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How to Fry a Turkey- A Journey from Day into Night

A Grand Thanksgiving Tradition-

Frying The Thanksgiving Turkey

(if you have never had a good fried turkey, don't stick your nose up: it is superb).

My friend Mark fried a turkey this year, starting about 4pm and going on into the evening. For the uninitiated, it only takes about forty-five minutes to actually fry the bird, prep time is much longer.

We join the process already part way into the prep: the bird has been thawed and is waiting, the tools collected and, most importantly, the amount of oil required determined. Again for the uninitiated, most of the horror stories about fires and injury come from not doing that last step: there is a displacement method for determining how much oil: too much and you will have a 350 degree overflow disaster!

So here we go...

Oil into the pot,
in this case four gallons of a good grade peanut oil/ vegetable oil blend. The Chef insists on fresh oil every time!

01 11_09 prepare the oil

Read the instructions
(OK, truth be known, we didn't do this: Mark has done enough turkeys that HE could write the instructions)

02_ 11_09 insrtructions

Waiting, Part One:
The propane burner has to heat the oil to 350 degrees before anything else happens out here.
03 11_09 early heating grease

The Bird has been having a good soak in a brine/ secret spice bath, well chilled with ice. Time to end the bathing and get it ready.
04 soaking in brine
  05 11_09 draining the turkey

certain members of the party found other ways to while away the time
("I am a FarmTown-aholic!")
06 meanwhile 

Well drained, The Bird is moved outside for the next important step: injecting.
Want moist cooked turkey meat? the SECRET is injecting.
With what you ask? Unfortunately that is one of a Chef's Most Closely Guarded Secrets... you would have to be killed if the Truth Were Known. It involves spices, wine, juices, and the contents of assorted other unmarked containers.
07 11_09 injecting 1

08 11_09 injecting 2

The oil continues heating,
getting ever closer to the magic 350 degree mark.
09 11_09 temperature rising

The bird, now all injected and seasoned, takes a short break, sitting in a chair, before it gets to work (takes the final bath, so to speak)
10 11_09 turkey in a chair

One last step before frying:
the ritual Patting Of The Butt.
Actually, an important step: any water will EXPLODE when it hits the hot oil, so best to pat dry the lowest part.
11 11_09 patting the butt

The Moment of Truth:
The bird is  s  l  o  w  l  y  lowered into the 350 degree oil, which takes offense to the intrusion and becomes VERY violent.
The temperature, by the way, is very important because it crisps and seals the skin, rather than soaking in. 

12 11_09 into the oil
13 11_09 into the oil 2

15 11_09 frying

Turkey is frying, clock is running... 45 minutes to completion!!

Waiting Part Two
Keeping an eye on temperature: too high and the pot explodes (really not good), too low and oil absorbs into turkey (not good but not as dangerous as too high).
Wine is optional.
15 waiting and watching

Almost done
16 11_09 almost done

the kitchen is a blur of activity as Final Preparations are underway
Wine is optional
17a kitchen blur

time to pull the bird.
Very carefully!
18 11_09 pulling the turkey in sepia

Awaiting it's Final  Destination
19 11_09 turkey on platter

Editor's Note:
No traditional image of Carving the Bird. I couldn't hold camera and carving utensils at the same time... and everyone else was running around bringing out food, sampling the wine to make sure it was OK, etc.

The Table
(the bird, mostly carved to nothing, is out of sight at the other end of the table)

Weather Note: 75 degrees at dinner time... an outdoor evening!

The Menu:
Mark's Fried Turkey, Jodi's Mashed Potatoes with real giblet Gravy, Fresh Squash Casserole, Fresh Turnip Greens (thanx, Ruth!!), Marinated Green Bean Salad, Cranberry Relish, Fresh Rolls, Assorted Wines (thanx, Mike!).

Topped off with good friends and family,
and the memories of those who are at sea (special family tradition...  subject of another posting).
20 11_09 feasting

32 Years

02_09 bill and ruthRuth & me. 32 years today. 

Every year when the calendar turns over, it still amazes me she continues to put up with all my bull. And every year I cannot conceptualize, or really even remember, life without her... nor do I want to. 

It has been, and continues to be, an excellent run!

Facebook provides alibi, but what about...

11_09 facebook proves alibiWhen 19 yr old Rodney Bradford was arrested, an entry he posted into Facebook provided an alibi that got him released from Rikers Island 12 days after the incident.

In summary, young Rodney, who was already facing charges on an unrelated incident, was arrested for allegedly carrying out a mugging. His entry into Facebook, made a minute before the incident and from a location far from the crime, proved a sufficient alibi and got him released. Read the complete story here and here.

That's all well and good: technology and social networking to the rescue!

But what about...

  • According to reports, up to eight people vouched for the fact that Rodney was nowhere near the crime scene, including his parents. A Facebook entry counts for more than their statements?
  • 12 days? It took law enforcement twelve days to figure out someone couldn't be someplace because of an electronic entry. Maybe the police department should be introduced to social networking.
  • On the flip site, given the number of social networking accounts being hacked (hello, Britney Spears), who is to say someone didn't just log in as Rodney and post an entry? Is the assumption that street kids aren't smart enough to figure that out?     

The RubberBand returns to Cave Creek

11_09 band and lights Excellent!

After a two- year absence, Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand brought their unique sound back to Cave Creek, Arizona for one show Saturday night. The 4C (Cave Creek Coffee Company) venue is perfectly suited to the band's eclectic and personal style (defined as PostHeeHawFunkadelicHipHopNewGrass on one of their posters, but even that doesn't do their style justice). You really have to see them in person, and listen to the music, to understand the sound.

The setting was informal to the point that the five members of the band did a "meet and greet" off stage between sets and interacted a lot with the audience during the show. Even the dogs barking behind the stage added to the atmosphere. Ruth, as she did two years ago, went back and forth with the band from her front row seat.

11_09 ryan shupe audience Low lighting and a... ummm... lot of activity on stage made photography iffy at best, compounded by my dislike of using a flash during the show. As a result, the images don't do the band's high- octane show justice (too much Red Bull according to the announcer).

Two songs that the band is recording for a new album, some old favorites and some newer songs made up the two set, two encore show. Ryan's solo homage to the traditional Country Western genre was a highlight and caught a satirical moment perfectly. Two Year Old Attitude, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Orange Blossom Special and Walk the Walk really showed off the band's ability to play different instruments and even play them in strange positions. Phideaux was a howling success (a dog song where the audience howls throughout the song). And, of course, the two favorites, Dream Big and Banjo Boy, had to be done.    

Can you tell I am a FanBoy? This was the second time we have seen Ryan Shupe and The RubberBand in person, the previous time at the same venue in Cave Creek. Their style, while hard to define, is outstanding, bound together by great musical skill and a tight sound.  

(apologies to drummer Bart Olson who I didn't get a decent picture of)

<Edited 11/10: high-def copies of images are now available at my gallery site>

Ryan Shupe (singing Baldy the Cat)11_09 baldy the cat solo

Roger Archibald on the guitar11_09 roger on guitar

Banjo Boy- Craig Miner11_09 banjo man

Ryan and Ryan (Shupe & Tilby) with Bart Olson in the background11_09 ryan and ryan

How to play an instrument on your back.... and sound good at the same time11_09 back playing

Ryan Shupe11_09 ryan shupe

Preparing for the 2nd Set11_09 preparing for 2nd set

Ryan, Ryan and Craig11_09 trio

A Perfect Day for a Drive in the Mountains

October 31-

10_09 thumb tree in fog The morning in North Carolina dawned gray and rainy... and didn't improve much as the day went along. So, what else to do then continue with a planned drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains: up through Mount Airy (home of Andy Griffith and model for Mayberry) to Fancy Gap (population 258); then east on the Blue Ridge Parkway past Meadows of DanRocky Knob (a favorite campground of ours "back in the day") and Rake's Mill Pond. The fog on the Parkway was sooooooooo think that we missed the Chateau Morrisette cutoff... twice! No stop at a favorite winery this trip.

(high-def versions of some of these images are in my 2009- Hither and Yon Gallery)

"The fog was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife"10_09 thumb foggy road

Everything took on a fuzzy gray tint10_09 thumb puckett house and storage bldg

Fence lines disappeared into the mist10_09 thumb fences in the fog

Trees became very isolated10_09 thumb tree in fog 2

A Non-Traditional Landscape10_09 thumb foggy landscape

The fog & mist cleared off at Rake's Mill Pond, the easterly end of our drive10_09 thumb rakes pond and reflections

We spent a fair amount of time at the "house" (cabin) of Orelena Puckett. A midwife in the late 1800's to early 1900's who had 24 kids of her own... 24 (!!!)... with almost NO mention of the presumed long- suffering husband(s). Lived to 102, 24 kids of her own and midwifed over 1000 babies... impressive numbers!10_09 thumb puckett house

10_09 thumb puckett house description

Mom studying the Outbuilding10_09 thumb mom at storage hut

Closeup of the entrance to the cabin 10_09 thumb puckett house closeup

Spencer Shops- a walk down memory lane

10_09 thumb spencer shops be careful October 30-

In the late 1800's, the Southern Railroad built an immense repair and maintenance facility between Atlanta and Washington, just north of the town of Salisbury, NC. The repair facility was named Spencer Shops and the town that grew up around the shops was named Spencer, after the founder of the railroad Samuel Spencer. In its heyday, Spencer Shops employed up to 3000 people. Its most prominent building, the Back Shop, was the largest industrial building in North Carolina, capable of housing several locomotives at a time. The advent of the diesel locomotive ended the need for the Shops and the entire facility was closed in 1960.

10_09 spencer shops round house Spencer Shops wasted away until the 1970's when 4 acres were given to the State of North Carolina. Over the next 30 years the State, in spits and  sputters, gradually acquired more of the surrounding land and turned the facility into the North Carolina Transportation Museum. During much of the time the museum consisted of donated railroad stock in various states of disrepair surrounded by old, falling- apart buildings, including the "ginormous" Back Shop and Roundhouse adjacent to it.

10_09 thumb spencer shops door 1 We visited Spencer Shops in the early 80's when it more resembled a railroad junkyard and not so much a museum... a photographer's heaven. We could wander through the old dilapidated buildings, into some very dangerous areas, and climb all over the old locomotives, engines and rail cars. The Photography Guild I was a member of made several trips and some of the resulting black and white pictures are among the best work I did. 

Then the museum bureaucracy took control and Spencer Shops was turned into a nice sanitized museum full of prettily restored railroad relics and educational exhibits. A lot of the areas have been closed off or scrubbed to the standards of a cleaned-up, safe museum. While very interesting and educational, the facility has lost its gritty feeling... a place where, at the turn of the century, people worked in not-very-good conditions on monstrous locomotives and railroad cars.

(high-def versions of some of these images are in my 2009- Hither and Yon Gallery)

Mesimore?10_09 thumb spencer shops mesimore

Locomotive 111, built in 182210_09 thumb spencer shops locomotive 111

A Purple Train10_09 thumb spencer shops purple

The leaves are still turning in North Carolina10_09 thumb spencer shops amtrac train

Southern Hospitality10_09 thumb spencer shops southern hospitality 2

The color Gray10_09 thumb spencer shops wheel detail

The color Yellow10_09 thumb spencer shops yellow steps

The color Drab Gray10_09 thumb spencer shops back of car