Way back in the 90s, I decided to take some of the load off my Mother who had cooked us all such delicious Thanksgiving dinners for many years by cooking the dinner and inviting my parents to our house for a change.
This plan would also, of course, keep her kitchen sparkling and leave me with the clean-up mess--a major point in the plan's favor.
Now if there's an American reading this, you know what the turkey roasting and baking, and the "trimmings" and their perfect recipes may involve, and you know how easy it is to obsess over the details.
Just watching Martha Stewart on tv--as I did this morning with her marvelous feature on the harvesting and trucking of cranberries to our tables--can send some ladies (and gentlemen) into a feathery, gobbledey-gook tailspin of fretting and sleepless nights.
But since I had prepared a dish or two to bring along to her house for Thanksgiving dinners through the years, it seemed to me that as long as I got the frozen vs fresh, basting vs oven baking bag issues under control, the turkey would somehow turn out all right and preferrably crispy-brown and delicious.
What I neglected to factor in was the worry level's interference with my well-laid plans.
The night before the Big Day--or rather about 4 am in the morning--I awoke in one of those tailspins from a harried, worried dream about the turkey not being thawed enough if I didn't get up and take it out of the freezer now. (The frozen argument had won out based on when the turkey shopping had had to be done...Butterball, of course, to please my Mother...of course!)
This task performed in a half-awake state, I returned to bed for a couple more hours of snoozing, confident that the turkey was resting upon the counter, and that the space-hogging roasting pan had been put in an out-of-the-way cabinet for use when needed.
At 6:15, I returned to the kitchen to begin preparations yet totally unmindful in my conscious state of what had occurred some two hours earlier. Here, it turned out, was the fly in my condiment, aye the rub, as they say.
Opening the freezer, I was stunned to see no turkey nestled frostily amongst the bags of vegetables and ice. Yet how could this be?
Searching the kitchen frantically (while wondering if my daughter, in an attempt to help with the meal, had been there before me, but a quick look-see found Maya still snug abed), so I asked myself,
how could a frozen turkey run away on its little icy, stiff legs?
By this time, all the cupboards had been checked and found to be turkey-free zones, my son was up and wondering if his Mom had finally lost all her marbles along with the bird, and I was feeling the stress of Thanksgiving imperfections.
Jumping in the car, I dashed to the nearest store...5 miles...bought one of the few gobblers left (a fresh one would've been perfect, but none were left, naturally) then zoomed back to my kitchen-where-strange-turkey-incidents-happen, my composure seriously impaired.
As you might expect, the microwave just barely accomodated the fowl's size as it thawed as best it could, but it was soon popped into the oven as planned.
Pies and veggies and casseroles soon followed the turkey's example, and a good time was had by all. Afterward my Mother and Father motored home to their undisturbed kitchen, left-over plates in hand, and all was right with the world.
Yet in the back of my mind the nagging question remained concerning the mystery of the missing turkey...had someone broken into my house and taken our bird for a long ride?
Had another family enjoyed our gobbler in our place? What dastardly shenanigans had been afoot this Thanksgiving Day?
Three sunrises later, I walked into my kitchen and began to notice a faint but annoying odor wafting from some dark corner of the room. Again I searched cabinets and drawers but little did I expect to discover the missing turkey...under the kitchen sink where the roasting pan had orginally resided.
Mystery solved, for in my sleepwalking state, I had removed the turkey from the freezer, the pan from the cabinet under the sink, then, deciding that the pan would be in the way, I had returned the "pan" to the last cabinet in the world I would have put a piece of meat...and gone back to bed where I should've stayed in the first place.
So if you feel the urge to obsess this Thursday, my friend, please take note of stinky sleepwalking turkeys left to thaw too long in dark places thereby missing their Big Day for naught but a worried dream.
So who's the real turkey of this feathery tale? 'Tis moi! And yet...
...I'm sending you all wishes for a wonderful cranberry-infused holiday--just be sure to watch out for those daft sleepwalking turkeys!