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.

97 thoughts on “Tackling the Turkey

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  1. 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.


    1. 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!


  2. 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.


    1. 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…


  3. 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.


    1. 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!


  4. 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!!


    1. 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.


  5. 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!


    1. 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!)


  6. 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.


    1. 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!


  7. 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.


    1. Thanks Emily! Hahaha! I can assure you that I am bigger than 20 pounds! It was heavy though…
      That is so cool that he cooks. I will mention it to Danny!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!


  8. 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


    1. 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!


  9. 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 🙂


    1. 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!


    1. 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!


  10. 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 : )


    1. 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!


  11. 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!


    1. 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!


  12. 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 😉


  13. 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!


  14. 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


    1. 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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