Talking Turkey

I’ve had a wonderful week in Hawaii.  The book events went great–fueled in part by a big story on me in last Friday’s Honolulu Advertiser.  My only blip was yesterday and considering yesterday was Thanksgiving it might be more than a blip.  It might be a blop.

The turkey tanked.

It really did and even though Surfer Ty said, “I don’t want you to go and write something on your website about how horrible the turkey was but my boyfriend said it was good.”  Yes, even though he did say that, I didn’t promise him.  I just looked at him mournfully.

But the turkey was bad.  It was tough.  And dry.  As though I nuked it or something.

I don’t understand. 

Or maybe I kind of do.  I tried something new.  I tried one of those oven bags where you stick the bird in all seasoned and buttered and tie the bag up and put it in the oven.  Unfortunately the bird seems to cook a lot faster in the bag.  But when it comes to poultry faster isn’t always better.  Faster just means you throw the turkey out after dinner instead of lovingly covering and nurturing in the fridge, trying to get as much delicious meat off the bones as you can for sandwiches and turkey soup, etc.


Thank God it was just Ty and me yesterday (and to think I’d invited Megan Crane to join us for dinner if she managed to be in Hawaii for Thanksgiving…) because I would have been mortified serving that Terrible Turkey to others.  And yes, Ty said he liked it, but Ty’s a surfer.  He starves half the time.   But I know better.  I am a woman after all, and I’ve made some good meals in the past.  I’ve been proud of my turkey.  But now I’m confused.  How can I get back to good turkey?  How can I guarantee a great Christmas meal?

I suppose serving ham is a start.

But Thanksgiving will return.  It always does.  And I can’t have another Thanksgiving like yesterdays.  I need help.  I need suggestions.  Someone’s tricks.  Someone elses’ beloved recipe.

If you know how to cook a great bird, please let me know.   I refuse to let yesterday’s failure shadow my future.  I will learn.  I will grow.  I will overcome.


  1. That’s so weird– I used the oven bag last year for our Christmas turkey and it was delicious beyond the telling of it– juicy and falling off the bone…

    And I am of the belief that Thanksgiving dinner can’t be bad. Certain foods might not work, but the meal is all about love, and therefore always tastes good.

    I wish we were there, though. I’m trying not to think about it!

  2. At least you know enough to try to cook a turkey… I’m banned from the kitchen before dinner and get dishes duty after… due to the fact… that I can’t cook!!!

    How’s the beach?? Or are you spending your “free” time writing?

  3. I cooked a 22-lb turkey in 4 hours in a bag and it was heavenly. Don’t give up on them yet…I’ve used them for years that way. Just watch the cooking times listed on the directions. I even cook the homemade stuffing in a separate cooking bag…in a lot less time than 4 hours, but perfection.

    Glad you had a restful holiday! I’m so thankful for friends like you!

  4. Hi Jane,

    I’ve been using the oven bag for years now, and it comes out perfect. Now I’m all worried. (“Oh, no! What happened?”) I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. We’ll have to talk turkey (aaargh) and figure out what went wrong.

    In the meantime, I’ll bet Surfer Ty would have been happy with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just as long as you were there to eat it with him.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Jane, Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily about the food. It’s the company and good will that you feel when surronded by love ones. I usually cook a 20 lb turkey with carrots, potatoes and onions on the bottom of the pan to elevate the turkey and allow the heat to cook it evenly all the way through. I season and use either butter or vegetable oil on it to give it its nice golden brown tan.

    A coworker suggested cooking it on 425 degrees for an hour and then turning it down to 325 degrees for 2 hours. She says that it comes out very moist and juicy. I think she seasons it the way you would normally do it. Good luck with your next turkey. We had a turkey and london broil this year. The kids were upset because I hadn’t made a ham as well. Oh well, there’s always Christmas.

  6. You poor thing! I know how you feel. When I first moved out and into my first apartment, my roommates and I took turns cooking healthy Weight-watchers meals for each other. The receipes are actually quite tasty, just as an aside. Anyway, it was the first night of my turn and I was so nervous. I had cooked in home ec years before, but my mom is such a great chef I had never had to worry about it. I made chicken strips and God bless my roommates for eating them and being polite enough to tell me they were good. In fact, they were a tad on the dry side and the second time I attempted the dish, they said it was much better. Big holiday meals are tough, but I’m very confident that you’ll conquer by Christmas!

  7. Hi Jane! Here for the first time via Christine at Mothering Heights. I adored ODD MOM OUT and even referenced it in my review of the Daring Book for Girls.

    p.s. Perfect turkey means brining it overnight first. See Alton Brown’s recipe on the Food Network and you can’t go wrong!

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