The Sassy Sandpiper: The Day the Oven Died
Thanksgiving cooking disasters make the best memories. … and stories.
By M.R. WILSON, TB Reporter Columnist
I belong to the vanishing tribe of Women Who Cook.
This Thanksgiving I decided to put my green foot down and prepare a vegan meal. I was all ready to serve fat portobello mushrooms spiced with poultry seasoning and garlic, pan-broiled to perfection, with rice and beans and other stuff I can’t remember right now.
But as the Day of Thanks drew near, I became worried my guests wouldn’t like it. The need to honor my mother and grandmother tugged at me. I tossed my neatly written menu and went shopping for traditional fare: turkey, sweet and white potatoes, bread for giblet dressing, broccoli, fresh cranberries, and Liebfraumilch.
I planned it out so well. I made the cranberry sauce Wednesday morning so it would have plenty of time to congeal. Early Thursday I prepared all the side dishes, each in a sparkling glass Pryex dish, refrigerated until the turkey was done and they could have their turn in the oven. I promised yowling cats they would have their share. I cleaned house and made myself presentable. Company was due at 2 p.m.
Tribal wisdom of Women Who Cook mandates covering the turkey with aluminum foil halfway through roasting time to avoid over browning. I knew something wasn’t quite right. It just didn’t feel like 325 degrees in there, not that I’m an expert. I made a foil tent, put the bird back in the oven and hoped for the best.
Avoiding a needlessly graphic description, let’s just say the turkey was not done at the appointed hour. For someone who has been preparing holiday dinners over four decades now, this was appalling. Kenmore kaput. I hastily cut slices of white meat, a thigh for me, and hid the sorry mess in the refrigerator.
Hail, microwave ovens!
Company arrived early to sad news. The cats were disappointed. I was afraid the turkey would be tough as rawhide, but it was good, as were the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with peaches, pecans and cinnamon, broccoli with garlic. Liebfraumilch—a family tradition for more than 60 years—helped me avoid swinging from frazzled to morose, as another major culinary endeavor awaited.
I never participate in Black Friday madness anyway, so once morning chores were done, I set about cutting up the mostly raw turkey for frying atop the still functioning stove and in my Granny’s electric skillet. In fact, the cooking method is called braising. Once again, the cats went mad. I promised their portion and I swear, they sneered at me.
The big back pieces, the stuff of heavenly soup, are slowly simmering. Wings for the cats; a drumstick for me, plus those choice morsels we all could do without, so rich and delicious they are.
Now I feel a little sick.
And tired. It’s time to leave the turkeys in peace. Thanksgiving is a lot of work, especially when you are no longer a spring chicken.
Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | Thanksgiving | Turkey | Cooking | Tampabay News
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