Welcome to 'Attic of the Heart'!

Welcome from north-central Connecticut! In this blog I will share whatever is in my heart, on my mind, or something interesting I've found to share. Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turkey Day #2...

Today, I simmered the turkey carcass (isn't that an awful word?!) to make stock. It will make a nice turkey soup.

I also made the Stovetop stuffing. Since we eat our biggest meal at lunch time, it was no big deal that I didn't get it done yesterday. Plus I didn't have it until my honey brought it home last night from the store on his way home from work. (Did I mention we are a one car family now? No? Topic for another post...)
I like to make my stuffing in muffin tins. We like it slightly crunchy, not too mushy, and this method helps crunch it up a bit. I mix it up with the 1 1/2 cups of hot water like it calls for in the microwave method. This I spoon it lightly into greased muffin cups, don't pack it. (can't remember if I greased them last time, but this time I did, and it was fine)
Bake it on 350F for about 20 minutes. 25 minutes was too long, as it started to get a bit too crunchy/chewy at that point. You can either serve them individually, or just scoop them out into a bowl.

I guess we will be eating turkey dinner for a couple of days. I just love leftovers like these, don’t you?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No, it's not Turkey day yet...

...at least, not officially. However, since our local Stop N Shop were selling turkeys at .47/lb. this week, we couldn't resist purchasing one. A 12 lb. turkey for $6.00. How could we not?
I did have my doubts while still at the store on my ability to get it into the freezer when arriving home. I was right. It would not go in.
So yesterday was our turkey day. I roasted the turkey, made mashed potatoes (always mashed with butter and milk into a lovely creamy consistency), baked a squash, and made gravy. (and did 3 loads of laundry, mopped the floors, and washed numerous dishes - the part of cooking I'm not fond of)
We are going to be alone on Thanksgiving, just my dear hubby and I, so it won't be that big of deal not doing the whole thing on that day. I am going to freeze some turkey in a bit of broth, because when it thaws, it's kind of mealy and dry, especially the white meat. I'm hoping this works better. If any of you have a few good ideas on freezing cooked turkey, let me know.

I roasted the turkey in my old porcelain enamel roaster. I always roast it covered, then uncover it the last 1/2 hr or so to get a nice color and crisp it up. I have read of doing it in an open roaster on a rack, but since I don't have one, and this has served me well for 27 years, I guess I'll just keep doing it unless someone can convince me otherwise. I also always continue cooking it past the pop-up timer. I like a nice tender turkey, and find the timers cook the turkey or chicken to a bare minimum. I added about a cup and a half of water and a medium chopped onion to the turkey while roasting. I sprinkled the turkey with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, and just a touch of dried sage. I then sprayed it with cooking oil. (I have this nifty spray can that you can refill with cooking oil - it works like a can of Pam)

I baked a buttercup squash to go with turkey. We also love candied sweet potatoes, but I think I will save that for another turkey day. I tried something different with the squash. I followed the method given on the accompanying label, and it worked great.
I usually cut it in half (with a chainsaw. Just kidding. :0) I did have to use a hammer to tap my large knife down through it - it was a tough one!), scoop out the seeds, and proceed to peel it. That is one tough job. No wonder I only cook squash once or twice a year! Then boil it covered in water til done.

This time, I did cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Then I laid it cut side down on a baking sheet and baked it for 40 minutes on 350F. I did end up adding 5 or 10 minutes. It came out ready to fall apart. I let it cool for a few minutes, then scooped out the soft orange squash into a bowl, mashed in some butter (always real butter!) and that was it. It was the best I've ever made. No peeling hard skin,chasing slippery squash and pounding hammers. No more watery squash. I think I'll be making it much more often now. :0)

I made gravy from the broth created from roasting the turkey. I pour the turkey juice into a pot and heat it to boiling on the stove. I mix flour and cold water together in a separate dish, mixing well with a whisk. It should be a slightly thick mixture, not thin and watery. Don't add too much water, just enough to dissolve the flour and keep it from lumping. Cold water is a must. Then I whisk it into the boiling mixture, using a thin stream and whisking madly. This works for me and I don't usually have any lumps. The other way is to ladle about 2 cups of broth into a container, cool it well, and then mix your thickening into it, a little at a time, until you can safely whisk the cooled broth/thickener into the hot mixture without cooking it into lumps. As for flavoring, salt and pepper of course, but first I add a few teaspoons of chicken bouillon mix, the kind that comes moist in a jar that has to be refrigerated. How much depends on how flavorful the stock already is and many cups of liquid you are dealing with. I taste it as I go. I also add a few drops of Kitchen Bouquet. Not too much, or it will darken the gravy too much. Adds a nice bit of flavor. You can always add a just a bit more onion flavor too.
I like to keep things pretty simple, and do the turkey dinner much the way my mother always did. Sometime, I'm going to try and make my own cranberry relish to go with my turkey dinner. Did I tell you I just got a Cuisinart 7 cup food processor?...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Surviving in weedy pastures...

I am compelled to write about a subject that has concerned me many times in the past. Last summer, while on vacation up in Maine, we toured quite a few back roads.
On this particular trip, we saw quite a few horses in various fields. What struck me most, and saddened me, was seeing them kept in what could be loosely termed as 'pasture'. (some didn't even get this, but that is for another post)
Apparently, people seem to think horses like weeds. As long as they look out their window and see green, and their horses' head down eating, they think everything is ok. Lots of green stuff out there yet.
So many people who own horses don't do their homework first. Horses eat grass - not weeds. They are not goats. That is why you sometimes see so much 'green' stuff still out there.
Have you taken the time lately to walk around your pasture, noting what it's comprised of? What condition it's in. Is the real grass grazed to mere nubs? What is the percentage of grass to weeds? Horses need nutrition. They can literally be starving to death in a field of green.
Have you done soil samples? Have you fertilized it? Horse manure can be a great inexpensive fertilizer when composted.
Are you seeing more brown patches than green? Is the soil holding water well, too well, or not enough? Different grasses provide different nutrients. Check to see which are best for horses and what mix is suitable for your area.

Please, horse owners, take responsibility for your fields. Go to the library and read up on pasture management. Go online and do some research. Your horse is relying on you to take care of them. Sure, they might survive on what you see above. But do you want to just 'survive' on substandard or inadequate food? You will get a much happier, healthier horse if it thrives, instead of just surviving. You will save money in vet costs and even in replacing your horse, if you take better care of it.
I love horses. I have owned several over the years. And I too have been guilty of poor pasture management in my younger years, because I couldn't 'see' what was right in front of my eyes.
Although this is not a comprehensive article on pasture management, I do hope I've intrigued you enough to see what's growing in your own back yards, regardless of what animals may be pastured there.
So take a walk around your pasture. Really see it from a horses' perspective. Do your research and plan your pasture management. Your horse will thank you. So will I.

Below are a few links I found doing a quick search regarding pasture management to get you started. Your best place to start would probably be your local extension office.
Minnesota Extension Office. an excellent site on pastures
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Horse Pasture Maintenance
HorseQuest Online Learning