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Vegan Thanksgiving Roasts

Posted by Patrick on November 25, 2015

How to Cook the Vegan Thanksgiving “Turkeys.”

In our previous entry, I covered how to brine or roast a thanksgiving turkey. If you’re just now starting your thanksgiving preparations, the day before?

It’s too late. Sorry.

But, if you want to do a vegan-friendly faux-turkey roast?

There’s time. And they are delicious. We’ve got a few choices at the Rainbow - Tofurky, the classic. Field Roast En Croute (a field roast with a delicious crust, reminiscent of a Beef Wellington) the Tofurky Feast (which is a tofurky plus some extra tasty things) the Field Roast, and the Field Roast “Forager’s Roast,” which has a delicious pineapple mustard glaze.

How do you cook them? This is advice I almost never give.

Follow the directions on the box.

Seriously. They’re good. Normally, this is the part where I say “well, except for THAT, do THIS,” and “but instead of tamari, use lime juice,” and any number of things.

But, not today.

Okay, since you asked nicely. You did ask, right?

Cook your vegan roast JUST like they say on the box. Now, you may be saying “oh, there’s room to make your own delicious glaze or baste!”

You’re right. That’s where the Rainbow comes in - well, other than by having the lowest prices in town on the best selection of vegan Thanksgiving roasts.

Here’s a couple of delicious Tofurky bastes (save the pan juices for your gravy!)

The problem with most Tofurky bastes is that Tofurky is already salty. Field Roasts are also salty, but less so - so you can feel free to throw in some ferment juice or tamari on those. Just not both. It’s a salty roast, people!

Field Roast and Tofurky are dominated by umami and salt flavors, but each are also a tiny bit sweet. Neither have any bitterness or tartness to them, so that’s what we’re mainly trying to add. A dash of cayenne or black pepper is a welcome addition.

Tofurky Style:
1 part Toasted Sesame Oil
2 parts Green Tea
1 part lemon or lime juice (save the peels)
½ part Honey
2 Sprigs Fresh Ginger
Grate the ginger and lime peels. Mix well with the other ingredients, and baste away!

Field Roast Style:
Same as above, but instead of 2 parts green tea, use 1 part green tea and 1 part tamari or ferment brine. IF you don’t have ferment brine, use orange juice. Field roast is slightly sweet anyway, so you may want to leave out the honey.

Finally, for the Field Roast Forager’s Roast and En Croute, there’s no need to use any homemade brines and glazes, they’re already included or not needed.

Enjoy! Have a happy meat-free Thanksgiving! With these products and a few powerful sides, no one’s going to be complaining!

The Perfect Rainbow Turkey

Posted by Patrick on November 11, 2015

Cooking the perfect holiday turkey can be a demanding feat for any cook - neophyte, novice, expert, or grandmaster. There’s a lot of information out there, and we certainly don’t want to take the place of your time-tested recipe for the perfect turkey.

But you came here for hints, right? A poultry disaster can ruin your day. If you’re not confident in your abilities, maybe you’d rather serve up a Tofurkey? They’re excellent - even dedicated carnivores like the salty, stuffing-plumped juicy roast that they create.

However, if you want the traditional bird, and you’re still feeling anxious, don’t panic. Patrick is here to the rescue with wisdom that has carried him through more than a handful of panicked holiday skirmishes with family, friends, and deceased turkeys.

We’re not going to say that there were no fires, but each of these has always resulted in a terrific turkey, even under the most trying conditions.

Finally, while there’s not a lot of “you MUST” in this guide, there are two things you MUST do.
1: Get a meat thermometer.
2: Have a large enough roasting pan for the bird. The deeper the better, we’re going to have a lot of juices.
I also recommend a BIG oven, a turkey baster with a suction bulb, and preparation!

Part 1: Brine your bird.

Important: Start this step AT LEAST 24-48 hours BEFORE you begin roasting!

First off, don’t just go get your turkey anywhere. Most commercial frozen turkeys have been injected with salt water to “plump” them to a certain weight. If you brine a regular chain store turkey, you’re going to wind up with a bird that’s too salty, and rendered bland.

So get your turkey from the Rainbow.

I highly recommend brining! You’ll need a space just as big as your turkey in the refrigerator, and a large stockpot. You may not have a large enough stockpot in your kitchen - it takes a two gallon pot.

If you don’t have the tools or the space, skip this step and carry on with confidence.

If you already thawed your turkey, just do 24 hours of brining. If you haven’t, well - you can combine this step with your in-refrigerator thawing. Remember, it takes 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of frozen turkey. So, for an average Plainville Natural turkey, which is 16 pounds, you’re going to want to begin 4 days ahead of cooking!

Thankfully, you can combine the thawing and brining into one delicious technique.

Here’s how to make your brine: Take 2 gallons of water, bring it to a boil while you prepare peppercorns, lemon peels, orange peels, bay leaves, salt, soy sauce, and honey. You’ll notice I didn’t provide any specific measurements. That’s because the brine is to taste. It’s not going to ruin your flavor, as the brining process doesn’t easily penetrate the thick meat of the bird, but it will provide extra moisture. The only mistake you can make is too much salt - limit it to ½ cup of salt per 5# of turkey. A little less won’t hurt, but don’t overdo it.

Throw all those ingredients together and bring the brine to a boil. Throw in a can of beer (your choice) or a glass of wine (red or white) and apple cider vinegar. Let this cool to about room temperature.

Now comes the tricky part. You need a plastic bag large enough to hold the turkey AND 2 gallons of water. Good luck finding one. If you have a GIANT stockpot or crockpot, you can use that - just make sure that the turkey is always covered. You can add a little water to the brine at this point to make sure you’ve got the volume - no recipe is exact science. Unless it’s a science recipe.
Rotate the turkey twice a day. Keep it refrigerated the entire time!

Option 1: Yoda.

“Patience you must have, my young padawan.”

You’ll want to begin this about 48 hours before the turkey is required! This is really a slow job, requiring some preparation and patience! It’s easy - almost TOO easy - but it takes some serious time!

This technique is SLOW. SO. SLOW. How long are we talking, here? 24 hours of drying, THEN one hour per pound.

The problem with cooking a whole turkey at once is that different parts heat up at different rates, leaving you with overcooked (and dried out) parts, usually the massive breast, which is bland and tough when dry.

This technique gets around that problem by keeping your turkey from getting too hot. You’ll want the breast of the bird (use a meat thermometer, people) to be at 165. So set your oven as low as it can go. Most go down to 175, but if you can get your oven to 165, get your oven to 165.

You have to do a couple of things to ensure a golden, crisp-skinned and succulent turkey, though. It’s easy.

The first step takes place the day before. Rinse your turkey and pat it dry. Salt the skin liberally. Let it sit, uncovered, on a rack over a pan, for about 24 hours, in the refrigerator. This will allow the skin to be perfectly dry when you begin - a MUST if you require even cooking. (Hint: You do). The reason is that water pulls energy out of surface it’s cooked on when it evaporates, cooling it. This is why sweat cools the skin. This will lead to some uneven cooking, so dry your bird and dry it well. 24 hours generally does the trick.

Now, get a nice roasting pan. Rub the whole turkey with your oil of choice. I prefer coconut oil. Season your turkey as you see fit (I’ve included some past favorite turkey seasonings in there) put the turkey in the pan, breast side DOWN. Putting the turkey in breast-down lets gravity pull all those juices into the breast, where they’re needed most. The extra flavor from the back of the turkey is pulled through with it! You can leave the organs and neck in there if you want.

Don’t stuff your turkey. You can make stuffing with the drippings if you must. Don’t put a lemon in your cavity, or an onion, or a potato. We won’t get the oven hot enough to properly cook that. It’ll be useless.

Preheat your oven to 400. Didn’t I just say we’d be cooking at 160? You will. You will. Patience, young Jedi. But first you’re going to want to score the outside of the bird to kill any potentially lurking bacteria, and give the bird that golden brown your mother-in-law will care about.

Keep an eye on the turkey in this time window. Wait just until the skin is brown and pull it out. Turn your oven down to 165. This shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes. If you hit 45 minutes, take it out anyway.

Now, if you’re a fanatic about the ultimate in moist turkey (and look, this is going to be moist, you’ve brined it and you’re slow-roasting) you can go that extra moist mile to create a “fall off the bone” melted meat experience. All you’ve got to do is cover your turkey with an aluminum foil tent in the roasting pan, or use a roasting bag.

BUT! Before you seal up your turkey, you may want to give it a re-seasoning. Put a little lager or white wine or rice wine or cider in the pan, you’ll want to use something with alcohol in it for SCIENCE REASONS.

      Also! Please TIE your turkey with kitchen twine! Even though it’s upside down, you still need to get those legs together and those wings from sprawling!

Now, once your oven hits your desired temperature, between 175 and 160 (it honestly doesn’t matter, most oven themostats aren’t incredibly accurate at that range) put your turkey back in.

Now let it cook. One hour. For every pound. Don’t open the open. Don’t poke it. Don’t bother it. DO check your oven every so often. Most modern ovens (especially gas ones) have a safety feature where they turn off if they’re left on for more than 12 hours. Turn your oven off and back on three times a day or so if you suspect this may be the case. The brief “off” period won’t substantially alter the amount of time this takes.

Once the hours are up, stick a meat thermometer in there to check the temperature. If it’s low, tap your oven up to 350 and give it 10 or 15 minutes to re-brown things and to get that core up. You won’t dry it out - and I doubt you’ll have to do this step, anyway!

Option 2: Darth Vader

“Is the dark side stronger?”
“No. Quickier. Easier. Most seductive.”

Okay, so Yoda there might be wrong about one thing. This isn’t easier. But it’s quicker. Faster. Your seduction milage may vary.

There’s a ton of super-complicated ways to get the “perfect” Thanksgiving turkey. Spatchcocking, deboning, removing the wings and legs, bags, wraps, injectors - all the things that make the world too complicated for the simple pleasure of a roasted turkey.

If you just don’t have the time and patience to cook a 15 pound turkey for 15 hours, let’s get this done a little faster. Let’s get this thing done at 350 degrees.

You’re going to need about 3-4 hours to do this, depending on the size of the bird. Ours all range from 10 to 20 pounds. There’s a lot of variation, so you’re REALLY going to need your trusty meat thermometer for this project.

Brined turkeys are ideal for this treatment. Regardless of how you’ve treated your turkey, pat it dry of all excess water, then rub it down with oil and seasonings. Fill your turkey with giblets, neck, a lemon, a onion, and as many garlic cloves as you can manage. Cut them all up if you have to to get them in there.

IMPORTANT: Oil your baking pan and put a layer of thickly sliced onions on the bottom! This will keep your turkey breast from sticking and burning!

      Also! Please TIE your turkey with kitchen twine! Even though it’s upside down, you still need to get those legs together and those wings from sprawling!

Pour a mixture that’s ⅓ oil, ⅓ citrus juice, and ⅓ your favorite non-milk beverage. Wine, beer, whiskey, Virgil’s Real Cola, Ginger Ale,, saki, whatever you like the taste of. My personal favorite is coconut oil, lime juice, and Maine Root ginger ale.  Add a dash of soy sauce and make sure this liquid is deep enough to cover the turkey breast - which is going to be easy, since you’re putting the bird in upside down.

Yeah, it’s more important here to go ahead and do this breast-down like the slow-cook. Also, you’ll want to tent your turkey with aluminum foil. When your oven is at 350, add the whole pan, turkey and all.

Roast without opening the door for at least 3 hours, then check your temperatures. Pull your turkey when it’s at 160, and leave it with the tent on for up to 45 minutes. That’ll give you a chance to make a great gravy!

Addendum 1: Tips and tricks.

While brining, roasting upside-down, and using foil tents (or roasting bags) will ensure your optimal thanksgiving roast, there’s a few tricks you can deploy if you find yourself looking to go the extra mile.
1: Put oil under the skin.
This is easier than it sounds. I use butter, lard, or coconut oil for this - because they’re solid at the temperatures I’m working at, they’re easier to spread around and work with. Basically, you’re going to pull back the skin near the neck-hole. (APPETIZING!) There, you’ll see the meat. Rub that oil all in there, pat the skin back down, and then use one of my TURKEY RUB recipes from Addendum 2.

2: Hey, while you’re in that skin…
You’re already wrist-deep between the skin and meat of a turkey, so hey, why not stay there a little longer? Slip some lemon peels, garlic cloves, ginger slices, chili peppers, peppercorns, whatever you’d like, really - under there with your oil. Don’t worry about the flavors being “too strong,” they’ll hardly penetrate the flesh past half an inch, but they do make everything taste a tiny bit better.

3: Brown it.
The only problem with these turkey roasting techniques is that they don’t produce that amazing brown color all over. If you want that, you can get it after you’ve cooked your turkey to doneness. Just wait for it to cool enough to easily handle, get your juices out of the pan, and turn it over. Then put it under the broiler for 3 or 4 minutes. The leftover juices and oils should be more than enough to give you that appetizing color. You don’t have to brown your turkey. It doesn’t add anything to the taste. But, people like it!

4: Gravy training.
If you cooked your turkey slow and low, just wait till the turkey is done. It’ll survive in the oven for a bit longer while you make your gravy - no problem. Sautee up a small amount of onions and garlic in butter. Then, with your turkey baster, drain some of the turkey liquid from the pan. Add that to the garlic and onions, add some cornstarch if you want a thick gravy, and put some salt and pepper on there. I like a thin gravy, which can benefit from a touch of soy sauce.

5: Roast veggies
If you’re doing the Yoda roast, you’ll never get the veggies done. You can have a friend do that, or do a steam/sautee on the stovetop. If you’re doing this Darth Vader style, add any root vegetables you want to the cooking liquid, and make sure that you’ve got plenty of room (at least four inches) between the top of the liquid and the top of the pan, because you’re about to make some more! Favorite root vegetables include carrots, onions, yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, etc. I like to throw a few thick slices of ginger into mine to add some really different flavors!

Addendum 2: Turkey Rubs

My favorite turkey rub has a lot of Indian spices in it. I also use coconut oil as the base for a different flavor of turkey. Just because it’s a tradition, doesn’t mean it can only be done one way, after all.

You’ll need:

Rainbow’s bulk tandoori masala seasoning.
Powdered cayenne pepper
Smoked paprika
Salt
Honey

You’ll notice I didn’t give exact measurements here. Play around with a small sample of the dry ingredients, until you get something that’s just about too hot. Mix it with the appropriate amount of honey and coconut oil.

A More Classic Rub: Scarborough Faire Edition

Salt
Black Pepper (ground)
Dried, ground - Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
chopped garlic

Again, play around with the dried ingredient proportions until you’ve got something that’s mild and savory. I find that equal parts of all ingredients is perfect, but most people prefer half a part of black pepper. Mix this with butter, use orange juice and red wine as your juices, and go!

Cajun Turkey

They say Cajuns fry their turkeys, and that’s right. I’ve never fried a turkey, I leave that to my brother, since he’s got a giant fryer. But if you want a hot rich cajun-style turkey, you can do it with this seasoning blend:

Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
paprika
marjoram
onion powder
black pepper powder
basil powder
salt

Again, mix as you see fit. The Rainbow also carries an amazing cajun blend if you want to make it sure-fire. Go light on the marjoram and basil until you’ve got the base figured out, then ramp it up!

English Style.

While the English aren’t known for their cooking, they do a mean roast. Here’s how to emulate them for a super-simple rub that’s not too elaborate and won’t cause any undue consternation amongst turkey traditionalists. I find it to be a little bland, myself.

Rub your dry turkey with lemon halves, squeezing lightly as you go. Put the halves into the empty cavity. Rub with salt, pepper, butter, dried parsley, thyme, and honey. Put an apple and a onion inside with them.



NEXT TIME, we’ll have a handful of delightful vegetarian recipes for your Thanksgiving!

Holmes County ASAP Field Day

Posted by Patrick on November 09, 2015

ALLIANCE FIELD DAY: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2015
(HOSTED AT THE ALLIANCE DEMONSTRATION FARM)

We are moving forward to expand field days statewide and we thanks these partners for hosting recent events: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians – Farm I in Carthage, MS; Cotton Warehouse Farmers Market and Happy Foods Project in Batesville, MS; and the MSU Fall Flower and Garden Fest in Crystal Springs, MS.  TOUR AND LEARN FROM SUSTAINABLE FARMING OPERATIONS IN OUR REGION!  HELP SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS AND GROWERS:
• HOST A FIELD DAY/TRAINING;
• BECOME A SPEAKER/EXPERT; OR
• BECOME A PARTNER/SPONSOR. 

LAST FIELD DAY (FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2015)
The October 16th Field Day was held in collaboration with the Mississippi State University Fall Flower & Garden Fest in Crystal Springs, MS.  We are pleased that so many farmers and growers came out to enjoy this two-day event.  “The largest home gardening show in the Southeast”.  Everything was great from the vegetable and flower gardens to the many workshops and walking tours.
 
NEXT FIELD DAY (FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2015)
Topics will include “Introducing New Crops and Varieties to Local Farmers/Growers; Growing Cool Season Crops; Preparation for Spring Planting; and Legal Assistance to Farmers”.  The Alliance Demonstration Farm in Holmes County is hosting this field day, which will feature experts/presenters from Alcorn State University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Mississippi.

• Dr. Girish K. Panicker, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Conservation Research at Alcorn State University will focus on “Introducing New Crops and Varieties to Local Farmers/Growers”.  Dr. Panicker will introduce a new Crop: Cocoyam (Taro).  Cocoyam is a highly nutritious vegetable crop, easy to cultivate and store, and is adapted to this region.  Dr. Panicker will also introduce Persimmon - a nutritious and medicinal fruit.  These oriental varieties are resistant and adapted to this region.  Persimmon can prevent obesity, high blood pressure, and the entry of cholesterol from food into the bloodstream.  Each participant will be given Cocoyam tubers and Persimmon fruit FREE OF COST.

• Dr. Bill Evans, Associate Research Professor, Truck Crop Experiment Station with Mississippi State University will focus on “Growing Cool Season Crops and Preparation for Spring Planting”: selecting the right crops and varieties; soil testing, field preparation, seed starting, planting dates; crop rotation; and more.  FARMERS AND GROWERS SHOULD NOT MISS THIS VERY TIMELY AND INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION; and

• Marie Cope and Cameron Abel, Directors, University of Mississippi School of Law Transactional Clinic and their students will also be on hand to help farmers with FREE legal and business advice.

REGISTRATION: 10:00AM.  PROGRAM: 10:30AM TO 2:30PM.

There is NO COST to attend this event, but PRE-REGISTRATION is required!
TO REGISTER SEND EMAIL TO: keithmdp@yahoo.com

Help us get the word out!  Post the attached flyer. Send out an email broadcast or communication to your members, colleagues, and others.

DIRECTIONS TO ALLIANCE DEMONSTRATION FARM
The demonstration farm is located in Holmes County, Mississippi – off Hwy 51 between Goodman and Durant.  Visitors may exit I-55 at exit 146/Hwy 14 and travel 3 miles east to Goodman and Holmes Community College.  From Goodman, travel north 3 miles on Hwy 51 to Coleman Road on the left.  Visitors may also exit I-55 at exit 150/State Park Road and travel east through the park toward Hwy 51.  From the park, travel 1 mile south on Hwy 51 to Coleman Road on the right.  The farm is 1 mile southwest of Hwy 51 at 1184 Coleman Road.  (LOOK FOR NEW SIGNS ON HWY 51 AND COLEMAN ROAD).

RESOURCES, VENDORS, AND SUPPLIERS ( ***NEW*** )
Farmers and growers are in need of practical information, in addition to that shared at our field days.  So at the November 20th field day, we will start sharing lists and information on resources, vendors and suppliers that we highly recommend based on the quality of their products and services.  This list will include reliable sources for seeds, tools, supplies, equipment, etc.  We will also start loaning out some DVDs, books, and flash drives (FREE).  IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP IN THIS EFFORT, LET US KNOW. 


WANTED! 
TWO-WHEEL TRACTOR (BCS MODEL) AND IMPLEMENTS NEEDED FOR ALLIANCE DEMONSTRATION FARM: We are asking our friends to help us find this equipment.  WILL PICK UP AND REPAIR!  Phone: #601-988-4999; Email: keithmdp@yahoo.com