This year I felt it was high time for us to have our own holiday, just ourselves. We love visiting family, but we like having our own traditions, too. We chose Thanksgiving, since it’s a holiday of which we’re both quite fond. My siblings Hannah and Benjamin completed our little party of five. The Sunday beforehand, we gathered for a planning meeting, at which it was decided that we would NOT have yams with marshmallows. We divvied up the assignments for different dishes, borrowed a neighbor’s house key so we could have two ovens, and departed in anticipation of the big day.
Thursday dawned bright and clear, if chilly. Tony and I got up early to tackle the turkey. It was our first attempt at preparing what is destined to be either triumph or disaster for the budding cook. We had splurged and bought a free range turkey, and our anxiety over preparing it correctly tripled with the price of the bird. We unwrapped it and held it over the sink while Tony fished around inside for the giblets, which various internet sites had assured me would be hidden somewhere inside. We were able to locate only the long, curved neck of the turkey, which fell out obligingly when we shook it. After a vain search for the rest of the giblets (unsure as we both were over exactly which portions of turkey anatomy were covered by the term), we assured each other that the giblets of a free range bird were assuredly sold separately.
We stuffed the turkey, slid him into the roasting pan (purchased on an emergency midnight run the night before) and then enveloped him in the oven bag my mother had recommended to me as the way to keep him from drying out during roasting. We were about to take him out to the neighbor’s house to roast when Hannah knocked at the door. She eyed the naked, plastic-wrapped turkey, and inquired as to whether we intended to baste him with anything. Being a college freshman, she actually remembered the last time she had Thanksgiving at home, and was able to tell us that my mother usually rubbed the turkey with olive oil and then spices, garlic, salt and pepper.
Relieved, we quickly unwrapped him for the operation. I drizzled olive oil on, while Tony massaged it into the turkey. In the course of the massage, he became aware of a previously undiscovered cavity in the bird. He reached in, and emerged with a plastic bag containing the lost giblets. We realized that we had mistaken the bottom end of the turkey for the top, and thus missed the neck cavity altogether. Much encouraged, we stuffed that part too, finished preparing the bird, and sent him off to roast.
The rest of the preparations proceeded relatively uneventfully. Both of the fire alarms in our tiny apartment went off in the course of the cooking, and were duly silenced. Halfway through the turkey cooking time, I realized that despite our midnight roasting pan run of the night before, we had managed to forget a meat thermometer. However, after some drumstick jiggling and examination of juices, he was pronounced done. We sat down to eat at about 2:30, very pleased with ourselves and the feast spread before us. Never mind that we had all done so much tasting during the process of preparation that we were barely hungry.
Baby Axa fussed and fussed till she spilled an entire glass of water on me, and I gave her to Tony. Then she fussed and fussed till he passed her on to Benjamin. She settled happily in the lap of her Uncle Ben, chewing her carrot stick, trying to feed him her carrot stick, and reaching her hands into his glass. He ended the meal covered in water and mashed potatoes.
All in all, we considered our first independent Thanksgiving a smashing success, although we all agreed that it was quite a bit more work than we remembered. Next year we’ll go home and let mom cook the turkey.