Time To Brine The Turkey

I’ve been brining our Thanksgiving turkey for about 6 years now.  It makes a delicious, tender, juicy bird. And its not difficult to do! Here are instructions and some brine recipes for you to use this year.   turkey_baked

To brine a turkey you will need a large pot that will hold the whole bird in the brine and a space in the frig large enough to store it for a day. You can improvise if your frig isn’t big enough. I have used buckets of ice and placed another bucket full of turkey and brine in it. For the last two years though, I have used a large, Roasting Bag to put the bird and brine in. I sit the bag with brine and turkey into a large cooler and surround the bag with ice. When the ice melts, I take the cooler to the back steps and let it drain, then fill it up with ice again.  You want to make sure the bird stays at or below 40*F.

I always start my turkey out defrosting two days before I will brine it. After it is defrosted, I put it in the brine from 24 – 48 hours.

Brining is simply soaking the turkey in a salt solution that has spices and flavors added to it. Brining a turkey imparts delicious flavor and moisture to the meat, it’s the best way to roast a turkey I think. More than that though, if the turkey gets left in the oven for an extra 10-15 minutes, the brining keeps it moist and flavorful. You can leave a turkey in the brine for up to 2 days, but usually just 24 hours will be sufficient to lend those delicious flavors to the meat.

I’ll walk you through brining, it’s not hard but you need to think about what your family likes before you start. Brines can be tailored to your taste.
So the rule of thumb is: Use the basic brine and add the flavors your family likes!

Basic Brine:
Dissolve 1 cup table salt or 2 cups kosher salt in 2 gallons cold water in a large stockpot or clean bucket. Your pot or bucket must hold 6-8 gallons so that you can immerse the turkey. After you add the flavors, brine the turkey for 12-24 hours.

Now add the flavors you like. Here are some suggestions:

Honey Brine
1 ounce tender quick
1 cup honey
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp pickling spices

Traditional Turkey
1 -2 Tablespoons of each:
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Celery seed, ground
Fresh ground black pepper

Spicy Brine
1/2 cup molasses
1-1/2 T crushed or minced garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 T onion powder
1/4 cup pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 oz maple flavoring

Another Spicy One
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp oregano

Apple Cider Brine
4 gal. apple cider INSTEAD OF WATER
1 onion, diced
2 heads of garlic divided
1/2 cup fresh ginger, chopped
3 pcs. star anise
4 bay leaves
4 oranges quartered

Roasting The Brined Turkey

To roast the brined turkey, it is important to rinse the turkey well and to pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 400* F. Paint the breast portion with soft butter, add some herbs if desired. cover the breast with a foil tent. Roast the turkey at 400* for 35 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and roast the remaining time indicated on the packaging of the turkey. Uncover the breast the last 1 1/2 hours. The USDA recommends that you let the turkey breast come to 170* and the legs to 180* before removing the turkey from the oven. Remember however that the turkey will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven. Especially if you cover it with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.  The resting period will also allow the juices to settle in the meat, making for a better tasting turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The 21st Century Is Back!

I am so happy to announce that The 21st Century Homekeeper is back on the air, thanks to Miller’s Grain House and Prepare Magazine.

I sure hope you will join me for The 21st Century Homekeeper radio program.  My show airs on Saturdays at 6 pm eastern, 5 pm central but you can listen to it ON DEMAND any time you.

This week, the link is:    The 21st Century Homekeeper

But you can go to this link any time and peruse through the shows:   Your Preparation Station Radio Network


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Homemade Votive Holders

This is an old post but I brought it out because these little votive holders are so cute and easy to make!

All you need are some of those little gourds that look like pumpkins, a small sharp knife and a votive candle.


First cut off the top of the gourd. Hold your knife at an angle and cut into the gourd. Its a little tough so be careful.


Once you have the top cut off and the seeds and pulp cleaned out, check to see if you need to trim the inside of the cut out hole so that a votive will fit.


Once you have the top cut off and the seeds and pulp cleaned out, check to see if you need to trim the inside of the cut out hole so that a votive will fit.


You can use a small ice cream or dough scoop to clean the seeds and pulp out of the gourd.


Put your votive in the carved out gourd……


And light the candle. Try grouping several of these little beauties for a warm, inviting harvest table decoration.

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Thanksgiving Prep – My Lists

Here are all my daily lists for preparing for Thanksgiving. I’ve gathered them together from all over this site so you can use them if you want to.  The lists start on Friday, November 20th and go through Thanksgiving Day, November 26th this year, 2015.

You can print this page out and use these lists, adding your own notes, to help you prepare.


Friday, November 20th
Finish making pie crusts for the freezer
Make cornbread and biscuits for dressing, crumble and freeze in plastic bags
Grocery shop for non-perishables
Clean bathroom and do general straightening in the house

Saturday, November 21st
Take turkeys out to defrost
Grocery shop for perishables
Cleaning and laundry

Monday, November 23rd
Check on turkeys as they defrost
Clean dining room, put out plates, utensils, etc.
Set out all casserole dishes, pots and pans, see if I have what I need to cook everything
Make Aunt Eura’s Yeast Rolls and put in freezer
Make Cranberry Relish, refrigerate

Tuesday, November 24th

Brine the turkeys. I’ll use the Traditional Turkey recipe this year!
Assemble casseroles and refrigerate (sweet potato, green bean, any casserole that does not contain breads, baking soda or baking powder.)
Make a Breakfast Casserole for Thursday, freeze or refrigerate

Wednesday, November 25th
Take Breakfast casserole out of freezer
Bake pies
Make dressing and refrigerate
Make salads
Roast turkey, carve, refrigerate in chicken broth
Make centerpieces
Do last minute laundry

Thursday, November 26th – Thanksgiving Day
Put Breakfast casserole in to bake
Take pies and yeast rolls out of freezer early
Make stuffing
Make mashed potatoes
Reheat turkey
Bake casseroles
Bake yeast rolls
Make gravy

Dinner is ready!

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Spice Mixes You Can Make

These mixes are easy to make and store.  I prefer to buy ingredients and make things like mixes myself instead of paying someone else to make them. Plus, you can determine what goes in to your mixes, you don’t need the artificial ingredients and preservatives that are in most commercial mixes.

I like to store my mixes in small glass jars with tightly fitting lids. You could go all out and print out labels for your spice mixes. I just write on the lids or use jelly labels that come with some of the small jars.

For all of these mixes, you need to make sure your jar has a tightly fitting lid to keep moisture and air out of your mix so it will last a long time. Most of these I have kept for months and months and they are still delicious.

spicesTaco Seasoning
2 Tsp dried minced onion – more on this later
1 Tsp Sea Salt
½ Tsp arrowroot powder
½ Tsp Garlic powder – see below
½ Tsp ground cumin
1 Tsp Chili powder
½ Tsp ground red pepper
1/4 Tsp oregano dried

Store in dry place.
To make Taco Meat: Brown 1 # ground beef or turkey. Drain. Add ½ cup water, seasoning pkt. Simmer 10 minutes. Fills 8 – 10 tacos

Garam Masala
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine, store in an air-tight container


Pizza Sauce Seasoning

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 to 2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

 Homemade Sloppy Joe Seasoning

Combine all of the ingredients in a small glass or plastic jar with a tight fitting lid. Label and store in your pantry shelf until needed.

2 tablespoons dried onion OR use 2 T Onion powder
2 T Paprika
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Chili powder (chipotle chili powder is good in this)
1 tsp dried Marjoram
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed

This makes one recipe of sloppy joes using 1 pound of ground meat, so increase the amount you make, double, triple or even more, to store and use. If you make a ton of it, you’ll need to use 1/3 cup of mix per pound of ground meat.

Chili Seasoning:
1 tsp paprika
2 tsps ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 tsps garlic powder

Cajun Seasoning:
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 ¼ tsp dried oregano
2 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Apple Pie Spice
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger

Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Poultry Seasoning
2 3/4 tsp. rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Posted in Mixes | 7 Comments

Cream Of Soup Recipes

You know that casserole or recipe that calls for a can of cream of something soup?  And you look and you have none?  Or you’re like me and you just prefer not to use them?  Here are three recipes to replace those cream of soups in your cooking.  I have both a from-scratch soup and an instant version for you. 

The basic plan?  For the from-scratch soup you make a heavy white sauce using butter, flour and milk or broth and add flavors like chicken, mushrooms or asparagus. Each recipe makes about 10 ounces so its like having a can of undiluted cream of soup at your fingertips.

Basic Cream Of Soup
1. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
2. Blend 4 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
3. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Don’t skimp on the cooking time. If you do, your soup may taste of raw flour.
4. Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly.
5. Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.

For Cream Of Chicken Soup
Replace half the milk with good chicken stock OR add 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules to the milk.
Add 1/2 cup small bits of cooked chicken after step 5

For Cream Of Asparagus Soup
Add 1/2 cup drained, minced, canned asparagus and a pinch of garlic powder after step 5

For Cream Of Mushroom Soup
In a large skillet over medium heat cook 1 cup diced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter. Don’t crowd the skillet and cook til the mushrooms are light brown in color.
Add the cooked mushrooms after step 5.

For those times when you need an instant solution, here is my Instant Cream Of Whatever Soup Mix.  This is the basic recipe.  In the instructions for making the soup out of the mix, I’ll show you what you need for making each type of soup, Cream of Celery, Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken.

Instant Cream Of Whatever Soup Mix
2 cups dry milk powder
¾ cup cornstarch or cook-type clear jel
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Combine 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 ¼ cups water in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth.
On medium heat, bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until thick. Cool.

For Cream Of Chicken Soup
Replace half the milk with some good chicken stock. I have also used a teaspoon of chicken bouillon granules in place of the stock and it turned out very well.
After you add the milk, stir in 1/2 cup small pieces of cooked chicken.

For Cream Of Asparagus Soup
After adding the milk to the instant soup, add 1/2 cup of drained, minced, canned asparagus and a pinch or so of garlic powder.

For Cream Of Mushroom Soup
In a large skillet over medium heat cook 1 cup finely diced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Don’t crowd the skillet with mushrooms or they will get watery. Let them brown til they are golden in color. Add the cooked mushrooms after adding the milk in the basic recipe. Another thing I have done is to add shitake mushroom powder to the soup after adding the milk. Its strong flavored and makes the soup taste delicious.so I add just 1 Tablespoon. I make the mushroom powder by dehydrating the mushrooms then blending up the dried mushrooms. Store mushroom powder in a glass jar, tightly covered, or in the freezer. 

You will probably use these immediately when you make them, but if you need to store them, keep them covered tightly in the refrigerator for about 3 days. They won’t keep much longer than that because of the milk and butter in them.

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A Free Thanksgiving Planner For You!

I am giving away my Free Thanksgiving Planner to everyone who comes here to get it. Its 44 pages long and contains: tgplanner

Brief History of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Games
4-Week Thanksgiving Planner and Devotionals
Article: “The Danger of Unmet Expectations”
Devotional: “Renew My Strength, Lord”
Devotional: “Holy Living”
Sylvia’s Turkey Tips
Instructions for Brining a Turkey
Recipes ~ both Family Favorite Recipes and Whole Food, Allergy-Friendly Recipes
Harvest Crafts and Home Decor Ideas

Its free til the end of November. Next year I’ll have a new Planner with new recipes and info for you.

Here is the link:  Free Thanksgiving Planner

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Fast and Furious Fall Cleaning – Living Room

The living room or den is the room where a family does most of their, well…. living. Its a busy room and takes a lot of wear and tear. So, it can usually stand a good cleaning any time you want to give it one.

living room

Begin by picking up the room and using your 4 bags/boxes/baskets like we have been doing all week. Get everything out of this room that doesn’t belong. Sometimes I place personal belongings in a basket and tell the children to come get their things in the next ten minutes or the things are leaving home.

Here is how I go about deep cleaning the Living Room…

  • Make a pan of hot soapy water or use the kitchen sink.
  • Once you get the room emptied of stuff that doesn’t belong, take up nicnacs and decorative items.
  • Clean and wash picture frames and nicnacs, set them out to dry.
  • Take down the curtains and take up the rugs, wash them if possible or hang them out to air.
  • Take up tablecloths, doilies, all fabric coverings and pillows; wash and dry if you can or air dry.
  • Wash down the door frames, window frames, baseboards, all woodwork, ceilings and ceiling fans.
  • Wash windows
  • Clean off shelves, rearrange books, wipe down the shelves while they are empty.
  • Clean up work areas. Organize work materials.
  • Organize movies, cds and dvds, organize the whole tv/entertainment area
  • Dust all furniture, polish if needed
  • Move out furniture if possible, if not just clean around and under as best you can.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture
  • Vacuum floors, sweep and mop, polish wood floors
  • Replace rugs and curtains
  • Replace furniture covers if using and pillows
  • Arrange magazines, papers, books that don’t have a shelf. A basket might be nice, or simply stack them up neatly.
  • Replace nicnacs and pictures…. do you need them all in this room?
  • Light some candles and relax.


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