I get great joy out of all aspects of creating meal.
I love grocery shopping. I do most of my shopping at a locally owned grocery store and cannot tell you how blessed I feel that, within their walls, I am able to choose locally sourced produce, chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, and dairy products.I love being able to explore a world of ingredients, I enjoy talking with the folks in the bakery, the gentleman in produce, the women in the deli, and adore every one of the butchers.
I also enjoy the tiny peeks into other people’s daily lives when I see what’s in their carts.
I have a standard list of ingredients I work from, just like most folks. In my cart, you’ll usually find chicken, organic spinach, lemons, organic milk (half&half, whole milk and skim milk), canned local tomatoes, and a loaf of freshly made sourdough bread. During a creative spell, I’ll go into the grocery store with the sole goal of creating something different. I choose a protein and maybe a vegetable and Google my way into using those ingredients in some new way. Other times, I go with a recipe book in hand, wanting to create a week of offerings inspired by a particular chef or simply shake us out of our culinary ruts.
When I mentioned how I – and my life – have changed over the last few years, this passion for creating a meal from the ingredient up is one of those changes. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen as a child, well, at least not by my mother. She didn’t want to have to clean up any messes. In my first marriage, the kitchen was just another battlefield where I was told I was a substandard mother and wife.
Now, the kitchen equals both freedom and safety. I take the pleasure I received while choosing our foods and the creation of a meal feeds me spiritually as well as physically.
Today, I am roasting a turkey.
Though we just had turkey with JB’s family last week, I had a coupon for a free turkey that I wanted to use. It wasn’t just any free turkey – it was a locally raised, vegetarian fed, free-range turkey that was fresh (never frozen). Trying to duplicate a Thanksgiving meal would be a waste as there is no way we would eat stuffing or green bean casserole. Tonight’s dinner is simpler.
I am needing the soul nourishment I get from creating in the kitchen, so I am experimenting. The November issue of Bon Appétit Magazine featured a new take on roasting a turkey: you spatchcock it. Basically, you remove the backbone, break the breast bone and lay the turkey out as flat as possible. This allows you to get the skin crispier – and roast it in half the time.
My wonderful butcher kindly did the labor of the breakdown for me. When I opened my box, there was my already spatchcocked turkey and a separate package containing the backbone, neck and giblets. I made stock with the left-over parts while I was preparing the bird, so any gravy made tonight will be fresh.
Though I was intrigued with the featured recipe that accompanied said spatchcocked bird – an Orange and Anise twist – I decided to shift the recipe a bit to fit our preferred flavor profiles. Also? I didn’t feel like brining the turkey, even though I know it’s a way to help lock in moisture. I did love the idea of roasting vegetables along with the bird – and I was seeking a simpler meal, so in addition to the herbs, carrots, onions, celery and garlic, I added a parsnip, a shallot, some leeks, and Yukon gold potatoes. I love roasted potatoes, so we’ll see how it turns out.
The biggest change, though, is in the oil. I took the recommended 1/2 cup of olive oil and added the zest of two lemons, a sage leaf, and some fresh thyme. I brought it to a hot bubble and then allowed it to cool. I brushed the turkey with the lemon oil as it went into the oven and am doing so every twenty minutes or so.
I’ve timed dinner to be done around six. While the turkey is “resting”, I’ll see if the potatoes need to be crisped in the oven at all…and maybe make some cornbread. No, it isn’t a substitute for cornbread stuffing, but there is a carton of buttermilk in there just begging to used.
It’s been a long week. Early mornings and JB staying at work later than usual. We’ve snacked the last two nights, but tonight we shall sit down to a beautiful meal, share the tales of our day and nourish our bodies. And each other.