Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Day Part Four: the Reckoning


After all of the advice and instruction, I went with... Well, I still don't know for sure. I have roasting bags (in case I go for that) and tinfoil (for tenting, in case I don't) and a baster (which I do or don't need depending on who you ask). I have lemons and onions and rosemary to put in the cavity. I have herbed butter to put under the skin (the idea of which makes me whisper "it puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again").

I have four cookbooks, two magazines, and a printout from the Butterball website on my counter.

I woke up at 6:30 thinking about stock. Two recipes (and a friend) said I need it. But I don't have any. 

I've also realized I don't have any dessert-type noms and if you think my brain can cope with the notion of making anything else right now, you are crazy. But then, so am I, because apparently I  am going to the grocery store.


Everything seems more doable when the wine rack is fully stocked. Everytime I walk past it, I swear it winks at me. "Relaxxxx. I can toooootaaallly help you with this." (It sounds like the surfer dude turtles in Finding Nemo.)


I don't feel good about my trip to the grocery store. I mean, the nice people shouldn't have to be at work. That's crappy. But then again, they looked bored, so ... I don't know.

Maybe after I finish my coffee I'll start tackling this beast.


Or I could just order Chinese food.


No, I'm going to cook it. 


Everyone who told me that turkey is easy is a lying asshole.

Here's what happened: I took the turkey out of its shrink wrap and discovered this mystifying bit of hard plastic holding the feet together.

No one had mentioned this, ever. In all of my turkey talk, not one person ever said, "oh and it will be wearing plastic shoes. Like Barbie. Only, you know, not."

However. Everyone and some of their uncles was all "get the neck and gizzards out! That's yucky! Can't cook with those in!" so I thought -- rationally -- that Barbie needed to lose her footwear and got out the scissors. 

Yeaaaaah that didn't work. I don't know how that's attached but, even though the feet were released, the plastic was firmly anchored in.

So -- cursing to myself -- I filled the sink with cold water thinking, I'll thaw it out.


Oh, and everyone who was all "the gizzards and such are in a bag?" YOU LIE. There was no bag. There was what looked like the leavings of a serial killer stuffed into my turkey. I didn't know if I should keep wrestling with that plastic bit or call in CSI. It was nightmareish.

So I did what any rational Yellie would do: I called my mom.

"This? Is a fucking nightmare!" I said, not at all dramatically.


I explained the shoes and the icky. She said, "oh. You just ... Leave the shoes on."

I looked at my turkey. "What? I needed to take the Ickers out because they were in a bag but plastic shoe tie things are okay? I don't understand this and, fuck it, I'm not doing it."

"Yes you are."

"Might as well. Can't suck less."

So I cut off what I could see of the plastic, grimly reached in and yanked out the Ick, and went to work. Quartered lemons, stuffed 'em in the cavity. Chopped up an onion and stuffed that in too. Rosemary sprigs -- in you go. Pulled the skin away from the breasts and slid my hand in. I thought, "It's like a glove!" And then thought "I am going to be in therapy forever."

Under the skin: butter. More lemon. On the skin: olive oil. Rosemary. Salt and pepper.

Poured stock in the roasting pan, added lemon and onion and rosemary to THAT, and picked it up to put in the (preheated) oven.

And that was when my roasting pan broke.

"Fuuuuuuuuuucccckkkkk!" I said to the cat, who was keeping a curious but safely distant eye on the whole thing. And then I just got MAD. "Cook a turkey, they said! It's easy they said!" 

The handle on the roasting pan listed uselessly to the side. Mocking me.

"I was in O.M., pan. Screw you." I got a cookie sheet out and put it underneath. It barely fit but no matter.

TurkeyZilla is in the oven.

And I need a drink.


Note: if you're gonna baste, even though your mom told you not to bother, try not to melt one of your silicone potholders when sliding the oven rack out. 

But if you DO happen to do that? It would be a good time to open that wine.


Second basting. Managed not to fill the house with the acrid smell of melted silicone. Have no idea if the meat thermometer is touching the thigh bone or not (it's not supposed to. I don't think) so I'm hoping the pop up timer is a thing that works? Or something?

I'm also hoping I can get that thing out of the oven without spilling molten lava cooking liquids over myself, what with the "broken roasting pan" issue. That will NOT make for a festive holiday, and I don't want to have to explain my folly in the ER. Next year? I'll buy a real roasting pan.


More wine, anyone?


After four hours in the oven, the juices in the pan seemed like they needed to be siphoned off a bit. Which wouldn't be a problem because I have a baster, but which was a problem due to clumsiness.

That's okay. My entire kitchen needed to be scrubbed down anyway. Probably.

On the other hand? The pan juices smell so amazing that I'm almost sorry that I'm not making gravy. ALMOST.


Is it done?


I think it's done. Maybe?


I'm taking it out.


I hope it's done. 

I hope it's not TOO done.


Holy shit. It's delicious.

I have no idea how this happened, and I have no idea what I'm doing with all of this turkey. 


I do have a notion that I need to thank some people for their advice. So, in no particular order, thanks and big hugs to:

Charlene Hayes, Jodie Coward, Jessica Brodeur, Julie Rowe, Linda Campbell, Kristen Flink, Tricia Finch, Dot Winchell, Helene Harriman, Kelly Tipping, Neha Vanscoy, Shilo Fiel, John Perham, Matt Bemis and anyone and everyone else who offered advice and encouragement along the way (or invited me to eat with them and avoid the horror). 

You guys are awesome. 

And Martha Stewart can kiss my ass.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey Day, Part Three


I don't know if you know this, but there are apparently 5,597 ways to cook a turkey. However -- and this is a weird scientific anomaly -- any person you ask will tell you that their way is the RIGHT way, and that any other method is not only wrong, it is practically criminal and you should be ashamed (and, potentially, incarcerated) for considering cooking your bird in any other way.

This makes asking for advice, well, problematic.


"You know what's awesome? Brining your turkey. Alton Brown taught me to brine on his show and I made the best turkey in the history of Thanksgiving."

"Yeah. I don't have anything to brine it in."

"Your bathtub?"

"This might sound crazy? But I'm using that. FOR BATHING."


"Get a roasting bag and just chuck 'er in there. Boom! Done."


"Roasting bags are the devil! The turkey skin won't get crispy."

"I don't think I'm going to eat that anyway."

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Soak cheesecloth in wine and other liquid goodness and cover your turkey with that. It's soooo good."

"Wait. A roasting bag is bad but FABRIC is good? Like, you can cook it in a sweater?"

"Oh like you've ever done this before that you're gonna argue?"


From the Butterball website: "place turkey breast side up in a roasting pan."

"Thank God they cleared THAT up, like it's not obvious. 'Hey, face this one way and it sits nicely. Sit it the other way and it's a fricking Weeble. Guess which one is  right?!?' "

"This is making you crazy."

"I was ALREADY crazy."


The turkey, meanwhile, has been in my fridge. Not only is it not visibly thawing, but items that were sitting too close to it -- grapes, bottled water -- were freezing solid. TurkeyZilla is taking over my fridge and I still don't know how to cook the stupid thing.

I am beginning to think that my sister was right: this was more -- much, much more -- than I can handle.

Guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turkey Day, Part Two


Last Friday, the office manager walked over to our department and said, "Turkeys are here. Go downstairs and bring your car keys."

It was raining and cold. My friend J and I got our coats and went outside where we were greeted by the sight of the company president and a vp and ... A pickup truck full of frozen turkeys. 

I goggled at it. Let's face it, I grew up in Maine. I've seen trucks full of stuff before. Manure, for example. My brain can accept a truck bed full of poop, apparently, but was freaked out by the vision that was fifty-plus big assed frozen turkeys. 

Mike, one of the truck-bound turkey tossers, apparently saw my awe (and mild fear) of the turkey. He handed it to me. "Happy Thanksgiving!" he said cheerfully.

"Thanks," I said, staggering slightly as I struggled to get a grip on twenty four pounds of slick, frozen bird.

I walked over to my car which, to be honest, didn't seem like the ideal place to store a frozen turkey. I mean, I don't generally keep perishables in my VW Rabbit for any length of time, and it was about 9:30 in the morning. I wouldn't be home until 5:00 ish. This whole thing seemed like a recipe for food poisoning.

I put the turkey down in the trunk. It seemed to speak to me. "I am frozen SOLID," said the turkey. "I don't think you need to worry about me. Go back to work. I'll still be here, all frozen, when you get home."

So I did.

And it was.


My apartment is kind of ... well, underground. Not in a "I'm so freaking hip" way, but more, um, literally. It's subterranean ish. My parking space, however, is up a hill.

I may have mentioned before that I am clumsy. Because I am. So there I was, in the dark, wrestling with twenty four pounds of rock solid bird, walking down hill.

Not awesome.

Less awesome was trying to unlock the door and not drop the turkey on my feet. I could just imagine explaining that at the ER. "How did you break your foot?"

"Rogue turkey."


Lizzie B is one of those cats that is STUPIDLY happy when her person comes home. Unfortunately for both of us, she displays her joy by being underfoot.

On a good day this is challenging.

On a day when your view of the ground is obscured by a shrink wrapped bird?

Yeah. I stepped on her.

She squawked in a "OHMYGAWDNOYOUDIDNT" way that only a cat can pull off. I immediately felt like a jerk, even though it was an accident. I dropped TurkeyZilla on the floor and scooped her up. After carting around the frozen bird, my hands were numb. Also, Lizzie only weighs six pounds.

I may have nearly flung her over my shoulder.

But I didn't.

She, of course, was happy to be in my arms and was not injured in any way. She purred and stretched and was her normal, hyper-cute self.

I put her back down.

She looked at the turkey.

She hissed at it.

In that moment, she was speaking for both of us. I sighed and put it in the fridge, fully expecting that it would never thaw.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Day, Part One


I learned about the turkeys early on. One of my coworkers mentioned them in passing. "At Thanksgiving," she said, "they give us turkeys."

At the time, I was safely and happily housed in my old apartment, more financially secure, and fully determined to live out my life without ever cooking a turkey. I'd watched my mom on many a Thanksgiving at, like, the crack if freaking dawn, massaging the feeling back into her fingers after reaching inside a (still, despite days of thawing) frozen bird, an act that I found horrifying and totally unnecessary in my life. 

I mean, I've never even roasted a CHICKEN. The closest my kitchen has ever come to roasted poultry has been a rotisserie chicken, purchased fully cooked in its black plastic space capsule and quickly dismantled for soup making purposes on weekends where I really missed my mom and needed to eat something that tasted like home.

"Maybe I'll donate it," I said to my coworker. "I don't really do turkey."

"They're good about getting them to the food bank," she said.

I thought no more about it.


Time passed. I was homeless, and then not homeless, but significantly less financially secure -- by which I mean kind of broke. Okay, really broke.

My mom said, "Did you tell me that your office gives people turkeys for Thanksgiving?"


"You are going to take that turkey. And you are going to cook it. And eat it. Free food, Yellie. Cook the damn turkey."



My sister said, "But you've never even roasted a CHICKEN."

"I know."

She sounded worried. "I just think... This might be, kind of, too... Ambitious. You should probably start smaller."

"You're right."

"I mean, there's just so much MEAT on a turkey. There are three of us and last year  I just got a turkey breast and we ate turkey for DAYS. Until I had to chuck it out because we couldn't eat any more turkey. And... There's only you at your house."

"I know."

"I don't know about this. So do a chicken first. Like a trial run!"



I never quite got around to the whole chicken thing.


The week before Thankgiving, HR sent out an email. Turkeys would be distributed the Friday before Thanksgiving. "They are between 22-24 pounds each!"




"The turkey is going to weigh between twenty-two and twenty-four pounds."

"Holy. Shit."

"I've never even seen a turkey that big."

"Me either. I've never cooked one that large."

"I've never cooked one EVER and now I'm going to have the Turkey that Ate Tokyo. Turkey-Zilla. I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't."

"But you're gonna. Get freezer bags. You're cooking that beast."


"Shut it and cook the damn thing. It's not hard!"


...stay tuned ...

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Most Amazing Diet Plan EVER. I’m Not Even Kidding

(Disclaimer-y stuff: I’m not a doctor. Or a nutritionist. I’m a sometimes politically motivated, ranty, sorta humour writer person. Listening to anything I say might be profoundly stupid. I’m just saying.)


I have a history with dieting. Put mildly, if diets were a person – Diet, if you will – then Diet and I have had a profoundly troubled and disturbing relationship throughout my entire life, an abusive cycle that no matter of money spent or time invested or books read or medical intervention could correct. I tried it all – counting points. Counting calories. Having food delivered. Exercise plans. Medical plans. Shakes. Pills. Eating disorders. Apps. Writing your food down. Fasting. Eating every two hours. No carbs. Only carbs.

All of it.

I’ve learned something about dieting and bodies and weight – FINALLY – and I want to share it with you, here. The Last Diet Plan I Will Ever Follow And The Only One You Will Ever Need.

Step One:  Know Your Body

Assess your body. How is it? How does it feel? Does it move? Is it free of pain? Are your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar in healthy ranges? Can you breathe? RECOGNIZE THAT THE HEALTH OF YOUR BODY IS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SIZE OF YOUR PANTS OR A NUMBER ON A SCALE.  

If your body is a healthy body?

Learn to love it.

Don’t think, “Oh I’ll love myself more when I weigh x,” because you will not. Don’t think “I would love myself if I looked like Gisele” because that’s not going to happen. (I was going to type, “that’s not going to happen, sorry” but I stopped because I’m NOT sorry. I think you should look like you, and you should know that you’re fabulous, and none of that has anything to do with looking like Gisele or anyone else.)

If your body is not healthy, if it has issues? You can take care of those. But know this: You need to take care of them in a way that is beyond measuring yourself and your worth with BMI calipers and a bathroom scale.

Step Two: Eat Things

Eat anything you want, unless you are allergic, or a doctor specifically tells you not to eat something because your body reacts to it badly. Make nothing off limits, but – and this is very important -- Listen to your body. Do not listen to  someone who wants to sell you something. Listen to what your body wants. IT WILL TELL YOU. It will tell you, Hey, I need protein or An orange would be beneficial right now or For the LOVE OF GOD stop with the coffee.

You have to learn to listen to your body and give it what it wants.

That can include cheeseburgers. Or pizza. Or ice cream. Or salads or quinoa or eggs. It can include food that isn’t organic. It can include carbs! It can be whatever. No food that you enjoy eating should be off limits or forbidden. Life – and eating – are things to enjoy.



Listening to your body means … listening to your body. This is different from listening to the emotional voices in your head that want you to eat chocolate until you hurl. Your body does not want to eat until you hurl. It doesn’t really want you to eat when you’re not actually hungry. If you’re not hungry? It’s telling you it’s all set right now, thank you. It means stopping when you’re full. “I don’t need any more Ben and Jerry’s right now. Thank you. We can have more later if we want.”

So eat some food. (But only if you’re hungry.)

And go to step three.

Step Three: Feed Your Soul …

… and notice if the way in which you normally feed your soul involves also feeding your face, because they’re really not the same thing. Your soul is not your stomach. If you are trying to feed your soul by filling your stomach, you are probably finding that your stomach is very full but your soul is not sated.

If you’re feeding your soul through forkfuls of cake? Put down the fork and ask yourself what you really want. Do you really need more frosting to be happy in this moment? Because if you don’t? All you’re going to have is a sugar high and an inevitable crash. In other words, if you need a hug, no amount of Ben and Jerry’s will give you one.

To misquote the Spice Girls, figure out what you want, what you really really want – if it actually IS frosting? Have some without guilt or shame. If it’s something else? Find that instead. The important thing here is to make sure that you’re feeding what’s actually hungry and learning to tell the difference.

Step Four: Move

Find something that involves moving and that also makes you smile and try to do it on the regular. It doesn’t have to be hours at the gym or involve specialized clothes or gear.

It does have to be something that gets you going and makes you happy, and you should try to do it whenever you get the chance.

Don’t punish yourself if you hate the gym. I hate the gym. I like to be outside, though, and walk. I like to dance around and sing while I clean. I didn’t think those were exercise because I wasn’t in the gym.

They are.

Find something you like to do – something that requires that you move. Something that makes you sweat a little. And then love the hell out of doing it.

That’s all.

Four steps.

You are WELCOME.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Out and Back

I was in a meeting at work when I lost my temper.

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows this: I rarely lose my temper. I occasionally get riled up, but a full on loss of temper is exceptionally rare. Here's why: when I get angry?

I scare myself. And everyone around me. And people in neighboring counties. As a result? I am careful not to lose my temper.


Dude, it happens.

So there I was. In a conference room. In a meeting. When something happened that I found unacceptable and I ... Well... Lost my shit.

Half of my brain envisioned ripping someone's face off with my fingernails and then feeding it to them (and yes, I know that's gross. And also: did I mention that I have a terrible temper?!).

The other half of my brain was somehow able to grasp that we would hate jail time and forced me to start to cry.

A word about crying in the workplace, if I may. Generally? It's a bad idea. Woooo bad. However, it is a much better idea than physically (or verbally) shredding someone to pieces, especially if that someone is senior to you. To be honest, I'd much rather be thought of as "the girl who cried that one time" than "that girl who went Samurai Samantha and went bowling with the heads of her enemies."

Because, duh.

So I started to cry and then I just got up and walked out of the meeting, leaving my pen, notes, and Diet Coke in there. I walked through the bullpen and into the bathroom, where I locked myself in a stall and cursed. I cursed the coworker who made me so flipping angry, circumstances, tear ducts, overtiredness, tempers, the Patriots losing to the Panthers, a sexist, misogynistic society, manufacturers of uncomfortable shoes, singers of shitty but catchy songs, full moons, Guy Fieri's voice in radio commercials, that annoying chick at Subway who's always a bitch, my bank account, the guy who doesn't empty my trash can at work, people who cut me off in traffic, and Jiffy Lube (which is a story for another day). In short, my temper went GLOBAL, y'all, and there in the bathroom stall I got it all out.

It took... Six minutes.

Here's the other thing about my temper: it passes quickly and then I'm done. Which can be super awkward if there's been some sort of verbal, er, massacre? Because then I'm all "lalala moooving onnnn" and my... Victims?... Are all "You yanked off my arms and beat me with them so now I hate you."


I checked my face (word to the waterproof mascara), and then walked back through the bullpen.

Let me tell you this: if it's awkward and terrible walking out of the middle of a meeting?

Walking back in? Like nothing happened?

Waaaaaaay worse.

But I had to. I had to prove to myself that I could. I had to prove to the person who made me so angry that I could do my job, even though he was ... Ummm... capable of poor word choices, imagery, and "advice." I had to prove to my boss that I could get my head right back in the game.

Plus, my Diet Coke was in there.

So I did. I waltzed back in, sat down, and rejoined the conversation as though I'd never left. 

The women (there were three) all gave me looks like, "Sister, you are a rock star."

The men (two) did this: one (not the one who made me mad) looked at me like, "we can fix this, don't worry." The other one looked at me like, "I have no idea what you'll do next and I am slightly alarmed."

I'm not proud of losing my temper. I'm not proud of crying.

But I am as proud as hell that I walked back into that room, because I belong there. 

And, you know, because I love Diet Coke.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo, Day 1

Oh yeah, if I'm going to do NaNoWriMo, you're going to HEAR about it. Because, duh. Because it's difficult and crazy-making and I'm gonna have to vent.


Today is the first day. The first day of anything, I've noticed, is the easiest AND the hardest. It's when you're fresh -- wooohooo I'm raring to go -- and it's also the day when quitting is the most simple thing under the sun. Like, oh, well, if I don't actually START then I can't fail ... and it would be awesome not to fail ... so when anyone asks me I can tell them that I just changed my mind.

There must be fifty ways to sneak out of writing a novel, as the song says.

But I'm not going to, and not just because my mom has been after me to finish a novel for years (like, since I learned how to write. Also, HI MOM!) and not just because other people (you know who you are) have also been up my bucket about it, but because I owe it to myself to finish something I start. Especially if it's hard.

Today's goal -- in case you're wondering, and I bet you weren't -- is to figure out a schedule for writing and, you know, start writing.

This might be easier said (or, you know, typed) than done? But I'm doing it.

One Novel, coming up.