Monthly Archives: November 2015

Turkey Brine Hand Dunk

I’m back! My parents have been in town this week and we’ve been busy busy busy painting and building shelves and touring historic mansions. I can’t wait to share all our projects with you. For today, though, it’s the Thanksgiving edition of Throwback Thursday. 

We do Thanksgiving with my husband’s family and then do 2nd Thanksgiving with his son and some friends and family on Saturday. Each year I go through this epic struggle about how to cook our turkey. TimTheFarmer’s aunt cooks the juiciest turkey I’ve ever had…and she does nothing to it. She cooks it unstuffed and doesn’t brine or bag or season it or anything. Nothing that you see on cooking shows or read in a cookbook. This is when I get whiny in my head…but I want to cook the juiciest turkey.

Roasted Turkey

My dilemma comes from the fact that I MUST stuff our turkey. Our family stuffing recipe is ten times better when it is cooked in the bird. It’s my hypothesis that the stuffing soaks up all the turkey juices which makes the stuffing amazing, but the turkey dry. As I do every year, I will spend the next 5 days researching how to cook a moist, stuffed bird. I’ll read how you should never stuff them because you might poison your guests, advice I’ll promptly ignore because my family’s been cooking this same recipe for at least sixty years and so far, so good.

I’ve cooked it covered and uncovered, at one temperature and multiple temperatures, breast-side up and breast-side down. Ultimately, the only solution I come to is to brine the turkey, at which point I turn to Pioneer Woman, of course. I’ve used the same brine recipe the past four years and my turkey turns out good. Not amazing juicy, but solidly good. The stuffing, on the other hand, is amazing. Part of why I love it is how pretty it looks with all the orange peels and rosemary and peppercorns. The step I always forget in my planning is that after you bring the brine to a boil, you have to completely cool it before you put the turkey in it — 12 hours I usually don’t have.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Here’s where Throwback Thursday comes in. I am a big fan of using the outdoors as one giant fridge. Last year, we got a 16″ of snow the week of Thanksgiving, so the yard was our cooler. In last year’s effort to cool the brine quickly, I thought it’d be a good idea to stick a boiling stock pot of water in the snow to cool.


Because I was putting the brine in a snow bank, I figured I’d need to push down on the pot, not considering the fact that the pot was boiling hot. As I pushed the big pot full of 4 gallons of boiling liquid into the snowbank, all the snow immediately melted and the pot tipped over, pouring boiling brine all over my hand. My friend Jesse was there and as she watched me squeal and plunge my boiling hand into the snowbank to stop the burn, she she righted the tipped pot of brine and saved enough to brine the turkey #shesavedthanksgiving!. After removing my hand from the snow bank, we discovered I’d scalded the side of my hand pretty handedly. We piled in the car and drove to the drug store to stock up on lidocaine-laden burn cream and gauze. 

Turkey Brine Burn Scald

Turkey Brine Burn Scald – 1 week later

We left the brine in the snowbank – despite it’s dangers, it was fabulous at cooling it down. Ultimately, we had another fabulous 2nd Thanksgiving with good turkey and great stuffing. Moral of the story? Snow melts when pots are hot, so stick your stock pot in the snow bank with caution.

Do you have any tips for cooking a juicy, stuffed turkey? 

How to Build Quick and Affordable Shelves

There may be Christmas tunes playing right now. Am I the only one?

Our new house has some funky living spaces. First, when you come through the front door, you walk right into the only official living space in the house. This does not work for me. I’m not the kind of person who needs a formal sitting room or big vaulted entryway, but I’m not a fan of walking right into the TV room. Here’s how the real estate listing showed the room and how we have it for now, until we tear a wall down.


Second, the house is officially four bedrooms, but the 4th bedroom is a large room on the main floor that should clearly be the family/TV room. Since it wasn’t designed as the TV room, the space is awkward because it has a closet and doesn’t naturally fit couches or a TV.

We’ve made our existing couches work for now, but the only place for the TV is along a looong wall that drowns out our small table that was functioning as our entertainment center. I was ready to throw my hands up with this room and accept that for now, it would be functional and I’d worry about designing the space after I dealt with the rest of the house. 

An aside, the minute I give up on something, I end up diving into it full force. e.g. after years of freaking out about taking fish off the fishing hook, I declared one summer during college I was giving up on fishing. Then, I went back to Bozeman for school—where you can’t not fish—a month later and took up fly fishing like it was my job. This happens over and over. So, as soon as I gave up on the TV room, I figured out a plan for the entertainment center, which turned out to be a college throwback solution.

Cinderblocks! I know, you’re thinking one of two things: are you a 20 year old guy? or, you have a job, buy a real piece of furniture. But here’s the deal, since the space is a little funky and we’re still figuring out the best set up, I don’t want to commit to a large furniture purchase. And, I like the rustic, industrial look of using building materials in decor. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got up my sleeves with a whole stack of metal pipes.

I measured the wall length and ran to Lowe’s and picked up some simple cinderblocks and headed to the shelving section. At this point my cart was crazy heavy and I was getting some weird looks as I tried to maneuver 252lbs (I looked it up, #nerdalert) of cinderblocks around the store.  I found these boards that look like a patchwork quilt #love.


I spent at least an hour detangling all our cords. Taz was a big help.


I defrosted bacon for dinner. #multitasking


Ahhhh! That feels better.


Then, I threw together the bookshelf. It took 30 minutes to carry in all the cinderblocks and under 10 to set up the shelf. I tried really hard to hide all the cords, but totally failed, so no tips on that today.


Once I get this room painted and commit to the decor, I plan to whitewash the cinderblocks and stain the boards to bring out the patchwork pattern. We’re just to the unpacking point where I’ll break out all the things I style bookshelves with. So for now, here it is!



Love this wood grain! Can’t wait to stain it.


Have Lowe’s cut the boards to the length you need in the store. This saves you a step at home.
Use unfinished shelving boards to keep the price down.
Keep the space between cinderblocks to under 3 feet so your boards don’t bow. Or, stack books under the longer span if you want less blocks.

Project Cost: $98

I’ve seen some great cinderblock projects out there. Have you used them in creative home projects?

Flat Roasted Lemon Chicken

FRlemonchickenIt’s Monday – how did that happen?! We had a busy, but productive weekend. After hosting an open house for students on Saturday, I drove all over the county picking up thrifted finds. I snagged a TV at the northern-most end of the county and then drove an hour south for two armchairs that I hoped would finished out our living room. I have a love-hate relationship with Craigslisting. Every now and then I score, like the time I found the weekenders clearing out their country home and picked up a ton of Pottery Barn furniture for $150. Usually though, I find allllmost the right thing. Like this weekend, the armchairs should have been perfect, but I didn’t realize when she said she was halfway through finishing a project, that she had actually painted the fabric. I guess if you sand it down, it’ll end up feeling like suede, but for now it feels like crunchy paper. Add that to my project list. But, they do finish the room out, so we’ll call it a draw.

Yesterday was great though – we made a lot of progress on setting up the house. I prepped the guest room for my parents’ visit this week; did the furniture shuffle to try to get our living room in order (i.e. moved the couch 3 times), set up the beginnings of the kiddo’s man-cave in the basement, hung the mirror and pictures in the guest bath, put hooks on the back every door I could get my hands on, and the kiddo and I are in a showdown for who gets to use this awesome picture in their decor. We also had one of our family’s favorite recipes: flat-roasted chicken.


The first Christmas I spent with TimTheFamer and the kiddo, they gave me this book. Aren’t they funny?? 


This book has awesome recipes and we’ve been eating the flat roasted chicken for years; it’s quick to get in the oven and amazingly juicy and flavorful. It’s also great because while this is cooking, you can make the rest of your side dishes. I made a couple slight tweaks to ensure we’re not cooking with vegetable fats. Make this tonight. Seriously!


Flat Roasted Lemon Chicken (Paleo)
Serves 4
Quick and easy whole roast chicken
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 min
  1. 1 whole chicken
  2. Coarse salt (pink Himalayan sea salt is best)
  3. Freshly ground pepper
  4. 4 tbsp butter
  5. 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  6. 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  7. 2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  8. 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F.
  2. Using kitchen shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken. Place it skin-side up on the cutting board and push down on the breastbone with both hands to flatten it out.
  3. Season both sides of chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat 3 tbsp of butter over high heat in large ovenproof skillet (cast iron is best).
  5. Add chicken, skin side down and allow to brown for 3-4 minutes (don't move it!).
  6. Using two sets of tongs, turn the chicken over and transfer skillet to the oven.
  7. While chicken cooks, whisk together the olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper and 1 tbsp of lemon juice.
  8. Cook for 40-45 minutes until chicken is brown and cooked through. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part should reach 165*.
  9. Remove the chicken to the cutting board to rest.
  10. Return the skillet to the heat and add remaining lemon juice and butter to pan and swirl around.
  11. Cut chicken into pieces to service and drizzle with pan drippings and lemon garlic sauce.
  1. The sauce is key. Don't skimp on the sauce.
  2. DON'T grab the pan handle without an oven mitt when it comes out of the oven. Trust me on this one.
  3. Freeze the bones to make broth or stock.
Adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn
Adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn
Isn't That Grand?