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    Precipice - Sunday December 1st 2002, 11:35pm






At least 20 updates in December, that's my present to anyone reading, and my promise to Cindy (all round cool person, birthday twin, same month, date and year) and Jette (all round cool person not born on my day). Leap in and check back daily at the portal, all sorts of fab goodies for the month, tasting better, more filling with nary a kilojoule. I'll be notifying the Precipice regulars, come join there if you'd like an almost daily note.

Jumping in, with a post thanksgiving/pre-Christmas question from Anna; “How do you cope with turkey twice in a month? Do you just not do turkey for Christmas?”

Anna and I, both coming from Australia, don't have a big turkey tradition, but have fallen into needing something like that by dint of our American spouses. Course, living in the US now, I didn't have to pay $66 for our turkey, although her turkey breast stuffed with pancetta and rosemary sounds really good, and certainly something that'd fit in my oven.

I've been here 5 years in January, and I haven't cooked a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey yet. Jeff's Dad is a mad turkey fiend with a large oven and a history of cooking the bird, I'm an ambivalent turkey eater with a teeny tiny 1960's wall oven, so we always go over there.

The local shops give away free turkeys (12-20 pounds/5.5 to 9 kilos) if you spend a certain amount of $$. As it's only $250 over a period of 8 weeks (a store card keeps track of it, use the store card, accrue the points, assist in their marketing, tracking everything we buy, that's the cost of the discounts), we usually end up with a free turkey or two, specially since Jeff's parents use the same store card for their groceries .

Around this time of year, the turkeys (garden variety Pathmark/Acme/ShopRite/ supermarket) are about $0.89US a pound, so it's a $10-$20 freebie. We give one to his parents for the Thanksgiving meal and one for the Christmas meal. Right now I have two extra turkeys in my freezer, and there'll probably be another freebie by the end of this coming month. My plan is to give the two turkeys in the freezer to local churches that do food baskets for the not so well off. We try to buy the whole meal, or at least the canned/packeted bits of it, and then donate that to one of the local charity/non-profits.

I don't have to cook turkey, see Turkey Mad Dad. A cultural reference is the Dad from my favourite Christmas/Holiday movie, “A Christmas Story”. Jeff's Dad and Movie Dad, they have a similar fervour for the turkey. Much as Jeff loves this movie, his favourite Holiday movie is “It's a Wonderful Life”. Cultural touchstone, every Christmas. I've seen it once 1996, the first Christmas of Jeff. For him I drank Pepsi (when we were in different countries, it reminded me of him. As soon as we lived in the same place, I hardly touched the stuff) and watched a perfectly serviceable movie that didn't ding my bell as much as it did his.

Jeff's Dad stuffs the bird the night before, which I believe is not quite so hygienic, but I have the original cast iron stomach, so I'm not so bothered. I drink the non-pasteurised apple cider from a local orchard, I laugh in the face of E-coli.

I tend to fill up on mashed potatoes, bread rolls and veges, rounding the plate out with a cool cranberry relish his Mum makes with walnuts and apples and jelly and fresh cranberries, which adds a nice zing to the small amount of turkey I end up having room for. Ham is the thing I really can't stand, that's around Easter, bleagh. So, cheap turkey, not too much of it seems to be the trick for me.



On the subject of the “free” turkey. I do realise it's not free, in fact this past Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, in order to qualify for said freebies, I spent $180 at two local supermarkets. Not quite such a good deal, maybe, but I'm a fool for the freebies.

We'd already qualified for the first turkey, a 20 pounder, it'd been happily thawing in the freezer since the previous Saturday night. For your reference, to thaw a turkey in the fridge, it takes 24 hours per 5 pounds of meat. So, a 20 pounder, allow 4 days. You can leave it out overnight, but that's just a little too Evel Knievel cuisine even for me. So, in the ridgy-didge, a couple a days, she'll be right.

You can also thaw it in a bucket of water, but you need to change the water every hour or so, I don't have a bucket big enough to thaw a 20 pound anything in, and I didn't fancy explaining to my father in law what the wee nibble marks on the side were. (5 cats and a turkey inna bucket, it's a recipe, but not for anything good.)

Included in that $180 was enough side bits to give away the two full meals. I'll be glad to do that, not just for the warm fuzzies, but I'd really like that freezer real estate back. This time of year, I'm into the soups and the stews, make ahead, pre-portion, freeze, and when I can't be fagged cooking, et voila, dinner. I'll keep the turkeys in there as long as the charity needs me to, no point in giving them something they have nowhere to put, but I'll be looking forward to my turkey free day.

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Updated 2 December, 2002

Copyright Amanda Page, 1996-2002