Entering the T-Zone
We are officially in the T-zone, down to the nitty gritty, the final 48 hours before sitting down to give thanks this Thursday.
So... how are you holding up?
I'm hoping that you've got the grocery shopping out of the way because by tonight, people are downright mean, pushing their carts into yours to make their way to the pile of sweet potatoes, swerving in the direction of the tower of cans of pumpkin puree and agonizing over the frozen bird in the cart, wondering if the darned thing will be thawed by Thursday.
It can get ugly, like rush hour traffic, but without your favorite radio station. In the midst of the madness, remember to breathe! Jillian Pransky, one of my favorite yoga teachers, who's based in Hoboken, N.J., shared her thoughts on the importance of deep breathing in a recent holiday e-mail newsletter:
When we are stressed, we take shallow breaths. This starves the body and brain of oxygen, and puts our sympathetic nervous system in gear to fight or flight. Several times a day, take just 60 seconds to enjoy a deep breath, or 2 or 3. Consciously pause, put down what you're holding (or thinking) and take a complete breath. Let it move deeply into your lungs, and then release it slowly. Do this a few times. (For extra release, in the bathroom during your family gathering, try an exhale out the mouth and make a long 'ahhh' sound. That can actually create a deeper release of stressful feelings. The should of 'ahhh' through the mouth has a vibrational affect that helps to turn your mood around.)
I don't know of any supermarkets hosting breathing technique workshops, but many in the Washington are extending their hours over the next few days to create a little extra breathing space in those aisles.
Washington area Whole Foods stores are open well past 10 p.m. this week; the Arlington store is staying open until midnight on Wednesday. Several area locations (Arlington, Rockville, Silver Spring, Tenleytown, Vienna) are open on Thanksgiving Day as well. Today, the P Street location (5-8 p.m.) is offering complimentary Zipcar rides home to haul those extra vittles.
All My Organic Market locations are open until 10 p.m. today and Wednesday, but are closed on Thanksgiving. Folks on a gluten-free diet, you are in for a treat: MOM's has compiled a handy-dandy GF checklist that is helpful no matter where you shop. A big high-five to MOMs for this service.
And the area's two Wegman's stores, which are typically open late, will be open on Thanksgiving.
During last week's special Thanksgiving chat, a reader asked if I could get graphic about the location of the turkey's inner thigh, the area where you want to take its temperature and test for doneness. The photo, to the near right, which I took this weekend, should say it all -- the part of the leg that practically meets the torso -- but without touching the bone (which will yield an inaccurate reading). By the way, you want that area to read 165-170 degrees, tops.
In the course of a bloggish discussion over brining, one savvy reader praised the virtues of the oversized Ziploc bags as an alternative to a cooler or monstrous pot. Curious, I went in pursuit of said bags and found myself ensconced in the shelves at the nearby Target, soon clutching a packet of both XL and XXL bags.
The XXL, which measures 20 gallons, was my first choice for my 14-plus-pound bird, and sure enough, it supported the weight of the bird and the brine. I zipped it up proudly and let it sit on the kitchen floor to see how high the liquid would rise. But because of its lack of structure, the liquid dispersed to the sides, failing to completely cover the turkey, which of course is the whole point of the brine.
So I unzip the mega-bag and transfer the contents into the smaller, 10-gallon XL bag. Better, but still not 100 percent coverage like I get with my big ole pot. I like the zipped part of the bagged option, which eliminates the need for a lid and keeps things nice and tidy. I pull out the big pot and place the turkey-filled bag inside, a snug fit which forces the liquid to rise - and give me the sought-after brine coverage. The moral of the story: Use the big Zips for really big birds (14 pounds and up), but in conjunction with a pot or a cooler to maintain total brine coverage.
Fruitcake Report: After most of our party guests had left Saturday night, I decided to cut into my fruitcake with the few remaining diehard stragglers staying for coffee. I prop open the lid and inhale its very merry Yuletide perfume. The cake, which had been shrouded in foiled darkness for two weeks, was my first, and admittedly, I was a bit nervous about the group tasting. A regular dinner knife cuts easily into the cake, and I pass slices around to my cronies, all curious and eagerly awaiting their samples. And I gotta say, it's magnificent! -- but bad, as in very bad in the booziest kind of way. I daresay you could get tipsy on one slice. Moist yet not heavy, loaded with spice and plenty of fruit that does not glow in the dark, this cake can deck my halls anytime. I'll be making this one again! A real tickler.
Get your last-minute Thanksgiving quandaries solved today at noon, for one more round of What's Cooking chatter about Thursday's big feast.
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