From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


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Three Good Books

Three recently read books have really caught my attention, two fiction with culinary themes, and a non-fiction cookbook.  After doing the sewing/quilting book review series last September, I had a couple of marginal reads to one truly bad read (reviews are on Goodreads) interspersed with quick cozy mystery reads. Then I picked up Delicious by Ruth Reichl, her first fiction novel. I have thoroughly enjoyed her non-fiction books, both her autobiographic accounts Tender at the Bone of her early years, and especially Garlic and Sapphires – a tale of her years as an undercover restaurant reviewer.  I still have Comfort Me With Apples on the To-Be-Read pile.

Delicious is the story of a young woman named Billie, who takes a job at a food magazine. She quickly demonstrates her commitment to the challenges, and folds into the magazine family, only to have the it suddenly shut down. She is offered a position to maintain the hotline for recipe inquiries and complaints wanting the money back guarantee, remaining as the only employee in a deserted mansion in downtown New York. Finding a mystery in the magazines archive, she discovers a hidden room, and the letters of a young girl, Lulu, writing to the legendary James Beard. Through those letters, and an arcane filing system of organizing them, Billie learns about history, the history and challenges of food during the war years. Lulu’s courage battling her own heartache inspires Billie to confront her own tragic past.

Good Books Reviews at From My Carolina Home

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read with a different kind of story, one of the few times I’ll give a novel five stars on Goodreads. Ruth Reichl’s writing is superb, engaging interest quickly and making it difficult to put the book down. Her characters are well rounded and real, with raw emotion just beneath the surface apparent when the source of her main character’s anxiety about cooking is revealed. This is a must read for any fan of Ms, Reichl, any foodie, or anyone looking for a wonderfully different story.

The next book with a culinary theme was suggested by my book reading buddy, Kelly. We meet every couple of months to discuss a book we both read. This time was her turn to choose, and she picked A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White. The story is told from three different viewpoints. It begins with Alice, a young black girl living in 1929 Emancipation Township, North Carolina, subject to the plight of poor people and the persecution of her race. She escapes to New York, becoming the chef at a restaurant called Cafe Andres. Later she writes a cookbook with recipes from her time in the south. The story picks up in the 1981 with Bobby, a young gay man, escaping from his own persecution. He comes to New York, and apprentices at Cafe Andres, after Alice has left. He finds a home with Sebastian, and lives through the horror of AIDS. The third story begins in 1989, with Amelia coming to the city in the aftermath of her husband’s affair and subsequent divorce. She leaves her wealthy comfortable Connecticut home, only to find a connection with Alice that redefines who she really is.

Good Books Reviews at From My Carolina Home

This is a beautifully written novel about three different people with very different backgrounds, escaping their troubled lives to New York City. Throughout the novel there are references to comfort foods and experiments with new culinary ideas. This novel is so well written, with rich imagery and detail in the lives of the characters. The well developed storyline is written in a convergent style, and a twist at the end that I did not see coming.

The non-fiction book is At Elizabeth David’s Table, Classic Recipes and Timeless Kitchen Wisdom.  This is so much more than a cookbook. For the non-foodie reader, Elizabeth David is an icon in the culinary world.  Ms. David was a world traveler, living a bit of a wild life for her time in France, Italy and England, and one of the first food writers for magazines.  In 1950, her work A Book of Mediterranean Food was published, followed quickly by French Country Cooking in 1951.  Long before Gordon Ramsay, she became an superstar in England but was, and still is, virtually unknown in America.  At the time Julia Child was working on her book of French cooking in Paris, Elizabeth David had already published five works concentrating on the food of five different regions – the aforementioned Mediterranean and French volumes, along with a second book on French cooking concentrating on the Provincial region, English Summer cooking and an Italian cookbook from her time living in Italy in the early 1950s. Throughout her life, she continued to write for international magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and The Spectator, and published more cookbooks on English cookery.  She won many awards over her lifetime, including the Order of the British Empire, Commander of the Order of British Empire, and Fellow of the Royal Society of literature for her food writing.  All of her cookbooks remain in publication today.

Good Books Reviews at From My Carolina Home

At Elizabeth David’s Table is a collection of selected recipes from all of her published cookbooks, along with some of her writings, musings on food and her life in different countries as she lived.  Every course is included from starters and soups, eggs and pasta, rice and sides, meat, fish, poultry, sauces, sweets and bread.  Reading her articles transports the reader to rustic Italy, a summer day in Britain, the French countryside or the edge of the Mediterranean sea.  The forward to the volume was written by Ruth Reichl, a devotee of Elizabeth David.  It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that the revelations of Ms. David of the rationing and austerity of the war years was an inspiration for the Lulu letters of Delicious.

So, two new fiction books for you, dear readers, and one really special cookbook. If you are local, and would like to join the reading group, let me know. Kelly and I meet for lunch when we can, using the discussion guides online for questions. We would love to have at least two more in our little book club. We’ll take turns choosing books, hopefully to push us out of our normal reading genres.

What are you reading now?

 

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A Trip In The Mountain Countryside

Since DH sold his little British car, we haven’t had much of an opportunity to go with the group.  The car shows don’t want a modern car unless it is a Maserati or something equally expensive and rare.  Last month, we hosted an Australian Pursuit rally at a local park.  It was fun and I did get some pictures of the cars and us which you can see HERE if you like.  Members were given an easy route to follow for about a 35-40 minute drive and sent out at one minute intervals.  The finish line was hidden.  They then regrouped back at the park, and were sent out again in the reverse order of time finishing to run the same route in exactly the same time.  Finishing the second time faster than the first meant disqualification, and slower had points taken off.  Since no one knew their exact time, or where the timing ended, concentration on consistent speeds at the posted speed limits were crucial.  Everyone seemed to have a fun time on the drive, and afterwards we enjoyed a picnic lunch together.

Rally1

We did go to the Heart of Brevard show over 4th of July weekend, but didn’t stay long and I didn’t get any pictures.  It has just been too frazzling hot to go hiking this year, and I really want to do that again soon.  Yesterday the club had a drive planned, and I didn’t want to miss this outing, a nice drive in the lush green hills near Black Mountain ending at an Amish store in Fairview.   DH couldn’t go this day because of work, so I was accompanied by my friend Bonnie who really needed to get her vintage Mustang out for a drive. Here it is next to Mitch’s gorgeous MGA.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

We met up as usual at a parking lot.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Troyer’s is a popular drive destination, so lots of members showed up for this drive. The weather was a bit warm, but tolerable.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

This time I took my good camera to get some nice shots of the scenery as we drove. Summer in the mountains means lush green everywhere.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Every corner turned shows more green. Did you know that looking at the color green will lower blood pressure?

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

No wonder that I find these drives to be so relaxing, and mind clearing. I desperately needed that after this past week at work.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Our destination was Troyer’s Amish Store.  We parked in the back and enjoyed the gardens first.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

We really enjoyed the live music with a bluegrass flavor. I should have asked their names but I got distracted by the huge sandwich I was served.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

“Come sit for a spell and relax” the swinging bench beckoned to me.  I had to walk past lovely wooden quilt racks for sale, along with other wood items.  One of these days I am going to bring one home with me, I think I can fill one with quilts easily by now!

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Now, which jam to get, blackberry or blueberry, or maybe plum, or apple or peach?  Those are pickles and chutneys on the left.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Turn the corner and there is rice and pastas, just waiting to be dinner.  There are shelves and shelves of locally made spice blends and other foods, along with soaps and hand creams.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Homemade bread is sold here too, the little round loaf on the right came home with me. The nice lady waiting on me offered to slice it, but I think it will be best in big hunks with sweet unsalted butter.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

From the Amish made cheeses, I selected my favorite – Amish Butter Cheese – and got several slices for that sourdough bread. I should have bought a couple of pounds of it, it is that good. Alas, I’ll just have to go back again for more, along with more of the wonderful turkey and roast beef, and more of their horseradish sauce.  They also have fresh milk and buttermilk from Happy Cow Creamery.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Back outside to the gardens, lovely aren’t they?

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

This little outbuilding has quilt designs on the side.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

This little storage barn has a wonderful mophead hydrangea growing beside it. The flowers are still green, and I’d love to know if they will turn pink or blue.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

You have to visit the girls too.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Really fresh eggs anyone?

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

One more shot of the cars at the farm.  The windmill is charming.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

There is another garden behind the store.  It reminds me of an English country garden, a bit unruly and full of flowers.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

More places to sit and drink in the beauty behind the store.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

If you are near Fairview, NC just southeast of Asheville, stop by and get some of their fresh meats, cheeses and eggs, wonderful jams, jellies and chutneys, breads, spices, pastas, snacks or anything they have! They sell handmade wooden items, and Amish furniture too. Visit them on the web at Troyer’s Amish Store.

Drive To Troyer's Amish Farm on From My Carolina Home

Do you have a country market near you?

 

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Gift Ideas for Guys

Guys are really difficult to make gifts for as they don’t really go for most of the sewn and crafty items that we gals like to make.  I have yet to see any guy actually wear an apron while grilling, but most will be delighted with a gift of something for the grill.  Here are some of the hits I have given, starting with a seasoning mix for meats on the grill.

Seasoning Mixes Gifts for Guys | From My Carolina Home

Gather together some herbs and spices, combining them in a small wide mouth Ball jar for your grilling guy.  I’ll give you my recipe for the spice mix, but know that you can add and subtract as you like.  You can also fiddle with the amounts, if you like more garlic and less onion, go for it!

Seasoning Mixes Gifts for Guys | From My Carolina Home

If I have larger bits like peppercorns, I will use my mortar and pestle to grind them myself.

Seasoning Mixes Gifts for Guys | From My Carolina Home

Steak Seasoning Mix

2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder (or just chili powder)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Combine ingredients. Store in airtight container.
To use: sprinkle on meats before grilling, or mix into hamburger meat before grilling.

Seasoning Mixes Gifts for Guys | From My Carolina Home

In the download, the recipe for this Bold Smoked mix using black smoked salt is included.  To use just pinch some of the mix between your fingers and sprinkle over the meat.  Both these mixes work great on beef, pork and chicken.  In addition, it works nicely as a dry rub for smoking meats, and under barbeque sauce. Just put a label on the top and it is good to go.

Seasoning Mixes Gifts for Guys | From My Carolina Home

Yum, steak!  That’s my Garlic Zucchini on the side!

Steak done

Another idea is to combine some items from his favorite store in a creative container and you have a dynamite gift that the guy will really appreciate. Then fill it with guy stuff that he likely uses all the time, things that he will run out of and need more – batteries, tie wraps, shop towels, latex or nitrile gloves, hand cleaner, nail brush. A box of gloves can be wrapped separately and given with the caddy. This one has microfiber towels that DH says are good to have, hand cleaner, a hanging flashlight and tire cleaner.  DH has put plastic razor blades on his list for scraping gook off things without scratching surfaces.

Gifts For Guys ~ From My Carolina Home

For the gearhead guy, make up a car care caddy with his favorite car care products.  Go to the garage and find out what brands he likes.  DH says that most guys are a bit picky about which wax they want for the car.  But other things like dashboard conditioner and tire cleaners are pretty generic.  Sets of funnels are always useful too, as are cable ties in both white and black.

Gifts For Guys ~ From My Carolina Home

This is another one for the car guy, with car care products from Mothers and Meguiars, both brands DH likes.  The larger wells of this caddy from a restaurant to-go section can take the bigger size spray bottles.  With all of these, wrapping is easy with the clear bags made for baskets at the dollar store and a big bow.

Gifts For Guys ~ From My Carolina Home

For the gardener guy, garden gloves, specialty slow release fertilizer, inexpensive hand tools, seeds.  You are only limited by what you can think of, take any theme and find six things that fit that theme.  More ideas in the download.

Gifts For Guys ~ From My Carolina Home

If you are set on sewing something, make a banner for his garage or man cave.  You can find sheets and bedspreads with fun motifs on them like this one with The Stig – (a character on a British TV show about cars called Top Gear).

Stig 3

The head was on the pillow case, and the body on the bedspread.  I cut apart the pillow case and sewed it to the bedspread, adding a sleeve on the back to hang.  I have seen Tardis sheets for the Dr Who fan, Star Trek and Star Wars stuff for those fans, sports team sheets, whatever your guy is into probably has something you can turn into guy decor.

All my ideas and instructions are in my Craftsy store Gifts For Guys.  Learn how to craft a unique holder for his goodies, with lists of suggestions to fill it for every sportsman, gearhead, hobbist, handyman and grill lover in on your list. Recipes for seasoning mixes and fish fry mix are included with printable instructions for giving. These are always a huge hit with the guys in my life! I promise, the small price will be well worth it, and helps support my blog so I can bring you more free projects and ideas.

If you missed any of the Christmas in July posts over the last 9 days, be sure to go back see all the great ideas, and enter all the drawings for the giveaways.  The deadline for all is tomorrow, July 24th at noon Eastern Daylight Time in the USA.  (Drawings have been held, but more events are planned with giveaways to come).  I’d love to have you follow my blog to see all the ideas and tutorials coming up!

Do you have a DIY idea for a guy gift?

 

 

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May Is For Makers Week 5 – I Breathe I’m Hungry

It is Memorial Day giving thanks for those who served our country and gave their lives for our country. In the afternoon, most of us will celebrate the freedom provided by their sacrifice with a cookout, and perhaps some friends and family time outdoors. So with that in mind, I am going to feature my favorite foodie blogger today.

May Is For Makers | LRstitched.com

I have followed Melissa’s blog for quite some time now, she has the best blog name I have ever seen –
I Breathe I’m Hungry!
IBIH

Melissa is constantly producing new, flavorful recipes that support my weight loss efforts with low carbohydrate offerings. She also offers gluten free recipes. Mouth watering photography makes the dish look wonderful.  Here is her Caprese Stuffen Chicken with a balsamic glaze.  Makes me want to get some chicken breasts out of the freezer right now.  I have made this recipe, and it is as good as it looks.

IBIHCaprese

Just look at these Low Carb Cajun Salmon Patties!

IBIHsalmon

She has yummy ways to serve spaghetti squash, including this one with sausage and spinach. I made this one too, and it is definitely a keeper.

IBIHsausagecass

How about some Low Carb Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Mushrooms, good for a main course or a heavy appetizer.

IBIHPhilly2WMsmall

I could go on and on, with her inventive side dishes, and even some desserts!  Just click on any of the pictures above to see her wonderful site and peruse all the recipes.

To show my support, I purchased one of her Ezines – electronic recipe magazine.  She is offering the issues at a discount right now too!  I wanted to see what they were like, and I’ll be going back for the rest of her issues.  Sadly, there are only a few available.  The amount of work in developing these recipes, doing the testing and photography, creating the e-zine, must have been enormous.  I wish I had bought them sooner.  But, I’ll make up for it now and show her that I appreciate all she shares for free.

This is the last of the May Is For Makers posts, but I plan to continue purchasing patterns and ebooks and classes in the future.  After all, there are a lot of independent designers and bloggers who need our gratitude all through the year.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!!  How are you spending this day?

If you missed the other posts from my favorite bloggers – click on these links

May Is For Makers Week 4- Vicki Welsh at Colorways by Vicki

May Is For Makers Week 3- In Box Jaunt

May Is For Makers Week 2- Heather North at Creative Blessings

May Is For Makers Week 1- Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework


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Perfect Breakfast Eggs

I have been making eggs for months now, trying to get that perfect point where the yolk is no longer liquid and runny, but not fully cooked like a hard boiled egg.  I only do eggs a couple of times a month, always on Sundays.  I wanted to make them without a lot of effort, and precisely timed to the way I like them, just barely done. I had these egg rings which are wonderful for keeping the whites from spreading out too far and over cooking.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

The first step is to butter the inside of the rings so the eggs don’t stick.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

Place in a pan with some butter in the ring to melt on the pan to keep the eggs from sticking there. Use a medium-high heat, not too hot so the eggs cook a bit slower.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

I always break the eggs into a cup first, after I got one years ago that was bad.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

Heat the pan until it is ready, and the butter is bubbling.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

Pour the eggs into the rings.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

Now, here is where the difference is in my eggs. Add 1/2 cup water to the pan, and cover it.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

Cook to your preference.  The cover helps to steam the top and provide even cooking throughout.  I tried flipping them once, it didn’t go well, LOL.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

Remove the rings after the amount of time you want.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

On the minimum cooking time, you’ll get something like this.  Too runny for me.  This was 2 minutes.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

OK, starting over on another day, I adjusted the time up a bit to 2-1/2 minutes, but still got runny eggs.  Better, but not cooked quite enough for me.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

Adjusting again to 3 minutes, close to perfect, but almost overdone.  I like the yolk to have that translucent appearance, not like a hard boiled yolk.

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

So, it takes medium-high heat and just at 2-3/4 minutes to get them close to perfect for me. Lovely with ham! Pass the Hollandaise please!

Perfect Breakfast Eggs | From My Carolina Home

How do you like your eggs?


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How to Brine and Bake a Moist Succulent Turkey

Now I know what you are thinking, and I used to say the same thing – I don’t have the space to do this.  But, you do.  It is easier than you think.  I have to say, this is absolutely the best turkey you will ever eat.  The true test of how moist and juicy the turkey can be is not the day you cook it, but the day after.  Most every turkey will be wonderful right out of the oven, but it is the next day when a truly dry turkey shows itself.  Brining the turkey adds moisture to the meat, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make the turkey salty. I wanted you to have enough time to get your turkey defrosted and a bucket at the store so you can begin this recipe on Wednesday evening.  Updated again 2016 – I learn more ever year and have made some additional adjustments.

Brining Turkey - 18

Before we start, I want to tell you that you don’t need a fresh turkey for this recipe, in fact, I always use a frozen turkey that I have defrosted.  It is great for the store brand, frozen ones that go on sale the week before Thanksgiving, this year it was 57¢ a pound.   I allow four days in the refrigerator to defrost up to a 20 pound turkey. It is OK if the very center is still partly frozen when it goes into the brine. This brine is a much lower salt-to-water ratio than others you’ll find, so it takes into account the saline that many turkey producers put in their frozen birds. You can add anything else you like – citrus peels, herbs, onion, garlic, whatever makes you happy. The primary purpose of this method is to add moisture, so I just do the salt water.

Brining Turkey - 17

Start by rinsing the turkey and removing the giblets bags from both the body cavity and the neck area.  Oh, and just so you know, the pictures are from last year’s holiday.  I saved the them to share now.  My turkey has just gone from the freezer to the frig today so it will be defrosted by Wednesday.

Brining Turkey - 2

Now, prepare a bucket large enough to hold your turkey.  I found a 5 gallon paint bucket from the hardware store was ideal for up to a 20 pound turkey. I wash the bucket, then line the bucket with a browning bag, which is all those bags are good for. Years ago, I used them to cook the turkey, but realized that the meat was so dry the next day a mountain of mayonnaise or gravy wouldn’t help it.  I saw Rachel Ray’s show earlier this week on turkeys, and the one in the browning bag got to 193 degrees on the breast in just two hours!  Talk about overcooked and dry!  So just put the bag in the bucket.

Brining Turkey - 5

Mix salt and cold water, pour into the bucket.  I use less salt than others, just 1/4 cup for 4+ gallons of water. Add the turkey.  Fill up the bucket around the turkey with cold water, swishing it around with your hand to mix the salt-water in.

Brining Turkey - 1

Tie the bag closed, using the tab in the box.

Brining Turkey - 4

Put the lid on the bucket.  This is how you get your shelf space back. Remove one of the shelves in the frig, and place the bucket in the space. There is enough space to fit the pie for the next day’s dinner on top of the bucket.  Let it sit overnight.

Brining Turkey - 6

Later, I stuffed in more pre-prepped dishes and a couple dozen eggs, remember, it is only one night and you’ll get that space back the next day. The turkey can stay in the brine overnight and through the next morning. I typically leave it for about 16 hours.

Brining Turkey - 7

Drain the water. The salt water will add moisture and flavor to the meat, while any remaining blood gets washed away. Rinse the turkey inside and out to remove any excess salt water. Don’t forget to sanitize your countertop and sink afterward – I use a disinfecting spray and paper towels so I don’t transfer bacteria on a sponge.

Brining Turkey - 9

Place the turkey on a baking rack sprayed with cooking spray in your roaster.  If the bird has one of those pop-up timer thingys, remove it.  They never work.

Brining Turkey - 10

Season as you like, I used garlic, lemon-pepper, sage and oregano this time. Stuff the cavity with onion, garlic, leeks, rosemary, bay leaves, or whatever other aromatics you like. Don’t stuff the turkey with your dressing, it takes too long to get the internal temperature of the stuffing safe at 165 degrees, and in the meantime your breast meat will dry out and overcook.

Brining Turkey - 11

Now, cover the breast meat with foil for the first hour 30 minutes of cooking.  This will give the dark meat a head start, so the entire turkey comes out at the right temperature at the same time.  Many other recipes say to cover the breast after it gets brown, but by then it is too late.  The breast continues to cook under the foil to overdone and dry, and the skin sticks to the foil.

Brining Turkey - 12

Bake one hour at 350 degrees.

Brining Turkey - 13

Remove the foil after half an hour, return to the oven still at 325 degrees and bake for a total of 10 minutes per pound.  Check it with a meat thermometer about half an hour before time in case it is done a bit early, with different ovens this can happen. [I found in 2016 that 10 minutes per pound brought the white meat to the perfect temperature, and the dark meat was perfect too. The temperature will rise while resting to a higher temperature, so next year I am going to take it out with 5 degrees to go. The turkey meat, both dark and light, was moist and juicy for days.  In previous years I did 15 minutes per pound and it came out overcooked with the temperature around 180 in the breast and 195 in the thigh, but still juicy.  This time, at 10 minutes per pound, it was perfect. I checked the temperature every 30 minutes to get the perfect timing this year so I could tell you.]

Brining Turkey - 14

Check the temperature with a meat thermometer, I use a digital one.  The breast meat should be 165 degrees, while dark meat needs 180 degrees to be more tender and be sure it is done all the way to the bone.   Let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.  It will stay warm tented with foil. [In 2016, I let it rest one hour and it was still warm at dinnertime, and even more juicy than before.]  This allows the proteins to relax and reabsorb the moisture into the meat.  Wonderful!  One caution, if you use some of the turkey juices to punch up your gravy, only use a couple of large spoonfuls, and don’t add any salt to the gravy.  If you accidentally get the gravy salty, put a peeled potato in it and let it cook for a while.  The potato will remove some of the salt.  Just taste and when you think it is good, serve.

Brining Turkey - 15

Perfect turkey, dark meat done and white meat tender and juicy.

Brining Turkey - 16

Days later, the breast meat will still be juicy and flavorful! Perfect for sandwiches.

Brining Turkey - 17

Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Have you ever brined a turkey? Do you plan to try it?

Linking up with some of the linky’s on my link page, and …

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National Fried Chicken Day 2015

Ok, I’ll admit it. I am completely addicted to fried chicken. I could eat it everyday, if only my arteries could take it.  The combination of delicate crunchy exterior and tender juicy chicken is happiness on a plate.  Fried chicken was the comfort food of choice for my childhood years, and the very best was made in my grandmother’s kitchen in her cast iron skillet.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

My grandmother lived on a very small farm, about two acres, where she raised chickens and had an extensive vegetable garden. She canned fruit and vegetables, and made pickles, jellies, and chutneys. As a kid, I learned to appreciate the difference that a really fresh egg can make to breakfast.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

This was the era of putting bacon grease in the vegetables, and potatoes were served at almost every meal, often with corn. Her fried chicken started off with catching one, wringing its neck, plucking the feathers, then cleaning it before cutting it into pieces.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

My grandfather was a fried chicken freak as well. He once made a bet with my grandmother that he could eat fried chicken three times a day every day. So she took that bet, killed a chicken every day, plucked and cleaned it, and fried pieces three times a day for three months. He happily ate every piece. Yes, he even ate it for breakfast!! At the end of three months of this, she gave up and told him he won. It was years before she would fry chicken again.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

I have searched in every town I have lived in for that hole-in-the-wall, out of the way place that fries chicken the old fashioned Southern way. No cayenne pepper for me!! There is no way that any chain can do this southern tradition the way it should be. The pieces must be huge, crust thick and golden crunchy, delicately seasoned, with tender, juicy meat. Just walking into a place, I can tell by the aroma if they know how it is done. Sadly, the local haunt here that really knew how to fry a perfect chicken has closed.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

Many years ago, I would drive two hours to a mom-and-pop place, just to eat the best fried chicken on the planet. It was in an old house where every room was crammed with tables and chairs and there were chickens everywhere.   Chicken shaped salt-and-pepper shakers, chicken pie plates and dinner plates, chicken planters and candlesticks, chicken trivets and cookie cutters and anything else you can name were displayed on shelves or hung on the wall in every single room with little of the wall showing. The aroma of fried chicken was so wonderful, and it permeated your clothing while you ate. The recipe used there has never been duplicated. All I know is that it was batter-fried and the batter contained honey. Not only would I have a meal there, I would bring home a 24-piece box for the next few days. No, I wouldn’t eat it all myself, but I could have!  It went out of business years ago when the owners retired, and I wore black for a week in mourning.  They supposedly sold the recipe to someone that opened up another restaurant, but it wasn’t the same.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

Back to my grandmother’s chicken, she soaked the chicken pieces in buttermilk for at least an hour in the refrigerator, and sometimes overnight. Then, she would dip them in egg, plunge them into a paper bag with her seasoned flour and shake it. She only used salt and pepper in the flour. She just let the pieces sit in the flour inside the paper bag for about five minutes. Then she would give the bag a shake and let it sit a while longer. Depending on her mood, she might shake that bag several times. Heating up her cast iron skillet, she melted shortening to a depth of halfway up the side of the skillet. Then when the melted shortening was hot, she would take the chicken and gently lay it in the hot oil, frying for about 12-15 minutes per side on a medium high heat. She would cover the pan with the heavy cast iron lid. When the chicken pieces were golden brown and cooked through, she drained them on paper towels. Heavenly!!

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

I inherited that well-seasoned cast iron skillet although my chicken will never be as good as hers.  Some years later I found out her secret quite by accident.  I no longer fry chicken at home, but if you do, use self-rising flour.  I accidentally used it once and was amazed that batch was closer to hers than ever before.  It wasn’t until I was cleaning the kitchen that I realized why.

Grandmother's Fried Chicken on From My Carolina Home

I have several of my grandmother’s chicken salt-and-pepper shakers that now happily reside on my kitchen windowsill and around my kitchen.  They are all in the pictures above. They remind me of a happy time, when getting a plate of fried chicken was the highlight of the week. Those precious memories of a loving grandmother, frying chicken in her warm and sunny kitchen, in her old brick home, and the wonderful aroma of many a Sunday dinner will stay with me forever.

Do you have a favorite grandmother’s chicken memory?