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For the last few years, I’ve been a firm believer in brining turkeys. The results speak for themselves. I’m a dark meat guy and, of all the white meats, turkey breast was the one I feared the most. But a brined bird will give you moist flavorful white meat. Here’s all you need to know.

There’s a separate challenge with turkey breast which comes from the high position of the breast meat in the oven. By the time the thighs fully cook, the breasts get overdone. The solution is to butterfly the bird:

Take a big sharp knife and cut through the bones along either side of the backbone from head to tail. Remove the spine and save for stock, then take a small knife or shears and remove the ribs. I then take a knife and score the inside of the breast bone right down the center. Flip the bird over and press down on the outside of the breast until the bone underneath snaps and the bird lays flat. Now the thighs sit at the same height as the breasts, allowing them to cook evenly. Tie the ends of the legs together and tuck the wing tips under the body to keep things tidy. You can do the butterflying either before or after brining – though doing it first will help you fit the bird into a smaller brining vessel.

Good luck and have a great holiday!

I’ve been working from home since November and have found that podcasts are a great substitute for office chatter. Most of my faves are in the comedy and politics categories, but I just found my first food-related show – The Sporkful. In each 15-25 minute episode, hosts Dan and Mark tackle topics like soft vs. hard pretzels, what’s the best dip for fries, buffet strategies, and popcorn etiquette. Check out their blog too.

Aside from the annoying commercials and mediocre food, here’s another reason to stop giving your money to Olive Garden. They’re bullshitting you. To your face. Why reward them for it? Unlimited volumes of low-value bread and pasta?

As consumers, we really need to start looking at chain restaurants more critically. McDonald’s tastes the same around the world because they engineer the meals for consistency. It’s “fast food” so we accept that lack of wholesomeness in exchange for convenience. But we should also be questioning how places like Olive Garden and Red Lobster manage that same consistency from PA to Kansas to California. We live under an illusion that all sit-down restaurants with waitstaffs have big kitchens run by skilled chefs. More likely, there are huge regional facilities using corporate-designed recipes to premake and portion sauces, breadsticks, desserts, etc. They freeze and ship the food hundreds of miles to the franchises to be thawed, reheated and assembled per some laminated card full of plus signs and pictograms.

Remember, you are eating for you and your family’s nourishment – to live long, healthy lives with strong bodies and minds.  Corporate restaurants are trying to turn a profit. That’s it. They’re run by executives in big cities far away and don’t know you or care about you or your community – no matter how many smiling families they put in their commercials. Twenty years from now, you’ll be suffering the effects of their cheap carbs, fat and preservatives. And Olive Garden will be long gone with your money.

I’d heard of duck confit (and finally tried it in Paris this spring) but was never really sure how it was prepared. Now I know. I need to find some duck legs asap.

Another version with more prep detail.

My growing discontent with America’s food production/distribution system got yet another boost from this whole egg recall debacle. I learned about localharvest.org in a great egg article on MSN and decided to see where I could find local healthy eggs. There’s a place 3 minutes from our house!

… but it’s been a busy couple of weeks away from the blog. Prep for Paris followed by the 9 day trip. We had an amazing time and ate a lot of food. Burned most of the calories off by walking about a thousand miles though. Pics will be up by Monday I promise. In the meantime, here’s a useful link.

Nice little slideshow on HuffPo highlighting the best and worst seafood choices. I get so mixed up about which farmed species are safe and which aren’t.

U.S. farmed catfish= OK

Farmed salmon= very bad

Set the DVR for this new series. For anyone annoyed with American eating habits or fed up with the lack of affordable healthy foods, this should be fun to watch.

Jamie Oliver is here to start a revolution. The impassioned chef, TV personality and best-selling author is determined to take on the high statistics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in this country, where our nation’s children are the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents. Jamie is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces, with the thought-provoking new series, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” debuting FRIDAY, MARCH 26 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Needled by local naysayers, challenged by ingrained unhealthy habits and government bureaucracy, and welcomed by some of the most surprising youngsters, families and local leaders, Jamie shows how, in just a few short months, he tried to transform Huntington as a template for the entire country. The stakes? Simply the health of our country’s citizens and the legacy for its children.

Check out his prize-winning speech calling for a revolution in the way we approach food. Powerful stuff.

Learn more here.

Far and away the best food value on Kaua’i was the stuff we got from roadside carts and stands. We had a couple nice dinners at higher end restaurants but they really weren’t that memorable. Really we had the most fun during the day, hitting beaches, sightseeing and building up our appetites. Our on-the-road meals simply became enmeshed with the rest of the amazing experiences we accumulated, and trying every roadside stand we came across became another “must do” before being exiled to the mainland.

In Hanalei Bay on the North Shore you’ll find Pat’s Taqueria. Their tacos and burritos are good enough to make the pages of Food & Wine and Time magazines.

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Along the South Shore, we stumbled upon this tent on our last day. Burritos to the left and sausages to the right. I’d just eaten a big plate of tacos but i still grabbed a spinach and garlic dog with mango salsa.

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The parking lot near Tunnels Beach gets a lot of traffic so it’s a good spot to set up a stand. Grabbed an organic banana bread with macadamia nuts from this friendly woman. The round gentleman behind us was selling coconuts (with straws inserted for drinking) out of the back of his pickup truck.

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We didn’t get all of our food out of strangers’ cars though. Tropical Taco in Hanalei was a favorite (and we aways knew where it was parked). We hit it right after a 7-hour hike on the Na Pali coast. Glorious.

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And one of the few bright spots on the South Shore were the shrimp tacos at the Shrimp Station. Seriously, the South Shore is a desert. Spicy shrimp weren’t exactly at the top of my wishlist in that climate, but they were damn tasty.

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RSS Go feed yourself

  • hummus heaped with tomatoes and cucumbers
    Like clockwork every summer, I decide that the only thing I want to eat, maybe forever because when it’s warm out I completely forget winter is coming (I’m sorry, I had to), are variations on tomato-cucumber salad. We did a world tour of these last year and it might take me another decade of Smitten Kitchen-ing but I will get to them all. Left to our own dev […]

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