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10 Common Turkey Mistakes You Won’t Make This Thanksgiving

10 Common Turkey Mistakes You Won’t Make This Thanksgiving

Everyone makes mistakes while trying to prepare a fabulous Thanksgiving turkey. But this year, RELAX! You’ve got it under control with these 10 easy tips that will save your turkey and make you look like a culinary rock star!

1. Not giving your turkey enough time to thaw.

    Chances are good that you’re going to purchase your turkey frozen, because that is how the majority of them come. It’s crucial to allot enough time for yours to thaw safely. The best way to get that frozen bird thawed is in the refrigerator. It will defrost at a rate of about four pounds per day, so the average 16-pound turkey could take at least four days to completely thaw! If you fail to give your turkey enough time to thaw, it will cook on the outside, but the inside will be super raw. Gross!

    2. You don’t let your bird come to room temperature.

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    roomTEMPturkey

      Take your turkey out of the refrigerator and park it on the kitchen counter for 60-90 minutes before roasting. Unpackage it and remove it from its brine (the liquid). This ensures that you cook an equally moist bird. If you’re a germaphobe, rest assured that this is safe and sanitary for that hour and a half.

      3. Stuffing your turkey.

      StuffingtheTurkey

        The middle of the turkey takes the longest to cook, so when you’re putting food into the cavity of the bird to pull out and eat later, it could be a potential health hazard. For the stuffing to be safe to eat, it needs to reach 165 degrees. However, by the time it reaches that temperature, the rest of the turkey is overcooked. Your options are to have an overcooked bird with properly heated stuffing or a turkey cooked to perfection but the stuffing is mushy and undercooked. Play it safe and bake the stuffing separately so that you can enjoy both foods. You’ll be glad you avoided this turkey mistake!

        4. Putting a damp bird in the oven.

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        patturkeydry

          It’s important to pat your turkey dry before you roast it. Don’t neglect drying inside the cavity of the bird as well. Many people forget about that because they are stuffing it. You want the bird to be dry if you wish to have a crispy, golden-brown turkey.

          5. Forgetting to season.

          cajun-smoked-turkey

            If you want a savory bird, you need to season it thoroughly. This means inside and out. You could simply sprinkle some salt in its cavity or loosely stuff it with herbs, lemons, onions, and fennel (not to eat). This adds flavor to the meat and the aroma will make your kitchen smell great too!

            6. Not using a roasting rack.

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            thanksgiving-turkey-tips_608

              It boggles my mind how many people don’t use a roasting rack. The roasting rack helps to cook the bird evenly. Without it, the meat on the bottom ends up dry, overcooked, and often burned. If you don’t want to waste part of your turkey each year, invest in a rack for your roasting pan. You can use it for roasting other meats too, so you’ll get use out of it more than just once a year.

              7. You skip the meat thermometer.

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                Many people skip using a meat thermometer and just rely on the plastic pop-up thermometer. This will get you into trouble. Use a standard meat thermometer that is metal and designed to withstand oven temperatures. Position it in the thickest part of the turkey’s thigh, because the dark meat of the turkey thigh takes longest to cook. When the thermometer reads 165, take it out!

                8. Cooking at too high of a temperature.

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                burnt-turkey

                  If you cook your turkey at too high of a temperature, the skin will burn and the meat will likely be undercooked. Yuck! It’s best to start roasting the bird at 475-500 degrees for the first 20-30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 400 degrees until the bird reaches 165 degrees.

                  9. Roasting the turkey well over 165°F.

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                    Maybe you’re using a meat thermometer and you’re roasting the turkey the oven at 400 degrees, but you still cook the turkey well past 165 degrees. If you’re letting the bird’s thigh temperature reach 180 degrees, it will be dry. There is no sense in waiting this long because the meat is perfectly safe for eating at 165 degrees. You could even cook it to just 160 degrees because the meat will continue to cook for a little while after you remove it from the oven.

                    10. Your turkey carving is shameful.

                    butcheredbird

                      Does your turkey look like a shredded mess on a platter? Or perhaps a poultry crime scene? Turkey carving is all about presentation. Here’s what you can do to make your carving turn out better this year:

                      1. Allow the bird to cool down for about 15 minutes before you start the carving process.
                      2. Start with cutting the leg quarters away first, and then work on the breast meat.
                      3. Try to take the breast meat off of the bone in one large piece and then slice it crosswise to ensure thicker, even slices.
                      4. Cut the thighs into larger pieces.
                      5. Only cut off what you will eat right away. If your family doesn’t plan to eat most of the bird during dinner, carve only half of the turkey. Carved meat will dry out faster than if it remains intact on the carcass.

                      Featured photo credit: whole turkey/Aimée Wimbush-Bourque via simplebites.net

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                      Naomi Teeter

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                      Last Updated on August 13, 2020

                      12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

                      12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

                      As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

                      1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

                      I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

                      Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

                      Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

                      2. What is the purpose of meditation?

                      The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

                      It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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                      Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

                      In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

                      You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

                      This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

                      The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

                      Less Physical, More Psychological

                      Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

                      This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

                      The First Benefit of Meditation

                      The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

                      1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
                      2. Relaxation of the body

                      Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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                      Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

                      That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

                      When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

                      When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

                      Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

                      Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

                      This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

                      Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

                      Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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                      This benefit takes you to the second one.

                      The Second Benefit of Meditation

                      While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

                      1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
                      2. Observance
                      3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
                      4. Patience

                      Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

                      You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

                      This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

                      1. Energy

                      Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

                      2. Observance

                      The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

                      3. Peacefulness

                      Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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                      4. Patience

                      The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

                      The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

                      Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

                      Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

                      The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

                      • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
                      • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
                      • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
                      • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
                      • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
                      • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

                      These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

                      Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

                      Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

                      More on Meditation

                      Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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