
1. If you buy a frozen turkey, take it out of the freezer at least two days in advance and put it in the fridge. Then, very early, or the night before, take it out and put it in cool water to continue to thaw. Otherwise, I guarantee you’ll be cooking a frozen turkey, which nearly doubles your cooking time.
2. Make sure your freezer or refrigerator has room to handle your bird BEFORE you get it. Oh boy, I cannot even tell you how many times I got a turkey home from the store and had nowhere to put it. Ugly.
3. Ask the butcher, the guy behind the counter at the grocery store, whomever you get it from exactly how long to cook it. Every time I don’t ask we go Internet surfing or guess and that is a recipe for an undercooked bird.
4. Stress buster: Plan your personal turkey recipe in advance. Knowing how much time you’ll have to commit to prepping the bird for cooking helps you gauge what your day in the kitchen is going to look like.
5. Another stress buster: know your cooking style. If you like to do all of the cooking yourself, help the rest of the family plan an outing that gets them away from the kitchen and out of your hair. Conversely, if you’re all about getting everyone involved, plan what everyone can do and how the cooking breaks down. That way everyone knows their role and won’t be hovering (as much) waiting for you to give them some direction.
OK, get to it…and of course enjoy!!!