December 25th, 2010

rose window

And to all, a Good Night.

Our Christmas Eve service was a blessed event, if a little bumpy tonight. At 10:30, I got a call from our organist that she was afraid to drive on the roads out where she lives. Our usual sub is in Atlanta visiting her daughter. So, with 30 minutes' notice, I wound up playing for the service, including the choir. (I am the off-the-bench, third-string, accompanist of last resort.) One of our junior high girls played the prelude and postlude. Her mom, one of our choir members, did the readings and led most of the prayers.

It went okay, but it was more than a little disorienting. I am a person of words, and saying the words, leading the words, tasting the words is important to me. You can't do that when you're busy trying to figure out what you're supposed to play next. Still, the Lord was exalted, the bread was broken, people shared their love with each other. That's a win, no matter what the score is; put it down so in the book.

Time for a little quiet now, before bed.
xmas cats

Have a Holly-Jolly You-know-what

Christmas Traditions

One particular Christmas season a long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip ... but there were problems everywhere. Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her mom was coming to visit.

This stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More stress. Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hid the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from. Just then the doorbell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas Santa. Isn't it just a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Isn't it just a lovely tree? Where would you like me to stick it?" Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

-- Matt Freeman
camp cook

Can you say, Leftovers?

Deanne wanted to make Cornish game hens for Christmas dinner, but I begged for the opportunity to cook a whole turkey. I needed to rehearse the technique I'll be employing when we cook the Winter Rendezvous feast.

So, I spatchcocked* an 11-lb. turkey and washed it. Laid it out and applied olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Then I laid it in a big ol' foil roaster pan and started adding stuff, to wit: fresh rosemary, 4 rough-chopped onions, half a stalk of chopped celery (including tops), 6 chopped carrots, 6 rough-chopped Idaho potatoes (peel on), and 6 quartered apples (peel on). I put a foil tent over the top and put it in a 450 degree oven. Should cook through in about 70 minutes.

So, if anybody's around about quarter to two, please stop by and help us eat this bird. There's enough there to feed about 20 people, and we've only got three.

*Spatchcocking involves removing the backbone of the bird and smashing it flat. I removed the wing tips as well. This means you are not cooking a poultry cannonball, but a large, flattish roast. It allows for much faster cooking, which is good on a number of levels. I've got 400 to feed at the Winter Rendezvous, and while turkey is only one of five main courses to share, I'll be doing several of these birds for the feast.
camp cook

First milestone

It's been 70 minutes, so I checked the turkey. 105 degrees at the best spot. Potatoes weren't tender yet, either. So, it's taking longer than I had thought. Still, that's why we're doing this, to find out just how long it takes to cook this way.

But, personally, I thought that at 450 degrees, we'd have everything reduced to a char by now.

Update: removed the foil cap; perhaps roasting in an open pan will move this along.
camp cook

The verdict

I took the bird out of the oven at the 2:20 mark. If I hadn't spent the first half of that time cooking it covered, it might have cooked a wee bit faster. In any case, call it two hours or so.

The verdict: outstanding! Everything was cooked through, all the meat was equally moist, and the flavor was out of this world. The rosemary was very good; indeed, it could have stood a LOT more rosemary. I will remember that when we cook this in quant. suff. next month. The veggies were wonderful. Zach particularly liked the apples.

All in all, a very successful attempt! We are stuffed. A Merry Christmas to all the world.

Christmas Dinner Christmas Dinner
Spatchcocked turkey with roast veggies

hound of heaven

Christmas evening

It's been a nice, quiet day. Good food, long nap. I finally went out a little while ago; it was cold. I need about six or seven more days like this, and I'd feel ready for anything.