Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey Dinner SOS! What's Your Worst Experience?

By Cal Orey,
The Writing Gourmet
"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? "
-- Erma Bombeck

Back in the fifities, I experienced an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner to cherish... I was a fifth grader living in a Dennis the Menace-type perfect suburbialand. My mom, a bakeress with talents, cooked the day before and the day of the big event. In the late afternoon our fun-loving relatives joined us. We all sat by the fireplace(s), watching movies on TV, talking and playing with the dog. Then, dinner was served in the dining room. On a glass table (which I now have in my dining room) was a beautiful display of rolls, vegetables, cranberries, mashed potatoes, dressing, turkey on a platter, pumpkin and pecan pies. My father carved the turkey. We ate. We laughed. We enjoyed our huge turkey feast like pilgrims. It was a picture-perfect day--a true Food Network-Hallmark Channel movie...
These days, I know that on the big screen and in real life sometimes Thanksgiving days and dinners aren't always picture-perfect. In the film "The Accidental Tourist" the sister character undercooks the bird. But there are other accidents I remember mega and now I have tagged these "turkey day fowl ups"...
* At 17, at the dinner table complete with a traditional stuffed turkey I rebelled and announced "I'm a vegetarian." My mother cried. My father yelled. My brother made funny faces.
* At 21, I (a Californian hippie chick) was stranded on the road with my dog. We were stuck in a Wyoming blizzard. Cold, wet and hungry we watched strangers pass us by.
* At 28, I was struck by a nasty flu bug. I couldn't eat anything--not even turkey soup.
* At 35, my boyfriend made the turkey dinner. We got into a silly guy-gal argument. He wrapped up the cooked bird in foil and drove it home in his BMW. I was turkey-less.
* At 46, I cooked a big turkey but I was afraid of getting food poisoning for not cooking it long enough. The end result: the tough, dry bird was dumped into the garbage.
* At 50-something I didn't want to do the Turkey Day thing so I rebelled (again). I ordered a veggie pizza and tipped the pizza guy.
* Last year I ate chocolate and researched the food of the gods. It was heaven and I didn't need any help.
Contest Question: So, what is your most memorable Thanksgiving Day or Turkey Dinner disaster? Please share. The winner who dishes out the most heartfelt, amusing or unforgettable ordeal (it can be short) will win a copy of my new book The Healing Powers of Chocolate.
Deadline Date: Thanksgiving.
(Need turkey talk help?
Call this number for Turkey SOS.)


  1. We like to brine our turkeys to improve their flavor and juiciness. One Thanksgiving, we had lots of pineapple juice leftover from another project so I thought to myself, "why not a pineapple-based brine?". I whipped something up and soaked the turkey overnight. I planned to smoke the turkey standing up on a vertical rack in my smoker the next day.

    Of course, pineapple is a tenderizing agent. It breaks down meat proteins. So when I put it on the vertical rack, the turkey flopped. The longer it cooked, the more it drooped down the rack until the top of the rack actually poked out the neck hole.

    The breast meat was so mushy, it couldn't be sliced properly. The dark meat was just nasty. The only edible part of the turkey was the meat closest to the bones. The rest I had to dump.

    I'll never live that turkey down.

  2. I like that. Makes me feel better. One time I basted the turkey with a honey glaze. I did it as soon as I put the bird in the oven. How smart is that? Burned turkey. I felt so silly.