Just your traditional holiday disaster

Dec. 08, 2013 @ 03:10 PM

At the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal at my house, also known as the traditional Thanksgiving Day disaster, there is always something new you can learn.

One year, I learned that there are more plastic bags inside the turkey than you really think there are. Or should be.
Another year, I learned that it’s very difficult to make sage gravy if you don’t have any sage. (This is true even if you don’t know what sage is, and think you can replace it with chives, which you also don’t have.)
This year, although it’s taken me almost 10 days now, I have learned that an exploding oven can definitely alter your carefully constructed holiday timetable, although it does provide your sweet potato pie with a nice charred flavor. 
In fact, it was the night before Thanksgiving, when all through the house my family was scurrying to get everything ready for the big day.
We had already sent smoke pouring through the microwave when we tried to roast garlic, and we had already combined chopped onions and chopped celery with bits of chopped finger for the stuffing.
In other words, we were right on schedule.
The last thing to be done was the sweet potato pie, which had just a few more minutes to cook, when the oven exploded and erupted in flames.
We checked the recipe. It said heat on high, not explode. This was definitely not part of the recipe.
Although the instructions also didn’t precisely call for this, we went ahead anyway and extinguished the fire. While this did prevent the house from going up in flames, therefore throwing off our schedule even more, it did limit our abilities to cook a 15-pound turkey the next day.
We had several alternatives. We could try to cook the turkey on top of the stove, although steaming a 15-pound turkey is not the preferred manner of cooking when you only have an 8-pound steamer pot.
We considered sautéing it in a skillet, but, of course, would need the extreme extra giant-size pancake turner, which was dirty and in the dishwasher, to flip it.
We also could try to cook the turkey in the microwave, if only the microwave was working and didn’t smell of garlic smoke.
Finally, we did the only thing we could do, which was to re-arrange the freezer, taking out last year’s bags of leftover turkey and the stuffed grape leaves we had saved from our Y2K party, and putting the new turkey in there. We are planning on having it for Christmas, along with our new oven, the non-exploding model, assuming that we will remember the turkey is in the freezer and not take out the stuffed grape leaves instead.
After making that decision, that allowed us to concentrate on the traditional shredded Brussels sprouts as our main dish on Thanksgiving.
By the way, they go very nicely with sage.
Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.