Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Questions Answered

In yesterday’s Blog about the Deep Fried Turkey, I mentioned that I was a little disappointed with the amount of salt and the streaks or layers of marinade. Having looked on the Internet and not finding many answers or suggestions, I decided to write to the author of White Trash BBQ. I’ve been reading his Blog for some time now and hoped that he would be able to shed some light on my problems with the turkey. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for answering my questions. Below is my letter and then Rob’s answers.

Rob mentioned that I need to be careful not to purchase and "enhanced" turkey, one that has already been injected with salt and other ingredients. I am not certain if the turkey we used was "enhanced". If it was that certainly may have been part of the issue.

My Letter:

If I may, I would like to ask you a couple of questions about marinating a turkey.

This past weekend my sons came and we used Emeril’s Fried Turkey Marinade on the first turkey I've ever deep-fried. Even with cutting the recipe in half because we only did one 12 pound turkey, we all thought the turkey was too salty. When we carved the turkey, we noticed that wherever we injected the marinade there was a layer or streak of the marinade.

Why do so many marinade recipes use so much salt? Could I reduce the amount of salt or replace it with some other spice? Would it work to marinate the turkey overnight in liquid marinade instead of using an injector? Or would that introduce too much liquid into the bird making it dangerous to deep fry?

I have many more questions, however these are the ones I am most interesting in having answered.

Thanking you in advance,

Rob’s Answer:

Hey UP,

I'm no expert on fried turkeys. I've done a few, but I much prefer smoked birds.

I read over the Emeril recipe and I'd say that it calls for way too much salt. A cup of salt is more suited to a gallon of liquid, not the 12oz that recipe called for. A least to me. I probably don't use as much salt as I should.

In brining, and I guess in marinating, the bird swaps out the water in the meat with the liquids in the brine/marinate. What the salt brings to the party, besides flavor, is a vehicle to get the bird to release it's water. The liquid in the brine has a salt level that is higher than that of the bird. The liquids released by the bird trys to equalize the salt levels between the two, so salt and the flavors of the brine/marinade enter the meat flavoring and tenderizing it. I hope that makes sense.

On turkeys, you have to be careful that you don't add salt to an already "enhanced" bird. Butterball, Norbest etc, all sell primarily a bird that has already been injected with salt and various fats. You should seek out natural birds that have not been enhanced whenever you plan to use a marinade or brine.

As for the streaks you saw, that's just inexperience with the injecting needle. You must constantly move it around the meat while releasing the marinate. It takes practice.

As for marinating and not injecting - marinating doesn't penetrate the meat as deeply as marinating. You could brine your bird, which I like to do. Here's a pretty good brine...

Apple Brine for Turkey:

2 quarts apple juice
1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
3 quarts cold water
3 oranges, quartered
4 ounces fresh ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
15 whole cloves
6 bay leaves
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Substitute 3/4 cup Morton Kosher Salt or 1/2 cup table salt for Diamond Crystal.

Combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve. Boil for one minute, remove from heat, let mixture come to room temperature, then refrigerate to 40°F.

In a large non-reactive container, combine the apple juice mixture with the remaining ingredients. When adding the oranges, squeeze each piece to release the juice into the container, and then drop in the peel.

Before cooking, remove the bird from the brine, wash it thoroughly and dry before using.

I hope this helps,


Monday, April 28, 2008

Deep Fried Turkey

My eldest son C and grandson L came to visit this past weekend. They were giving my daughter in-law a “Mom’s weekend.” They arrived just in time for supper Friday night. After supper, my youngest son K, who works at a dairy, came with the milk products we would need for the weekend.

I ended up in bed watching a baseball game while K assembled the Turkey Fryer and C made the marinade and injected the turkey with it. By this time P had come home from work, so grandma and grandson L made the custard base for ice cream.

For breakfast Saturday morning son C made Buttermilk Whole-Wheat Waffles. Mid morning son C, grandson L, and I headed to the new Cabela’s sporting goods store where we met sons J and K. I spent a wonderful couple of hours browsing. I did find the peanut oil for the Turkey Fryer for a lot less than any other store.

Once home we had lunch and then I ended up in bed to take a nap. I am not certain what everyone else did, but when I woke up the Turkey Fryer was sitting in the back yard ready to start heating the oil.

However there was a problem. Overnight the weather changed from nice warm springtime temperature back to nasty, windy, cold temperature. The temperature was in the upper 40’s and a 14 to 20 mile-per-hour north wind, which had gusts of 30 mph. The boys tried to build a windbreak using 5-gallon buckets, but the wind was just too strong. After spending an hour the oil was only 175 degrees and it needed to be at 350 degrees. So we decided to stop and wait until Sunday.

Sunday morning it was still on the chilly side, but the wind had died down. Son K walked in the door at 10:30. He took the turkey out of the refrigerator so it wouldn’t be so cold when we placed it in the hot oil. Then he went out and set up the Turkey Fryer once again. Even though the wind had died down there still was enough of a breeze that he set up the bucket windbreak. One and half hours later we sat down to a turkey dinner. Because we had the hot oil we also made sweet potato French-fries. For dessert we had the wonderfully rich homemade ice cream with fudge sauce.

However, I was extremely disappointed with the marinade. For one thing there were streaks or layers of the marinade through out the turkey. Also it was WAY too salty. We think the next time we try this we would cut the salt in 1/2 or more. Also I think we will do an overnight marinade instead of injecting the turkey.

But it still good tasting considering everything. And I definitely will be doing this again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Playing Basketball

Playing Basketball.

The other day I watched the movie Hoosiers. The Internet Movie Database says this about Hoosiers. “A movie based on the true story of a small-town Indiana team that made the state finals in 1954, this movie chronicles the attempts of a coach with a spotty past, and the town's basketball-loving drunk to lead their high school team to victory.”

I was in high school in the late 60’s, not the mid 50’s. However, I attended a small school. If memory serves me correctly there were 120 to 130 students in the entire school, kindergarten through Grade twelve. So anyone who showed up for practice and could pass the physical was on the team.

If you read my profile you will see that I’ve had both hips operated on when I was twelve years old. As a result, I walked with a Trendelenburg gait , I could not run fast, and wasn’t particularly coordinated. In early 1963 the doctors at the University of Iowa told me that I, in all likely hood would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 40. I remember asking the doctors how much I could do. Would I be able to play sports? The doctors looked at each other and one answered me saying I should not play sports, that I should not run, and absolutely no jumping. The other doctor asked the first to step out of the room for a minute. When they returned the second doctor said that in light of my health issues, he agreed with the first doctor, however he said they had discussed my situation and had decided to tell me to go and do whatever I wanted to do. They didn’t feel anything I did would change the prognosis that I would be wheelchair bound by age 40.

Two months later, we moved from central Iowa to a small town in western Kansas. That fall I entered High School and went out for the football team. I was a small tiny freshman. After the first week of being run over by the much larger upper classmen, I decided football wasn’t for me.

When the time came for basketball I showed up on the first day of practice. Now because of the size of the school I was on the team. Even if I didn’t play in any of the games I didn't care, they still needed enough boys for practice skirmishes. For two years I was on the basketball team. I rode to the games in the team bus; I suited up for every game sitting at the far end of the bench. Sometime, I would actually get to play for a couple of minutes. These would be the games where we were so far ahead with so little time left on the clock, that there was no chance of us losing. On those occasions I would be on the floor and the gym would suddenly grow to an immense size. I can still see myself standing on the court, a small tiny freshman player who was wishing with all his heart that he were someplace else.

You ask if I made it to 40 without being in a wheelchair. The answer is yes and no. If I went to a museum or a zoo, I would use a wheelchair because of all the walking, but I wasn’t confined to the wheelchair full time until I was in my early 50’s.

I learned a lot during those high school years. I learned to set goals and work to achieve them. I learned not to let obstacles keep you from reaching your goals. I learned to find ways, sometimes different than other people, around those obstacles. I could go on and on but I think you get my point.

As I read over this post, I think I am beginning to wander a bit. But I wanted to write this so my children would know that I did more that ride buffalo through snowdrifts to school. For some reason watching the movie Hoosiers made me think of those high school days.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ham Soup

Earlier this week J, the lady who cleans the house, was here and brought me a ham bone. Friday is P’s day to work late so I asked her to make pea soup with the ham bone. When P took the ham bone out of the refrigerator, she discovered some sliced ham in addition to the ham bone. We decided not to use the ham slices in the soup, instead they will be used in an omelet for tonight’s supper.

The ham bone went into the soup pot along with the peas, carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaves, pepper, salt, chicken broth, and water and left to simmer it’s way to pea soup. After lunch P went to work, and I was left home alone with the delicious smell of soup. Later yesterday afternoon I removed the ham bone from the soup pot and fished out the chunks of ham that had fallen off the bone. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the ham bone and all the ham chunks barely fit on a dinner plate. When I finished removing all the ham from the bone, I used two forks to shred the ham and finished up with a heaping plate of deliciously tasting ham. After I added all the ham back to the pea soup I discovered that I now had ham soup with a bit of pea soup flavoring.

Today P has some grocery shopping to do and is going to purchase another bag of dried split peas. We will cook these peas and combine with the other pot turning the ham soup back into pea soup. Which we will ladle into containers, place in the freezer and use it for lunches.

I will now admit that I made the mistake of adding salt to the soup before cooking it forgetting that you should never do that and forgetting that ham can be extremely salty. Hopefully adding the additional bag of cooked peas will cut the saltiness of the soup. If that doesn’t cut the saltiness enough, I will add a potato, which should do the trick.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I made it

I finally made it out of the house. I was beginning to think the sneeze and squeeze season would never come to an end this year. You may ask what I mean by "The Sneeze and Squeeze Season". I call the time between the beginning of November and the end of the flu season the sneeze and squeeze season. It is the time of the year when people sneeze and with their hands full of germs want to shake my hand. I am always careful not to expose myself to colds and flu. I have learned that if I catch a cold or get sick I end up in the intensive care unit at our local hospital and it takes months for me to fully recover.

However this past Saturday the sun was out, the temperature was in the 60s’, so I went for a walk around the neighborhood. As daughter K and I walked down the sidewalk, I saw one neighbor cleaned her flowerbed. So I stopped to talk and found out that she now has two Chihuahuas. She had the one for two years now and just a couple months ago got the younger one. About ½ a block further, we stopped to talk to a lady who was washing her car. Across the street there was a family working on their front yard, while their young daughters were running around playing with their two beagles. It always amazes me what you learn on these walks. At the end of the one street, there was a mail box that had been damaged. I wonder if it was hit by one of the large snowplows during this past winter.

After about one hour, I made it back home to find two of my sons in front of the house. The older son was washing his car, and said he planned on washing our van and cleaning out the garage. The boys had already taken their mother’s planters and placed them back on the front stoop. And the youngest son had taken a garbage can to the back yard and cleaned up some the dead leaves and other stuff the winter winds had left behind.

Yesterday, I made it to church where I saw lots and lots of friends giving me an excuse to talk too much. It certainly felt good to get back to church after months being away because of the sneeze and squeeze season. Then yesterday afternoon we had our Mini Church (small group or Bible study group) at the house. However, by the time they all left, I barely talk and was exhausted. By 5:30, P had helped be into my pajamas and into bed. I am still tired, so I think I will spend the day resting and watching the White Sox play their home opener on TV this afternoon.

However, ss I write this, the sun is streaming through the window and it is 52 degrees outside. I am really tempted to fill the oxygen tank and head out the door for another walk around the neighborhood. However, I have learned that if I overdo it one day it takes about three days to recover.

So I think I will stick to my original plan of staying indoors watching baseball.