Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Hilltop House followers…turkeygrapewreath2

Just a little Thanksgiving thoughts on this “Storm Warning” day for the most traveled day of the year. (And the gas prices near record lows, gas guru price-setters must have watched the weather forecast.)

Brining a Turkey

A friend of mine from Utah once stayed with us over Thanksgiving, and asked if she could brine the turkey for me. We went to Home Depot and bought a new plastic 5 gallon paint bucket with cover, and left the turkey inside overnight in an unheated corner of our basement (garage would do too). In the bucket we added water, ice, salt, pepper, chopped onions, crushed rosemary, sage. (Some people add citrus) Don’t brine longer than 24 hours, but if you bought a frozen turkey, it works well with a partially frozen bird, just eliminate the ice which is just a precaution for it becoming too warm. Make sure to remove the neck and gizzards, keep them in the fridge for use later.

In brining, the turkey absorbs extra liquid making it juicy when roasted. It also absorbs the salt, so you won’t be needing any extra. The other advantage is that presumably the protein in the meat breaks down and gets nice and tender. That first one was so juicy and tender, we brine now whenever we can! Season as you would, avoid adding more products with salt in them. (Me, I love celery salt with all my poultry–it’s a mainstay in my kitchen–so I will brine with less salt as I like celery salt clinging to the skin that the kids love to eat, all crispy!!!)

Electric Knife

If you’ve got an electric knife hanging out in the back of one of those drawers or cabinets, half forgotten, now’s the time to get it out. Turkey cuts up so nicely with an electric knife. I take mine to church pot lucks where inevitably someone has a turkey or a ham to slice up and there aren’t great church knives for it.

Chicken Carcasses Galore

And speaking of those church events, I have a habit of glomming what others would throw in the trash. The turkey carcass or the ham bones. Turkey soup is so great when you can stew up a whole carcass. Tender orts of meat can be gleaned from bones left to stew for hours, and the bones make for deliciously flavored broth. Even if you’re turkey’d out by end of Thanksgiving, stew up the carcass, and when done, cool, then pick and pour off into extra heavy quart or gallon freezer bags. Just the right size to thaw one or two to whip up a soup. Ham bones are great to cook with your bean dishes. Our Southern friends serve beans and rice on Monday nights–a tradition mothers came to to give them time to tend to the laundry all Monday. We’ll give you the recipes for soup and beans next time!

Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you find some time to rest and find mindful moments–and thanks for following us! Thanks for visiting the Hudson Valley and staying at Hilltop House Bed and Breakfast


Thank You Veterans

My friend has been in Vicksburg, MS visiting with her family and wrote this—

Vicksburg Ms CemeterySandy, the images of this one cemetery have moved me. The little headstones, lined up, sometimes as paths down to the edge of the road. I can imagine the mourners walking those lanes and remembering the soldiers and sailors who fought for them. I know most of them in this section were southerners fighting for the CSA; but I was very moved.

She sent shots of Vicksburg memorials, this one a dough boy statue WWI…

DoughBoyWhich got me started on my own: I went out this morning and photographed our Town of Amenia Veterans’ Day Celebration. It’s heart-wrenching to think that in a town as small as ours, nestled away from the maddening crowd, that so many served and lost their lives. Thank you, veterans.

AllVetsAnd to study the names, makes one realize that brothers and uncles and relatives fought those battles; that families sometimes lost more than one of their loved ones, and that they did that to keep us free.

VietnamDSSometimes we forget, especially after a season of mindless political advertising representing millions of dollars thrown to the wind; this Veteran’s Day is ideally placed to remind us of what it really costs to keep America strong. This line up of young scouts, their leaders and townspeople is sometimes the only opportunity we have to make contact with Veterans and to see their faces, and know vicariously what it meant to serve, what it means to be honored.

ShakingVetsAfter all, the dead have Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day is the most important time for us to remember the living veterans who have served our country. While their focus maybe of their friends and buddies lost–sometimes right beside them–we need to support and sustain the living. Thank them for their service, their devotion, their strength to endure.