Jo Anne Milburn – Thanksgiving Disasters

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Cooking is not one of the things I think I do best, but through the years I have managed to put on some acceptable dinner parties, and some friends have even told me they consider me a good cook.  There have been some exceptions, however.

 

 

Some of these exceptions have involved Thanksgiving dinners.  One Thanksgiving I planned a big gathering which included our daughter, two sons home from college, a friend of theirs, the family next door and their three young people, and a colleague of my husband’s.  There were 12 in all.  While I worked on the dinner, the group was outside playing touch football, just like the Kennedys.  The turkey was in the oven browning nicely, the meat thermometer registered almost done, so I put the other things on to cook.  When I thought it was time, I lifted the turkey out and discovered that it was still uncooked underneath.  Evidently the bottom elements on the electric oven were out.  I was totally dismayed. 

 

By that time the football players had come in and were provided with drinks.  All I could think of to do was to turn the turkey over and pour more drinks.  Somehow I managed to keep other things warm, and a few drinks later dinner was on the table.  It wasn’t the greatest Thankgiving dinner, but  at least the adult guests couldn’t care less.  The only real mishap was that my husband’s colleague had gotten kicked in the shins during the football activity and was feeling extremely put upon.  Fortunately he did not sue.

 

 

Undaunted by that near disaster, a year or two later I planned another Thanksgiving dinner with a number of guests, making sure the oven was working.  Three days before Thanksgiving I bought a frozen turkey and put it  to thaw in the extra refrigerator we had in the basement.  Thanksgiving morning I rose early and went to the basement to get the turkey so I could stuff it and get it ready to roast.  When I opened the refrigerator door the turkey was not there.  I started looking around frantically, and I spotted the turkey some distance away on the basement floor.  It had definitely thawed out.  I calmed down enough to figure out what must have happened.

 Two days before, my cleaning lady had come to render the house in good shape for the Thanksgiving guests.  She had apparently taken it upon herself to defrost the basement refrigerator, taken the turkey out, and forgotten to put it back,  It had sat on the basement floor for two days.   After discarding the possibility that it might still be edible, I decided I had to try to find another turkey rather than take a chance on giving the guests food poisoning.  Yellow Pages in hand, I started calling poultry dealers.  None of them was open on Thanksgiving.  I finally gave up on answering machines and began thinking of other sources of turkeys.  I remembered a twenty-four-hour supermarket not far away, and yes, they did have fresh turkeys, lots of them.  So another near-disaster was averted, but I lost my enthusiasm for cooking Thanksgiving dinners.

There was one more incident which put the cap on any desire I might have had to entertain at Thanksgiving.  Shortly after we moved to Los Osos, I invited my brother and his family, which included my niece and her family, to come up from Ojai for Thanksgiving dinner.  They all brought things to contribute, and I said I would provide the turkey.  This time, however, I determined to get one already cooked, and all I would have to do is warm it up. 

 At that time, about ten years ago, there was a wine and cheese shop on Garden Street in San Luis Obispo which also had gourmet deli foods.  They advertised smoked turkeys prepared for Thanksgiving.  I ordered one, picked it up a day before, and kept it in the refrigerator.  When everyone arrived, I put it in the oven to heat up.  It looked very good on the outside, crusty and golden, but – you guessed it – when it was cut into, it was not done, only partially cooked.  Back into the oven, drinks all around, and dinner was a little late.  I complained to the shop owners and got my  money back.  I have not cooked a Thanksgiving turkey since or tried to entertain at Thanksgiving, and I never intend to again.

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2 Comments on “Jo Anne Milburn – Thanksgiving Disasters”

  1. Josette Says:

    I enjoyed reading you! and sympathise having had some almost disasters a few times myself…
    I hope tomorrow’s turkey come out great!

  2. Grace Says:

    Loved your story – could relate having had disaster of my own. But I’d like to come to your house – more drinks all around – what a good idea to brighten the guests holiday spirits!!


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