In preparation for this post, I’m hoping that you will listen to Canadian story teller, Stuart McLean, as he tells his story, Dave Cooks the Turkey on this podcast. (click the text that appears blue) I know…you don’t feel that you have 35 minutes to sit and put your feet up with your cup of coffee or your glass of wine, but I am really recommending that you click and give yourself that time! And after this story, anything that could happen today (because bizarre things always happen with family dinners), nothing will compare and you will know that even though your Thanksgiving dinner may NOT look like that captured on the cover of a Good Housekeeping magazine cover,
your memories will last regardless…your time with family and friends will always be treasured! Be grateful!
And here is my story…
It was the day before Thanksgiving. I had everything under control. Instead of having all of the fussing about to do in a single day, I began to plan early. The house was clean…toilet paper and scented candles in the bathrooms…the turkey was into its third day of a highly monitored ‘thaw’! I skyped with my father and sister the night before the Thanksgiving feast and they were somewhat concerned about one of the elements in their oven, worried that it might not be functioning. I, on the other hand, was worried that at 13 kgs, my big bird may not be completely thawed for the big day.
Next morning, after Mass, I prepared the stuffing in a big pot on the stove top. The smells of onion, celery, butter, poultry seasoning and fresh sage filled the house. MMM-mmm! The turkey had fully co-operated; completely thawed, I loaded the cavity with dressing and popped it in the oven before noon. Awesome!
‘The bird’ was placed into tripled aluminum roasters since I had nothing quite large enough to accommodate its round robust form. I tented the roaster with heavy duty foil, planning to cook the turkey at 325 degrees and uncover it for that golden brown colour during its final hour. I cooked giblets on the stove top just so that my daughter would have some nice browned residue to create a deep rich gravy, knowing that the aluminum roasters would not provide the same juices as my old roasting pan. The house wafted with the beautiful smells of turkey, dressing and cranberries bubbling on the back burner. All was well with the world.
The remaining food preparation was under way and I had time to get out with Max and enjoy a perfect autumn day. The leaves were dancing in a blustery wind and it felt as though the day could not be more perfect.
Sounds romantic, right?
The guests arrived and ‘pre-function’ foods abounded. Wine was served and the voices of loved ones began to lift and weave throughout the house. There was good fun, lots of laughter and I felt as though everything was in perfect synch…that was until I went to pull the aluminum foil tent off of the turkey in order to achieve that amazing golden brown and ready it for resting.
OH NO!! WHAT??? I couldn’t believe my eyes! The bottom element was dead…the top element lit up… and the turkey, once uncovered, just barely started on its way to a Thankgiving feast table! Conversations continued to whir around me as I stared dumb-founded at this naked looking bird staring up at my dropped mouth! I’m laughing as I report this to my readers, but suffice it to say, I was shocked!
No problem! Plan B! (My father always said, “Just make certain that you always have a Plan B!) My daughter, who had just arrived with her festive carrot/turnip casserole and her hot pan of apple butterscotch pudding, took the pan of turkey and along with a dear friend of mine, headed out the front door and to her home to get the turkey roasting in her oven. From there, they headed for Soby’s and returned just as the potatoes were being mashed and the brussel sprouts cooked to perfection. Five Soby’s roast chickens were unloaded onto the kitchen counter. The packaged gravy was stirred up at the stove. My son proceeded to carve the chickens up to look like turkey and the feast was served out in perfect time. It was almost seamless…the transition from catastrophe to celebration.
I absolutely cherish my friends and my family. Thanksgiving dinners are the ultimate with me. It is not in the perfection of the bird, however, that we need count our success or depend for our traditions. It is by the hugs at the front door…it is the tears that we share. It is the pats on the back and the genuine listening. It is in the telling of stories. Sharing drinks and food of any kind invites the ritual of love. And last night, I was surrounded in the warm cloak of love. Thank you, dear children…my precious cousin…and my friends! Seventeen wonderful folk and roasted grocery store chicken! Whoot!
When finally the guests were all gone…I enjoyed the quiet of sorting the kitchen…washing up…putting away the clean dishes. It was nearing one o’clock in the morning when the phone rang. Quiet tired voice across the line…my daughter. “225 degrees…keep it covered…yeah…all night.” And we both laughed.