Lots to be thankful for at your home

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Fri., Nov. 8, 2013
- Contributed Photo

In case all your electronic devices are broken and you have not yet been blitzed by advertising for the Christmas holiday, much less Thanksgiving, you are running out of time already. Don't get confused by all the faux tannenbaums in the stores - Thanksgiving comes first. So, what are your home and its occupants going to be thankful for this year?

If you decided to take advantage of energy tax credits, and installed energy-efficient windows this year, raise your glass of mulled cider to that one. Your home will be warmer and your bank account should be a bit fuller. If not, there may be just enough time to find a contractor who can get it done before you're singing “Auld Lang Syne,” and you will be able to take those credits on your 2013 tax return.

If you opted for a new energy-efficient heating system too, have a second glass of cider, while you watch the fire's glow on your 60-inch digital TV screen on Thanksgiving night after the football games.

Did you enjoy the comfort of central air conditioning in your home for the first time this year? You won't need that for quite a few months, but if you got some energy credits for that as well, top off the cider again.

How did your community-supported agriculture farm share work out? Did you enjoy abundant fresh fruits and vegetables, and still have plenty to put away in your freezer, pantry shelves and root cellar? If you missed the opportunity to sign up, do your homework now. Talk to CSA providers, and get on their mailing lists. Also, survey families who take advantage of farm shares, and learn more about the advantages and pitfalls.

Perhaps you will be serving some of those fall vegetables from your farm-share to family and friends at Thanksgiving dinner. Bake a couple of pies with those local farm stand apples. Hopefully, you also have sugar pumpkins left in the garden for the traditional pumpkin pie.

As for the main course, there are plenty of turkey farms in the state of Connecticut. You will be thankful you supported local agriculture, if you can still pick up a fresh free-range turkey from a Connecticut pasture. Some turkey farms also offer CSA shares, so you might want to plan for next Thanksgiving as well.

For all of my life, we have been fortunate to have a turkey dinner on the table at Thanksgiving. And for many years, I have been the custodian chef assigned to the turkey. Whether this will be the first year you cook the turkey or you consider yourself the turkey-meister, here are some of the finer points of preparing the perfect turkey, from Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm in Sterling, Conn.

Allow 15 minutes per pound, cooking a fresh turkey at 325 degrees. Add 20 minutes if you stuff the turkey. For the first half of the roasting time, cook the turkey breast-side down. Turn the breast up and cover it with foil to finish the roasting. About one hour before the bird is finished cooking, remove the foil until your oven timer sounds. Cooking the bird with the breast side down and removing the foil for the last hour should yield moist and tender turkey, still with the classic brown exterior. A thermometer stuck in the meatiest part of the inner thigh should register 165 degrees. Let the bird sit for 30 minutes before carving.

Tempted to prepare it in a deep fryer? The National Fire Protection Association turkey fryer assessment is quite clear: "NFPA continues to believe that turkey fryers that use oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for acceptably safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer."

Be thankful for all you have this Thanksgiving.

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