Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Turkey's Tale of Woe

by Cynthia Pfledderer

I'll be spending another Thanksgiving with the Dallas Cowboys this year, so my family and I decided to have our Thanksgiving one day early. To offer some encouragement and camaraderie to all of you who will be slicing, dicing, and roasting tomorrow, I decided to share my semi-annual adventure into holiday cuisine.

The Menu
Mushrooms stuffed with crab and almonds (Williams Sonoma's Thanksgiving)
Giada's Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus (Giada's Family Dinners)
Cornbread Stuffing with Homemade Turkey Gravy
Macaroni and Cheese (Not Kraft)
Broccoli and Rice Casserole (A family favorite, made with real Cheese Whiz. Ha!)
Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans (Thanks to my friend Bennett)
Seasoned Corn off the Cob
Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Onion
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Pecan Pie, Pear-Pumpkin Trifle, Upside-Down Apple Tart

A Turkey's Tale of Woe
The plan is to get up early and get the turkey seasoned and in the oven in time to take my little Joodle Bug (Jude is my 1-yr old grandson) to Story Time at the Library. I have been planning and looking forward to this for a week.  Story Time is 10 am in Southlake. I'm in Bedford.

8:45 am - Running late. Turkey looks like this.

I've worked late the last 2 nights and I don't have all of the ingredients for Giada's recipe. What to do?

9 am -  I decide I will stick with the plan and head to the grocery for missing items. I'm home by 9:20 am but without fresh sage and oregano. Fortunately, I grow my own rosemary and I can make do with dried herbs. Can I get this bird seasoned, in the oven and be out the door in 5 minutes? Let's see.

I love fresh rosemary, it smells so Christmasey. I am happy to report I found the Herbes de Provence required for this recipe. Thanks to Tom Thumb for that. I've used many different recipes over the year, so I do improvise with ideas I've learned from other chefs. I always wrap my bird in parchment paper because it helps maintain the moisture and keeps the foil away from the meat. I'm also a fan of using wine and spirits when I cook, the alcohol always burns off and leaves a nice flavor behind. So I add some white wine to the mix.

9:25 am - Seasoned and ready to go. Making good time.

9:30 am - A little late but it looks pretty good. I can pop it in the oven, drive over to pick up the baby and still make it Story Time for our special date.  That is, until I remember something. My oven is the Devil.

It burns 25 degrees too hot always and it's freakishly small. It's the last part that slipped my mind. The roaster won't fit in the oven! I look at the clock. Ms. Elizabeth is starting at 10 am sharp and I'm already late. What to do? Unlike the too full closet, I can't shove on the door and squeeze it in. There's no latch to hold it closed, so the oven just pops the door back out at me like a protruding tongue.

I won't share with you the harsh words I have with the oven at this point or the text I send to my husband for not having the psychic intuition to have prevented this problem for me. (Don't worry, after 16 years, he's used to this by now and enjoys the absurdity of it.) I have no time to get creative, I pull the bird out of the pan, foil, parchment, and all and throw it into the biggest casserole dish I have. This is a problem. I see it is too small for the job.  But time is ticking and Ms. Elizabeth will be singing in 20 minutes.

I run upstairs and tell my son,

"Watch that turkey in the oven. The pan is too small and I'm concerned it will start another fire in the oven."

Yes, I did say another.  We have a history - this Devil and me. My son doesn't flinch - he is also used to me. After a few words on fire prevention, I grab my purse and rush out of the door.  Halfway to my daughter's home, I call to see if Jude is ready and if I can arrange a speedy pick up. Her groggy voice tells me all I need to know. They are still in bed. Baby is not ready. Story Time will not happen.

I turn my car around and drive back home. A quick message to Ms. Elizabeth and I'm back to the turkey. My son, aka my sous-chef of the day, is in the kitchen surveying the situation. I decide to tackle the turkey issue again. The roasting pan is metal and I think a pair of pliers may solve my dilemma. We pull Tom from the oven and I proceed to deform my new roasting pan. Convinced I have shortened it sufficiently, I move the bird back to the roaster. My son is loading the dishwasher behind me.  I look at him.

"You know if I put this back in there and it doesn't fit, I'm going to have a meltdown, right?"

He nods and decides to leave the kitchen for the time being. I put the pan back into the Devil and it's within millimeters of closing. I attack it with the pliers again and finally decide it's closed enough.  Seeing it is safe to return, Sawyer comes to offer his assistance with the remaining dishes. I tell him I'm going to Starbucks to see if I can return to sanity.

"It's not going to happen," he tells me and I nod in acceptance.

One green tea and an eggnog later, I am sitting in my leopard print chair telling you my story of turkey woe.  (I cut my eggnog with nonfat milk to make myself feel better about drinking it - this makes perfect sense to me.) My sous-chef has snapped the beans during this time and is now peeling apples like a champ. It makes me happy to watch him.

So let my story help you. Whatever kitchen disasters may befall you this Thanksgiving, take heart in knowing it happens to all of us and the best part is sharing it all with your family.

Here's my sweet sous-chef hard at work. And the Devil in the background, looking sooo innocent!

From the Pfledderer House - We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

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