Perfect Turkey Gravy

Homage á Julia…

  • 1 quart turkey broth or canned chicken broth
  • 1 roasted turkey pan, complete with drippings
  • 1/2 cup Wondra Flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup cream
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

While your roasted turkey is resting, place the turkey pan over medium-high heat. The skin, fat, and juices should be a beautiful dark bronze, not black.

Remove all but 1/2 cup of the fat. Keep as much of the juice as possible.

Whisk the flour into the fat and cook, stirring, until the flour turns light brown. Whisk in the rest of the broth, and boil until thick and flavorful, stirring occasionally.

Add the honey. Strain if lumpy or any part is burned. Add water or canned broth or stock if a thinner gravy is desired. Add as much cream as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Honey Roasted Turkey

This is an English recipe that I love! The honey butter glaze gives the skin a crispy, tasty flavor. Be sure to use a smaller turkey for best results.

Ingredients

1 (10 pound) whole turkey – thawed, neck and giblets removed

1 lemon, cut in half

salt and black pepper to taste

1 small apple, peeled

1 small onion, peeled

1 small potato, peeled

3 ounces butter

6 ounces honey

1 cup chicken stock

Directions

Pat the turkey dry inside and out with paper towels. Rub the cut lemon halves lightly over the skin of the turkey. Season inside and out with salt and pepper to taste. Place the lemon halves, apple, onion, and potato into the cavity of the turkey. Place into a close-fitting roasting pan.

Stir the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is evenly blended. Spoon the honey mixture over the turkey, coating the entire outer surface. Allow to stand 30 minutes, reapplying the honey mixture several times.

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake the turkey in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, basting two or three times with the drippings and honey mixture. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and cook 30 minutes more, basting frequently. Use a cup of chicken stock to keep the pan juices from drying out.

Cover the turkey with aluminum foil, and continue roasting until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove the foil during the last 15 minutes and baste one last time.

Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area 15 minutes before slicing.

Cranberry Week – Roast Duck With Honey Cranberry Glaze

Did you know that cranberries help prevent stomach ulcers?  Most peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, Helicobacter pylori. Cranberries havebeen shown to inhibit the adhesion of these bacteria to the stomach lining. With 25 million Americans suffering from peptic ulcers in their lifetime, this is a significant health problem.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 4-pound duck
  • 1 3-inch strip of orange peel
  • 1 medium onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preparation

Rinse the cranberries carefully under running water and pick them over to remove any that have spoiled.

Mix one cup of cranberries,1/2 cup of the honey and one-half cup of water in a small saucepan and cook, simmering, until the cranberries are very soft. Strain through a sieve into a small bowl. The honey liquid is the glaze for the duck.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the gizzard, heart and liver from the duck and set aside. Put the orange peel, half the onion and about half a teaspoon of salt and pepper in the cavity.

Paint the duck with a little of the cranberry glaze.Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, paint the surface with a little of the cranberry glaze.

Remove the duck from the oven and prick the skin all over with a fork to release the fat. Return to the oven and continue roasting, painting every 15 minutes with the glaze, for a total of two hours.

While the duck is roasting, make a broth with the innards: Roughly chop the remaining half onion and the duck innards. Place in a small saucepan with the wine, another half teaspoon of salt and pepper and a cup of water. Simmer gently for an hour or more, until the broth is reduced to approximately one-half cup of flavorful liquid. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

Mix the remaining half cup of cranberries with the remaining half cup of water, the remaining honey and the balsamic vinegar. Cook together for 10 minutes until the mixture is syrupy. Set aside.

When the duck has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and set aside. It should be a beautiful dark-red color.

Strain the pan juices into a glass measuring cup and carefully remove the duck fat that floats to the top. (Do not discard: duck fat is wonderful for roasting or frying potatoes.) Add the innard broth to the roasting juices and use this to deglaze the roasting pan, scraping up the roasting bits that have stuck to the pan. Strain the whole through a fine sieve and place in a small saucepan.

Add the cranberry-vinegar syrup to the pan juices and broth. If there is any glaze remaining, add that to the mixture and bring the whole to a simmer just to warm it and mix everything together.

Carve the duck if you wish, or send it whole to the table, together with the warm cranberry sauce.

YIELD

4 – 6 servings

The Birds And The Bees

I don’t know how sex ever got to be called “the birds and the bees.”  A kid could get mighty confused if he or she took that phrase literally.

The Birds

Bird lovemaking is romantic and seems almost chaste.

For one thing, over 90 percent of birds are naturally monogamous. Most birds keep the same mate for the entire mating season and some stay paired for their entire life.

The male’s courtship ritual entails not only singing, but also tail drumming and dancing.

During breeding season, the male’s testes which lie within their body become several hundred times larger than normal to produce sperm which moves to the cloaca where it is stored until insemination (the act of sex). In bird anatomy, a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only opening from which they excrete both urine and feces, unlike mammals, which possess two separate orifices for evacuation.

The female bird’s ovaries are also enlarged during breeding season to produce the ovum. The ovum is a single cell that we recognize as the yolk of an egg.

The female bird unfans her tail and moves it to one side while the male cuddles up next to her. Their cloacas are pressed together and the sperm moves from the male to the female. This act is called a cloacal kiss. Wow…

The Bees

Bee sex is brief, brutal and restricted to royalty.

Within any colony, there are three types of adult bees: the queen, male drones and female workers.

A colony will typically have only one queen who lays all the eggs. Female workers are sterile and do not reproduce.

Male drones mate with the queen to produce offspring. The actual mating process usually occurs above ground in mid-flight, and results in the death of the drone as he expends semen.

It’s actually worse than I’ve described it…

Conclusion?

So we’re teaching kids that sex is sweet and cuddly if you’re a bird, but really, really bad if you’re a drone bee?  Very confusing!

I think we should use the phrase “the bunnies and the kitties” instead.

In The City

I’m in NYC at a Writer’s Conference.  I miss my bees and my garden desperately.

I’m pretty sure that wonderful plants I’ve ordered have been delivered in my absence.  I hope they’ll still be alive when I return to the Provinces.

I love the City and the company of other writers, but there’s nothing like traffic and concrete to make me miss my little bit of England in Cincinnati.

Home tomorrow!!

Favorite English Garden Bee-Friendly Plants – Heliotrope

Heliotrope is an annual with an intense fruity fragrance and clusters of deep violet or purple flowers that reach toward the sun. Leaves are rich, aromatic, and velvety green.

This is a dependable, low-maintenance plant, often with fragrances reminiscent of vanilla. Heliotrope is a favorite of bees, butterflies and birds.

Frequent pinching stimulates growth; spent flowers should be removed to encourage additional blooms. Heliotrope needs rich moist soil; over-watering decreases the fragrance of the plant.

It grows well in containers with regular feedings of diluted fertilizer, but does not like crowded conditions. Heliotrope is the most fragrant at sunrise and sunset.

Cardinal Principles

I have two bird feeders hanging on a Magnolia tree right outside my window. I love to watch the winter birds feed while I’m thinking about what to write.

That is, I loved it until the Cardinals started watching me back.

And it was not just watching. It was flat out staring.  Sometimes there would be five or six of them, sitting in the tree, absolutely glaring at me.

Was this some kind of message?  Cardinals are supposed to be symbols of vibrancy and brilliance.  They remind us that even when things appear bleak or isolated, there is always the presence of beauty, hope and love. All good.

But that still didn’t explain the gang staring. Was it personal? Did they not like the chow?

It turns out they were just being Manly Men.  They weren’t staring at me. They were staring at their own reflection in the window.

The male Cardinal fiercely defends his breeding territory from other males. When a male sees his reflection in glass surfaces, he goes into, well, red alert.  He may spend hours fighting the imaginary intruder.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, many people are perplexed each spring by the sight of a Cardinal attacking its reflection in a window, car mirror, or shiny bumper. Both males and females do this, and most often in spring and early summer when they are obsessed with defending their territory against any intruders. Birds may spend hours fighting these intruders without giving up. A few weeks later, as levels of aggressive hormones subside, these attacks should end (though one female kept up this behavior every day or so for six months without stopping).

I’m glad my window isn’t highly reflective, since the Dudes seem to be satisfied with just giving it attitude rather than attacking.  And I’m really glad that it wasn’t personal. It was just Cardinal business!