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Turkey snafus and other wonderful holiday moments

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner is a minefield for a lot of cooks. Here are a few doís and doníts, collected by the NFH writers, plus a few of the writersí personal experiences.Keep it on the levelA couple of Yankees living in England decided to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for their British friends. Their cooker (thatís Brit-speak for oven) was too small for their American-sized roasting pan, so they tilted the pan to get it inside.Hours later, while entertaining guests in the living room, they saw a liquid flowing across the floor. It was turkey juice that had dripped out of the cooker and oozed across the kitchen floor, down the hallway, through the living room and eventually out the door.It was the driest turkey theyíd ever had.Press the right buttonsA young woman decided to host Thanksgiving dinner at her house, with all her relatives in attendance. When she put the turkey in the oven, without noticing she accidentally pressed the self-clean button, which locked the oven and ran it at 500 degrees.Several hours later, she tried to open the oven door to no avail. Male relatives got out screwdrivers and drills to force the door open, but the door remained locked.When the clean cycle completed, the door was opened to reveal an oven that would have to be replaced. But at least the turkey was exceptionally clean.Have the right stuffIn this American family, dad had his own special way of preparing the dressing and stuffing the turkey. First, he scoured the kitchen sink and then he mixed the dressing in it. With the turkey on the counter next to the sink, it was oh so easy to stuff the bird.One year, when it was time to do the dishes after the great feast, no one could find the plug for the sink. ìIt must be somewhere,î mom thought as she made do with a sponge.Later, when dad was cleaning the leftover stuffing out of the turkey, guess what he found?At least one family member lived to tell the tale.Donít be that resourcefulAllow plenty of time for a frozen turkey to thaw properly in the refrigerator. But if youíre stuck with a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving morning, avoid these ideas ñ theyíve already been proven to cause near-death experiences:putting the turkey in the clothes dryerputting the turkey in a car with the windows up in the hot sunputting the turkey in the bathtub while bathing the kidstaking the turkey into the saunaExpect the unexpectedIn this Thanksgiving disaster, the host was cooking the turkey on a grill while plying his guests with champagne. A tipsy guest knocked over the grill and the turkey rolled off the patio, falling four stories to the street below. Tipsy or not, when the bird was recovered, no one wanted to eat it.On another disastrous Thanksgiving, a young woman cooked the turkey to perfection. She wrapped it in aluminum foil and was ready to go to her motherís house for the family dinner.But before she made it out the door, two skunks that had crawled under her house got in a fight and sprayed each other. The smell permeated the house and soaked into the turkey, despite the foil. Her family was nice enough to eat it, in spite of it all.Keep the dog inThereís no shortage of Thanksgiving horror stories involving pets, whether itís tripping over the family dog while carrying the turkey to the table, the dog that dragged the turkey to the floor (along with the table cloth, plates, glassware and cutlery) or the cat who licked a hole in the sweet potato pie.Most of these stories advise keeping the pets outside on Turkey Day.But the story of the dog that showed up at her ownerís house with someone elseís fully cooked turkey hanging from her mouth is the exception to the rule.The woman was too embarrassed to go door-to-door asking if anyone was missing their turkey. Instead, after disposing of the evidence in a garbage bag, she and her family hid in the basement and hoped the doorbell wouldnít ring.It wasnít until the following spring that the woman overheard a neighbor talking about the turkey that vanished from her back porch (she had put it there to cool). Even then, the woman with the turkey-thieving dog was too embarrassed to confess.Blue ThanksgivingBy Kathleen WallaceWhen I went away to college, all the girls there were wearing blue jeans ñ something my mother heartily disapproved of. Even so, when my parents drove to Santa Barbara, Calif., with a bunch of my stuff, I convinced my mother to take me to Sears to buy some jeans.When we got to the store, she still refused to buy any blue jeans. I had to settle for a pair of white Wranglers. But I had a plan. I would dye them blue. I didnít have any way to do that in my dorm room, so I waited until I got home for Thanksgiving break.Thinking ahead, I had already bought the package of blue dye and identified the biggest pot in the house: the roasting pan.My opportunity came when my parents were out of the house for a few hours. I heated up the water in the roasting pan, added the dye and dropped my white Wranglers in the pan. They turned a lovely blue. After the allotted time, I dumped the blue water down the drain, hung my blue jeans on the line and didnít give much thought to the roasting pan ñ it was one of those black enamel pans, and I just let it air dry.On Thanksgiving morning, I helped my mom stuff the turkey, put it in the roasting pan, covered it with foil and popped it in the oven.A couple of hours later, I had some explaining to do when the turkey came out of the oven and the foil came off to reveal a very blue turkey (while I turned red).Turkey day timelineBy Angie MorlanI always joke with my husband, Tom, that in our 10 years of marriage we have had only one ìnormalî Thanksgiving.2001 ñ We had reservations at the Sunbird Restaurant and arrived only to see an ambulance in the parking lot and a guest being carried out on a gurney. We enjoyed a lovely meal at the Hungry Farmer.2002 ñ To avoid Thanksgiving with their parents, our friends drove from California to Colorado to spend the holiday with us. Less than six months later, they divorced.2003 ñ We blew a tire on our truck on the way to pick up my in-laws at the Denver airport. Then on Black Friday, we decided to let them sleep in while we went shopping. On our return home, we ended up with a dead battery in our car.2004 ñ We met a collection of friends at a restaurant for Thanksgiving. One couple was in the middle of marital problems and ended up divorcing shortly thereafter. The other set of friends we were set to meet arrived at the restaurant with a sick child and ended up returning home. 2005 ñ En route to our friendís Keystone condo, we spent two hours parked on I-70 due to a blizzard and a tunnel closure.2006 ñ We skipped Thanksgiving this year. We didnít, but it must have been pretty bad, because I canít remember any of it.2007 ñ This was the year I was pregnant with our son, Christopher, and was the ONLY ìnormalî year (probably because we spent it alone). 2008 ñ Thanksgiving was rushed getting Tom ready to deploy to Iraq.2009 ñ Vegas with my in-laws. Need I say more? After waiting in line for nearly two hours, we enjoyed a delicious meal of Chinese food.2010 ñ We spent Thanksgiving with friends and friends of our friends ñ who requested three different types of pies.2011 ñ To be continued!Green gravy ñ yum!By Lindsey HarrisonSince I haven’t hosted any Thanksgiving Day celebrations in my relatively short married life, I borrowed a disaster from my mother-in-law. Here’s what she had to say.ìHaving invited our entire family to our new home for our first-ever, self-prepared Thanksgiving dinner, my husband and I were determined to include all the traditional dishes: turkey; dressing; sweet potatoes; mashed potatoes and gravy; all the favorites.At the designated hour, my husband removed the turkey from the oven. It was a perfect golden brown and delicious-looking. So I set out to make the gravy.I stirred the flour mixture into the pan drippings and let it thicken. So far, so good. Then I remembered that my mother always used Kitchen Bouquet to bring the gravy to a beautiful shade of brown. Having none on hand and wanting to get dinner on the table quickly, I decided to just tint the gravy with food coloring. You know, red and green make brown.Proud of my resourcefulness, I pulled the box of food coloring out of the cabinet, stirred the green into the thickening liquid, watched it turn color, then reached for the bottle of red. It was totally empty! Thankfully, as families tend to do in situations like this, we all sat down cheerfully to dinner that day with a visually disgusting but tasty green concoction spread over our mashed potatoes.It remains a topic of conversation each and every year.îThanks, Glenna, for letting me borrow your disaster!Dang new technologyMichelle BarretteMy parents bought a brand new oven (in 1968, I think) just in time to cook the Thanksgiving bird.†It had all the latest gadgets, including a timed bake feature.†The night before Thanksgiving they prepared the turkey and set the oven to click on for a perfectly cooked bird by noon the next day.†Voila!†How wonderful the aroma coming from the kitchen early the next morning.†Weren’t they a smart couple?†Didn’t have to get up early to put their bird in the oven.†Oh, this new technology was so wonderful!Imagine their surprise when they finally ventured to the kitchen only to discover the oven hadn’t turned on.†The wonderful smells were only in their imagination.†The bird was as cold as could be.I remember we ate late that year.

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