Shakin’ ALL over!
Long before Miss Tina explained “we never, evah do nothing nissse, and easy. We always do it nice. And rough…” a fringe-shaking firecracker from Maud, Oklahoma by the name of Wanda Lavonne Jackson was rocking it nice and rough from one end of the USA to the other. Now, I’m not a true rockabilly aficionado; that’s really Mr. Slattern’s bailiwick. Truth be told, in many ways I prefer Camelot Elvis to the Sun Studios version. I know it’s wrong, but some things are so wrong they’re just right. Still, no matter which way your musical tastes run, I guarantee that after about thirty seconds of Fujiyama Mama, you’ll be up off the sofa and shaking your groove thing for all it’s worth.
Anywho, at the age of 75 Miss Jackson is still tearing it up, these days with the likes of Jack White and Loretta Lynn. Give her a listen, and ask yourself, would we have had Chrissy, or Patti or Amy without her? Maybe, maybe not.
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Looking for more slatternly musical recommendations? If you can stand it, I certainly can.
I’ll come clean. I am barely cooking at all this Thanksgiving. Instead I’m flying to Florida on the holiday to help stage an epic 90th birthday party for my Grammie Florence on the Friday, and I am some kind of excited about it.
I wish I could say I’ll miss the unbearable stress of accommodating twenty people in a living space that barely houses four, or that I’m pining for the experience of getting a massive bird, fifty side dishes (including a jell-o salad) and six pies made IN ADVANCE, or even that I regret not having the opportunity to get sideways drunk well before sundown on the case of nasty New Beaujolais my Uncle Fred invariably drags through the door. I won’t. What I will do is throw together a pie this afternoon, help roast up a little turkey breast tomorrow morning, then swallow three Klonopin in the car on the way to JFK in preparation for the flight and the prospect of having to re-don the skimpy summer wardrobe in a roomful of cameras.
As such, I’m not even going to apologize for recycling last year’s turkey post. Nobody was reading me at the time, so only a few stalwart family members even saw it anyway. And for those of you about to enter the inferno of frenzied dinner prep and family holiday shenanigans remember, it’s all about the path of least resistance, which in my experience leads straight to the portable bar.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Brine a turkey? Are you for real?
It isn’t hard enough to time everything so that a large turkey, two kinds of potato, four vegetables, three sides, dinner rolls, stuffing and gravy all hit the table at the same moment, hot and unspoiled?
Would you seriously consider adding to that madness a procedure that requires a trip to Home Depot the day before Thanksgiving for a bucket big enough to hold an eighteen pound bird and about fifty gallons of salt solution; soaking the bird in the solution for twelve to twenty-four hours; finding adequate cold storage for same; then fishing the sodden bird out of the drink early in the morning of a day when you’ve got ten people coming for a midday meal, some of whom might even be your in-laws?
Really? Well prepare to eat the meal in your pajamas, and you might as well start with Bloody Marys for breakfast and work up from there.
Let me tell you, I tried brining exactly once and all I have to say is never again. See above. Now, I can’t tell you absolutely that brining does not produce a moister bird. It may very well, and people who know a lot more about cooking than I do swear by it. What I can say is that when it comes to the year I tried to brine my bird, I can barely remember eating the meal (now generally referred to as the brining incident amongst my nearest and dearest) let alone cooking it. In any case, it took months of talk therapy, some high grade pharmaceuticals and a few meds that are not, strictly speaking, in the Physician’s Desk Reference to deal with the fall out from that little adventure, and there is no way I’m going to revisit it. For me, the big bird soak was the straw that very nearly broke the slattern’s back, the final drop that loosed the deluge from the sherry bottle if you will.
So long story short, my advice is not to brine. Just cook the stuffing separately and drizzle it with some of the drippings from the bird before serving. Same diff, and your guests will not be any the wiser. When you shorten the cooking time (unstuffed birds cook much faster), the white meat is less dry. For flavor, use lots of butter and sherry and shove some fresh sage and half an onion in the cavity before you roast the bird. That’s it. Not exactly rocket science, but at least it gives you a fighting chance of remaining upright until the pies are cut.
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Game for more Thanksgiving madness? Try these:
Holy Mother of God, is it Halloween again? Already? How I could have missed this given the flurry of Martha Stewart Halloween hints that clutter up my email this time of year is a mystery. Perhaps it’s because this is the first year the little Slattern has not been home for the holiday, and as such the first year I have not had to make or even think about costumes. Anyways…in recognition of this, my least favorite holiday, I give you…drum roll please…last year’s post. Don’t be disappointed. It was a corker.
I hate Halloween. The costume hysteria, the sugar meltdown, the sugar coma, the instant weight gain, the toilet paper in the trees, the stink of scorched pumpkin innards, and that’s before we even begin to deal with the children.
Then there’s the expectation that this, or something very like it, will somehow come into play. Yeah, sure. Imagine a bag of cold oatmeal in a thong and handcuffs for a preview of the appeal of that. Finally, factor in a bunch of cranked up kids and you’ve got a recipe for instant Armageddon, folks.
So how do I cope with it year after soul-destroying year? I think you know, but in case you don’t here’s my strategy. Do with it what you will.
October 27: Buy candy I think the kids will like, but which really is what I like: Snickers miniatures, Twizzlers, Heath bars, peanut butter cups, et al.
October 28: Emerge from sugar coma long enough to destroy the evidence and trash any remaining food items.
October 29: Replace consumed candy with items I do not like (Charlestown Chew, Laffy Taffy, pixie stix). Eat those anyway, because by now the sugar monkey on my back has become a gorilla and the beast must be fed.
October 30: Join Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous or similar. Plan a gym visit. Begin green tea detox and abandon it three hours later.
4 pm: Run out to corner store in a panic to replace candy currently stored on my ass or passing through my digestive tract. Find only reject items, such as Good ‘N Plenty, Mary Janes, Red Hots. Buy anyway along with a large bottle of pink grapefruit juice.
5 pm: Dump all reject candy into a large bowl and set on front steps. Too shameful to hand out in person. Turn out all the lights. Retreat to the back of the house with the grapefruit juice and a large bottle of vodka and wait it out with a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon. By the time the trick or treaters have finished their retaliatory toilet papering and egging for the crap candy, I’m too fat to clean it up and too drunk to care.
November 1: Back to Betty Ford.
Recipe: Nigella’s Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
So today my shining light of a daughter turns 18, which makes me 97, or maybe it just feels that way. Anyhow, with such an auspicious occasion to mark, I wanted to find an appropriate treat to cap the festive birthday dinner — traditionally the birthday girl’s choice, and as always she’s requested mac and cheese with grilled asparagus on the side.
I found this delightfully easy recipe for chocolate cherry cupcakes in Nigella’s Domestic Goddess book, and was congratulating myself on coming up with the perfect marriage of the adult (sour cherries, dark chocolate) and the childish (cupcakes) in an incredibly simple recipe (bonus!), when I noticed that it called for self-rising cake flour. Now, this item struck me as just a tad exotic to have on hand, but lo and behold after a bit of frantic rummaging I did find some in the dark recesses of the pantry. It is, to say the least, unusual to find exactly what I need on any given day; however, given my customary frame of mind during a trip to Fairway, it is not surprising that I have in stock things I can’t recall ever buying.