Category Archives: Friends & Family

Julie’s Perfect Roast Turkey & Mashed Potatoes

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Over the years I’ve read many ways and recipes on how to cook a perfect turkey. Taking the best parts of many of those reads, I’ve come up with this method.

  • I do not brine, it adds too much salt to the bird.
  • I do not use a bag, it boils the bird.

Use a high quality roasting pan, I use the Pampered Chef Roasting Pan. I earned mine at 60% off by hosting a party with a few years ago, but even at full price it is worth every penny. Once you roast a turkey in a high quality pan you can never go back. They last, no scratches, no nicks, no peeling, and when the turkey is done I move it to the cutting board and put the roaster right on the stove to do the gravy. If you don’t have a quality pan, any pan works with a few adjustments but be sure to keep the bird off the bottom of the pan with a rack or crumpled up foil.

Temperature is very important too, if you even suspect your oven t-stat is a little off get a thermometer designed to hang on rack inside oven. Last year my turkey did not roast correctly, dinner was 2 hours late. I found that my oven was cooking at 20 – 30 degrees cooler than I had set it to.

This is for a 18-20 lb turkey, dinner at 5:00 PMimg_2734

Shopping List:

  • Good Quality Whole Turkey, I prefer Butterball
  • Cheese Cloth
  • 6 cans or 2 cartons of Chicken Broth or Chicken Stock
  • 2 Lbs UNSALTED Butter
  • 1 lb sour cream
  • Produce:
    • 2 Leeks
    • 1 Onion
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Fresh Thyme
    • Fresh Sage
    • Fresh Rosemary
    • Fresh Parsley
    • 2 or 3 heads Garlic
    • Bag of Potatoes
  • Bay Leaves
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Pepper Corns
  • White Pepper
  • 2 Bottles good quality Sauvignon Blanc.Buy a brand you would drink.
  • Add the ingredients for the stuffing Recipe of your choice. I like No. 38, Southwestern Cornbread, from these Food Network 50 Stuffing Recipes. I cut the recipe in half and have plenty for a bird 20 lbs or less.

9:00am:

Remove turkey from refrigerator, let stand at room temperature for a couple hours.

9:45am:

Preheat oven to 350º.

10:00 am:

Roast 1 or 2 bulbs garlic for potatoes.
Cut off top of bulb, put in a small covered baker or casserole, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, bake at 350º until cloves are soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. No covered baker? Another method is wrapping each bulb in foil and place in a muffin pan.

Read over recipes and prepare stuffing as directed.

10:45 am:

In a 3-qt. Covered Saucepan combine 1½ cups each chicken broth and Sauvignon Blanc, 1 stick unsalted butter, the giblets, a bunch each of fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to simmer. Keep on lowest flame/setting possible.

Prepare roasting pan by setting the rack in the pan and adding one onion cut in large pieces, 3 large carrots cut in large pieces, 3 or 4 stalks of celery cut in large pieces, the white and little bit of the greenish white part of 1 medium leek cut into large pieces. Add the neck, 2 large or 3 medium bay leaves and a small handful of fresh parsley. If you are a garlic lover you can optionally add 4 or 5 garlic cloves. Add ¼ to ½ cup of cold water to pan, just enough to barely cover bottom so the vegetables don’t burn in first half hour.

11:00 am:a12c7aa3-51a3-4762-9b48-70825731b427

Preheat oven to 425º

Clean, pat dry with paper towel, stuff, and truss the turkey. Generously season with fresh ground sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

If I did not buy a butter ball turkey I use Grandma Krejci’s method of slitting a hole in the skin over each breast, separate some of the skin from the meat with the back of a wooden spoon, and inserting several pats of unsalted butter under the skin. About 1 full stick total for a 20 lb turkey.

Place turkey in roasting pan, you may have to move around the vegies to get it to set correctly. Place a bunch each of fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme on the breast. Cut a piece of cheesecloth big enough to cover the breast and legs of the turkey. Soak the cheesecloth in the simmering broth mixture. Use tongs and a fork to take the cheese cloth out of the hot simmering mixture and position over the bird, covering the fresh herbs, breast and drumsticks, but not the sides.

If you have two slow cookers you can use one for the extra stuffing. Coat the sides with butter, add stuffing, cook on low for 4 hours stirring every hour so it does not burn.
(Thanks for the tip Dianne M.)

11:30 am:

Place turkey in 425º oven.

08e7b17f-7579-4618-b8f0-56cdebd26ec5Prepare mashed potatoes: In slow cooker add one can (1½ cups) chicken broth, the white part of a leek finely chopped, the mushed up soft part of the roasted garlic, and 6 – 8 large Idaho Potatoes cut into medium pieces. I prefer to scrub the potatoes with a brush rather than peeling them, the skin adds flavor. Do not overfill crock pot. Add more broth if needed, but do not cover, the level should be about 1 to 2 inches from top of potatoes. Set slow cooker on low. (High if you are cooking a smaller bird.)

12:00 Noon:

Generously baste turkey using a ladle, be sure to moisten all of the cheese cloth. Close oven door and reduce temperature to 350º. Generously baste every 30 minutes (use a timer) with the broth mixture, NOT using the drippings for basting.

Add 1½ cups each chicken broth and Sauvignon Blanc and 1 stick unsalted butter to simmering mixture as needed through out day, removing the giblets when they are done cooking. If your stove does not have a low enough setting, after simmering a bit I turn off the burner and set the pan next to the oven vent on top my stove, turning back on each time I add more stuff to the mixture.

3:30 pm: (1 Hour before Turkey is due to be done)

Remove the cheese cloth from the turkey before basting.

Check the potatoes, they should be soft. Drain and reserve the liquid from the slow cooker. Add 1 stick unsalted butter and one lb of sour cream. Mash and mix well, adding salt and white pepper to taste. The mashed potatoes will seem a little loose but will set up while cooing on low until birtd is done.

4:00 pm:

Use remainder of broth mixture to baste the turkey, the roaster should have lots of liquid by now.

4:30 pm:

Pull turkey from oven, insert meat thermometer into thickest part of Turkey thigh. It should read 180º when turkey is fully cooked. (If not done, place back in oven, baste with drippings and check again in 30 minutes.)

Remove the turkey from pan and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. It will continue to cook a bit as it sets.

For perfect gravy.

Use tongs to remove all the vegies and neck from the roaster, putting them into a glass bowl to cool before trashing. Pour/strain the drippings into a gravy separator (you should have plenty of drippings). Let separate. If you do not have a separator strain into a large measuring cup or bowl and let sit until separated, then using a large spoon to scoop off the fat into another bowl.

Put a few tablespoons of the fat back into the roaster, put directly on stove, and add flour to make a roux. I guess on the flour, it usually is about equal to the fat. When the roux is done pour the separated drippings back into the roaster, less the fat. Also add the reserved liquid from the potatoes. If you need more liquid use more chicken broth. Simmer stirring with a whisk until the gravy is at the consistency you want.  Taste before seasoning, you should not need much salt and pepper if any, it picks up the salts and seasonings from the roasted bird.

If you like giblets in the gravy chop them into small pieces and add them with the liquids.

5:00 pm:

Enjoy!


Binx & Jinx

Saturday, November 30th, 2013
Binx & Jinx

Left to Right: Jinx, Binx

Long before the book “Elf on the Shelf” let the cat out of the bag on Santa’s little helpers, Binx and Jinx were at the Krejci House in Azusa checking up on Richard & Julie each Christmas. Bad Belinda, Santa’s fallen elf, also found a home with the Krejci’s long ago, causing chaos behind the two little elves everywhere they went.

Now the three elves live with the Wilson’s in Jackson Wyoming where they kept a close eye on Douglas and Kyle as they grew up and reported back to Santa. Now the house is quiet, Binx and Jinx are enjoying their retirement in Wyoming along with Bad Belinda, they all love it there because it reminds them of their birthplace, the north Pole,however they are quite tired of 50 years of being locked up 11 months a year.

Bad Belinda

Bad Belinda

It’s almost time for them to emerge from their keeping place for another Christmas. Now that the world knows all about Santa’s little helpers they should enjoy a bit more freedom. I wonder what adventures they will have, and what mischief Bad Belinda will get them into.


A Grizzly Encounter

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

DISCLAIMER: This was not a safe situation, we should have not let anyone out of the car until we knew what the animal was. Bears are wild animals and unpredictable and will attack without warning, don’t try this at home!

Last week I had two friends, Vicki and Kirsten, visit me in Wyoming. We all grew up in Azusa, California together, played flute in the Azusa Aztec Marching band in High School, and we were all in the class of ‘79. The three of us now live in different states and although we have seen each other over the years the three of us have not been together for 25 years. We spent the weekend in Yellowstone National park, the whole time chatting away like teenagers except the conversations were not about cute boys and shopping malls, they were about the men in our lives and the woes of pushing 50.

On day two of our trip we were getting a little disappointed we had not seen the usual amount of wildlife. Vicki and I have been to Yellowstone together several times but Kirsten had not been there since she was a very young child, and for this visit she had her son with her. I was beginning to think all the big animals were hiding from them. That afternoon, between Tower Falls and Canyon Village we topped a ridge and there was a critter jam, traffic was stopped, we could not see the critter due to the angle of the hill. There was a crowd running with their cameras down the road in a frenzy. I let Vicki out to go see if it was something worth stopping for. I figured it was a bison or an elk, maybe even a moose, I told her if the traffic started going again I would pick her back up on the way through. She was gone several minutes, more than enough time to see what it was and come back. I saw a parking spot in the pull out on the other side of the road, only a few yards away so I took it. Kirsten and I got out and told the kids to stay in the car until we evaluate the situation. I had just closed the car door and was adjusting my camera when I was Vicki running to the car, full speed, making the cut sign with her hands across her neck, then she put both hands around her mouth and shouted as loud as possible “GET BACK IN!!!! IT’S A [BLEEPING] GRIZZLY!!”

Vicki had seen the bear and wanted to get a quick photo before she came back to the car. She said it was close to the side of the road, she aimed, zoomed in, and took her shot, just as the bear started walking towards her. She thought ‘what am I doing’ and turned to run. The crowd would not move out of her way, here comes a grizzly bear, only a few yards away and NO ONE was running except her! She pushed the people out of the way, regardless of age, and ran to where I let her out of the car. She said it was just like a movie, she was running for her life and the car was gone!!

All is well, she found where I had parked and we were all safely in the car. We looked out the window and watched the crowd running along side the road, chasing the bear for photos. We waited until they passed then Kirsten and I got out, lagging way behind the crowd, and saw the bear from a safe distance, with plenty of food, I mean people between us. Kirsten got her photo and we left before we witnessed something we would rather not see.

It reminded me of a song…

The other day (The other day )
We met a bear (We met a bear )
Out in Yellowstone (Out in Yellowstone )
A-way out there (A-way out there)

The other day we met a bear
out in Yellowstone a-way out there.

Vicki aimed the camera
At that bear
She zoomed right in
A-way out there

Vicki aimed the camera at that bear
She zoomed right in a-way out there.

He said to her
“Why don’t you run?
I see you ain’t
Got any gun”

He said to her “Why don’t you run?
I see you ain’t got any gun”

And so she ran
Away from there
But right behind
Her was that bear

And so she ran away from there
But right behind her was that bear

Ahead of her
There was a crowd
A great big crowd
And so she plowed

Ahead of her there was a crowd
A great big crowd And so she plowed

But Julie moved
That great big burb
Holly crap!
Where is that burb!

But Julie moved that great big burb
Holly crap where is that burb!

And so she ran
Across the road
Telling us
It’s time to load!

And so she ran across the road
Telling us it’s time to load!

The moral of
This story is
Don’t get out for bears
In Yellowstone

The moral of this story is
Don’t get out for bears in Yellowstone

That’s all there is
There ain’t no more
So what the heck
You singing for