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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Meg Hourihan Makes a “Mean” Chocolate Chip Cookie

Perhaps I get an abnormal amount of satisfaction from a well-done geek project. I also get an unusual amount of satisfaction from a great chocolate chip cookie. This project made me extremely happy, appealing to both my scientific side, and my… well, chocolate side.

I do not have the privilege of knowing Meg Hourihan personally, but I can tell that we would get along! She writes a food blog at megnut.com, and during a recent recipe search, this post caught my eye: A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Intrigued, I decided to give the recipe a glance. What I found was a wonderful fusion of geekery and bakery.

Meg, a self-described “Food Enthusiast,” had embarked upon a quest to find THE best chocolate chip cookie. She solicited suggestions, and received more recipes than she could use. To simplify her work, she narrowed the list of recipes down to a dozen contenders.

Then, like any good geek, she made a spreadsheet of the recipes. She converted all of the measurements to base 10, averaged the preparation techniques, chilling times, oven temperatures, baking times, etc. She came up with a formula for a “mean” (averaged, get it?) chocolate chip cookie. You can see the complete recipe on her blog. It is quite brilliant.

So, how did the cookies taste? After doing all of the mathematical calculations, measuring, mixing, chilling, and baking (13.04 minutes at 354.17°F), Meg sampled her creation, and declared…

The first bite revealed a cookie crispy around the rim, warm and chewy on the inside. A few hours later, they were firmer, but still tasty. The best chocolate chip cookies ever? I’m not sure, but I baked A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie. And that’s enough for me.

A happy ending to a unique kitchen adventure! I say, “thank you!” to Meg for her contribution to the canon of kitchen geekery.

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!

Exploring the mysteries of homemade pie crust

Making a perfect pie crust is a skill that can take years to perfect. How can something made from such simple ingredients be so difficult to master? I don’t know! That’s why I always buy pre-made crusts! But this year, I am going to figure out the magic and mystery behind homemade pie crust.

I have gathered some helpful video tutorials on pie crust making, along with some highly-rated recipes, and put them all together on this page. I’ve included video from Alton Brown and Cat Cora, as well as some home cooks.

It’s amazing how you can conjure such a delicious, tender, flaky, golden, crispy, soft, beautiful crust from just flour, fat, salt, and water. Sure, some people add extra stuff, but the basics are always the same. I’ve never had great success with pie crust. Maybe it’s because I’m too impatient to mix the cold fat with the flour properly. Or maybe it’s because my hands are always warm, so the dough gets sticky and overworked. I don’t know. But I hope I can figure it out this season. Otherwise, it’s back to the frozen crusts for good!

My own turkey tale: misadventures in roasting

I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but with the kids’ school “fall” parties (they don’t call it “Halloween” anymore, apparently) finished up and Christmas merchandise already showing up at Target, I can’t help but think ahead a bit.

I’ve been putting together a page on Thanksgiving recipes over at Squidoo. It’s been a lot of fun researching the various ways of preparing turkey, carving turkey, mashing potatoes, etc. It has me reminiscing about my first Thanksgiving with my husband, and that always makes me laugh. So in the interest of sharing a smile today, here is my personal, embarrassing turkey misadventure story. 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 the 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!

And in case you’re wondering, the rest of the turkey was fine. We still ate it, we’re still married, and we’re still laughing about it, twelve years later!

Heather’s banana bread

Every time I make this, people ask for the recipe. Thought I’d share it here.

  • 1 c. sugar1 stick margarine, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to about 350 and grease or spray pans (loaf, cake or muffin). Cream margarine and sugar together. Add eggs and blend. Mix together dry ingredients in separate bowl and then add to margarine mixture, and mix. Add mashed bananas and vanilla. Scrape down bowl and mix. Pour into pans and bake until toothpick comes out clean (approx. 60 min for large loaf; approx. 18 min for muffins). Do not overbake. Remove from pans and cool on racks. Then wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.