I knew from a very early age that I was a baker and not a cook. So not. a. cook. From the day my grandma taught me how to make pie, I was able to bake most anything – failing at a recipe did not discourage me but challenged me to master that recipe. I love the feel of my hands in bread dough, the way that a good recipe comes together and ends in a beautiful, golden, risen loaf of bread. Success, for me, is in the right shade of brown on a cookie and when people ask for more.
Cooking. Not so much. My first memory of cooking was when my mother had gone to Pittsburgh for a week to stay with my grandparents (my pie-making grandma) while my grandpa was in the hospital. I was the only girl and at that time, it was expected that I would cook dinner. I remember the nearly raw chicken I cooked for my dad – I thought it only had to cook for 15 minutes on really high heat. He never said much more than “Beth, this chicken sure is a little chewy”. He ate anything I cooked. My brothers on the other hand still remember 30+ years later the green dumplings I made. Green, gooey, gluey dumplings. I can’t even remember where the greenish tinge came from. My oldest brother reminds me from time to time of when I thought a pot roast was a steak and tried baking it for him. Even he couldn’t eat the whole thing. I made our dog very happy that evening.
For well over 30 years now I’ve experimented with the Thanksgiving turkey. I’ve used different techniques, recipes, family secrets, no-fail tips from Butterball, CITR community recipes, you name it — the turkey has always wound up tough and tasteless. I’ve cooked turkeys in the oven, in a roaster, on baking pan, in a plastic bag, covered with aluminum. I’ve basted turkeys, stuffed butter in the skin, covered with garlic. Always tasteless, always tough. I’ve dropped turkeys on the floor. The time I baked a turkey on a cookie sheet and the stinking thing slid off and skidded across the floor and the dogs came racing out to the kitchen A Christmas Story style; the time when I gave the carcass to a visiting friend of my daughter to drop into the dumpster at his apartment building because I didn’t want to deal with it. And don’t even get me started on the adventures of thawing I’ve had. I never really developed the relationship with turkey that my mom has (she’s a cook, not a baker) – calling the thing Tom, bathing him in the sink, and so on.
I’ve even ditched the turkey on several occasions. One year having pot roast, one year no meat at all. This year, in fact, one of my 13 year old daughters even offered the opinion that perhaps we should bypass the turkey again and have lasagna. I’m thinking that is a possibility.
But I LOVE a good, roasted, tasty turkey. But as I tell my students, one should build on one’s strengths. And so we shall have stuffing (CITR-style), sweet potatoes, rolls, pies, pepperoni bread, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, and applesauce. Most of the recipes I use come from this very site! And while I don’t have my own recipes to share (other than the applesauce), I would just point you in the direction of Suzanne’s Old-Fashioned Cornbread Dressing, her Cornmeal Yeast Rolls, and the most magnificent Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce you can imagine!
Thank you Suzanne for supplying my family with the best recipes for a meal that makes my entire family happy! I don’t know where I would be without finding your site years ago. Oh, and your grandmother bread too!
Happy Thanksgiving from One Old Goat (and her little farm)
Beth blogs at One Old Goat.
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Here in the UK Christmas is turkey time, in 34 years I’ve only ever cooked one (which turned out ok)but it was the WORST Christmas meal we ever had. It’s a blessing that none of us are that keen on it! I’ve not yet decided what meat we’re having this year – except it won’t be turkey!
Hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving 🙂
On November 24, 2010 at 5:06 am
Having also tried just about every possible way of cooking a turkey, with very mixed results as well, we finally discovered the most no-fail way of doing it for this household. We now most often just put a turkey breat into the big, oval crokpot, turn it on and forget it! No basting, no fussing, just go back later and it’s done.
This way you never have to worry about later finding that there was a bag of disgusting stuff inside Tom that was supposed to have been removed BEFORE putting the turkey into the oven…
On November 24, 2010 at 7:50 am
LOL! I just knew there were kindred spirits! I bought a turkey breast and am hoping it thaws out in time. I still haven’t totally decided against the lasagne though!
Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!
On November 24, 2010 at 8:22 am
Buy a turkey breast, put it in the crock pot with a little water or broth and let it cook. I’m putting mine in the crock pot in the morning, going to walk a 5k and then coming home and finishing the rest of Thanksgiving dinner.
On November 24, 2010 at 8:28 am
My father – age 91 – makes the most amazing turkeys! His secret is steaming it, in the roaster, on top of the stove for an hour, them putting it in the oven to finish baking. They stay so moist, and it cuts down on the baking time. He always cooks Thanksgiving dinner. I am so blessed to have a healthy dad who still is able (and loves!) to cook.
On November 24, 2010 at 8:47 am
Miss Judy says:
Never have a problem with turkey, but don’t ask me to fix a roast! The only way I can do roast is in a crockpot.
Beth, you made my day. I can roast a turkey but getting it to the platter is another matter. One time I had a similar problem with the turkey trying to make a run for it (across the floor). I just picked Tom off the floor…never called for help…never said a word…no one was in the kitchen but me so no one was the wiser! When my SIL found me frantically trying to mop up the greasy floor…I just said I had spilled some broth!However, I did feel just the tiny bit guilty when everyone complimented me on how beautiful the turkey was. Thanks for bringing that memory to mind.
On November 24, 2010 at 9:18 am
Amanda T says:
If (and ONLY IF) you want to give a turkey a try (maybe on a non Thanksgiving day?) – read the article Sunset Magazine did some years ago about roasting the new breed of turkey. I couldn’t – for the life of me! – make a juicy bird. But with Sunset’s tutorial and a good meat thermometer I’ve mastered Tom!
On November 24, 2010 at 11:55 am
Oh – I like that link! Thank you – had to check out the other recipes too:)
I feel your pain Miss Judy! I hate to think but skidding across my kitchen floor probably added to the flavor! And having a dad cook turkey! That’s wonderful! I may have to try the crockpot methods tomorrow as I keep adding desserts to the menu!
Thank you for your comments!
On November 24, 2010 at 2:02 pm
Jim in Colorado says:
I have had floor turkey several times over the years also. Never told anybdy about it also. The turkey breast in the crock pot is a real good idea. Use a can of cream of chicken soup in with it. Also take the turkey breast, and a large zip lock bag. Place the turkey breast, in the bag. And pour apple juice into the bag. you want to have the whole turkey breast covered in the apple juice. Make sure that the bag is sealed. and let it set all night in the fridge. Tomorrow morning. Have your crock pot ready. Dump out all the juice from the bag. place the breast in the crock pot, add the soup, put on the lid. And turn on the crock. The apple juice will give the breast a real nice flavor. This also works with other kinds of meat. Some of the turkey breasts have recipes on them. Give it a try.
Course, lasagna, would work for me also.
Hope every one has a great Thanksgiving.
On November 24, 2010 at 3:08 pm
This is sort of off-topic, but its still a storey about a turkey.
One of the weirdest things I ever saw was last year near Thanksgiving. I was headed south, on my way to town, driving down the local two-lane highway. I rounded a curve, and there on the north-bound shoulder of the road lay a turkey…a broad-breasted supermarket turkey…not in a bag, removed from its plastic wrapper and looking ready for the roasting pan. I kid you not…it was laying breast up on the side of the road looking for all the world like it was ready to go into the oven…all that was missing was a roasting pan. And there was no grocery bag or plastic turkey wrapper nearby, either. That was the day I became convinced that it really is a Fortean universe.
On November 24, 2010 at 3:56 pm
Find a place does deep fried turkeys and have them make you one. You won’t be sorry!
On November 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm
Now, I am from the South, still, I was horrified the first time I heard of deep-fried turkey. But, we were invited to an early holiday dinner this past Saturday night at friends’ house, and they had two turkeys. One cooked in the oven the traditional way and one that their son-in-law deep friend out doors on a propane gas cooker. The one cooked in the oven was the usual dry meat. The one deep-fried was moist. Both were boned and attractively presented on separate large platters. I wouldn’t have known it was turkey if they hadn’t told me.
On November 24, 2010 at 10:25 pm