I LOVE THANKSGIVING. It’s always been my favorite holiday and I’ve never been entirely sure why.
Maybe I love it because the house is usually at least part-way decorated with sparkling holiday lights.
Maybe it’s because the foods served — roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, etc. — are all delicious.
Maybe it’s because my parents’ house was always extra clean for Thanksgiving.
Maybe I love the holiday because, in theory, people are supposed to be kind to each other and reflect back on the year. They’re supposed to remember everything they’re thankful for.
Or maybe I just love the holiday because it promotes what Americans seem to do best — gorge themselves on delicious foods while watching TV.
Who knows? I doubt it really matters.
What does matter is that, even if the holiday itself doesn’t mean all that much to you, it’s a great time to be with friends, family or even complete strangers in need of surrogate family.
The days have officially begun getting shorter. The colder weather is setting in. The darkness of winter is closing in on us.
Who wants to be alone right now?
I doubt many, if any, people truly do.
Although Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, I’ve only made the meal twice.
The first time was in November 2016. I had to work and couldn’t be with extended family. My sister and I worked together to cook a turkey along with some mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits and corn.
Funny story about that turkey, though.
We waited until the Friday before Thanksgiving to buy the turkey because that’s when we could afford it. Knowing that most people put the bird in their freezer after purchase, that’s what we did.
Then we forgot about it until Tuesday night when it occurred to us that it needed to defrost before we could cook it.
By Thursday morning, it was still part-way frozen.
No big deal, it was only a 6-pound young turkey and we didn’t have a specific time in mind to eat dinner.
I think it might have been fully cooked 12 hours after it was put in the oven. It tasted alright, though.
Last Thanksgiving, I was determined to do better.
I had the entire week off from work.
I had some extra money to burn.
And I had a plan. I was going to cook Martha Stewart’s herb-roasted turkey.
This was an admittedly lofty goal for a young cook who hadn’t really helped all that much with the turkey the year before, but I’m unusually stubborn for someone my size.
I found Stewart’s recipe online and it called for a 12-pound turkey. Determined to follow the recipe to a T, I went to the store and found the only 12-pound turkey I could find the Friday before Thanksgiving (yes, we waited again).
It was kosher (a fact I noticed later) and it cost about $5 per pound (a fact I thought was the norm until I noticed other turkeys in the $1 to $2 per pound range).
No matter, I had already picked it up and it was cold and heavy. No way was I opening that store fridge and digging through more cold, heavy turkeys again.
This was my bird.
Stewart’s recipe is written in a clear, matter-of-fact way. It was quite easy to follow, in fact.
The only problem was when it got icky. Before cooking the turkey, you must pull the skin away from the breasts and legs in order to spread an herb mixture under the skin. Ew.
My sister has always been my PIC — partner in crime — and she didn’t fail me. Being the trooper that she is, she pulled back the skin so I could spread the mixture.
We were both totally grossed out, but in the end, it was worth it.
That $70 turkey was definitely the best turkey I’ve ever eaten. And my guests thought so, too.
Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News. She is also a beginning baker and clumsy cook. She can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 560-50 or [email protected] dailynews.com.