Tue 11 Dec 2012
It’s been awhile, and I apologise for my absence but it’s that time of year when everything just seems to go batsh*t crazy all at once. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing; it’s just a very hectic time of year.
One reason I’m finding myself increasingly busy lately is because I’ve taken on a new role at work. I’m now managing the Social Media team as well as one of our largest accounts – a juggling act to say the least! I’m so wrecked at the end of the day I find it difficult to find the brain space to write blog posts, hence the long silence.
Another reason for the mad schedule of late is that this is the season of entertaining and gifting and meeting up with mates; all good but time-consuming endeavours. In the last few weeks I’ve gone to two work ‘dos, a friend’s housewarming/Christmas party, one wedding and have spent several hours Christmas shopping in between. In the next few weeks we have a brunch, an engagement party, Christmas drinks and Christmas Eve & Day at the in-laws before we’re off to Los Angeles for a warm and hopefully relaxing New Year’s holiday.
We also hosted a big event in our house a few weeks back, which took several days of planning and preparation: The American Thanksgiving dinner. You might recall last year we hosted a number of folks for the first of what I’d hoped would be an annual tradition, so I couldn’t NOT do it this year! However as we can only host about 8 people at our apartment we decided to invite all new folks this year, and will likely do the same for next year’s Thanksgiving so that all our friends have a chance to experience a real American Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving falls on the 3rd Thursday of November and most Americans get a four-day weekend thanks to that Thursday and Friday being national holidays. Being here in Ireland means that day is like any other, so we had our party on the Saturday of that weekend.
But the prep started a week before with the prep shopping, which includes but was not limited to a ton of potatoes (for the mash), bread (necessary for stuffing, the staler the better!), a variety of veggies and of course the turkey. I went with Termonfeckin Delicious again this year, as last year’s bird was beautifully fresh and delivered to us in person by David of TD.
This year I opted to try a salt turkey, also known as a dry-brined turkey, rather than the usual wet brine I typically use. Brining ensures the turkey will be moist, but trying to find a container to hold a 13-lb turkey plus enough water to cover it can be a bit daunting and carrying said container filled with water and said turkey can be backbreaking (just as Mountaineering Man, who did all the heavy lifting last year!). The dry brine method involves coating the turkey in a mixture of salt, citrus zest and herbs, wrapping it in a plastic bag or cling film and refrigerating it for a few days. Considering how small Irish refrigerators are, we placed our turkey in the boot of Cormac’s car, which was parked in the freezing-cold garage below our apartment complex.
The salt turkey turned out wonderfully moist and juicy, with one of my foodie friends proclaiming it to be one of the best turkeys she’d ever had. I have to agree – it was succulent and perfectly seasoned and just beautiful. I will forever use this method for turkeys and might even try it for roasted chicken in the future.
But to start the meal, we had a little aperitifs session in the sitting room with wine and lovely Sheridans cheeses paired with relishes from Follain, a company that makes traditional Irish jams and preserves. It was important for me to use as many Irish products as possible in our Thanksgiving feast, so this was a great way to kick off the evening.
For our dinner, I made a traditional sausage stuffing as well as my dad’s famous oyster stuffing (I have to have this at Thanksgiving, otherwise it just doesn’t feel right!) as well as mashed potatoes, gravy and coconut creamed corn. We also had a beautiful cornbread dressing, braised black eyed peas with greens and roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon all courtesy of my friend Bill. For him and his wife Sharon, these are their must-have dishes for Thanksgiving and all were fantastic additions to our Thanksgiving feast. And if all that food wasn’t enough, we had two desserts: my sweet potato pie and Bill’s chocolate and pecan pie.
It was a fun-filled evening of food, drinks and friends and a proper way to say “Thank You” to those who add so much to our lives. I feel so lucky to be healthy and gainfully employed and for my new husband – there’s just so much to be thankful for this year.