Friday, November 29, 2019


My lack of cooking expertise has long been something my family (or more specifically, my mom and sister) have given me grief over (in the most lovingly, humorous of ways, of course!)  Why … I couldn’t even successfully cook pasta when my sister and I were rooming together in college!

It was only within the last couple of years, that I’ve come to really enjoy cooking, given the time I have available and the necessity for my husband and I to have a healthy diet. (Three is a Magic Number)

Which is why I was excited when my parents agreed to let Keith and I host Thanksgiving this year.  Our menu consisted of lots of “healthy” options.  Tasty side dishes which are good for the body and tasty to the tongue!  Baked carrots, spinach salad, honey cinnamon baked sweet potatoes.  Yes, mom can bring her stuffing!  It’s the one bit of carby-ness I’ll allow on my table (not to mention, it’s just about my favorite thing about Thanksgiving).  But aside from that, we’re going to avoid the carb loading at all costs (or as much as we can because … stuffing.)

As for dessert, we won’t have the usual THREE pies (pumpkin, pecan and coconut).  Nope!  I’ll make a lighter dessert.  A fluffy little number with cool whip and pumpkin pie filling.  Not exactly fat-free, but certainly not the plethora of sugary-filled baked goodness that normally adorns our family’s Thanksgiving table.

Keith is a huge fan of the smoked turkey.  Mind you, we don’t own a smoker.  And personally, I’m not one to look all over the 7th largest city in the country to find someone who will do the smoking.  And you know what?  Our local grocery store sells smoked turkeys that suit everyone just fine.

Last week, as I drafted my grocery shopping list (because not only do I take much care in planning our weekly menu, but Alzheimer’s runs in the family), I dutifully indicated the need to pick up a slab of poultry sizeable enough for our smaller gathering; both of Keith’s kiddos and their families were out of town. 

In store, I googled how big of a turkey was needed to feed five mouths.  Google said to allow 1.5 lbs. per person, yielding enough for cherished leftovers.

Okay … 5 x 1.5 = 7.5.

In search of an 8-pound smoked turkey, I turned the tags on bird after bird.  There were smaller birds, weighing around 4.29 lbs. and then the larger variety, weighing 10 lbs. or more.

I decided on 2, 4-lb.-ish birds, ensuring sufficient leftovers for everyone, rather than a 10-pounder that would’ve ended with leftovers being thrown out.

The location of our gathering was changed from our home to my parents’ home.  Leaving mom to cook her traditional Thanksgiving meal (the one that includes ALL the carbs!).  She asked me to bring the spinach salad, along with the two turkeys. 

And she informed me she had only ordered two pies this year:  a pumpkin pie because it’s my son’s favorite and a coconut pie because it’s my husband’s favorite.  I’m chopped liver.

Wednesday morning, Keith says that the two turkeys sitting in the fridge certainly look bigger than 4.3 pounds.  He pulls the tag on each and sees that one weighs 5.87 pounds and the other, 5.71 pounds. 


“No, No!”, I say, “They’re just over 4 pounds each.  Let me see that!”

And sure enough, the tag shows they are $4.29 per pound.  

4 dollars and 29 cents.

Oh, good grief!  So let’s take the bigger one and call it done.

Wednesday night (as in … the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving after the grocery store has closed and is surely sold out of all the turkeys), Keith pulled the chosen bird from the refrigerator to see how long it would take to warm it up.  And thus, would allow us to determine exactly how early we needed to get up in order to make the almost two-hour trek to the ranch and have the turkey in the oven in time for lunch.

He reads the cooking instructions.

“Heat oven to 350º and remove all packaging material on the turkey breast.  Add approximately ½ cup of water to the pan or just enough …”

WHAT????  Did you just say TURKEY BREAST?  Let me see THAT!

And there, tucked into the crease of the tightly-packaged bundle, are the words “Turkey Breast”.

He looks at me.  Stunned.  “And here I was,” he says, “all excited at the prospect of having not two, but FOUR, turkey legs to devour this year!”

He just knows that I was on my phone and distracted while shopping.  I did make a phone call, but only while I was waiting in the checkout line.  I really just don’t have any excuse.

As Keith drives to the ranch, I call my mom to make my confession.  Knowing that my dad likes dark meat, and realizing how easy it is to dry out a turkey breast, I tell her,

“I think I just ruined Thanksgiving.”

I explain to her the chain of events leading to the discovery of my error.  She chuckles ever so slightly before saying, “I’ll call you back.  I’m on the other line with your sister.”  She never called me back.

Upon arrival, as I’m preparing to put the turkey breast into the oven, mom politely apologizes for not having returned my call.  Of course, she felt compelled to share the story of my blunder with my sister, the two of them sharing a rather good laugh together, I’m quite certain of course, at my expense. 

My sister says to her, “You know … this is all on you.  You just never showed her what a turkey looks like.”  

Like the good-natured ribbing I receive over my dislike of peaches (Just Peachy), this will undoubtedly become a family joke for years to come.

My mother's failure to contain her laughter likely the reason she wouldn’t return my call.

We enjoyed a scrumptious Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey breast, spinach salad, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce (the canned variety, of course!) and dinner rolls.  I dutifully filled my plate, mixing my mashed potatoes and corn together, the way my dearly-loved Opa showed me to when I was a little girl.  And I had seconds of said mashed potatoes & corn and stuffing, of course!

And there was pie for dessert.  Pumpkin, Coconut, and a Crown Royal-infused Pecan my son picked up.  Oh!  And a poppyseed cake that my cousin had brought over.  

I know you’re wondering, “Crown Royal-infused Pecan Pie???”  It was To. Die. For.

The turkey breast was moist and delicious.  Even my dad and husband appeared to be happily stuffed.  Maybe Thanksgiving wasn’t ruined after all.

Although … 24 hours later and Keith is still bemoaning the fact that he didn’t get a single turkey leg. 

In my defense, on all other meat packaging, the weight of the product is ALWAYS on the left side of the label.  ALWAYS.  It just so happens that the label on the turkeys show the price per pound on the left and the weight on the right.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.