Friday, November 12, 2010


"My home is my castle." We like to think we have an impenetrable fortress,  even today, when we close our doors on the world to recharge our human batteries to face another day. Throughout history, mankind has built structures designed to keep out their enemies and to shelter their families.

Should people in modern neighborhoods be considered alert, observant, or overly alarmed when a stranger takes a picture of your house and the inside through the windows; or when a stranger asks for a cigarette while standing in your driveway; or when a stranger tapes seven of the same advertisements on the front door of your house on different days? Are we vigilant, or nosy, or paranoid when we see such things and report them?

Every neighborhood is a combination of various personalities and, like families, we don't get to choose the other people who are part of this circle. Every neighborhood has incidents of mischief, misdemeanors and sometimes even felonies. No neighborhood is perfect but when we buy a house, we are full of hope that there are good neighbors and no bad actors living nearby.

I have to think that some of the trend toward 55 Plus neighborhoods is an effort to shut out crime and eliminate some of the mischief that occurs in neighborhoods where unsupervised children get out of hand and steal or damage property. We like to live near people like ourselves who can relate to us.

I like the thought that neighbors look out for each other and pay attention to what's happening in their neighborhood. After seeing stories of someone like Jaycee Dugard in the news and wondering how this can happen and no neighbors would notice or report it, I think the guy who pulled off that crime for years and years wouldn't have had a chance in my neighborhood.

After some local vandalism and theft, we now have a neighborhood "passive" watch and an e-mail board where neighbors can keep each other informed of suspicious activity in the neighborhood. I am alert to the fine line between trying to be vigilant and observant but leery of jumping off the deep end and imagining harmful intentions behind every unusual occurrence. It is systematic of the world in which we live where terrorism is always front and center--"If you see something, say something." I grew up in a small community where everyone knew everyone and if someone did something bad, everyone else knew about it before the culprit got home. It made you think twice about what you were doing and how it would be perceived.

I would like to think we should look for the best in everyone, but making excuses is also known as enabling. Unfortunately, it is the reality we face in today's world that thieves, drug users, and sociopaths walk among us and look just like us. Who are they? When do we have to be on guard?  Always.

NOTE: Mont Saint Michel in the picture above isn't really a home or a castle, even though it has housed many people since its construction in the sixth century. It was mainly a monastery-sometime prison, and now is a historical monument. It is one of the most beautiful structures I have ever seen and one of my treasured memories. I use any excuse to look at my pictures of it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Turkey Day

The holidays are just around the corner and it's time to start thinking about orchestrating my Thanksgiving dinner. I have a set menu and the family prefers the same foods each year. I always use a recipe for turkey from a cookbook I have owned over forty years. 

A Thanksgiving Turkey is very special and best when moist. This technique guarantees that it will be cooked quickly, thoroughly, and it doesn't dry out with this method. It doesn't require a lot of tending or frequent basting. It is the most rewarding recipe I've ever used for the cooking of a Thanksgiving Turkey.


Thanksgiving Turkey Cooked in Foil

Weight---------------Cooking Time

7 - 9 lb.---------------------2 ¼ - 2 ½ hr.

10 – 13 lb.-----------------2 ¾ - 3 hr.

14 – 17 lb.-----------------3 – 3 ¼ hr.

18 – 21 lb.-----------------3 ¼ - 3 ½ hr.

22 – 24 lb.-----------------3 ½ - 3 ¾ hr.

Wash thawed turkey (I use turkey breast), dry, sprinkle with salt and Bell’s Poultry Seasoning to individual taste. Add small pats of butter or Smart Balance if desired. Cooking times can be the same for  stuffed birds. Place turkey in the center of large, long strip of heavy duty aluminum foil on a shallow oven baking pan. Put foil covers on ends of wings or drumsticks if it is a whole bird. Bring ends of foil to top and roll together to form a loose tent, not touching the top of the bird. Also seal the ends. Place on a rack in the center of the oven, not too near the bottom to avoid overcooking the bottom.

Bake in preheated 450˚ oven according to the chart above. Remove for the last 30 minutes, open the foil (careful of the steam!). If additional browning is needed, return to the oven. Juices can be basted over the turkey first to retain moisture. Remove juices either before or after this step to make gravy. Sometimes the turkey is cooked at this point and doesn’t need additional time in the oven. I prefer to leave it in the oven to the end of the cooking time, remove it, open foil, and let it cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Servings vary with turkey size – normally allow ¼ lb. per serving.

*Marsh, Dorothy B., ed. The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. New York: Harcourt, Brace; World, Inc., 1963.