Cooking has always been a passion for me. Through my teen years I loved to cook and did a lot of it to help out my single, working mother. Holiday dinners and cooking turkeys, though, were ultimately the responsibility of my mother even though I helped her with every step of the process.
I was around twenty when I was setting up my first household and decided that I should invite everyone over to my house for Thanksgiving dinner. I was going to make the best Thanksgiving dinner any of us had ever had. There would be turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie from scratch. If they did not know that my middle name was Susie, as in Homemaker, they would surely find out soon.
I made the stuffing the way my mother always had: tear the bread, chop the onions, add the seasonings and the melted butter, and then stuff the cavity of the bird. While chopping the onions, I had a little accident that involved my finger and the knife and had to find a band-aid to quell the flow from my bleeding digit. No big deal, it was just one more incident in a series of kitchen mishaps that involved cuts and burns. Carry on. I proceeded to stuff the bird using my hands to press the moist bread mixture as far into the cavity as I could. Next I seasoned the bird with poultry seasoning and other spices, laid sliced onions over top and put it in the roasting pan. I stood back to admire my work, proud of my accomplishment.
This feeling of pride was short lived because it was then that I realized that my band-aid was missing. I did not want to consider the possibilities of where it might be and, frantically, I searched everywhere – the counter, the floor, the garbage can– but it was nowhere to be found. I had no choice but to “unstuff” the bird. How many of you have “unstuffed” a bird before it was cooked? I emptied the contents of the bird’s cavern into a bowl and then moved it, piece by piece, to another bowl in an attempt to find the missing band-aid. Did I find it? No, but I felt fairly satisfied that it was not in the stuffing so I re-stuffed the turkey and placed it in the oven.
Before dinner, I did end up finding the elusive band-aid hiding in a corner on the floor where the baseboard and the wall met. I can’t tell you how relieved I was because even though I went through every single piece of stuffing and was fairly satisfied that the band-aid was not there, I still had visions of someone taking a bite and getting that odd look on their face. You know the look. The one that says, “I am not exactly sure what I just put in my mouth combined with how am I going to get it out of here as fast as I can without anyone noticing.”
The rest of the dinner went well. The mashed potatoes were buttery and creamy and the turkey moist and delicious. And then there was the stuffing. Well, the stuffing was superb, if I do say so myself, and only the beginning of what was to become known as my signature holiday dish. Everyone loves my stuffing. It is probably the one thing that my ex-husband misses about me so I often save some for him to send via my daughter.
It was only after dinner when we were all sated and languishing, in that comatose state that is only brought on by eating a turkey dinner, that I decided to share the story of my twice-stuffed turkey with my guests. We had a good laugh. Occasionally, over the years, this story has been retold and then we laugh again. I am grateful for this laughter.