Dec 062008

After the phenomenal success of my first Thanksgiving dinner last week I’ve decided to dive head-first into Christmas as well.  Following the precept of “If you’re going to do something, do it all the  way”, Zaira and I will be heading into a pine forest tomorrow and cutting down our own Christmas tree.  I pretty much despise plastic trees.  During my childhood we had real trees for the longest time and then my mother finally bought a fancy fake tree.  I’m not saying that, specifically, was the cause, but I know Christmas was never the same after that.  After all, there’s a reason they call live trees “real” Christmas trees.

So tomorrow we dive head first into another holiday and have yet another serious chance to do real damage to each other (falling trees, axes, saws, etc).  Hopefully we’ll come through it as unscathed as we did Thanksgiving.  This will be the first time Zaira cuts her own tree, our fiurst tree together, and the first Christmas  tree ever to reside in The Caverns.  Details will certainly appear sometime in the coming week.  Wish us luck!

Nov 302008

It seems as though every year some freedom organization or another brings out William Bradford’s journal as evidence of how communism didn’t work for the pilgrims while a free market system was what really led to the first Thanksgiving.  This year, it was Free Talk Live that tried to make the case.  Unfortunately, they all miss a few important points.

First of all, the pilgrims first Thanksgiving in America was in 1621 when Bradford (governor of the Plymouth Colony) reported that the bounty was plentiful.  His tale of the free market system overcoming the original communist system in the colony is relating events from 1623 – when they had not received supplies from England in nearly two years.

More importantly, however, those who claim this is a true victory for freedom is the fact that the pilgrims didn’t even own their land, much less than anything else.  In fact, the entirety of the Plymouth Colony remained the property of King James I who authorized the Council for New England to plant and govern land in the area.  The Pilgrims had a contract stating all land and profits would accrue to the Company for 7 years at which time the assets would be divided among the shareholders. Most of the Pilgrims held some stock. The Pilgrims negotiated a more favorable contract with the Company in 1626. In 1627, Plymouth colony determined upon a new economic arrangement with 53 Plymouth freemen (the “Purchasers”) agreeing to buy out the Company over a period of years.

It was during this renegotiation that the 3rd problem arises as the Pilgrims returned to their original division of debt-

“So they caled ye company togeather, and conferred with them, and came to this conclusion, that ye trade should be managed as before, to help to pay the debts; and all such persons as were above named should be reputed and inrouled for purchasers; single free men to have a single share, and every father of a familie to be alowed to purchass so many shares as he had persons in his family; that is to say, one for him selfe, and one for his wife, and for every child that he had living with him, one. As for servants, they had none, but what either their maisters should give them out of theirs, or their deservings should obtaine from ye company afterwards. Thus all were to be cast into single shares according to the order abovesaid; and so every one was to pay his part according to his proportion towards ye purchass, & all other debts, what ye profite of ye trade would not reach too; viz. a single man for a single share, a maister of a famalie for so many as he had. This gave all good contente.”

We all know at this point that communism doesn’t work and that coercive government of sovereign human beings is not only evil but ultimately ineffective.  There are examples of both surrounding us every day, so please, please stop dragging the poor pilgrims into the mix.  They were all essentially slaves themselves.

Nov 262008

Alright, here we go…
Zaira and I are both going to be live blogging the preparation of our first Thanksgiving together. I will be updating this post throughout the next 24 hours or so as we take various steps along the path to the first Thanksgiving Feast at The Caverns. So keep checking back to this post throughout the day and be sure to scroll to the bottom of it as each update will be appended directly to this post. It could be fascinating, thrilling, boring, funny, or pretty much anything else. Just like the dinner prep itself this is an experiment and I have no idea how things with progress or end.

Zaira’s live blogging Thanksgiving post is called Thanksgiving For Two.

2050 hrsOff to pick up Zaira and groceries

Okay, I just got the call and am on my way out the door to get this madness started. I need to get down to Gilroy, pick up Zaira, and hit Safeway on Thanksgiving eve to buy everything we need for our mini-feast. And I do mean everything as even pots, pans and thermometers are on the list. Speaking of the list, here’s my portion of it-

  • Smallest bone-in turkey breast available.
  • unsalted butter
  • rubbed sage
  • sea salt
  • ground peppper
  • One gallon apple cider
  •  4 sprigs fresh sage or rubbed sage
  •  2 sm. onions
  •  5 peppercorns
  • Pepperidge Farm Country White Bread
  • raisins
  • turkey broth
  • corn starch
  • dried thyme
  • 1 link Italian sausage (4 oz)
  • celery
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 head garlic
  • meat thermometer
  • turkey pan
  • 1 quart baking dish

Plus, of course, whatever Z needs for the dish she’s making.  I’ll report back when we’re return and start prepping the broth.

2054 hoursStarting the brine

Got back from the grocery store about 2015 hours with way too much food and a wallet that was $87.09 lighter.  Admittedly some of that was non-turkey day related, but I still swear we could have driven to LA and bought Thanksgiving dinner for less.

Quote of the day: “Eeew!  It looks like an onion!” – Zaira (while peeling the onion for the brine).

Zaira decided to make mashed potatoes, so in addition to the list above we picked up a few potatoes. We also looked for a potato masher since I don’t have one, but couldn’t find it and the cheapest meat thermometer was almost $7 and didn’t go as high as we needed so we passed on that as well.

Although crowded, the Safeway wasn’t totally packed. There were a lot of frustrated people there, though and more than one lost husband on his cellphone. What I found truly remarkable, however was the near complete lack of turkeys remaining.

Shopping completed and laptops set up for live blogging we’re ready to start the broth. In fact, Z just finished chopping the onion while I was updating this blog. Z’s going to blog now while I continue with the brine prep.

Details as they arise…

2330 hours – Preparing brine

Apparently, apple cider takes a lot longer to boil than water does.  It’s been on the stove for almost 20 minutes now and still not even tiny bubbles.

2347 hours – Woop! Woop!

The plan was to prep the brine in two batches since I don’t have a stock pot, then store it in our turkey pan overnight to cool, then soak the turkey in it tomorrow. BIG problems!

Problem one: the turkey pan we bought isn’t big enough to hold one gallon of brine, even without adding the turkey itself.

Problem two: (the bigger one!) The turkey pan has a hole in it!!  I guess that’s what I get for buying a $3.19 pan 🙁

0006 hours – Definitely getting grumpy at this point

So, I’ve been snapping at Zaira for the last half hour.  Not just the problems above (those were more my fault then hers) just the usual not thinking about stuff and not communicating her thoughts.  She really hasn’t got a grasp on collaborative projects yet.  She’s been trained to answer as simply as possible and not express her opinions.

We did solve our problems though!  You can check Z’s post for how, cause I’m signing off for the night.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!  “See” you tomorrow.

0900 hrs – Beep! Beep! Beep!

The plan was to set the alarm for 10, run downstairs real quick to drop the turkey in the brine then come up for cuddle time and some Doctor Who.  Unfortunately, after last night’s disasters we had to head over to X’s house to get some more pots.  So the alarm was set for 9am and we’re running down to Gilroy.  We’ll see what happens from there…

1147 hrs – Back To Work

We managed to get a pot to soak the turkey in from Z’s mom’s house, but she couldn’t find the turkey pan 🙁

Still we dropped the turkey in the brine and cuddled up for a couple of episodes of Doctor Who Season One.  It’s  only available on Netflix until December 1st and Z’s become a big fan so we’re  trying to get through the rest of the season this weekend.  Now it’s time to head back to the kitchen, though.  We still need to prepare the stuffing and the mashed potatoes all from scratch!

1223 hrs – Family Break

Zaira was peeling and chopping potatoes while I peeled and chopped the apple for the stuffing when we realized the time.  She then took a break to call my mother (Gramalu) to wish her and all of the Sequim family a Happy Thanksgiving.

We also sought pan advice.  She had the same problem last year and essentially lined the pan with foil to solve it.  I think we’re still going to pick up another one, but if it leaks as well we’ll go with the foil.

1245 hrs – The Recipes

It just occurred to me that I haven’t shared the actual recipes I’m following with y’all. I may be doing this from scratch, but I’m not going completely without guidance!

Roast Turkey For Two and Apple Sausage Stuffing

1352 hours – Back from Safeway

Just got back from trip two to Safeway. Surprisingly, we actually hadn’t forgotten anything. We just needed to get a replacement pan (which is currently undergoing hole testing) and pick up the meat thermometer I decided against last night. Oh yeah, and lunch.

Zaira’s potatoes are all ready to go. I think I peeled the apple too soon as it’s quickly turning brown in the oxygen 🙁 I’ve mixed up everything for the stuffing now and pre-heated the oven while we went to Safeway. Next I need to bake the bread and cook up the sausage mixture.

1420 hrs – Stuffing’s prep’d

We just had a severe flurry of activity with Zaira chopping while I threw the stuffing bread in the oven, fried up the sausage and mixed in all of the ingredients.  We were both way too busy in our tiny kitchen to get any photos of this process, so no visuals right now.

The turkey’s got about two more hours to soak in brine, the stuffing just needs to be put ni the oven for 45 minutes, the mashed potatoes just need to be reheated.  We’re almost there!!  I think it’s time for a Doctor Who break 🙂

1620 hrs – Time To Cook The Turkey!

So far so good! I got a minor burn on one of my knuckles while I was mixing up the stuffing/bread in the oven. Wejust watched two more episodes of Dr. Who and now it’s time to remove the turkey from its bath and put it in the oven. The skin is feeling rather loose and there’s a weird “crack” on one part so I hope everything’s not going to fall apart.

When I was buying ingredients and such I didn’t realize the turkey breast had a cavity for dressing 🙁 So, we’ll have no in-turkey stuffing, but it should still be good. Zaira’s cutting up carrots, celery, apple and garlic for turkey bed. Then we put the turkey in for 45 minutes. The stuffing cooks for 30, they both cool for 15 thenwe can eat!!!

1708 hrs –Almost There!

The turkey’s been in for 30 minutes and is turning brown. The skin on the top is starting to burn (too much better on top) 🙁 I just put the stuffing in as well. The bird should be done in about 15 minutes and then the stuffing in about another 15 minutes. About 20 minutes after that we should be eating 🙂

Meanwhile Z’s talking to my sister and her cousins back in Vermont. Apparently my aunt and uncle are visiting back there as well.

1724 hrs –Not done yet 🙁

The turkey was supposed to be done at 45 minutes, but the highest rating I could get on the thermometer was 145 (suposed to be 160) and neither of us have any idea what the pop-out thingie is supposed to look like when it’s popped out. So we put it back in for another 5 minutes.

1801 hrs – Dinner Is Served

And only 60 seconds late! Woohoo!! Zaira and I decided to eat upstairs because I knew Roommate #2 would arrive during our meal and want to watch TV. Before eating we discussed what we were thankful for this year – I’m thankful the universe has continued to allow me to grow and provided someone in my life to inspire me to do so.

The food was surprisingly good! Zaira’s mashed potatoes (reheated in the microwave with a touch more milk mixed in) were excellent, the turkey tasted a little tough at first but was fork-cuttable and quite tasty with just a hint of apple, and the stuffing was absolutely superb! On our second Safeway trek Z thought to get some Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider which was the perfect beverage to accompany this meal. We both had large portions and savored every bite while watching more Doctor Who 😉

After a quick walk to the Country Store we cleaned up the kitchen which took us less than half an hour to leave it looking cleaner than it was when we started. I can’t imagine a more successful Thanksgiving and I’m so glad I got the chance to provide such a wonderful day for my wonderful daughter. I hope you got 1/20th the pleasure out of reading this as Zaira and I did out of living it, because if you did than I know you’re ending with a smile on your face.

The results of our labors-

Happy Holidays!

Nov 262008

Tomorrow I will attempt two things that I have never done before: preparing Thanksgiving dinner and live blogging.  Well, actually, both attempts will begin tonight.

You see, I just found out on Saturday that Zaira would be with me on Thanksgiving Day since her mother has to work.  That didn’t really leave me any time to come up with something to do on turkey day, so I decided to take the plunge and try to create a feast for two.  Bear in mind that, cookie and french toast experimentation aside, I don’t cook.   In fact, I’ve never even attempted to prepare a single dish for any of the two dozen or soThanksgiving dinners I’ve attended.  I’ve brought food, and I’ve paid for food, but I’ve never cooked food.  So this should be interesting.

And to make things even more interesting both Zaira and I will be live blogging our Thanksgiving starting around 9:30 tonight when we go grocery shopping for all the things we’ll need.   My views of our little experiment at “traditional” living will be posted here at Philaahzophy while Zaira’s will be posted on her blog, Butterfly Diaries. So if you find yourself curious about us during T-day, or just want to laugh at someone who’s probably having a tougher time cooking than you are, be sure to drop by and see how we’re doing.

(BTW, That’s President Dwight D. Eisenhower carving his family’s turkey back in 1952.  The top picture, not the bottom one 😉 )

Nov 222007

Z’s little brother G isn’t my son, but his father has never been in his life, so I fill the role on occasion. Arriving at X’s exceedingly early for Thanksgiving dinner today left G and I stranded alone downstairs with the beautiful California sun shining outside, so I decided it was time to retry his bicycle. Z was more interested in helping her Mom prep dinner then getting some exercise and sunshine, so it was just me and him.

It’s apparently been over a year since I taught G how to ride and he managed to poop out that time just before getting the hang of it, so I didn’t have high hopes. Things were very rough at first and he seemed to be struggling to even pedal at first. But once I realized his tires were all but flat and we took a quick detour to the gas station for air we were rolling much smoother.

We did a couple laps around the parking lot behind their apartment and G seemed to have everything but confidence, so I let him go. It only took him about a half a lap solo to realize he actually knew how to ride, which was a good thing because running those laps along with him was proof that I’m still carrying too much weight and have nearly zero endurance, making me reconsider a diet patch purchase.

After about a half dozen solo laps I sent him in to get his mother. She couldn’t make it out, but her current boyfriend (and J’s father), A headed out with Z in tow and both were amazed to see G riding completely solo. Of course, Murphy’s Law had to come into play and when it came time to stop G lost control and slammed into a curb racking his balls. Despite the pain G made me exceedingly proud without even trying by getting up (after a reasonable amount of tears and deep breaths on the offending curb) and hopping back on the bike to ride again. He actually hurt his leg pretty bad in the fall so we called it a day, but I wish I could convince Z to “get back on the horse” without prompting the way G did.