There has always been something intimidating about preparing a turkey for guests. This Thanksgiving I decided I was going to go the extra mile and grill the turkey on my grill. This summer I purchased a Traeger Grill, which is a combination smoker and grill that burns wood pellets. Food coming off that grill is delicious! I knew a turkey grilled on my Traeger would be amazing … if I did everything right.
I studied many recipes online. I watched YouTube videos … how to grill a turkey on a Traeger. Then I chickened-out and decided not to grill the turkey; the traditional route was safe. Let’s just have Lisa roast the turkey in the oven. But as Thanksgiving approached, I suddenly was filled with a renewed spirit of adventurism. And since spell-check didn’t correct me, adventurism must be a real word. It was Wednesday night and I had set my mind on grilling that 16-lb bird that was sitting in our refrigerator. All the recipes I read for grilling a turkey said I needed to brine the turkey overnight. I went shopping to find a container to brine the turkey and came across a brining bag. That seemed like it should do the trick. I filled my cart with additional items called for in the recipe, and drove for home.
Now let’s start the brining process! I placed the big turkey into the brining bag, which was a large, heavy duty zip-lock bag. The instructions said to fill the bag with water until the turkey was covered, then remove a few cups to place on the stovetop to boil and dissolve the salt and sugar. Once cooled, this solution would be added back into the bag. I began to add water into the bag a gallon at a time. One gallon added, return to the sink - fill the container, a second gallon added - then a third – then a fourth. As I was returning to the sink ... the bag with a turkey and four gallons of water shifted and one side collapsed. Turkey-water began to pour from the bag across the counter, and onto the floor. Fortunately Sophia was standing nearby and grabbed the bag, preventing an absolute disaster!! Even so, a great mess had been created. And this was turkey-water! Gross! The brining process was put on hold and we cleaned up mess number 2.
All of a sudden a commotion broke out in the living room. I don’t know what the source of the argument might have been, but Gabriella said something unkind to Isabella, and Isabella in a state of rage was up and out of her chair shouting unkind words at Gabi. I quickly interjected myself into their feud and started to lecture them about being kind to one another ………
I let my guard down! The bag collapsed on one side and a tsunami of smelly brining solution (maple syrup, molasses, turkey juices, etc) washed over the bar counter, onto the bar stools, onto the floor, across the floor, under the table and chairs … Sophia screamed a blood-chilling scream as she saw the disaster unfold. I grabbed the bag and saved about half of the liquid potion, but not in time to stop a horrible, smelly, sticky mess. Cookbooks were ruined, papers were soaked, and it took fifteen full-sized bath towels to soak up the mess.
The next day: Dinner is to be served at 3:00pm. Pre-heat the grill, get the turkey out of the bag, clean it, fill it with stuffing, 4 hours of cooking time, 20 minutes required for the bird to rest after removing from the grill, 15 minutes to carve. I had the time figured out perfectly. At that perfect time, I went outside and clicked on the switch to the grill. The grill runs on an electric motor that augers the wood pellets into the heating element. Like everything these days, it is all controlled by a computer board. Like I said, I clicked on the switch … the LED readout says “ERR!” No way! A grill is giving me an error message?!
I spend about an hour of researching the issue on the internet, and talking to Traeger service representatives on the phone, all the while Lisa is saying, “Let’s just put it in the oven.” I finally had to give up on the idea of grilling my turkey!! We put the turkey in the oven and called our guests to delay dinner by one hour.
Well, we did the dishes – all by hand (because the dishwasher uses the same drain) in the laundry tub!
What a Thanksgiving! And guess what ... after all that ... that turkey was by far, the best, most moist turkey we have ever prepared! It was awesome! Therefore, I would suggest you follow the above instructions exactly. You will be assured of the most excellent turkey ever! And you will have created a Thanksgiving to remember for always.
I was trying to help Eli with reading and spelling. I asked him how to spell “cat.” He was struggling so I asked him to sound-out the word. I asked him, “What does ‘cat’ sound like?” Eli thought for a second, and then replied, “Meow?”
We often joke about dumb-blondes given that our family is filled with blondes. One day Gabi was frustrated by our joking and asked, “Why can’t red-heads be dumb?”
I volunteered one day at Eli’s school. As part of that experience, I got to eat lunch in the cafeteria with Eli and his classmates. We were sitting at tiny tables, designed with kindergarten through second graders in mind. I had just finished my lunch and everyone else was still eating. The following conversation took place:
Eli: “Daddy, you’re fast!
Boy across from me: “Yeah, you’re fat.”
Girl sitting next to Eli: “You are fat!”
Me: “Eli didn’t say I was fat, he said I was fast.”
Boy across from me: Embarrassingly – “Oh.”
Girl sitting next to Eli: “Well you are fat!”
I was lighting candles one evening. One particular candle would not light. I kept trying, but the wick wouldn’t hold a flame. Lisa noticed what I was doing and urgently informed me that it was a fake candle with a battery in it. It melted a little, but stills works fine!
Eli has missed 9 days of school already – each time due to illness. We received a letter from the school warning us about the importance of children attending school. Then we received a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services informing us of a mandatory meeting that we must attend, or we will be turned over to Children’s Protective Services and the courts! Isn’t our government and school system wonderful! Seriously! I am livid. The letters treat us like children. I think it might be time to home school.
The cold weather is really here! Snow is on the ground, and our yard is beautiful. I love snow on the ground – not the roads, but on the ground. We are in the middle of basketball season. Jake is a freshman playing at the University of MN, Duluth. He is getting small amounts of playing time as a freshman. Although he would like to play more, he is enjoying being on the team, and attending UMD. Isabella is playing varsity basketball for Rogers High School as a junior. Luke is playing on a travel team – 5th grade. We are decorated for Christmas, but have most of our shopping left to do. Overall, I'd say we are doing fairly well as a family. We continue to grieve the loss of Lydia, and I'm guessing we always will. Most days are good, but for unknown reasons a day will come along that is particularly difficult. Knowing our precious Lydia is dancing and singing in heaven, combined with the knowledge that we will see her and hold her in our arms again one day - we can continue to have joy!
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that my favorite team (the Ohio State Buckeyes football) is playing for the Big Ten title this Saturday, and if they win, will be playing for the National Championship! Yes I am excited … and nervous. Michigan State this Saturday is not going to be an easy game to win. As I’ve mentioned before, I get irrationally emotional over the Buckeyes. I know there is something wrong with that, but I can’t help it! Maybe someday I’ll seek therapy to correct my misguided priorities. But until then – I am focused on the game this Saturday, and can hardly sit still due to my excitement and anxiety. A Gopher fan just wouldn’t understand!
And of course – the last few days we have been enjoying left-over turkey – the best left-over turkey ever!