24 November 2010

24 November - Andromedids; All That Turkey

Astronomy: The Andromedid Meteor Shower peaks tomorrow night through the 28th, with maybe 5 or so per hour, although The Transient Sky calls it "... more of a historical curiosity than something that modern observers can experience."

For this, you don't need to set your clock and get up in the predawn hours.  Look toward the south in the early evening, although the event will likely be drowned out by a waning, but still hefty moon.

You can read a history (and a lot of technical stuff) on the Andromedids here at Meteor Showers Online.

For all I know, it could be more spectacular than the Perseids; the November skies in the Smallest State tend to be overcast more often than not, and I've never had a chance to see whether the Andromedids are merely a pleasant memory or what.

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and your mind is probably going through what gets cooked when, where will everyone sit, and if there are enough serving dishes.  But soon you will also be thinking, "What do I do with all that turkey?"

You may already have traditional uses for the remains of the day.  Here are a couple of mine (and they work equally well for the remnants of a roast chicken):

HOT TURKEY SANDWICHES, of course.  Basically, it is bread, turkey, and gravy.  I like to lightly toast the bread, cover each slice with pieces of turkey, maybe a spoonful of leftover stuffing, and top with hot gravy.  Maybe even crown it with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.  You can be equally creative, I'm sure.

TURKEY SOUP.  Once the carcass has been denuded of all pieces of meat which will be useful in other recipes, I put the bones, the skin, and the contents of the giblet bag (except for the liver) in a large pot of water to cover.  If you have any drippings that you aren't using or saving (mine are saved for a future pot pie), add them as well; also add salt, depending on the size of the carcass: 1 teaspoon for a large turkey, 1/2 teaspoon for a turkey breast or roasting chicken.  You can adjust the seasonings later.

Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 4 hours (following the advice of another cook, I found that if bedtime was looming, I could simmer the stock for a couple of hours, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and leave it until the next morning; then bring it back up to a fast simmer and continue for another couple of hours).  But don't leave it unattended.  You want it to simmer, not boil, and certainly not boil away.

When done, let it cool, then remove the bones (your fingers will tell you if you've let it cool enough) and strain the stock. Put the stock back in the kettle; the remains of the noble bird can now be honorably disposed of.

Now for the soup!  To your stock add some chopped carrots, chopped celery, and chopped onion - how much is up to you (4 carrots, 4 celery stalks, and a medium onion is a good start.  Or a small bag of frozen mixed vegetables - whatever you have).  Maybe a clove or two of chopped garlic, some chopped parsley, a bay leaf, and a teaspoon of minced thyme or any other herb you fancy.   Cook until the vegetables are tender. If you would like to add rice or pasta, cook them first, then add to the pot.  Heat for about 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.