DRAFT TODAY, POST TOMORROW: Some posts may be in draft status until I (aka procrastinator extraordinaire) get around to posting them.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


We started the 21 pound turkey last night, unsure how long it would take on the smoker. It was done in about six hours. It turned out fantastic, especially the dark meat.

I made the strawberry rhubarb pies, using a medley of recipes, adding a package of fresh blackberries to the second one. I used a combination of arrowroot powder (a heaping 2 Tbsp) and sugar (3/4 cup in the first and 1/2 cup in the second with a package of frozen rhubarb and 2 heaping cups of sliced fresh strawberries. I topped the second one with a crumb mix. They were too wet though. I thought it would work out okay but the first one overflowed while cooking and the topping on the second one soaked up a lot of the liquid. Fortunately, they tasted good, the crust was good, the filling was good, but the pies just seemed a bit soggy. No one else even tried it so I should have done one and done a pecan pie for the second one.

I cut up the veggies for roasting tomorrow while the pies were baking. It was mostly brussels sprouts but I added a head of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, the carrots leftover from the turkey and broth prep, and a red pepper from my garden.

This morning, I found that my 9+ pound ham wouldn't fit in my crockpot. Oops. But there weren't any smaller hams, so what could I have done. I decided to bake it and found comments saying that people had used tin foil to tent the ham when the ham was too tall, so I put my orange slices in the bottom of a glass baking dish, put the ham on top, mixed my pineapple juice and maple syrup and poured in, then used my hands to mix some juice into brown sugar to make a paste and rubbed all over the ham. I baked it for a few hours until the oven was needed to rewarm the turkeys. The ham turned out AWESOME--everyone loved it.

I started the giblets and veggies for stock to make gravy. It eventually reduced by about half. I fished the liver out and ate it. (I know, I'm weird but I like the liver, just not the rest of the gizzards.) In another pan, I put the "drippings" and veggies from the turkey. It included a lot of liquid from the wine and apple cider Mick used in the turkey baste. It reduced some and we later strained both pans and combined them. I added arrowroot powder but forgot that it needs to be mixed with water or something first, so I had to fish out some lumps and then add it again. It thickened up nicely but I thought it tasted too sweet because of the white wine and apple juice. But everyone who tried it seemed to like it. There was a jar of Heinz gravy that was brought with the other turkey.

I peeled 5 pounds of potatoes and 5 pounds of sweet potatoes. I made the potatoes first, cutting up, then boiling them. I saved some of the water when I drained them; I mashed them with a little of the reserved water, salt and pepper. I added some garlic powder and Earth Balance soy-free "butter" and blended with a hand mixer. I added more salt and pepper, some coconut milk creamer, and some fresh chopped parsley. I asked Mick to taste it and he said "perfect." I put them in a crockpot and they were almost gone by the end of lunch.

I cut up the sweet potatoes and boiled them. I drained and mashed them with a little reserved water, adding a dash of salt. Then I used the hand mixer and added some Earth Balance "butter," a few handfuls of dark brown sugar, a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, and some hazelnut coconut milk creamer. I put them in a crockpot. Everyone was asking for the recipe and were shocked that they are non-dairy. Yum!

I put the veggies in to roast after the turkeys were rewarmed. I heard that my BIL went back for seconds, he liked them so much. I also cooked some carrot "coins" with "butter" (coconut oil or olive oil would work too, but I wanted the butter taste) and turbinado sugar. It didn't make a lot but they were gone in no time. I didn't care for the Sprouts canned cranberry sauce--it was fine tasting but got really soft and melty. My FIL brought some from the F&E cold case and it was better. No one ate salad except me--note to self--do not serve salad at Thanksgiving!

There were a dozen kids (and almost as many adults!) and they had a great time so I think everyone who attended will be open to us hosting some holidays. But the family who didn't want to come, didn't. And some who I thought were coming didn't either. I thought it was very successful anyway!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shopping for Thanksgiving

A family member told a family member told my husband that we are hosting Thanksgiving. I checked in with my family; the group we always see basically said no, they don't want to do the drive (um, cause that's worse than cooking for days?) and the other group said awesome. That group has never been over yet so I'm pretty excited. And they have lots of little kids to play with the kids on my husband's side.

I read a little about g/f turkeys and hams but other allergens weren't addressed too much. I started with the turkey, which my husband is going to smoke in his Green Egg. I ended up ordering one at Sprouts. Afterwards, a coworker told me they also have organic fresh turkeys, but I don't know that I would have ordered organic. I looked at frozen turkeys while at Fresh & Easy because I got a free turkey. My shopping day happened to be a free turkey day for purchases of $30 or more. Both brands of turkeys they had included ingredients that I definitely can't have. The Jenny-O turkey that was free had a trifecta of allergens, so I'm going to donate it.

The hams didn't really say that they had wheat, diary, or soy in them, but they had a lot of questionable ingredients. I asked at Sprouts if the hams were g/f and was told that it would say g/f if they were. Well, I'm not sure that's right, but I had heard that Honey Baked Ham had a g/f ham so I called. The lady confirmed that their hams are g/f and read the ingredients. I commented on the ones she could barely pronounce and she said that's why you can keep it in the fridge for a few days. Hmm, okay, that's my back up plan.

Someone mentioned Whole Foods to me, so I decided to check it out. I needed a refill of the local BBQ sauce we use when I haven't made sauce, so I was planning to go anyway. They had fresh organic hams--large and no weird ingredients, going as far as to be labeled g/f and "lactose free" which I'm going to say means dairy free. The guy working there chatted with me, told me to get the uncut (not spiral) for my crock pot ham recipe, and said his parents smoke their turkey and it turns out fantastic. I asked if they carry twine I could buy and he gave me some "premium--the best twine" from behind the meat counter. I also bought a whole lotta coconut milk ice cream since they had them on sale for $4.99 a pint. That's the best price I ever see them sold at.

While I was at Sunflower Market getting some taco shells (they carry Garden of Eden yellow or blue corn hard shells; Sprouts doesn't carry them so I'm nervous that they won't have them anymore after the "official" transition in January), I found the most amazing thing. Wholly Wholesome pie crusts--frozen crusts without wheat, dairy, eggs! Oh, yeah. I got a package and then found frozen rhubarb! I've never used frozen rhubarb but I'll give it a try--I love strawberry rhubarb pie when I can find it. Or at least I used to.

I'm sure I'll go overboard, so I'm trying to restrain myself. My tentative menu is smoked turkey, crockpot ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, "buttered" carrots, salad, gravy, cranberry sauce, olives and sweet pickles, and strawberry rhubarb pie. And others are bringing stuffing, corn, crescent rolls, deviled eggs, and pumpkin pie. Too much?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To vet we go

I had a couple things I felt needed to be done with some urgency, so I decided to take a day off to do them. I started by sleeping in--obeying doctors orders to get more rest!

I took Teka to the vet. A few weeks ago, she started favoring her back left foot. It started with that "have something in the foot" type of action (when nothing was in her foot) but progressed to her limping around like a three-legged dog. It doesn't seem to be associate with more or less activity; I haven't seen her do it at agility classes. But it is increasing in frequency and duration so I took her in.

The vet reviewed her file and said she did the same thing with her back RIGHT foot when she was being treated for Valley Fever. We did an X-ray at the time but nothing showed on the x-ray then so he wasn't sure it was necessary. We decided to do a Valley Fever test for now and see if it's active again. I should know by next week.

We met my friend J for lunch at Bamboo Spice, where I had the excellent ice tea and chicken tikka masala. The weahter was good so I parked in the shade and ran into Whole Foods before heading home.

After a short time home, I went to have my car serviced, which took over 2 hours. Sigh. Such a waste of time. But I got some reading in.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Superstition Kennel Club AKC Agility Trial

I took a day off for an agility trial with Teka. I was hoping it was worthwhile and nervous that it was a waste of time and money. I didn't take the man with me. My instructor G was there and her friend took video for me. (I'll post it if I ever figure out how to get it off my I-pad!)

First was the Novice Jumpers with Weaves (preferred jump height). I decided against doing a lead out, opting to run with her. Of course, when we got to the weaves, she tried to not do them, but I was able to get on the other side and walk her in and out of the first couple. Then she did the rest. After that, she was great going the rest of the way through the course. And she Q'd.

Jumpers course map
Very shortly after we finished our run, it was our turn on the Open Standard course (also preferred height). She started out okay but when we got to the weaves, she walked past. I called her back to retry. She walked past--totally like "I don't see them, I don't see them..." I decided to go on. She did fantastic the rest of the course, although it felt like she needed some cheerleading through the 14 and 15 jumps into the tunnel but then she picked speed up again for the end. It wasn't a Q since she skipped the weaves, but I guess at least she didn't pee or poo in the ring. But I'm disappointed that she did so poorly with the weaves.

Standard course map
Surprisingly good photo of me; Teka is disinterested (that's a word, right?)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Agility Class

We had three exercises tonight.

First was the one with the weaves. Teka kept popping out at the #10 pole and we finally figured out that I'm decelerating to turn toward the tunnel. When I ran on the outside instead of in between the weaves and tunnel, she completed the weaves. I was really enlightened here. If I can get her into the weaves, I should try to do crosses afterwards so that I'm out in front of her.

Next we had three jumps with a line. We were to stay on one side while they are on the other doing the jumps. We sent them over and between the jumps so they had to go out, come in, go out over the jump, in between and back out the next jump. Then they had to come over the jumps instead of going out over the jumps.

Last, we had a box of jumps with a couple of tunnels. We were to stay in the box of jumps while sending out to the tunnels. I couldn't believe how awesome Teka did at this.

A seven year old puppy

We kennel trained both of our dogs when they were puppies. When they weren't in the kennel, we kept a close eye on them. I used the leash method, to keep the puppy close by when I was doing things. So we didn't really have issues with chewing.

When they were older than a year, they had more freedom. Cassi started chewing on the baseboards at the top of the stairs when she was almost 2 years old. We retrained her to chew on a bone.

Teka started chewing the exact same spot when she was about a year and a half. It didn't last long. We think that the cats rubbed that spot and the dogs liked it. It happened with the edge of a scrapbook too.

She has been chewing tissues and stuff for at least that long. We replaced all our bathroom trash cans with lidded cans due to her shredding everything. For a while that worked and then she started finding papers and chewing the edges. About a year ago, we figured out that she would chew a napkin and leave everything else alone if we left one out overnight.   Last night, we weren't home for dinner and I forgot to leave a napkin out. This morning, I found a book pulled off the bottom bookshelf and the top bound edge chewed. The two books next to that one on the shelf were also chewed on the top. W. T. F.   So Teka will be kenneled at night. Every night. It's fantastic that she likes her kennel but terrible that she can't be trusted in the house without supervision. On the upside, maybe that is a step to getting another dog. Or not. That's still a huge amount of work, keeping dogs separated, shuffling who is in and who is out. Anyway, I am so disappointed. My seven year old dog is a terrible (but happy) puppy.