11/28/2013 – Seconds-worthy

Our first Mexican Thanksgiving was spent sailing down the Pacific coast of Baja California, snacking on crackers and cheese instead of turkey and taters.   Our second Mexican Thanksgiving was spent with a bunch of other cruisers in La Paz at a 3-boat raft-up eating tons and tons of traditional Thanksgiving fare.  Last year, on our third Mexican Thanksgiving, Lulu and I dined by ourselves at the dock in San Carlos.  We feasted on turkey breast with all the standard trimmings.

This year we decided to try cooking a whole turkey on board for a change.  About the middle of last week the supermarkets started carrying whole frozen turkeys.  Not having much fridge space, we decided to wait until Tuesday to buy our bird.  Figured that would be just about right to let it thaw in the ice chest (sans ice, of course).  After the cultural presentation at Se Habla La Paz, we walked into Aramburro Market to choose the smallest turkey we could find.  This is quite a departure for us.  Back in the day, Lulu was not happy unless she had the absolute biggest bird in the store.  They always tipped the scales at over 20 pounds and frequently hit 22-24 pound mark.  And, she’d toss a 22 lb. 9 oz. specimen aside if there was a 22 lb. 10 oz. one to be had.  Well, Siempre Sabado’s oven isn’t nearly as large as the one we had at The Shire so we were looking for a small bird for a change.  We walked to the back of the store, ready to rifle through the freezer chest.  Only, once we got there, the chest was bare.  WHAT???? It’s still 2 days until Thanksgiving.  What’s the deal?  Surely they couldn’t have sold every last turkey since we’d been there a day or two before.  I was ready to start walking to Chedraui’s but Lulu convinced me to ask at the butcher counter.  I told him I needed a pavo entero.  He went in back and must have found some because he returned to find out what size we wanted.  We told him it should be somewhere around 5 kilos (11 lbs).  He returned with a 5.9 kilo (13 lbs.) bird and we grabbed it.  Whew!

Back at the boat we put the turkey in the oven to try it on for size.  Well, it fit, but just.  We decided to divide and conquer.  Back in 1985, Parade Magazine ran an article in which Julia Child cut the backbone off a turkey and then removed the hindquarters as well.  Then she roasted the breast/wings over a mound of dressing.  Then she boned the thigh, still attached to the drumstick, added salt, pepper, and sage and then rolled the thigh up into a little roast.  These she cooked separately.  Her reason, besides needing something new to write about on Thanksgiving, was to speed up the cooking time.  She more or less reassembled the bird at the table so it looked right.  So, the Yoder’s 1985 Thanksgiving reflected Julia’s approach.  The main difference was that I boned the thigh and the drumstick and then cooked the rolled-up mini-roasts on the Weber BBQ.  Well, 28 years later we’re repeating 1985, since we’re pressed for space in the oven and anything that helps cut the cooking time (and therefore the amount of propane used) is always welcome.

Again, hurting for cooking space, we decided that our dinner should be made up of just the “good parts”.  That means not taking up cooking or belly space with anything that we wouldn’t put on our plates when we went for seconds.  Everything had to be “seconds-worthy”.  Towards this end we planned to make roast turkey breast, BBQ’d turkey hindquarter roll-ups, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied sweet potatoes, and green beans (you gotta have something green, I guess, and we both like green beans as long as they have plenty of salt pepper and, most importantly, butter on them).

So, how pressed for cooking space are we?  Well we have a stove top that measures 11″ x 19″ and has two burners.  The oven is 15″ wide x 10″ deep x 7.5″ high.  We also have a small microwave that we can use when we’re on shore power as we are right now.  As a bonus, we have our little propane grill to add a little more cooking area.

The northers that had been blowing earlier this week laid down flat today.  It was an absolutely beautiful, calm day.  When I checked the turkey this morning it seemed to be thawed enough although there were still chunks of ice inside the body cavity.  While Lulu got started peeling potatoes and putting the stuffing together, I went out in the cockpit armed with a large cutting board, three knives, the sharpener, and a rubber mallet.  Using the mallet to pound our big chef’s knife down through the ribs on each side of the backbone, I removed the backbone and stuck it in a sauce pan to be used to make stock.  I also threw in the giblets and the neck and gave the pan to Lulu to start cooking.  Then I removed the hindquarters and passed the breast down to Lulu to set aside until she was ready to put it on top of the stuffing.

The next step was to bone the hindquarters.  I could take Julia’s easy way out and just do the thighs but I prefer the end product when the legs are boned out as well.  Plus, they take up less cooking space that way.  Boning the leg isn’t tough, it’s removing all the freakin’ tendons that’s the real challenge.  After both hindquarters were boned, I sprinkled them with salt, pepper and sage.

Boned, seasoned and ready to be rolled up.

Boned, seasoned and ready to be rolled up.

Then, I rolled the hindquarters up and tied them with heavy cotton string.

Our deconstructed and then alternately reconstructed bird.

Our deconstructed and then alternately reconstructed bird.

Meanwhile, Lulu finished putting the stuffing together.  Julia said to make a mound of stuffing and then to put a foil dam all the way around so the juices from the turkey stayed in the stuffing where they belonged.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Lulu put the bird in the oven around noon.  It was supposedly only going to take around two hours to cook but, naturally it took longer, closer to three hours. Awhile after the turkey hit the oven, I put the hindquarters in the propane grill, put the flame on low and closed the lid.

I sat out in the cockpit doing crossword puzzles while Lulu took care of everything down below.  She’d cooked the sweet potatoes yesterday so they just needed to be heated with brown sugar and butter (microwave).  The green beans were from a can so they just required heating (microwave).  She made the gravy from the stock as there wasn’t much in the way of turkey drippings to use (they all ended up in the stuffing) so it’d just need reheating when it was time to eat (stove burner #1).  The spuds were peeled and ready to be boiled so they could be mashed just before serving time (stove burner #2).  Everything was ready to go.  She actually had time to do some craft stuff for the grandkids while everything was cooking.  We both basted our parts of the bird every 20 minutes or so with butter.

Finally, it was time to eat.

Isn't that a pretty bird?

Isn’t that a pretty bird?

Hindquarter roll-ups.  The sage gives them kind of a sausage-y flavor.  And how much easier could they be to eat?

Hindquarter roll-ups. The sage gives them kind of a sausage-y flavor. And how much easier could they be to eat?

The whole spread:

Obviously this isn't all the food, just what would fit on the table.  But it does show everything we made.

Obviously this isn’t all the food, just what would fit on the table. But it does show everything we made.

Time to dig in!

Time to dig in!

As promised, everything was seconds-worthy.  When we were done, I picked the rest of the meat off the turkey and Lulu packed everything away.  Amazingly, she got it all in the fridge.  That girl has some kind of freaky connection with the fridge.  She always seems to be able to fit one more thing in it.  Did I mention that our fridge is about 2.5 cubic feet?

Cleanup took awhile but it was mostly a matter of getting organized.  In a space this small, that’s usually the challenge.  Just finding someplace to set something down can be a major challenge.  Imagine if your house was so small that you had to stack some of your dirty dishes outside on the back porch until you had enough room in the sink to deal with them.  That’s what we had to do.

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday of the year.  It’s all about friends, family, food, and being grateful for what we have, be that something tangible or not.  Lulu and I are both thankful for all the usual stuff (happy, healthy kids and grandkids, etc.) but we’re also both very thankful that we are doing what we’re doing.  We’re grateful that we actually moved onto the boat and got the boat from Newport to Mexico.  There were so many times that it would have been so much easier to say, “Nah, screw it.  Let’s just stay in Oregon.”  That wouldn’t have been the end of the world by any means but we are so enjoying what we’re doing now.  We’re thankful that we worked enough years in the right kind of jobs to make this life feasible.  We’re thankful that neither of us feel like we have to have everything that everyone else has.  That would definitely negate the feasibility of this life, at least on our income.  And we’re very, VERY thankful that love each other and get along so well that we can live in a teeny space like this in sometimes very stressful situations without having any desire to kill each other or split up.

Hope you all had a very nice Thanksgiving with lots of good food to eat.  Hopefully it was all seconds-worthy.







About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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11 Responses to 11/28/2013 – Seconds-worthy

  1. vickiel@q.com says:

    Lovely meal and thoughts. I am thankful that you shared. Vickie

  2. Joan/Raymond Yoder says:

    You do have plenty to be thankful for and that you both enjoy each other. Love, Mom

  3. Shelly says:

    We have so much to be grateful for, don’t we. If I had to stop and think about it, I would prioritize family & friends, good health, and place. We feel fortunate to have you both as our special friends. Peace.

  4. Steve,

    I just finished a great thanksgiving meal cooked by Melissa and that turkey still made me drool. That is some mighty fine cooking.

  5. MWhite:LittleCunningPlan says:

    Indeed, I am duly impressed with that turkey and with Lulu’s ability to be organized in such a small space. Happiest of Thanksgivings to you both!

  6. Scott Wedge says:

    Oops, I forgot to take a photo of our bird. Too busy carving and eating!

    We had Sandy’s family here: Dad Steve, Sibs Daniel and Lisa, Son Ash. Six counting us. Plus Dad’s Dog Daisy and Our Dog Dash. Lisa’s Hubby Mike was over in SJ with his family. Ash’s sweetie is in Montana, wherever that is. My family is scattered between Seattle and LA, only me here representing.

    Yoder, it looks like you “cross cut” the turkey breast. This was our innovation this year, though I need to learn how to get the knife really, really sharp enough to cut the toasty skin easily. I used to thin slice it more or less parallel to the skin, but read that cross cutting after cutting the breast off intact was more tender True, it seems.. The bird cooked (intact, no stuffing) in the Webber BBQ, oddly quickly considering the temp was lower that the expected 325. 12.5 lbs, ~270, 1.5 hours, go figure. But with a sub-USDA done temp of 155 in the breast, it was done but moist.

    Salad, turkey, dressing, beans, peas&onions, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry jelly, apple pie, pumpkin pie, pinot noir and who knows what else. Mmmmm. Gravy turned out a bit salty and quite purple, due to a salty rub on the bird and red wine added. We’ll work on the gravy more next time.

    A fine time was had by all. And very nice weather too, with the rain pulling a no-show at the last minute.

    It was nice to have three generations of Holemans all together. A touch sad to miss the Moms and my clan.

    Maybe next year we can all join Steve and Lulu on the boat to see if the tiny floating kitchen can feed two dozen instead of just two! Or not.

    Steve, thanks for yet another fine tale.



  7. Aimee says:

    Looks delicious, wish I was there! Thanksgiving is a holiday I could get used to!

    • sryoder says:

      Hi Aimee. We wish you were here, too. Thanksgiving is a holiday that every country should have. I’m really surprised that the Mexicans haven’t picked it up yet. They do love to have an excuse to get the family together to visit, eat, dance, drink, and then eat some more. They already have something like 20 official holiday, so what’s one more? Hope we see you on your next trip over.

  8. Gary Maier says:

    Good looking bird! Around our house the meaning of WWJD is What would Julia do? You can’t go wrong with Julia Child. Happy belated Thanksgiving to you both.

  9. Sandy Holeman says:

    I had never heard of the roll up idea. How cool! Everything looks YUMMY!

  10. cody says:

    Mmmm! Looks so good, and I know from experience that it was! We are thankful for the two of you and that our baby gets to have you as her grandparents! I am also do thankful that you get along and have been great examples of how married people(or couples in general) should treat each other. Drive safe and we will see you soon!

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