November 28, 2002

The Nightmare Before Christmas Known as Thanksgiving.

So as I noted in an earlier post, this Thanksgiving marked my first attempt at roasting a turkey. Now...the report of said attempt.

The Huffer's Turkey Grade--D

I planned on waking up early on Thanksgiving in order to get the turkey out of the oven mid-afternoon. Early for me is something around 10am. I woke up around 11am. I just can't get up earlier than that on the weekends these days. So what if the turkey is pushed back a bit, I thought...no big whoop.

The apartment was empty when I woke up because the Field Mouse and her sister had gone off to the Thanksgiving Day Parade in midtown. Our home was a mess.

A deflated inflata-bed was spread out on the kitchen floor. The dining room table (aka IKEA coffee table) was littered with empty Coke cans and seltzer bottles and tiled with torn pages of perfume ads removed from the newest issues of Vogue and Marie Claire. Particles of dirt from the hardwood floor stuck to my feet. The sink was stacked with dirty dishes and used silverware. The expansive 14 in. X 16 in. of counterspace was taken up by an array of dishes stuck in purgatory. Is this mug clean? Or is it actually dirty and stuck on the sidelines waiting for a space in the sink? A brown creeping film covered two-thirds of the stove top...a reminder of some meal involving a wok filled with too much oil and too much soy-ginger marinade.

Gross. I'm cooking in this mess? So I started to clean everything up in an attempt to at least make the process appetizing. You can't cook jackshit if you're grossed out by your surroundings. I kind of felt like a whore in the confessional. Why bother getting clean if you're just going to go right out and get dirty again? Peace of mind, I guess.

I took the turkey out of the refrigerator and was shocked at its size. It was only a ten pound turkey but it looked huge. I put it on top of the stove and let it sit for an hour and fifteen minutes...as demanded by my recipe. I'm a stickler for directions when I feel lost. Once on the way to Vermont for a weekend I took a left when all reason told me that we should take a right. Right was East. Vermont was East. Why'd I go left? My Yahoo! Map told me to go left. We figured out at a gas station in Poughkeepsie that we had circled back for forty-five minutes in a southwesterly fashion into New York state. Our drive time increased by almost two hours.

So if you put it down on a piece of paper in a numbered format, I'll follow it. Makes no difference if it don't make no sense. I mean, I've got it on paper right here...once that happens, it might as well be the Magna Carta to me.

After the turkey was done resting, I called my mom for a last minute strategy session. I needed a bit of a pat on the ass before I took the field. My mom, the chef extraordinaire, informed me that she had probably only done two or three turkeys in her life.

WHAT?!?!

Your grandfather always did them... she tells me.

Great. There goes my expected deadly tag team phone partner. My mom warns me to make sure to take all the insides of the turkey before putting it in the oven. Also to remember to take the thermometer out of the turkey before you put it back in.

Otherwise, it'll melt and everything will be ruined.

Okay...no thermometer...no melted plastic film. Got it.

So I put my hand up the turkey cavity and start pulling stuff out. I expected this really bloody mess. I expected Gettysburg. I got Grenada. Not a big deal...couple of body parts...everything seems cool. Good. Everything's going to plan. Excellent.

I started washed the turkey inside out with some water, some salt and lemon. Oh yes, I gave it a real nice douche.

Now it was time for spice. A little bit of marjoram, a little bit of thyme, and don't forget the sage. These three spices plus a rogue bay leaf would "add distinctive flavor" to my tasty bird. Well, according to this recipe it would. (Looking back, the picture of the finished turkey in the recipe is downright food porn...the breasts are probably fake and everything's airbrushed.)

I'm starting to wonder where Field Mouse and her sister are. Am I going to truss this turkey? I don't have twine. Hmmm...maybe I can get some. I called Field Mouse on the cellie and requested some twine. She soon arrived fresh from the East Village food extravaganza known as Key Foods, with some twine. It looked like it could tie up a lot of stuff...like...bundles of twigs and the occasional kidnap victim. But not turkey. Would it burn? It's not white, it's brown...what the fuck is jute? Ahhh...shit. What to do. My thoughts filled with the answer...

Bass in your face...not an eight track...

When in doubt, hit up Public Enemy...that's right...Can't Truss It.

I salt and peppered the bird. I rubbed softened butter all over its breasts. Then came the money shot. Thyme, marjoram and sage...put a bunch all up in it...then sprinkled a bunch all over the breasts. This bird was covered in spices...covered in herb. I was assured of some "distinctive flavor." The recipe called for some cheesecloth to be draped over the turkey breasts. (Why do they call it cheesecloth? I mean it's not made out of cheese!?!? What is the deal??) I complied. I put a shirt on the bird. Then I stuck it in the oven.

Ante up, mfer.

Fast forward a half hour...a little basting...everything good. Fast forward another half hour...and another...and another...and another...and another.

Fast forward FOUR AND A HALF FUCKING HOURS.

I'm still basting...I'm still waiting for the stupid-ass bird to hit 165 degrees in the breast. What is wrong? I don't understand? How can it take four and a half hours when the recipe said a 16 pound turkey would only take three and a half? This shitter's rolling ten pounds! If you've got less meat to stick in there it should take less time to finish right? Or is this all just a fallacy? An untruth? A rumor to make the bigger turkeys feel better?

I've had it...I jack up the heat from 325 to 425. It's difficult to roast a turkey without the roast!!! 325 ain't roastin' shit.

At five hours I call it quits. The bird's probably at 160-something. I know it should be at least 165. I can't stand it. I want to toss the whole thing out the window. What kind of freak roasts a 10 pound turkey for five hours. The Taliban are probably eating their turkey right now...probably roasted it in four and a half hours using only a butane lighter and a garbage can. Fucking hell. How embarrassing. I've eaten all the mashed potatoes already. The Field Mouse made some special rolls that weren't so special since they sat out in the open rising up and getting all crusty. I started a chain reaction of fucked up Thanksgiving treats.

After waiting the requisite twenty to thirty minutes before carving (yes...at this point the equivalent of putting lipstick on the dog), I started in. I wasn't getting anywhere. We had a dull carving knife. We never had any expectations of making anything more than the occasional burger or chicken breast. We weren't equipped for this kind of task. I ended up switching over to something resembling a paring knife. It was sharper...smaller, of course, but at least I could make some progress.

I kept running into bone. No...way...around...the...bone. Damn. So I just started to tug...rip it's damn arms off. Rip it's damn legs off. Mayhem. Utter mayhem.

Once I got to carving the breast, I spied a whole bunch of pink meat. Five hours in the oven...and it's still underdone. Oh I get it...maybe the inside of my oven runs in Greenwich Mean Time. The instant I put it in there it, two hours have already passed without anything occurring!! Of course!!!

I don't want any fucking turkey. I don't want to carve anymore. I don't want to even look at it. I've wasted an entire day. I've spent a week preparing...worrying...

I should have just dumped the damn thing on the floor.

November 27, 2002

Omigod...Is That Tim McGraw!?!?!?

A day of work grinds me down. I guess it's more like half a day's work. After being at work for a couple of hours in the morning I generally feel like ripping some hairs out. So I usually try to go out for a walk outside in order to steady myself. A lot of times I end up at a bookstore. The past few times I've done these walks I've ended up at the Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue in Midtown. It's a pretty big bookstore compared to others around my work. Posman Books in Grand Central is pretty good...but I think they're catching on that I'm a looker not a buyer.

So anyway, I'm looking around...actually for a specific thing that I'm not looking at buying...just want to look at it. It's the book Up In The Air by Walter Kirn. It's about some guy who wants to attain one million frequent flier miles. It's supposed to be like White Noise...but I hated White Noise...so maybe I shouldn't be looking at it.

But it's just so intriguing.

Anyway, it's a bit louder than normal in B&N today. There's a whole gaggle of frosted blondes with hairsprayed bangs exclaiming loudly all over the place.

Is there a sale for Jersey residents going on today?

As I turn the corner of one stack, I notice that I'm not allowed to enter the section for fiction written by authors with last names starting with the letters M to Z. The sections are empty and guarded by velvet ropes.

Book signing. Gotta be a book signing. How do I know this? The other day I spied a very sparse line of people waiting to get their book signed by Gene Shalit. Let me tell you...Shalit is just as bizarro looking in real life as he appears on television. I saw a couple of people who didn't seem frightened enough who approached him for his signature on another entirely useless addition to the world of books.

So I crane my neck to see who's here. And it's Tim McGraw, country singer extraordinaire...or as I know him....Faith Hill's husband. Faith Hill's husband is signing books at the 5th Avenue B&N.

Why can't Faith Hill be here? I'd wait for Faith Hill. I'd avoid authors with last names starting with the letter M to Z for Faith Hill. For Tim McGraw...I'm kind of annoyed.

Tim McGraw has apparently ended his autograph session to the chagrin of some of his admirers. I do spy a couple of C&W guys who gleefully said to each other:
Did you see that? He smiled at me!!!

I think these C&W guys were gay.

I saw some ladies panting and shrieking and talking about how he looked at her or used her name or this or that.

There were black guys, black girls, asian guys, asian girls, white guys, white girls, hicks, city slickers...man...Tim McGraw holds some unexpected sway in NYC.

November 26, 2002

Snow on Eve of Thanksgiving Eve

Field Mouse and I went to Whole Foods in Chelsea tonight to get some final rations for the Thanksgiving feast. Like always, it was packed. A friend of mine, in an attempt to push my buttons, once repeatedly tried to peg me as a yuppie and asked whether I shopped at Whole Foods. At the time I didn't...so that enabled me to go tell her to fuck herself.

And now I do. I hate that. The problem is that I like meat. I like poultry. I like to eat dead animals. I admit it. If I didn't do this, I would most likely starve. So like a bunch of other people I read the book Fast Food Nation. The book details how a good percentage of the nation's meat processing plants are unbelievably disgusting. Cows and chickens are fed pieces of other animals. There's shit in the meat. Hell, unbelievably low paid Fernando Chavez and Angel Ruiz could be in the meat. So I know that I needed to make a change...make that change. (I'm startin' with the man in the mirror!! I'm asking him to make a change!!)

Unlike some bedwetters, I didn't go out and go vegan or anything like that.

I mean, don't hate the player, hate the game. The animals are still there to be eaten, they're just being prepared (killed) wrong. So let's get it on...safe. Let's have some safe animal eating.

So I thought my way around this quandary would be to only buy organic meat. So now I go to Whole Foods to get my meat products. Surprisingly, it isn't much more expensive than non-organic shit-filled meat. This must have something to do with favorable economies of scale enjoyed by Whole Foods. I always remembered organic stuff being outrageously expensive otherwise. I hated the fact that it only seemed to be for rich people. For the most part, organic food is still prohibitively expensive. I don't think it's that bad for meat though...which is all I really care about.

Pile on all the preservatives you can stick in the bread products. That's a-ok.

November 25, 2002

Electric Boogaloo

Check out this video of some kids getting down and fresh. The kid in the orange shirt would probably win a battle with Turbo.

The Turkey Episode

So Thanksgiving Day is coming up in a few days. On that day, I will make my first attempt at roasting a turkey. I'm a bit intimidated by the entire process. I never knew (okay, I had some suspicions) how intense the process was. Basically I don't know what I'm doing.

I don't trust my trussing ability.

I found out that we needed a rack, a fat separator, a baster, an instant-read thermometer, the list goes on...Maybe I've fallen victim to a bit of Thanksgiving scare provided by Williams-Sonoma. I'm trying to have that perfect New England Thanksgiving experience in a small New York City apartment with no kitchen counter space and no dining room (or a table for that matter) on the Lower East Side. I want perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes, a nice browned turkey with crispy skin and a moist inside. Instead it will probably turn out just okay...the mashed potatoes will be lumpy, I won't have even close to the appropriate knife to carve the turkey...I'll probably even have trouble with the thermometer. My expectations of my abilities are generally too high when engaging in activities in which I have no experience.

I will be glaring at others on that day, ushering them out of my kitchen (which is of course, connected to the living room, so the ushering will really be worthless), and swearing up and down for hours. Perhaps this is why my mother doesn't do the big Thanksgiving any more.

I think that I'm going to try to use this recipe here. I'm a big fan of herbs and spices so I'd prefer that at least if the turkey is extremely dry or otherwise inedible, that it will be an herb roasted inedible turkey.

I'm sure that after all is said and done and I produce the unexpected perfectly roasted turkey out of the oven...

I will drop it on the floor.