Big Turkey

(Being whipped together just like our Thanksgiving dinner.... at the last minute!)

I just got done wrestling Andre the Giant.

...into the oven.

That would be Andre the Giant turkey that is.

It was a battle worthy of the WWF.

I was up late last night making our first batch of Chex Mix for the season. We have established a Chex Mix season at our house - from Thanksgiving to Easter. Make it any other time on pain of death! That way, the smell of Chex Mix baking in the oven always magically puts us into the holiday spirit.

Anyway, about 10:30 last night, I decided to go ahead and make the mix - instead of waiting until that unknown time when the turkey would be done this morning. But could I find the canister of mixed nuts I just bought the other day? We looked and we looked, but it was nowhere to be found. So at 11:00 at night, Marcela and I had to make a run up to Eagles for a can of nuts...

...a van of nuts going to buy a can of nuts, I guess you could say.

Of course, making Chex Mix is like the art of roasting coffee beans (in MY imagination anyway! I am a sucker for advertising propaganda - you know, the kind that is trying to convince you it really IS worth the extra $3 bucks for the "gourmet" coffee). It requires an hour of slow roasting, stirring the mix every fifteen minutes. So, getting started at 11:30 meant I was going to be up until at least midnight. This is what we call bad timing.

Flipping through the channels around midnight, I came across a guy on the food channel taking me step by step through the process of preparing the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. And since last year I blew up our Christmas turkey, I was paying particular attention.

Unfortunately, he threw out everything I thought I knew about roasting a turkey. I didn't see the first few minutes of the show, so there was probably some vital bit of information that I missed.... possibly a little disclaimer rolling across the bottom of the screen that said, "This is a professional. Do not try this at home!"

But he soaked his turkey in some sort of brine. I missed that part, so I am skipping it. Then he said, forget this slow roasting at 325 stuff. Start off at 500 degrees!

I wasn't quite brave enough to do that - mostly because I am pretty sure with all the grease spilled in our oven, I would set the house on fire. I did close my eyes and crank it up to 450...

Oh, and this year I remembered to get the giblets AND the neck out before I put it in the oven.

This guy says to cook it at 500 for an hour (or was it 30 minutes?!), and THEN back it down to 350, at which time you cover the white meat with foil.

Last year, I just threw the whole thing in the roaster and waited for the little red thing to pop out... well.... I missed the popping out part.... I took the turkey out some unknown time AFTER the thingy popped out.

Well, this guy said forget the red thingy. Use this fancy electronic temperature probe instead. Yeah, sure! The gizmo probably costs twice as much as the turkey - and I ain't got one. All I have is an old fashioned meat thermometer, a cheap thing I grabbed at the grocery store - the kind where you can't really tell what the temperature is.

Not that any of this mattered. Our turkey didn't have a red thingy anyway.

But then he said roast it to a temperature of 180 degrees for the dark meat, and 160 degrees for the white meat... or was it 160 degrees for the dark meat and 180 degrees for the white meat? See, that's the problem. I can't remember. So I am just going to go for 180 degrees wherever I happen to jab in the thermometer, which I am sure will be the wrong place anyway, because everything I have read says be sure you don't stick it in the wrong place - but I can never figure out just where the RIGHT place is.

In a moment of insanity, we selected a 24 pound turkey from the chest freezer at Eagles. Must have been that macho guy thing. The problem is - besides the fact that it didn't fit in our roaster - I tried it last night, and the lid just sort of wobbled there, balanced on the turkey's breast - and that it barely fit in the oven - the problem is, one book I have says it will take 6 to 7 hours to cook, another says it will take 4 1/2 to 5.

So... my dilemma this morning was, do I peel myself out of bed at 4:00? or 5:00???

I chose 5:00. It had nothing to do with how long the turkey is going to take!

But, it's an hour or so later, and I am thinking the adventure isn't over yet.

...and I am thinking, when we selected the biggest turkey in the freezer, what we were REALLY selecting was a bigger disaster!

I am also thinking now the stupid thing will probably be done at 9:00. We'll have left over turkey before we even had it first run!!!

Pepe made a chocolate pie, Dani is making macaroni salad, I plan on making an apple and celery salad - and then we will haul all of that over to Papa's for our Thanksgiving feast. He is going to have REAL mashed potatoes (I always do instant), a small ham, dinner rolls, bean bake - you know, with the fried onion bits on top - got to have that - it's the only time of the year you ever use those fried onion bits!

And this time I am bringing the pop. I have to have my Coca-Cola!!!

All Papa ever has is Ginger Ale.

I don't know what it is with old people and pop. Ginger Ale is all my grandmother ever had it at her house too. Ginger Ale? GINGER ALE??!! What's THAT? That's not POP! It's like, you get to a certain age, and when you go to the grocery store, that's all you can see. All the good stuff - the Coke, and the Cherry Coke, and Mountain Dew and A&W Root Beer become invisible. The only thing on the shelf is Ginger Ale.

But I couldn't believe it, when we went to pick up some REAL pop yesterday afternoon - there was nothing left but a bare shelf! Horrors!!! There was a run on liter bottles of Coke! Luckily, there were still a few 12 packs left, which I hate buying - I don't know how many half-full cans we find lying around the house. But it will have to do.

And so, we will all jam ourselves into Papa's little kitchen and proceed to stuff ourselves.

After that we will watch the mandatory football games, I'll fall asleep on the couch, and then, later in the evening, while we are stuffing ourselves AGAIN with the "Best Turkey Sandwiches in the World" (as I modestly have dubbed my creations), we will have our traditional showing of "Home Alone." (When the kids were little - and still not quite speaking English real well, they thought the kid's name was Homealone. "And then Homealone puts the lotion on his face...."). Dani would prefer to watch the original "Miracle on 34th Street," but that's in black and white, and the kids just can't deal with that! "Holiday Inn" would be fun too... but, oops, black and white again!

And that will be our day.

Well, no, probably not!

Considering how things have been going around here lately, that all sounds just a little too rosy. There HAS to be SOME disaster lurking around the corner.

That's how it seems to have been around here these days. Murphy's Law in full force. If something CAN break, it does. If it wasn't the muffler falling off the car, it was the faucet shooting water all over the kitchen (and then not having running water in the kitchen for three days - hauling buckets down from the bathroom. These things ALWAYS happen on the weekend. It's like Calamity just sits and waits until 5:00 o'clock Friday evening)... or the toilet backing up (my, that was delightful). Important papers walk away just when we need them. Marcela broke her arm - and then DIDN'T break her arm.

And then, of course, my new iMac bit the dust. The computer I had dreamed of, a piece of worthless plastic. That was a bit of a blow. And we are stuck. I brought in for service, and they told me it would cost more to fix it than it would to just go out and buy a new one... these people always seem to talk like us folks "just happen" to have an extra $1,000 stuffed in a cookie jar for little inconveniences like this!

It hasn't been anything really terrible... just sort of unrelenting... enough to get to the point where we find ourselves saying, "Can't just ONE thing go right?"

And so, by the time Thanksgiving has come around, I almost wanted to punt on the whole thing.

Oh well. God has his reasons for these things... I guess.

I wonder what he thinks, sitting there in heaven (well, really sitting right beside us) seeing us get all bent out of shape over the troubles of life, when he can see the wonderful good that will eventually come.

I imagine he has to fight the temptation to just TELL us what is going on - but then, he knows that would spoil the good work that he is accomplishing. So, all in all, it probably hurts him more than it does us, having to watch us stumble and fall so many times learning how to walk - learning how to walk with him.

But then, come to think of it, he DOES tell us not to worry. "Trust me," is what he DOES whisper to us. It will all be okay in the end. Everything is in his hands, and he is the great, all powerful, all wise, all knowing creator of all things. And that should be assurance enough!

And so, I am thankful. God IS so good to us. He DOES see us through.

"And that's what Thanksgiving is all about, Charlie Brown!"

Give Thanks to the Lord For He Is Good! His Love Endures Forever!

Wonderful Things

Paul Dallgas-Frey

2001 Paul Dallgas-Frey


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