Tackling the Turkey

Don’t I look confident? It is all a facade.

When my children were younger, I would get nervous just thinking about Thanksgiving. Roasting that humongous bird was intimidating. All those years of my own mother making the perfect feast loomed over my head and I feared that I would make the dreaded – dried out turkey.

One year I accomplished the opposite. I stuffed the bird. I know and in high altitude of 5280 feet above sea level. I don’t think it was cooked all the way through. I was horrified to find out that my mother-in-law, who never complains, was up in the night.

Then there was the first time we celebrated Thanksgiving in the mountains. I was caught unprepared in more ways than one. I didn’t have the right pots, so I steamed vegetables in cake and iron frying pans. I warmed the biscuits in bread pans. Hey. I have always been a MacGiver-type. I hadn’t accounted for the super high altitude of 10,500 feet so although the water was rolling, the potatoes were firm after an hour of boiling. After watching two sappy Christmas movies, we finally sat down to dinner at 9:00. My sister was by my side and we giggled throughout the turkey madness. My husband Danny kept the kids entertained. It was a feast to remember. At least we had silverware…

Now I roast that gargantuan sucker with panache. I wrote down my mother’s recipe long ago, but I will call her in the morning and ask for it again like every year. I’ll mix up the stuffing with the cooked giblets and bake it in a separate casserole. Then when the electronic thermometer beeps (I said panache and I won’t ever take chances on a rare bird again), signaling that the turkey is done, I’ll pour the drippings through a fat separator. Then, I’ll drizzle some of the juice over the stuffing. No one will know that the bird wasn’t stuffed.

This year I’ll make a list of all of my sides. Yep. I go overboard. Last year, I found the sweet potatoes in the microwave on Friday. I knew there was something else.

We’ll try to pack a lot into our day and enjoy our kids and my sister’s visit. I am hoping we will take a walk and enjoy the sunshine since Thanksgiving is almost a week early and the temperatures are still in the 60’s. We’ll watch old family videos and a football game or two.

This Thursday will be the 23rd time I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner. After all these years, I will relax and enjoy it. There will be no Black Friday shopping for me.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Roxy thought my Thanksgiving turkey was delish!

Have you ever been intimidated by cooking?

For safe turkey roasting tips, click here.

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97 Comments

Filed under Humor, Life, Photography

97 responses to “Tackling the Turkey

  1. You look very cute, Susie. Good for you!

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  2. There was the year I inadvertently cooked the turkey upside down…. It was the juiciest bird ever!

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  3. that’s a big ass turkey.

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  4. We in the UK only have turkey at xmas thank goodness. 2 years ago I agreed to a joint xmas dinner with the sister in law and family – 2 hardened cooks with 2 entirely different visions of xmas dinner perfection in one kitchen feeding 12 including 2 vegitarians and a serious disparity on the importance of giblets in the cooking process. This year I’m going back to the tried and trusted 6 points of xmas dining perfection.
    1 A turkey cooked upside down with a side order of baked ham.
    2 just the one kind of stuffing.
    3. lashings of bread sauce
    4 oodles of giblet gravy.
    5 at least 4 puddings to choose from.
    6 a couple of glasses of wine for the chef resulting in a slightly squiffy giggling fit when serving. ( I only drink at xmas)
    Best of all just me, my 2 kids and my new man – Cant wait.

    2 major dining events so close together – you mad impetuous fools !

    Happy Thanksgiving

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  5. Yay! Sounds like you have this Thanksgiving thing down! :-)

    No Black Friday for us either! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Nana’s and a lazy Friday enjoying one another’s company and leftovers! I did a little shopping today at Bath and Body Works.. stuff to make my honey smell nice… shhh! Don’t tell her! :-)

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  6. Congrats on your 23 successes and failures. I love a trooper!

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  7. It must have been good, in spite of the wary look in your eyes… The Rock is licking her chops. Nice clean plate… probably won’t need to be washed.

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  8. Sounds like it will be another great thanksgiving!

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  9. Wow… what a turkey… Happy Thanksgiving and all that good stuff! Be sure to send some over… ;)

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  10. We’re having our Thanksgiving with just our family this year. Deciding on a brine and all that since I can’t use my smoker where I live, which makes an awesome bird.

    Looking forward to chilling while the bird cooks, my wife makes pies, the kids help, and we get a feast that’s larger than our small family.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Susie!

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  11. my bird just came out, my other two turkeys (W and O) are still lounging – it’s gonna be a great day! Happy Thanksgiving.

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  12. Happy Thanksgiving to you too! I’m here watching the Macy’s parade and all. :-)

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  13. I didn’t know altitude affected cooking as much as baking? I wonder what altitude I’m at, lol! I hope your Thanksgiving is just a wonderful celebration this year!!

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  14. Happy thanks giving to you and your family Susie, you look lovely in that pic.
    oh i am always in a panic mode when i am cooking for guests, it always turns out great but I just dont have the confidence ..over the years i have accepted that this lack of confidence is what makes my food good :lol:

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    • I think most cooks go through that. I am finding out that I am a little ADD so the distraction in the kitchen causes all kinds of creative cooking! I hope that you had a fabulous Thanksgiving too! :)

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  15. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that you throw a great Thanksgiving. This holiday is right in your wheelhouse. Have a happy and healthy one.

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  16. I love turkey and the leftovers are wonderful…

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  17. journalpulp

    I love that picture of you, Susie. Happy Thanksgiving.

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  18. Cooking at high altitudes is a challenge. While I’m not at 10,000+, I do live in the Sierras so have had to compensate quite a few times.

    My husband usually BBQ’s our turkey. It takes a few hours and a keen eye on the temperature and knowing when to add more charcoal, but it is the yummiest bird ever. We rarely cook a turkey in the over any more.

    This year, we’re going out. No sense spending an entire day cooking a feast for just 2 people to enjoy. While I’ve done that in the past, this year, I said, nope. So I made reservations and we’re going to enjoy the day not cooking or cleaning up the kitchen.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy your family!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    • I love that idea- the bird on the grill and the husband doing the cooking!
      I would consider the same thing if it was just the two of us. Danny’s birthday was yesterday, so we were out for dinner last night!
      Have a fabulous Thanksgiving Patricia!

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  19. That turkey looks bigger than you!

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  20. Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday and since we celebrate in Canada in October, we get to do it one more time now we are in FL. Good friends are coming over for a few days so I’m doing “the big bird” all over again. Truth be told, it’s those cold turkey sandwiches the day after (with stuffing and cranberry sauce loaded on) that are my real motivation. Have a wonderful time hosting for the 23rd time. That’s impressive!

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  21. unfetteredbs

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. And you must be a real PRO if you can handle cooking in a white sweater! Me– I would be covered ;)

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  22. Sweet Potatoes in the microwave. HA! That’s hilarious. That happened to us too, last year. But instead of microwave it was the oven. Too funny.

    I’ve never really been intimidated by cooking. I’ve probably failed at a tons of recipes but I just buy extra ingredients for a second batch. For Thanksgiving, the bird has never freaked me out, I’ve been more excited than freaked out, excited because I couldn’t wait to see if it turned out all right. Most of the time I was pretty jazzed up, for the others well…that’s where the wine and chocolate came in :) Have a great Thanksgiving!

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    • Guat I LOVE your attitude! That is the way I should have looked at it all those years. Now I am feeling good, feeling strong, got the bird in the fridge ready to go… :)
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and enjoy your fab turkey!

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  23. Finding the sweet potatoes on Friday has me on the floor! I can totally relate to the “I knew there was something else.” Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful day with your family and I know Roxy will be living large tomorrow..as always : )

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    • Roxy will be right under foot licking the floor!
      I forgot to make the cranberries last year and threw them on the stove whipped them up. It is always something.
      Have a very Happy Thanksgiving with your family!

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  24. One of the first times I cooked a turkey was when we carried a frozen one on the plane to Vail. Somehow our whole group thought the meal was wonderful….the wine might have helped that perception
    Have a great Thanksgiving

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  25. I enjoy cooking and will be hosting Turkey Day this year – I do not really panic just stress a bit. Have a Great Thanksgiving – Be Blessed!!!

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    • That is so great Renee! Stress is a part of hosting. I think this year there will only be the 5 of us so it will be a breeeeeeeeze!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and have a wonderful day!

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  26. As I read this I was eyeing the gnarly burn on my wrist, an injury I sustained after I got brave and tried to toast a Pop Tart. Luckily I have a hugely accepting family who ask nothing of me but dinner rolls :)

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    • That sounds like a wonderful family to me! I think mine is spoiled. :)
      Gnarly burns suck especially when they hurt hours later… I hope you feel better and have someone else toast them for the next couple of days. :)
      Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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  27. I love cooking but have been known to overlook and forget stuff in the oven lol… One year after dinner we found stuffing in the oven, I made the guests take it home lol. Happy thanksgiving to you and yours Susie

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    • When I entertain, I make a list, but not usually for family holidays and that is when I forget something! I bet your guests loved it! The stuffing is the best part!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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  28. I’ve never actually made a turkey before, my hubby does all the meat cooking and he has it down to a science now.

    And I must add… that bird is almost as big as you are! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  29. I love that picture of the family ham licking her chops! I am not intimidated by cooking since I consider any takeout within a three block radius of my apartment home cooking. I hope your 23rd Turkey Day feast is a success and I wish you, your family and, of course, Roxy, a lovely holiday.

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  30. HAPPY THANKSGIVING And send me some turkey memories.
    HUGGGGGGGGGGGGG

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  31. I’m pretty sure most of us have felt that intimidation. Always fun to read about someone else’s… ;) Happy Thanksgiving!

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  32. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

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  33. I cook spaghetti… hehe… the bird looks delicious! Have a fab holiday Susie !

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  34. Are you sure that isn’t an ostrich? Our Christmas turkeys are tiny by comparison. Do you also do the cranberry sauce thing? I recently tasted that for the first time in my life – I liked it.

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    • I had my sister buy cranberries just in case the store was out when I shopped this evening, so there will be plenty!
      I got a natural turkey but you gotta believe they feed it something crazy to get this big! 20 pounds!
      Thanks for stopping by Colonist!

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  35. I feel for you. Over here, we celebrate on 25th December and I tell you the stress levels are high, no matter how far ahead I’ve prepared. Trying to get everything ready at the same time, sit everyone down at the same time and be the hostess with the mostest is hard. I remember once when the girls were under three years old (there’s 20months between them) and I had six adults (including my mother and mother-in-law) staying with us for four days. By the time the 26th of December arrived I was on my knees. And do you know not one person helped me? Not one. I just kept smiling through it, but I’ve never done it again.

    These days everyone mucks in and lends a hand, including the men.

    Love the photo of Roxy! Happy Thanksgiving to the Lindau’s!

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    • That sounds like a nightmare! We celebrate even more on Christmas since there are TWO dinners to prepare for and talk about the pressure of the holiday! Whew!
      I do have a sister that rolls up her sleeves and Danny always does the dishes! It’s just the 5 of us this year so I am not worried.
      Thanks so much CC and the very best to your family through the season! (it was 60 degrees in the mts today….. more like summer!)

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  36. This made me laugh in remembrance of my own Turkey flubs! A few years ago I cooked the best turkey ever, but I’ll be damned if I’ve been able to repeat that. Still trying, though.
    Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours. And enjoy the peace of staying home on Friday!!

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    • Thanks so much Mary! I still have to make the pumpkin pie tonight. Sheeeeesh! We went skiing today and now I will pay by trying to catch up….
      I think the trick is to put the bird breast side down and not lift the lid until the last 45 minutes. Then it cooks in its own juices. I take the cover off to brown it and and give it that Norman Rockwell appearance! Hahaha!
      Have a fabulous Thanksgiving Mary and thanks for being so supportive on the blog and Facebook.

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  37. Did you see Jenny Hansen’s post about this? I’ll tell you the same thing I told her: I am so terrified of ruining the bird that I am HOSTING a large party at my house. I will happily set the table and wash all the dishes afterwards. But I ain’t touching those turkeys. Too much stress. My MIL is bringing them over when she comes tomorrow. And that works for me. ;-)

    Happy Thanksgiving, Sooooz.

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    • Sounds like a great plan! Most of my family is back in Wisconsin. My dad and Danny’s mom can’t travel anymore, so it leaves it up to me. I am actually looking forward to cooking the bird this year, but boy, it took a while to get comfortable!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Renee S Jay!

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  38. Sounds like you know what you are doing now Susie. I have recently become pretty bad (the good kind of bad) in the kitchen. My mother has ALWAYS cooked Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, sides, and all with the one exception of me making the salad – hardcore, I know). This year she will be visiting her sick sister and won’t be able to enjoy it with my dad, brother and I.

    This leaves me to make the meal. So yes, I am intimidated to fill my mom’s shoes, regardless of how much I have improved in the kitchen over the past few years.

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    • I am glad you can relate! I have entertained countless times and was never afraid to try some new gourmet recipe out on friends, but for some reason, that giant bird has gotten the best of me! The last few years have gone pretty smoothly so my fingers are crossed…
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Becca! I am sure you will roast a beautiful bird! And all the best to your mom and your aunt…

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  39. Love it! Oh, those early birds… I think we all learned by trial and fire. I like to try out different recipes now. One year I’ll go completely Clean Eating, the next it might be from Bon Apetit. I’m still on the fence whether I’ll cook anything this year. We always go to my in-laws on Thanksgiving, so on Black Friday I usually cook a feast for just the four of us at home so we’ll have leftovers. Silly, I know, but I love it! But with Frankenfoot still recovering, I’m not sure I can handle six hours on my feet. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll end up doing something. It’s tradition!

    Tomorrow morning I’ll get up early and watch ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ before settling in to watch the Macy’s Day parade that I’ll DVR. Since we don’t have to be at the in-laws until 4pm, it’s a totally relaxing day for me.

    Happy Thanksgiving, my friend! Love the pic of Roxy.

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    • Thanks so much Tameri!
      I agree about the trial and FIRE! Hahaha! My goal is to get through the day without setting off any smoke detectors!
      There have been two year when I didn’t cook and really missed the leftovers (especially the stuffing) so I can relate to your second Thanksgiving celebration. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving with your family Tameri!

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  40. Love this! The best holiday memories are always when things seem to be going all wrong! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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