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Turkey daze

November 21, 2012
By Jerry Nelson , Marshall Independent

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their turkey.

Thanksgiving marks the peak of the overeating season which, in this country, starts about the first of November and continues through Halloween.

Our most American of holidays began when our Pilgrim forbears - who had gotten lost after going ashore for a beer run -shared a huge meal with local natives. Afterward, as they belched in appreciation and let out their belts several notches, they uttered those words that continue to reverberate across the ages: "Are you ready for some football?"

Turkey is often the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving Day feast. Legend has it that Ben Franklin favored adopting the turkey as our national symbol instead of a follically-challenged atavistic avian.

One must consider that Franklin was talking about the wild turkeys of his day. The bird that will likely land upon your table bears scant resemblance to the turkeys of yore. Modern turkeys have such enormous chests that they can barely walk and can only reproduce via artificial means (insert your own Hollywood starlet joke here).

Turkey cooking has lately turned into somewhat of a guy thing. Gone is the Rockwellian ideal of Grandma smiling beneficently as she sashays to the dinner table carrying a platter that holds a golden-brown bird the size of a Shetland pony. These days, a more likely turkey cooking scenario might involve Grandpa and his sparkly new Ultra Inferno 3000 flamethrower.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. For instance, my opinion is that everything - including old gym socks - tastes better when smoked. And smoking the Thanksgiving turkey involves two things that most men find irresistible, namely, fire and smoke. As if that weren't attractive enough for us guys, it also affords an excuse to stand around with other guys and scratch and enjoy a cold beverage and discuss such important topics as whether "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" is the best western ever or what.

Another turkey cooking method that has become popular lately is frying the bird in a huge vat of oil. I have heard that this method must be handled with extreme care. As we all know, some very dramatic flare-ups can occur whenever turkey clashes with grease.

I have never had the opportunity to sample a turkey cooked a deep fat fryer. I imagine it tastes similar to deep fried chicken, but then again, everything tastes like chicken.

An over-the-top turkey related development that came to the fore some years ago is the turducken, which consists of a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. Vegans probably had a conniption over this perceived monstrosity, mainly because there is nothing nearly as yummy available from the vegetable world. I suppose a person could stuff an apple inside of a cantaloupe and stuff that inside of a pumpkin, but this doesn't sound nearly as enticing as the delectable offerings from Team Carnivore.

During the holiday season, many of us will overeat to the point where it feels like we'll have to start carting our tummies around in wheelbarrows. Most of us will be content with the successful preparation of that one turkey or turducken or pumpcantple. But I know a Pipestone guy who puts us all to shame by cooking more than a dozen turkeys for Thanksgiving Day. And no, he doesn't run a restaurant. Myron simply enjoys having a few folks over for Thanksgiving.

"We'll feed about 450 people this year," said Myron recently when I asked about his little Thanksgiving Day soiree.

For the past decade, Myron and his wife, Nancy, along with a cadre of volunteers, have hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the public. These dinners are held in various area churches on a rotating basis.

I asked Myron how it all began.

"One year all of our kids were spending Thanksgiving at their respective in-laws. We and a few friends went to a restaurant for dinner and the place was completely deserted except for the waitresses. This seemed like a sad way to spend the holiday, so we decided to do something about it,"?he said.

Thanks to donations from local businesses, there is no charge for the Thanksgiving feast Myron and his crew serves.

Goodwill donations given during the meal are handed over to the Pipestone Food Shelf.

"We feed a wide range of people," said Myron. "Some are poor, some are elderly. Some are simply folks whose families are out of town."

Any hints for cooking the perfect turkey?

"Start early and go slow. And if you're not sure what you're doing, be a man and ask your wife for advice!" he said.

 
 

 

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