The Thankful Thanksgiving Post :: {Brining your Bird}

I had another blog post in the works.  One about how I was paralyzed, and then I realized that it's actually really hard to write about that, even though I love talking about it.  But really, I'm just happy that I'm not paralyzed anymore and haven't been for twelve (twelve!) years.  I'm thankful for the doctors that made it so.

October was a dark, grim, bad month, and I've catapulted myself out if it, with sheer resolve, and a little help from my friends.  And what happens when you put your mind to something?  Lots.  Lots of ideas and creativity flowing out and about like crazy.  I've got worlds of ideas, as it were.

I want to get all the ideas out on paper, but I only know how to draw with my left hand.  Could I be twice as fast if I used both?  Right now I'm working on a poster called "I live here."  I figure, if I was the kind of kid who counted the steps of the Eiffel Tower as I climbed them, it might be of general interest to some kids to know how far away they live from the Great Barrier Reef, the Matterhorn, or the Chocolate Hills.  One of the things from my childhood for which I'm most grateful is that curiosity of other places and cultures was nurtured.  I want to give that curiosity to other kids -- in a poster!

Then suddenly tonight I thought that felt boards should no longer be relegated to the Sunday School room.  I mean, it's like velcro, but doesn't get hairs stuck in it!  It's like a puppet theatre, but you don't have to hold all the puppets in your hand!  Now I have to figure out how to make one.

Then there's the alphabet poster, which I have an idea for, of course, and toys!  Puzzles, architecture blocks, lacing animals...

I'm thankful that I have all these ideas.  I may never get to them all because my body limits me, but I wouldn't trade all the ideas in my head for a pain-free body.  I wouldn't even trade it for a pain-free body and a trip around the world. 

Most of all, as I write tonight, and as I'm about to draw some more, I'm grateful for a little group of friends that I have here in Staunton.  You might recognize them from their enthusiastic thumbs up to everything I post on the running snail & rainbow facebook page.  Thanks, ladies.  I'm lucky to know you all.

Turkey Brine
I think brining is a must for turkeys.  It makes the meat super moist, seasons it inside and out, and makes it cook faster.  If you think you don't have the equipment necessary to submerge your beast and keep it cold, look no further than your crisper drawer.  That's right.  The drawer with all the limp carrots in it.  Empty it out, give it a good clean and put your cooled brine in there.  I have learned the hard way that you ought to reinstall the drawer before pouring the brine in the drawer.  And before you pour the brine in, put your turkey in the drawer.  I learned that the hard way too, and spent the next 15 minutes mopping overflowed brine off the floor.
I've tried a bunch of brine recipes, and when push comes to shove, don't put fancy booze in your brine.  Save that for deglazing the pan and making your gravy.  Don't even bother with apple cider.  You can't taste it.  What you will taste in your brine are various aromatics and spices, so add those with wild abandon. 
The following is very loosely adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2001.
Fill a large pot with 8 cups (or so) of water, 4 cups kosher salt, 5 cups sugar, 3 bay leaves, 1 head garlic (cut in half cross-wise), 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns, 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon allspice.  Bring all of this to a boil, stirring until all the sugar and salt are dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before emptying into your clean crisper drawer.  Add water to cover the bird completely.  Refrigerate from 18-24 hours, flipping your bird over halfway through.