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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Defrost Turkey Overnight

Defrosting a turkey overnight can be achieved provided you follow these explicit directions and defrost with cold water.  There are two methods that you can use to defrost a turkey in cold water. Of course I learned   these methods of quick defrosting the hard way and this is why I can share what I learned with all of you.

Can't roast a frozen turkey

Picture this, Thanksgiving many years ago I wanted to prepare dinner for my in-laws.  I recall the situation as if it was yesterday, I had to work and prepare the house for my in-laws and I was stressed out. Needless to say at 5:00 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I realized that the turkey was frozen.  Normally I defrost the turkey in my refrigerator for 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs and that generally takes me 4 to 5 days, but somehow I missed that step and my turkey was frozen solid.

At that point I felt helpless and I sat down and cried.  My husband heard me sobbing and came into the kitchen, when he arrived I had mascara down to my chin and the frozen turkey was on the counter.  He asked me what I was crying about and all I could do was point to the bird.    He shook his head and replied no problem.  So if you forgot to take your turkey out to defrost…and it is frozen solid on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving then remember these word…No Problem. 

Note:  There are two ways to defrost your turkey quickly; running cold water and the cold water submerge.

Running Cold Water

Remove all food from the counter tops.  Clean your kitchen sink with antibacterial cleaner, then set a cooling rack inside the sink.  The cooling rack or another grated rack will work; you will use this to prop up the turkey so it is not sitting flat in the sink, and the rack will allow the water to drain.  Set the turkey in the air-tight wrapper on top of the rack in the sink.

Turn the cold water on and let the water spill over the turkey in a steady stream.  Leave the cold water run over the turkey over night.  The cold water will defrost the turkey; this is a safe method with no bacteria growth. In the morning the turkey will be defrosted.

Note:  Allow the water to run down the drain do not allow the turkey to sit in standing water unless you intend on doing a cold water submerge.

Cold Water Thawing

In order to defrost your turkey quickly you would need to sanitize your sink with antibacterial or bleach.  Next check the wrapper to make sure that it is air tight.  You do not water to absorb into the turkey and also an air tight wrapper will prevent contamination from airborne bacteria. Fill your sink with cold tap water and then submerge the turkey into the cold water.

Keep the turkey in the water for 30 minutes and then drain the water and refill the sink with cold water again.  Repeat the step for submerging turkey in the sink of cold water.  Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed.  

Note: When the turkey is thawed you must cook it immediately.  For a 16 pound turkey it took 8 hours to thaw and we drained and changed the cold water 16 times.
For more information of defrosting turkey read USDA Food Safety

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hiking In Autumn - How to Plan a Hike

Hiking in is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy being outdoors and adore a scenic trail that will allow me to watch birds, wildlife and view the foliage. I also enjoy taking photographs of the beauty that surrounds me.  

Today was a beautiful Indian summer day, the sun was bright and the temperature was in the mid 50's. So I set off on the trail close to my home with my border collie Jerry. 

My dog Jerry has hiked with me for the past 11 years and his footing is precise and knows when I should be cautious. He has pulled me away from steep terrain, rushing water, and has stopped me from going down many trails. Jerry looks out for me whenever I am hiking in the woods by my home.
My border collie Jerry walking on nature trail

If I am familiar with the trail I will hike with my trusted friend Jerry, otherwise for nature hikes in state parks I always go with a group of friends. When you hike with friends it is enjoyable, it is also safer especially if you are unfamiliar with the terrain. Plan your hike on a sunny day when there is no wind. 
Make a list of all of the nature trails in your area.  Contact the park ranger to see if there are any special hikes; owl watch, wildlife or beaver watches are a few of my favorite hikes that I like to go on.  The Audubon Nature Center conducts seasonal hikes where you can learn more about nature.  Plan your nature hike by selecting an upcoming walk or hike at your local nature center or state park.

For short day hikes bring a backpack and fill it with; plenty of water, a cell phone, first aid kit, insect repellent, toilet paper, sun screen, rain gear, binoculars, camera, magnifying glass, fruit, protein bar and a nonperishable sandwich.  Rain gear is important because the weather can change and the gear will block wind, sleet and rain.  Dress in clothing that is comfortable and not binding and wear layers, you can always take something off and place in your backpack if you are warm, however if you are cold you cannot put on a sweatshirt if you do not have one. Always wear a shoe made for hiking as it will help you hold your footing of uneven terrain.

Whenever I arrive at a state park I will check in with the park ranger, this is a safety precaution as well as an inquiry about the trails. Some trails may be under water, in repair and some may have reports of bear or bobcat. So it is always best to check in with the ranger before you start down a trail that you are unfamiliar with.
I like to hike in the morning as that is when the birds are most active. 

Sunset hikes are scenic and you can get some great photographs of wildlife, however wildlife comes out at sunset to forage and I prefer to view the end of the day in a populated area of the park. 

Autumn is my favorite time of the year; the leaves on the trees are brightly hued in gold, red, and yellow and orange and the air is fresh.

If you love nature then why don't you plan a nature hike for you and your family. Don't let the autumn season pass you by.  Go outdoors and enjoy nature; after all, nature is God’s gift to us.

Note:  Hiking is a great way to exercise and if you choose to climb hillsides or go down steep terrain you will get a good cardiovascular workout.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Delicious Homemade Chocolate Candy Recipe

Homemade chocolate candy will satisfy your sweet cravings.  When it comes to making an dessert for gatherings I like to make this chocolate candy. This recipe is quick and easy to make and the candy is rich and chocolaty with the nutritional benefit of almonds. Make some chocolate candy today for your family or for your fiends; everyone loves this candy as it is chocolate pleasure.

My mom was a chocolate lover and would make this recipe on the stove sometimes she would add strawberries or cherries but most of the time she added almonds.  The semi sweet chocolate morsels blend perfectly with the almonds making this candy a delicious treat.

To make this chocolate candy recipe you will need:   double boiler or 1 large and 1 medium saucepan.  24 oz semi sweet chocolate morsels, ½-cup sliced almonds, paper baking cups, and an air tight container for storage. I do not have a double boiler so I filled a large sauce pan with water and set a medium sized saucepan inside of the large pan.  The bottom need to touch the water.  You do not want to fill the water so high that it would spill onto the stove. 

Set the saucepans on the stove and turn the burner to low.  Melt chocolate slowly.  

When the water starts to simmer you would pour the chocolate in the upper pan and stir the chocolate as it melts.  When all of the chocolate is melted you would add your almonds, and (optional 1/4 cup of frozen cranberries or small strawberries.)  
 Note: if you add fruit to your candy you would blend the fruit into the chocolate so that fruit is not bruised.  

When the almonds or fruit is mixed well you would remove the double boiler from the stove and allow the chocolate candy to rest for 5 to 10 minutes or until it thickens.  Then take one teaspoon of the candy and form a ball. Set the chocolate balls into paper baking cups.  Allow the candy to set until it has completely cooled.  Serve the candy to your friends and family.  
Serve chocolate almond candy: Image by Susan Golis
 Note: If you do not want to make the candy balls you can pour the chocolate mixture into a baking dish, thin set chill for 30 minutes then remove and break into individual pieces. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Make a Harvest Wreath for Front Door

Make a Harvest wreath:  By Susan Golis

A harvest wreath is a practical way to decorate in Thanksgiving as you can make it the first week of autumn and display it throughout the  season. 

 I make a harvest wreath every year and hang it on my front door as I find that it improves my homes curb appeal.  

The wreath is made from material found in my yard and garden and berries that I have gathered from the woods.  By using material from nature makes the  harvest wreath eye appealing.


Make the wreath by using grapevine, straw, branches or a ready made evergreen wreath like the one I made in the photo. 

Gather the material that you need to make a natural wreath.  Plan a autumn hike through a meadow or at a park.  

Take along a bag and gather colorful autumn leaves, dried flowers with attractive seed heads, winter berries, acorns, ornamental grasses plumes and pine cones. Go to the farmers market and buy and dried fragrant lavender, or rosemary.  

Pick up eucalyptus branches with leaves, dried blazing star liatris flowers or fresh or silk chrysanthemums .  All of these materials will make a colorful and interesting harvest wreath.  

Set all of your materials for the wreath on a work table.  The wreath goes in the center of the table and the materials are set to the side of the wreath as it is easy to design your wreath when materials are close by.

Treat all materials gathered from nature pests or insects.  

Attach a bunch of fragrant herbs by wrapping a wire round the stem.  Tuck the ends of the herb bunch into the wreath and then attach the wire to the base of the wreath.  For dried fruit and nuts I will use my hot glue gun to attach to the wreath.  

Create a wreath that is colorful and well balanced.

Recycle the evergreen harvest wreath by decorating it for the winter season and hang it on your garden gate.

You will benefit from a wreath that is made fresh using natural material especially if you add dried fragrant herbs. I grow English lavender and find the dried stems and purple blooms add  a fresh scent and the color makes the harvest wreath more festive.