intrepid archaeologist, avid cook


What do you do with leftover turkey?

I have a million recipes for leftover turkey, like biscuit crust pot pie and turkey soup and tetrazini, but today, while at the grocery store, I saw egg roll wrappers and I decided that this needed to happen. By this, of course, I mean I needed to make turkey dinner egg rolls. This may be one of the best ideas I have ever had. (and this time, I have some pictures)

I got really excited when DH came home with purple sweet potatoes. Yes, that is right, PURPLE sweet potatoes. Most people know I am about obsessed with purple potatoes, but I have never had purple sweet potatoes. I think I am in love. Seriously. I took one of those, some celery and carrot and brussel sprouts and chopped them up all fine, shredded some turkey added a couple of cranberries and rolled them up in the wrappers. After a couple of minutes in hot oil, I had amazing goodness.

Here’s the recipe:
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery (no greens) chopped fine
1 large shredded carrot
1 med-large sweet potato shredded
1 small white potato shredded
10 med brussel sprouts chopped fine.
1 cup turkey chopped fine
handful cranberries
salt, pepper, about 1 t each
package egg roll wrappers
oil for frying

Mix everything in a large bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Take out the wrappers and follow the directions on how to roll them. I used about 1/4 cup in each wrapper, folded the sides, and then rolled it up, using water to seal the last side. Set them sealed side down on a plate until you are ready to fry.

put about 1-1.5 inches of oil in a pan and heat the oil to about 350 or so. If you drop water in the pan and the oil goes crazy, you are probably good to go. Set the egg rolls in sealed side down, let them brown and then turn them. It takes about 3-5 minutes for them to be done. Set them on a paper towel to drain the oil. If you are doing a lot, or just want them good and hot when you eat them, put them in the oven at 350 on a piece of parchment paper until you are ready to serve them.

Use leftover gravy or cranberry sauce (or both) to dip the egg rolls and enjoy them



Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, obviously, because it is all about food and family. In fact, I like Thanksgiving so much, I have a pre-Thanksgiving with my friends the weekend before and then a post-Thanksgiving the day after. I love that there are always a lot of leftovers and I love Turkey.

This year, my sister-in-law requested I do the turkey for our dinner, because she loved the pre-Thanksgiving turkey so much. People always ask me what I do to my turkey to make it so amazing, and I almost always tell them it’s an accident. HA! But seriously, I think a good turkey is paramount to enjoying a good Thanksgiving and even though this is 2 days late, some people might be doing Turkey for other holiday feasts and so I will put my tips here. Sadly, with all the Turkey I made this year, I did not get a photo, but I will make another at some point and I will post a photo eventually.

So my method for making a good turkey is pretty simple, really. I generally use a frozen bird, because I like the cavity to still be a tad frozen when I start it. I will take the bird out the night before and put it in a cold-water bath overnight. The breasts and thighs thaw completely, the giblets slide out easily and the neck comes out, but around the cavity, there is still a little bit of ice. The first time this happened, I panicked, thinking that I would send all my guests to the ER for salmonella. I didn’t. Put all the things you take out of the bird and put them in a medium to large saucepan with water and turn that on med-low heat.

I don’t stuff my bird. I make the stuffing in a pan with the turkey drippings and bake it in the oven when the bird is about done. The real trick to a good turkey is to get the flavor under the skin. I chop 1 T fresh rosemary, 1 onion, and 3 cloves garlic, add about 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 t salt, 1 t pepper, some oregano if i have it and mix it up. I let that sit for about 20 minutes or so, till the oil becomes fragrant. Next you have to work up the skin around the opening to the cavity. You want to get your hand all the way up under the skin and slather the oil mixture all over the breast meat. Coat the inside of the cavity and then rub the oil on the skin itself. I then take a celery stalk, a carrot, an onion and some garlic and cube them and put them in the cavity. The cavity should not even be close to full, there should be a lot of room in there for air circulation. You want a lot of circulation around your bird, so make sure you elevate it in the pan on a wire rack. Next I cover the whole pan with a tin foil tent and pop it in a 350 oven. Like this, it generally takes an hour for every 4-5 pounds of bird (the recommendation is 20 minutes per pound, but I find this to be entirely too long for my birds to be in the oven). Make sure you have a meat thermometer on hand and always check the temperature of the meat at the thickest point on the breast before you decide that your bird is done.

After the bird has been in about 1/2 the time, you should start to smell it. This is when you can start collecting the juices. Add them to the pan of removed stuff I don’t bother with trying to separate the oil anymore. I have a trick for that later. Keep siphoning juices off every 45 minutes or so.

When the bird is about an hour away from being done, I take 1 cup of the juices from the pot on the stove, and set it aside. Coarse chop some stale bread (I keep a bag of old bread heels in the freezer just for this) to make about 2 cups. Chop an onion, 1-3 cloves garlic, 2 stalks of celery (with greens) and shred a carrot. Melt 1/4 cup butter in the bottom of a heavy skillet, add onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Wilt the veggies, and add the bread. Try to coat all the bread with the mixture and let it sit to brown a bit. Turn the mixture and let some more brown, then do this again. You should end up with some pieces that are really crispy and a lot that are not. Add the juices. Your bread should be moist and want to stick together but not too wet and you certainly don’t want it dry and not sticking together at all. If it is too wet, you can bake it longer, but the bread will no longer have it’s own distinct breadiness (it will still taste good), but if it is too dry, just add some more of the juices. If you are like me, you did this all in a cast iron skillet and you can just put that in the oven, if not, find your big casserole dish and transfer it. Bake for 30-45 minutes until it is brown on top and smells a bit like what heaven should smell like.

Take your bird out when it is about 178 degrees. I know the thermometer says don’t take it out till 180, but i promise just below that is OK, and it will finish getting to 180 by the time you are ready to carve it. Let the turkey sit 10-20 minutes before carving and maybe have a glass of wine while you wait.

so, we had a hurricane

It’s true.  Sunday we battened down our hatches and then proceeded to plan like we weren’t going to lose power.  I didn’t buy 1 single battery.  We bought milk, but really only because we think it is funny to go buy milk eggs and bread before a storm.  If you lose power, you have to use up a gallon of milk right quick, and you might not be able to make pudding with it either, if your stove is electric (mine is).  We didn’t lose power except for about 2 minutes.  They were the scariest ever-loving moments of my daughter’s short life, but they were only two minutes of terror.  We were lucky – VERY LUCKY – and I am eternally grateful to the powers that be.  

We rarely lose power in a storm.  In the 5 years we have been in this house, we have lost power in a storm once, for about 30 minutes (I don’t count short flashes).  Once something happened on a beautiful day and we lost power for about 24 hours, but it wasn’t because of a storm, so it doesn’t count.  For every other major storm, I have at least checked to make sure we have batteries – I did not for this one, so those two minutes of terror for the girl were two minutes of ‘oh, shit’ for me.  I promptly went and checked for batteries when the lights came on and found that I have many many many AAA batteries, but no AA batteries.  Also no C or D batteries.  We have several things that can make light powered by a battery.  I even have a solar light that keeps a charge.  One of them had good batteries, and one had about half a charge of batteries.  Neither would have made it very far if we had had an outage.  

This was the first storm that made me actually nervous that I might lose power, and I vowed to have batteries for the next storm.  I’ll give the stores a week or so to restock and I will go buy some. 

At any rate, my university is cancelled until Monday.  Until today there was no power on my campus.  My building probably won’t have power until tomorrow morning…So I have been lucky and unfortunate enough to have a lot to do and to live in a chaotic house, where it is difficult to concentrate.  I have made food instead.  I needed to make some room in the freezer, so I have been using things that have been in there.  I found a bag of turkey meat from the spring and two large gallon bags of broth.  I still have about a cup of broth left (rice maybe) but I am out of turkey.  I made turkey noodle soup yesterday and today I made a bangin’ pot pie, made all the more excellent because I did everything in my cast iron skillet. 

So, again, I forgot to snap a photo of the finished product, but I did also make granola bars and bread pudding, and i got photos of those, though the pudding had deflated when I was finally able to snap the shot.  It’s a pity.  

I’ll start with those.  The granola bars, I am not really sure about yet.  I may put them back in the oven if they don’t set right.  I wanted chocolate and peanut butter with coconut and cocoa roasted almonds.  I made some granola earlier in the week, with was really just sweet toasted oats with some almonds, and i decided i wanted to mix it with chocolate toasted oats.  so i fixed up the oats, and then made a mix of butter, peanut butter, and honey, and then mixed the oats, added more almonds, coconut and, of course, chocolate chips and added the peanut butter mixture.  I pressed it in the pan and left in a low oven for about an hour.  I think it needed more time…  the bars are nearly cool and they haven’t set up as bars yet.  sadface.  What I have now reminds me of these things called goo balls that you can get on any lot of a Phish show.  They would probably be very good rolled into balls and coated with a mixture of cornstarch, cocoa and powdered sugar…maybe next time.  

The bread pudding fared much better.  It was beyond my expectations, since I didn’t bother opening a cookbook to make it.  It is really just the easiest thing to make, and I always keep the ends of bread in the freezer.  I found the heel of a loaf of chocolate bread in a bag with some multi-grain baguette and raisin bread.  All of these are excellent in a bread pudding, though I ended up saving out the baguette, because I had enough with the other two.  I popped the bread in the oven and then cubed it up, mixed up an egg and milk mixture (this is why you buy those things before storms) added sugar and vanilla and banged them together.  It takes a while to bake, but it smells really nice.  This chocolate bread is one I have tried to duplicate; it is not sweet, but it has chunks of chocolate and dried dark cherries. The raisin bread was just plain raisin bread.  You can use any bread for it.  I like mine with a crispy crust and generally I like a cream sauce, but I wasn’t going to brave the grocery store for it.  It is always best served hot, but I will eat it anytime. 

The pot pie I had resolved to make with a real pie crust, but as the time to top the pie loomed, I changed my mind and decided on a biscuit crust instead.  I think that really made a difference.  DH suggested mashed potatoes, but I wasn’t feeling it, so I went ahead with the biscuit and it may have been the best decision I made all night.  

These are leftover recipes – well, except the granola bars, (but I am not done with those yet so I won’t post the recipe) but the pudding and the pot pie are.  I don’t know how much meat you need to buy to achieve the 1.5- 2 cups you need for this, it just ends up being what I have after I make a turkey.  The stock is also part of what I end up with after I make a turkey.  

Bread Pudding

2.5 cups cubed bread

5 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

you can also add things like cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger, depending on your mood.  There is chocolate in this one so I just went with vanilla

Place the cubes of bread in an oven safe dish.  You can toast the bread lightly before cubing, especially if it has been in the freezer.  

Whisk together eggs and everything else and pour over bread cubes.  Press the cubes into the mixture and let the mixture stand at least 20 minutes.  Press the cubes down again and place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F.  Bake it for 40-55 minutes until it puffs.  If you like a crispier crust wait until it stops steaming as much, if you like it mushy inside take it out while it is still steaming a lot.  

Pot pie

1.5- 2 cups cut up turkey

1 small to med onion chopped

1-3 heads garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, with greens, chopped

5-7 med crimini mushrooms cut in 1/4 inch pieces

2 carrots, med, cut into 1/2 in pieces

2-3 med potatoes, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup each of at least two more veggies: cauliflower, green beans, broccoli, parsnips, whatever – you pick

2 T cornstarch

3 T flour

1/2 cup milk

1.5 cups broth

1 – 1.5 t salt

1 t pepper

1/2 t garlic powers

1/2 t onion powder

1 t parsley 

Heat oil in skillet, add onions, garlic, celery with greens and mushrooms, wilt.  Add turkey, cook till onions are soft.  Add carrots, potatoes and everything else, stir around for a few minutes and get a crust.  Add flour and cornstarch and mix in thoroughly.  Add milk, mix, add broth, mix. liquid should be just at the level of veg and meat in pan, don’t overfil or it will be mad runny.  Allow mixture to come to a boil and reduce to low-med.  make your biscuits:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1/2 cup milk

Mix butter with 1 cup flour, baking soda, powder and salt, cutting butter into the mixture until the flour mixture is coarse in texture.  Add the milk and mix thoroughly.  Add in the other cup of flour (more if still sticky) and knead into a smooth dough.  Turn out on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out in a circle, fold the dough in half until it is about a 3 inch ball, roll out again.  Repeat this process as many times as you want. it helps give the biscuit layers.  I usually give it up about 4 or 5 times in.  roll it out to be the size of your skillet or other dish you might use (my skillet is about 12 inches in diameter) and plop it on top of the mixture in the skillet.  Put that skillet in a 350 degree F oven and leave it there for 25-30 minutes until the sides are bubbling and the top of the crust is golden.  Let it sit about 10 minutes before eating.  It will taste a lot better if it is not threatening to burn your throat out of your body.  

i’ll post photos later…maybe tomorrow…they are on my phone..

not a recipe

This is not a recipe.  It is a lazy redirect to another website that talks about eating less meat.  Many things, ok probably all the things, I have posted so far have had meat as an ingredient.  So this post is a pledge to vegetarians out there (maybe vegans, we’ll talk later) that I will start re-exploring vegetarian recipes.

I am making tomato sauce right now.  I brought home a large basket of tomatoes from the farm yesterday and I have a small batch going on the stove.  I plan on canning it, and saving the flavor of Jersey tomatoes for the dreary winter.  When I go the next round, I will take pictures and eventually post about it.

I made pizza tonight.  I didn’t take pictures, but it was good, so I will just tell you about it.  It took forever to happen.  I got home at 6 (thanks Labor Day Weekend traffic) and started the dough (I mentioned in a previous post that I use a quick dough recipe so it shouldn’t take that long).  Then I started the aforementioned sauce (obviously, so I could use some for the pizza).  Cut up veggies for the toppings and check the dough.  It’s quick rise, so it should only need 25 minutes.  It has been an hour.  Make a new dough with different yeast, wait for that to rise.  Finish pizza, bake it, it comes out at 8:30.  The quick meal ended up taking forever.

Anyway, here’s that link. Enjoy:

last night’s dinner

Tonight we had leftovers.  Glorious leftovers.  It means I get to make other things that I normally wouldn’t actually have the time for.  Tonight I made little half-moon pies with peaches and blueberries and chai masala (which I will talk about later) and I am making chocolate bread with a strained yogurt spread (also discussed in detail later).

I have already (as promised) tortured J (who was eating PB&J) with photos from last night’s dinner, so I have the photos on hand to torture or entice others.

 they sell these bunches entirely too large at the market

I had bought a large bunch of kale at the farmers’ market last week, and really wanted to use that, but I had had a vision of a potato gratin earlier in the afternoon.  I still had some white carrots in the fridge too, but no eggs and not enough milk.  I sliced all the vegetables, including the kale and mixed it in a bowl with house seasoning and urfa red pepper (which I have been fairly obsessed with lately) and added a healthy dose of garlic infused grapeseed oil and some Parmesan cheese.  Then, I crossed my fingers, covered the dish, and popped it in the oven.


I turned my attention to the large chicken breast on the cutting board, and proceeded to beat the hell out of it.  I chopped onions and garlic and coated the chicken in the same spice mixture I already added to the vegetables.  I sauteed the hell out of the chicken in some more of that garlic-infused oil and added a bit of cream cheese and some milk.  I added more kale, and then a butternut squash gnocchi that I had in the freezer.  In retrospect, if I do this again, I will use butter and wine; it was a tasty sauce, but slightly creamier than I was aiming for.  The kids loved it, though, except for the kale…


At any rate, the recipes follow:

colorful not-gratin

2 med purple potatoes, thinly sliced

1 med red, white, or yellow potato (I used red), also thinly sliced

1 med onion, thinly sliced

3 med carrots (I used white, but any color is fine), thinly sliced

2 cups coarsely chopped kale

1/4 cup, plus more for sprinkling, Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup garlic-infused oil

1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder (this 1:1:1:1 mixture is known as house seasoning)

1/4 tsp Urfa crushed red pepper (you can use whatever pepper you want, or no pepper at all)

oven at 425 F

mix all ingredients in large bowl, tossing to coat vegetables eveinly with oil ans spices.  Transfer into a 2 qt casserole dish and cover with foil.  Place in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.  Reduce heat to 359 F for another 20 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and return to oven for another 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables look similar to the following photo:


My son doesn’t much care for kale and as a result, my daughter now thinks that she also does not like kale (a complete LIE!), but both ate this, after picking the kale out and piling it in isolated corners of their place settings.  If they don’t grow out of this, they will wind up very disappointed with meals in their lives.

As I think about it, I am going to leave you with this. I want to work on the chicken.  I will try to make it with wine next week and I will let you know if it is any good.

Do you know what would be good right now?

These are dangerous words to hear in the field, especially only a few days in to a 6 week long field season, with a constant rotation of pasta and beans.  Don’t get me wrong, they have their place, but maybe not for 2 out of 3 meals for 40 days…


a USO of dubious attribution…

Some one always starts the session by asking if the people around them know what would be good right now.  Sometimes, what would be good right now is something simple, like a hot dog or onion rings, but sometimes, it is all out fantasy.  It happens, that the answer to this question is never “a USO of dubious attribution.

This blog is an attempt at creating some of the fantasy dishes concocted during this past field season, and come up with some good things to torture future field season participants.