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Butter Wrestling

Alternate title: This is why I have parties

Ok, you now have totally the wrong idea about what’s going to follow, and you are going to be thoroughly disappointed. But a while back I told you I would have a post called ‘’Butter Wrestling’’ and I felt like I owed it to you. Plus, it is part of the story. And if I called this post, ‘’I had a dinner party’’ there’s no way you would read it, nor would I blame you.

So hey, I had a dinner party!  😀

I like to entertain, just in general. Life is too short not to make your own fun, so when things get boring I throw a party or have a cookout.  (Someday when my lottery consortium wins big and I have all the money in the world, I’m going to throw the most ridiculous theme parties. You will wear costumes.) And a major benefit of hosting a little fete is it causes my house to become not just clean, but TIDY! I have clutter. I just always do. But I like to pretend to the world that I don’t, so it goes away when I’m having company. This is great for the appearance of my house. It’s bad, however, for my secret hiding spaces. And it’s even worse a few days post-party when I realize I can’t find An Important Thing that I really need. But the moment of the event, my house will look lovely and presentable.  So if things are ever getting too cluttery, I invite people over so I’ll have to address it.

Back in the olden days when I was married, my (ex)husband* and I created a holiday. He got a turkey from work for Thanksgiving, and we didn’t know what to do with it, because we were already juggling more Thanksgivings than we could stomach (my mom’s side, my dad’s side, his family). Who wanted to eat another turkey? So we stuck it in the freezer.

Eventually, though, we needed to do something with it. And it occurred to us that Thanksgiving dinner is a pretty awesome meal, and one that you should eat more often than once a year. And that Thanksgiving is generally a family holiday, so you never get to spend it with your friends. And lo, Fakesgiving was born, and it was good.

Fakesgiving noun A holiday occurring in March or April (far removed from actual Thanksgiving to allow for sufficient anticipation), involving the consumption of a traditional Thanksgiving meal (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.), celebrated exclusively with one’s friends (and not one’s family).

Sorry, Mom. I know you’ve always been a little miffed by the ‘’no family’’ rule.  😉

So after the Great War, Fakesgiving went into hibernation for a while, at least at my end. (Our divorce decree didn’t specify who got custody of our made up holiday.) But this year I decided it was time to swallow my fear and bring it back.

Fear, you ask? Well…my ex always made the turkey. Remember my prior chicken victory? That was just for me. Making a turkey and being responsible for a table full of guests? Gulp. But people always say cooking a turkey is easy, so I decided it was time to step up and give it a whirl. I had to stick my hand inside the chicken, how much worse could it be to stick it inside a turkey?

Here’s the problem with that whole ‘’cooking a turkey is easy’’ thing, though. All my research was completely contradictory!

‘’You definitely should cook it in a bag.’’
‘’Just don’t cook it in a bag and you’ll be fine.’’

‘’You should put the stuffing IN the bird.’’
‘’For the love of god, whatever you do, do not put the stuffing in the bird!’’

Brine. No brine. Baste. Don’t baste.

AGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! My friends and the oh-so-helpful internet were making me FREAK THE FUCK OUT!! Everybody was so adamant that the other way was WRONG!

Here is how I finally decided what to do: the guy I bought the turkey from, who is also a casual friend (and runs an actual meat shop, because now it sounds like I just bought a turkey from some guy on a street corner) said that he uses a bag. Sold.

EEP!!!! Yep, I'm still afraid of raw poultry.

EEP!!!! Yep, I’m still afraid of raw poultry.

I bought a bag and settled on some websites that gave me simple seasoning instructions. I sprinkled salt & pepper inside the cavity. I cut a lemon in half, and an onion, and put them inside the bird along with some fresh rosemary and sage. I chopped up more of the rosemary & sage and smooshed them into some butter, which I stuffed under the skin, and then I liberally buttered the entire outside of the turkey, and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.

Now, attentive readers, you are probably wondering why the hell this post is called butter wrestling. You came here for a reason, right?

Here is the biggest lesson I learned while cooking my first turkey: putting the turkey into the bag is really a two-person job. And yet, there I was, just one person. This was a twenty-pound turkey; it’s not as though I could just balance it in the palm of my hand and slide it into the bag. Oh, and I mentioned I had slathered the entire thing with butter, right? I had visions of the damn thing skittering out of my arms and crashing to the floor. But that turkey. Was going. In the bag.

I’m not sure if it was good for the turkey, but I definitely needed a shower when we were done.

The good news is, it turns out cooking a turkey IS really easy! Once you get the bastard into the bag, you stick it in the oven and leave it the eff alone. H let me borrow this fab meat thermometer where you stick the probe in and it connects to a display that sits outside the oven and you just wait till it hits the right temperature. Presto, dinner is served! Well, first you let the turkey rest, and then you beg someone to carve it for you, but seriously, piece of cake. 😀

I forgot to take a glamour shot - this is the best "I'm ready to be eaten!" pic.

I forgot to take a glamour shot – this is the best “I’m ready to be eaten!” pic.

And Fakesgiving was super fun, and my guests brought all sorts of yummy side dishes and desserts and Mourtney brought a pistachio baklava that gave me a foodgasm. And I don’t like pistachios OR baklava. We are totally doing this again next year; I need a bigger dining room table so I can invite more people.

I even made my own cranberry sauce, also super-easy. And so pretty!

I even made my own cranberry sauce, also super-easy. And so pretty!

Oh, and ps, the turkey was delicious!!!

*I never know how to refer to him in stories from the past. (You forgot what this was about, didn’t you? And now you have to scroll back up to find the asterisk?) I struggle with this all the time. He was my husband when the story happened. It doesn’t make sense to say that my ex-husband and I had a party. But referring to him as ‘’my husband’’ no longer seems right either. “My then husband” seems weird and awkward. It always seems to require explanation anytime I’m telling a story to someone outside the inner circle. Someone help me out here. Surely one of you has figured this out by now? How do you refer to a former spouse? Spouse tenses….I can see a whole blog post spinning out of this. Future wife. Former husband. Diagramming relationship tenses. I need a word to describe my ex-husband for when we were married. Hmm….Pandi coined the term ‘’wusband’’ but she uses it to describe her ex-husband now, in ex status….I want something specifically for ‘when he was my husband’ but I think her word is the right word….I wonder if I can steal it…

Let there be soup!

My mom does not cook with a crockpot. There is no commentary in that, it’s just a statement of fact, by way of explaining that I don’t know how to use a crockpot. Most of my cooking foundation comes from what I grew up with, which I assume is true for a lot of us.

When I got married, he wanted to register for a crockpot, so we did, and we got one. I still didn’t know what to do with it. Amazingly, he did. He would throw some things into it before leaving for work, and when we came home at the end of the day, presto, the house would smell amazing and there was a roast with yummy carrots and potatoes. Like magic! During the treaty discussions of The Great War I certainly never made a play for the crockpot; clearly it belonged with him, when he could wrest such deliciousness from it and I had yet to unlock its mysterious charms.

Jump to Thanksgiving night a few years ago. I was chilling on the couch in jammies (duh) flipping through the Black Friday ads just to see what the popular deals were that year. I am not a Black Friday shopper. I don’t get up at four in the morning for anything, certainly not to stand in line at Big Box Nation to get a good deal on something electronic. I used to joke that Black Friday discriminates against night owls – I wouldn’t get up early to shop, but I might stay up late to shop, if there were any reason to. And then lo and behold, I discovered that Walmart (I know, I know – trust me, I only shop there about once every two years) had midnight deals. Nothing too exciting, just something to keep people occupied and in the store till the actual deals kicked in. Including a crockpot for $9.99. Also a coffeepot for $9.99, something else I didn’t have (or have much need for, because coffee is foul, but sometimes I have company).  So I decided what the hell, pulled on clothes (even I don’t wear jammies to Walmart), and ventured out. They were handing out maps showing where in the store to find the deals – crockpots, for example, were on a pallet in the middle of women’s clothing – wha ha? Maybe this is a typical Black Friday tactic to confuse and make people move throughout the store? Whatevs, map in hand, I found the pots, coffee and crock. I picked up a baby crock for another $3.99 – what the hay. I was back in jammies on my couch by 1. Not too shabby.

Fast forward again to 2013. My lovely crockpots are sitting in the basement, still waiting for some action. I have used the big once or twice to warm up things like cocktail meatballs for a party, but that doesn’t count. I want the magic of food that makes itself! Conveniently, one of the recipe enewsletters I subscribe to sent me a recipe for a magical self-making chicken taco soup that sounded like a good first adventure. And guess what – it worked! I threw a bunch of stuff into the crockpot, I left it alone all day, and poof! it made dinner! It was not too shabby, either. A little spicier than I like my food, but I’m a wuss. I don’t eat sour cream (gack!) but I can understand how it would go with this. I froze a large bowl for another day, and took to some over to a friend’s house too. (Finding crockpot recipes for one might be a challenge – any suggestions?) But I like sharing food so I can roll with it.

The recipe comes from allrecipes.com, but here it is for your lazy bastards who can’t do your own internet searches. 😉 In case you want it.
 

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

  •     1 onion, chopped
  •     1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
  •     1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  •     1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  •     1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  •     1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
  •     2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  •     1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
  •     3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  •     shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
  •     sour cream (optional)
  •     crushed tortilla chips (optional)
  1. Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

chicken taco soup
THAT’S IT! TWO STEPS! Presto, soup!!!! (Yeah, my mind is easily blown.)

Next time I make it I’ll try some modifications. No chili beans. Maybe some additional black beans, or another bean. Maybe tomatoes without the chilies – I like my food flavorful, but unspicy.  🙂

If you have any favorite crockpot recipes, please share!!

Oh, and ps, the $10-coffeepot was shit, at least according to the people who were served its coffee. My coffee-fiend father had a spare which now lives at my house.  I don’t know how to use it, but it’s here if you want coffee. 😀

Image

Doh!

measuring cup

 

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