Tryptophan the Life Fantastic: Your '09 T-Day Stories

OK - it’s that time of year. It’s Thanksgiving, we’re thankful, yada yada yada.

Now let’s talk turkey.

Give up your funny Thanksgiving '09 stories. I know some of us have to do the multiple dinners, have already warmed up the family drama, and are dreading that trip “over the river and through the woods” for oh so many reasons.

Forget the wishbone, pull my funny bone and tell me what’s got your cranberries in a jello mold.

(If the reasons for the seasonings includes some pre-'09 humorous drama - tell on!)

Let’s keep this lighthearted and fun. Please refrain from your desire to make me (and anyone else) cry - the Folgers commercials are already doing a fine job of getting me with the sentimentality.

My friend just told me this story while we were talking about Thanksgiving & kids - thought I would share (cut and paste job, the overuse of exclamation points are her own):

*This is from the days when my mother required us to have one night a week that she called “Manners Night” to ensure that we would behave at the table should company come or we go out to supper with a visiting pastor, etc. She had the table set beautifully with candles, Corelleware (poor pastor’s wife’s replacement for china), and tablecloth. The window was open because it was late summer and a slight breeze was blowing which kept fluttering the candles and blowing the smoke into my dad’s face. When he complained, I piped up and offered, “That’s okay, Dad, just turn the candles around.” AS IF THE SMOKE WOULD DRIFT IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION IF THE CANDLES WERE TURNED AROUND!!! *

My wife and I have been trying to get pregnant for about 18 months, with a few challenges. We didn’t think we’d be able to do it naturally, and our parents know. My parents don’t really have another shot at grandkids… and want them. Hers already have a whole litter.

We found out this week that she’s pregnant. So for Turkey day (we spend it at MY parents), they get to find out they will have a grandkid!

I’m super excited. I bought a spiderman fishing pole to wrap up and give dad. My wife is going to do something similar for mom and then they get to open them together!

No Thanksgiving here, since I’m from Spain and currently in the UK, but I had to say:


sticky sticky sticky wishes!

Sooo cool! Congratulations!

My niece once helped me prepare a turkey. When she saw me pull out the giblet bag she said: “Ewww - there’s poop in it’s butt!”

From last year’s Thanksgiving:

I pre-order a fresh turkey every year that I host, and pick it up at a local grocer, a few blocks from my house, on my walk home from the train. Last year, I arrived at the store on that Wednesday only to find a worried butcher. The turkey farm hadn’t provided quite the ratio of turkeys (by weight range) that they’d ordered, as it’s all estimates as to how big the turkeys will get by the butchering day. So they were out of my weight range, but offered a rather larger model. Somewhere above 25 pounds, I think. I said that was OK, I was fine with more leftovers.

Fortunately these turkeys are provided in a sturdy cardboard box with handles, as I had to schlep it home. I thought that would be the toughest part.

I’m a believer in brining, so I clean the big 6+ gallon food-grade plastic bucket (bought from the same place I get my brewing equipment), pour in the brine, and get out the turkey. I check it over, pull out the giblet bag, pluck out a few missed bits of feather “roots”, then bring it over to the bucket. I eye the circumference of this - tall, narrow - bucket, compared to the girth of the turkey. Juuuuuuust barely fits in. Whew. It goes onto our fully enclosed but uninsulated back porch, digital probe thermometer dropped in to supplement the environmental thermometer on the table, and gets covered, for the overnight brine.

I start figuring out a “game day” plan of what needs to be done when, and encounter another problem - even my beloved Cook’s Illustrated doesn’t have an estimated cooking time for a bird this big. It’s a few pounds over the charts. I extrapolate judging by their chart, and err on the side of undercooking, knowing I have a probe thermometer that I’ll also be using, and checking multiple locations. Better to stuff people on sides and wait a bit for turkey than to overcook the bird.

Thanksgiving morning, I head out there. Still supercold per the regular thermometer. The probe thermometer? Is dead. Dammit. Even warming it up in the house doesn’t fix it. Fortunately, being a brewer I do think of problems like this, and I have another probe thermometer as a backup.

I rub butter mixed with herbs and shallots under the skin, put aromatics in the cavity (no, I do not “stuff” the bird per se), and put it in the big roasting pan.

It overhangs the pan. Not only do the ends of the legs stick out, but the top of the bird pokes out a bit as well, and the sides bulge against the pan. I get out the heavy-duty aluminum foil and tuck in pieces around the side as a baffle to catch the drippings.

Into the oven at last! I roast for about an hour upside down, to prevent overcooking the breast, then pull it out to flip it… and I swear, only then did I realize the difficulty of flipping a blazing-hot monster turkey in a hot roasting pan that it’s already barely wedged into. :smack: Thanks to silicone hotpad grippers and some determined maneuvering on my part, I did manage. Finally. And I got all the foil back in place.

The turkey roasted beautifully, and I was surprised at how little I had underestimated the cooking time - the thermometer went off and birdie was well and truly done. The guests weren’t all there yet! Long “rest” time to let the juices distribute themselves - you can’t cut into meat right away or you’ll let all the juices pour out - and still, one perpetually-late family isn’t there yet. Oh well, everyone else is - time to eat!

The monster bird was well-received and, against all betting odds, perfectly cooked. Whew. I’m glad I’m going out to a restaurant with my family this year!

Ferret Herder, I was waiting for you to tell me that you cooked it perfectly, only when you put it on the table, it broke the thing and all your china went crashing to the floor!

Glad to hear that was not the case. Whoa, seriously big bird . . .

Thank goodness, no! :o For the rest period we did put it on a desk we were using as a sideboard buffet/food staging area, and you could feel the radiating warmth as you walked by.

(Just adding here that we live in the Chicago suburbs, so the cold temps outside and on our porch were perfect for safe brining. If it wasn’t cold enough, I would have put it in a cooler with lots of ice.)

Funnily enough, that is not the biggest Thanksgiving turkey I’ve ever seen. The biggest was from a turkey chick, possibly wild in origin, raised on a farm owned by friends of my inlaws. They fed the heck out of this turkey, lots of good grain and everything they could think of to fatten it up. And it certainly worked - I don’t recall the exact weight, but it had to at least be in the upper 30s, probably more. The thing was in a huge pan and to fit it in the oven they had to take out the oven racks and put a muffin pan right-side-up around/over the heating element in the bottom of the electric oven to protect the element, else it’d have been bent. The oven wasn’t huge but it certainly wasn’t miniature. I wouldn’t believe it either, but I saw it with my own eyes.

At least with my big bird, I only had to take out the second oven rack and roast the turkey with the remaining rack in the bottom slot!

And I was expecting “When I went out the next morning, the brine had frozen solid.” And that was even before I realized you were in Chicago. :slight_smile:

My story is from last year, also: my girlfriend had been (very unexpectedly) given a turkey by the company where she was working as a temp. Since we decided we’d cook it at my house, there was no sense in her taking it home with her, but unfortunately my fridge at the time had logistical issues with getting to the freezer. It was a side-by-side, but was up against a wall so the freezer door didn’t open fully. There was, simply, no way in hell that bird was going to fit in my freezer. So I immediately started calling friends nearby and found one who had spare freezer space the week before Thanksgiving and was willing to give our bird a temporary home.

In '05, I was sick as a dog over Thanksgiving, but a friend had asked me on a date to a rock concert.

Knowing that he wouldn’t go by himself, I drugged myself up and went to the concert. I spent part of the show in the VIP lounge (where it was somewhat quieter) just closing my eyes and willing my ears not to ring quite so much.

That night when I got home, my roommate and our friend just looked at me and said, “Woman you are sick - what the hell were you thinking?”

I fumbled in my leather jacket and tossed handfulls of confetti and my ticket stub at them. Rolling Stones. Main Floor. 8th Row. She gasped “Did he really pay $1,000 for the tickets?”

I nodded and crawled in to bed and didn’t come out for three days.

I posted this back in 2005:

This year I am thankful for…

…the fact that this nutso season will eventually end.

So last night after work I decided to go shopping for just plain everyday groceries. While there, I decided to pick up a few things I’d need for Turkey dinner, so as to spread the misery out over a few days instead of concentrating it all into one day. I decided to initially address the problems of pies and sauces. So I hunt for cranberries first. Produce aisle? Nope. Frozen food section? Naw. Seafood? Hey, you never know. But no.

But seeing as I was already near the baking aisle, I decided to hunt for the elusive and cunning mince meat filling. Aha! I’d found the pie fillings. Let’s see–pumpkin, coconut cream, apple, lemon. No mincemeat. Banana, orange, lotus blossum, motor oil. Still no mincemeat. Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, snozberry, huckleberry, tomsawyerberry, prune. Prune? Yep. Prune. A far cry from mincemeat. But yeah, prune.

So I decided that the aisle had beaten me, and that I’d go crawling to customer service for help. After waiting in line for the cigarettes-for-paychecks crowd to clear, I finally approached the almighty service wench. I triumphantly bellowed my noble request: “Mincemeat pie filling?” She looked at me as if I had made my request in Venutian. I decided to switch to English and annunciate my request more clearly. “Mince. Meat. Pie. Fill. Ing?” The unoiled cogs in what passed for her brain slowly began to turn, albeit slowly and with great grinding sounds. “Miss me pie fielding?”, she chawed like the bovine she was. “Mince meat”, I replied. “Oh, OK”, the answer finally dawned on her. “Bakery.” At last, an answer I could use! I spun on my heels and set a course for the, uh…

Bakery? Wow. It became clear that this was to become a quest of epic proportions. I felt like one of King Arthur’s knights, set out on a holy quest for suety goodness.

I turned back to face the customer service dragon. Raising my shield and drawing my sword, I spoke a magic incantation to the fell wyrm: “Miiiiiiiince meeeeeeaaaaat piiiiiiiiieeeeeee fiiiiiiilllllliiiiinnnnnggg.” The beast parried with a Phone of Slaying, and spoke these foul and devish words: “Ramon to customer service. Ramon to customer service. Ramon will know what you’re talking about. Ramon knows all.”

A strange hush fell over the store. I was about to be visited by Ramon. Apparently this was a singular honor. Mere mortal customers rarely had the good fortune to elicit a visit from the Great Ramon. The very rocks whispered that Ramon could find anything. If they had it, he knew where it was. I’m betting he could even locate prune pie filling, by gum. Angels sang. The heavens opened and beams of Holy Light shone down upon me. The Almighty Ramon had at last arrived.

I have to say I was a little disappointed. Ramon was maybe five foot nothing, weighed maybe 90 pounds soaking wet, and was a little–well, weird looking, ya know? I swear his teeth were made out of masking tape.

“Mincemeat pie filling?”

That’s what I asked. Or thought I did. Ramon’s masking tape teeth curled in a quizzical expression. Oops! Silly me, from his expression I had accidentally asked for the recipe for plutonium. I decided to rephrase: “Mincemeat pie filling?” The great Ramon deemed to bestow on me the wisdom of the ages. In his deep, reverent, and yet somehow whiney voice he intoned the following magical phrase: “Miiiinz meeeeen pyyyyye fleeeeeem.”

Things were not going well.

Utterly defeated and humiliated, Ramon surrendered and called over the store manager. “This man is looking for miiiinnnzz… uh, this man needs help.”

I once again made my request, this time to the store manager. His answer was “Ah, of course, right this way. Wow! I know something Ramon doesn’t know!” He was positively beaming. He led me back to an aisle I’d seen before, and proudly pointed to–you guessed it–prune pie filling.

“Uh, sir?” I asked. “I tried that once already. It didn’t work that time, either.” I could tell he was exerting all of his psionic powers to get the prunes to transubstantiate into mince meat. Let’s just say it wasn’t working out spectacularly.

So he called for Ramon and asked him to bring forth the Holy Tome of Jarred Goods. While we waited, I asked the manager where I might find the cranberries. Yes, I like to live on the edge. “What kind?” asked the manager. “Fresh. Or frozen. Doesn’t matter.”

Apparently I had stumbled across the magic phrase, the mystical glyph of evokation. The manager lit up like a firefly and said “AHA!”, or “Eureka!”, or “Pass the ketchup, my back itches!” I really don’t remember, because I was distracted by my quarry. Following the manager’s pointed finger, I saw, there through the cobwebs, guarded by Shelob the Giant Spider, on the bottom shelf, two dusty jars of miiiinz meeeeen pyyyyye fleeeeeem. At long last! My lovelies, I have found you! I swear it was only three feet to them, but my running for them may have resembled my running across a field towards a lover, my arms outstretched, in slow motion, with sappy Burt Bacharach music playing.


As we headed for the cranberries, I decided to check the expiration date on the jar. It may well have gone bad in 1942, after all. But good news. The expiration date read “OCT/14/2007 11:26.” Now, I don’t know if that’s AM or PM, but I’m willing to take my chances.

At long last we reached the cranberries. Or so I thought. We were in the snack food aisle. He pointed out the Craisins. You know, raisins made from cranberries. For a moment I mulled over the possibility of reconstituting them in water so I could make a sauce. But no. Bolstered by my recent coup over the pie situation, I decided to press on. “Fresh?” I asked. The manager apologized and led me back to the produce aisle, from whence my quest had originated. And there they were. Cranberries. Bags of them. Cleverly hidden behind the mince meat pie filling display.

Zomg - your story has made my day . . .

Oh boy. I’m gearing up for a good one. This year, instead of stuffing everyone into nooks and crannies of The Burrow, my husband’s parents have reserved their church’s retreat center. We all get to shower in cubicles and sleep on military bunks, for Thanksgiving!

It will be pretty cool to have an industrial kitchen for the Thanksgiving dinner itself; but dang, I’m going to miss holing up in The Burrow.

There’s also the interesting question of whether we’re allowed to drink in the retreat center.

Last year was kind of interesting. I was living with my sister and her family and my sister just isn’t the holiday kind of person. She makes an attempt for the kids but she just really doesn’t like it.

Well last year, for some unknown reason, she bought a roast sometime in the days before Thanksgiving. She put it in the fridge and forgot about it.
Thanksgiving morning came about and she went to take ingredients out of the fridge. Everything was covered in blood.

My dork of a sister left the roast in the shopping bag and put it on the top shelf of the fridge. It then bled all down the shelves and covered everything. It even somehow managed to bleed down into the freezer.

We adults (my sister, her boyfriend, and I) spent Thanksgiving morning cleaning up the massacre in the fridge/freezer. Everything came out, including shelves. Everything was washed. Everything was put back. In spite of our hard work and my sister’s OCD, we managed to miss some. My sister was finding stuff with dried roast blood for months after Thanksgiving.

I’m not sure if she’s even going to bother this year.
For me though, this year will be great.

My boyfriend and I are back together after a 2 year break. We’re also about to move into our new house (we got the key today!), and we’re spending Thanksgiving with his family.

Our POD wont get to the house 'til Wednesday so we’ll be sleeping on an air mattress tomorrow (we’re in a hotel right now). Our new furniture wont arrive until Friday. We’ll have no cable or internet until Friday.

But, we’ll have our new house which just happens to be a dream house for both of us. We’re looking forward to cleaning and unpacking and organizing.

This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever!

That’s so awesome!


It was so much fun writing it. Not so much fun living it.

I understand completely.

Tell me about what happened!

For me, the hilarity started when my sister-in-law answered my Thanksgiving phone call with “what?!?” - she was equally unpleasant when we arrived in SC - as my boyfriend put it - she looked like she had been eating a bag of lemons.

Of course, the 15 nieces and nephews running around were pretty entertaining.

Of course, the highlight of the day would be when my 2 nieces walked in on me in the bathroom - which evidently they could access from the walk-in-closet in the master bedroom of my brother’s rented double-wide trailer.

As I paused in shock, the older of the 2 (8 years old) announced, “We’re looking for Meghan’s socks . . .” and just continued through, unperturbed, as I tried to quickly zip up and wash my hands.

I made my first turkey! I was so proud. I invited two international students from my university to spend Thanksgiving with us (they are both from Taiwan.) They were so excited about their first Thanksgiving in the U.S. they took pictures with my turkey.

Here’s a picture of us with my turkey!

We gobbled it up. Get it?

… Anyway, we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for (an old tradition from my family) – surprise! It was each other.

My husband dropped the cherry pie face down on the kitchen floor as he was pulling it out of the oven, so we had pumpkin pie and cheesecake instead.

We went shopping on Black Friday, and it wasn’t as bad as I dreaded. I got some new shoes and helped my friends prepare for the winter. Then we went to an American Grill and it was funny watching them try to eat french fries with a fork.

We all had such a great time. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.