Monthly Archives: November 2015

Careful when stuffing that turkey!

Turkey_002If you’ve already started to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, don’t be tempted to stuff your bird with dressing the night before. Even if you put the bird immediately into the refrigerator to keep it until it’s put in the oven on Thanksgiving day, you run a real risk of food poisoning. And seriously, do you really want to make your family sick?

This is the problem—when food reaches a certain temperature, bacteria starts growing. When you shove warm dressing into a cool bird, the dressing’s temperature encourages the bacteria to grow. It’s simply not possible to cool down the dressing quick enough while sitting in the bird. Basically, it’s a nice little incubator to grow bacteria.

Stuff your turkey in the morning, right before you put the bird in the oven. Or, you can do what I do, and skip the stuffing part, to speed up your cooking and prep time, allowing you to spend more time with your family and friends on Thanksgiving day.

But it won’t taste as good, you say. It will if you use my trick.

Prepare your dressing and place in a casserole dish. Keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to put it in the oven.

After your turkey is finished roasting, drain off all the juice into a large glass jar. Let the juice sit a moment, so that the fat rises to the top of the jar.

Remove the fat—use a portion of it to make roux for your gravy, and spread a portion of the fat it over your dressing, right before you put it in the oven. I normally poke the dressing with a knife, making holes of sort, so that when I spoon the fat over the dressing, the fat will seep down into the dressing while it cooks. How much to use? That is a personal choice.

Your bird can sit while you prepare your gravy, get the potatoes and other side dishes together, and while your dressing is in the oven. Normally, the dressing will be done by the time you are ready to call everyone to the table. But keep an eye on it; you may need to turn the oven off if it gets too brown on top. I normally bake the dressing at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until piping hot and lightly brown on top.


Have you thawed your turkey?

MeredithGrandparents_003Thanksgiving is just two days away, and if your turkey is still sitting in the freezer, you may not have enough time to thaw it in the refrigerator—and you really shouldn’t let it sit out at room temperature.

According to the Butterball website, your turkey will need to sit in the refrigerator about one day for every four pounds. This means, if your frozen turkey is over 8 pounds, it won’t be thawed in time for Thanksgiving.

But don’t despair! You still have time to safely thaw your turkey—it is the method we used in our restaurant. Place your turkey—still in the wrapper, unopened—in cold water. The turkey should be completely covered with water. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled. This will take about 30 minutes per pound for the turkey to thaw. Do not use warm or hot water!

Happy cooking!

(Photo: Grandma Hilda and Grandpa Pete Meredith.)

Inspired by Veronica Mars

PhotoFunia-1448075208In March of 2014, I went on a Veronica Mars binge—watching every episode from start to finish, and then I rented the movie, which was released that month. I had never watched Veronica Mars before discovering it on Amazon Prime. It sucked me into the Mars vortex; I couldn’t stop watching.

At the time, I was between manuscripts. I had just committed to writing Sundered Hearts—a book in my Unlocked Hearts Series written under my Anna J. McIntyre pen name. At the time, the idea for Haunting Danielle was rattling around in the back of my head.

Some might see going on a TV binge  a waste of time. But in retrospect, I think it was an excellent writing exercise. After I finished watching, I asked myself, what about the show sucked me in? I wanted to do that with readers. I wanted to give them a series they wanted to keep reading—something they couldn’t put down.

I loved the characters of Veronica Mars—three dimensional with flaws—characters I started out hating and ended up loving.

I’m not saying I’ve managed to pull off what the writers of Veronica Mars accomplished—but they did inspire me when writing my Haunting Danielle Series. I’ve taken their lessons to heart.

So the next time you refuse to change out of your jammies and curl up by the TV or computer monitor to gorge on some series, don’t let anyone tell you you’re wasting your time. You never know what you might be learning.