02 December 2019

[Bess Tuggle] - A Crowded Kitchen at Thanksgiving & Some Midnight Turkey


Sitting here thinking about Thanksgivings past, it’s occurred to me that the only ones I have a clear memory of involved some type of calamity. Sad, but true. All the others seem to blend together in my mind, but as crazy as some of them were they’re also the ones we laugh about now.

Thanksgiving when I was little was traditionally at my grandmother’s house. After moving to Georgia my mom took over, but it wasn’t until I had little ones of my own that I have any really vivid memories.

The first memory that sticks out was the year I was assigned to cook the turkey. I was SO excited! We had a new turkey fryer and I was itchin’ to try it out. Got the oil hot, put the turkey in, and let it roll. Unfortunately, it was a very -windy- day, too. After my fire was blown out a few times (and yes, I -was- smart enough to turn off the gas and let the fumes dissipate before relighting), I decided to put up a piece of plywood as a windbreak. Problem solved, right? I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. My windbreak turned into a wind-tunnel, the flames burnt the gas hose in two, and I walked out to a spraying wall of flames. Got the fire out without burning the house down, but showed up at my mom’s to a house full of hungry people, four cranky little boys and a half-done turkey. It was a little late, but her oven saved the day.

Not so long ago we had another funny one. My husband and I traveled to Ohio for Thanksgiving (it was also our honeymoon) so that he could see where I grew up. My favorite cousin was the host. You really shouldn’t put us together too often. Following a delicious meal prepared by him and his wonderful wife it was decided we needed to teach my grandmother, at pushing 90 years old, a new word. Yes, we taught her the “F” bomb! No matter how mad she got at me when I was little I don’t remember -ever- hearing her curse. It took a couple tries, but she finally got it right and it’s a tradition to watch the video each year. She’s 94 years young now (95 next month), I’ve never heard her cuss again, but she “felt good” about the one time she did. It was liberating!

This Thanksgiving was no exception to the calamity rule.

My husband and I decided to have a small holiday with a few of the kids (Thing 3 got leave, so he joined us) for a traditional meal. What his children grew up on, with our youngest grandson in tow. We both love to cook. We also don’t cook well together.

Our kitchen has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule. Don’t ask if you remembered to put in.. if you were going to.. did you think about… Don’t tell, either. I’ll cook it my way or no-way, and he’s the same.

As a general rule, this works out fine. It just doesn’t work when we both need the oven.
The turkey took the longest, and also took up the most room in the oven. But – we had my stuffing (my mom’s recipe – wonderful) in the turkey, his dressing (which had to be baked), his gravy, his cheese casserole (which had to be baked and is a food group in its own), my squash casserole (I promised my visiting Marine), baked tomatoes… I’m sure you get the picture.

We ended up eating in “courses.” Each time one thing came out of the oven we ate as another course baked. We didn’t even get around to making mashed potatoes. The turkey was done close to midnight.

It was a good time, good food and will be remembered and laughed about for years. Playing with our grandson brought my truck noises and action hero moves back up to speed. I still GOT it!

We’re getting a second oven before next year.

Hope everyone had a wonderful, and memorable Thanksgiving!


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