Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Report: Pre-Thanksgiving #3

Friendsgiving, Thanksfriendsing, Pre-Thanksgiving – whatever you want to call an excuse to eat feasts for the entire week leading up to the big T-giving day is alright with me.

For the third year in a row, I prepped my house, roasted a turkey, and hosted a mix of roommates, friends, friends-of-friends, and family to celebrate the start of the Thanksgiving season.  It was, as always, a process.

I started Saturday with a 10-miler, to properly prepare for a weekend of eating. (I love this run!) Then it was house maintenance time. I channeled my inner old man and handled the extreme leaf situation in my front yard, all the while grumbling to the trees that they’d better not drop any more leaves on my beautiful walkway. 

I don’t own a rake, but a snow shovel worked surprisingly well! Two full trash cans and two trash bags later, I was extremely pleased with my accomplishments.

The grocery store was surprisingly uneventful – for once Soviet Safeway had everything I needed! (We call it the Soviet Safeway because of the long lines and lack of food. To give you an idea, “While Belarus can only dream of recreating life in the USSR, we live the dream every day in Dupont Circle. An optimist would say the shelves were half full, but on most days they’re just totally empty. And the lines go on forever because Dupont hipsters enjoy the ironic semblance of waiting for bread rations…")

Anywho, I bought a 20-lb turkey and carted it home. Brining worked really well for me last year, so I wanted to repeat the process. The only problem was, how do you brine a toddler-sized turkey without a bucket or bathtub??? I contemplated a few unreasonable options -- maybe it’ll fit in my biggest bowl? I could block up the sink and do it there?  -- until genius struck and I pulled out a trash bag. What you see below is a 20-lb bird (ceremoniously dubbed “Trudy”), in a bag, in a bowl, filled with brine, and duct-taped into shape. Win!

On Sunday Trudy made her way into the oven at 12:45.

All was going relatively well party-prep-wise -- I made pumpkin hummus and a cranberry upside down cake (recipes tomorrow!) -- until I checked on the bird around 4:30. She was drowning in her own juices!!! Seriously. Turkey juice almost filled the pan she sat in. Uhoh. I tried to take her out of the oven, but 20+ lbs of turkey and juice is no joke, and the flimsy aluminum pan was useless. 

I panicked, called my mom (no answer, she was skiing), panicked some more, contemplated the situation, and finally came up with a plan of action.

Ok, alright, let’s do this… (Crisis like this are when it’s ok to talk to myself.)

I slid a cookie sheet under the flimsy pan, braced myself, and went for the lift. Ok ok ok oh oh… All went well until the pan tilted on its way up to my stovetop, and Trudy juice sloshed all over. Oh-God-oh-no-oh-God-oh-no-oh-God-oh no no noooooo!!!

I got her to the counter and sprinted upstairs for paper towels to wipe the worst of it from the inside of my oven. Then I used a measuring cup to scoop out most of the extra juice.

With that crisis averted, Trudy returned to the oven, covered in foil, to finish cooking.

The rest of the party went smoothly. I love potlucks because you never really know exactly what you’re going to get. Our menu included: turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, mashed sweet potatoes (sans marshmallows, thank God!), roasted sweet potatoes and apples, salad, homemade cranberry sauce, cheese and bread, pumpkin hummus (recipe tomorrow), apple oat bars, cranberry upside down cake, apple and pumpkin pies. 

All was awesome! And the best part, of course, was enjoying it all with my family of friends here in DC!

Countdown - 3 days until Thanksgiving!!!