Talking Turkey for a Turkey

The Winners are:
Mom’s Sanity
Getting Freedom
Leslie (Bug filled Thanksgiving)

Fifteen years ago I made my first Thanksgiving Dinner. Those of you who have read Our Story, know my cooking left a little something to be desired. When I was first married I was not a cook. My husband and I lived on a diet of tuna helper, hot dogs, and fettucini alfredo. Our first Thanksgiving I was determined to impress him and decided to cook a full dinner for the two of us. Not only did I want to impress my husband, but I wanted to impress his command. I volunteered to make 20 pounds of mashed potatoes for the sailors and soldiers who had to work that Thanksgiving.

I woke up early and started my meal. I peeled all those potatoes and cooked them. I am pretty sure I clogged the disposal with peels, but I can’t quite remember. After all the potatoes were cooked, I started the mashing part. I had a small hand-held mixer and plunged it into my gigantic bowl of cooked potatoes…and potatoes started flying everywhere! In my complete shock, it took me a few seconds to turn off the mixer, so by the time I had turned it off, my kitchen was covered in mashed potatoes.

After what seemed like hours of cleaning, I was finally able to finish the potatoes and send them with my husband to work. While he was working I began to prepare our own Thanksgiving dinner. I worked very hard all day to make this a perfect meal. When he arrived home from work after 7pm, we sat down to my beautiful meal, complete with my very first turkey.

Everything was going well until we both bit into the turkey and looked at each other. The turkey was uncooked! It was chewy and almost raw. It was all I could do to keep from throwing up. I didn’t understand why the turkey was so underdone. I checked, and the oven was indeed turned on. The turkey had been cooking for over 10 hours, and it wasn’t a big turkey. We put the turkey back in the oven, but both of us were so grossed out, neither of us wanted to try it again. So we just threw it out and enjoyed the other dishes I had prepared.

A few weeks later I made an interesting discovery. My oven was broken! It would only heat to about 200 degrees. Since I rarely used my oven I hadn’t noticed this problem. The few times I had used it, I just thought things took a really long time to cook!

After my first Thanksgiving failure, I spent the next few years avoiding turkeys altogether. We had pizza one year, lasagna another. It took me seven years until I felt confident enough to make another turkey. That turkey was a resounding success, and I have been making them ever since. I’ll share my secret to perfect turkeys in another post.

Our last Thanksgiving was probably our most memorable. I am thankful my friend captured the event in her blog post last year.

Time to share your turkey tale for a chance to win a Butterball turkey. To enter to win link up with your favorite Thanksgiving adventure. If your Thanksgivings are uneventful, you can post a link to your favorite Thanksgiving recipe or any traditions your family incorporates into the holiday. Feel free to link up an old post, just make sure you link back to this post. If you don’t have a blog you can leave an entry in the comments or email me if it is really long (sometimes my spam filter dislikes long comments).

I will pick 4 random winners on November 12, 2009.

Turkeys provided by Butterball.


  1. My most memorable Thanksgiving was the year my second child, my son, was born.

    Almost two years earlier I had a very unexpected and unwanted cesarean with my first child. For the birth of my son, my husband and I planned a homebirth and hired a homebirth midwife to attend the birth.

    A week past my due date my labor finally began. But…it wouldn’t end! I just kept puttering along. Finally I reached 7cm and then just got stuck in a “holding pattern” of sorts.

    Our midwife tried all she knew how to do, but nothing was getting my little guy OUT! He was fine, and I was fine, but finally, after 35 hours of labor, she suggested that we might need to throw in the towel and head to the hospital.

    I was absolutely devastated. I cried all the way to the hosptial. I knew they couldn’t do anything more for me there than the midwife had done. I couldn’t have pitocin because of the increased risk of uterine rupture. What else was left than to section me?

    The Lord had mercy on me though. By the time we got to the hospital, got prepped for the section and was checked for dilation, I was 9cm! The doctor said, “we can go ahead with the cesarean or you can try to push him out”. Well, obviously, I wanted to push him out!!

    So, at 11:27 p.m. the evening before Thanksgiving I pushed my son into the world. I didn’t have a fancy Thanksgivng the next day. The hospital served turkey with all the trimmings and it was okay, but I held in my arms that morning the greatest Thanksgiving blessing of my life.

  2. My Thanksgivings have always been fairly uneventful –with the exception of the time my little brother wandered into the kitchen and cranked the oven up to 500 degrees and incinerated the ham– but I’ll share my favorite Thanksgiving recipe here. (Sorry, I can’t figure out the MckLinky.) It’s a new one that I just discovered on a blog, but I’ve already tried it and I know it’s going to be a staple. Chocolate and Pecan Dixie Pie:

  3. My Thanksgiving fiasco wasn’t even my fault. The first year I did Thanksgiving for my family we ate about 30 minutes later than I had anticipated because the turkey took longer than I realized. 30 minutes isn’t that big of a deal except that my mom went on and on about how you always eat at 12noon for Thanksgiving and making all these comments about my meal being late. So on my next turn at Thanksgiving all I could think about was eating at straight up noon so I spent way too much from a gourmet supermarket and bought a fully cooked turkey. I was supposed to only have to heat it up–except that when we went to carve the turkey at noon–it was RAW. The outside looked cooked but inside not at all. Thankfully my mother-in-law brought a ham so we had that with our meal. Since then, I bake my turkey and if it’s not straight up noon–too bad. 🙂

  4. We only had one Thanksgiving disaster that really stands out in my memory. This was the first Thanksgiving I spent with my inlaws. Somehow, it was decided that my husband and I would provide the turkey, gravy, dressing and mashed potatoes while everyone else brought sides. This was really fun considering I was pregnant with our now 12 year old and suffering all day sickness. The smell of that turkey was horrible. LOL Well, we made the turkey and other things and took them to his mother’s house. Everything looked great. When everyone was served, father in law took a bite and started to choke. Hubby did the Heimlich and a huge junk of turkey came flying out and landed on my plate! This was more than my queasy tummy could handle and I added to the plate myself. I couldnt look at turkey for a couple of years after that.

  5. My favorite Thanksgiving memory is simply the traditional playing of 500 Rummy after eating way to many plates of food. Just sitting around the table with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, immediate family and the pets is enough to make me feel all warm and cuddly inside.

  6. My most memorable Thanksgiving is the year my mother-in-law was driving up to spend it with us and she got in a car accident. We got a call at 2am on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving from her boyfriend telling us she was in an accident. He was talking on the phone with her and she suddenly starting screaming and the phone went dead. He had called the police and they were trying to find her. An hour later he called back to tell us she was in the hospital about 5 1/2 hours from us. We quickly bundled our two little ones up and headed out the door. When we arrived at the hospital we found her with lots of bumps and bruised and a sprained ankle. Her van was totaled.
    By the time we arrived back home it was late in the afternoon. I started to prepare our Thanksgiving dinner while caring for my mother-in-law and two children. My husband was at the library studying for an exam or writing a paper. On Thanksgiving the meal was good but not what I had hoped. On Friday, when my husband was at work I did all of my mother-in-laws Christmas shopping and some of my own. I took my 2 year old son with me and my 4 year old daughter stayed with my MIL camped out on the couch with her sprained ankle. By Saturday, my MIL was feeling much worse so with my two kiddos in tow (hubby was working – he somehow manages to work when everything crazy goes on). I took her to the ER to be checked out. After several hours of waiting she was seen and I took the kids to McD’s to eat and run around a bit. About an hour later she called to let me know she was ready. She was having trouble breathing because of the altitude (he live in a suburb of Denver) and some of her injuries putting more pressure on her lungs. She spent the rest of her visit on my couch.
    It was a Thanksgiving I will never forget. One benefit of it all is that my MIL and I became better friends in the end rather than worse enemies (we did not always get along so well and we still have our moments). I have very thankful.

  7. My most memorable Thanksgiving was cooked in my first apartment. I was a 19 year college sophomore. My mother had just had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor two days prior. She was under strict instructions not to lift and certainly not to spend all that time cooking. After my classes Wednesday, I drove the hour to her house. To my shock, her oven was broken. I filled my car with all of the items that needed to be baked, including the turkey, and drove back to my little walk-up apartment.

    My best friend took pity on me and came to assist. Unfortunately, her cooking skills were even worse than mine. We cooked until nearly midnight. Just before leaving to make the drive back, she went to use my restroom. The “doesn’t fit quite right” lid to my toliet tank suddenly crashed and the entire bathroom flooded. No one could make such a repair at midnight on Thanksgiving. We mercifully got the water turned off and sopped up the considerable amount of water from my flooring.

    When I carved the reheated turkey the next day, we discovered the center was still raw. It was the most disasterous meal in my family’s history, but we got to spend it together! Thankfully, my mother has fully recovered and my cooking has also improved over the years. 🙂

  8. Selene M. says:

    My turkey tale actually involved the Thanksgiving dessert. One year, my pecan pie boiled over (remember to put a cookie sheet under it) onto the hot oven element which resulted in flames. I sized up the situation quickly, and the pie seemed okay, but since the oven was a mess, I had to finish the pie in the microwave. The pie looked a little different but it tasted great!

  9. I don’t have a wonderful Thanksgiving tale to share but I am grateful for the Thanksgiving Blessing that will be arriving at the airport on Thanksgiving day this year. My husband and new 15 year old son will be arriving back in America following his adoption on the 24th. WhooHoo!!!! it has been an awesome journey.

  10. One year we decided to eat out for Thanksgiving. It was different but we enjoyed ourselves. The people at the restaurant were dressed in pilgrim attire. It doesn’t matter where you eat, it’s who you spend it with and share in the blessings of the bounty that God so richly bestows on us every day.

  11. Our family has never been super big, but we’d gather at my grandparents and I was always at the folding table…regardless of my age!
    My grandmother died the year of my 22nd birthday, so I felt determined to make sure the family all got together, for my grandpa’s sake. No one was a big cook, but I definitely was determined to make it happen.

    I shopped and cooked, pulled out grandma’s dressing recipe (super yummy!) and made my grandpa’s favorite Banana Pudding. I invited a guy I had begun dating to eat with my family and I was definitely trying to impress him! Well, we get to my grandpa’s..he’s getting on up in age..and I notice a huge paper sack of pecans in the dining room. They had been cracked and were waiting to be shelled. Well, since it was a HUGE sack, I decided to move them into the kitchen..when I did, little tiny flying bugs went EVERYWHERE!! They went all over the dining room, onto the table, everywhere! I scurried around trying to get them all and was absolutely frantic.

    We all sat down to eat, were enjoying our dinner (success!) when my new beau got up to get some more iced tea. He squeezed behind the dining room chairs, brushed the curtains and OH MY a mass of flying bugs came out of the curtains and flew all over the room. In hindsight, it was hysterical..there’s my grandpa completely oblivious…and me, turning red from my bug infested first ever Thanksgiving meal.

  12. I don’t really have anything special to contribute by way of fiasco or recipe. The most memorable Thanksgiving I have ever had was 2 years ago. My father in law had just died a couple weeks before Thanksgiving in 2007 so it was just a sad time for the family. It is especially hard when you think of the year before, when everyone was all around the supper table. That experience (as well as some others I have had since then) has really showed me to be grateful for every year the Lord gives us to share Thanksgiving or Christmas or even every day of having my children all around me. Time goes by so fast and we are not promised tomorrow. It does give a different perspective.

  13. Our most eventful Thanksgiving was one of the first years the in-laws came for Thanksgiving. We brined the turkey the night before using one of the brine bags and sticking it in the vegetable drawer in our refrigerator.

    When his mother pulled it out of the vegetable drawer, the bag ripped and we had brine all over our refrigerator and all over the kitchen.

    It was hilarious! We cleaned the kitchen and kept making the turkey, and it turned out delicious. We continue to brine the turkey to this day and have only had minor mishaps with the bags ripping since then…

  14. This cracked me up! I don’t have such a funny story to share.

  15. I dont have quite a funny story to share either; and although I have 4 kids of my own, I havent had to cook for Thanksgiving yet, b/c either my mother or mother in law cooks. I try to help by baking dessert or trying a new recipe for fresh rolls. I think one of our favorite recipes for salad is here and is always a request (as it is this year!):

    It is great as is, dont change a thing! Thanks!

  16. Memories! I think every year the turkey is never done when you want it to be done.. it’s either way to early or not in time… Never has it happen at the RIGHT time!

    One of the recipes that my MIL makes is a pumpkin pie to feed a crowd! Enjoy!

    Pastry for double 9″ crust
    4 eggs
    3 1/4 C (29 oz can) pumpkin
    1 1/2 C granulated sugar
    1 t Salt
    2 t Cinnamon
    1 t Ginger
    1/2 t Cloves
    3 C (2 12oz cans) Evaporated milk

    Lay pastry in 13x9x2 pan,overlapping at the center.
    Trim and fill holes. Trim to edge of pan. Mix ingredients and pour into shell. Bake 425 for 15 min. Reduce heat to 35 and bake an additional 50-60 mins until knife inserted in center comes out clean.


  17. i have been married for 6 years as of yesterday and have two kids but i have yet to make thanksgiving dinner. i would love to win a turkey and try 🙂

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