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Things to remember to take to mom's:
The extra can of chicken broth, plus emergency bullion cubes.
the extra sage, for the turkey, and the extra thyme, for the gravy.
the extra gorgonzola and the french fried onions.
the probe thermometer.
my Ipod.
the brie, jam, and puff pastry.
the balsamic and an orange.
an onion, and an apple.
mustard greens and cranberries for the turkey platter.


Things to pick up at the grocery store:
chevre
grapes
cotswold
crackers
some other fruit or something?
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Does anyone want to skip making dressing? I have two large pans of cornbread dressing when I really should only have one.

How did this happen, you ask?

I used my mom's recipe.

So yeah, seriously. If anyone wants some dressing, I can hook you up, yo.
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Three batches of cornbread are done and sitting on top of the stove, stacked and steaming like enormous yellow pancakes. Tomorrow they will be crumbled for dressing. I've been pinching off a bit of the bottom one every time I walk past, and I feel like I could eat the whole thing, pinch by pinch.

The brine base is done and sitting on top of the stove in a corningware dish. Tomorrow night it will fulfill its destiny by soaking into the carcass of a dead bird, along with water, buttermilk and hard cider. I used dried apples in the brine base and I think I got more bang for my buck; it sure smells applier.

The green beans are blanched and shocked and stashed in the fridge, waiting to become part of a gooey mess of cheese, mushrooms and onions. I stood in line for green beans tonight... behind four middle aged women grabbing handfuls with their immaculately manicured hands. Anyone with nails like that obviously doesn't cook in any meaningful way on anything approaching a regular basis. I think it might be the first time I've stood in line for any one particular food item at a grocery store.

I got my lunch for tomorrow put together. I was going to work out, and it doesn't look like that's going to happen. I did almost get caught up on my Common Sense with Dan Carlin podcast... it's one of my favorites. Alexarc, I think you might actually like him, even though it's a political show.

Now bathtime, then bedtime. Tomorrow, lots more work.
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I went to Fred Meyer twice today and Haggen once. Haggen because they stock the posh ingredients I like to buy, like triple cream brie and meyer lemons. I still need to bake cornbread tonight and make up the brine base. I did manage to get mah bukkit.

If anyone out there is familiar with the tools available to brine a twenty pound avian, you'll know that they're sparse at best. I will not trust so-called "brining bags" because I have a nightmare scenario where they burst or are punctured and several gallons of brine spill out leaving old Tom Turkey exposed to the elements. So the only suitable tool I've found is the enormous plastic bucket.

I remember the first time we found the bucket. My old roommate Amelia and I had wracked our brains trying to figure out what we could put the bird in. We had scoured the housewares section at Fred Meyer and as you know the hardware section was right next door, and there they were. Stacks of enormous plastic buckets in green, yellow and red. That was my first brined bird and it was for a holiday party at our apartment on Irving street. We had a plain appetizer... a cooler of fresh boiled crab which was devoured in moments by happy party goers in our livingroom... a mixing bowl of cracked shells was all that was left, and after all that they still had room to demolish a twenty-something pound bird and trimmings.

It was a great party.

That was five or six years ago, and when I think about all the birds that have been since... at least one a year... I figure I've pretty much got my bird down to a science.

I am trying something new this year. I'm adding buttermilk to the brine base instead of water. This was suggested by my mother, who saw it in Williams-Sonoma. If it's in Williams-Sonoma, it's fancy enough for my mom, and since old women in the south soak their chicken in buttermilk before frying it, it's just salt-of-the-earth and culinarily sound enough for me. Those things intersect in cuisine a lot... yesterdays folk-food is today's haute cuisine. It's all about trends for the magazines and retailers, but for me it's all about good food.

I had a new york steak today smothered in sauteed chanterelle mushrooms and onions. I decided to treat myself. I suppose I should be eating extra sensibly with Thanksgiving on the horizon, but fuck that noise.

Well, I'm off to make cornbread for dressing, blanch some green beans for my casserole, and construct my brine base. After that it's working out, taking a bath, and making my lunch for tomorrow. I'll leave you with a Thanksgiving tip:

NEVER mash your potatoes with an electric mixer. Ever. I know, it sounds easier and faster, but to get a uniform consistency, you will need to overwork the potatoes, and all the starch will get riled up and stick together and you'll have a horrid, gluey porridge instead of fluffy, delicious mashed potatoes. Instead, get a friend's child to mash them up for you, using a hand masher or a wire whisk. Oh, and lumps are okay, really. Even food critics are now saying that lumps are okay. So relax.
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Monday: struggle to remember recipes I haven't used in a year. Make lists. Start cleaning out my car
Tuesday: research, make more lists. Sort lists and throw some out. Shop. Bake cornbread.
Wednesday: shop. assemble the green beans and the dressing. Go to mom's and put the turkey to brine. Cry, fall asleep with lists under pillow at around 2AM.
Thursday: emergency shopping, compiling an oven/stove schedule. Cooking. Tears and madness. Finally, dinner.

This year's menu:

Appetizers

Baked brie in puff pastry
pickles and olives

Dinner
buttermilk brined turkey
fruit salad
green salad
corn bread dressing
bleu cheese green bean casserole
mashed potatoes with gravy
dinner rolls

Desert
Pumpkin pie with cool whip
??????
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Barack Obama wants to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels in twelve years and then another 80% after that.

I sure hope he means it.

Also, I really wish that the auto companies wouldn't say that they need bailout money to pay healthcare and wages... we're not stupid.
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A strange concavity has appeared in my body between my bust and the disgusting protrusion that is my belly. I assume that it is a sign of the continued slow deflation of my body, but it looks like a grotesque deformity to me, a slight but alarming sort of reverse tumor.

Nothing to be done about it, I suppose, and I continue to hope that everything will be a proper shape once I'm at a reasonable weight.
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Great news!

I'm feeling much better. I ate some pizza and cheese sticks when Scott got home and found that I had regained some of my old humor. My nasal passages are draining and clearing (gross, but good) and while I still have a cough and a sore throat, my breathing has cleared up substantially. I feel somewhat rested and energetic enough to pay attention to things like books and television shows.

Today I read "Cracked" by Dr Drew Pinsky of Loveline fame. It's an interesting read for anyone interested in the somewhat less clinical side of addiction medicine, and if you can get through the somewhat self-serving nature of the book (no hard feelings, Dr Drew; those who work with the sick are generally sick themselves) there's some good information in there.

What I think got to me the most was how close I came to becoming very like one of the stories in this book... And I would like to thank all of my dear friends, who despite my neuroses and lack of trust stuck it out and made it possible for me to develop deep and significant connections with them. Oh, and Colleen, my therapist when I was in my early teens, who told me that it's okay to feel feelings, and that it's okay to come to trust people and to form bonds with them... something I was becoming unable to do because of my parents' physical and emotional unavailability.

And thanks everyone for showing me that by sharing what we feel with others, we can come to a point where while we may not feel happy, we can at least feel whole.

I love you guys.
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Whatever strain of cold virus is currently rampaging through my body, well... it can go fuck itself. Yesterday I slept for all but about six hours of my day, and today I'm up, but I'm as weak as a kitten... my wrists are sore from the effort of holding up a paper back book and my legs wobble unpredictably when I walk. I have no appetite, I munch down a few peanuts when my stomach gets crampy, but other than that cannot be bothered to consume anything other than water. The bagel I ate today I ate without tasting and was nearly sweating with the effort of even eating it. This, more so than the stuffy nose or even the coughing, is what's kept me home the last couple of days and it's pissing me off.

I'm a strong, vital person who despises slobbing around the house half-dressed for two days.

Crud, I'm too tired to type more. Virus Incubator, signing off.
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I called in sick to work today. There go my dreams of one year of perfect attendance.
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It turns out sometimes you have to smash things all apart and look at the bits before you can put it all right.

Smash it up!
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I want to be well informed politically, so I try to watch CNN every now and again, but the information won't get into my head fast enough and I get bored and frustrated and wander off to play hobowars. Seriously, I don't need people to say the same thing in four different ways. And what's with all the banter, anyway?

I feel out of step with the world today. I feel distanced and out of touch, and I don't like it. Maybe it'll be better tomorrow.
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I feel deflated.

It's almost as if the victory came too easily.

I walked around downtown tonight with a bunch of idealistic 'Hamsters who energetically believe that President Elect Obama is the salve to heal our nation's wounds accumulated over the last eight years. I am not one of those idealists.

I think it will take a lot more than the right guy to heal us economically, socially and culturally. I hope Obama is willing to put the work in, I really do. All I know is it seemed like McCain was going to continue to drag us down the same path... just in a slightly different handbasket.

Never before in our history has a black person been elected to the office of president. Never before have other nations watched our political process with such keen interest. Whatever happens in the next four years, we are living what will become history. That feels pretty strange.

Goodnight, America... and well done.
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So did anyone smell that giant cloud of natural gas passing through town?

Yeah, that wasn't us. Just so you know.
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My house smells like Singapore... like fish and curry and chili sauce.
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Hey, everyone.

If anyone wants to come over on Tuesday for election night, I'm having a few folks over. Gimme a call. I have a big television.
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Hi, everyone! Please remind me, what are the symptoms of chicken pox? I've had some itchy red bumps on my torso that are now scabbing over. I thought they were zits, but they're spreading. I had something like this before that was diagnosed as chicken pox, with no flu symptoms or fever. I don't think it's possible for me to have chicken pox twice, but if I'm carrying something like that around, despite it's mildness, I'll want to be careful.

Opinions? Advice?
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People on OkCupid are fucking creepy.
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Curried Pumpkin Soup.

Sweat diced onion, minced garlic and minced ginger in vegetable oil. Throw in some lemon grass, cut into three inch long sections.

Add three tablespoons curry powder or to taste. Add a can of coconut milk and 32 oz chicken broth. Add red chili flakes to taste.

Add flesh of one pumpkin, baked, scooped and mashed. Substitute equivalent quantity of canned pumpkin if you're very lazy.

Cook until fragrant and bubbling. Fish out lemon grass pieces.

Remove from stove to trivet or heat-proof surface, and blend with stick blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Add salt, pepper, or lime juice if needed.

Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of plain yogurt, some chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Me = Tired now.
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Had I known I would be getting my HDMI cable today I'd have stayed home and watched a movie. So... pretty...
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