Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'd Be A Lot More Thankful If I Could BRINE the darn turkey...

I'm not going to kid myself. I'm never going to be on Top Chef, and I seem to have an anti-green thumb that results me killing any herb I try to grow out back (my basil is fighting but the fight, it's losing).

Even so, I love to cook. I've always loved to cook. Even when I was a little kid and thought 'cooking' meant being able to boil water and make the Top Ramen by myself, I've always just ... enjoyed food.

This lands me in trouble for a number of reasons, in a number of ways.

1. I'm Mexican.
Well, Mexican-American, and though my Mom is Texas-born and raised, my Dad is very much a Mexican man. This means that, although Mom did like to branch out, a typical dinner for us included Mexican staples: something fried, something carb-y, and tortillas (also, you haven't lived until you've heated up a fresh warm tortilla and lathered it with peanutbutter and jam. Yum). Sounds fattening, but Mexican's LOVE to cook. And they know what they like. What does this mean? Well, there generally isn't much a welcome wagon for that upstart young kid who wants to do things a little differently.

Case in point: Grilling. I love grilling. I want to grill more. I can't. Because my dad grills. The problem when he grills though, is he likes to turn the meat over and over and over until it's overcooked and (still tasty) dry. I also one time handed him a soaked cedar wood plank in which to smoke some salmon fillets and he looked at me like I had lost my damn mind.

"What the hell am I going to do with this?!" he asked me, and thrust it back at me.

I thrust it back. "Put the salmon on it."

He glared at it. "It's going to burn."

"No, I soaked it."

"It's wood!"

This went on for a while until my Mom (who has always tried to encourage my culinary endeavors - except when I make a nice lemon butter sauce for a crab ravoli, or over salt something), told him to let me do it.

He grudgingly did. And then made me stand by the grill with a hose in case the whole thing went up in flames.

2. I'm chubby.
My metabolism, it is not so nice to me. This means that if I want to eat half of what I aspire to, and keep my shape, I must work out for an obscene amount every day, and run.

I hate running. It's so boring. And I know from whist I speak. I ran a damn marathon. Didn't make me feel accomplished at all. I felt lik a chump. Also? It hurts.

I've realized I will never be a skinny bitch, but it would be nice not to be a lazy overweight one.

Still, it's very hard to come home and be content with grilled salmon (no salt) when my mother has just fried chicken and fries.

3. I'm a snob.
Seriously. I'm one of those really annoying people who can't handle Hershey's chocolate anymore unless it's M&M's because it doesn't taste like chocolate. Who'll insist loudly to anyone who listens that white chocolate is not chocolate (it's made from COCOA BUTTER, dammit). Who'll be okay with paying eighty dollars for a kobe steak I can't afford because it's fricken' KOBE STEAK, and gets an immense food orgasm from anything organic (even if it goes bad two days later).

Combine these three and I become an extremely irritable person around Thanksgiving: the food holiday.

Why? Because I have a dream. I have a dream of a moist juicy turkey. Of stuffing made with real cornbread and cranberry sauce that isn't splotched from a can, but is instead carefully crafted from REAL cranberries, with some sugar and cornstarch and just the right amount of heat.

Of a gravy made from a roux and those drippings from the turkey.

Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of the short cuts at some point. I like Stoeffer's stuffing as much as the next person, but I just think it would be nice to even get the chance to be able to do something a little different for the holiday.

My mother, dear that she is, always tries to curb my little chef-y aspirations by giving me teeny assignments. Dessert one year. Cranberry sauce the next. Sweet Potatoes the year after.

This year? I thought I hit the motherload. Now, I realize this is a silly aspiration, but ever since I fell in love with Alton Brown and Good Eats, I've had an insane desire to brine the turkey.

I know. It's hardly the most grand aspiration, but to be able to eat a moist turkey without drowning it in gravy that came in powder form on Thanksgiving would be like ... Christmas.

Imagine my happiness when I was told that this year, I could do it. I could make the turkey. My face lit up. I poured over the brine recipe and mentally worked together my checklist of how I was to prepare this bird. I mentally envisioned my family members (and there's a hella lot of 'em) exclaiming they had never loved a turkey like this before.

My dreams came to a crashing halt when my aunt got wind of this and shut it down. "I always make the turkey!" she complained (which is a total lie), and just like that, I'm making the ham.

The HAM.

I don't even LIKE ham. Well, not the big honking slices, at least.

My dreams of a brine or even a good salt crust were dashed. And I'm making the dumb ham.


Screwit. They can eat their cranberry sauce from the can, and make their sweet potatoes from the can too. I don't care.

My dreams will not be dashed. One day I WILL brine the turkey.

Tradition be damned.

Until then, I shall content myself tonight with a pound of crab meat and freshly made crab cakes.

And my aunt can't have any.

Oh, right. Happy Thanksgiving and all that.

1 comment:

  1. aww, that is a sad story indeed. We should do a halfway to thanksgiving holiday in May and then you can brine the turkey all you want!