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My Blog

Cooking my First Thanksgiving Turkey

Well, good morning to everyone.  Sun is shining, but brr...it is cold outside!  It is so very different than last year.  Seems like the Farmers Almanac is on target for the weather predictions this year. 
Well, today's blog is about my attempt at making my first Thanksgiving Turkey.  I has newly married and was having my first Thanksgiving Dinner.  I was 20 years old at the time and not a whole lot of experience in the kitchen with making a turkey.  I had made many things growing up, but not a turkey.  I wanted the turkey to be just like my grandmothers.  The stuffing needed to be the same...it was my favorite.  I never realized how many types of recipes there were for making stuffing!  My grandmother had always put meat in hers and so I made sure I got her recipe for that.  I know I set the alarm at like 3 AM so that I could get up to be able to have everything done.  I am not sure why cooking seemed like such an ordeal in the beginning...or why in the world I got up at that ungodly hour of the morning...I suppose we all learn the hard way!  Any way, I was set for the day.  I would have the most beautiful Thanksgiving dinner with my family.  I was sure to walk out of the kitchen into the dining room carrying the perfectly browned, juicy turkey on a tray. Well, that is not quite the way that happened. 
Upon waking, I prepared the stuffing and stuffed the bird.  I placed that 25 pound glistening bird into the large black enamel pan and placed it into the oven.  No where on the directions of how to make a turkey did I read anything about covering it.  I calculated the number of hours that it needed to be baked and made sure to continually baste it.  After the first 2 hours....it seemed to be getting quite dark....I wasn't quite sure that it should be so dark so soon...there were a number of hours left for it to be cooked.  After the first 3 hours, I covered it with some foil...although it was too late in the game.  When the turkey had finally made it's way out of the oven, I realized that my Norman Rockwell picture of Thanksgiving dinner was not going to happen, I carved the turkey and placed it on the serving dish.  I was devastated...it was the driest turkey ever.  There was no quick fix to that one.  I had to just suck it up and be grateful that all the other sides were delicious.  I learned a valuable lesson from that first Thanksgiving. As years went on, I became quite proficient as cooking a delicious, juicy turkey that my family stands in line for as I carve for tastings.  Turkeys and I have a history of stories...from the time I made 2 large turkeys for a New Years Eve party and a snowstorm hit and no one came...I had 50 or so pounds of turkey that night!  To remembering a Thanksgiving turkey at my Aunts house...it was her first Thanksgiving dinner and first turkey as well. She didn't have a charcoaled turkey, but instead, she didn't know to take out the bag of livers and such out of the backside of the turkey and cooked it all together.  I guess it is the hazards of being new at the art of cooking a turkey.  The good news is...we all learn from our mistakes.  My husband still insists that the first turkey I made was delicious...bless his heart!  Although he had never had a turkey before then...so I am not quite sure he would be the best judge on the topic.
I no longer need to set alarms to get up and make a turkey.  I have the procedure down after 39 years of probably cooking over 150 turkeys.  I have seen every sort of recipe known to man on different ways and even positions to prepare and cook one.  I have my own secrets to a juicy turkey now, and everyone I know looks forward to gobbling them up! 

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