06:10:46 am on
Monday 24 Jun 2024

Turkey Phobia
Jennifer Flaten

Another holiday come and gone and I didn’t give anyone food poisoning. Yay me!  What? Am I the only person who worries obsessively about giving holiday guests the gift that keeps on giving aka food poisoning during the holidays?

I'm not a germaphobe.

I bet you are scratching your heads wondering when I became a germaphobe. I didn’t. Still, I just can’t help but see the turkey as a ticking time bomb of contamination.

I don’t feel that way about ham. I occasionally even bake a chicken for Sunday dinner and it doesn’t cause me to have a panic attack. Yet, five minutes into the Macy’s day parade and the emptying of the turkey innards, which is all I’ll say on that subject, I was in a cold sweat worrying I had somehow doomed us to spending the remainder of the holidays in the ER. 

If I had my way, I wouldn’t have a turkey at Thanksgiving. Apparently, this isn’t a democracy and I don’t get a vote. I have no choice but to bake it; bake it good.

I do plain turkey, straight from the fridge into the oven, no fancy brining for me. One year my mother offered to provide the turkey, while I cooked it. One of us, not me, got the better end of this deal let me tell you.

My mother insisted I cook, brine, the turkey.

Anyway, she insisted that we brine it. Oh gawd, it was horrible. She made me submerge the turkey in salty water and store the crock in the garage for days! I don’t like to leave it resting on the counter for 15 minutes, let alone the unregulated garage.

My mother, so encouraging, told me to weight the lid down on the turkey crock. I asked why. She said just in case an animal got in the garage. Umm, okay. I guess that is a better end than what I assumed, which was the turkey might try to rise from the dead. 

Ask me if I ate any of that turkey. I am still alive. The answer would be no.

I bake the turkey according to the directions in a cookbook. I pad the time a little. Of course, I use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. What if it that instrument is malfunctioning?

I’ve been known to slice the turkey, see that it looks cooked, but still be leery and zap it in the microwave for a minute or two, you know, just in case. I blame my upbringing. Living with my grandparents I was privy to all those horror stories about botulism; I still give dented cans the stink eye at the store, and trichinosis from under-cooked pork.

My grandmother did one-style cooking.

My grandmother cooked food one-way, that is, over. Yes, everything cooked to within an inch of its life. I had no idea you could have meat done anything but well until I was an adult. 

Funny, I don’t feel the same way about pie. I could chug the pumpkin pie mix straight from the mixer, no waiting for it to bake.

















Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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