If anything I do is worthy of a blog post, cooking a thirty-pound turkey on Thanksgiving is it. There we were, Barrett and I, the night before Thanksgiving, at the smallest grocery store in our county looking at three of the biggest birds ever farmed.
Therein lies the mistake I didn’t know I was making all month: waiting until twelve hours before Thanksgiving dinner to grocery shop. This seems so incredibly obvious now, that I’m not sure how I missed it. Of course there would only be thirty-pound birds left, of course.
In the midst of a global pandemic, I feel like I should almost condemn turkey farmers. Nobody on Earth would need a monster-turkey this year. I could have probably gotten away with a couple Cornish game hens. Actually, if it weren’t for The Rona, all I really would have had to do was my usual, show up, try to keep the kids from breaking stuff, drink a glass of wine and help with the cleanup. Maybe make some cranberry sauce.
Yes, we planned Thanksgiving at home, just the four of us, where every other year of my life has been spent with people who know better than to grocery shop the night before.
Alas, I transferred the bird from the freezer to that place on the cart reserved for cases of beer and seedless watermelons, had it scanned, and strapped it into Graham’s car seat for the drive home.
I was half way home before I realized three things: I forgot Mayonnaise, I have nothing big enough to cook in, and lastly, the poor bird probably couldn’t even walk by the time it was done with life. What had I done?
We emptied a toy tote and brought the ice cube in to begin thawing and I promptly texted a few family members that I was in over my head. I received various replies, but the resounding frequency was, “30 lbs? Are you sure?”
My dad called me immediately, mostly to commiserate and laugh.
“I don’t even like turkey,” I said. “Now I have to double up the cranberry sauce too.”
“Look at the bright side,” he said. “Friday morning you’ll only have twenty-six pounds of leftover turkey.”
In the morning I ran to the store for a swimming pool and a meat bag to cook the bird in and when I got home, I still prioritized baking pumpkin pies. I called my mom to tell her proudly that I had baked three pies that I knew would not go to waste.
She gasped. “It’s going to take twelve hours to bake that bird. You’ll be eating dinner at midnight.”
In the end it wasn’t that bad. It only took nine hours to bake the bird. I’ll spare the details, but I rubbed some Hawaiian salt on the outside, put the bird in the oven long enough to thaw so I could take out the stuff inside and put other stuff inside. Then, I spent the rest of the day checking its temperature. (This is one area where I excel, but after this year, I suppose we all do.)
I should mention Jesse helped with this process. Men love doing the dangerous jobs, so we let him lift that heifer in and out of the burning oven. Truthfully, it was his bacon-mashed potatoes that saved the day when we all got hungry and realized we had two hours until the turkey would be done.
This is all to say, we really do need to be together with our loved ones on holidays. The Rona is hampering our very traditions and heritages. Mothers need to be mothered, Fathers need to exclaim about the new projects around the house, Grandmothers need someone to spoil, Grandfathers need to tell their childhood stories about trains, children need to get rowdy and be sent outside, aunties need to help with the turkey, and uncles need to read books about bunnies. It’s just been that way for generations.
We ate dinner and Zoomed over pie with lots of family members, people we might not have seen otherwise this year. The positive side of this story is that we handed turkey and pie over the fence to our neighbors, will have enchiladas for days, ham for Christmas, and we only had twenty-five pounds of leftover turkey.