A Year in Review and a Tale of a Stolen Turkey
Sparkling white lights are carefully constructed into beautiful bokeh orbs as families are lined up in front of the tree. Plates are scraped clean and loaded up again with seconds. Dessert is cut into cute slices and passed around the table. Glasses of wine are filled, Boddington poured, and scotch splashed over ice. Laughter abounds as embarrassing stories and bad jokes are shared.
“Russell! Russell, come take our picture!” I hear from the other room. I set down my incessantly emptying wine glass, slide back my chair and delicately plan my departure from the small – typically four seater -table that has managed to fit twelve of us abreast. In the other room, my cousin and aunt are posed on a chair, perched right in front of the lighted tree.
I snap some shots, another family member joins, and some more shots are snapped. The camera is soon passed around as everyone takes their chance to capture the night through their eyes.
But that’s not where the story begins. In fact that is where it ends. The story begins some years ago, years before I lived in this house and years before the person who lived here before us did. At some point in the history of this 40 year old house, a man named Michael Gambon – name changed to protect his interests – did business with SPECTRE – name again changed to protect their interest. Because what I can only assume was a fantastic client-business relationship, Michael Gambon started receiving a free precooked cajun-style turkey each christmas.
To this day, a frozen, precooked cajun-style turkey is delivered to this house a week before christmas. Being the honest Americans that we are, we of course keep the turkey. I mean at least one family before us did the same with these turkeys, why can’t we?
Then the big day arrives and I decide to bake two of my favorite pies for dessert, a way of sorts to impress sixteen hungry family members. The first was for my southern family members. I am of course talking about my chocolate pecan pie. Take a classic southern pie, the pecan pie, and throw in some chocolate and you’ve got a perfect, super simple dessert. This pie is without a doubt, my second favorite pie ever.
What is my first favorite? My bourbon apple meringue pie. This pie is one part classic plus one part also a classic plus a sophisticated, delicious liquor twist. This pie has quite a few elements but each and everyone of them come together to create a stunning pie. The bourbon apple caramel sauce you get out of it is incredible not only with this pie, but it is amazing on ice cream, with cake, other pies, or just on its own.
Had I had more energy, I would have also made my pecan-whipped cream cake. This rich cake is filled with my favorite nut, the pecan, and is scrumptious on all levels. For me, a cake is at its best when it can be eaten on its own with no adornment, and this is definitely one of those cakes.
What would I make if I decided to make cupcakes? That is a tough decision as there are two I’ve made that captured my heart – or should I say tastebuds. The first is the white spice walnut orange cupcakes and the second is my rum caramel chocolate cinnamon cupcakes. Both are layered with flavors and both offer a unique twist on some classic cupcake recipes.
As much as I love desserts, especially pies, cakes and cupcakes, my all time favorite sweet treat, and my favorite delicious to chase has to be the cookie. While my favorite is the simple chocolate chip, or one of my varieties on the classic, I find myself making these chewy trail mix cookies over and over.
So there I was, desserts and sides done, sixteen people standing around, their wine glasses filled, and I was staring at a precooked turkey that I just pulled out of the oven. I was at this point drunk and quite unsure if this free bird we’ve received was cooked-through – well, reheated through. It was in the fridge as long as I normally thaw a turkey. It was in the oven longer than the instructions required. It should be perfect then.
Then I begin carving. Eyes are on me. “What is the chef have in store for us?” emanates from the crowd. Boyfriends, husbands, and nonblood related guests reminding me how they were promised the best meal ever. Crap. Is that… frozen?
I continue to carve, keeping this revelation to myself. Another slice and more frozen turkey. What is going on? I’ve never messed up this bad in the kitchen! I down the last of the wine in my glass and begin to bumble out an excuse as to why everyone should avoid the turkey and instead just eat the ham – which thankfully is perfect.
Karma. I’ve decided that when you steal Michael Gambon’s turkey, karma bites you in the ass. I never even deal with precooked anything. I have a fairly strict no processed, no artificial ingredients, no strange food rule and yet I decided to cheat for this dinner. Bam. Karma. On the plus side all 16 of us were fairly sauced so we got quite a laugh out of this free turkey dilemma.
And that is what christmas and the holidays are about, laughing about that turkey you burnt – err didn’t even cook.