Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Great Turkey Experiment of 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, the holiday season is upon us and we are getting ready to celebrate our first Thanksgiving on our homestead. We planned on having a traditional dinner but as you may or may not know, we haven't had an oven since we moved. This hasn't been to much of an issue because we have been making do with the camp stove, microwave, and grill. Unfortunately, none of these are very conducive to cooking a turkey.

Originally we thought about getting a spit and cooking it over an open fire. The cheapest one I could find was around $50 dollars and used a motor to turn the food. We actually wanted something that we could turn manually and I really didn't want to spend $50 on this thing, so we went back to the drawing board. As I thought about it I finally came up with a plan B.

Recently I saw a blog that talked about making an oven out of a box. The instructions said to get a box like the type that office paper comes in. Line the box with tinfoil and poke holes in the side of the box for ventilation and to place straightened coat hangers through. This will make your rack. Prepare your charcoal and place it in a pie tin. This goes underneath your rack. Place whatever you are going to bake on the rack and then put the lid in place. Here is a link to the site for those who may want to try this method.

I actually brought a box home to do this, but as I was thinking about it, I didn't think this box would be big enough for a turkey or that the wire coat hangers would be strong enough to hold it so I decided to make a different one. We bought a sheet of foam insulation that is used behind drywall. We bought this kind because it has a shiny surface on one side and apparently this could also be used in making a solar oven. I figured if you could use it for that I could use it to make an oven.

We measured the turkey pan to be sure we cut it large enough and set to work. I cut the sides to be 2 feet tall to be sure it would be tall enough for the turkey. Once I had all of the pieces cut, I covered one side of each piece with tin foil. Then we used small nails to put all of the pieces together.

The finished oven
 For our oven rack we used a camp grill that is designed to go over an open fire pit. It has fold out legs and was perfect for placing the coals underneath. Of course because it's metal we also knew it would hold the turkey.

Our first experiment was to try baking some cookies. It took longer than baking them in a real oven but it worked! We also discovered where we were losing heat and used some duct tape to give it a better seal. Since we weren't sure how long it would take to cook the turkey we decided to cook it yesterday. My hubby put it in around 8 AM and by lunch it was done! It took about 4 1/2 - 5 hours to cook. Below is a picture of the turkey in the oven bag while it was still in the oven and one after we had taken it out and placed it on a platter.

As far as preparation, this has to be our most original Thanksgiving. Hopefully next year most, if not all, of our Thanksgiving meal will come from what we grow or from local growers. Below is a picture of the oven while I was baking brownies in it. You can see the duct tape that we added to it and the bricks were placed on top so the lid would get a better seal. The bricks were put underneath to give it a fireproof surface to sit on. I don't expect this to be a permanent fix but it works in a pinch!

So that was the Great Turkey Experiment and I hope everyone has a Happy Homesteading Thanksgiving!

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