Post #610 Heard at the Store

November 18, 2018 at 11:24 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

You all know that we moved recently to accept a promotion for Partner/Spouse.  We love being where we are, and I found a job almost immediately.  I’m back in retail sales, but at the kind of store that is the dream job for me.  I now work at a book store!  Yay me!  I’ve been there about three weeks and loving every minute.  Recently, for the upcoming holidays, they asked us to fill in a list tacked on the bulletin board delineating the areas you considered your “specialty”.  Yeah, guess what I wrote?

So yesterday, an older man comes in and wants “that book about turkeys, you know, cooking them and all.”  One of my co-workers led him to the cookbook section and found him the book he wanted.  He gleefully sat down and began browsing through it.

A few minutes later, he walks up to my colleague who directed him to me.

“Hi, sir, how can I help?”

“Well, now, son, you need to look at this book and tell me what’s wrong with it.”

I don’t play those kinds of games, so I said, “Why don’t you tell me what’s troubling you about it?”

“Well, look at this.”  He flipped through the front of the book and showed me the table of contents.   “Look here.  It says brines, page 37.”  He pointed aggressively at the page number.

He flipped through the book (which wasn’t really a huge volume, probably 120 pages total and heavy on the pictures) until he finally got to page 37.  It was the beginning of the brining section and showed a picture of a turkey in a large pot of water and vegetables.

“What’s the problem, sir?”

“How am I supposed to tell what to put in that brine?”  He was almost quivering, he was so insulted and angry.

Without saying a word, I reached out and flipped the page revealing a basic brining recipe and technique.  It happened to be a dry rub and he took exception to it.

“I don’t want no damn dry rub.  I want one to soak the bird!”

I flipped a few more pages and suddenly all his anger turned to delight.

“There it is!” he said happily.  “That’s the one I want.  Apple cider brine!”

His face split into a big grin and his eyes dances as he looked up at me.  He rapidly read through the recipe and started asking questions.

“Does it take water?”

“Yes sir.  Most brines combine some wet and dry ingredients to flavor the bird, but make up the bulk of the brine with water to cover the bird.  See here?”  I pointed to one instruction.  He nodded.

“Okay,” he said and glanced through it more.  “Could I use apple juice?”

“Sir, it’s your turkey and your feast.  You can use whatever liquid you like.  You might even try adding some apple bourbon to it to add flavor.”

“That’s a great idea!”  He wrote it down in the book.  The one he hadn’t bought yet.  I cringed but assumed he was going to buy it so didn’t say anything.

“It says to use butter, but could I use apple jelly instead?”

Knowing this was supposed to be a brine, I said, “They put the recipe together to perform a specific task so I wouldn’t omit the butter.  But you can certainly add apple jelly in addition to the butter.  Remember that brining means introducing salt into the bird so you don’t want to make this too sweet.”

He nodded and continued reading.  And chortling.  I swear to gods, the man was chortling like he’d discovered a gold mine.

He asked a few more questions then asked, “Can I make a copy of this page?”

“Well, no, sir.  We don’t have a copy facility, and, to be perfectly frank, we’re a book store, not a library.  We’re in the business of selling the books.  And since you’ve written in that one, I have to sort of insist you but it.”

He laughed.  “I was just testing you.” acting as though it were a joke or something.

Sigh.  So ready to be done with him, but then I thought of something.

“Sir, can I make a suggestion?”


If you’re going to stuff the bird, can I suggest that you cook the stuffing separately in a baking dish?  You can add the juices from the bird after it’s cooked to moisten the stuff as much as you want.  Then, I’d put quartered onions, chopped apples, and whole peppercorns into the cavity of the bird to cook with the bird.  It’ll help flavor the bird from the inside, and introduce a little more apple flavor while still remaining savory.”

His eyes widened and he wrote it all down quickly.

“Oh, thanks!  You’re going to make this holiday a big success.”

“You’re perfectly welcome, sir.”

He hurried off to the registers at the front of the store.  One of the other managers walked over to me.

“Way to turn that customer around!”

I grinned.  “I like cooking and talking about cooking so it was a piece of cake!  Mmmm, cake!”

A few seconds after that, we heard one of the cashiers in our ear pieces asking if we gave a military discount.  We busted up, knowing exactly why she was asking and who it was for.

So, the whole brine recipe was this:

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 whole apples cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or softened butter
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning

Mix apple cider and vinegar, salt, and sugar in a large container.  Add rinsed turkey with giblets removed to container and add water to cover turkey.  Add apples, and place container in the fridge with a weight to keep bird submerged.  Leave for 8 hours or overnight.  Remove bird from brine and discard brine.  Rinse bird and pat dry with paper towels.  In a small bowl mix olive oil or butter (or both!) with the seasonings and lightly spread over skin of bird.  Loosen the skin and work the rub under the skin against the meat.  Cook bird according to cooking instructions and weight.

I’ve never been questioned so closely about brining before but it was kind of fun, and certainly humorous.

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