i spent my wednesday evening prepping for the big thanksgiving meal, which we were hosting for the hub's family. with my folks out of town for the holiday, we were expecting a dozen people and MIL and i had done the dreaded grocery shopping the day before. we'd managed to whip through trader joe's and costco and get it all done in an hour, which i thought was pretty darn good.
for the turkey, i'd decided to go the alton brown route and prepared the brine in our giant stock pot.
after it had come to a boil and i set it aside to let it come back down to room temperature, i mixed up a batch of sugar cookie dough for the edible place cards i wanted to make. i'd seen this blog, with step-by-step instructions on how to draw cute little thanksgiving/fall pictures on marshmallows, and i figured i could pull it off despite my lack of artistic skill. i took a short cut in chilling the dough by wrapping it in plastic wrap and tossing it in the freezer for 30 minutes - i lack patience, you know, and waiting for two hours for it to chill in the fridge wasn't gonna work for me.
in the meantime, i got started on a batch of lemon cupcakes. i've been wanting to make some from scratch and found a pretty good looking recipe to use.
as i'd seen on other blogs, i decided to use paper soufflé cups to use as baking cups. they're just a bigger version of condiment cups, and when you go to eat the cupcake, you can spread the pleats open and it makes a little plate.
yeah, i'm a dork.
by the time i got those in the oven, the cookie dough had chilled sufficiently and i pulled out the rolling pin to cut it out into nice, big circles for my place cards. have i mentioned how wonderful it is to have all of my old baking supplies again, after surviving for a year in that thimble of an apartment with zero storage space? oh, how thankful i am to have a real kitchen again.
when i'd cut out all of the cookies, i peeked into the oven to see how the cupcakes were coming along. and i found out the hard way that the instructions to fill the cups 3/4 full were off. the batter had puffed up and oozed out over the sides, making a lovely freaking mess. damn. i swear, my cupcakes are always a failure in some way.
i'd have been better off going half full instead, like this one i'd scraped the bowl out to fill.
the cookies baked quickly, and i mixed up a batch of royal icing for them. the plan was to frost the cookies and leave them to set overnight, and then do the decorating in the morning while the turkey roasted in the oven. this recipe promised a lovely consistency that wouldn't dry rock-hard like traditional royal icing, which sounded good to me.
i laid the cookies out onto the dining table and outlined them with the frosting, then left them for about ten minutes to set a bit.
then, i thinned the remaining icing out with some water to "flood" the cookie, so that the whole top would be frosted nicely. i drizzled the middles with the icing and then used a toothpick to spread it out and cover them completely.
see? all done.
by then, my brine was all ready. pouring it into my big ass bucket, i added the heavily iced water as directed. it smelled really good, with the allspice berries and candied ginger and whole peppercorns.
like last year, we'd opted for fresh vs. frozen. this bird was heavy - a little over 20 pounds.
i found the bag o'giblets easily and pulled it out.
the turkey fit nicely in the bucket, but the brine didn't cover it completely. i decided to weigh the turkey down a bit with my big pyrex measuring cup and the teen helped me cover it up for its overnight stay in the brine bath.
by then, i was pooped. with everyone else in bed already, i cleaned up and happily plopped into bed next to the snoozing hub.
phew. the things we do to put together a lovely holiday meal. and i wasn't done yet.