In our own backyard...Here's lookin' at ya, turkey!I am haunted by turkey.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
I am haunted by turkey.
Right around the first of September each year, I begin thinking about turkey – not just the insipid-tasting sliced stuff that is sold in grocery store delis or worse yet, in cellophane-wrapped packages. No, I’m talking about the full-blown turkey dinner, with dark and white meat carved off a real bird, accompanied by stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, butter fluff rolls and corn or green bean casserole. Just the thought of it makes my mouth water and my stomach growl.
Fortunately, I’m married to someone who is as much of a turkey-holic as I am. In fact, we even served a turkey dinner at our wedding reception! Since then, we’ve enable each other’s “habit” every chance we get, and we’ve been known to cook whole turkeys off and on throughout the year, interspersed with the occasional turkey legs or breasts in between.
“Say, how about buying a turkey to cook this weekend?” my husband suggested around the middle of October this year.
For a moment, my eyes lit up with excitement and I was about to agree, but I realized that Thanksgiving was not all that far off and questioned if we should eat turkey so close to the holiday, lest it dampen our enthusiasm for the king of all turkey holidays. We decided to resist the temptation to jump the gun and ate salmon instead.
But in late October when we heard that our friends, Glenn and Nancy Kraus of Cloquet, were helping to host a full turkey dinner with all of the trimmings at their church, our resolve quickly went by the wayside. On the night of the dinner, we packed it away as though it was Thanksgiving reincarnated, though we did come away with a mournful longing for leftovers…
A couple of weeks later, we traveled to the Twin Cities to watch one of our grandchildren play hockey, and when our daughter offered to cook dinner for us as an early Thanksgiving celebration, we both jumped at the offer with unbridled enthusiasm and once again plowed our way through a full turkey dinner.
One would think that by last weekend, when the actual Thanksgiving holiday at last rolled around, we would be having second thoughts about eating more turkey – one would think.
But in fact, just the opposite occurred. As with any other firmly rooted addiction, it seemed that our appetite for turkey only seemed to grow more avid with consumption. I browsed the grocery store aisles for our Thanksgiving turkey and selected the largest bird I could find – a hulking 21-pounder!
When my mom arrived midday on Thanksgiving, I had already washed, stuffed and trussed the giant turkey, slathered it with oil and put it in the oven. She could hardly believe that I’d bought a 21-pound turkey for just five people, but I explained that we wanted to be certain to have plenty for leftovers.
After that, our Thanksgiving dinner began to take on a life of its own. I realized that if we were going to have all sorts of turkey left over, I’d better make extra stuffing and mashed potatoes to go along with it. At the last minute, I also cooked up an extra bag of corn in addition to the one I’d already started – just so we would have enough vegetables to go along with all of the other leftovers.
It took six hours to cook and about 15 minutes to eat. We gave thanks for our bounty as we sat around the table, with platters virtually heaping with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. We could have invited the entire neighborhood – or the Seventh Fleet, for that matter – and we had enough left over for turkey sandwiches two days straight, turkey soup, turkey with potatoes and stuffing Sunday night, turkey sandwiches at work on Monday and turkey soup again on Monday night.
By then, our turkey stash had diminished to one small Ziploc bagful, though we still had a fair amount of turkey soup left over that was bound for the freezer.
We sat around after dinner Monday night and talked about what a wonderful Thanksgiving we’d had and started making plans for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
“What are we going to serve for Christmas dinner this year?” asked my husband.
I took a long, slow breath, thought for a bit, and then replied, “I think a crown roast of pork would be nice....”