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Thanksgiving menus are on the minds of many area cooks. Turkey, beef roast, ham, or a combination? What sides and desserts will fit in range and refrigerator space? What oven dishes will cook in the meat standing time?

Fresh turkeys should be kept refrigerated until ready to use. If you are brining a turkey, keep the brining bird refrigerated. A frozen turkey will need to be thawed under refrigeration, beginning 4 to 5 days before use, depending on size. Be sure to put a pan to catch juice under a thawing turkey. It is best to thaw on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent any drips contamination of other items in the fridge.

What size turkey should you buy? A 12-pound turkey is suitable for eight people, about 1 1/2 pounds per person.

Roast your turkey at 325 degrees for 12 minutes per pound, about 2 1/2 hours for a 12-pound bird. Not recommended, but if you stuff the turkey, weigh the stuffing and add additional roasting time.

Tent the turkey with foil (cover loosely) to prevent burning the turkey skin and get a nicely browned bird. Seasoning of the turkey is a matter of personal preference.

Still, a mixture of 1 Tsp poultry seasoning, 1 tsp of ground sage and 1/4 tsp each ground black pepper and celery salt is an excellent option to start with.

Most importantly, allow a standing time of 20-30 minutes once the bird has finished roasting. This allows for the meat to reabsorb the juices and tenderize.

Side dishes are just as important as the main attraction. White and sweet potatoes, green beans and Brussels sprouts often take a staring roll in side dishes at Thanksgiving meals. Classic Green Bean Casserole, made famous by Campbell's Soup Company, is a favorite of many, is easy to prepare and cooks in the standing time of a roast turkey.

Classic Green Bean Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp soy sauce

4 cups cooked fresh or canned green beans, well-drained

1-1/3 cups French fried onions, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine soup, milk, soy sauce, green beans and 2/3 cup of French fried onions in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste and stir well to blend the soup. Bake for 25 minutes or until hot. Stir the bean mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining French-fried onions. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Yield: 6 side servings.

- Note: this may be prepared in the oven and refrigerated until baking. Add 5 minutes to the first baking time. Double the recipe for a larger crowd.

Also: 3 cans of green beans, 1 12 pounds of fresh beans, or 20 ounces of frozen beans will yield about 4 cups.

Brussels sprouts are often featured on the sides of a holiday meals. Cool-weather, long-season crop, Brussels sprouts are at their prime in November. The strong cruciferous flavor may be an acquired taste for some, but with proper cooking and seasoning, they develop a rich, savory flavor. Sandi Smith, Odessa, shared a recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts that marinade overnight and roast quickly the next day.

Roasted Brussels sprouts

2 pounds, washed and trimmed Brussels Sprouts, cut in half

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp ground paprika

1/8 tsp garlic salt

Place prepared Brussels sprouts in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and pour over Brussels sprouts. Mix gently to coat Brussels sprouts with marinade thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight.

To cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly coat a sheet pan with olive oil or olive oil spray. Add Brussels sprouts and spread in a single layer. Roast for 20 to 35 minutes, occasionally stirring until the desired doneness. Or, if you have an outdoor grill going, place the Brussels sprouts in a foil packet and cook on the grill, turning the pack often for 20 to 30 minutes.

Not Thanksgiving related, but I had several requests for how to prepare oxtail. Slow cooking and a bit of tomato make all the difference in the resulting soup or stew. Any vegetables you like may be added, except celery. For some reason, celery creates a bitter taste when mixed with oxtail.

Oxtail Stew

2 pounds oxtail, preferably cut into rounds

Water to cover oxtail in soup kettle

1/2 cup flour or cornstarch

2 cups tomato juice, V8 or diced tomato

2 cups beef broth

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 large carrots sliced

4 large potatoes diced largely

Place oxtail in a large soup kettle and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until meat is tender and falls from the bone for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Separate meat from broth and let cool until safe to handle.

Remove meat from bones while broth chills to solidify the fat. Skim fat from broth. Mix flour with reserved meat then stirs into the broth. Add tomato, vegetables and seasonings and simmer until vegetables are tender. Yield: about a gallon of light stew.

- Note: the acid of tomatoes is suitable for tenderizing and negating any strong flavor in the oxtail. Rutabaga is very good added to this stew, as well as about 1/4 cup of diced sweet green pepper.

German-origin cookies, Pfefferneuse and Springerle, should be baked soon so flavors can meld in the crisp, candy-like Christmas treats.

Many bakers are looking for new recipe ideas with so many bazaars and bake sales on the calendar. Share your favorite holiday baking recipes with your readers and note if they are well-received bake sale items.

Send them to Welcome to My Kitchen, c/o The Record-Times, P. O. Box 458, Odessa, WA 99159, email [email protected].


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