It’s Turkey Time!

I know, it’s just the beginning of November,but for me it’s already turkey time. I start early. I have this thing about cooking turkey dishes with chicken broth. I just can’t do it. It’s all wrong! Turkey dressing and gravy must be made with turkey broth, not chicken broth.  You cannot create all of the broth you need just by boiling that packet of giblets that come with a turkey, and if you prefer to cook just a turkey breast rather that the whole bird you’re really in trouble. I solve the problem by roasting a small turkey breast or turkey in early November and using that to produce the broth called for in all my recipes.  Turkeys should go on sale soon.
It’s planning time, too. I take the first week in November to gather together my recipes. I then make a list of all the ingredients and divide that list into two pages. One page is for pantry items, and the other for fresh. I can check off the pantry items and watch the sale ads to purchase any I might be missing well in advance. I try to shop for the fresh foods on the Monday before the big day. That Monday is the last day I can handle the holiday crowds, and since I try to get most of the cooking or at least the prep work done by Wednesday, the food is perfectly fresh enough when purchased Monday. I also make sure to assign serving dishes and utensils for each recipe so I’m not scrambling around looking for bowls at the last minute. Oh, and I also have to make sure there will be room in the oven or a slow cooker for each dish as well. There’s a lot to think about!
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Meanwhile, I have our regular dinners to prepare.
Sunday I couldn’t pass up a deal on chuck roast at $2.99 a pound. I fought a hard battle with myself not to over buy on that, but I won. Part of the beef I did allow myself to purchase went into a batch of Company Beef Stew served in Mashed Potato Bowls.  The beef was unbelievable tender.  I had to resist stirring the pot too often so the meat didn’t fall apart.  This recipe eliminates potatoes in the stew itself, which can tend to get grainy, but there is plenty of rich gravy to fill those potato bowls.
This busy time of year I generally turn to the convenience of soups and stews, fall fare that you can cook once and serve again, then still have some to freeze for another day. Now Alabama’s weather is trying to thwart my efforts. Our traditional Halloween dinner has always been a big pot of Chili, easy for the kids to eat before going out for all that candy. Monday afternoon we hit an all time high temperature of 89 degrees, not exactly Chili weather. Well, we ate Chili anyway. Not the Very Veggie Chili I had planned, but good old ground beef and bean chili. It wouldn’t have seemed like Halloween without it.
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Tuesday’s dinner came from the freezer with the help of some pizza dough purchased in the grocery store deli department. I had frozen Sausage and Ricotta Calzone filling the last time I made Fresh Ricotta Cheese, and my stock of frozen Homemade Marinara Sauce is still holding out. You need marinara for dipping those calzones.
The rest of the week was pretty boring, but perfectly satisfying, eating leftover stew and chili. The only variation was Friday’s Freezer Food, Clam Chowder. With all those soups and stews it’s a good thing we have air conditioning!
Be thankful for what life gives you.

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