Tag Archives: turkey

What’s All the Fuss?

19 Nov

Each year, we come to the time when all matters of true importance get placed on the back burner and only one topic is to consume us for an entire week.

The overriding question of questions is this: How to cook a turkey? Not just cook, but cook purrrfectly. Because, only in America, land of the obssessive-compulsive need to be the best, do we spend countless hours watching, talking, and listening to professional cooks lending their expertise with regards to roasting, turning, basting, stuffing, and bird carving, which is rarely thought of once November (and sometimes December) passes.

Surely, the original pilgrims didn’t partake in such mind-numbing quibble. They had more urgent matters to consider, like survival. Once the first year passed, those who remained understood the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Decisions to stuff or not to stuff; cover or uncover; low and slow or high then low just weren’t of issue.

This daughter of a more recent pilgrim had watched Kaukab get up quite early each Thanksgiving Day to prep the turkey and get it in the oven so that her little turkeys could have their Thanksgiving meal mid-day. This was so the family could finish up and digest in time to make the two-block drive to the cousins’ house, where other aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings could get together and brag, pick on, and generally compete for the most annoying relative  award, most frequently split between a certain aunt and uncle (brother-sister duo), the two clueless to their winnings.

But I digress.

As for turkeys, the morning news shows and various foodie networks would have us think that the most important matter of the week leading to the big day would be the cooking of the turkey. No other country (other than, perhaps, Canada) celebrates a turkey as much as we do. And for what good reason? To blow the minds of women.

No matter how much the world will tell us we can achieve, every Thanksgiving is a reminder of how little all that matters. The most important measure of a woman’s honor is how good her turkey is. Not only must it be moist and delicious, it must also be pretty. Tables must be made up to look extra special, even if no one special is coming to feast at it.

So, this Thanksgiving will be no different. Out will come the beautiful brown turkey with all the trimmings, and all will be impressed. You will have done your jobs, and done them well. You can rest on your turkey laurels for another full year.

Until the next one comes.

For now, try not to worry. It’s just a turkey. What could possibly go wrong?

Now go eat some pie and just be thankful.


Where’s My Turkey?!

1 Dec

I realize Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I want my turkey! Allow me to explain: You see, for the past few years, we’ve traveled over the fields and through the woods (yes, for real) to sister-in-law’s house to eat turkey (this year, only turkey breast was served?), marvel at grandbabies, catch up on the year’s big (and small) announcements, and generally act be cordial and full of self-denial while engaging in the family’s ritual of small-talk. Something Kaukab never role-played with her own.

In order to prepare for no possibility of having leftover turkey sandwiches over the next several days, Kaukab’s daughter always made sure to purchase a Thanksgiving turkey to make later that week, or at least to have ready for Christmas dinner.

This year, no turkey. Kaukab’s daughter contracted a very, very bad cold. Held up for three weeks, with only one working ear at this time. And, while two working ears aren’t required for preparing a turkey (timers are cooking crutches), it helps to have a sense of balance when cooking upright and doing heavy lifting, as is required for handling Thanksgiving foodstuffs.

I managed to scout out a few at Aldi, but didn’t have the urge, as I had just prior to Thanksgiving. I decided I’d take the chance and wait until closer to Christmas. Or, until my second ear felt better. Lucky for me, the drugs have started to kick in. I can actually begin to feel my eardrum fighting to move.

When I do manage to find me a turkey, I’ll make sure to get the whole bird. There’s something un-Thanksgiving about cooking a breast-only turkey. The flavors are off.

Besides, have you ever seen a turkey waddling around without its appendages? It’s all commercial make-believe, people.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a lovely one.

P.S. If you’ve got any leftover turkey, please email me some. I’d be most thankful.


Thanksgiving #1

20 Nov

Today, we will be attending our second annual Thanksgiving get-together. This event came out of several discussions centering on family obligations. Obligations many of us have come to expect but with reluctant acceptance.

Some are blessed with families, all truly happy to come together around a rather large bird.  But for many, the thought of spending festive time with those who share a gene pool, no matter how good the turkey and fixings, can be overwhelming.

Hence, today’s “family” Thanksgiving. All in attendence come with the same baggage. Except my hubby. He likes going to see his family. Not that there aren’t any blood relatives who play unfairly. There are. It’s just that hubby learned from a very young age how to ignore them. Unfortunately, no one at Kaukab’s table did.

Last year, at our first event, we all came together at one of the families’ homes, situated on 10 acres with a lovely creek running through it. We did it ‘Better Homes and Gardens style. Outdoors, with a long row of tables, clothed with fall colors and mis-matched chairs. We all brought various foods. I brought dressing, green beans (not the casserole one), and cranberry sauce (from fresh whole berries that I did not pick from my bog).

This year, I’m bringing more dressing and cranberry sauce. Someone decided to do beans this year, so I’m off the hook. (This same person doesn’t feel comfortable making dressing, so I raised my hand and was approved.)

Kaukab never made cranberry sauce from whole berries. I’m not sure why. We grew up with the canned cranberry with the ring imprints. And, she never made dressing. Her Thanksgiving table held mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, tabouli or salad, and rolls to supplement the turkey, which she’d prepare very early Thanksgiving morning in time to have our holiday meal no later than 1p.m., as opposed to our cousins, who lived two blocks over. They’d have theirs during the dinner hour, generally around 6p.m.; which meant, that we’d have to wait a long time between our meal and theirs before we could pile into the car and visit the several first cousins who’d make their way from numerous other street blocks to this same house.

My Uncle “Jimmy,” (Jamil) who was younger than my father and more “Americanized,” would have the bar set up and all kinds of football blaring from the television and radio. He’d be the one making the drinks and then plunk himself in his chair, t.v. tray positioned and armed with small dishes of olives, nuts, cheeses, and pita bread, and puffing on his large cigar, making sports-talk to anyone who’d listen. Usually, my father would be seated to his right on the nearby sofa, blurting out political-speak, rambling on about taxes, crooked politicians, and the ruin of American society. These two divergent speak-easys would inevitably collide and I’d see them both morph into boyhood figures. Amusing, but not pretty.

The women staked their claim on the kitchen. This is where I learned the fine art of a different politic. The subtlties of verbal one upmanship, which sometimes became not-so-subtle. Over coffee and dessert, these mothers would discuss matters running the gamut from recipes to rendevous of unsuspecting church ladies. Mostly, they’d speak these unspeakables in Arabic, often forgetting that I understood every word-morsel offered. Often, I would hear from Kaukab an indignant, “Whad a madder weet you!” Which, would inevitably cause a verbal rumble around the festive holiday table. At evening’s end, all would kiss-and-make up, wishing one another a final ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’

Every Thanksgiving, we could look forward to the same. Year in, year out. As the cousins got older and had families of their own, the Thanksgivings as we knew them, stopped. Funerals became the new Thanksgiving. Amusing, in a different, morbid sort of way.

So today, I’m looking forward to having Thanksgiving #1. Sharing good times with those who’ve become like family. Minus the crazy.

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