Wednesday, November 25 2020

turkey war stories, playing in the snow, and a training session



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday, and welcome to what is officially the day before Thanksgiving. If your playbook looks anything like mine, today is a great day to make herb butter, a green bean salad, and some brown turkey stock from a pair of roasted wings.

Our friend Bob here is stuffed in a black garbage bag in my fridge. Let me clear the air for any readers who missed yesterday, or for any FBI agents that are doing their daily round-up of Internet wackos - Bob is our turkey. Like I said, Bob has been taking it easy all night in an apple cider and herb flavored bath. Yesterday while Marissa fixed us evening drinks in the kitchen, I extracted Bob from his plastic cocoon and rolled him into a black garbage bag. Marissa observed over my shoulder.

"At least he's thawed this time," I said as I crumpled the plastic up and set it aside.

"Do you remember two years ago when we needed to use pliers to get the guts out?" Marissa laughed. "That was such a struggle."

"Yet another example of frozen poultry biting me in the ass," I laughed. "The more I think about it, I think maybe 95% of my cooking hardships have stemmed from frozen birds. It's my bane."

Two years ago, we hosted Thanksgiving for my family at our house. We didn't give the turkey enough time to thaw, so when it was time to tress it and set it up on the roasting pan, the solid block of ice wedged in its cavity posed a problem. Wearing our best occasion clothes, Marissa and I would spend most of Thanksgiving morning chipping away at the bag of frozen organs, like a pair of scientist that just discovered a preserved cave man.

I slipped Bob into a black garbage bag. Against our better judgment, we went with our fancy metal ice bucket we use to serve cold drinks at parties (do you remember parties?). This morning, opening the fridge to check on Bob, I saw a small puddle of red liquid. I grabbed a roll of paper towels off the counter, expecting the worst. Mysteriously, Bob's tub only shed about an ounce of liquid, and cleaning it up was trivial. The garbage bag must have been punctured while transferring it to the fridge, and perhaps the hole was plugged with a peppercorn or something.

If the turkey works out, I'll have no choice but to incorporate the accident into the official written instructions. Once the turkey is submerged completely in brine, cut a small hole in the bag. Allow the raw juices to titrate into your cheese drawer throughout the night. Do not clean your fridge..

After cleaning up, Marissa and I continued to reminisce about the Thanksgiving turkeys of past. Last year, Marissa and I each made a turkey for her side of the family. The recipe Marissa was following for her traditional baked bird instructed her to start with a hot oven for the first half hour, then drop the temperature for the remaining time.

2020 11 25 fridge

Our turkey Bob, tucked into his cozy, briney bed for the night.

"Remember I forgot to turn the temperature down?" laughed Marissa.

"Oh yeah, your turkey speed run," I laughed. "We opened the oven at like 11 AM, and we were like 'yeah, that turkey finished cooking five minutes ago'."

Meanwhile, outside on her parents' front porch smoking my own bird on my Weber grill, I was having the exact opposite problem. I was too conservative with the coal, and the biting Minnesota wind made it difficult to keep the grill lit. As Marissa's flash cooked turkey patiently waited on the table under wads of tinfoil, with only an hour before dinner time my bird was still in what I call the salmonella zone. It worked out in the end. Marissa's turkey was still warm, and mine finished cooking just as we were setting the table.

Sip. Do you have some Thanksgiving turkey war stories of your own? And how did your Tuesday go yesterday? Rodney was positively jazzed from the snow fall yesterday. By the time I came downstairs for my second coffee refill, he was standing in the kitchen putting on his boots and snowpants. Rodney waited impatiently for Marissa to affix his puffy mittens, and with his hat barely on top of his head, he rushed out the door.

"Poor guy," laughed Marissa. "It stopped snowing while we were eating breakfast, and I think it's even starting to rain."

"He don't care," I said, taking a swig of coffee. "Look at him, he's in heaven."

Rodney wandered through the accumulated inch of wet snow in our yard like he had just walked into Narnia. Slipping on my flip-flops, I stepped out onto the deck and formed a snowball. I lobbed it at his head. Rodney turned around and grinned.

After lunch, I finished out the work day and joined Rodney in the living room while Marissa cooked squash curry chicken for dinner. Rodney hit his eating quota, and so for Rodney time we enjoyed the newest Dude Perfect YouTube video before heading upstairs for a Zoom call with the family. My sister joined the call with her webcam pointed at her new puppy, Henderson. We showered the new member of our family with embarrassing baby talk.

And that was pretty much my Tuesday. I'm happy to be hear at the end of the work week. Marissa and Rodney are on dessert baking duty all day, and you can count on me opening a bottle of wine at quitting time to ring in the Holiday weekend. By a cruel twist of fate, the last thing I have to do today is leading a remote training session for all the new engineers we hired in the last month. Say a prayer for the poor souls that will be trapped in my power point presentation around Zendesk's high level architecture. Trainee's - don't shoot the messenger, but if you decide to mute me and look at something else on your computer, I won't take it personally.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a wonderful day today.