Thanksgiving Traditions

Seems odd that I would post our Thanksgiving recipes on Sunday after the four day holiday, but I have a reason. This Thanksgiving would be a first for our family; we would celebrate the traditions our parents established, however, this year our parents were not at our family table. They were present spiritually and we celebrated them, our heritage, our family recipes and the great stories of the Vajretti Family legacy. Our greatest legacy, of course, is our Mom’s cooking. This Thanksgiving was our maiden voyage, no Mom to instruct us. After all, Mom always made the turkey, stuffing and gravy. Not to say that we cannot cook but like my sis said, “You don’t know how it is to look around to get Mom’s reinforcement and realize, she’s not there.” Her lessons resonate, however, and the stories we tell. 

This is the reason I started this blog. I want to share the stories, the ‘lessons, legacy and lore’ from my heritage and the history of growing up in the great Central San Joaquin Valley. The ‘Cooking Secrets of the Lazy V’ are my Mom’s teachings and recipes. I hope to tell these stories as well as all the great ‘stories’! of growing up in the great San Joaquin Valley.   

Here are our essential Thanksgiving recipes and one Mom Thanksgiving story:

“From here to Fresno”

Several years ago, I was writing the recipe for roasting a turkey. I recalled that Mom would ‘hold’ her turkey for a set time, one of her ‘cooking secrets’. At a point, we moved our family dinners to Fresno since John our brother-in-law would be ‘on call’. With Dad as Mom’s prep chef and helper, Mom would dress her turkey Thursday mornings, roast the turkey and come to Fresno with the turkey, dressing and gravy. Typical of the cooking relationship we had and curious as to how long Mom would hold the turkey, I called my Mother, “Ma!”  She would answer, “What!?” “I have a cooking question.” “What is it?” she would say. I explained to her my question, how long would you hold the turkey? She simply answered, “Well, Nancy, I hold the turkey ‘from here to Fresno’!” Yes, I thought. This is true according to the tradition and ‘story’. Mom would take the turkey out of the oven, wrap the roasting pan in a blanket, place it in the trunk of the car and allow it to rest ‘from here to Fresno!’ We tested the recipes with our Mother’s blessings. They worked! We applied  Mom’s techniques and lessons. Perhaps you will honor Mom and her ‘tried and true’ recipes next year.

FARM TABLE FRESH    LESSONS LEGACY & LORE  

THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS                             

ROASTING A TURKEY  (#96)

I AM VERY LUCKY TO HAVE BEEN RAISED BY A WOMAN WHO WAS THE BEST COOK EVER AND MY MENTOR AND TEACHER. OUR THANKSGIVING TRADITION IS PREPARING A FEAST FROM RECIPES THAT THEN AS NOW ARE THE BEST. THANK THE LORD FOR MY MOM.  

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES

THE INGREDIENTS

JUICE FROM 1 LEMON
1 CUBE BUTTER

SALT AND FRESH GROUND PEPPER

1 TURKEY 18-22 POUNDS

 

THE METHOD OF COOKING

  1. SELECT A TURKEY OF YOUR CHOOSING. FRESH IS ALWAYS BEST. TOMS ARE PREFERRED. REMOVE THE PLASTIC WRAPPING AND THE NECK AND INNARDS FROM THE CAVITY. REMOVE ANY FAT AND THE WING TIPS. RESERVE FOR BROTH.
  2. SPRINKLE THE TURKEY WITH SALT AND MASSAGE INTO THE TURKEY. LET THE
    TURKEY SET FOR THIRTY MINUTES. RINSE THE TURKEY WITH COLD WATER.
    DRAIN BY SETTING THE TURKEY UP ON ITS HIND QUARTERS.
  3. RUB LEMON JUICE ON THE INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE TURKEY INCLUDING THE CAVITY AND THE NECK CAVITY. AT THIS POINT YOU CAN COVER AND REFRIGERATE.
  4. TO STUFF THE TURKEY, LIGHTLY SALT AND PEPPER THE TURKEY INCLUDING THE CAVITY. LIGHTLY STUFF THE CAVITY AND THE NECK WITH MOM’S DRESSING.
  5. TRUSS THE TURKEY USING STAINLESS PINS. INSERT THE PINS ACROSS THE OPENING    HORIZONTALLY, ONE INCH APART. WITH KITCHEN STRING, LACE UP THE OPENING
    WEAVING THE STRING THROUGH THE PINS.
  6. TUCK THE TURKEY TAIL INTO THE END OPENING. INSERT TWO NEEDLES VERTICALLY ON EITHER SIDE OF THE OPENING. THIS SHOULD HOLD THE TAIL IN PLACE AND THE STUFFING INSIDE.
  7. MELT 1 CUBE OF BUTTER. COVER THE TURKEY WITH THE MELTED BUTTER. GENEROUSLY PEPPER THE TURKEY
  8. PLACE A TURKEY ROASTING RACK IN THE BOTTOM OF A ROASTING PAN. PLACE THE TURKEY BREAST SIDE DOWN INTO THE RACK. ADD 2 CUPS WATER OR BROTH IN THE ROASTING PAN. 
  9. TENT WITH FOIL SEALING THE EDGES AROUND THE ROASTING PAN.
  10.  PLACE THE TURKEY IN THE PRE-HEATED 400 DEGREE OVEN AND ROAST FOR ONE HOUR.
  11. AFTER ONE HOUR, CHECK THE LIQUID IN THE ROASTING PAN. ADD ½ CUP BROTH OR WATER IF LESS THAN ONE CUP.
  12.  LOWER THE HEAT TO 325 DEGREES. ROAST FOR UP TO 4 HOURS FOR A 22 LB TURKEY. BASTE WITH THE JUICES FROM THE ROASTING PAN EVERY HALF HOUR. ADD BROTH OR WATER AS THE LIQUID REDUCES.
  13. REMOVE THE FOIL TENT THE LAST HALF HOUR OF COOKING AND BASTE.
  14. AFTER 3 ½ TO 4 HOURS DEPENDING ON THE WEIGHT OF THE TURKEY (18-22 LBS) REGISTERING 165 DEGREES FOR THE BREAST AND STUFFING AND 175 FOR THE DARK MEAT, REMOVE THE TURKEY FROM THE OVEN.
  15. COVER WITH FOIL.  ALLOW TO REST FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES (OR FROM LOS BANOS TO FRESNO). THE TURKEY WILL CONTINUE TO COOK AND RESULT IN EXTRA TURKEY!

Love and Garlic, Nancy Vajretti celebrating Mom & The Cooking Secrets of the Lazy V!

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