Thanksgiving Tip: Remove Guts from Turkey Before Roasting

Remove giblets before cooking turkey! Click to read source article.
How to remove giblets before cooking turkey! Click to read source article.

Here’s a story that we tell every year… Enjoy!

We’d been married about six months by our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple. We lived in an apartment with a small electric oven. I was so excited! You know… “Look at me! I’m such a good little wife cooking for my new hubby…”

I roasted a turkey, fixed up the trimmings, complete with cranberries from a can and Stove Top stuffing. When it was finished, he carved up the bird, my manly husband, and discovered something strange inside the breast. What the heck?! Did we get a defective turkey?!

We examined the pale, wrinkled, alien membrane, and figured out that I had forgotten to remove the bag of neck and giblets before I cooked the turkey. Yes, the bag of turkey guts was still inside, like an unexpected prize inside a cereal box. But instead of a super secret spy decoder ring, it was a baked bag of neck, gizzard, liver, and heart. Now, I’m sure that lots of people love to eat those parts, but we are not those people. I was quite embarrassed, especially when he told his mother about it. Fortunately, I have an excellent sense of humor. 😉 We still laugh about it!

failed turkey roast
National Lampoon’s Turkey Disaster

The rest of the turkey was delicious, and we are still married 17 years later!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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ChoreMonster.com aims to make chores more enjoyable for kids and parents

choremonster logo Getting my children to help with household chores can be a daily battle. It’s no fun, and everybody ends up feeling grumpy. Right?

ChoreMonster.com is an online system of chore assignments and rewards. It lets parents assign chores for kids by choosing from the default list or adding customized tasks. Each chore can be customized by due date, frequency, and points awarded.

Each child gets his own account, where the chores and rewards are presented in a colorful, easy-to-use interface. Kids can view assigned chores, check them off when they’re done, and see how many points they have earned. When they’ve saved enough points, they can redeem points for parent-defined rewards.

My kids have been using ChoreMonster for a couple of days now, and they’re still in the “this is so cool” phase. They enjoy suggesting chores and rewards for me to add to the system. They’re accumulating points and saving up for the big rewards (playdate with a friend, doughnuts, and a trip to the children’s museum, to name a few).

I like ChoreMonster because the kids go to the computer to see what they can do to earn points and help out around the house. This cuts down on the number of times I hear “Mom!” during the afternoon, which is nice. It also reduces the number of requests I get for treats and things, because they know how many points they need to save before they can be rewarded with something special.

We’ll see how they continue using ChoreMonster. Usually, they’re excited about any new chore system for about 1 week, and then they’re back to dreading chores. Maybe the combination of the computerized format, the scorekeeping, and the rewards-for-points system, will encourage them to stay with the ChoreMonster program! It’s kind of like a game!

ChoreMonster.com is still in beta mode, but the developer has given me an invitation code to share. If you’d like to give the free ChoreMonster system a try, just visit ChoreMonster.com and enter geekmom in the code field at the top of the page. Then follow the instructions to confirm your account.

Let me know what you think of the system. What kind of chores and rewards will you include in your family’s assignments? Do your kids do chores more willingly when it’s kind of like a game?

GeekMom’s Favorite Spam Recipe

What is SPAM good for? Well, it may be an acquired taste, but before “spam” became an online nuisance, it was a food. Remember? And while some snooty foodies will heap ridicule upon those of us lowbrow commoners who consider SPAM a legitimate ingredient, I have to say to anyone who is judging SPAM by its reputation alone, “Try it. You might like it.” Seriously!

GeekMom's SPAM Rice RoyaleFor example, here is a photo of some delicious fried rice I made the other day. Maybe I’ll call it SPAM Rice Royale, or something else that sounds tempting and exotic. See the lovely, tender onions and green peppers? The authentic leftover steamed Japanese white rice? Notice the beautifully browned SPAM cubes? That’s the secret! The SPAM must be diced and browned, so that at least two sides of the cubes are carmelized and a bit crisp. That’s what makes this such a tasty treat!

Additionally, I sprinkle the rice with a little bit of seasoned salt, garlic powder, fresh ground pepper, and a splash of Kikkoman shoyu (soy sauce). And if it were up to me, I’d also add some carrots and frozen peas, but Hubby doesn’t eat those. And since I’m so nice, I usually leave them out.

And there you have it. GeekMom’s SPAM Rice Royale. For the record, Hubby is a picky eater, and he had seconds for dinner, and took the rest to work for lunch the next day. Try it. You might like it!

Call me old-fashioned, but…

It’s just the way I was brought up. When we were kids, Mom made us sit down after Christmas or birthdays and write thank you notes. By hand. We hated it, and it took forever! It’s not that we wanted to be perceived as ungrateful or rude (Mom explained that’s what people would think), but writing notes was so boring compared to playing with our new stuff.

Now that it’s so quick and easy to send a digitized message, whether by e-mail, IM, text, fax, e-card, or whatever, I find it even more important to do thank-yous the old-fashioned way. I love getting personal notes — thank you or otherwise — in my real mailbox. Every time I walk out to get the mail, I have a little flutter of hope that there might actually be something “real” among the junk. Most of the time it’s just bills, credit card offers, and advertisements. Even though this is normal, it’s still a bit disappointing. When something personal is hidden between the boring business envelopes, I get so excited! Aren’t you the same way?

Which is why I always try to send handwritten thank you notes, and I’m trying to get my kids in the habit of doing the same. It’s a battle, because they say it takes forever, and it’s boring… But I explain that people love getting a nice note in the mail, and it shows an appreciation for thoughtfulness on both sides of the stamp.

Our Family Motto: What’s That Smell?

The most frequently asked question in our home is, “What’s that smell?”

The other day, there was such a smell coming from the laundry room that I actually closed the door between the laundry room and the kitchen, and opened the other side of the laundry room to the garage to air it out a bit. You know it’s bad when the garage smells better than the laundry room!

Having avoided doing laundry for a few days, I decided to brave the stink, for the sake of clean underwear. I started to run a load of clothes, and as the water filled the basin, the smell was putrid. Worse than dirty diapers. More like rotting roadkill.

Not wanting to make a grisly discovery myself, I asked my husband to take a look inside the machine. I was sure there would be something dead at the bottom of the barrel. Dutifully, he removed the wet stuff from the full washer one article at a time. When he got down to the bottom, he found the offending article. “Honey, what’s this?” I peeked around the corner and saw him holding up dripping wet a Blue’s Clues beach towel with big, brown splotches.

My mind was jogged back to a major chocolate milk spill earlier in the week. “I think it’s chocolate milk,” I said. (See, it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.) But it sure did stink! I had grabbed the big towel to help mop things up. When I finished, I tossed the towel into the washer and forgot about it. Oooh-whee!

In case you’re wondering how to remove the smell of spoiled chocolate milk from a towel, I used Tide and chlorine bleach. That almost worked. A subsequent wash with Tide and Borax did the trick.