Thankful

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Bud and I have spent a number of Thanksgivings alone during our marriage. During those times, we either went out to eat, or I cooked the whole dinner for just the two of us.

I’m thankful we had guests for Thanksgiving this year. They weren’t just any guests, but good neighbors and friends…people we enjoy and love…people who accept us just like we are, accept our house as it is, and just want to be with us. It was simple and casual, but the food and fellowship were good, and I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

As most of you know our house is in the process of being ‘refurbished’, to put it mildly. It was in a state of extreme disrepair when we bought it and 30 acres at a GREAT price. We are doing the work ourselves, and it has been slow… so we haven’t done much in the way of decorating.  We’ve been struggling to just get it ‘live-able’. That has entailed a lot of tearing down and cleaning out.

We hadn’t even moved our living room furniture in (and only recently moved our bed to the house). We just didn’t want to 1) Have to work around it 2) Worry about it getting dirty or damaged while we work. We’ve decided we are going to have to put in a new floor after finding so much rotten and termite-ridden wood, and that is another reason not to have moved in heavy furniture.

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Seeing that the process  is taking so long, we decided to go ahead and  move our love seat into the living room in anticipation of having guests for Thanksgiving. We also wanted to hang some pictures, so that entailed a trip to town (which usually always takes at least 3 hours (often much more) after running around town and the time to get there and back.) Also, after making 3 rounds of ‘practice rolls’ I needed more flour…so we took a trip to town on Tuesday after supper, and after the chickens had gone to bed and were securely closed in their hen house.

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I was anticipating a nightmare, but the Walmarts really weren’t that bad! I got a new tablecloth, some matching towels and bath mats (which I had been wanting to do for a long time), and I also found a turkey roasting pan that held a 25 pound turkey. They didn’t have this pan out when I went for my big food shopping trip just a few days prior. It fit the turkey perfectly! Praise God. It was a miracle in my book…and it was only around $11 bucks! It had a very nice rack with handles that came with it.

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I spent all of Wednesday cooking. I was at ease, not stressed and enjoyed it a lot! I made my third batch of practice rolls. One thing I learned is that the dough has to be just right…not too dry, not too moist, in order to achieve that light and fluffy texture. That means measuring the flour properly. Sheesh! I’m glad I practiced!

Bud took the middle section of the love seat (which would have made the love seat into a couch) back to storage. The couch was just too much for that little room. We have no place to store things here. I thought we could put it into our outbuilding, but Bud wanted to take it back to storage and get some more pictures. He’d spent the morning hanging the ones we’d brought back the night before. He has such an artistic eye and knows to put pictures where they will look the best, bring out other colors in the room, etc. He did an excellent job. The living room is starting to look like a home! We still need to put in the floors, scrape bits of glue and paper off the ceiling, shallac it, scrape and paint the window frames…and I decided I had way too much to do to think about curtains, so we left the temporary sheets we’ve been using hung.

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Our turkey this year was not a grocery store turkey…it was one of those organic, hand-raised turkeys, and I’d read that it needed to be slow-cooked for best results…so I found instructions on how to do it overnight at a low temperature. Sounds perfect, right? Wrong!

I forgot to mention that earlier in the week, the Soap Lady brought over her bathroom scale and we weighed the turkey. It was a little over 27 pounds. I calculated that if I put the turkey in the oven at around 10:00 or 11:00, it would give me enough time the next day to let it rest, cut it up, and still have time to bake my apple pie. I had told Soap Lady and Son to come at Noon, and we would eat at 1:00. My hope was that by the time they arrived at noon, I could just pop in the things that needed to bake for 30-45 minutes and we could just visit while those things were cooking.

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(This is where my kitchen sink will eventually go. We bought a portable table at the Walmarts to put the Thanksgiving food on so we could serve ourselves from it. It worked well.)

After cooking all day, I was exhausted and my feet and legs hurt. At around 7:00, I was starting to panic thinking of all I had yet to do, including mopping the unfinished board floors. I was so tired and was having ‘symptoms’ flare up.

The turkey instructions called for roasting the turkey at 475 for 20 minutes to sear the outside and lock in the juices, but  when I went to turn down the oven, the temperature was not going down. More panic set in. This is a new oven. I was supposed to cook the turkey all night at 250 degrees, and the lowest setting on the oven was 300…but it wasn’t even going down to 300. I asked Bud what I should do, and he took over. I was ready to give up and defrost some chicken breasts for the next day, and chalk the turkey up to being a disaster. Bud volunteered to stay up with the turkey all night, turning the oven off and on to keep it at 250 degrees, knowing I was planning on getting up at 5:00 to finish preparations and cooking. HE STAYED UP ALL NIGHT with that turkey. 😦 That is true love. I was stinging all over , I had a headache, could hardly put a sentence together, and my muscles were all tight and wouldn’t relax (some of my symptoms when I get nervous and stressed) and could not get to sleep for several hours. The rest of my sleep was spent in a zombie state, halfway in and out of sleep.

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I got up at 5:00 and took over the turkey and started the other things I had to do. Bud went to sleep. (I’m back on coffee and -it’s bad. I was thinking of just hooking up the I.V. and getting my fix straight and quick, especially that morning. I’ll worry about that wagon later. One can only jump on so many wagons at one time.

I started to get nervous as the hours ticked down to Noon. Sometime around 9 or 10, I realized that my meat thermometer was still in storage (40 minute drive away). I called the Soap Lady to see if she had a meat thermometer. She had three! Bud (who had awakened and dressed by that time) went down to pick them up. When he got back, I put one in the breast and one in the thigh, and would you believe it? They were both EXACTLY at the temperature they should be! 180 degrees for the breast and 170 degrees for the thigh. Perfect. I considered that to be an answer to prayer and actually, a miracle. I didn’t think there was any way that turkey would even be edible, but it was good!

Soap Lady and Son arrived right on time. She brought me a gift. She always brings something, whether it’s something from her garden, or something she canned. This time, it was some applesauce, raspberry jam and some beautiful hand-beaded candle stick holders. I told her she didn’t have to bring something every time she came, and she told me I didn’t either…but we still do. I usually share some of our organic coffee beans with her.

Me and the Soap Lady are muy simpatico. We are similar temperaments, and in fact, she reminds me of my mother in many ways. She is about the same age my mother would have been, too. She came in and started helping right away. I liked having her in my kitchen. We fit well there together. She did a lot of dishes! I always feel bad for the dish washer who has to clean up after me (because I mess up a lot of dishes), but she insisted, and it helped so much!

I was very nervous. The thought of taking pictures crossed my mind only once, and I was so nervous and stressed, that the thought flew in and out in one minute and was gone forever. All pictures posted today are ‘re-enacted’ (i.e. taken today). I wouldn’t have posted pics of neighbors, anyway, but would have liked to have gotten pics of the food.

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Dinner was about a half hour late, but everything came out great. We held hands, said the blessing, and then dug in. The rolls were fluffy, the turkey was good, the dressing tasted like ‘Mama’s’, and everything came out hot at the same time. I think everyone enjoyed it.

I made three pies this year: Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan. I made a new recipe for Pecan. They both loved it. Soap Lady’s son said it was the best he ever had. It was too sweet for Bud and me. I’ve never been a Pecan Pie fan, but I like the recipe because it didn’t call for any corn syrup…and it did have a good flavor.

>>>Old Fashioned Pecan Pie<<<

Soap Lady’s son had to get home to take care of the animals before dark, so we ate our pie in haste. He finally decided to come back for his mother, so we had a little extra time to visit in the living room. I had a hard time not falling to sleep, but enjoyed the extra time to visit with her.

I sent half of the food home with them. I have reheated ‘Thanksgiving’ twice for me and Bud since Thursday. I’ve now frozen what was left. I decided that this is a ‘Holiday Weekend’ so I had rolls and pie on Friday and Saturday as well. I’m back on the wagon today. 🙂

When I finally got into bed, I was asleep by around 6 or 7 p.m., and I slept the whole night through for 12 hours! I was exhausted, and so was Bud. Though he came to bed much later, he slept just as long as I did.

I’m so grateful to have been able to spend Thanksgiving with our good neighbors and friends, and I’m grateful that the food came out so well. I consider it to be an answer to prayer that I got everything together, and that nothing burned, that the rolls came out fluffy and that the turkey was cooked through and not overcooked.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!

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8 thoughts on “Thankful

  1. Hi Kara, You home looks better every time you write. Congratulations on the successful entertaining. At our place a team effort is always helpful. I can manage kitchen and Lee is willing to help with clutter patrol/bathroom cleaning. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you. Karen Beer

    Sent from my iPad

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I sometimes forget how far we have come, compared to what it was like when we first bought the place.

      I agree that a team effort is a good way to go. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!

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  2. I so enjoyed reading this, but not the part about how you were feeling the day before your dinner, Kara! 😦 I’ve dealt with similar ‘symptoms’ myself and they tend to ruin the day, but I’m so happy to hear that your Thanksgiving day was blessed! Your home looks wonderful! So comfortable, cozy, and warm … and you certainly have a gem of a husband there, too, with all the sweet things he does for you, too! Lew and I have spent quite a few Thanksgivings at home ourselves, and I’ve always enjoyed cooking the ‘feast’, but this year we went to my sisters for a nice meal with both her, and her husband, then on Saturday we went to my hubby’s sister’s home with 16 other family members and all I was assigned to cook for that was dessert … and oh my, that pecan pie recipe sounds yummy … I don’t like using corn syrup either! I made a cherry dump cake for dessert ‘duty’, and nary a crumb was left! There was so much other food that we were able to bring ‘leftovers’ home, which we’ve thoroughly enjoyed! I took the dressing, layered it with the cut up turkey in a casserole dish then poured turkey gravy over all of that and baked it until was warmed through … all’s I can say to that, is yum! There’s so much you can do with leftover turkey these days! lol! I told Lew I wanted to get one of our own to roast, but when we went back to get one of the ‘organic’ turkeys, they were all gone. I’m hoping more will come in soon. I remember cooking a turkey overnight, on low heat in a brown paper sack … it was a long time ago, though, but it was the most tender and juicy turkey we’ve ever had! Have you ever heard of cooking a bird like that? Hmmm, I need to dig up that recipe for this next turkey! lol! All in all, we had a very nice Thanksgiving, Kara, and I’m happy that you all did too! You have a great weekend, my friend! 🙂

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    1. It sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving weekend with lots of good food! The casserole idea is a good one. I’ve never thought of doing that, though I ran across a ‘Southern Living’ recipe that was for turkey eggrolls, with the dipping sauce made out of canned cranberry sauce. I thought it was ingenious and it tastes good, too. I’ve made it about 3-4 times over the years.

      I don’t think I’ve heard of doing a turkey in a brown paper bag, but maybe it is a similar idea to the plastic roasting bags they sell these days? Paper would probably be healthier than plastic, maybe? I’ve used the plastic ones before, and the turkey came out great. I read that for organic turkeys, especially, they need to be slow roasted to prevent it from becoming dry. I guess they are more muscular and less fatty if they are free-ranging? I don’t know. At the very least, they are not pumped full of broth like grocery store turkeys.

      Thanks for stopping by, Debi, and I hope you have a great weekend, too!

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  3. Pure love went into that meal with all the work you put into it, and that’s the kind that tastes the best. It amazes me, all the work that goes into that meal, and it’s over in 20 minutes. Wish I could have had those rolls! Your house looks very cozy. I’ve always said it doesn’t feel like a home till you get the pictures on the wall.

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    1. Thank you. 🙂 I always think the same thing…that all that work went into it and it was all over in 20 minutes. 🙂 It is worth it, though, and we ate the whole meal three times! I also froze some of the turkey and I still have the carcass frozen to make bone broth out of it, and eventually turkey soup.

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you on the pictures. It makes the whole ambiance in the house different, even though there is still so much that needs to be done in the house.

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