Deep-Fried Turkey – It’s a “Guy Thing”

November 23, 2009

What activity provides the opportunity to buy dangerous new gear, play with fire, drink beer out-of-doors, and potentially burn down your house?  You guessed it, we’re deep-frying a turkey!

 Actually, I deep-fried my turkey a couple of years ago, and I’ll be doing it again this year, though not for Thanksgiving – we’ll be out of town with family.  When I last had Thanksgiving dinner at my house, I decided to go the deep-fried route.  After all, the method has quite a few advantages over roasting.  The bird takes an hour to cook instead of four or more, the resulting product is very tender and much moister than a comparable roast turkey, and the skin is crispy and tasty beyond belief.  On the other hand, there’s that issue with potentially burning down your house and, worse yet, risking the possibility of third degree burns over your entire body!  Yep, that’s what makes it attractive to guys.  There’s nothing more exciting than risking your life to deliver dinner to the family. 

All levity aside, this is actually an activity you should NOT ENTER INTO LIGHTLY.  I highly recommend that you read up on the safety issues associated with outdoor fryers well before you try this.  Get a good turkey fryer, not a cheap one.  This means sturdy, heavy, and with regard to the burner, powerful but controllable.  Read all instructions.  Then read the accounts of others who’ve done it successfully, i.e., without burning down the house or ending the day in the emergency room. 

The propane hose is wrapped in foil for protection. Note the fire extinguisher under the table.

I strongly suggest that you look at Alton Brown’s recipe at  Alton actually goes overboard on the safety aspects, but I must agree with most of his recommendations, especially the part about having a fire extinguisher handy! 

I followed most of Alton’s instructions, starting with brining the turkey for 16 hours before frying.  This is accomplished by icing down the turkey in a large cooler and immersing it in brine containing ice water, kosher salt, and brown sugar.  This process will keep the turkey moist, improve the browning of the skin, and dramatically enhance the flavor. 

I did NOT build a turkey derrick, as Alton suggests in his video, but otherwise I followed his safety recommendations.  He suggests that you place the turkey into the oil at 250 degrees, then bring the temperature up to 350.  Removing the turkey at an internal temperature of 151 degrees will result in a final internal temperature of 160 or so.  I prefer to go a bit higher than that, so I removed the turkey at 160 and it drifted up to about 172.

The result is shown below.  I think everyone should try this at least once.  Once you do, you may never go back to roasting.  One final suggestion: don’t drink too much beer until the turkey is safely on the platter!

The final product - yum!

The Leaf-Bagging Workout

November 16, 2009

I love my Billy Goat blower - it rocks!

When we returned from Myrtle Beach, we were greeted by the sight of a lawn completely covered in leaves.  Having already removed 14 bags of leaves from the lawn prior to our departure, I was not looking forward to tackling the newly fallen layer.   You see, I live in Mentor, Ohio, an otherwise fairly progressive municipality which nevertheless has an incredibly primitive and backward trait; namely, the total lack of any kind of curbside leaf pick-up.  Warning: ranting & raving begins here: Virtually every other city for miles around has trucks circulating throughout the neighborhood, sucking up vast piles of leaves from treelawns and carrying them off for disposal.  The denizens of these other cities have merely to blow or rake their leaves to the curb, and a day or two later – POOF – they disappear!  Not those of us in Mentor, Ohio (are you reading this, Councilman Micchia?).  We are required to place our leaves in 30 gallon paper bags of a type and size approved by the city, and to transport them to curbside on trash day.  We are limited to setting out no more than 25 bags per week.  HA!!!  I put out 56 bags last week, followed by 69 bags this week, and if the trash guys don’t pick this week’s bags up, they’ll be lookin’ at a stack of a hundred or so by next Thursday!  Fortunately, the guys who pick up the trash are smarter than the guys who wrote the city ordinance in the first place.  End of rant.

Anyway, in an effort to control my blood pressure, I decided to concentrate on the positive aspects of this leaf-removal experience.  I now think of this chore as a customized workout, designed to build up my abs and biceps, improve my stamina, and provide aerobic exercise that I’d otherwise have to pay for by joining a gym.  So here are the components of the Leaf-bagging Workout – give it a try, it’ll help you burn off a few calories!

Blower-pushing Boogie: this exercise is a real workout for the legs.  Build up those glutes and hamstrings as you push that blower around, and around, and around, and around………

Doin' the Boogie!

The Stoop & Scoop: Build up your lats, delts, biceps, and triceps while stretching your back and abs.  Scoop up those leaves!

Stre-e-e-etch those back muscles!

The Power Ram: A great ab and back exercise that also works your shoulders, forearms and wrists.  Packing those leaves down makes room for the next rep of the Stoop & Scoop!


The Funnel Jerk & Flip:  Another arm and shoulder workout – and you’re ready to repeat the whole set!

Oh yeah, I'm really getting too old for this s#%$ !

Ain’t it fun?

Baggin’ Update:   As of 11/16/2009, we have now filled 172 bags, and the leaves are still falling…….

Summer’s Over, Winter’s Rolling in, What Happened to Fall?

October 14, 2009
View to the East from Lakefront Lodge
View to the East from Lakefront Lodge

Sunday, Sally and I stopped at Lakefront Lodge and walked down to the lakeshore to get a look at Lake Erie.  The wind was high, and the air coming off the lake was really cold.  One distinctive thing about Lake Erie’s beaches is their wild look when summer is over and the weather starts to get cold.   The beauty of the scenery is probably an acquired taste, since the sky is sometimes leaden and so is the water.  Nevertheless, I like to get out and walk around at this time of year.  I will, however, be praying for warmer weather – today it never got above 46 degrees!

Looking West toward Willoughby

Looking West toward Willoughby

Yes, the water looks grayer than the sky!

Yes, the water looks grayer than the sky!

A little blue sky really helps, even when it's cold

A little blue sky really helps, even when it's cold

It’s Leaf Season…..Again

October 12, 2009
First day in the back yard yielded 7 bags of debris

First day in the back yard yielded 7 bags of debris

My new Echo blower really puts out the power!

My new Echo blower really puts out the power!









I’ve been living in Northeastern Ohio for the past 13 years, and I’m coming up on fall number 14.  Of the 13 previous seasons, I’ve paid landscapers to clean up the leaves on my property for eight of those years.  I estimate that I’ve spent nearly $10,000, all told, just getting rid of the leaves, twigs, branches, acorns, maple seeds, bark, shavings, and assorted debris that have accumulated on my lawn over this period. 

Over the years, I’ve purchased three leaf vaccum/shredder/blowers, a self-propelled lawn vac/chipper/shredder, a lawn mower that mulches and bags yard waste, a tiller, a chain saw, 400 or 500 feet of electrical cord to drive the electrically powered equipment , and over the five or so years that I actually removed the leaves myself, roughly 400 biodegradable paper yard waste bags at a cost of about 75 cents each. 

This year so far, I’ve filled 12 of those 30 gallon bags, and it’s only the first week.   You see, this year I have two excuses for firing my landscaper (a task which I wisely pawned off on my wife, Sally) and doing the job myself.  First, and most important, I’m unemployed, and I don’t have $800 to $1000 to spend on leaf cleanup.  Secondly, now that I have some time at home, I can actually do the job correctly, which is something that has not happened in the past eight years.   

It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to landscapers, but they all have one recurring problem that makes my life a living hell.  Specifically, every year around November, when all the leaves have finally fallen, and it’s absolutely imperative to get them cleaned up before the first snowfall, the landscapers simply disappear.  Most of the time, they’re getting their equipment ready for snowplowing season, having completely forgotten about  the leaf removal for which they’ve already been paid.   In one instance, my landscaper actually packed up, left town, and took a couple of weeks of vacation, never to be heard from until the following spring.  So, having already paid for the cleanup, I ended up doing it myself.  In other years, I have had landscapers show up every week or so during the fall, only to inform me, as the final deluge came down, that the best they could do was to move them to the back of my lot, to be cleaned up and removed in the spring.   Strangely, when spring arrived, they made the pile bigger rather than smaller. 

In short, I’ve been trying to get leaves and brush removed from my property for years.   I have more compost than I know what to do with, and I still have a pile of leaves 30 feet in diameter and five feet high, left over from last year! 

But this year will be different.  You can bet on it, because I’ll be doing this job, mostly alone, with help from Andy, and believe me, Sally won’t be accepting any excuses like those landscapers gave.  When the snow flies, the ground had better be clear of leaves!

This big plastic funnel simplifies the chore of filling 30 gallon bags

This big plastic funnel simplifies the chore of filling 30 gallon bags

I bought a gas powered blower this year, and I’m planning on gettng a larger wheeled version for the really heavy stuff in a few weeks.  Despite all this, I’ll be spending less than I would have by hiring someone to do the work.  The last time I did this, I filled 105 bags of leaves.  This year could be a record-setter!

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