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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. Tom Turkey - Revised

Well, my wonderful Blogger friends... it is the Eve of Thanksgiving. The time when Suzy Homemakers all over the country are bustling about their kitchens, preparing for tomorrow's feast. Normally at this point, I would describe these activities in detail.... except I have no experience from which to draw, so I'll just leave it to your imagination and your own personal experience as to what happens in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Eve. Over the years, I've been blessed to be the benefactor of the Thanksgiving Eve labor of others, while my own personal contribution has usually been brown-n-serve rolls, or Mrs. Smith's apple pie, or the occasional green-bean-casserole. I've never, ever cooked a turkey. Never wanted to. (Still don't.)

In a way, it's a sad day today. It's the day of the Thanksgiving lunch at the office where I used to work, the first one since I left to go back to the hospital. My boss was a very generous man with Christmas bonuses, and knew the best way to make a girl happy was to give her the bonus at the luncheon... because he knows we all love to shop on Black Friday!!! I'm talking a very serious kind of generous here. It was fabulous. And so wonderful that he didn't make us wait until Christmas, but gave it to us in time for Major Shopping. And while I am very grateful for anything that anyone gives me, I knew it would bring back bittersweet memories when I received my $20.00 Wal Mart gift card from the hospital. Sorta pales in comparison, if you know what I mean. Granted.... the hospital has many, many MANY more employees than my former office, where there were only six gals working. So obviously, any gift at all from the hospital couldn't be very much. But, hey.... I'm the Queen of Wal Mart, so $20.00 at Wal Mart can still be a good thing! So I'm all geared up, prepared to graciously accept the gift card and try to remember how much better off I am in my current job (read about that story here), and try not to fret over the absence of my nice, big, fat, juicy, bonus check. And while I do appreciate any gift, and I do understand that we have lots of employees and everyone is having to tighten their belts, it was a tiny bit disappointing to learn that this year, instead of the Wal Mart card, we would be receiving a 10-12 lb frozen turkey off the back of the delivery truck that brings our cafeteria food. Not very exciting, but hey, I'd much rather have a 10-12 lb frozen turkey off the back of a transfer truck than a pink slip for me or any of my fellow hospital emloyees!! And lest I sound ungrateful, just let it be known here, that I am totally Paying It Forward, and donating my multi-thousand-dollar bird to Dustin's family's Thanksgiving feast.

Which brings us back to Tom Turkey and Suzy Homemaker. Those of you who know me well might remember that my cooking talents, what little there were to begin with, began to fade when I moved back to Statham in 1993. It's all my mom's fault. Whitney stayed with her after school, and when I returned from work to pick her up, my dinner was on the table every night. She spoiled me plumb rotton. Rurnt me, if you will. You know that whole use-it-or-lose-it thing? Yep, it applies with cooking as well. I seem to have lost my touch all together, and no longer even attempt. (Truth be known, I really CAN cook... but it is oh so wonderful to only be expected to bring paper plates, potato chips or rolls to all the covered-dish lunches and family reunions....)

DNA is an amazingly wonderful thing. Somewhere deep within the chain of molecules there lies a cooking gene, and though it must have been recessant in me, I do believe it has been passed on to Whitney in its more dominant form. Bless her heart. Her mama didn't teach her nuthin' regarding the culinary arts, but she has turned out to be quite the little chef. I won't delve into her repertoire, but she has several dishes that she has perfected nicely. Today she decided to try her hand at Mr. Tom Turkey. Having transferred it from the freezer to the fridge two days ago, we had no idea that his innards would still be frozen. Never having had my hand up the rump of a turkey, I assumed it would be just like a chicken, and told her to remove all the loose stuff inside. (Actually I told her to "curette the walls") Well, the loose stuff inside was still pretty much frozen and stuck to the walls of the... cavity. There was also this funky little plastic looking thing that we figured was a handle to facilitate easy removal of the innards. (No, it wasn't a fancy little pop up "I'm done" thing.) Well, the plastic thing broke with the innards still hiding inside the... cavity. After about the third question about turkey-cookin, I told Whitney she was just gonna hafta call her Nany, who has cooked many a turkey for many a family gathering. Well, Whitney had Tom Turkey juice up to her elbows, so I dialed the number. Now, here we are, two turkey-cooking-virgins, calling our elders on the phone to solicit culinary advice. Can you believe that they LAUGHED at us??? Yes ma'am... Nany and Pawpoo both just hooted like hyenas when we asked how to cook a turkey. And I thought Nany would split a gut when Whitney asked her about that "bony spine-looking thing" that simply would NOT come out of the.... cavity. After much laughing and poking all manner of fun at us for not knowing a giblet from a gizzard (and I still don't), they instilled enough confidence for Whitney to have another go at that neck-thing. We had to cut them off at the pass, though, when they started talking about giblet gravy. BLECH!!!!! These giblets and gizzards are going straight in the garbage!!! No gravy from this turkey!! When the spiney looking thing still wouldn't budge, another phone call to Pawpoo assured me that it really would be okay to just cook it with the neck in there and pull it out later. (It's a turkey... they taste like cardboard to start with. What's a little neck juice gonna do to hurt it?) A few minutes later, Whitney came in here with her arms raised in victory and doing a little happy dance. She got the neck out. And the giblets. And the gizzards. (Eww... now that just sounds soooo appetizing i think i'll just go eat me some turkey. Oh wait, it's still raw. )

Mr. Tom Turkey has been sprinkled with salt and pepper, wrapped in the finest of tin foil from the dollar store, and now sits gutless and neckless in the warmth of my oven, where he will roast for eight or nine hours. Or three or four. I don't remember what Nany said. Maybe Whitney will remember.

I won't be eating any of the turkey my ownself, but if this is the last post you see for a while, it may be because I'm tending to those who did. Ha! Actually, I have every confidence that if any turkey can be made to taste good, then Whitney can do it. I admire her courage to try. Maybe I can be like her when I grow up. Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!!

UPDATE I know you're all wondering how Mr. Tom Turkey fared during his stay in my oven. I think he turned out beautifully, and he smells pretty darn good too. Way to go, Whitney!!!

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