Coffee Talk 10.23.21

coat // tee // jeans // sneakers // sunnies (option)

Good morning! I hope you’re having a good weekend. My parents are in town, so we’ve enjoyed visiting with them. We just hung out here on Friday night, and yesterday we went to the high school football game to see R play in the band.

It was a rare Saturday afternoon game, which was kind of nice for a change. We left during the 2nd quarter when it started raining, and I made Ina’s goat cheese lasagna for dinner. It’s been ages since I made that, and I forgot how good it is. Then we all turned in early after a competitive game of Hearts — D’s choice. It’s his favorite because he usually wins. I, on the other hand, always lose. I can never seem to get the hang of that game.

Today we have our usual Sunday plans — church, lunch afterwards, and I’m planning to catch up with a friend this evening. My parents head back to Virginia this afternoon. I swear, the weekends just seem like a blip these days.

In other news, we had wood floors installed in our living room on Friday, and they look great. It still had the original 20-year old carpet, and it was starting to look really tired. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a good before picture, and I was planning to do a post on it once the room is finished. Maybe I can find an old one.

Now I need to find an area rug that coordinates with the one in the foyer, since they’re right next to each other, and I’m hoping to add a pair of “occasional chairs” so we have more seating in there. I’d also like to replace the couch because I don’t love the color, but it’s still in good shape. That’s actually quite amazing because it wasn’t the best quality when we bought it, which was probably 15 years ago, and we actually use that room a lot.

Paul often sits in there to read or work when the TV is on in the family room, and my girls have always liked to go in there to do homework or just relax in a quiet space. It’s also the place I go to chat with friends when they visit, and when we have big get togethers, the adults usually end up in there as the kids take over the family room and kitchen. Although, these days the line between kids and adults is getting fuzzy. It’s funny how life changes. I knew my kids would grow up eventually, but I never expected it to happen this fast, ha!

All that to say, the couch will probably stay if I can find a rug that helps tie the puke green upholstery into the rest of the decor. Maybe if I switch out some of the wall art and add some new throw pillows, the offensive color won’t be so noticeable.

The real question is, when will I have time to focus on that? I have a lot of appointments this week, and my work is ramping up with the holidays looming, so it’s going to be a busy one. I know November will be here before I know it, so I’m trying to think ahead to Thanksgiving dinner. We’ll be staying home, and I believe some of Paul’s family will be joining us.

I’ve never cooked a Thanksgiving turkey but this might be the year. Last year I ordered one from Whole Foods, and we were underwhelmed. We’re talking about doing a traditional one here in the kitchen oven, and then Paul might try something on his smoker. Does anyone have a suggestion for that?

I’m not sure why I find the idea of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey so daunting, I mean, I roast chickens all the time. But in my defense, I’m often frustrated with those. For some reason, I often seem to pull them out before they’re done, and I can’t let that happen to my Thanksgiving turkey. I guess I need to get one of those fancy probe thermometers. If you have a recommendation for good one, let me know. With all of the shortages and supply chain backups, I should order one ASAP.

Wow, I can’t believe I’m talking about Thanksgiving before Halloween, but I guess that’s the world we live in now.

Well, that was a stream of consciousness post, if there ever was one. Anyway! I still need to get ready for the day, so I better get a move on here. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a blessed Sunday!

Join The Conversation

52 Responses

  1. Hi Jo_Lynne! Love your weekly Coffee Talk. I’m sure you will be inundated with advice on cooking a Thanksgiving turkey and the best probe thermometer. I have been using Alton Brown’s recipe for years with good success. My oven came with a probe thermometer but I did hear that you can get a good one that is not too expensive. Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. For our usual Thanksgiving dinner, for 7 adults and 3 children, I usually make 3 turkey breasts: 2 the day before and one on Thanksgiving Day. The Wednesday ones are sliced up and ready for my adult children to take home as “leftovers” (last year, my husband and I delivered all meals as a Covid precaution; not sure how it will play out this year). The thanksgiving day turkey provides that wonderful turkey skin that my father used to slip to the grands. We are all white meat fans, but you could substitute a whole turkey if your family prefers. Some of the labor intensive sides, like turnips, I make ahead and reheat.

  3. Thanksgiving is very special to us. This year one of our daughters and her family will be with us! And friends who will not have their family with them. I have cooked turkeys in the oven. My husband has smoked them. I’ve found ordering the turkey just makes the overall process of the Thanksgiving meal so much easier. Typically someone is cooking turkeys for charity! Help someone and I don’t have to deal with cooking the turkey. I always make dressing and carrot cake. Then everyone gets to “suggest” their favorite side. I’m looking forward to it already! Thanks, Jo-Lynne.

  4. If you try the smoker for the turkey, get a turkey breast or 2. It is easier. And just make a rub of 1T salt, 1 T course ground pepper, 1 T of garlic powder. It takes about 4 hours. Entire turkeys in the smoker have never turned out well for us, but this way is really delish!

  5. Like you, I have not grasped the game of Hearts and I always dread having to play it. Okay, I hope that I can ease your dread of cooking a turkey in the oven. For my big cooking project in Home Economics, my senior year of high school I prepared the complete meal for Thanksgiving, with no help from my mom. If I could do it way back then, You Can Do It Now! Following the guidelines on Butterball packaging are fail proof, and so many turkeys have the pop up timer in them, so you don’t have to invest in a thermometer. Turkeys cooked on a smoker are also wonderful. Check out Overstock for a throw rug for your living room. Have a blessed day!

  6. Hi Jo-Lynne,
    I love your Sunday coffee talk email, and look forward to receiving it every week. It truly feels as if we were sharing a cup of Java and chatting about life.
    Have you reconsidered having your sofa reupholstered? If you like the style and it’s in good shape, it might be worth checking into, especially since you are having to coordinate rugs and want to purchase two more chairs. When we built our current home, I had our formal living room sofa reupholstered. It was in excellent shape and the size perfect for what we call Deb’s room. I am sitting in ‘my room’ aka the den now, after church, with a cup of coffee, looking out the large window with the sun shining on a large Autumn Blaze Maple tree busting with color. While upholstering isn’t inexpensive, this was the right choice for us.
    I hope the decorating journey goes well, and is a fun project for you. It will be fun to see what you come up with.

  7. It’s not that hard to cook a turkey in the oven. Get a thermapen instant read thermometer, they work great. Sometimes we also do an additional turkey in the smoker, but I prefer the oven roasted one.

  8. I always love your coffee talks! Sounds like you’ve had a great weekend! I was told that green is a new color for 2021 so maybe your couch isn’t as out of place as you think 🤷‍♀️. As far as cooking a Turkey it’s become one of the easiest meals to prepare! Growing up I always helped my dad with the stuffing and then watched as the great bird was prepared! I’ve been married just 32 years and I don’t think I’ve never not cooked one. There were many years too where we hosted everyone for Thanksgiving or Christmas and I cooked a 25 lb Turkey! I usually cook my turkey throughout the night stuffed! Half hour per pound covered with tin foil 325 degrees! I have never used anything but butterball Turkey and have yet to not have a moist one! It never disappoints. I just did our thanksgiving dinner(🇨🇦)!it’s just our immediate family these days and I’ll be doing the Christmas one too!
    I’m sure you will have a great Turkey dinner with family no matter what you chose! Also I prepare as many veggies the night before and cook them the day of! That also includes having the dinning room table set!
    Anything for less work the day of eating so you can also enjoy!

  9. Good morning. We have a Traeger smoker and have used it every year for our Thanksgiving turkey. Without fail it is wonderful. We brine it and It turns out deliciousI think the brining helps with making it moist. We usually just do the recipe that is on the Traeger website. I agree it is daunting but my husband does a great job! We also have a probe for my motor that we picked up at Walmart but they digital readout and it works just fine.

  10. You must be thrilled with your hardwood, Jo-Lynne. I ripped out the rest of my carpet 6 or 7 years ago and will never have it again. I don’t even have it in bedrooms. I love sleek, allergy-free hardwood with area rugs. As for the turkey, my suggestion would be to consider buying a fresh one. You can off get them from local farms and I imagine that where you live, they are available in stores. Don’t use the “It’s done pop-up” on any turkey, fresh or Butterball. They lie– in both directions, lol. A thermometer is really a must for all poultry. My other suggestion is to spatchcock it– it cuts waaay down on cooking time and makes it easier not to mess it up. lol. Of course, you won’t have a Norman Rockwell presentation but I think the taste is what matters. I use cooking poultry shears and a heavy knife to spatchcock mine.

  11. Hi Jolynne, you should try cooking your Turkey in an oven bag! It is very easy and self bastes as it cooks! Instructions and cook time are very easy to follow! Most sides can be prepped ahead and if you have guests coming it seems they are always willing to bring something!

  12. JoLynne, the easiest and most convenient way to do your turkey is in the smoker! Have the grocery store cut it in pieces for you. (It will be much more flavorful all through it that way.) I brine it two days ahead. The day before Thanksgiving, I use Cavender’s seasoning all over. The next morning it goes in the smoker approximately 3 hours. We through in some Conecuh Smoked Sausage in the smoker, as well. It will be delicious and the oven and kitchen are free of the turkey.

  13. Cooking turkey is my best dish, haha. Empty out the cavity use Onion salt/powder, Garlic salt/powder, 1/2 apple, 1/2 onion, either carrot or celery. It keeps the turkey moist and gives it flavor. I do put small pats of butter on the top skin and do baste/brush the melted butter back on top 2 or 3 times (don’t need to do anything the 1st hour of cooking). I used a digital thermometer. Mine is weber but any type will be go as it gives you the temp. The outside of the turkey has the approximate cooking times (use the stuffed one though you won’t be eating the inside stuff). Make sure you leave some time for it to sit when you take it out of the oven (the directions will tell you how long). It makes the house smell wonderful as it is cooking. Also mashed potatoes are easy. I put a few garlic cloves in when boiling the potatoes (you can cut them into quarters for faster cooking). Add butter (and some sour cream if you want). I use a hand mixer to mix them. Love all your holiday & clothing items! Thank you.

  14. Turkey is my best dish, haha. Empty out the cavity use Onion salt/powder, Garlic salt/powder, 1/2 apple, 1/2 onion, either carrot or celery. It keeps the turkey moist and gives it flavor. I do put small pats of butter on the top skin and do baste/brush the melted butter back on top 2 or 3 times (don’t need to do anything the 1st hour of cooking). I used a digital thermometer. Mine is weber but any type will be go as it gives you the temp. The outside of the turkey has the approximate cooking times (use the stuffed one though you won’t be eating the inside stuff). Make sure you leave some time for it to sit when you take it out of the oven (the directions will tell you how long). It makes the house smell wonderful as it is cooking. Also mashed potatoes are easy. I put a few garlic cloves in when boiling the potatoes (you can cut them into quarters for faster cooking). Add butter (and some sour cream if you want). I use a hand mixer to mix them. Love all your holiday & clothing items! Thank you.

  15. We brine our turkey each year and it really keeps it very tender. You can also use a roasting bag (but I don’t suggest this if you make your own homemade gravy). Turkeys are pretty easy, it’s the timing of everything else being done at the same time that is a struggle for me. Love your blog.

  16. I read the New York Times Food Departments review on cooking thermometers and bought both the Thermoworks “lollipop” & “dot”thermometers. Best advice ever! I know precisely and accurately when meat is done. DOT® Simple Alarm Thermometer and ThermoPop at https://www.thermoworks.com/ThermoPop
    For turkey roasted in oven, the best advice is use a metal tube batteries to baste with melted unsalted butter and white wine (we use dealcholized) every 15 minutes. Moist and flavorful!!!

  17. My husband has done the turkey on the smoker. He spatchcocks it, which means you break the bones… you can look it up. It won’t be as pretty but it’s fast and do delicious!

  18. Hi!

    About making the Thanksgiving Turkey: ever since I started using Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roasted Turkey recipe the Turkey has turned out perfect every year. I get tons of compliments on how great it tastes and how perfect it looks. You can find the recipe on Food Network. Good luck!

  19. Look up Emilie Barnes turkey recipe online! Its a very unique and super EASY way to cook a turkey and I promise although the instructions are a little strange, it comes out as the best turkey Ive ever eaten. The caveat is because its cooked upside down, It isn’t pretty for serving on the table whole. We slice it right before serving. Its so good no one complains that is isn’t picture worthy! 🙂

  20. The easiest way I have found to roast a turkey is to do so in a roasting bag. I think they are by Reynolds I just follow directions and have a beautifully roasted tender turkey every time

  21. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite. For the past few years my daughter took that over, and she used a lot of my recipes (most of them haha! And a lot of these are from my mother.) She did an amazing job!
    This year she asked if they could come here for Thanksgiving, and I am thrilled. She just asked me this morning, and I am so excited.
    Here is what I do to make this easier:
    I make a list of what I will cook, when I will cook what, etc. I make my shopping list from this. I order the fresh turkey to pick up the day before – I will order this next week just in case. (I do think a fresh turkey takes better than frozen.) I do the pie crusts 2 weeks before (I freeze them). I roast the chestnuts (for the stuffing a few weeks before, but this year I found roasted chestnuts on Amazon, so I don’t have to do that) I have a list for the day before and the day of, so I don’t forget anything. I have an order to my cooking/baking.
    For the turkey – I use cheesecloth on top (like my mother did, and I believe her mother did.) I think I will invest in a probe thermometer this year. I never have, and I always worry about if/when the turkey is done. Never had a problem, but taking that stress off will be nice. I hope someone can suggest a good one.
    I will miss setting a nice table with crystal, china, and silver since that is all still packed. Maybe we will be in the new house by Christmas, and I can do it then.
    Now I am excited about Thanksgiving!

  22. Glad you’re having such a nice weekend.

    For the turkey, I always buy a smoked turkey. They are already fully cooked – you’re just basically warming it up. I use my roaster oven which saves oven space (even though I have two). I cook it based on the directions – it doesn’t take long. The only warning is don’t warm it up too long as it will dry out. You can guess how I found that out. 🤣 I always put chicken broth in the bottom of the roasting pan and baste it every 20 min or so. I promise you can’t go wrong with the smoked turkey. Maybe Paul can do a ham in his smoker.

    I know … it does seem weird to talk about Thanksgiving right now but time goes so fast it will be here before you know it.

    Enjoy the rest of your day.

    1. Lots of great ideas here for your first turkey. You can do this! To take the first time jitters out of the equation, you could always roast a turkey before Thanksgiving and freeze the meat. Great to have on hand for recipes throughout the ear, or maybe spice and donate to a food kitchen for the holiday? Then on Turkey Day, you will feel like a pro when you roast your Thanksgiving bird!

  23. Sorry but I am not a fan of the smoker. Tried it one year but to us, it no longer tastes like turkey. Tastes like smoked meat. I found a tip years ago and do this every time. Sounds weird, but you boil your kettle. Once it has boiled, you pour the boiling water all over the turkey, including the inside. Pat the outside dry with paper towel. BUT…….you will end up with a very moist bird with lots of gravy. I am very careful when I do the turkey I know there are always warnings about salmonella, but have never had a problem with stuffing it. We put it into the oven, with the lid on. Check it periodically, and test it with the thermometer. Take the lid off for the last hour or two so that the skin browns. Let it rest for a few minutes while you make the gravy etc. and that’s pretty much it. We always buy a fresh turkey from our local butcher. Enjoy!!!!!

  24. I originally purchased an ivory micro-suede slipcover as a short term solution for my sofa until I found one that I liked. The slipcover I chose has individual cushion covers and looks just like regular upholstery. It is machine washable and looks great even 3 years later…I still haven’t felt the need to purchase a new sofa!

    1. Wendy…. Where did you find your slip covers? I’ve been thinking of doing it for my living room couches. They are in great shape but hate the pattern but just bought new family room furniture so need to wait awhile for new living room items. Do the slip covers cost much?

      1. I got mine on the Sure-fit website and I really like the quality. As I recall, it was about $150-ish on sale. I know there are a lot of other style options and brands on Waifair or Amazon. Also, I would recommend watching YouTube videos on how to install whichever slipcover you buy so it looks right and stays put. Once I did that, it was really easy to put on. Good luck!

  25. Three things that help me get through the Thanksgiving dinner process: 1. Get a fresh turkey 2. Bake it the day before and then just heat it up on the big day 3. Write down the times to start making the food and when to start cooking/baking them. And never, ever put potato peelings down the garbage disposal. Don’t ask me how I know!

  26. I have never baked a turkey either and don’t plan to! Idk why but it is intimidating to me too. Have you looked into ordering a smoked one? Several local smokehouses here do them, idk if you have anything similar in your area but might be worth investigating.

  27. Jo-Lynne,

    My daughter just bought a beautiful area rug that can be thrown in the washer. It’s really nice. If I had hardwood, I would definitely buy one.

    We have a large family and we’ve roasted turkeys in an electric roaster and they turn out great. The secret is to keep the lid on. It’s important to not get too large of a turkey otherwise the lid won’t fit properly. They don’t turn out as golden colored, but they are flavorful and not dry, which is important. I have heard smoking a turkey is awesome too. My son-in-law has a smoker, but I have yet to talk him into doing it. Maybe this year. 🤔

  28. My mother makes the absolute best turkey and dressing. Lucky for me, one of my sisters and one of my DILs have already mastered her recipe, which is passed down from my grandmother…whew!

    For smoked turkey, I recommend Greenberg Smoked Turkeys in Tyler, TX (gobblegobble.com). They’re a family business that’s been around for decades and have been featured in the WSJ and as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. They ship all over the world and are DELICIOUS. And pricey. They suffered a devastating fire last year about this time but they have rebuilt and are open for business.

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned deep fried turkeys. They are fantastic, especially when done with Cajun seasoning. Yum! It’s probably not worth buying a cooker and all that oil for just one or two; people usually get together and do quite a few to make it worth the effort.

  29. Honestly Jo-Lynne, once I started using the Turkey size oven bags from Reynolds and buying a Turkey with a button that pops up when its done, I was no longer intimidated doing a turkey. I always went to my in-laws, so it was many many years before I did my own turkey. I also use an inexpensive no frills thermometer as well, if my turkey doesn’t have that button. I usually buy at least a 22 lb Turkey, salt the inside, oil the outside and lightly sprinkle more salt on it, put in oven bag, place in a shallow roasting pan and pop it in oven for the time as directed on the oven bag. Some years I just buy a large turkey breast, so I don’t have to deal with all the carving. I’ve made both fresh and frozen turkeys and bought brand name ones and store brands. I can’t say any one was better than the other. So good luck deciding!

  30. Wholeheartedly agree with the suggestions to use Alton Browns turkey recipe. It’s our go to for Thanksgiving dinner!

  31. Last weekend my husband smoked a turkey (1st time) and it was really good! He used mesquite chips and it didn’t have a strong smoked flavor. It was really moist, even the white meat! I’m not a fan of turkey because the white meat is always dry but I really liked it smoked. As another option, my mom usually cooks the turkey 1-2 days ahead, takes off the bone and puts in crockpot with broth from pan. Then all she has to do on T-day is warm in crockpot. This works great because then the oven is available for all the other foods. Plus you aren’t under pressure and worried it won’t be done.

  32. Try using the big turkey baking bags. I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 40 years and they never fail me. Just put the turkey in, follow the package directions and let it cook. Always delicious and moist and no hassle!

  33. Try using the big turkey baking bags. I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 40 years and they never fail me. Just put the turkey in, follow the package directions and let it cook. Always delicious and moist and no hassle! Enjoy the week.

  34. Goodness. You can cook a turkey. It is not rocket science. Follow the directions per pound at 325 degrees. It will be perfect. If you can develop gift guides and create/manage a successful blog, a turkey is easy peasy:) take pictures of the bird before and after. Great blog material 😉

    1. LOL! I was actually asking advice about using the smoker. I do know how to roast a turkey, but it’s interesting to read everyone’s methods. My mom uses the bag and hers are always excellent. I do think I’ll check out the Alton Brown and Ina Garten methods since I’m a huge fan of theirs already.

      My biggest issue is my roast chickens are never done when I think they are, even when I use a thermometer. And since turkey tends to dry out, I don’t want to overcook it, but I certainly don’t want to undercook it. It stresses me out. I would much rather develop a gift guide, haha!

      1. I hear you jo Lynne. I’ve probably only cooked 5 turkeys in my life. My grandma, aunts and mom did it for years and my sister in law. Now it’s me and my kids every other year. I do ok but don’t like the stress of wondering if it’s going to be ok and trying to get everything else to be ready at same time etc etc. It sure has been interesting to read all these methods. Some really do enjoy it. 🙂 lol. My son in law did it one year in his Treager and it was good. I should have him bring his down to do it. Lol. We don’t have one. My moms friend gave me her method and schedule for size and cooking times. You wrap turkey in large foil package and cook it per schedule and she said always moist. So far she’s been right. But, never sure I like doing it in foil. I don’t think it’s good to use aluminum. Been more conscious of things like this lately. So I think bag method would be similiar but I’d do bag directions. Good luck on smoking yours.

        1. Yeah, I wouldn’t use foil either. The bag that my mom uses always works well for her. I don’t know if it’s any safer than foil, but I think probably.

  35. I found Taylor Classic Digital Oven Thermometer the best purchase I ever made.
    I either under or over cook all the time! This thermometer has gotten me through everything from pork roasts, Thanksgiving, even grilling during the summer months. I have never been able to judge temperature, and instant thermometers have never worked for me. You can purchase this one through Amazon.

    As for recipes and how to’s…you can’t beat Ina Garten or Martha Stewart. Both even have many make ahead tips.And I have even adopted Martha’s carving & serving ideas rather than attacking an enormous turkey at the table….so much easier.
    In my head I usually plan 20 minutes per pound for roasting…but use my thermometer. Seriously the best thing ever. Goos Luck

  36. I see you’ve already gotten lots of suggestions, but thought I’d put mine in too!. The last couple years my husband has done ours on the Big Green Egg. He brines it overnight before in a bucket with seasonings and then spatchcocks it to cook on the egg. Works phenomenlly and all the meat gets done at same time then and stays super moist. I usually never liked the white meat and love it this way. We are having a mix of families again this year as my parents have now passed away. Hard to think of the holidays without them. I wish you good luck with your day!

  37. To me the turkey is the easiest part. Lol! I use the oven bags. They cook it faster and don’t dry out. Don’t trust those red temperature poppers. They are meant to pop up around 178 degrees but the USDA recommendation is only 165. So if you wait for them to pop up your turkey is overcooked. Get a good thermometer.

  38. Wow.. I can’t even think about Thanksgiving yet.. I can’t believe we are at the end of October already!! Sounds like you have a nice time planned…
    Next month I have to put my order in for our turkey we get at the Co op natural food store.

    I haven’t even done Christmas shopping yet.. Yikes!! Where did the time go.

  39. This year will be the year I finally nail the turkey. The last couple I made turned out real dry and tough. I don’t know why I’ve had such a difficult time of it. This year is gonna be the one!

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