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Don't Let the Turkeys Get You Down
No matter how hard you try and no matter how much stress you put on yourself and your dear family, Christmas is not always going to turn out perfectly. You can do every single thing I suggest in this book, plus a few old wives' tales, plus all of your girlfriends' suggestions, and it can still all "go to hell in a hand basket," as my grandpa used to say. Want proof?
One Christmas we were having our typical houseful of people over: The entire Bice family; our in-laws, the Grahams; our dear friend Lori and her daughter; plus anyone else we could think of.
That year, my son Tim and I had shows on QVC during Thanksgiving, so we didn't have the chance to host a traditional turkey dinner at the house like we usually did. So instead we decided we'd make all the Thanksgiving fixin's for Christmas, which called for only the best spread we could produce. We planned and planned and planned.
During the season I'd been watching QVC, as usual, and saw a large deep fryer. Well, you know I just had to have it. I'd heard that deep-frying a turkey was the best, and I was determined to give it a try. I ordered the fryer and within a few days it was at the doorstep. I called Lori and told her we needed to take it for a test-fry! We decided that she would be the turkey chef extraordinaire, the one in charge of figuring it all out.
The next day Lori arrived at the house with all the supplies and set about the big "turkey test." The turkey came out crisp and brown on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. I have to tell you . . . it was close to the best thing I've ever tasted. It always seemed to be that the turkey breast got a little dry by the time the dark meat was done, but not in the deep fryer. And, surprisingly, it wasn't the least bit greasy. Well, Lori's turkey was a huge success so we added it to our Thanksgiving-for-Christmas menu right on the spot.
Christmas Day dawned a bit gloomy, but we weren't worried about the deep fried turkey. What could possibly go wrong?
Lori and I had been cooking for days, and we had enough food to feed a small town. We were going to roast a turkey, make a big pot of homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, a big batch of sausage stuffing, sweet potatoes, roast prime rib, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls and, of course, my famous coleslaw. The piece de resistance was going to be the deep-fried turkey with a huge helping of prayer that the bad weather held off.
Preparation was well under way, and it was only an hour and a half until dinner. Deep-frying a turkey takes about an hour, so it was time to get the oil heating. So far, so good . . . the weather was holding off and we knew we were going to make it! An hour before dinner, the turkey was in the oil, bubbling away like crazy. Wouldn't you know it, fifteen minutes later the sky opened up and rain came pelting down. As you know, water and hot oil don't mix, and after a few minutes of grease splattering everywhere and the gas fire going out, sweet Lori was mumbling something under her breath that would probably have made a sailor blush! We were in a pickle. What to do?
We moved the whole operation into the garage. Now I know this is frowned upon . . . fire hazard and all . . . but what choice did we have?
We had to save that turkey! After we moved everything, we lit the gas back up and got it going again. Unfortunately, the oil had cooled a lot, so it took awhile to get it back up to temperature. Meanwhile, the turkey was taking a grease-bath the entire time and, unbeknownst to us, the bird had continued to cook even though the oil had cooled.
Once the oil was going again, we refigured the cookiing time and decided it had another forty-five minutes, since that was how much time was left when the fire went out. Even though the entire dinner was being delayed to wait for the fried turkey, that was okay. . . . It would be well worth it when our guests tasted this holiday masterpiece.
Forty-five minutes later, Lori removed the turkey from the fryer and brought it in. Oh, it was beautiful . . . deep golden brown and crispy. The rest of the dinner had been laid out, and it was time to cut into this beautiful bird. With everyone standing around, Lori made a big production of sharpening the knife and preparing to cut. Well, you could have knocked us over with a turkey feather at this point! Instead of the light stream of juices we had expected, the first cut into the breast of the turkey produced a kind of "poof." A small cloud of what can only be described as turkey dust shot out of the cut, and the smell wafting out of the bird was less than wondrous.
Lori peeked inside the turkey skin, and all she saw were the charred remains of a once-proud turkey. She had made a slight miscalculation with the time and cooked it too long. At this point, the excitement had been building among the guests, and they were clamoring to see this amazing creation that Lori and I had endlessly bragged about. Needless to say, the laughter and ribbing Lori took for the rest of the day about the "Great Turkey Test" only added to the festiveness of the occasion.
Everyone was wonderful; we tossed the turkey in the garbage and dove into all the other food. We didn't get our fried turkey that year, but we did get a valuable lesson: It doesn't matter what the weather is like, or what's on your table--it's who you spend the holidays with that really matters! So let it all go. Enjoy your holidays no matter what happens. And remember, even chaotic times can create good memories. It's up to you to see your experiences as bad . . . or blessed. Enjoy.
©2006. Jeanne Bice. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Quacker Factory Christmas. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.