Friday, November 18, 2011

Oh man, it's a giddy thing.

I am officially unemployed. Completely jobless. Except, that is, for finally focusing full bore on the future I've been planning for years now. There is a freedom in not having someone to answer to besides yourself. I would like to live an existence like that. One where I dictate the outcomes. Where I do not fear that someone else is weighing my worth (outside of my clients). So, as of this past Wednesday, I am without a steady paycheck. Time to put my money where my mouth is.

Funny all of this strange change happens the week before Thanksgiving. My whole family is viewing what we are grateful for from a different perspective lately. I have no doubt this is a cultural phenomena and not limited to just my social sphere.We are not giving gifts en masse this year. Just one gift to one couple; like Secret Santa/White Elephant, only less conspiracy. And with this we are content- no, we're relieved. Our true holiday will surround all of us sharing a meal together- a few meals, even ... Grateful for the fact that we can celebrate all the countless meals we've had together. That we can look into each other's faces and thank God for each and every person at that table. And those that couldn't make it to our table, but remain in our thoughts.

I am grateful for my family. For my incredible husband. For my delightful friends. For opportunity; the fact that it still knocks for me every once in a while. That I do not struggle for shelter, water, food, or education. Such a beautiful life that swirls around me. I am so deeply blessed. Thank you for your part in that. Because you are a part of a beautiful reality- whether you believe me or not.

So in the nature of Thanksgiving I've recently helped my former employer host their third annual "Thanksgiving Gobble Cook-off". The whole company gets into it. Normally turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes are provided by an outside source. Harts Turkey Farm usually held the torch for us, but this year they decided to close their Manchester location for repairs the week before Thanksgiving. Poor planning? Maybe. Diabolical scheme to make their regulars anxious for turkey feast upon their return? Possibly. I can't be sure what their thinking was, but it worked in my favor. Audrey asked me if I wanted to bring the Thanksgiving haul to Goffstown and I agreed without hesitation. Turkey can be very easy if you let it. It's a basic formula, one that holds true for all poultry:

Bake on 350 for 20 minutes for each pound ...

My equation went like this: 17.97 lbs. x 20 minutes = 359.4 minutes / 60 minutes makes an hour = 5.99 hours. I rounded up to 6.

I put the turkey in the oven at 5 am to get to the office on time. And it came out GREAT! I was so happy with it! I wanted to brine it, but the well water where we live isn't all that awesome. In the mean time, we're using store bought jugs. I couldn't justify using two gallons of potable water for a brine solution. SO, I salted the bird and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next day I did a compound butter of thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, salt, and pepper. I rubbed the entire bird, top to bottom, under and over the skin. The result was a golden skin, flavor through out and a highly concentrated gravy that had some powerful flavor to it! Also, lots of butter fat. Delicious!! I was so happy with the results.

My family time during the holidays is split, so we're celebrating with Mark's family on Thursday and with my family on Saturday, heading up to our house at Pike Pond after Thursday's feast is done. A nice long weekend celebrating my entire family. I am so pleased! Especially since we have a new family member in the mix!

I'll explain.

On Saturday, Mark and I helped my sister Melody and her fiance Matt move into their beautiful new home in Candia. It's historic and fully restored, just a wonderful place. We're very happy for them. We spent all day helping them set up camp, but in the back of my head I remembered that there was an adoptable dog meet and greet at Pet Smart in Concord from 12 to 3. We didn't leave Candia until 2. I was sure we had missed our window to meet a dog. We got to Pet Smart at 2:45. There, lying at the feet of one of the volunteers, was a little black dog that was clearly exhausted from meeting so many new people and animals. He was all that was left. A lonely little Shepherd cross named Black Bear. I believe it was fate that he was brought to the meet and greet as the only older dog among two litters of brand new puppies. Puppies always get all the attention.

Happy Dogs of New England was the volunteer foster group that brought Bear that day. What a wonderful group of women. Informative and eager for us to give Bear a try. We walked him around and I watched him interact with children, adults, other dogs. When I say he's LAID BACK, I mean to do so in all-caps. And he had such a sweet face! Who wouldn't love this little dog? It didn't take Mark and I to figure out that he was meant to be ours. 48 pounds and from Tupelo, Mississippi- our friend Casey says he must have a musical soul if he hails from there.

We've had the little guy for two days now. He is afraid of cars, doesn't like riding in them or hearing them start, but beyond that he's perfect. We start obedience training at No Monkey Business Dog Training in January. In the mean time I'm doing my best to train him on my own, between chapters in my personal chef studies.

What a wonderful holiday season we are coming in to. Our family is blessed beyond belief. It is my hope that I can pass along some joy to others ... to give out infections/contagious grins that fall from ear to ear.

I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings. As I say this, I wonder what you're thankful for? I know all the usual hallmarks of such a question, but what is it about this year that stands out for you? Would you mind sharing?

Signing off for now, forever thankful, forever feasting. xoxo

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