Beautiful Plumage
But I Know One Thing



Or, The Crazy-Eyed Peacock Octo-Turkey Bandit Finds a Home

So. Thanksgiving happened. Time to put the food where my braggy mouth is. Photos, confessions, and plenty o' dorkwads, ahoy!


If there's anything better than homemade piecrust, it's husbandmade homemade piecrust.


I asked Jason to provide a recipe, and he said it's something like this one, only different, and he went on and on about the importance of apple choices and using the perfect variety and his various tweaks to the topping (oatmeal) but you know, he wasn't 100% happy with the topping this year because it was a too crunchy and NEXT YEAR he's going to try such and such and zzzzzzzzz.


All I know is: Make your own. Not sharing. Goway.


Same goes for the stuffing. I mean, we barely have enough for two people here. BARELY.


Cauliflower and broccoli, pre-cheesified. This concludes the healthy portion of our meal.


OMG! The sweet potatoes don't have a serving spoon! Don't take a photo yet! People will think we are savages! Good thing I spent no less than five whole minutes combing through our leftover sage for a single perfectly shaped and photogenic leaf to put on top of them! I think I may have just singlehandedly saved Thanksgiving.

And now, I must talk about the turkey. Which, for all of my Big Talk about my thumpingly good track record with Thanksgiving turkeys, turned out HORRIBLY. Like, the worst turkey ever. Two reasons, only one of which was kind of my fault, but NOT REALLY.

1) Despite ordering our turkey directly from a local farm like every year, we figured we'd save ourselves a trip to the actual farm and arranged to pick it up at the farmer's market. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that D.C. law meant that the turkey HAD to arrive at the market frozen, no matter what. And once you've tasted the difference between a frozen bird and a never-frozen fresh one, become a Turkey Snob, is what happens.

2) AND despite making approximately five separate grocery store runs throughout the week, we* forgot to pick up another turkey essential: the little plastic pop-up timer doohickey thing. Our turkey didn't come with one and of course, our back-up fancy digital probe thermometer chose Thursday OF ALL DAYS to malfunction and we completely overcooked the stupid thing, torn between the 10-minutes-per-pound-math and the alarmingly low temperature reading. We opted to maybe not risk salmonella. Result: dry, shoe-leather turkey that I actively despised and spent most of the meal complaining about.

Oh wait, and also, 3) maybe: We** also forgot to buy more aluminum foil, leading to a panicked discovery mid-cooking when it was time to tent the bird and oh shit! We have no foil! Quick, raid the leftovers in the fridge and cobble together not-quite-enough from some pizza slices and Indian food delivery. While that probably wasn't the WORST thing to happen to the turkey, it certainly didn't help.

But, still. The side dishes were amazing, the wine was...present and plentiful and Jason managed to make a fairly outstanding turkey salad out of the ruined bird AND we still were able to make enough turkey stock to see us through the next year. Liquid gold, as it is known around these parts, guaranteed to camouflage mediocre recipes and cooking skillz for MONTHS.

Plus I also finally found a use for all those extra breastmilk storage bags I had lying around.


Now, who wants to come over for dinner?



*Jason did the shopping.

**Although as the person responsible for making up the shopping list, I am fully aware of who is the true guilty party. Clearly, it's the Shopping List iPhone app. Way to almost ruin Thanksgiving, TECHNOLOGY.



We melted butter and injected it into our turkey. BEST. TURKEY. DECISION. EVER. You could see the butter coming out while slicing the turkey. It was Not-Dry-At-All and delicious and I had thirds during dinner and still had more at around 11pm.

The downside? No leftovers to speak of.


I think I might invite myself to some Thanksgiving meals in the coming years. I want to try all these different stuffings that you guys on that side of the Atlantic come up with.


Since I spent Thanksgiving day in bed with the stomach flu, while my parents prepared my dinner (that sounds bad -- but I had written out all my recipes and prepped all my veggies the day before, when I wasn't in bed sick), I can't say how awesome the meal is.

Though my mom did say my decision to fill the turkey cavity with aromatics instead of stuffing, plus rub the entire bird (under the skin) down with Plugra butter, mixed with home-roasted garlic and rosemary, and then cook it for the first half of time, breast-side down... well, she said it was the best turkey she's ever made and will use my recipe from now own.

Kristen McD

Our turkey was mediocre too. But I always think deep fried turkey is mediocre. I did get to brine the thing this year though... so what's a step up from mediocre?


Apple selection is VERY IMPORTANT when you're talking about pie. Personally, I feel Cortlands are the best apple for pie but you can mix them with Macs (if you like sweeter) or Granny Smith (if you like your pie a little tart). I am intrigued by the use of cider vinegar in his crust and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.

Happy Thanksgiving!


I have to admit I am eye baller when it comes to turkey... I mean I make my husband do the math on the timing and then I eye ball it as it gets closer to the time it is supposed to be done. Bummer about the turkey tho.

I love that photo with your son where he is in the high chair and looks like he is going to dive out of the chair and into a casserole. His face says 'LADY GIVE ME THAT GIANT SPOON and the tub of sweet pototoes NOW or I will jump'!!

Mmmm apple pie. We had pumpkin that my son requested and hated... Christmas we will have APPLE dammit!


that's why next year you should fry that bitch. fried turkey rocks.

Miss Grace

Can you mail me some stuffing? Please?


I was just curious to know what Ezra ate of all this wonderful bounty? This is based on the look of divine anticipation and curiosity in his eyes as you place the spoon in the sweet potatoes.

Aunt Becky

Now I'm hungry. Nom nom nom nom.


I want to come to your house for Thanksgiving - where you don't have to choose between red and white wine!


Forget Thanksgiving, I would just like to borrow your two little boys for Christmas. Cuteness personfied, I say! With extra sweet potatoes.


I'm someone who had never prepared a frozen bird. I always order fresh. Until this year. I prepare dinner on Sunday for the family that doesn't go to my MIL on Thursday. The only turkeys left on Saturday (when I did my shopping) were 25 pounds. Not going to happen. I bought a 7 lb. & a 8 lb. breasts. Frozen solid. I cooked one Saturday night just in case I screwed it up royally. Put frozen breast in roasting pan on rack. Rub icy brick with kosher salt and put on lid. 5 hours at 250 degrees and it was the best turkey ever. Insane since I'm usually basting and seasoning constantly.


In the first picture Ezra appears in he looks like he's ready to dive in and eat!


Thanks Amy, great post... really enjoyed the pictures! Did the kids eat it all?


Red AND white wine? It LOOKS like a success.


My turkey had both the pop-up & a digital probe jammed into, both of which claimed it was done a full hour and 10 minutes before the fancy-schmancy charts said a 13 pound turkey should be. My husband suggested we just leave it in the low heated oven, because, really, "Can you overcook turkey?" I reminded him of the dining scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...yeah, that one where the bird is pulverized and one must dip it in wine or toss it under the table - to which he replied that I should just take it out & warm it back up closer to lunch time. Turkey timing is NOT an exact science.


That cauliflower looks so good!

Yeah, our thanksgiving this year was fine in the end...well at least memorable.

What do a frozen turkey, open heart surgery and a massive septic tank FAIL have in common? They all happened over the thanksgiving holiday at our place.

Jen L.

Holy crap, woman, you are a genius! I'm going to dig out my breastmilk storage bags RIGHT NOW so I can put turkey stock in them after Christmas dinner!

Ok, you know the people want details about how Noah and Ezra enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinner, so give it up.


Great use of those Medela bags! I used one to transport my mustard vinaigrette to my parents' place for Thanksgiving (well one of the plastic bottles I pump milk into - I hope my baby likes mustard!). Oh and the vinaigrette went over roasted butternut squash and shallots. Yum!


hahahahahha! i LOVE the breastmilk bag idea! Never would've thought of it! Are you still nursing Ez?


We deep fry ours every year which is so not at all the healthiest way to go but it is absolutely the easiest because (if you set it in the basket instead of skewering the thing) it floats up to the top of the oil when it is done so you don't have to do a whole lot of guessing (and it cooks in about an hour and leaves our oven free for pies and stuffing and other dishes). :) Even though you say the turkey was not good, it LOOKS fantastic and beautiful! Great photos!


Ha - yes, your turkey does look a bit charred. But I'm a vegetarian, so I'm all good with it. What time shall I arrive next year to fill my belly with that delicious pie?

Kate at And Then I Was a Mom

I myself am curious as to whether the foil from the leftovers added any je ne sais quoi to the turkey. I think turkey with a hint of masala would actually be really good. Despite your disappointment with this year's bird, you may have stumbled upon next year's turkey trend.


Breastmilk storage bags for turkey stock! That is brilliant! I froze mine in ice cube trays, then transferred to a ziptop bag, but really, your way would be much more convenient since you use it about a cup at a time, not in tiny little ice-cube-sized amounts.


We smoked our turkey in our new $800 Traeger pellet smoker/grill. Everyone hated it. Smoked. Is. Not. Thanksgiving.


Love the use of breastmilk storage bags. I've got a mostly full box I know what to do with now.

I use the turkey oven bags to keep the bird juicy, and my mother's method of smearing it in miracle whip. Our turkey was fall-off-the bone tender. Yummo!


OMG. Are you married to Jordan Knight from NKOTB? Because your husband totally looks like him in these photos! I mean that in a good way!


We got our Turkey from Mom's (my organic market) and it was fantastic.

Next year, just come to my house. Jason can bring his stuffing. I have 20. No one will notice 4 more, and Michael would love Noah here!


I . . . have never had a fresh turkey. Next year may be the year to become a snob.

Also, any chance Jason will share that stuffing recipe? Because I am drowning in my own drool over here.

Brian O'Mara-Croft, Author, Lost in the Hive

All of it looks great, and I'm pretty sure I'd want to eat most of it...except I read your blog a week late and my stomach still hurts.



Have you ever tried cheesecloth drenched in butter/wine instead of aluminum foil? Because I started doing that several years ago and have never looked back. Perfectly moist and yummy!

Plano Mom

Damn y'all are a good lookin' family.

Better a burnt turkey than one that makes you sick.

Parsing Nonsense


Clearly it shortcircuited one of the wires in my preggo brain because I could barely type that just now.


I'm glad I'm not the only person who insists on a locally raised turkey. Have you ever tried brining your turkey? A brined turkey seems a bit more forgiving of accidental overcooking, and you could avoid that shoeleather thing.

The spread looks fabulous!


Bad turkeys make better stories.


I love that you've got glasses of red and white at the table!!


I never know with turkeys either. I heard that if the leg of the turkey moves easily, like it would just twist off, then it's done enough.

I have to try fresh next year!


I just lol--actually had my 9yo come up to me and ask what was so funny--over the breast milk bags.



I second the use of Reynold's turkey bags. Keeps them tender and cuts down on cooking time!

Kari Weber

I agree that Ezra looks like he is totally PISSED that you are posing for pictures instead of shoveling food into his mouth I AM HUNGRY WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG!!!!!


While I'm sorry your turkey turned out yuck, I have to thank you for your basting recipe/advice-- ours turned out great!


So...are you and Jason feeling generous? Turkey stock recipe/instructions...please?

I made stock from our turkey for the first time this year, and while it turned out...fine, I wouldn't call it liquid gold. It certainly isn't as deep in color as yours (love the storage container, btw!). Would love advice from those who have done it well.

another Amy

Now I am kicking myself for giving away my leftover milk bags. I never thought to put actual FOOD in them!


Where's the green bean casserole, and the green jello with Meow Mix?

THAT is Thanksgiving Dinner!


You use serving pieces and sit in the dining room when there is no company? I'm impressed!


you can come to our house next year if you want - we smoked, then baked, then fried our turkey. it was awesome. and we drink lots of wine too:0


Wow, delish. Is this the same family that's normally on this blog? It seems like things went really smoothly!


"Liquid gold" indeed!! (snort) Stop it, you're killing me. And you even labeled the bags! So funny.


We did our turkey in a trash can this year. It turned out wonderful! We used a fresh bird from an organic farm near St. Louis and after brining it, put it on a stake in the back yard and put a metal trash can over top of it. Then we put charcoal around the can and on top. It was cooked beautifully in about 2 and half hours. I highly recommend this, it was fun and delicious.


Beautiful family. And that FOOD just looks AMAZING. I have to try that cheesy veggie dish next year. It might actually help the kiddies eat some veggies. My little girl just ate the 35 cent boxed corn muffins and my son's favorite: canned cranberry jelly sauce. Love it. More leftovers for me!


So pleased to see a job for my milk bags. So very pleased!

Have you ever brined a turkey? It can make a mediocre bird very moist, but you have to have a place to do it and that is a huge pain.

6512 and growing

You are hysterical; I would likesome of the drugs you're on. Your littlest boy looked a little horrified about the serving spoon not being in the sweet potatoes BEFORE the picture.


Seriously, that conversation with Jason about the pie is EVERY conversation about food I ever have with my husband (he's a cook - I know, score, right?). And I have to listen because I do the grocery shopping and he'll say "get apples and I'll make a cake" and I have to remember what kind he said in that 20 minute monologue about apple cake from about 6 months ago. But seriously, it's APPLE CAKE and it's AWESOME! And his gravy tastes like god's sweat (his term, and now that I think about it, kinda oogy, but still apt somehow). Sorry, I know I'm totally bragging. If it helps, I haven't cooked a single turkey in my life that didn't involve a call to my mother for times and temps. So there's that.


Seriously, cough up the stuffing recipe, or the bird gets it! :)


Dude, if I had known we could give our babies chicken stock instead of breast milk, why did I spend all those hours hooked up to a friggin' breast pump?


Ah, so much turkey advice, but mine was really the BEST. The keys are: BRINE, STUFF, OVEN BAG.

That's all you gotta do! My latest blog post tells the true awesomeness of it all.


Looks like an amazing meal! And congratulations on the best use ever for those Medela bags (I mean, once baby has outgrown their intended use).

My parents always used a paper grocery bag to tent the turkey, and it worked well. Just thought, though I hope you're never in that position again!


Try this sweet potato recipe. You'll thank me.

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