Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday Soups: Spicy Turkey Posole

I know everyone is sick of turkey by now, but I hope you'll still appreciate this unexpected twist on the usual turkey soup.  On Friday, I made turkey stock from the remains of our 29 1/2 pound bird.  (I say remains because I hate the word carcass.  It sounds so vulgar.  Remains isn't much of an improvement, though, is it?)  I've learned over the last few years to break down the turkey soup process into stages, otherwise I find it to be overwhelming.  Getting the stock out of the way is a managable task the next day while putting things away and vacuuming up crumbs (and a few raw green beans I found in odd places?) and taking a nap on the couch, if you are so lucky.  I stayed out of the kitchen on Saturday.  On Sunday, I skimmed the fat off the top, and filled two large containers for the freezer, so over the course of the next several months we can have a quick turkey soup or minestrone or whatever else strikes our fancy.  The rest went into the Spicy Turkey Posole.

Before I get to the recipe, I want to mention that the highlight of Thanksgiving for me this year, besides the wonderful time spent with family, turned out to be my mom's biscuits.  We've been eating them for breakfast with butter and jam, and for lunch with turkey and cranberry sauce.  I don't think it's possible that we'll ever get tired of them.  I was looking for the recipe online so I could share, and I found that Deb from Smitten Kitchen uses the same recipe: James Beards' Cream Biscuits.  She recommends preparing them to the point of baking and then freezing them, so you can pop a few in the oven for fresh biscuits any time.  That is a dangerous piece of information.

Spicy Turkey Posole
from Food and Wine

Carcass from one 13-pound turkey, plus 6 cups shredded turkey (about 2 pounds)
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 bay leaf
Two 15-ounce cans yellow hominy, drained
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 large jalapeño, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
Avocado chunks, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and warm corn tortillas, for serving

  1. In a large stockpot, cover the turkey carcass, onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf with 16 cups of water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Simmer the turkey stock over moderate heat until the broth is flavorful, about 2 hours. Strain the broth through a coarse sieve into a large heatproof bowl.
  2. Return the broth to the stockpot. Add the hominy, tomatoes, garlic and jalapeño and cook over moderately high heat until the broth is reduced to 6 cups, about 30 minutes. Add the shredded turkey and chopped cilantro and simmer until the stew is heated through. Season the posole with salt, ladle into deep bowls and serve with the avocado chunks, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and warm tortillas.
Note: The turkey broth can be made up to 2 days ahead.
To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time I've tried hominy.  I wasn't even sure what it was.  (If you don't know, allow me: It's dried maize, treated with lime or lye to remove the hull and germ causing the grain to puff to twice its size.) The taste was mild, but it added an interesting texture, and the jalepeno and garlic brought plenty of flavor.  I thought this soup was an outstanding use of leftover turkey.

I've noticed that our neighbors have put up Christmas lights, but I haven't been able to wrap my mind around the idea that we have legitimately entered the holiday season.  The weather has been so nice, and I took advantage with several walks by the water over the last few days.  Otherwise, I spent a lot of time in the basement, exercising patience while removing thousands of staples and upholstery nails from the antique chairs, now in progress. 

How was your holiday weekend?  Did you discover any creative uses for leftover turkey or find any Black Friday deals or start any tedious projects? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm back!  It's been a busy few of weeks, and blogging has once again taken a back seat to life.  Also, while I'm making excuses, I dropped the camera and it now needs to be replaced.  The retractable lens is crooked and no longer retracts.  All I can get the camera to do is tell me there is a lens error.  So, I'm in the market for a new camera, but, in the meantime, I've borrowed my mom's, so I can share a few pictures today.

We are geared up and ready to host the big event tomorrow.  We will be 22 for dinner, 26 or more for dessert.  The house is clean and the tables are set.  We've got to split people into two rooms- the kitchen and dining room.  I dream of opening up the dining room to the living room some day so we can have one long table, but until then...

I've brought in a few bits of the outdoors to provide some simple decoration.

There is a 29 1/2 pound turkey in the refrigerator.  It fits in the oven.  I checked.  According to a calculator on, it will take 4 1/2 to 5 hours to cook the turkey, unstuffed.  We want to take it out at 1:30 to eat at 2, so I guess I'm going to put it in at 8:30...? 

Here's what's on our menu.  It should be noted that I'm only responsible for the first four items, and my sister is doing me a huge favor by cutting the five pounds of carrots.  Everyone comes together to make this delicious feast!

Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Carrots with Shallots, Sage and Thyme
Roasted Butternut Squash
Green Beans
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Biscuits and rolls
Cranberry Sauce and Gravy
Apple Pie
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust
Nantucket Cranberry Pie

For me, Thanksgiving is all about the stuffing.  And the family togetherness.  But the stuffing is so good.  I should make it more than once a year.  I don't know why I don't.

What's your favorite part of Thanksgiving?  What's on your menu?

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!  And, if you're heading out on Black Friday, good luck and be careful.  I'm more of a Cyber Monday girl.  I'll be hanging out at home, making turkey stock on Friday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Potted Herbs

I decided to try bringing some herbs in for the Winter. 
The rosemary won't perennialize in these parts anyway, so I have nothing to lose there. I also dug up some chives and mint, because one of my handy garden books listed them as easy to bring indoors.  (They also recommend parsley and marjoram.)  I put them in a little potting soil, and watered them really well. 
And, I painted some basic terra cotta pots with chalkboard paint, for fun, because it's not so hard to tell these three apart. We'll see how long it lasts.

Have you had any success growing herbs indoors?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our Biggest Project Yet

We've been talking about it since before we moved in four years ago, and it's finally time to begin.  Before Thanksgiving?  After Thanksgiving?  Actually, we're not sure exactly when to officially begin, but we're gearing up for a really big project. 

We have two full bathrooms in the house- one up, one down.  The downstairs bath is in good shape.  It had a little makeover earlier this year.  The one upstairs supports four bedrooms, but is less than four feet wide.  There are a whole host of other things wrong with it that I will explain in great detail in a later post.  Today, I'm just going to share our plans on how we're going to take three feet out of the closetless bedroom next door to make a more spacious bathroom, meanwhile adding a linen closet on the bath side, and a closet to the closetless bedroom.

I used this free tool on to map it out.  Once I played around with it for a while, I figured out how to create a basic floor plan.  I am sure there are much greater capabilities available than I've utilized in the free version.  There's also an upgraded service you can pay for, but this will do for now.  Here's the before and after:
See how tiny it is?  We're not actually making it that much bigger, but an extra foot and a half is going to make a world of difference.  (It should be noted that my floor plan failed to include the width of adding a second wall.  We may take a little more out of the bedroom to accomodate that.  Pesky details.) Our original plan was to put in a tub, but we've decided to build a spacious shower instead, since we're not bath people and we have a tub downstairs. We are also going to maximize space by using pocket doors to get into the bathroom, and the linen closet.  And we're going to bump out the ceiling and install a skylight, so we can get some light and air flow. 

So, as you can see, there's a wall that needs to come down between the bedroom and bathroom, and then two will be built back up, with closets in between.  My hero, Matt, has knocked down one wall to date, but this will be the first time he has built a new one.  He has expert guidance and is ready to accept the challenge.  I am available to assist, but I've also got the unfortunate task of removing wallpaper from the bedroom next door.  We will need a plumber and electrician along the way, but our plan is to do most of the work ourselves.

This is going to be a long project.  I'll try to share one update each week, so it's not all bathroom, all the time.  Next week I'll show you some pictures of the sad, sad rooms and what we can't wait to change about them.  Go team!

Have you ever remodeled a bathroom on your own?  Words of wisdom are welcome.