Somehow or other, I managed to get to the age of 56 never having made a Thanksgiving turkey. I have always been the guest at Thanksgiving, never the host, which was good news for me and for the people who didn’t have to attend Thanksgiving dinner at my home and ingest turkey that was so dried out you could put it in a pipe and smoke it, or so undercooked it could still gobble.
The truth is I’m not a great cook. Sure, I have my collection of things I make pretty well, and my family doesn’t know any better, so they think it’s good. As no one is complaining and I haven’t poisoned anyone yet, I’m fine with just being an OK cook. I know there are a lot of people who like to cook and like to try exotic recipes and cook every dish in the Julia Child cookbook. But given the choice between learning how to debone a duck and make a demi-glace and making a reservation at a restaurant, I’d opt for the Olive Garden every time.
That said, for my first Thanksgiving, I decided to take the plunge and actually make a real turkey from a real recipe. However, since I have never done this before, I thought I should probably, at least, take a couple of practice passes at this turkey thing just to make sure no one at my dinner table would end up in the emergency room.
For my first turkey, I decided I needed a sure thing to get my confidence up. So, I made a meatloaf out of ground turkey and sculpted it into the shape of a turkey. It didn’t really hold its shape and ended up looking more like a frog than a turkey, but it was delicious, and no one fought over the drumstick.
For my second turkey, I bought a store-cooked turkey and reheated it. This worked out really well. My family was very impressed until I told them I didn’t actually make it and they laughed at me until I threw stuffing at them.
The third turkey never made it to the table. I actually cooked this one and it seemed like it was going to be perfect. It looked good. It smelled great! It must have smelled great to the dog, too, because I left it on the counter to cool while I picked up the kids from school and the dog ate the whole thing. He said it was delicious.
They always say the fourth time is the charm (I know you’ve heard it is the third time, but I figure the meatloaf turkey didn’t really count), so I expected that turkey number four was gonna be “da bomb.” This is a pretty good description of what happened when I dropped it taking it out of the oven and it exploded all over the kitchen floor. The dog enjoyed this turkey, too.
I was running out of time and on turkey number five, which, coincidentally, was the same number of hours I had it in the oven before I realized I had set the temperature but never turned the oven on. After leaving the turkey out, uncooked, for five hours, I was pretty sure I would end up serving turkey a la food poisoning for dinner, so I tossed it.
As I contemplated my five failed turkeys, our future Thanksgiving guests called.
“Hi,” said my brother. “All ready for Thanksgiving?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
“What are we having?” he asked.
“That depends,” I said
“On what?” he wondered.
I looked at the garbage can stuffed with turkey.
“What are you bringing?”
Tracy Beckerman is the author of the Amazon Bestseller, “Barking at the Moon: A Story of Life, Love, and Kibble,” available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online! You can visit her at www.tracybeckerman.com. To find out more about Tracy Beckerman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.