Sunday, December 11, 2016

Apple Whiskey Turkey Brine

A few years ago Olivia and I decided to experiment with putting our holiday turkey in a brine the day before we roast it.  We've tried different types of brine.  The common ingredients in most are salt, sugar, spices, etc.  This one intrigued us because it contained apple whiskey.  That sounded to us like just the perfect accompaniment to turkey.

This year we started with a thawed 17 pound Butterball turkey and a five gallon bucket.  Here is the recipe we used, but feel free to tweak it to your liking.  You won't believe how incredibly moist and flavorful your turkey will be.  It is awesome!

1 cup salt (we use Kosher salt)

1 cup brown sugar

1-2 cups of Jim Beam apple whiskey

1 tablespoon of peppercorns

2-5 garlic cloves

2 sliced apples

2 sliced oranges

Put the first five ingredients in a five gallon bucket with just enough water to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Add your turkey.  Cover with enough water to fully surround the bird.  Put in the bucket your apples and oranges.  Put ice cubes in the bucket to keep things cool.  Cover the bucket and place it on a porch or in an unheated garage where everything will stay cool.  Add ice occasionally if needed.  Soak that bird until it is good an happy.  We soak it at least 8-12 hours.  Pull it out of the brine and roast as you normally would.  Yummy!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Smoky Mountain Cat Head Biscuits


This recipe is a repeat of one Olivia shared before but we are sharing it again with a very special purpose in mind.  As many of you know, our family loves the Great Smoky Mountains.  We have been travelling there and enjoying that beautiful region and its people for decades.  As beautiful as the mountains, cascades, streams and wildlife are (and they are extraordinarily beautiful) the people who live there are even more beautiful and special.  Many of the families who live there have been there for generations.  Their roots and love for the area run deep.

This is why our hearts were breaking during recent days as we learned of the wildfires that devastated the community of Gatlinburg and the surrounding area.  Many people lost their homes and some even lost their lives.  Because this is an area heavily dependent upon tourism, many people were  not only impacted by losing loved ones and homes, but their livelihood has been affected as well.  They  have coined a phrase there, "Smokies Strong," that speaks to the strength, courage, and resiliency of these special people.  

If you have ever visited there and have been touched by the beauty of this special place and its people, we are asking you to consider donating to help in the relief efforts.  Dolly Parton and her Dollywood  Foundation have set up a fund to help in the ongoing efforts to get these people back up on their feet.  You can donate by going to .  During this holiday season the need is even more keenly felt.  Please give generously.

Cat Head BiscuitsRecipe from America’s Test Kitchen Best Ever Recipes
3 cups White Lily All-Purpose Flour (it MUST be White Lily, not regular all-purpose flour; if White Lily is unavailable, use 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9″ round cake pan with shortening and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingers, mix the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until combined.
Use a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop or measuring cup to measure out 6 heaping portions of dough and place them each in the prepared pan, one in the middle and 5 surrounding it. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully break apart the biscuits with two forks (or leave them in the pan until you’re ready to serve them). Makes 6 ginormous, cat head-sized biscuits.