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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"How to" Series: Cooking a Turkey

A delectable turkey is a done deal if you carefully follow these tried and true turkey tips.

1) A turkey needs adequate time to defrost (at least 4 to 5 days in the fridge). Check your turkey the day before your gathering to make sure it is defrosted. If you need to defrost a turkey in a pinch, fill up your kitchen sink with cold water so that the turkey is completely covered.

2) After your turkey is fully defrosted, open packaging and discard. Rinse turkey well, and pick off stray feathers. Remove neck and paper pouch under the skin containing gizzards. Pat dry with paper towels.

3) Butter bird inside and out. Use approximately one stick of softened butter and a paper towel.

4) Season well with Tony’s Chachere and garlic powder or salt and pepper if you like less of a kick. Rub seasoning inside turkey and underneath skin. Then sprinkle seasoning on top of skin and rub well.

5) Stuff bird loosely right before cooking. Stuffing too early can cause food borne illness. For each pound of turkey, plan on ¾ cup of stuffing.

6) Tie legs together with kitchen twine. This is called trussing your turkey. It helps it to cook evenly.

7) Put turkey in roaster breast side up.

8) Tent breast with foil. Add 2-3 cups of water to roaster so turkey does not burn. About every 45 minutes, remove foil tent and baste bird with pan juices. Re-cover breast with tent after basting. Remove foil tent during the last thirty minutes of cooking. Return to oven to brown breast.

9) Bake turkey at 325 degrees for the amount of time specified on the packaging. Be aware that a stuffed bird takes approximately one hour longer to cook. Cook until the stuffing reaches 165 degrees and the deepest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.

10) Let turkey rest for 30 minutes while making gravy and finishing up side dishes. To make gravy, fill measuring cup with 2 cups of cold water. Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup of flour. Make sure there are no lumps. Boil pan drippings from roaster and then slowly add flour mixture, stirring constantly until thickened. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If you like your gravy thinner, add a little more water to the pan. If you want it thicker, add 2-3 tablespoons of flour to 1/3 cup of cold water and slowly stir into gravy mixture.

Enjoy! And have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Serving up a Helping of Hospitality

With the holidays rapidly approaching, many of us are hustling and bustling in order to have our homes picture perfect for various gatherings. If you are like me, this may even involve some conflict...between you and your man as he wonders where in the world your sanity has gone. Why, oh why, he wonders, must you spit shine the floor? And clean compulsively until seconds before company arrives?

Now listen up ladies...he may have a point.

You see, as women, we often let our view of hospitality become jaded by the world. We forget that fellowship is the key, not a fancy meal or a perfect home. We tend to be just like Martha.

In Luke 10:38-42, we find the familiar story of two sisters from Bethany, one consumed with the "fixins" and one consumed with fellowship.

"As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."

Like many of us, Martha had a heart for hospitality. If she didn't, she wouldn't have welcomed Jesus into her home. But she became distracted by the details. She took her eyes off her Savior and placed them on her circumstances. And then she began to whine about the work involved in ministering to her precious Jesus. Satan stole an opportunity that was intended to bless her and robbed her of her joy.

Thankfully, Jesus loved Martha enough to gently rebuke her. He reminded her that Mary had discovered the most important thing....fellowship with Him. Sitting and His feet and soaking up every life-giving word that flowed from her Savior's mouth. Basking in His presence. Experiencing the fullness of His love. Knowing that it would not be taken from her.

This holiday season, I pray that you and I, like Mary, will remember that it's all about relationships. Let's not become distracted by the details, but instead examine our motives and purify our hearts so that we are able to joyfully extend hospitality to others.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fixated...On Me, Myself, and I

Do you ever feel like God has called you to serve Him in a certain area and then find yourself in critique mode after you've done what He has asked you to do?

Tonight I had the opportunity to share a brief teaching from Scripture with the ladies at Bible study, but before I even sat down afterward, I was listing all of the things I should have said, how I could have used better analogies, etc., etc., etc.! I began to wonder why I am so often fixated on me, myself, and I.

And then, God, in His merciful voice, whispered to me... It's not about you, Stephanie. It's not your words...it's my WORD. All I have called you to do is proclaim its truth. To be in passionate pursuit of Me and allow others to see that passion. My Word is amazing all by itself. Even if you had not uttered one word in addition to mine, your message would have been complete because my Word lacks nothing.

Ahh, the freeing truth of Scripture. That God does not require perfection, just obedience. All we have to do is open our mouths and speak, knowing with full assurance that the outcome is in the hands of the One whose Word never returns void.