Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Afterthoughts

Thank you, Lord, for what we've got
 Even if it's not a lot
Think that we have got all that we need. . .

Erica is a really good cook. She really is. She always thanks me for teaching her well. There's always something new to learn, though. 

When she heard that both her grandmas were visiting relatives out of town leaving me, Rick, and Annalee with nowhere to go she decided to host Thanksgiving in her new place and invite her boyfriend's family and us. It was also Chris's birthday, so that added to the element of excitement—their first big shindig living together in their home.

So, okay, Chris went shopping for a turkey with his mom last Monday, bought at the local grocery store. They were expecting 14 people, so he came home with a 22 pounder. Chris also loves to grill and decided to cook it on his Weber charcoal grill. He and Erica figured they'd brine it Wednesday night and he'd get up nice and early Thanksgiving morning to get the grill ready. Except . . . our phone rang at maybe 10:00 Wednesday evening. It's Erica and, in a voice that sounded like she'd been crying, she's yelling that their turkey still had a neck. I told her the neck was in the cavity along with the giblets. Pull them out. And she kept saying, no they got the giblets out, but the turkey had a neck. It was bloody and it was gross. At a loss, I passed the phone to Rick. Finally he told her to e-mail us a photo. Rick clicked it open and exclaimed (excuse the language), holy shit, that's disgusting. Being a really sympathetic father he e-mailed back "got a chainsaw?" After a bit of google searching, we told Chris to hack it off as best he could. There didn't seem to be any thing else to do. And I told her that she'd really better make sure she'd gotten the giblets 'cause they should be in a bag and from her description I wasn't sure she'd really gotten them out. At this point she was freaking out a bit, because no way did she want to reach into the cavity, but she found them. According to Erica there was blood splattered everywhere and the kitchen was a mess. She and Chris finally got the turkey cleaned and into the brining bag. Then she wiped the kitchen down, took all their clothes and put them in the wash, and they both took showers. She sent me an e-mail stating that she never wanted to clean or cook a turkey ever again.

Wow, that was exciting. And while I felt bad this was happening on their first Thanksgiving attempt—heck, their first big dinner party attempt—I was also having a hard time not laughing. It reminded me of some of the crazy things I called my mom about when I first left home.

Annalee and I were up early Thanksgiving morning so we could get our contributions together. I didn't check e-mail until 10:00 a.m. when I found one from Erica, dated just moments before. She had to take Chris to the ER at 2:00 a.m. and had just woken up. Chris had slipped on ice years back and tore a bunch of muscles in his leg. He was laid up in bed for months with a cast and now has arthritis in his hip. I'm not sure of the exact sequence of events, but I believe he'd gotten some medication for the arthritis. Maybe he'd had a reaction to that, but his ankles were swollen and on fire, and he was in excruciating pain. They got home at 5:00 a.m. Chris was given crutches and would no longer be able to grill the turkey since he couldn't really stand or move around. The new plan was for Erica to roast it in the oven except she didn't have a roasting pan. What a Thanksgiving—and birthday—this was turning out to be.

The grocery store was only a mile away and we figured it was faster for her to run there and buy a disposable pan rather than wait for Rick to run ours over to the house since we're about a half hour away, not to mention Annalee's apple pie was still cooking and she was stuffing mushrooms. We got there as early as possible, anyway, to help her vacuum, set the tables, and finish preparing the meal. Chris was parked at the counter, busily cutting up vegetables. Since they don't have many pots and pans yet, Erica had a precise order she was following. She had a grid posted on the fridge showing the order things needed to be cooked and for how long. She was doing a good job of keeping everything under control despite the turkey neck incident and the run to the emergency room. 

By the time the rest of the guests showed up the house was in order, Erica and Chris had both managed to grab a shower, and the food was warming on the serving trays. And it was all absolutely delicious. As we were leaving, though, Erica gave me the turkey carcass and said take it, no way am I making soup out of this stupid bird.

I made a delicious turkey soup yesterday, which we just finished up for lunch today. And you know turkey soup is best made with dumplings. For 30 years I've made the butter dumplings recipe from the Joy of Cooking. If I tried to serve chicken or turkey soup without them I'd have a revolt on my hands.
Turkey soup with butter dumplings

Butter dumplings
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
6 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt

Mash the butter with a fork, add the eggs and mix together until creamy. Add the flour and mix well.
Add the batter by the spoonful to simmering soup, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving turned out as well as ours in the end. Hopefully with less excitement, although in years to come this first Thanksgiving for Erica and Chris together will always be memorable.


  1. A memorable first Thanksgiving for sure!

  2. WOW...that is a funny story and i can just imagine Erica through all this turmoil but you are is one they will always remember.
    I've never seen a turkey with the neck still on...what is that all about??
    Can't wait to read your Christmas entry..xxxooo