Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Talking Turkey

Last week I started thinking about how ripped off Australia is because we don't have a Thanksgiving Day. Given we are a country built on enforced labour (thank you England for using us as the world's biggest prison)perhaps people had no reason to feel thankful in the fledgling years of our great nation. I imagine that the heat, the flies, the idea of being sentenced to 7 years servitude for flogging a loaf of bread, the 5 month boat ride and deadly snakes and spiders made people quite pissy to be here. 

The Northern Hemisphere can keep Halloween, and Groundhog Day and Darwin Day (Who even knew there was a day for Charles Darwin? If you did- you're a total geek) but I think Thanksgiving is a very cool idea.

The more I thought about it - the more it seemed to me that I was just going to have to create Aussie Thanksgiving Day. My email in box hasn't exactly been flooded with invitations to anyone else's Thanksgiving shindigs (hint hint for subsequent years people) so it was obvious if I wanted turkey I was just going to have to pony up and cook one myself.  

Decision made, I went forth to find one of a suitable size. I think my US friends are pulling my leg when they talk about cooking 20 pound turkeys because I certainly couldn't find one. This leads me to believe:

a) That 20 pound turkeys are an urban myth
b) The US send all their anorexic turkeys Down Under because what the hell would we know - we don't celebrate Thanksgiving 
c) That Australia is the world capital of midget turkeys. 

The biggest turkey I could find was 11 pounds which is basically a chicken on illegal steroids. But I had to work with what I had, because Thea wouldn't fed ex me one of the 20 pounders. Just a tip- when you guys are bragging about your 20 pound turkeys don't mention the price you paid. You risk bodily injury. I can buy beluga caviar cheaper here than a turkey. 

But find a turkey I did, and then began the slow laborious process of watching it defrost for three days in my fridge, taking up the entire bottom shelf, which is normally where I chill my wine. Talk about a sacrifice.  I mean really, who takes meat out of the freezer on Tuesday night when they're going to eat it Friday? I was all for taking it out of the freezer Thursday night and letting it defrost on the sink until I was going to cook it but internet opinion repeatedly told me that was the fastest way to cooking up a dose of food poisoning.

So I spent the next three days researching how to cook bloody turkey (ironically the object of which is not to have any blood coming out of your turkey at all) The internet wasn't at all helpful because apparently some people out there cook their turkeys for 13 minutes a pound and some cook it for 40 minutes per pound. I guess some people like their turkey rare? 

Eventually (just after I started to weep uncontrollably and consider whether the local chicken shop would cook my turkey for me if I begged and cried loud enough) I found instructions on the actual turkey wrapping.....who would have thought to look there?

This Thanksgiving business is hard work. In between popping off to the hairdresser, I spent pretty much all day in the kitchen, peeling spuds, trimming the ends off beans and cutting carrots, wrapping corn in foil, and stuffing a cob loaf with cheese and butter. We wont talk about how much butter I actually used during the course of the day but I will say cows all over Australia were working overtime. Naturally I only used calorie free butter so it's all good.

My intention was to show you my entire Thanksgiving meal but somewhere along the way I forgot to take photos of everything (I'm blaming turkey stress). I did manage to take a picture of my dwarf turkey and it doesn't look all that appetising. If looking up a turkey's butt will stress you, look away now.


It looked far prettier all plated up and nobody died of whatever malady you contract from badly cooked turkey. My vegetables were also sublime. I served up mashed potatoes instead of roasted ones. And green , orange and yellow ones too. I now know why you all serve mashed spuds with Thanksgiving dinner- its because you don't have room in your oven for anything besides turkey. 

Gratuitous tablescape shot to divert your attention from the fact I didn't get pictures of anything else. 


And finally the piece de resistance. My triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream, cherry ripes, wafers, ganache and chocolate honeycomb.  Yes- I put all of that on one cake. 


This cake came together far too easily. I should have known something was going to give. When I poured the layer of ganache over the top before I put the honeycomb on top, it all pissed out the sides of the cake and my cake ended up floating in rather large puddle of chocolate that came an inch up the sides.  I did contemplate leaving it there and pretending an intentional moat was part of the plan but ended up sopping up all that chocolate with 327 paper towels instead. Do you know how hard it is to lift a 5 pound cake with an egg flip so you can wipe underneath?

I vote Thanksgiving should be a bi annual event. Who's with me?



32 comments:

Katy Cameron said...

I think you should get your money back, that's not even the size of a decent chook! Huge buggers here, and I hate them, so come visit us at Christmas and you'll either have beef or venison (Bambi being rather plentiful in these parts), neither of which occupy an entire oven unless you're trying to use my gran's tiny 2 oven thing, neither of which is big enough for anything beyond, well that teeny turkey of yours maybe ;o)

P. said...

Your turkey looks gorgeous. If it makes you feel any better, I still guess at the time, taking what it says on the wrapper rather loosely. Then there's the whole cover/don't cover/tent with foil folly, and to brine or not to brine (that is the question), or to inject or layer with bacon. And I never thaw mine solely in the fridge. A few years ago I made my daughter go buy another turkey the night before the big day and thaw it in cold water overnight, because her boyfriend had been thawing the other one on top of the counter for three days. I couldn't let her kill us all, now could I?

barbara woods said...

love your post!!!
My turkey is 20 dollars and and 12 lbs so we have the same here. Thanks for reminding me i just took mine out of the freezer and put it in the fridge

Canadian Abroad said...

My free range turkey will be £50 so hope that makes you feel better. Butit will be fresh and the butcher is open Christmas Eepve day so no prolonged defrosting. And I keep it in the cold garage so plenty of room for wine in the fridge. Hope you didn't forget to make sausage stuffing too!

Rachaeldaisy said...

It's not the size of the turkey that counts , it's how it tasted, and I bet it was delicious no matter what you say! That cake knocked me off my chair! That's what I call a cake!! I agree that it would be fun if Aussies could hav Thanksgiving. I bet Darwin wouldn't mind having Darwin Day too.

Helsie said...

I think if we have a Thanksgiving Day ever it should be in May or June and we can be thankful that the horrible Summer heat is finally gone!!!
I agree with you about the day being a good one and probably the best idea to decide what it is that you are thankful for each year to suit your circumstances but it MUST be in the cool weather so we are able to enjoy the food and it's preparation without dying of heat exhaustion as we do at Christmas time .
I applaud your energy. Your food looks terrific.

SoozeM said...

I agree about having Thanksgiving down here, but to choose some better time of the year, after cooking all that I would need more than a month before doing it all again for Christmas!
I can't believe you used a paper towel to soak up the chocolate, fingers and tongues work much better ;)

Elizabeth said...

The thing about Thanksgiving is that you give food assignments to your guests which spreads the work out so one cook doesn't carry the load. The trick is to ask them what they'd like to bring so they think it is their idea to make 5 dozen rolls from scratch or three kinds of pie, also from scratch. And a lot of families rotate who hosts so no one has to do too much housecleaning year after year. This is how we manage to pull it off annually.

I applaud you for your Aussie Thanksgiving. Your table is beautiful! And who knows? If it catches on down there, maybe the price of turkey will go down.

xo -E

Lee said...

Your post seriously had me laughing, love your humorous writing style :) I'm in the States, where Thanksgiving is a must. My turkey, somewhere over 13 pounds, a moderate size, is residing in the bottom of my chest-type freezer as we've been invited elsewhere. I would have to thaw and cut up before I could roast it as I only have a counter-top "toaster oven" - a good-sized one, but it's no where near large enough to hold my favorite roaster pan, one I've had for 40+ years, it's box-shaped and I have never had a turkey take the length of time the instructions say - they're always done hours ahead of time. My favorite part of Thanksgiving, aside from being thankful for blessings & trials alike...is GRAVY, some parts of the world call it sauce, but here, it's gravy, the more the better and poured over turkey, stuffing and potatoes.

Tamie said...

Oh if you were visiting in the states you could have Thanksgiving with us. This year it is at my brother in laws house but I am responsible for The Festival of Pies. I am going to fix pecan, pumpkin streusel and derby (think big melty chocolate chip cookie in a crust). I think there may be a cake in there but it won't be near as fancy as yours.

Sue SA said...

Oh yum, that cake looks delish and I love love love roast turkey, although admit I chicken out and cook turkey rolls as my oven and fridge are small. Somehow I don't think I will start having Thanksgiving dinners as my family are anti American holidays (eg valentine, Halloween) but if we could re-inventive it eg Backyard cricket homage to Don Bradman day and cook turkey in a weber that would be great!

Sharyn T said...

Forget that turkey, I'll take a slice of that cake! Lol. I think I'll stick with the boned turkey roll from woolies. Sharyn:)

Jennifer said...

Bugger the turkey, I'll have the cake.....too much chocolate is never enough, you know. We have a turkey farm just outside our town, turkeys are easily found here.

Pam said...

Of course you should have Thanksgiving, and we should have Australia Day but in our summer, Ha Ha,(I cheat as I go to Perth for it anyway) Second thoughts we should have Thanksgiving as well, but no turkey in this house YEUKK. I would sooner eat fish fingers.

Mistea said...

It all sounds delicious, and I don't even eat birds!
The cake looks amazing, I think the chocolate moat idea would be just fine.
I once spent Thanksgiving with a large family in the States and all I remember is the quantity of food,all of which was good!

Cardygirl said...

I can't comment...too busy pissing myself laughing! Shay for thanksgiving queen I say!

Kirsten's Cooking said...

Your turkey looks great! Who were the lucky guests?

The cake is beautiful - how did it taste?

Kate said...

You did Thanksgiving better than we do! Are you thankful you don't have to do Thanksgiving each year?

If you really want to visit the middle of the US at the end of November when it's cold and bleak, you are more than welcome to join us for Thanksgiving. We usually have enough to feed a small army anyway.

Marie said...

OMG -- way too much work for one bird -- Deep Fried is the way to go ... seriously, 12lbs ... into the turkey fryer ... out in 45 minutes ....

the bad part -- 2 gallons of oil .... more oil than Mc Donald's uses in a week!

AnnieO said...

My two turkeys are 13 lbs and cost 69 cents a pound. I have poor success rates with huge turkeys so I just put two smaller ones in one pan. You did ALL the dinner yourself which I wouldn't since we are always the hosts---

quiltfool said...

Like all holidays, you have to take Thanksgiving slow, and build up to turkey. But, good on you for effort. I'd have voted for the chocolate mote around the cake. Glad you enjoyed your Thanksgiving adventure. Lane

audrey said...

Wow! That's a small turkey--did you even have leftovers? You know at least part of the thrill of Thanksgiving is having leftover turkey to deal with for a week! hehe Your cake looks magnificent and I'm sure it tasted good even if it had leakage.

Marti said...

Can I come to your house for Thanksgiving? I don't think I've ever done it up as much as you did. This year I'm making a roast. Turkeys are supposedly in short supply, plus, they're just a lot of work and I have other things to do this year.

thea said...

You just might guilt me into FedEx'ing you a turkey ...

I need to get a bigger oven. Some day. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and all the food, family and fun, with Cocktail Wednesday in between. I haven't started doing any prep -- guess my husband will be working really hard.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday -- lots of cooking and food and such, but mostly because there's no pressure for gifts and all that.

Looks like you had a wonderful day and a great t-giving dinner!

P.S. You can always come over for Thanksgiving dinner at my house.

Razzle Dazzle Quilter said...

Thank you for sharing an Aussie thanksgiving. That cake looks pretty dam good.
I guess that means there won't be any cocktail night this week?
I'm going to share your story with the American relies.

Linda

Marg said...

I CAN NOT/DO NOT believe you used paper towel to mop up the chocolate. I'm betting there was a bit of finger licking in there as well. That cake must have tasted d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.
The turkey looks awesome. I was contemplating cooking a turkey at Christmas, but decided I must be totally insane if I think that's a good idea.

Karen said...

Bi-annual yes - that would be great! You worked very hard on this meal. The prep for Thanksgiving, especially the turkey at my house is like watching a competitive sport. Our 26 pound turkey is currently brining, after thawing for 8 days and will roast for something like 5 hours in which 13 people will eat it faster than it took to unpackage it...I am booking vacation for next year :)

Kristie Maslow said...

My first 3 turkeys were a total bust, finished by microwave and eaten at 11 p. I think you did nightly well! And catastrophes aside, that cake is amazing!!!

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

And now you know the real secret of Thanksgiving which is that it is a hellalot of work for the cook in the house while all for 15 minutes of consumption followed by 2 hours of cleaning. My turkey was only 15 pounds. It's ok, though, as long as you open the wine early. Like 9 AM.

Jo said...

For all of you who don't like turkey you must have had bad experiences. I cook 1 every year for Xmas so I wouldn't want to be doing it again a month before hand.
Even though some times it is hot here for Xmas it doesn't matter, just drink more.....

Brenda said...

Forget the turkey, butter is the key to an excellent Thanksgiving - as you have discovered!

Terri said...

Tara probably has a contractor's license! If her house had turned out less than it did she probably wouldn't have shown it... who knows how many she made to get to this point.
Your blog was built brilliantly, and gave us all a lovely Christmas LOL. Thanks you soooo much for that!
Hugs