Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Debacles

During my first marriage, Thanksgiving was always at my house every year. I preferred it this way because I could have both of our respective families over at the same time, and there was none of that “who’s-turn-is-it-weren’t-we-at-your-mom’s-last-year” nonsense going on. I certainly had enough room, and everyone was always willing to come. For the most part, our families got along, even if it was a contest between the two as to who was the loudest.

My Turkey Day feasts eventually went off without a hitch, but this was not so in the beginning. The first Thanksgiving that I ever hosted was in 1988. I invited both families over, and my brother-in-law S, who was still single at the time, decided to spend the night before at my house and help us out in the morning with the preparations. I had never cooked a turkey before, nor had I cooked much of anything prior to that day, but I figured that it couldn’t be very hard…all I had to do was put it in the oven with some butter, salt and pepper. Heck, I could handle that.

I got up that Thanksgiving morning about 6am in order to go to the turkey farm that was ½ hour away and pick up my fresh turkey. I got back some time after 7, and came back to find S and my husband, D, awake and hanging out. I took the turkey out of the packaging, and placed it on my table. Something didn’t look right; the turkey looked closed. Wasn’t it supposed to be hollow? I called D and S in to see what they thought. At the time, S was in medical equipment sales, and after viewing the solid turkey, he got a brainstorm to take a laser machine out of his trunk and try to laser open the poor bird.

I can not even begin to explain what the scent of raw turkey flesh smells like when it’s being burned open by a ray of red light. All of the wonderful holiday essences that should have been wafting through my house that morning turned into a smoky, dead-skin odor that even made the dog want to stay outside. I finally couldn’t take it any more, and decided to call up my cousin, T (who graciously taught me how to cook after my mom died, and who was coming over later that day for dinner), and ask her for her advice.

“I’ve never in my life heard of a “closed” turkey…are you sure it’s solid??” she queried.

“Yes, there’s just a tiny hole, but it’s solid inside of the hole!” I answered back in a panic.

“…Are you telling me that when you spread the legs open, that there’s no cavity there?”

“…Ummm…when I spread the legs open…??”

Embarrassingly enough, it was at this moment that I realized that the three of us had just spent the last half hour trying to burn a hole into the turkey where its head should’ve been! We also realized that we were supposed to untie the legs…and once we did, lo and behold, there was the cavity. We had a great laugh, and went on to have a really fun Thanksgiving, especially when that story went around the table!

My next turkey fiasco came nine years later. I was newly divorced, and it was the very first Thanksgiving that I was spending in my new home. Although my cousin T volunteered to have dinner at her house, I insisted that it was my holiday and my marital status was not going to stop me from cooking a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

The only problem was that my brain was not functioning at full capacity yet since the demise of the marriage. I purchased a frozen turkey for the first time and didn’t realize how long it would take to defrost. It was also the year that T insisted that I stuff the turkey, something I had never done before (I always cooked the stuffing on the side). That morning, the turkey seemed to be pliable, and I cooked my stuffing and shoved it inside of the bird at 11am. It was a large bird, and was supposed to take over 6 hours to cook. This meant that we could have feasibly begun eating at about 6pm…so I told everyone to come at 5. My sister-in-law, J, was in charge of the vegetable platter for an appetizer. I put out some chips and dip, and left it at that…none of us wanted to fill up on junk before the hefty dinner that we would eat.

Mostly everyone showed up at 5:30, technically a half-hour after the turkey was to be done. For some reason, however, it just wasn’t cooking. We decided to take out the stuffing and place it in a separate dish…but when we did, it was soggy and covered in bloody liquid—and worse yet, it was cold.

“Lisa…did you defrost the turkey all the way??” T asked.

“Uhh…yeah, I thought so…I mean, the inside was a little frozen, but I figured it would cook.”

“You can’t cook a frozen turkey, you turkey!! And you especially can’t stuff it!!”

Now it was closing in on 6:30, and the turkey was still nowhere near done. The vegetables had long been devoured, as well as the chips and dip, and now everyone was famished. We held on for another hour, served some more drinks and then checked the turkey again. To our disbelief, there was still pink juice flowing out of it, so we placed it back into the oven again. To make a long story short, we finally took that bird out of the oven about 8:15pm! We put my cousin’s husband, R, in charge of the slicing. All of the women were running around the dining room trying to place the rest of the food on the table, refill wine, etc…when all of a sudden, we hear, “T?? Ummm…Can you come into the kitchen for a minute?? I don’t know what this is.” My cousin left to go see what the matter was, and we began to hear loud laughter coming from the kitchen. We ran in to see R holding up the package of giblets that he had just pulled out of the cooked turkey! It seems that in my haste, or rather, in my state of first-time singleness, I had completely forgotten to take out the giblets packed in paper. J started to laugh so hard that she actually wet her pants. To this day, she retells this story to everyone she meets…and it is definitely one for our family history books!!

(My family has since outgrown this house as far as having any holidays here…and I actually HAVE to do the “Whose year is it?” routine now…but at least I don’t have to risk having any more kitchen flops. Then again, they do make for good storytelling!)

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice and funny stories!!
hope this thanksgiving would be a very nice one..enjoy and hope you have more funny stories to tell later, but in a good way!

Kacey said...

Oh, Lisa---You are positively adorable! I am really laughing out loud! Your version of Thanksgiving makes for lots of fun and forever memories. Anyone else even remember last year's dinner? No? See --- your dinners are special!

Lisa said...

Summer,

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, and went off without a hitch! Thank you for stopping by, as always, it's wonderful to hear from you.

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Kacey,

Thank you for always being so complimentary! You always have the nicest things to say. I hope that your Thanksgiving was wonderful, and here's to a wonderful start for the holiday season!

Take good care,
Lisa

Betty said...

I had a really good laugh, especially as I realized that I'm not the only one with embarrassing kitchen moments! You made my day.

Hugs,
Betty

Lisa said...

Betty,

Thank you so much! I thank God that I have a family who knows how to see the humor in what other families would consider a disaster!! I don't know how to get through life any other way.

Take good care,
Lisa

abu_shakuush said...

i like the "giblets" story. that was funny :-)

Lisa said...

Abu,

Trust me, it was much funnier in person! I'll never forget the sight of him holding up that package for as long as I live!

Take good care,
Lisa

Anonymous said...

Hi! Lisa,
I will never ever be able to look at a turkey again without thinking about your post..Very funny!
Love your blog,,and if you don't mind, I will add you to my sidebar.
Thanks,
Matty

Lisa said...

Hi Matty,

Thank you! I will add yours as well, once I take the time to re-figure it all out (sshhh, Summer, don't say anything, lol)!! Glad you stopped by, feel free to drop in any time!

Take good care,
Lisa

Anonymous said...

:)
I READ THAT!!

Lisa said...

Summer,

Hahaha!! I'll get the clarity of mind and the extra few minutes one of these days to figure it out...I did copy and paste your email to Word so it wouldn't automatically delete this time!!