Thursday, June 10, 2010

If you're sensitive, skim down

We ate turkey the other night. One of our turkeys. Specifically, the overbred broad-breasted white who was so very broad-breasted she could barely hobble, wheezing, from feeder to watering dish. She couldn't roost either -- too bulbous to hop onto the perch where all the other birds, including the other turkey -- spent the night. So we created a little "perch" for her on a small step stool in the corner. Alas, she preferred to sleep as close as possible to the others and would huddle directly underneath them on the floor. You can imagine. Or, if you can't: We had to hose her off when she emerged from the coop every morning. Turkeys like this should not exist. Humankind should be ashamed.

In December, we killed the turkeys. Plucked and cleaned, the heritage tom weighed five pounds; the hen, twelve pounds. I put them in trash bags in the freezer for six months so we could forget where our food comes from. We hadn't quite, but the hen took up so much space that the freezer door kept getting jammed. So I brined, roasted, and served her to my in-laws the other night. That sounds kind of hostile doesn't it. Hmm. Wasn't! We just needed a crowd. In any case, she tasted absolutely okay -- dry, bland -- exactly like a supermarket turkey. I will never raise or kill another turkey. I would rather do without.

On to more appetizing subjects, like chocolate chip cookies. 
Since I last posted on the subject, Isabel has baked chocolate chip cookies from David Lebovitz and The Silver Palate. Both were delicious, but neither are contenders for the top slot. She also baked the famous, fussy New York Times cookies, though she did not use the specified chocolate, which was was prohibitively expensive. Personally, I do not agree with this new ranking -- I would put All Recipes above the NYT -- but Isabel's the boss.

Revised ranking:

1. Cakewalk by Kate Moses (Robust cookies flavored with espresso powder, irresistible and possibly unbeatable.)
2. Baking by Dorie Greenspan (The classic -- but better.) 
3. Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce (Crisp, butterscotchy)
4. New York Times (fussy to make; thick; salted on top)
5. All Recipes (Stout, chewy, more-ish)
6. Silver Palate (Chewy, butterscotchy)
7. Ready to Bake by David Lebovitz. (Very good -- plus, they contain nuts, which we like.)
8.  Toll House (The classic.)
9. Ad Hoc at Home (Too much severe chocolate, too little cookie)
10. Joy of Cooking, 1975 (Thin, pale, unimpressive.)


  1. Just want to say big thanks to Isabel for her cookie testing -- I got Cakewalk from the library just to try this recipe and I loved the whole book! Now I have to see how many recipes I can try before it's due. Looking forward to seeing if any new contenders knock it down on her list.

  2. I am ashamed and pray for the relief of those sad turkeys and for God to forgive the people who developed the breed.

  3. Another chocolate chip recipe to try might be the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie from Cooks Illustrated May 2009. Browned butter, yum.

  4. If you haven't tried the Cook's Illustrated recipe from May/June 2009, it deserves a shot. It's in my top three.

  5. Doi. Should have read Ginger's comment more thoroughly. The browned butter and the sizing are major factors in its success, I think.

  6. So glad for the cookie reviews! I've made the NYT cookies; they are awesome, but the chocolate called for is REALLY expensive.

    As for your animal husbandry, I love reading about it. We hope to get our own chickens someday, once we move out of our apartment and adjust to the newest baby and such.

  7. You have to use the expensive chocolate! Set up the paypal the account and I'll send her the money.

    I'm a bit unclear on the turkey. Did you serve both the big breasted hen *and* the heritage tom? Were both dry and unremarkable? I would hope that the heritage turkey would taste different (but what do I know about heritage turkeys-- absolutely nothing!).

  8. Azure -- We ate only the hen. The heritage tom is still in the freezer. He is only five pounds -- smaller than a lot of chickens, which is weird, because he looked like a very big bird. Maybe this week.