Note to self and all others: The turkey brining was definitely worth it. With so few people to feed (four), I haven’t done a whole turkey at Thanksgiving in a while, and even this year’s eight-pound breast was more-more-more than enough. But breasts love to dry out, and all the solutions I’ve tried so far — cooking in a bag, basting like a madwoman — have been only mildly successful in keeping the thing juicy through roasting, resting and through to the table. But the brine did the trick, and was only slightly more work. I put it in the solution at 2 p.m. Wednesday (in a heavy-duty plastic bag, in an ice-filled cooler, in the garage overnight), took it out at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, soaked it in plain water for a bit, tossed it in the oven with the usual preparations minus the salt, and noticed a huge difference. Even the leftovers are still moist. So. Brining: Gonna do that one again.
The birthday was nice, too. I did more or less nothing, which felt like a huge gift from the universe. Went for a walk, bought a nice piece of fish, read a little, wrote a little, napped a bit. Made my own birthday dinner — trout almondine and sauteed spinach, perfect after all the starch and gluten of the previous day, and opened my present. A pressure cooker! Just what I asked for! I intend to spend the rest of the grim weather making a lot of beans and soups and dals and other stuff in it.
Examining the packaging, it occurred to me I could never be a salesman, or perhaps even a marketer. Pressure cookers have been around since your grandmother was capable of climbing a stepladder to clean soup off the ceiling, although they’re much improved; the only reason I wanted one now is that I’ve been assured they no longer spew soup on the ceiling. But guess what the manual touted? They’re “green.” The company is committed to low-impact cookery. And so on. And why would that be? Because pressure cookers consume less energy. You can do in 10, 20 or 30 minutes what would have taken four hours at a simmer on a stove. Oh. Of all the ways I use energy and resources, cooking is one I’ve given approximately 0.0 minutes of thought or concern to. I feel worse about the brining bag than I do whatever energy it took to roast the turkey. But it’s what sells today. Eco-friendliness is to our decade what oat bran was to the ’80s.
The rest of the weekend was a cruise. We tried to see “Take Shelter,” and couldn’t work it into the schedule (far west side, only two screenings a day). “Hugo” was sold out in all but the 2D theaters, and if I’m going to see Marty’s first and probably only 3D feature in the theater, I’m going to see it how Marty intended. So “The Descendants” it was, yet more torture inflicted upon my daughter, who always notes, when we’re choosing our seats for “The King’s Speech” or “True Grit” or whatever, “Everyone here is old.” “That’s because there aren’t any explosions or vampires,” I told her. The film was rated R for language, which I thought would be for two or three F-bombs, but it turned out there were many moments when the air nearly turned blue from the potty-talk, mostly from the young actors. Although, I will grant you, it was done well. There’s a scene where the older sister warns her younger sister away from a bad classmate, and does it with an escalating tirade ending with “SHE’S A TWAT!” that I enjoyed very much. I thought, leaving, that the film was overpraised, but the further I get from it, the more I find myself thinking about it, so it might just be that my critical muscles are underdeveloped. It was certainly a worthy holiday movie. Many closeups of the Cloonester. He was wearing eyeliner.
I’m teaching a colleague’s feature-writing class today, so I have to make haste this morning. Some bloggage:
Caliban’s right: Sitcoms are officially over, so sayeth the New York Times.
I don’t know about you, but I could watch these turkey-attack videos all day. Hilarious. Why doesn’t anyone open an umbrella or wave their arms or just stop running?
For all you writers, a long Q-and-A with Hank, with a lot of smart insights about newspapers and working for them and the internet and everything else:
…we’re going through a big renaissance now. And it just destroys everything I love. Newspapers, for one. Magazines. The notion of paying a writer for her work. The notion of paying editors. Book releases, book signings, book parties, and worst of all, the loss of bookstores. No longer being able to see what someone on the subway is reading, because even book covers are gone now. It took the music industry, too — our record stores, our record collections and the idea that everyone makes out and/or gets laid to one hit song in the same summer. It’s taking away shopping malls, so it’s taking away something I consider key to the American adolescent experience.
…I’m entering a cranky cuss phase. I’m entitled to that, because I have rolled with a lot of change. But for now, I’M STICKING TO MY WAYS. I’m sticking with my dumbphone. I’m not joining Google+. I will tweet if I want and I will Facebook if I want but I’m not going to meld them into some social reader account that synchs me up to instantaneousness and lets the world know what 10 articles I just clicked on and what bar I just walked into. I’m still without an e-book reader or a tablet. I like books; I like they way they smell and the way they feel and how I feel when I buy one and have it with me. I still read my newspaper in the morning. I refuse to check my phone for texts while having dinner with a friend. I’m sticking to my ways as they currently are in 2011. I will be exactly where we agreed to meet at the time we agreed to meet, and if you start sending me last-minute texts with amendments to the plan and GPS coordinates of the new location and a change to the cast of who is joining us, I will probably just bag it and go home, because I still believe that a plan is a plan, and that plans are worth sticking to.
But such a fun cranky cuss!
Welcome back to the working week. Let’s get to it.