Posts made in November 15th, 2012

evolution.

10

Posted on Nov 15, 2012 in Ramblings

Sometimes, I do the most self-centric, narcassistic and egotistical thing any blogger can do—I go back and read my old posts. Why? Well, part of the cool thing about having a blog is that I have this digital scrapbook of my life accessible 24/7, and it’s fun to reminisce. But the biggest reason is because this digital scrapbook also gives me a perfect picture of my evolution as a person. And sometimes, it’s so fascinating to go back and read what I wrote and see how much I’ve changed.

Evolution is a funny thing.

I’d say, with the exception of a small percentage of the population, everyone evolves. At some point, in almost everyone’s lives, they look back at who they used to be and think, “Gosh, I’m so different.” And for some of us, that internal dialogue happens more than once.

I, for one, am a big fan of evolution. We’ve all seen those people who are trapped eternally in their Senior year of high school. The people who retell the story of their game-winning touchdown pass for the state championships on their deathbed.  The people who never grew up (either because of biological or environmental reasons, or, sometimes, by choice). And I don’t want to be one of those people.

I’m not saying you can’t be young at heart. Or that you can’t wear glitter and blast One Direction in the car at any age (guilty), but there is something so incredibly positive about maturing into yourself. There is so much pride, power and confidence in that feeling. I’ve always heard that self-assurance comes with age—and I believe that—but I think the biggest contributor to being self-assured is evolution (and we happen to evolve more the older we get). Maybe, I’ll look back at this post in 10 years and think, “Gosh, you had no freaking clue.” But I can safely say, right now, I feel great.

But none of this is the funny part.

The funny part of evolving is how it affects other folks. Maybe not the people immediately around you (because those people are right there with you through each step of your evolution), but the people in your outer circle. Maybe your best friend from college that you only see once a year. Or that family friend who held you as a baby. Maybe even an estranged family member. Those are the people who are affected the most. Those are the people that can’t seem to accept—or understand—why you’ve changed. They feel abandoned and alienated.

What I think is funny? That something that feels so positive and feels so right to you is so often seen as a negative by someone on the outside. I mean, when’s the last time you heard someone say, “You’ve changed.” and it was a positive statement? Almost never. Change can be so intimidating for folks. And I think to deal with it a lot of people (me included, although not intentionally) spin it as a negative. Oh, you changed your mind on a decision you made three years ago? Well, then you’re a flip-flopper. You’re flaky. You’re wishy-washy. You aren’t the person I thought you were. You’ve changed. 

I really want to reclaim that phrase—you’ve changed. I want someone to say it and the appropriate response be “Thank you!” because it is the sincerest of compliments. I’m thankful that I’ve changed. When I think of all the things I’d miss out on if I hadn’t evolved to be where I am? Gosh, that’s sad. I’m proud that I’m growing and morphing and adjusting and becoming a new person with every new experience.

Anyway, back to the whole reading my blog posts thing—I’m definitely not the same girl who started this blog over two years ago. If I’m being totally honest, I was a follower back then. I was lost. I was writing a blog to latch onto the only picture of health I thought I knew—other healthy living bloggers. I thought their lives were perfect and shiny and amazing. They were skinny and jobless and healthy and well-loved. Going back and reading now I see so much desperation in I wrote and how I acted. I was desperate for validation.

Right now, I feel myself in the midst of a huge shift in my life. A shift toward self-validation and self-confidence and self-assurance. Maybe this is totally normal during the approach to the big 3-0, but regardless, it feels totally awesome. I’m finally getting my validation, but it isn’t coming from other bloggers. As much as I love you guys, it isn’t coming from my readers, either. It has nothing to do with my co-workers, my boss or my job. And it isn’t coming from my amazing husband, my supportive family or my caring friends. It isn’t coming from anyone else, it’s coming from within. From me feeling good about me. What a novel concept! I validate myself!

And I hope you can see (or read) that shift in the words and content here in BTHR, too. I’ve been having so much fun lately generating the content that I like and enjoy and feel good about and worrying so much less about what would make other people happy. I’m sure that will alienate some folks and make me lose readers, but honestly? If I’m not happy doing this gig, then what’s the point?

I 100% look at writing BTHR as a career. And I want to do my best at it and believe in my work, just like I do at my day job. I’m not just fishing for clicks and ad revenue (although, I’d be lying if I said the checks didn’t help out our budget), but I want people to feel good about the “value” of coming to this site. I want my readers to look at the ads on my site and think, “Hey, that’s okay, she’s working really hard to provide us with good content.” And I feel like I do that better when I’m in love with my content and I’m loving what I’m writing. Amazingly enough, it’s taken me over two years to realize that.

Sometimes I can be pretty dense.

This all being said, I’m not at all ashamed of the girl I was when I started this blog (or the person I’ve been at anytime during my 29 years). Just because I don’t believe in those things now doesn’t negate how strongly I believed in them then. It just means that’s no longer who I am. And I’m so glad that evidence of my evolution is there for me to always go back to and relive whenever I’d like.

But it does mean that sometimes, you might hear one thing from me and the might see it change a short time later. I’m still changing. I’m still evolving  And I hope I always will be. Thanks for sticking around.

How have you evolved in the past few years?

P.S. Also noted when going through my old posts: I take an obnoxiously large number of photos of my feet. Apparently I’m all about giving you guys my point of view. OR I’m just too introverted to ask people to take a picture of me.

7 tips for roasting the perfect turkey

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Posted on Nov 15, 2012 in Food

Out of all of the parts and pieces of a Thanksgiving dinner, people seem to stress out the most over roasting the turkey. The irony of that? Roasting the turkey is probably the easiest part of the whole meal! A delicious, flavorful, juicy turkey requires little more than letting the bird do it’s damn thang in the oven without you fussing over it. In fact, I’m of the camp that believes the less you mess with the turkey, the better it tastes.

Of course, turkey roasting can be quite the polarizing topic. Stuff the bird, don’t. Baste it, don’t. Breast up, breast down. My philosophy? Once you figure out what works for you, write it down and stick to it. That’s what I’ve done here. These tips have produced a perfect turkey for me every, single time. But my perfect turkey might be different from your perfect turkey. So experiment and figure out what works for you. Here is what works for me:

1. Do the math.

First things first, you need to do some old-fashioned arithmetic. First up, you need to figure out how much turkey to make (you need about two pounds of bird for each person, if you want leftovers). And then you need to figure out thawing (if you’re using a frozen bird) and cooking time. I’m a big fan of the Butterball calculators. Easy peasy.

2. Give the turkey its space.

Don’t try to wedge your 20 pound turkey into your everyday roasting pan. You don’t want your turkey to have fat bird in a little coat syndrome. It needs to have room to breathe (and create delicious, gravy-making juices). Giant roasting pans can be crazy expensive (think upwards for $200 a pop), so I just grab two large disposable aluminum turkey roasting pan. They are cheap—around $3 a piece—and when you put two together, are quite sturdy and give the turkey plenty of space. And it’ll take a lot of turkey dinners worth of $3 roasting pans to make the non-disposable kind worth the moohlah.

3. Breast side down.

Alright, this is the first of my tips that might be controversial, but here goes—I cook my turkey breast-side-down. The whole time.  Why? Well, the white meat is naturally the driest part of the bird, and this way, we use gravity to our advantage and force the juices to flow down into the breast meat. I used to actually flip the bird half way through cooking (start off on the breast, flip over to crisp up the breast skin), but damn, it’s really hard to flip a 20+ pound, scalding hot bird. So I didn’t this year for Canadian Thanksgiving, and, dare I say, it turned out even more delicious and juicy. I do believe I heard the words, “best turkey I’ve ever had” uttered by a few different folks. You are losing the crispy, browned skin on the breast, and therefore losing the classic turkey look to the bird. But to me, it’s totally worth that sacrifice.

3. Don’t stuff it with stuffing.

Controversial, I know! But I don’t put my stuffing anywhere near my bird. Think of it this way: stuffing is like a giant sponge. You put it in the bird and it soaks up all the flavorful broth and juices from the bird. Which is great for the stuffing, not so great for the bird. Instead, I use a really high quality (preferably homemade) stock to make the stuffing and cook it separately. Then that leaves the delicious turkey juices to keep the turkey moist and yummy.

4. Do stuff it with aromatics.

So what do I put in the bird? Well, lots of flavorful aromatics, that’s what! I put in apples, onions, garlic, oranges, rosemary, thyme, sage and, really, anything else that sounds delicious. It gives the bird such a distinct flavor, but it also makes the house smell absolutely insane.

5. Skip the basting.

Alright, this is the last of my controversial topics—I don’t baste in the traditional sense. There are no turkey basters allowed in my house! I do put pats of butter between the skin and the breast before cooking and I pour about two cups of high quality chicken or turkey broth over the bird twice while cooking, but other than that, I leave that bird alone!

6. Check doneness three ways.

I like to make sure the turkey is done with three different methods—time, temperature and the leg wiggle. For time, you can check the Butterball calculator for your size of bird. For temperature, you want the internal temperature of the meat (not near the bone) to reach 165°, but pull it out of the oven a few degrees before that because it’ll continue cooking outside the oven. For the leg wiggle, take one of the legs solidly in your hand and wiggle—it should feel very loose (almost like you could break it off easily). Why all three? Well, getting a turkey to the right doneness is the most important and most finicky part of the process. And honestly? I don’t feel like any of the three methods is all that reliable on its own. Just this past Canadian Thanksgiving, the time and temp were right, but it wasn’t passing the leg wiggle test and needed to go back in the oven for a few more minutes. 15 minutes later, the turkey passed all three tests and was done perfectly.

7. Let ‘er rest.

Once you pull it out of the oven, put a foil tent over the pan and don’t touch the bird for at least 30 minutes, but more ideally an hour or so (especially if it’s a big bird). You want all those delicious juices to settle and redistribute before your carve. It also gives you plenty of time and oven space to finish off all your sides and get the table set. Don’t worry about the bird getting cold. It will hold a ton of residual heat and still be nice and toasty and delicious when it hits the table.

Alright, lay it on me, which of my controversial tips do you disagree with? What’s your fool-proof method for roasting a perfect turkey?