Sunday, January 06, 2008

Chicken update

My chickens have really gotten big...they weigh four or five pounds now, and the roosters have started crowing, mostly between midnight and 5 a.m. I have put quite a few in the freezer the last few weeks, and I sold a bunch on I got $75 for fourteen hens, and I threw in four roosters for free, just to save the trouble of butchering them. My flock is down to three Sussex pullets (one red, two light); four Sussex cockerels (three light, one red); and two random cockerels--a black Wyandotte, and that nasty Naked Neck. One of these days I guess I need to put those two in the freezer.
I am also getting a few eggs now. The rate of lay isn't even, but the three hens are laying two eggs every three days. I need to build some extra pens so that I can separate breeding pens, but I should be able to hatch some eggs this spring. I got an incubator for Christmas, so I should be able to have a nice hatch.

I'll post some pictures later this week, when I get a chance to take some.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's been a while

I've had a very, very busy fall, so the blog has kind of fallen by the wayside. On September 19, L delivered twins--fourteen weeks premature. Instead of growing / hunting / processing / cooking food, I spent most of the fall visiting the boys in the hospital. They came home just before Christmas, and are doing well. I'll have a little more time now to do fun things and post them to the blog (although twin babies take a lot of time, too).

Monday, August 20, 2007


Dr. Bubba sent me a neat article about some folks growing cantaloupe in San Angelo.

I made some nice 'loupes this year, but none near 11 pounds. My biggest ones were the size (and shape) of a football, and mighty tasty.

I'm through with them now, though. I pulled the plants Saturday to make way for broccoli. I'm sure reading that will make everyone buy my niece sad.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My sad, sad lawn

The garden has done pretty well this year, but I'm not so good at keeping up the lawn. It gets too tall, then I cut back too much and harm the grass. Also, it's mostly crabgrass, weeds, and grassburs.

I finally decided to start working on the grassburs, since I'll have little people with tender skin walking around the yard next year. I used a combination of a hoe, Roundup weed killer, and fire to clear out a pretty big patch (roughly 35 feet by 25 feet) that was about 80% burs, with some random weeds just to make it ugly.

I planted the area with a new variety of buffalo grass called "turffalo," which promises to be a dark green lawn that requires half the water and half the mowing of a regular lawn. I've got high hopes for it, since I rarely water and mow about half as often as I should.

The recommendation for planting this grass is to put in plugs (which are about the size of my thumb) 12" apart.

Here is a closeup of one plug:

I would have needed to buy three or four flats of grass to cover my patch at that density, at $50 per flat. Doing that would have provided me with a nice lawn in about a month.

I went the cheap route, buying one flat and planting the plugs between 30" and 36" apart.
Here is my "lawn" now:

The orange thing is a five-gallon bucket, for scale. There is grass in that bare patch, if you look hard enough.


Here are some chick pictures.

This is a Light Sussex at three and a half weeks old. You can see that the black is just starting to show in his wings, neck, and tail. These are the birds that I really wanted, but I've only got five.

This is just a crowd shot. You can really see the difference in the older and younger birds, even though the age difference is just two weeks.

This is the back of Monty Burns's neck; his head is turned away from the camera). This shot really emphasizes the boniness and scrawniness of his neck, and his generally evil appearance.

These two shots are mixed breeds at about a week old.

I've been asked via e-mail what I'm planning on doing with all these birds (37, at the moment). I'm planning on keeping some to start a little breeding flock. I've got five Light Sussex and three Red Sussex that will be evaluated for the breeding flock, based on body type and color. I'll also look pretty hard at the Buff Orpingtons to see if I'd rather keep them around. At any rate, six to nine of the birds will be preserved as breeding stock. The rest will join the turkeys in the freezer. I'll start working on that when the birds weigh three to four pounds. That's a little small for fryers, but I need to start reducing the numbers before the birds get too big.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I finally got some chicks two weeks ago, and some more today. I had ordered 10 Light Sussex and 15 Buff Orpingtons, to be delivered the first week of June. However, the hatchery has had trouble getting the Sussex to hatch, so the shipment was delayed. I got the first set two weeks ago: 11 Orpingtons, 3 Light Sussex, 4 Rhode Island Reds, and 4 Silver-Laced Wyandottes. 19 of the original 22 survived the trip; one more was lost to a copperhead(!) the next day. Today, I got 3 more Light Sussex, 3 Red Sussex, 3 Silver-Laced Wyandottes, 10 Red Leghorns, and one Red Naked-Neck. That one has been named "Monty Burns." (Click the you see a resemblance?)

Anyway, I now have 38 chickens, in seven breeds / varieties. I've got an interesting-looking chicken house right now. I'll try to get some pictures up this weekend.

(By the way, all those breed pages are part of Feathersite, which is the best place to see all kinds of groovy-looking chickens on the web.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ham Hocks

I've picked quite a few black-eyed peas lately (technically, I've had Mississippi purple-hulls, but they are both just different varieties of the same plant). Anyway, the best way to eat any of the "southern" pea varieties is boiled, with a smoked pork product. Accordingly, I picked up some ham hocks to go with my peas.

Ham hocks are the portion of the leg below the ham (or shoulder) that is to narrow and bony to be much good by itself. They are usually smoked and used to flavor soup. Here is a photo of three hocks sitting on the foam tray from the store:

The hocks are all more or less the size of my fist. They have been lightly salted and cured like ham, then smoked. There are a couple of tablespoons of meat on each one, along with a bit of fat for flavor. This is a very simple recipe: a couple of pounds of peas, a couple or three ham hocks, enough water to cover. Boil until the peas are tender--about 20 minutes for fresh peas, or an hour for dried peas.

This is what my peas looked like while I cooked them:


Here's Jasper (remember Jasper?) with his hocks marked out.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Odds and Ends

Here are some recent pictures I've meant to post.

200 pounds of pumpkin. It just about killed me to drag that cart back up the hill from the garden to the house. There are 12 pumpkins in the cart; I've cooked and frozen five or six, and the rest are still sitting in the cart on the porch.

The pumpkin patch, on harvest day. The vines got pretty ratty before I picked the pumpkins. They have since been cleaned up an thrown into the compost pile.

The inside of a purple tomato. It's just a very deep red, instead of that purply-brown color the outside has.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


If any of y'all want seeds from Homestead, Cherokee Purple, or Brandywine tomatoes, let me know. Those plants have been productive, and have high-quality fruit, so I'm saving the seeds.

Both the Cherokee Purples and Brandywines are beefsteak-type tomatoes, with fruit that ranges from large to extra-large; I've picked a couple of tomatoes off each of those plants that are bigger around than a hamburger bun. The brandywines are pinkish-red, with a nice acidity and good flavor. The cherokees have that great purple outside, with a very deep red inside. They are some of the best tasting tomatoes I've ever had. The homesteads are regular sized, with a very good tomato flavor. They are just a nice salad tomato, and they taste like a tomato should. All three of these varieties have lots of meat and very little pulp.

Anyway, if you want some seeds, just let me know.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Growing Things

My garden is going stunningly well. In the last few days, I have picked:
  • a pound and a half of okra
  • two pounds of green beans
  • seven cantaloupes
  • a little watermelon about the size of a grapefruit
  • six and a half pounds of cucumbers
  • five pounds of tomatoes, in about six varieties
  • twelve pumpkins, weighing a combined 195 pounds. That's right, on Sunday I picked my weight in pumpkins. I'll have pics this weekend--Laura ran off with the camera, so I can't post the photos now.
I'm about to get some chicks in the mail, finally. The original ship date was June 5th, but they have had some production problems--namely, the birds I want aren't laying.

Finally, if you are interested in growing babies, you should visit Laura's Cozy Cabin. Ultrasound photos are involved. By the way, we know that one twin is a boy, to be named Walton Lane after my dad and his dad. The other baby was shy, but Laura suspects that it is a boy, too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

There's only two things money can't buy....that's true love, and home-grown tomatoes.

Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark said that in a song about home-grown tomatoes (though that's not Guy singing in the link). Here's what I've picked in the last couple of days:

My favorites are an heirloom variety called "Cherokee Purple." They are as big as baseballs or softballs, don't have much pulp, and taste like heaven. Plus, they look really cool, with green tops and purpley-red bottoms.

We made some pesto the other day (from home-grown basil, of course), and topped it with warm cherry tomatoes. This variety is called "Sweet Millions," and the plants are really producing well.

Sadly, the neighborhood squirrels also like tomatoes. This one kind of survived, but I've thrown several away that weren't so good. I'm taking action to get those little suckers, though. I'll let you know how that goes.

I'm also growing green beans, okra, and Mississippi purple-hulled peas. (I guess I've got a thing for purple vegetables. Maybe because my high school colors were purple and white, or maybe because "purple" veggies are actually Aggie maroon.) Anyway, each of these crops is producing enough to give us a nice meal each week.

Here's the first pumpkin. It weighs 17 pounds, and I've got about a dozen more this size ripening. Interesting garden fact: you should plant pumpkins from mid-May to mid-June, instead of, say, early March before you go snowboarding. You should do that because you'll feel dumb if you pick pumpkins for Independence Day, before the watermelons get ripe. Pumpkins just belong to fall, not to summer. It's still a nice pumpkin, though.

Here's another panorama, with some handsome devil in an Aggie shirt, for scale. The purple tomatoes came from the big, bushy, dark-green plant at the back on the left. That plant likes my soil.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'll be right back

I've got a couple of garden things to post, but it will be the weekend before I put them up. I haven't been able to mow for about two weeks, so my yard is knee-deep. Furthermore, I've got LOTS of grassburs that are going to seed, and I want to get them chopped out of the yard before I mow. It's gonna be a couple of days before I have much time to post anything.

In the meantime, if anyone has good pumpkin recipes, post them in the comments or e-mail them to me. I picked a seventeen pound pumpkin the other day, and I've got about a dozen more that size that are ripening.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Mystery Meat

The other day I had a craving for some real Mexican food, so we went to a little taqueria in town for burritos. I ordered my favorite, lengua. "Lengua" is Spanish for "tongue." I love tongue burritos--the tongue is rich and savory, and so tender it just melts in your mouth. Tongue burritos are the best.

When we got there, I saw a sign that read "Posole y Menudo--Sabado y Domingo." That translates to "Posole and Menudo--Saturday and Sunday." Since it was a gray and rainy (though not chilly) day, I ordered a bowl of posole. The waitress came back in a couple of minutes, and told me that they were out of posole, but that they still had menudo. I told her that menudo would be fine.

In case you don't know, this menudo isn't the boy band from Puerto Rico--it's stew made from tripe. It's alleged to be the best hangover cure in the world, although I can't testify to that use. It is good, though, so I asked for a bowl of that instead.

When it came out, there was (in addition to the delicious tripe), a bony chunk of mystery meat floating in the stew. It looked like this:

As I poked around in the stew, I noticed that the mystery meat had skin on it. Then I noticed the part where the hoof had been. Then I realized that there was a pig foot floating in my stew. Yum. Here it is, in all its rich, footy goodness:

Friday, June 29, 2007

Garden Photos

Here are the pictures I promised earlier:

This is me with some tomato plants.

And me, planting those tomatoes. Now, you can't see the ground in this corner of the garden.

Here's Laura helping out.

The strawberry patch, in May. It's about three feet by six feet. Remember how this looks--you'll see this spot again. At the top of the photo is a watermelon plant that had just sprouted.

Some berries. These are soooooo good.

Mulching. I've moved two pickup loads down the hill, and have a third to go.

My peach tree broke because of all the peaches.

Green beans and cucumbers. I haven't gotten any cukes yet. The beans are producing enough for a nice meal for us each week.

Melons--canteloupe in the front, watermelon in the rear, tomatoes on the right. This is the same plant as that tiny thing in the strawberry picture.

Pumpkins. This picture doesn't really do them justice--there are three hills with two are three plants each. The vines are knee deep, and cover about 40% of the garden. In most of that area, the ground is invisible. They are really setting a lot of fruit, and I've got one pumpkin that is about twice as big as a basketball. I don't know what I'll do with all of them. In this photo, you can see some individual vines stretching out from the mass of pumpkin.

This is the same patch from the other side of the garden. The little stuff on the right is the strawberry patch--the pumpkins are trying to take over.

The view from the second story of our house. The bright green leaves on the left are the peach tree; the pumpkin is the big green mass just behind the fence; the beans and cukes are the tall thing on the right; the back row of the garden is tomato plants. I've got about twenty scattered through the garden, pluse about five more volunteer plants in the turkey pen.

If I can stay on top of the mowing, I'll keep you updated with some harvest pictures. I probably can't keep up with the mowing, though--we got NINE INCHES of rain this week.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm back

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while--it's been a crazy couple of months. I've been to two weddings (best wishes to all involved), three musicals (Chicago--great show; Wicked--still L's favorite; Spamalot--meh). My dad and I did some light renovation in a bathroom at L's request--new paint, countertop, fixtures, and accessories. I've signed on and twice visited a deer lease in west Texas. I rented a gigantic wood chipper (a Steve Buscemi special--12" intake with a big deisel engine--the kind you see the pros dragging around behind the bobtail trucks). The limiting factors on what it could grind were 1)how fast I could poke stuff into the spout, and 2)how big a log I could lift and jam in there. I ground a pile about 30 feet across and five feet high into three pickup loads of mulch for the garden. I've also moved 2/3 of the mulch from the pile to the garden, and spread about 1/3 onto the garden. I've cleaned out the turkey house, turned the soil in their pen and planted some forage, plugged some leaks in the house, and built good tight doors for the front. I did this because I was expecting some chicks June 5th. Or maybe the alternate date, June 19. Or possibly this week. If they don't come this week, I'll have to call the hatchery to see what the deal is.

Also, after three years of extreme drought, we've had a very wet May and June. We've gotten rain at least once a week, and the best(?) week featured about a foot of rain. That means I've spent lots of time mowing--I've probably averaged four or five hours a week, although it's been unevenly distributed--eight to ten hours one week, followed by none the next. We've gotten about seven inches this week, including five inches on Tuesday.

The big news is actually L's. She's pregnant. With twins. That has been a whole 'nother experience, which I won't recount here. She's thinking about starting her own blog; I'll give you a link when / if she does.

Finally, with all the rain, my garden has been growing. My strawberries have done incredibly well. They put on a few little berries in April (enough for a snack every three or four days). They went nuts in May--we picked a quart every two or three days in mid-May. They've marched gamely on through June, putting out about a pint every three days. We've gotten spoiled with fresh strawberries just coming out our ears for two months. Now, I just need to find some clotted cream....

Our peach tree put on gobs of fruit--so much, in fact, that it broke a huge branch out of the tree a couple of weeks ago. Also, I discovered that the peach life cycle--too hard, perfect, rotten--has about a fifteen minute picking window. The peaches weren't ready last Tuesday; on Saturday, half of them had fallen, and another quarter were rotting on the tree. From the branch-busting load of May, I actually harvested about four pounds of peaches. At least we don't have to chop and freeze a ton of peaches.

As for the rest of the garden, I picked some nice collards and broccoli. I dug fifteen pounds of potatoes from a patch about as big as a desk. I planted a few ("few" = 20 plants, in 11 varieties) tomatoes. I'm also starting to get some okra, green beans, and purple-hull peas. I've got about a dozen pictures to post later.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I've been lonely

I thought everyone had stopped coming by my blog this week. When I changed the template, I also accidentally killed the code that lets me track visitors. As a result, it looked like I hadn't had any visitors at all for about ten day. That was more than a little discouraging--I thought that even my mom had stopped coming by (Hi, Mom!).

I want to thank Linda for leaving a comment--that let me know that someone had read the blog but not been counted, so I noticed the problem. Now that I know that at least three people are reading the blog (Hi, Dad!) I'll work a little harder at adding content. I've got a couple of things stewing to write about.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Let's all point and laugh

I'm from Texas. In Texas, we make fun of all places that aren't Texas, but there's one that holds a special place in our hearts: Oklahoma.

Rather than telling you how bad Oklahoma is, I'll just give you a recent example.

The new state vegetable of Oklahoma is............


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Organic Gardening How-To

A nice article from an Irish paper describes some organic gardening basics. It's good advice, although I'd add getting a soil test to the list. My garden is never very good (especially broccoli and its relatives), so I've decided to send some dirt to the state lab for a test. If anything interesting comes of the test, I'll keep you informed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Going too far

This whole hog bit is like a dumb joke at a party--everybody plays along, everybody adds just a little bit to it. Then That Guy goes and does it--he goes too far. That's where I am right now.
Look closely at the picture of Jasper I posted on Monday. Notice what I haven't eaten: the back half of the hog, and the insides. I've eaten most of the parts of the pig that are served fresh and are easy to find. The project is kind of stalled right now, because I'm not quite ready to take the next steps, although I'm thinking about it.

I'm thinking about finding a Meat Guy--a guy who can hook me up with feet and hearts and livers and heads and the like. I've got a few leads, but I need to start making some calls.

I'm thinking about making ham and bacon, too. Not buying packaged stuff at the store and heating it, but curing and cold-smoking meats. I've got some fresh ham in the freezer, and I'm already thinking about what to do next. I've discovered that Morton Salt sells pre-mixed meat cures that include nitrates and nitrites. I'm starting to price cold-smokers, and contemplating plans for building one. (Note: the last time I tried to build a meat-smoking device, it turned out poorly. So poorly, in fact, that L wouldn't let me watch Alton Brown for about a year afterwards.)

I'm about to go too far.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ribs and Mystery Meat

Moving right down the hog, I cooked up a couple of racks of ribs this weekend. I just dry-rubbed them (with a commercial product--I don't have a secret rib rub recipe), then put them in the smoker for about five hours. They turned out wonderfully--BBQ is, at its core, a simple process. Combine a tough cut of meat, low heat, and smoke. Wait a long time. Eat.

Here's how the ribs went into the smoker:

Here's your host playing with fire:

And here's Jasper, with ribs marked off:

I didn't get a photo of the final product, because the camera batteries died and I was hungry. You've all seen ribs, though--they were black from the smoke, and shiny from the grease and sauce--a vision of smoky goodness.

Also, I cooked up some salt pork. I sometimes use it for cooking greens instead of jowls. It's quite salty, and you can see that it's clearly pork. Beyond that, I'm at a loss as to just where this little square of meat comes from. It cooked up well, and made the collards taste good, and that's all that matters. I didn't mark it on Jasper because it's kind of a mystery.

The Organic Police

There have been some incidents of organic food "counterfeiting," where non-organic produce has been intentionally mislabeled so that it can be sold for the higher prices that organic products command.

But no more! Those clever Brits have developed a test for organic produce. They can distinguish between the atmospheric nitrogen that is used to make industrial fertilizers and the isotopes that are more prevalent in manure and other organic fertilizers.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Local is the New Organic

First, a discussion of food production in China. The key facts from the article:
  1. We import lots of food from China.
  2. They treat pretty much everything they grow like they treat the wheat for pet food.
Country of origin labeling ("COOL") isn't currently required on most foods, so you can't know whether it came from your area, or across the country, or China.

That leads to people pushing for tighter labeling laws. There is a demand for laws that disclose not only where food came from, but also how it was produced. Of course, you can get all of that at the local farmer's market, just by asking the farmer.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Pork Chops

We had pork chops tonight for dinner. I forgot to take pictures, so you will have to take my word for it. I got a recipe from "New Best Recipe," a compendium of recipes from Cook's Illustrated. (Have I mentioned that Cook's Illustrated is the best food magazine ever, and that "New Best Recipe" may well be the best cookbook ever?)

Anyway, I cooked rib chops tonight. They are cut from the big roll of muscle on either side of the spine just above the rib cage. For some reason, they are often cut super-thin, and are easy to over-cook and dry out. To keep the chops from drying out too much, CI recommends low heat--they actually started the chops in a cold pan. To develop some nice brown color and rich flavors, they called for sprinkling a little sugar on one side of each chop--this would become the "presentation" side. The sprinkled side did develop some nice browning, and looked very tasty. The other side stayed pasty white. This was a quick, easy recipe--just sprinkle some sugar, cook for six to nine minutes, flip, and cook for a couple more minutes. The chops cooked through, the sugared side looked pretty, and they tasted fine. The recipe title was "quick week-night pork chops," and they lived up to their billing.

Here's Jasper with this cut marked:
I bought a ham this weekend--a fresh ham. That means that I'll be trying to cure ten pounds of meat pretty soon. Stay tuned for rich salty goodness! Maybe I'll make wonderful ham! Maybe I'll make myself sick! We'll just have to wait and see.....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Boston Butt

I have slowed down a little on the whole-pig eating lately, mainly because I've been too busy with other stuff to do anything interesting in the kitchen. I finally got back to the program on Sunday with a Boston Butt. I've blogged about cooking a pork butt before, when I made posole. That was before I started my mission, so I decided to cook another one.

I'm not sure why this cut is called "Boston butt," because it doesn't come from that end of the hog. It's the name for the top section of the hog's shoulder, just above the picnic shoulder. (Folks who make BBQ in mass quantities often use the whole pork shoulder, which is a 12 to 15 pound hunk of meat consisting of both the picnic and butt sections.) Since the shoulder is a support muscle, it gets worked hard. Hard work means lots of connective tissue, which means tough meat. These tough cuts benefit greatly from long cooking times at low temperatures that eventually break down the connective tissue and tenderize the meat. The classic methods are smoking (like I did with the picnic shoulder), stewing (as with the posole), and braising. I decided to braise this roast, since I haven't blogged about anything like that.

My recipe came from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, although I don't think anyone would ever guess this recipe was Italian when they saw the ingredients or the result. (I was reminded of this recipe a few months ago when Biggles at Meathenge used a similar recipe for pork chops). It is called "pork roast cooked in the classic Bolognese style."

This is one of those simple recipes that doesn't rely on fancy techniques or a variety of ingredients, yet produces almost magical results. There are four ingredients, and only a handful steps. All it takes is four hours of sporadic attention. The ingredients are:

Our star--a boston butt.

Whole milk--two cups or more.

And a little fat to keep things from sticking. In keeping with the theme (sampling a every part of a pig), I used lard, with a little butter for flavoring. I didn't get a good picture of the lard, since it's just some white stuff in a bucket, but it is real lard.

Here are the steps.

1. In a big dutch oven or stew pot, heat up three tablespoons of fat over medium-high heat. Drop in the roast and brown all sides. This step will help you develop a rich, full, meaty flavor in the final dish. Here's my browned butt:

2. Pour in two cups of milk, and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Partially cover, and go do something else for half an hour. This is what the milk looked like after I put it in the pot:

(This is a really bad picture. In real life, it doesn't look this nasty--it looks good, and smells better.)

3. Turn the roast every half hour or so, keep the dish partially covered, and keep the heat very, very low.

4. Add milk as needed, to keep a low level of liquid in the pot. Keep cooking 'till the meat hits the magical 200 degree mark.

5. Wrap the meat tightly in foil and put it in the oven for a half hour or so to steam and tenderize a little more.

6. Pour the sauce into a wide-mouthed bowl to sit. Skim off the fat once it rises to the top.

Here's the finished product. The low, gentle heat of braising makes the pork melt-in-your mouth tender, and it turns the milk into a magical sauce--golden brown clusters with a roasty, nutty flavor and a chewy texture. You'd never know it was made from milk if you weren't told. I don't make this recipe often enough, because L doesn't like it. She has a problem with the transformation of the milk into sauce. I don't understand that.

Finally, here's Jasper, with the updated parts (boston butt and lard) noted:

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fried Turkey

Fried turkey is an almost mythical food--everybody has heard of people who deep-fry whole turkeys, and we've all seen the disaster videos. (You know the formula: too much oil + big, wet turkey + big flaming propane jet equals youtube hilarity!) However, most people have never actually eaten fried turkey or seen a turkey-frying, much less fried a turkey.

This weekend, I took the plunge. More precisely, I made a turkey take the plunge into about a gallon of 400 degree cooking oil. I didn't use a scary gas cooker, though. I received an electric fryer from the in-laws for Christmas. It's basically a great big fry daddy. This is what the machine itself looks like:

I decided to fire up that bad boy because we had company this weekend. My sister's family spent Saturday night with us, so I had to feed four adults and three kids (ages five, three, and one).

I dry-rubbed the bird with Adams Fajita Seasoning. It's mostly salt and pepper, with some kind of lemony acidic stuff mixed in. It is a good quick dry-rub for lots of meats, especially if you don't want any particular type of flavor (i.e., it doesn't make the meat taste like jerk meat, or BBQ, or garlic, or anything else. It just complements the meat). Anyway, I rubbed the bird and let her sit for about 24 hours for the salt to be absorbed. Here she is, ready for cooking:

(The string is a loop tied from leg to leg. There's another loop from wing to wing. I added them so I'd have something to grab if I needed to manipulate the bird in the pot. They were useful, and I'd highly recommend them to anyone who fries a turkey.)

I dumped the oil in, plugged in the fryer, set the thermostat, and waited. And waited. And waited. It took about an hour for the oil to heat up to 400 degrees. Once it hit the mark, I dropped in the bird and the show was on! This was a seven-pound bird, and she only took about half an hour to cook. That was actually a little too long--the bird got up to about 175 degrees, and I prefer poultry cooked to about 160. Here is the finished product:

The meat was tasty, although a little dry (that's what cooking to 175 will do for you). The skin was heavenly--crispy and salty and wonderful. I don't think I've ever had people actually ask to have pieces of skin with their meat before.

I also fried up a couple of other things Saturday while I had the oil hot. One was okra. It turned out well, although I didn't get a photo. The okra was generally well-received. The three-year-old didn't think much of it, although she loves vegetables (after supper, she kept coming back to the kitchen to grab broccoli out of the serving bowl). The one-year-old loved it, and mostly ate okra for supper.

I also cooked some hearts and turkey fries (e-mail me if you don't know what those are, and really want to). Here are the parts right out of the freezer:

I tried breading the parts before frying. I did a good job with the turkey fries, but not so much with the hearts. Here's step two:

Finally, the finished product:

I have had turkey fries before, and these were just as I remember them. Salty and crusty, and just a little bit savory. My only complaint is that the breading wasn't great, but I still ate all of them. The hearts tasted like crusty liver, but were tougher. I ate one, and put the rest with the liver in the fridge. I'm slowly using up the contents of that bowl as treats for dog training.

Overall, I would recommend turkey frying. Even including the time needed to heat the oil, the turkey cooked as fast or faster than oven-roasted bird. For Thanksgiving, this would be a great way to go, because you can cook the turkey elsewhere without tying up the oven. It also didn't heat up the house as much as the oven does. My only concern is clean-up, which I haven't started. I'm contemplating trying to salvage the oil for re-use, but I have to strain out the flotsam and jetsam (and cornmeal that fell off the okra) before I can put it away. I'll let you know how that process goes.