Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I never get sappy gifts for Christmas but this year I got a couple of them. Now it seems that “Sappy” has a broad range of meanings from ‘overly sentimental’ to ‘rather foolish’ so that seems like the best way to describe them.

The overly sentimental one was hearing angels sing. The other rather foolish, but still delightful one was on Christmas morn, at six a.m., while the oven was preheating for the big bird, Hub (who is not a dancer, always grumbles if asked to dance or forced to dance) cranked up the volume on the Holiday Music Channel and danced with me to the sweet strains of “Pretty Papers, Pretty Ribbons” sung by Roy Orbison. So those were my two sappy gifts.

Now to switch from ‘sappy’ to ‘practical’ I must tell you about the turkey, a subject that is pretty much worn out in my mind. But nevertheless, I’m going to go through this one more time as a kind of self-therapy.

This year, two weeks before Christmas, I bought a turkey in plastic wrap labeled “Fresh Turkey”. I would normally never consider buying one of these but a) I didn’t want to make another dreaded trip to town if I could possibly avoid it, and b) there were no frozen turkeys available that day.

Now, usually one buys a turkey a few days before Christmas so a frozen turkey is far more appealing than a ‘fresh’ one. After all, during any cooking delay a frozen turkey can safely remain frozen, but what do you do with a fresh turkey?

But that was not my first concern. My first concern was how can a turkey remain fresh if it takes three days to slaughter it, process it, and parcel it, and ship it on the first leg of its journey from the Turkey Farm to the City. And from there, it goes without saying, it would take another three days because that’s how long my mail takes from that self-same city and no turkey is going to be skittled around faster than the Queen’s Mail! By now isn't that fresh turkey getting a mite stale?

And despite the ‘use before’ date, that doesn’t tell me anything about ‘fresh’. ‘Use Before’ dates are so exaggerated that all they tell you is when the warranty kicks in for serious botulism. (And how many shops exaggerate them further by sticking another date over the original one?)

Anyway I bought a ‘fresh’ turkey that day, brought it home and tossed it in the freezer. But all the while I was thinking that my freezer has no instant, quick-freeze benefit as there would be in a commercial freezer. So a bird that size could languish for hours, maybe even days, before freezing through and through. And I had other suspicions that caused me additional foreboding. If this bird was not previously put on temporary life-support than it probably was secretly frozen sometime in its unknown past and was now being frozen a second time. Pretty dire thought.

And then we come to the experts’ rule about thawing a frozen turkey in the fridge. What a bunch of crap that is? I did that only once in my lifetime and that turkey tasted a whole lot less than fresh. And, of course it would, it took four days or longer to thaw. Since then, I insist on quick-thawing in a tub of cold water. The Granddaddy of all turkeys will thaw in 24 hours that way. Now back to my story.

So the day before Christmas I put the bird in a bath of water to thaw it quickly and prevent further deterioration though at this point I was thinking further deterioration was not possible. And I vowed to get that bird in the oven the minute it was thawed sufficiently to stuff. It was thawed by early morn so at the last minute I phoned my guests to say that Turkey Supper had now been rescheduled to Turkey Dinner. But doubts and misgivings remained during the entire process. I found myself scheming for the whole of the cooking time how I would resurrect dinner with other alternatives if the turkey turned out as disgusting as I suspected it might be.

But come dinner – what a pleasant surprise? The turkey was golden, sweet – white meat firm and moist. Absolutely lovely. Of all the things on the groaning board – mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, turkey, veggie lasagna, perogies, cabbage rolls, Greek salad, the turkey got the most complements with the veggie lasagna coming in second.

So how was your turkey this year? Fresh or frozen? Did you get any sappy gifts?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a frozen turkey breast in my refrigerator. We had decided we would cook it on Sunday, before Dear Husband learned he had to fly to Florida at six in the morning. So....it will be Wednesday before I can cook it. After reading your misgivings, I think I may pitch the whole thing out.

I'm so glad your's turned out well!


9:24 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi Buffy. I don't have a solution for that problem if you are unable to keep it frozen. If you were going by car you could wrap it in foil and tuck it under the hood near the motor, but I don't think you can do that on an airplane even though I expect a jet engine would do a grand job of cooking a turkey breast.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Frankie said...

(LOL!! I just realized my sister's comment is on this same page . . . she's so smart!!)

My turkey story is from Thanksgiving. I wasn't planning on cooking this year. In fact, we were headed to Michigan to visit my husband's family, when we discovered our furnace quit working hours before we were to leave. I left work at 2:30 and headed to the local grocers to find only frozen. I picked the smallest one I could find and stuck it in a bath of cold water as soon as I got home for a few hours. Unbelievably, it was ready to stuff by early the next morning. Taste? Well, I don't think we cared. I think we were glad to be together and that, with the fireplace ablaze and two well-placed space heaters, it was just warm enough to be comfortable. We spent much of the weekend cuddled together under quilts watching movies. That's not so bad!

11:51 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi frankie, enjoyed your wee story. Amidst all the other circumstances, glad you still enjoyed your day. By the way, it might not do for you to make too little of the taste of that quick-fix turkey. I bet it was the best! Wait till you taste next year's turkey and I think you will agree.

1:29 PM  

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