Before we get started: You know, when I chose to name this blog, it actually occurred to me that I don’t know whether turkeys can fly or not! So I googled it (no I didn’t, let’s be real, I asked Alexa because I’m lazy) and it turns out, turkeys CAN fly! Which kind of messes up my title, but I’m keeping it anyway. Because only once in my life have I actually seen a turkey fly. Which (spoiler alert) brings us to the following true story.
Well friends, today is June 25th, which means only one thing: (well, two things. One, yesterday was my birthday, and two) we’re halfway back to Christmas! I love having my birthday exactly 6 months before Christmas, cause I get to look forward to one as soon as the other has passed. So, since I don’t have much in the way of culinary disasters to write about at present, let’s take a little trip back to the ghost of a Christmas dinner past.
Picture it. Albuquerque, 2018.
Danny and I have flown west to spend Christmas with my parents. It was kind of a last minute decision, but I’m very glad we decided to go, because it ended up being my sweet Grandma’s last Christmas on earth and I’m so happy that I got to spend it with her (and no, we never did tell her about the disaster that’s about to ensue). It’s delightfully cold and rainy (the rain would turn to snow the following day, closest thing I’ve had to white Christmas in quite some time!) the presents have all been opened, and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas dinner.
Now, being the younger of two sisters, I’ve had this trick that I’ve always stuck to for holiday meals, and year after year, it’s worked like a charm! My mom is the veteran cook, of course, and my sister is an excellent cook with a take charge attitude. So naturally, as the second born and also having zero culinary skills to speak of, I always feel a little useless in the kitchen when we all three cook together. So, for the past several years, my MO is to flutter around the kitchen and look flustered, tapping my finger to my chin, looking very deep in thought, while helping out a tiny bit here and there. It goes something like this:
Step one- Volunteer to start the mashed potatoes
Step two- Peel potatoes
Step three- Step back and look flustered
Step four- Pause for a sec and have a sip of wine
Step five- Return to the potatoes to find that mom/sister has taken over
Repeat with various other dishes
And y’all, it works every time.
But alas, my sister and her crew are not visiting, so I realize that my usual tactics are not going to work this year. So I decide, resolutely, that I’m going to take the lead on making this Christmas dinner.
As much as my surprise as yours, everything comes together pretty smoothly! That’s the thing about these holiday meals, nothing is particularly complicated, it’s more just a matter of timing and juggling all the sides. But we were 90% done, and everything was looking great. I’ll admit, I had been a little worried about the turkey- we forgot to buy an aluminum roasting pan and had to cook the turkey in a large glass pyrex dish, but it had become perfectly golden brown. The rolls were done and the pies were prepped and the potatoes were mashed, we even had fresh chocolate chip cookies cooling and I was feeling very proud of how it was all coming together. I pull the turkey out of the oven and set it toward the front of the glass flattop stove, popped the green bean casserole and sweet potatoes into the oven, and turn on the back burner under a pot of water for the instant stuffing- the final side item to our nearly completed Christmas dinner.
At least, I thought I turned on the back burner.
Mom says she’s going to start to carve the turkey, and reaches for a knife while I turn to start some pans soaking in the sink. That’s when it happened. That’s when the turkey exploded.
Oh, no, you read that right. THE TURKEY EXPLODED!!
Now, we know there is a God, because at the moment, no one was standing in front of the stove. But all at once there was a loud, heart stopping CRASH as the turkey FLEW a foot into the air and large chunks of glass flew everywhere (you can’t make this stuff up). My immediate reaction was to check on my mom, who was about to carve the turkey, but thankfully had not yet approached the stove. She was fine. I was fine. Everyone was fine. But dinner….dinner was not fine.
You see reader, I had not, in fact, turned on the back burner. I had turned on the front burner. The burner over which the glass pyrex pan holding a hot turkey sat. It grew hotter and hotter until the pyrex shattered. Glass shards impaling the turkey. Glass in the mashed potatoes. Glass in the stuffing.
Once I wrapped my head around what had happened, after settling down from the shock of the explosion and the relief that no one was hurt, I literally started to weep. By now of course, my dad and husband had come running, and my husband held me sweetly and promised that he was just glad I was safe and that no one cared that dinner was ruined. But I cared about dinner! This was the first holiday meal I had pulled off!
Well, as my sweet Grandma would say, we can only do what we can do. We dumped the potatoes, stuffing, and cookies, salvaged the legs off of the turkey, and made do with the surviving sides (the ones that were still safe and sound inside the oven, thank goodness). And speaking of grandma, when she rolled in with her walker to join us for dinner, she didn’t even notice anything was amiss, although she did say she would have enjoyed having some mashed potatoes with this meal.
Me too, Grandma. Me too.
Observations for next time:
Let mom and big sister handle the cooking, and just keep hiding behind the wine glass.