Coping: With Irregular Turkey

Elaine came home from grocery shopping with about a 10-pound bird Friday afternoon (late) and didn’t have room in the fridge.  We figured that since the temps in East Texas weren’t going to get above 40, things would be fine and we would likely make it to Tuesday before having the turkey thawed completely and ready for the oven.


By 10:30 Monday morning it was apparent that the turkey was going to get cooked right away since we both have read enough experiences of others to know that over-warmed turkey can be dangerous.  In it went. Oven bags are a blessing.

By 3PM it was done and by 4 we sat down to a marvelous meal of turkey, fresh from our own garden veggies which continue putting our squash and zucchinis, stuffing, Yukon Gold baked potatoes, and gravy.  A perfect Thanksgiving dinner except for the calendar which seemed slightly out of phase with the cuisine, but hell, right?

When I was a kid such off-schedule holidays were not unusual.  Firefighter families, like mine, and the kids of cops, docs, nurses, military – heck, there’s a long list of people – take it as a fact of life that Thanksgiving isn’t so much a precise moment like 3:47 PM on Thursday.  The truth is, it’s more like a date range last a week before until the Monday after – and within that – I’ve had friends over the years who have done turkey as early as 7 AM and as late as 2 AM. 

I made a note to ask Oilman2 to send it some snaps of Thanksgiving on an oil rig – there are all kinds of shifty people who will miss “usual time” for your convenience.

The fun part about “irregular turkey” is that I’ve already had a bowl of leftovers and the kitchen is clean.  Well, except for the deboning part, which will come as we make it through more leftovers and then move on to the various turkey dishes that use up whatever remains.

Ode to 13 Coins:  The SST Sandwich

All of which gets me to this point of this morning’s report:  The one best way to use up whatever is left in the way of turkey, based on a “sandwich” which used to be served by 13 Coins, a 24-hour restaurant in Seattle, cattywampus from the Seattle Times building, which serves as a kind of mecca for the broadcasters, writers, and theatrical types who made Seattle a happin’ place in the 1970’s and 80’s.  Still is, come to think of it.

‘Coins is still one of the top 5 late night food joints in the country and with good reason:  If you sit at the counter, you can watch the flaming cooking of your meal on the big gas stoves (and gas fired broiler ) of the sort most people can only dream of having at home.

It was here that the SST Sandwich was developed – at about the same time Boeing was building a mock-up of what might have been an American supersonic transport to complete with the Concorde. I always wondered if the selection of turkey as its main ingredient was so much a matter of taste or an aeronautical or economic assessment…

By far, the SST is the best use of turkey I’ve ever seen – and to my palate it is almost as good as fresh roasted turkey with all the fixin’s.  Maybe better, too, since if you can find precooked turkey in a deli, there’s little kitchen mess. Anyone can make good food in an unlimited kitchen with clean up staff.  When it’s me and/or Elaine and KitchenAid, it’s a different equation.

The inventor of the SST used a Béchamel sauce (white sauce) but for those of us who scored above average in the laziness department, I find a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup works almost as well as is a lazy-man’s substitute.

Also, in the original SST, if memory serves, the toast points had the crust cut off, but again, this seemed like additional work that could be dispensed with.  I mention this to make sure you get the flavor of the original dish.

Buttering the toast points?  That’s up to you and your cardiologist.

Oh…and fresh Parmesan from the Pike Place Market is nice, too.  But over the years I’ve used everything from Kraft “sprinkle cheese” to hand shaved Parmesan and various mixes and I couldn’t tell much difference.

The Recipe (as I remember it)

You begin with a hot skillet.

Into this, you pour about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and fire (or electric hell) under it until just smoking a bit.

Then you add one cup (roughly) of freshly slice mushrooms. Shake, toss, and worry it a bit.

Sauté and flame a bit for show, too if you care and are cooking over gas, but not so much as to set the room afire.  If you’ve got a range hood, like Coins, a splash of whatever burns good with the oil, adds nicely to the flavor.  I suppose brandy would be a good choice, as I could never get white cooking wine can flame, at least on an electric range.

When the flames die down, (the alcohol burns off  if you use high heat on a range, too) you toss in a cup, or so, of turkey which has been sliced into 3/4-inch cubes.  This is all tossed around so the flavors get acquainted with one-another.  Flame again if using gas.

Next comes the Béchamel sauce, or – if doing this at home – about a can (11 oz) of Campbell’s cream of mushroom.

Reduce heat a simmer while you get:

* Toast points to cover a shallow baking/serving dish,

* Two or three strips (long and lean) of crispy bacon, and

*  A 1/3 cup (or so) of Parmesan (or you could use an Italian three-cheese mix with little difference) and you fire up your broiler.

With the toast points (2-2/12 slices of bread worth) on the bottom of the shallow baking dish, you pour the hot turkey/mushroom sauce (which should be reasonably thick and not runny or you’ve used too much sauce) over the toast points.

If you’re using two pieces of bacon, they are placed in an “X” or, if three pieces, as parallels with a 3/’4” inch between them.

Sprinkle with the cheese and pop it under the broiler long enough for the cheese to melt and just brown to crust-color in a few places.

Serve with 13-Coins fries and a glass of whatever suites you, but to me, this is one of those dishes that does exceptionally well with a white zin, or iced tea.  Here lately, I seem to be doing cranberry juice more, which works just fine, too and is better for the liver and the FAA.

A word bout the fries (and why a 13-Coins visit is usually on our Seattle agenda although we haven’t had time the past couple of visits):  the fries are to die for.

They use good potatoes, which is a given, but they are not those wimpy little things like the “arches” folks turn out.  Instead, a potato is whacked into coarse slices about the size of your thumb (bigger if you’re dainty).  About 3/4’s of an inch.  These are then deep-fried in the usual way (which takes longer because of their size).

But the real fun is they come with 13 of them, stacked up in Lincoln Logs-fashion and then sprinkled with salt. 

It’s a sacrilege to do so, but I do ask for ketchup and the staff doesn’t (usually) seem offended by this epicurean infringement.

No, I don’t get any spiffs or deals for my semi-annual review of the SST.  In fact, I don’t know if it’s even on the menu anymore.  It wasn’t there last time I went.  But the kitchen was able to make one but I don’t know if they still can.  (Reports welcome on this point.)

Weather at this time of the year in the Northwest is usually crappy:  Gray, cold, and rainy more often than not.  Which may have something to do with why Seattle has some really great places to eat.

Other cities do, as well, but even San Francisco (last time we were there) seems to have gone “touristy” and “institutional/commercial” even at Ghirardelli and the wharf last time through.  I keep thinking about going back to see if anything’s at good as the food at Bertolucci’s in South San Francisco.

The main thing about great restaurants is they were usually started (or perfected) by great restaurateurs.  Families who somehow got the balance between hospitality, beverage, taste, performance, and consistency.  For me, the Wards (13 Coins and el Gaucho back in the day), Rossellini’s, and Ivar Haglund (Ivars) were the names in Seattle.  Lemonsakis and Gasparetti, too…there were lots of good hangouts.

Every city has them…it just takes a little looking around to find them. Most people don’t focus on finding them…too much hurry, too little time, yada, yada.  But like investing in stocks, finding a great restaurateur’s prize is the GI tract equivalent of finding Apple or Microsoft stock before everyone else catches on..

Along the way, be sure and ask questions and steal cooking ideas you can bring home, too.  You never know when you’ll have some leftovers that can be turned into real treats.

Tuesday at the Wujo

Coincidence or wujo?  Where is that line?

George, this is not exactly wujo, but it is a kind of coincidence that has occurred often in my life.

A few days ago, for no particular reason, I bought some Neosporin cream with pain relief, and noted that it was recommended for burns. I had plenty of regular Neosporin cream and ointment at home in my stockpile of meds, but when I saw this product on the shelf, I knew I should get it. It was not a pre-planned purchase.

Yesterday afternoon I burned my hand while using the hot glue gun. Careless mistake, resulted in hot glue on my fingertips which I had to then peel off. Haven’t had a burn in a long, long time. Haven’t used the hot glue gun in years, and using it was a spur of the moment decision.

It really hurt, and I tried to keep ice on it, but the ice was so uncomfortable that I just used the cold area of the cloth instead of the ice. Strangely, I paid close attention to how long it took for the blister to appear. Once I saw the blister I put the cream on the blister and got some good relief. I kept thinking, WHY was I so careless? WHY did that have to happen? WHY do I feel the need to time how long it’s hurting?

Ok, the strange part: about 5 hours later my daughter called me in a panic. My 1 yr old grandson had just burned his hand. I immediately told my daughter to use a cold cloth, not ice, if he was fighting ice. I just knew the ice was not going to feel good to him.

It didn’t sound very serious but I grabbed my cream and drove the mile to her house, reliving in my thoughts the number of minutes he was going to hurt, the number of minutes before the blister would appear, etc. When I got there, the blister was just appearing, right on time. We put some cream on it, and I rocked him to sleep. He is fine – didn’t wake up hurting at all, and it hasnt bothered him since then. But I am sure that the reason I got burned yesterday was in preparation for his burn.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Kathy B, subscriber and avid reader

There’s a hazy line here between wujo and coincidence…I could argue it either way, but we’re open to comments on it.

Christmas Prepper

One of our reader though this was a pretty cool figt to consider:  It’s an 8-inch high, 4-inch diameter three candle light which claims up to 9-hours of heat and light:  UCO Candlelier Deluxe Candle Lantern, Aluminum.  The run about $31 at Amazon and free shipping with Prime.

Of course, you might want a  Bundle – 20 Items: UCO 9-Hour Candles, 20 Pack for Candle Lanterns which is another $33 bucks or so, but that’s heat and light with basically an indefinite shelf life.

So Much for the Castle

With another day comes another intrusion of government:  The city of San Rafael, California has now banned smoking inside your own home IF it has a common wall with another home.

This will likely end up in court at some point because the law doesn’t compensate the owners of private residences (condos and coops) where the city has decided to intrude. 

Also, what happens when the residents are smoking weed?  California passed Prop. 215 in 1996…so is San Rafael now banning a particular kind of medicine…the mind boggles. Government banning what government has approved comes to mind.  And as such, the serpent begins to swallow its own tail…

Schedule Reminder

Peoplenomics tomorrow and Thursday looks like a day off, although there may be an update for Peoplenomics readers…depending on mood, alarm clocks, sunrise…and whatever.

Enjoy the turkey and the leftovers.  We’ll reconvene session at 9 AM Eastern time Friday morning.  All rise…

(write when you break even)