Friday, November 27, 2009

But Miss Scarlet, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no turkeys!

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. I'm not a fan of turkey, and the holiday usually involves fitting too many people in too small of an area. Since my husband's side of the family is divorced and remarried, we rotate every 3 years with which side we celebrate. This year was my mom's turn.

Now my side of the family is rather small: two sisters (one of which is the black sheep no one likes) and my mother and her caregiver du jour (she has Alzheimer's and 24/7 care). Having OD'd on family gatherings for awhile, my husband, daughter and I were really, really tempted to tell all 3 sides it was one of the other's turn - who would know? Being threatened by my good sister that she'd kill me if I left her just with my mom and other sister, we caved in. Thanksgiving is set to be at my house, and all the dishes are divvied up between us 3 sisters. I'm in charge of salad, side dishes, appetizers, Black Sheep has dessert duty, and good sister will be bringing over her turkey fryer and will deep fry the turkey and make the dressing. Flash forward to 4:00pm the Wednesday before. My niece calls me to tell me that Good Sister went to the ER with food poisoning the night before, and won't be attending. This is the sister who had turkey duty!I've never, ever made a turkey in my life - I'm now totally panicked at the thought that I have to cook a successful turkey, and endure an evening of just my Black Sheep sister, my husband and daughter, and my mother who is incapable of following a conversation. Remember how I just said Thanksgiving was never one of my favorite holidays to begin with? I said to myself (after an hour of panicked tweets), "Self, calm down. You can do this." In the meantime, my daughter is imploring me to dontate the turkey to the homeless and go back to Plan A of running away. It's sounding very tempting, but I've commited myself, and can't back out now. It occurs to me that my mother wouldn't really know the difference, I don't really care how Black Sheep would feel, so this is all pretty much for my mother's caregiver, whom we really like. But onward I will march.

Most of my friends on Twitter are sympathetic and tossing out ideas for me: call Vons and get a pre-cooked turkey, heat it for 2 hours. Run to Boston Market. Thank heavens my sister had no room in her fridge for a turkey, so I already had that. Have any idea how hard it would have been to find an unfrozen small turkey at 5:00pm the Wednesday before?

A friend of mine had posted on Facebook that he was smoking his turkey this year. Hmmm... a turkey is just basically a large chicken, right? I can smoke a chicken on the bbq! I furiously text Joel, and ask him the details. How long do I smoke it? What kind of chips should I use? I immediately dash off to Barbeques Galore to buy a hefty 25 pound bag of lump charcoal, some pecan rub, and apple chips before they close in 30 minutes. I'm wondering if it doesn't look crispy enough when done if I can't add a little of my bronzer on it to make it at least look good. Maybe some eyeshadow and liner to lighten up the evening. If it doesn't come out, there's always frozen pizzas.

Here's the turkey an hour and a half into cooking it. I forgot that you don't need all 3 hours worth of lump charcoal added all at once. It's cooking just a wee bit too fast. Thanksgiving lunch anyone? The turkey was done in a mere 2 1/2 hours (Joel's, btw, took 5 1/2 for the same size turkey). Fortunately, the gathering is relatively small in size, and a few quick calls and the start time got moved up.

The brie cheese with apples, almonds and cranberries came out wonderfully as an appetizer (sorry, no pic on that one). Not that I cared much by then, as I had broken into the cranberry margaritas while panicking watching my turkey cook too fast. And I don't drink! But when all was said and done, the turkey tasted delicious - and I had gotten over the hurdle of feeling like a newlywed faced with her first Thanksgiving meal. The family all got along without any squabbles, and short of starting early and ending early (why is it that 7:00pm on Thanksgiving feels like 11:00?), it all went off without a hitch. For this, I am thankful.

And how was YOUR Thanksgiving celebration?


  1. I'm glad you got through it. Thanksgiving is a peculiar holiday. Love it or hate it or just coast through it.
    As a black sheep myself, I hope the labels you've stuck on your sisters' foreheads doesn't reinforce false opinions of them.

  2. I'm not quite sure what you mean by reinforcing false opinions of them... This particular sister has been difficult all of her adult life, and has never really gotten along with anyone in our family - hence the "black sheep" title. But since no one knows who she is that reads this blog (she certainly doesn't), how would I be reinforcing a false opinion?


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