December 24th, 2005


Mise En Place

After six months of near constant use I finally broke my Mr. Coffee ECMP40, and it was the lame, tiny bit of plastic holding the power switches that broke, not any of the working parts of the machine itself. It was still under warrentee, but I spent only $60 on it, and the shipping and hassel didn't seem worth it. So I had John take it apart. One special bolt had to just be drilled out, but everything else came apart quite neatly, and we found the offending, sadly weak single support of the on and off switches.

Jet watched with great interest. "Why are you breaking it?" he asked, and he got a pretty good explanation of the difference between "Breaking" and "Taking apart carefully so that it can go back together later."

I think he got it. Hoorah!

Luckily, I'd gotten my two drinks out of the beast before it finally gave up the ghost. John was able to get it apart, diagnose it and suggest a fix. I approved the fix, and John carefully packed up all the parts as the last part of clearing the decks for my mise en place for tomorrow's dinner.

Yes, Virginia, Liralen cooks her turkey the day BEFORE Christmas, so it is ready and beautiful for the day.

I'm learning a lot from Mr. Bourdain about how to prep food so that it's beautiful and ready to serve and I still have the time to sit with my guests and enjoy their company. Plus, a stock cooked for just about ever is nothing to sneeze at, either, for richness and taste.

So I roasted my turkey in the middle of the day. A 20 pounder, stuffed with onion, sage, celery, and apples in big, chunks, over a moat of chicken broth. Jet watched his videos. We played some video games. I started with the beast on its breast, and after 30 minutes at high temp, an hour at low, John and I did the amusing feat of turning the whole thing over, and letting it roast the right way up until it was 10 degrees from done, and then I turned the heat back up. It came out bronzed and beautiful, crisp, sizzling, and tender and juicy to the bone. The drippings were caramelized and sizzling from the fats, and I used most of my store of brown chicken stock to get it off the pan and into a metal bowl.

We ate leftovers for dinner, to finish clearing out the fridge. Then I carved that bird down to the carcass, arrainging everything on a beautiful turkey platter John had bought years ago. All but half a breast fit on the platter, and the half a breast I put into its own storage box. The carcass, vegitables, herbs, and spices went into a lot of water into a stock pot, and I got that to a boil and then down to a simmer in the Stockpot. Then we went to the 6pm Christmas Eve Service.

John wore pants. I could hears, all across the pews, "He's wearing PANTS! Do you believe it?" He was also wearing his Scottish sweater, a tweedy grey green from the wool of sheep that ate so much seaweed their wool turned that faint shade of green.

Jet was a little antsy during the service, but lasted it out. He watched us sing, eventhough he'd sung so many songs during the caroling we'd done last week, he wasn't into doing the impromptu pagent that everyone else did. They found volunteer Mary and Joseph, and had choirs of angels and herds of sheperds from the audience. It was fun and relaxed, and we sang the familiar caroles. It was comforting for me, too, in a way.

Afterwards we went to a friends' house for "Cookie Decorating" and the house was filled with girls younger than Jet, and their parents. There was one other boy there that was exactly Jet's age, but he kept trying to get Jet into trouble and Jet finally just wrinkled his nose at the other guy and started playing with every car and truck he could find in the house. Jet and John ended up making four cookies and we took them home with us. John and Jet then setup the cookies, milk, and carrots and Jet went merrily to bed with me. He slept easily. Whew.

That's when I realized that I hadn't made the cinnamon roll dough, yet, and it had to go through a rise before I could shape them for the overnight rise. Oops. So I had John warm the oven while I used the Big mixer to get it all together. It went into the just warm oven to rise, while I made dinner roll dough for tomorrow and stuffed that into the refrigerator, too.

Then John and I did parent duties (;-)) and went to bed with cinnamon rolls dancing in my head.