Halloween has always been the kickoff to a tireless stream of holiday festivities, and with thatspookfest out of the way (much to the kids’ disappointment), it’s time to move on to the next big feast.
I’m talking, of course, aboutthe big turkey day – Thanksgiving.
More popularly known as an American holiday, Thanksgiving in America is observed to commemorate the early European settlers, their friendship with the Native Americans, and the harvest feast they celebrated together.
Although the holiday itself has its roots in American tradition, a handful of other countries also celebrate it, such aswith the Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving in the UK, “l'Action de grâce” in Canada, and another similar day of giving thanks in Australia.
Some travel buddies even told me about Thanksgiving holidays in Japan and Germany which also take place sometime around October – November, centering on the same idea of being thankful for the good things in their lives.
Here in the Philippines, the fourth Thursday of November isn’t recognized as an official holiday, but we all know how most of our Fiestas and harvest festivals revolve around the concept of being thankful for the blessings that come our way.
Regardless of where it’s celebrated though, you can bet your turkey that any event with its origins from a “bountiful harvest” is bound to have food – and tons of it!
In my stays in the US, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s like Halloween is to kids, as Thanksgiving is to Moms and Titas and homebodies.
As always in our household, we grab such opportunities to whip up a feast and gorge ourselves on some holiday-themed dishes. Thanksgiving being the perfect opportunity to cook up a warm, hearty, home-cooked spread, I immediately set upon explaining the holiday to the kids.
I told them the story of the Pilgrims and Native Americans, of how turkeys were often associated with the holiday, and how kids drew “turkey hands” to celebrate. That was about as far as I got though, as they hurriedly busted out their art supplies to make their own turkey hands.
Mr. Flintstone on the other hand, was uncharacteristically curious about what I had in mind for our menu. He didn’t want to tell me at first – on account of his being on another one of his infamous pre-holiday diets – but apparently he’s had a hankering for some of my home-made apple pie for a while now. I didn’t want to ruin his diet (that much), so I came up with the idea of making mini-pies. Trust me, it’s much easier to stop eating a mini-pie than to keep on slicing from a bigger one.
Since it's pumpkin season, I thought I’d try my hand at a quick and simple pumpkin cheesecake recipe. It’s the perfect alternative to pumpkin pie for those who don’t mind something heavier.
The star of the show of course, is the roast turkey itself. I chose to go with something simple – the honey & herb turkey with roasted vegetables I whipped up is something anyone can easily put together and chuck in an oven while still coming out a total kitchen queen.
Since we wouldn’t be able to finish a huge turkey by ourselves, we thought we’d invite some friends over. The kids showed off their hand turkeys, and we all took turns saying what we were thankful for. I mentioned how thankful I was for my family but didn’t really go into detail at the table.
I am of course, thankful for the kids. They really are the biggest driving factor behind everything I do; be it the businesses I work on, the dishes I cook up, or anything else in between.
I’m thankful for the ever-encouraging Mr. Flintstone, who has been my rock for the many years we’ve been together. He’s always been supportivein all my endeavors, and not once have I heard him complain. Well, maybe a little bit from time to time, but he always soldiers on.
I’m also thankful for how good my businesses have been doing. It hasn’t been easy juggling all of it with family life, but all of the hard work is finally starting to pay off, so that’s good.
All in all, it was a fun night of good food and good people, and soon after our guests had left, the kids were all tuckered out as well.
I guess what Thanksgiving really comes down to is that no matter how frantic and crazy it gets, we should all always find the time to take a step back and count our blessings. And of course, always be thankful – like how thankful I was for going with a pumpkin cheesecake instead of a pumpkin pie when I snuck out to the kitchen that night for a midnight snack.
Honey & herb turkey with roast vegetables
1 4.5kg whole turkey (defrosted, cavity rinsed)
1 cup hot water
5-6 liters ice cold water
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1 bunch fresh herbs (any)
1 head garlic, sliced crosswise
1 onion, peeled, sliced crosswise
1/4 cup whole peppercorns
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1tsp ground thyme
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup salted butter
3 tsp dried sage leaves
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 carrot, peeled and cubed
3 potato, peeled and cubed
2 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1 cup hot water. Transfer on a stock pot. Add 5-6 liters ice cold water, herbs, garlic, onion, peppercorns. Submerge turkey in brine, breast side down. You may weigh down the turkey with a small plate to keep it submerged in the brine. Wrap the cooking vessel in plastic wrap and refrigerate 24-72 hours.
2. 2 hours before cooking, take out the brined turkey from the refrigerator. Discard the brine, quickly rinse turkey, and pat with dry towels.
3. Rub the outside and cavity of the turkey with olive oil. Combine salt, pepper, sage, basil, thyme and butter together. Put it under the skin of the turkey. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place root vegetables around the bottom of the turkey. Cover the turkey with a foil tent.
4. Bake for 3hrs in 325F. Remove the foil and bring the temperature to 400F and bake it for another 30mins.
5. Remove the turkey from the oven. Make sure the thermometer reaches 165 F in the thickest portion of the turkey. Brush honey all over and sprinkle a little salt and allow 20mins rest before carving the turkey.
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Easy 5-step recipes featuring the freshest and most exciting ingredients from Rustan's Supermarket.