It has surely been quite a remarkable year and, in spite of a plethora of unexpected challenges along the way, well beyond our control, we still have so much to be thankful for. For the first time in nearly 40 years we were unable to spend our accustomed northern-hemisphere summer in the northern hemisphere; instead we stayed here in the southern one through the full New Zealand winter for the first time. Still, we are maintaining our traditions, and CD and I hosted a full-family feast. We combine Thanksgiving and Christmas into what we call Thanksmas. I get along very well with the local butcher, and he is able to procure a 4.5 kg (12.1 lb.) free-range turkey for us with about a week’s notice, and the one we had this year was the best ever. I spatchcocked (butterflied) it and grilled it on my Weber, and it was magnificent. Apart from the traditional time at our lake cabin in northern Minnesota, two other things that I’m missing on this occasion are the “wild” band of local turkeys that used to prowl our neighborhood when we lived in Nebraska and the magical and mystical migration of Canada geese. They would soar overhead in their chevron formations and their haunting calls would drift down, as dear to us as those of the loons on the lake outside our cabin. I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and hope that you are concentrating on—and giving full thanks for—all of the many blessings that are yours.
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Happy Thanksmas! Loved seeing the sky patterns made by migrating Canada geese :)
Thanks, Liz, giving many thanks to be where we are privileged to be.
Particularly like those chevrons of geese – wonderful! :)
As did I. It’s such a privileged glimpse into one of nature’s timeless rituals.
This has been a difficult year for folks to share their traditional Thanksgivings. Most, hopefully, Zoomed them but all too many threw caution to the wind. You are fortunate in NZ to be able to safely have get togethers. It would not be much of a change for us as after my mother-in-law passed away, Mary Beth and I just have her sister up which we will do again Sunday.
How does one stuff a butterflied turkey? :-)
Obviously, one can’t stuff a butterflied turkey. It’s up to a trusted family member to prepare a suitable dressing (not stuffing in the strictest sense), but it can be every bit as good, provided that another family member is adept at creating the essential gravy.
It is now advised not to stuff a turkey for safety reasons. As well, we are no longer supposed to wash the bird for fear of spreading whatever nasties may be on or in the bird to surfaces that could cause a problem. The oven will kill the germs it is said.
Mary Beth is a little enthusiastic about health concerns so we no longer have stuffing. And our gravy is low fat and “natural” out of a container rather than the drippings from the bird. I suppose I will be happier for the extra days added on to the end of my life but my smile may not be as broad.
When we were out walking in nature in southeast Austin a couple of months ago we saw some wild turkeys, which we rarely do. I wonder what percent of Americans, especially in urban parts of the country, even know that wild turkeys exist. You did well in getting those closeups. Your chevrons of flying geese are attractive pictures, too.
I’m sure you’re right and that there are many who would be very surprised to know that wild turkeys are as common as they actually are. We even see them here once in a while, though I don’t think we’ve seen any within the Auckland city limits.
How wonderful to see those geese flying in formation!
It’s a stirring sight and with their calls added in, it’s unforgettable.
Happy Thanksmas, Gary. That turkey looks amazing. I have never tried cooking a turkey any way other than in the oven in a roasting pan–the only times I changed the routine were to use a roasting bag. I definitely would not risk deep-frying a turkey, but the grill idea looks pretty interesting. Did you have to replenish the coals as it cooked? I feel a little guilty that I have gotten to see wild turkeys and flying Canada geese during November, though the formations of geese were nowhere near as impressive as the ones in your photos. We all are blessed in different ways and it is good to reflect on that often, not just on the day set aside for that practice.
Once I put it on the grill it took about two and a half hours. I did add an extra ten or so briquets about halfway through. Would you like me to send you my recipe?
That would be great, Gary, though I am not sure that I would be willing to actually undertake that type of cooking project.
I just sent it. Hope you decide to give it a go!
Thanks for the recipe, Gary. I think I might have to try to spatchcock a chicken before I am willing to tackle a turkey, especially one on the grill. :)
My comment seems to have disappeared. I included a link; might it have gone to moderation?
Sorry, Linda, I can’t see another comment anywhere.
OK-doke. It’s reconstruction time, because (I thought) it was interesting.
I give up. I tried to reload your page, re-post the comment, and then tried to repost it again, and WordPress sent me a message saying, “Duplicate comment. You’ve already posted this.” I have no idea what’s going on.
Very strange. I received your email with the missing comments–thanks a bunch!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.
“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
– Henry Van Dyke
Thank you, Kally, for your kind wishes, and that’s a great quote.
It looks like you had an excellent Thanksgiving. We continue to see the geese formations as they head south. One of the true pleasures of fall!
Yep, it’s really great to be able to have the whole family get together and enjoy each other. We are so fortunate to be such good and handy neighbors!
Such a nice post, Gary…perfectly considered. I used to see wild turkeys pretty often when I lived in upstate NY. They’re here but I don’t’ see them. The geese, yes – Canada and Snow. I can fully appreciate that you would miss those seasonal signs but I’m glad you’re able to shift gears and do great things (that turkey!) anywhere. :-)
There’s really nothing quite like a Thanksgiving-season turkey, and I was absolutely delighted to find a place that could deliver a free-range, well-cared-for and happily-nurtured one for us with about a week’s notice. And, as you said, shifting gears–that’s quite dear to our heart, especially since I finally bought a car and am driving here, on the other side of the road, of course. I did, however, make sure that the one I decided on has an automatic transmission. I am quite able to shift a manual one with my left hand, but it’s just one more distraction when you’ve been driving on the right for 95% of your motoring days.
Yes, that makes sense, buy automatic, and simplify your life a little. My father made me learn how to drive on his manual-shift car, which was painful but of course, I’m grateful. I think it’s a lost art now. ;-)