Giving Thanks for Resourcefulness


Our oven quit 3 hours before dinner on Thanksgiving day.

Oh, yes, friends, it was one of those holidays.

Strange thing is, the oven worked fine that morning. I’d gotten up in time to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as I prepped the sweet potato pie, cornbread for dressing, and chicken stock (also for the dressing).

About noon I was done with my prep (dinner wasn’t until 5:30, so we had plenty of time) and shut off the oven.

I kinda wish I’d kept it on for those 3 hours, maybe then Todd wouldn’t have had to “bake” the corn casserole and rolls on our propane grill.

Todd using the gas grill as an improptu oven on Thanksgiving

And I wouldn’t have had dressing cooked on some antiquated cross between a hot plate and a crock pot.

But at least our turkey goes into a counter-top roaster oven (leaving the oven free–in this case free and clear to up and die) so that wasn’t a problem.

Though, in a very strange twist of fate the top of the bird was registering done after 1 1/2 hours but when we went to carve it the thighs–the part of the bird closest to the heating elements–was still underdone. Still haven’t figured out the how on that one, but a few minutes in the microwave solved that one pretty quick.

So this year’s Thanksgiving was a true learning experience. Here are some tips I thought I’d pass along:

  1. If you make Alton Brown’s Sweet Potato Pie, don’t use Greek-style yogurt, it’ll be too strong.
  2. But if you do, a slice warmed and served a la mode (with or without Torani Pumpkin Pie Syrup) will still taste just fine and dandy.
  3. If you run out of vanilla and the stores are closed, both vanilla rum and vanilla vodka made quick substitutes.
  4. Make sure to remove both the giblets packet AND the neck from the cavity of the turkey (I caught the error before we put the turkey in to roast).
  5. You can use your propane grill as an impromptu oven, but you might want to prop your casserole dish up on a couple of bricks to allow air to circulate under the dish, too. (If not you’ll end up with a more-than-toasted bottom of the casserole, but it did give it a nice grilled-corn flavor!).
  6. You can also finish dressing in a slow-cooker/hot-plate sort of device, just don’t expect the top to get all nice and brown (seriously, I don’t know what this contraption of Todd’s is, but it worked and that’s all that counts).
  7. Counter-top roasters are the bomb for speed-roasting a turkey. (That’s not new, but still true.)
  8. Placing a towel under the cutting board when carving the turkey may not be enough–you might want to tuck one into the cabinet door below the counter and let it rest on the floor. Just be happy you have a juicy turkey.

And if you have a doggie guest for Thanksgiving, don’t be surprised if they offer to “mop” the floor under the carving station for you. Molly was committed to getting that floor spotless 😉

We also tried a new hors d’oeuvres this year for pre-dinner noshing.

Apples on Horseback appetizer

I could swear I got an email last week with a recipe for apples on horseback (either that or I totally misread Angels on Horseback and hallucinated the rest of the article). When I couldn’t find my reference email, I decided to just go with it.

Apples on Horseback

3 Apples, small to medium-sized
18 cheese cubes
12 slices thin bacon, cut into 3rds

Quarter and core the apples and then slice each apple into thirds, lengthwise. You should have 36 apple slices.

Slice each cheese cube in half. I used a combo of pepper-jack and colby-jack (what I had on hand) and the pepper-jack makes for a decidedly spicier end product, but either are tasty ways to go.

Pair up an apple slice and a bit of cheese and wrap with the piece of bacon. You don’t want thick bacon here as it’ll take too long to cook. Dividing each slice in thirds (I just slice through the whole package, makes it easier) means this recipe takes just under a pound of bacon.

Broil the packets until the bacon is crisp on top. Some of the cheese will cook out, but enough will be left behind to lend flavor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

This was, incidentally, the step in the days process that showed the oven for the fickle fiend it is. It had worked fine that morning to bake pie and cornbread, and I’d turned it off by noon. Come around 3:30 and I guess it resented being woken from its nap or something, as it refused to heat/broil/or do anything of use.

Thankfully we have a toaster oven. If it had been larger we could have cooked the casseroles in it, but it’s on the smaller side (just large enough for 2 hamburger buns, split, to give you a mental picture). It took 3 batches to finish the apples, but it got the job done.

Once we found counter space for everything and sat down to eat the rest of the evening went as usual. Everyone eats, we settle in to watch a movie (The Avengers, this year), and someone makes a goofy comment or 2 that has us laughing days later.

That someone is usually Mom.

It’s good to have traditions.