HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Thanksgiving Mishaps

  • chica Nov 22, 2006 05:27 AM
  • 61
  • Share

My friend and I are going to try to make our first, most authentic, from-scratch T-Day dinner. But I can already imagine setting off the fire alarm. Hey -- it's happened before.

So I'm wondering what curious, funny, or other interesting personal stories you all have about your bygone Thanksgivings? Any tips about certain actions to avoid? :-)

I have a uncooking-related one: A few years ago, we attempted to buy a turkey from Whole Foods on Thanksgiving DAY, and of course, none were left, so ended up with a chicken. It's not that interesting of a story, perhaps you have something more intriguing?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Do not substitute walnuts for hazelnuts in your compound butter for the turkey. They burn, and smoke, and turn black, and have to be scraped off the bird.

    And in my experience, no one ever eats enough stuffing to warrant the amount that I make. I wonder every year why I make so much.

    2 Replies
    1. re: krissywats

      I completely forgot! When I was a kid my mom prepared a turkey for the five of us and we set our big, beautiful dining room table with all the fixings. We were running around getting stuff for the table and at one moment, everyone had left the dining room. I remember hearing my dad first yell 'TASHA! GET OFF THE TABLE'. Sure enough our cute little terrierpoo had jumped on the table and started eating the turkey. I imagine her thinking 'FINALLY - I've been smelling that thing ALL DAY'.

      I don't remember what we did for dinner.

      1. re: krissywats

        Because it's a delicious leftover, and you can dump some of the stuffing (and almost every other non-sweet Thanksgiving-menu item) into the turkey soup you should have made by now, reserving the great cranberry/tangerine/roasted-pecan relish for the turkey sandwiches.

      2. One year, my mom was sick so my dad had to make the entire Thanksgiving dinner. My dad is a good enough cook but he's more of a one dish kind of a guy. Anyway, he had the two beautiful pumpkin pies out on the counter, first time ever making pumpkin pie, and our cat (whose name is Moose because he's never full and he's HUGE!) at the middle out of both of the pies!!! I wasn't there that year, but I can just see my dad with smoke coming out of ears! They just cut around it and ate the outside of the pies!

        1. Not me but my friend Kathleen. She sent me an email complete with pictures a couple years ago. I gotta find it.

          Her husband wanted to fry the turkey and of course didn't dry the bird and used too much oil. The whole thing caught fire and started to set the house on fire. Firemen came put it out, no one was hurt and not too much damage done. They were really lucky. One of the pics was of them sitting on the fire truck looking bummed out.

          They go to the store and get another turkey and are just going to roast it in the oven. One of the kids comes along and puts the thing on self clean. They can't turn it off and the door locks. They ordered pizza while watching the turkey incinerate.

          The Thanksgiving meal that wasn't meant to be I guess.

          8 Replies
          1. re: chileheadmike

            "They can't turn it off and the door locks."

            For anyone who experiences this in future: think 'Circuit breaker'. 'Fuse', if your home is in the "vintage" style.

            1. re: PDXpat

              the door remains locked though, even with the circuit breaker off, at least for my oven. So the thing continues to incinerate until it cools down enough, which can be a *long* time

              I know from experience :)

            2. re: chileheadmike

              It amazes me how many people actually set fire to things while frying a turkey... It's not hard, just requires common sense. That sense was not on hand that day as it's pretty obvious to take a flaming whatever it may be, far enough away from the house not to burn it down.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                You ever try to put out an oil fire? Especially when it's gallons of spattering oil. I saw a turkey frying mishap once that was really, really, bad.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  My husband's aunt and uncle nearly burned their house down using the turkey fryer in the basement. He put in too much oil and when he dropped the turkey in it overflowed and caught the floor on fire.

                  1. re: KristieB

                    yikes. deep-fried turkey is becoming an increasingly common fire hazard...

                    http://www.theinsurancenation.com/gen...

                    "Each year nearly 2,000 fires in the United States occur on Thanksgiving Day causing an average of five deaths, about 25 injuries, and nearly $21 million in property damage."

                2. re: chileheadmike

                  Fires started by frying turkeys is God's way of telling us we're doing something wrong. Taking a healthy boyd and turning it into a fat laden dish, just seems wrong.

                  Dress him up and place in the oven where he belongs. Put all the calories in the sides, since after you eat the sides the calories are going to all our sides.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Actually a deep fried bird has more of its fat rendered out than a roasted bird, and so has less fat to it. The high frying temp doesn't add any real amounts of fat.

                3. The obligatory annual trip to the in-laws who are not mindful of safe food handling procedures. Very long story short, I've mastered the art of pretending to eat, avoiding many of the dishes, and have even feigned sickness. Three years ago, all but two of the 25-ish people attending became violently ill about 24 hours after the meal. I was one of the two that didn't get sick.

                  Last year was the pinnacle -- the turkey was taking far longer to cook than planned and was only slightly above 100 degrees in the middle of the breast. The host didn't want to hold everything up so she decided to just cut the outside layer of meat off the bird and serve it while the rest finished cooking.

                  Thanksgiving USED to be one of my favorite days/meals of the year. Miraculously, this year we are able to spend the day with my family for the first time in 10+ years.

                  1. This is a good thread. Reminds me of a Thanksgiving at my ski house with my friend. We both didn't have any family obligations, so we planned to go snowboarding and cook a turkey dinner back at the house after a day on the mountain. Well after riding all day, we decide to have a drink at the bar -after a couple of beers, a few shots of Jagermiester seemed to be in order at the bar in town. A few shots turned into 3/4 of a bottle and we went back to the house to start cooking. Put the turkey in the oven, and put the giblets in a pan of water to start the giblet gravy. I remembered that I left my jacket at the bar, so back to the bar we went, a few more shots later we remember the giblets. Got back to the house and all was ok - so we had a couple of beers while watching TV - and we both passed out. Woke up to the fire alarm blaring and when I opened my eyes, I could see nothing but smoke. Instincts kicked in and we got outside as fast as possible. While standing outside shivering in the cold and looking into the smoke filled house, we decide that there really isn't a fire and go back inside to investigate the source of the smoke. The water had evaporated from the pot and not only burned the giblets, but the pan was welded to the stove element. I don't remember how the rest of the meal turned out. Lesson of the story is - don't get sauced while making gravy.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: LStaff

                      HA. That's a great story.

                      1. re: LStaff

                        LMFAO. Jag's a killer-- reminds me of an infamous BBQ we had one summer-- glad i don't remember much!

                      2. Several years ago I had to work on T-Day (I am a nurse.). My husband and I did not have family in town, so we invited another couple that was familyless to eat T-dinner with us. Since I had to work until late afternoon, most of the dinner was to be fixed by my husband. He had gotten his great-grandmother's recipe for yeast rolls. He was so excited to make and share them. In his enthusiasm to make the rolls, he decided that if he was suppose to mix the dry yeast with warm water, then boiling water would be even better. Needless to say the rolls didn't rise. It ws so hard telling my husband that he had killed the yeast.

                        1. A few years ago, I made some desserts that we had to transport to the in-laws. I told my husband to drive VERY gently. Well, we almost got into an accident and my chocolate pavlova meringue flew across the backseat but miraculously stayed intact. My pumpkin cheesecake remained safe in the front seat with me. We got to the house and I asked his mom where to put my cheesecake to stay cool, so she told me to put it out on the porch. A few hours later, I noticed that someone had put all 4 dogs in the porch. I freaked out. (And then most of the family did too...) Thankfully, only one of the dogs had discovered it and had eaten a big hole in the middle. We were able to salvage about 3/4 of the pie. It was a miracle that we were able to eat my desserts at all. Not quite as dramatic as these fires mentioned, but enough to make me fairly frazzled!

                          1. I can't stand turkey, but my father loves it... When I began to have major kitchen duty during thanksgiving, we had two mishaps that my family blamed on my subconscience...

                            First year me and the turkey... my father bought a monster 25lber... insane for four people and I was SO mad I had to cook the darn thing. I had to SEARCH on-line for suggested cooking times. Of course, it varied wildly so I kinda guestimated it.... We took it out and.... bloody turkey... bleh!!!

                            Year two... My parents had just finished their kitchen remodel with a brand new fancy oven. Somehow we pressed the wrong button on the new oven and it shut itself off at some point... We noticed this two hours into the cooking time. So we guestimated again, when the oven shut off... We tool it out and... bloody turkey... bleh again!!!!

                            The following year I had fallen in love with someone from NE who took over all turkey duty. Perfect...

                            This year we hit a snag in scheduling (he has to work) so we're having dinner with my family on Saturday and since it's NOT technically thanksgiving, we're finally having my holiday meal of choice... Prime Rib... WHEEEE!!!! :)

                            --Dommy!

                            1. Hosting of Thanksgiving dinners tends to rotate in my family, but there is one sister (not the CH one...) who is notorious for never hosting. She is a pretty good cook, so it isn't that, and her house isn't huge but it is certainly big enough, and money isn't an issue, and she lives in a nice, nearby town that we would all enjoy visiting. (and complains that we never come to visit her)...

                              But for whatever reason, she just doesn't ever volunteer for hosting duties....it has become sort of the family joke: around mid-October we all start to expect calls from her asking, 'so where is Thanksgiving this year?'...so anyway, one year everyone answered her call with: 'hey, it really is your turn'.

                              We were all quite amazed that she agreed, and so the entire family descended on her home. This was a big deal, and we all wanted to be there! It was to be one of our best-attended T-Day dinners ever!

                              Well, poor thing, her kitchen sink broke on Thanksgiving morning! I don't mean it just stopped up, it literally broke (has been a number of years now and I can't remember exactly what happened)...she was frantically trying to find a plumber on Thanksgiving Day, and we were doing dishes and getting water in the bathroom.....

                              Dinner turned out fine, of course. But that was the first and last time she ever hosted. and there are those in the family that think she intentionally sabatoged the plumbing....

                              Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: susancinsf

                                lol...I was about to tell this story. But I was not one of those who speculated that she intentionally sabotaged (sp?) the plumbing...although thinking about it years later it makes sense!! Hey, maybe her husband did it!!

                                Then there was the other sister who was cooking her first Thanksgiving after getting married. She dropped the turkey right onto the floor as she was taking it out of the oven. (I may have told this story last year??). She and I and my mother I think were the only witnesses. We just washed it off, put it back in the oven to crisp for a few minutes...and no one was the wiser.....

                                Have a good holiday, everyone!! Now I have to go do some last minute shopping so Susan can make us all fantastic apps tomorrow!

                              2. My dad only likes instant mashed potatoes and my husband HATES them. So one of the first thanksgivings after we were married, we went over to my parents house and my husband said he would make the mashed potatoes. So my mom decides to just leave thanksgiving dinner and go upstairs to go to sleep in the middle (she has issues I won't go into here....but they make for some pretty crappy holidays). So my husband and I are left to finish cooking. We weren't even sure what she was cooking, so we spent the first 20 minutes trying to figure out what the dishes were. Then, when my husband put the pot of potatoes on the stove, the burner caught fire and we later found out that she hadn't cleaned the stove since she had bought it over 5 years earlier! Her cooking style and kitchen were so unsanitary that about 20 minutes after we left their house, both my husband and I had major GI troubles (aka...oh crap, where is the nearest gas station bathroom!!!). Every year since, we bring Amodium AD with us and now that we have kids, we fib and say they can't eat grown up food (our kids are still baby and toddler) and we bring them their own snacks!

                                1. The first thing that comes to mind is the year my grandfather "forgot" his false teeth. There was only my mom and dad and me, plus the grandparents. So the fact that one of our two guests couldn't/wouldn't eat anything was insulting. The other mishap was when my brother in law stopped up the sink with potato peels just before the guests arrived. Do NOT try to put them down the garbage disposal. Just a tip.

                                  1. I once dated a guy whose sister confused the bag the turkey came in with one of those Reynolds oven bags you can cook a turkey in (needless to say, she wasn't a good cook). So, she dethawed the turkey, and popped it in the oven still wrapped in the plastic bag from the grocery store. A while later, they noticed the smoke along with a turkey covered in melted smoldering plastic. Needless to say, I always encouraged us to eat out when we went to her place.

                                    1. When I was around 12 friend of the family said she was going to cook the turkey and bring it over. I overheard that she was using a low temp 24 hour recipe. I insisted to my mom that I was cooking my own bird and went out and got one and threw it in the oven. Well, you can guess what happened. the friend came over with this barely browned bird that smelled kind of funky. I took one look and told her to take that thing out of my kitchen. She got upset and ate some to prove it was ok. Not very long after we dropped her off at the emergency room. She spent the next three days in the hospital while we had a late but very good turkey dinner, after I had thrown away her portable ptomaine factory. I took over the family holiday cooking from then on until I moved out, and stll did it most years even when I came to visit.

                                      1. There are food disasters, infrastructure disasters, and personal disasters and I have experienced some of each.

                                        In the food disaster category, my sister Laura is queen. One year she made pumpkin pie in one of those flimsy aluminum pans at my parents' house - the house with pea-soup-green carpet in the kitchen. She went to put the filled pie in the oven. The flimsy plate folded in half and a veritable fountain of pumpkin colored goo shot out in a graceful arc...The carpet was never the same.

                                        The next year she decided to redeem herself by making another pumpkin pie. It would have been great, had it contained sugar, a necessary ingredient. Pumpkin pie without sugar is a really surprising taste sensation.

                                        Infrastructure - My mother preceded the typical "potato peels stopping up the sink" disaster by saying, as she was shoving potato peels down the disposal, "I saw on the news how you shouldn't put too many peels down at once." Cue blackwater backup and call to plumber.

                                        Personal - my housemate Curt and I made a big feast. My tall, nervous, liberal, opinionated, loud boyfriend came over. The only other invitee was Curt's mom, a sweet, ultrapolite old-fashioned lady from Nebraska. In the middle of dinner, Curt announced that he was going next door to take a bottle of wine to our neighbors.

                                        Minutes passed. Many, many minutes. I sat there desperately trying to think of some conversation that would engage these two guests and failing miserably. Time has not passed so slowly since high school algebra class.

                                        After about 45 minutes, I finally got up and said "I think I will see what is keeping Curt." I went next door. Our neighbor had offered Curt some Thanksgiving hospitality in return for the wine gift - some bong hits of sticky California bud. Curt was stoned out of his mind.

                                        I was beyond pissed but you can't really fight with someone who is more baked than a 20-lb turkey.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Snackish

                                          I'm sure I told this story last year: but the co-op dorm I lived in made a Thanksgiving feast. The person responsible for the pumpkin pies didn't read the bin labels and used salt instead of sugar....

                                        2. A friend, who is not a very good cook, was going to have to work on Thanksgiving. She decided to cook a turkey the night before and bring sandwich makings in for her work staff.

                                          She had the turkey partly thawed and was poking around inside for the giblets. She had her hand deep inside the bird, when she felt the slight opening into the neck cavity. She pushed harder, out of curiousity (she didn't know there were two cavities), and her hand slipped through into the neck cavity - and of course, wouldn't come back!

                                          After an hour of trying, while her hand grew progressively more cold and swollen, she wrapped the whole thing - turkey and hand - in a towel, and took a cab to the nearest emergency room where they sawed the bird off with a bone saw. She said the worst part was hearing the ER staff trying to suppress their laughter every time anyone looked at her.

                                          1. The first time my aunt made a turkey just put it in the oven, not knowing about the little bag inside....ooops.

                                            Another year we were getting ready to go to the same aunts house (this was many years after her first turkey) my mom was bringing pumpkin pies and stuff. Set them in a box on the floor and the cat jumped in and her foot landed on the pie. (my dad ate that piece)

                                            janetofreno, my friend did the salt/sugar thing when she was making brownies.

                                            judy, has your friend ever made another turkey? pooor thing.

                                            1. My dad broke his leg when we were little and he couldn't work for months. No health ins. back then or workmans comp. We were broke.

                                              Mom fashioned a turkey shaped out of ground beef (turkey meatloaf made from beef) and it was fun cutting off the legs! It was a great Thanksgiving!

                                              She did buy chicken livers and made gravy to go over it. I guess this isn't a mishap...but a great story anyway.

                                              1. My mishap would be my husband and I drive 2 hours to get to the family dinner place ariving 10 minutes late and everybody was through eating? I can't help but have this making me feel alittle blue about the lack of family's ablitty to wait 15 minutes when they all travel from the same town nd we travel so far away? Am I wa off on this?

                                                1. When my first kid was about eight months old, my mother went in for emergency gall bladder surgury about four days before Thanksgiving. Of course, I rushed to the hospital and helped out as much as I could, and they released her to home the day before Thanksgiving.

                                                  I said that of course we didn't mind missing the big dinner she had planned to do, but that it was far more important for her to relax and heal. We'd manage with something storebought... NO! she said. She insisted on moving to the couch, in sight of the kitchen, and bossing me and my dad through the whole process. Nothing blew up or poisoned anyone, but I must admit it was not my proudest kitchen moment (I've come lightyears since then... almost 20 years ago!).

                                                  Also, the Chronicle food critic, Michael Bauer, had some pretty amazingly tragic Thanksgiving stories on his blog:
                                                  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/s...

                                                  1. Many years ago, despairing because my Thanksgiving gravy was never a nice rich dark brown color, I decided to use a little food coloring. The gravy came out blue.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                      What did you tell your guests?

                                                    2. My mother and I succeeded in creating a goth pecan pie this year. We worked from two recipes, used molasses instead of caro syrup because that's all we had. It looked great but when I cut into it at the table out came a dark black nasty ooze that was totally gross. The whole thing went into the trash. Luckily we were all really full from dinner and I had some nice dark chocolate covered marshmallows to pass around with the cappuccino. I'm a cook, not a baker. From now on we buy our T-day desserts!

                                                      1. I don't think this is what chica had in mind, but I'll see if I can describe it... it's from last year.

                                                        Right now there are now five in my extended family - myself, DH, my mother, his mother, his aunt. Aunt had other plans so it's just four of us. Logistics don't allow for both travel and cooking so MIL makes a reservation near her place. DH and I don't care for turkey and this place has other options so this idea is OK by us.

                                                        Pick up both MILs and arrive at restaurant, my mother has a handicap card so we park right at the front door. Our table is ready. Perfect. We all order drinks, they arrive promptly. This is going well.

                                                        DH's mother decides she wants the turkey dinner, but she only wants dark meat sliced very thin. Discussion ensues with the waitperson, who is only allowed to serve what the kitchen has prepared - dark/white combo or white only. More discussion, the manager arrives (who knows my MIL - sigh) and agrees to only get her the dark meat. Starters are either a chicken noodle soup or a salad - she orders soup and loudly states she will not eat it anyway. Then goes into detail as to how she hates food, it's always lousy, nobody every cooks it the way she likes it. When it arrives she takes two sips of the soup and how shall I say this... proceeds to lose her lunch. Several times. Not always gracefully. We don't have enough napkins on the table and implore the waitress to bring us more. After a couple of trips to the bathroom she finally she decides to spend the rest of the dinner waiting for us on a bench outside, near the car. This is metro Boston in November.

                                                        Meanwhile my mother is oblivious to the whole situation, even though sitting two feet away. DH and I are mortified and not particularly hungry anymore. Check please!

                                                        Enough said. This year we visited the relatives, went home and cooked a beef wellington and had a bottle of nice red wine.

                                                        1. Using the Big Outdoor Fridge is great, most of the time.

                                                          Years ago (I think the last T-day before I undertook host duties), my mother set the bird leftovers outside on a table to cool (Minnesota in November generally works well for this.

                                                          Some time later, our dog was let out to do business.

                                                          Dog ate the entire cooling bird.

                                                          We drove home (2.5 hours) with flatulent dog. Turkey flatulence.

                                                          Oh. My.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: cayjohan

                                                            My first Thanksgiving, years ago, I let my SIL make leftover "care packages" for our 20 plus guests (she did such a good job that there wasn't any left for us!) and she set them out on the back porch due to lack of space. Anyway when the time came to leave, apparently our friendly neighborhood racoon had taste tested each and every bag. What a waste...and mess.

                                                            1. re: cayjohan

                                                              We use the outdoor fridge too, and thus far no one or thing has gotten into it all. We had cold weather on T-giving this year, but it warmed up to the 60s the next day, so that "fridge" had to be emptied quickly.

                                                              In any case, on a somewhat related note, a few years ago I made two large dishes of spanikopita on Thanksgiving eve--one for that night and one for the freezer. As the freezer was temporarily full, my mom wrapped up the second one and put it on the porch for the meantim, hidden from view of any critters. A few months later I was visiting and baking something, and I wondered what had happened to the other 9x13 pan. Looking ... looking ... not in the freezer ... not in with the other pans ... found it--still out on the porch hidden from view.

                                                            2. right now i am giving thanks that t-day dinner seems to go smoothly for our family every time. one year though on t-day, dh's cellphone rang in the car-- it was his dad, we thought just calling to say hi happy t-day, but no, one of his treatment buddies had decided to make thanksgiving dinner & had bought a couple of nice big, 20+ pound turkeys, and now at around noon on thanksgiving day someone tells him, oh, you should have thawed these out before you try to cook them. LMFAO. dad was calling because dh, a chef, would know what to do. . . ---no there's nothing you can do dad, you're eating takeout tonight. --but can't we just defrost them in the microwave, for like a really long time? --no, dad you're totally screwed. -- can we put them in the oven anyway, the inside will just thaw out & cook, right? -- no dad, it's just not happening, reschedule the turkey dinner for sunday night, they'll be safely thawed in the fridge by then. . . the conversation just went on and on, with dad and his buds just not getting it, and i'm practically peeing myself laughing. i suspect that they tried something drastic anyway after dh hung up, though dad would never tell us how his t-day went! :)

                                                              1. When I was in my very early 20s, I went out on a double date on Thanksgiving Day, at a hotel buffet in downtown Cincinnati. The name escapes me of the hotel, but it was probably not one of the finest, since I was dating a poor musician. Trying to make the most of our money, we stuffed ourselves, and I filled up on turkey. Bloated, I finally toddled off to the ladies' room, and after I was comfortably ensconced, proceeded to let loose the absolutely longest fart in the world - it must have lasted a good 3 minutes, and it went up and down a two-octave scale, with a variance in pitch, volume and texture that was impressive. Just when you thought it was dying out - up came the volume again - rrrr-r-r-r-i-IIIPPPPP. A couple young women were waiting for a stall, and they could not stop laughing. I started laughing too, and that just created bursts of wind then that made us all laugh even harder. When I left the stall, we stood there and laughed until we were crying.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Seldomsated

                                                                  Thanks for the best laugh I've had in ages. Tears were spurting.

                                                                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                    You're welc! I'm sure the turkey was undercooked or sitting out too long - I have since stayed far, far away from hotel buffets!

                                                                2. i have the ultimate.

                                                                  when i was a kid, our housekeeper set the table and helped with the food prep for thanksgiving dinner for nearly 30 people...and it wasn't until about 24 hours later that we discovered she had hepatitis. mom had to call each & every guest to let them know, and we all had to go to the doctor for shots.

                                                                  good times :)

                                                                  1. At my mothers house, circa 1960: Huge huge turkey sitting on counter awaiting stuffing.. we notice the turkey's breast is quivering.. mother shouts "Earthquake" but I grab her and point out nothing else is quivering. Cat head pokes out of cavity opening.. "Meow? Whas happening?" What are you going to do? Rinse out the cat hairs and continue as per planned. We're essentially a dark meat family anyway.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: fromagina

                                                                      Either that was a very small cat or a remarkably big bird! I'm laughing my head off at the mental picture... I could just see our cats trying to pull that one off - I don't think they'd get their head inside! But they'd do their darndest...

                                                                    2. First Tgiving meal I ever cooked was for my mom and sister. The day arrived and the bird was still a little frozen. I set it on a heating grate to thaw out a little. Well, the plastic around the bird melted into the bottom of it. I still cooked it and the meal was very good, but scraping off that melted plastic sucked!

                                                                      1. One year, my aunt hosted t-day with my other aunt assisting with the turkey. During the meal, every time we asked to pass the turkey my aunts would say "You mean the t-bird?" and start laughing. Finally we asked what was up. They had sent my elderly, non-drinking Grandfather to pick up some sherry to baste the bird. They showed him the bottle to make sure he got the right thing. Well he returned with a bottle of Thunder-bird - you know, the fortified wine. Well they used it and the bird came out VERY tender.

                                                                        1. My favorite turkey story is actually my mom's. Back before she polished her cooking skills to what now know and love she had an incident with a turkey I just have to share. She had decided to use a recipe she had gotten from her sister for a wonderful rice stuffing. Now back in the day it was the standard thing to do to sew the stuffed turkey closed. Add to this one misssing step in the recipe, the step where the you're supposed to cook the rice BEFORE puttting it into said bird. My mother had unwittingly created a ticking, turkey, timebomb. Luckily there were no causulties when the oven door was blown open with bits of turkey and rice flying everywhere. Except the turkey, but he was a goner anyway.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: scallop_girl

                                                                            OMG this really happened? That's so funny, like an I Love Lucy episode. I have a new respect for rice now.

                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                              Yup ,only it's way funnier when my aunts tell the turkey bomb story. My mother had 10 sibliings, mostly sisters, and they have the most amaizing, hysterical stories from growing up in Malden, MA.

                                                                          2. First T-Day on my own. Another young couple coming over. I was up at five am to finish the pies before putting in the turkey. Too early to be making culinary decisions. After sprinkling the apple and cherry pies w/ cinnamon, I put on their tops and started sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon which is what I was taught, I had the "Gee that's funny looking cinnamon" moment . . .Looked at spice can . .No indeed! It's chili powder! Big time wake up call as my options were 1) serve with a straight face or 2) find a store open early with pre-made stuff cuz' I was quickly running out of time. At six am, was sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store waiting for it to open. . .

                                                                            Same day, young couple walks into my home when I yelled "Come on in" as I'm dashing around getting stuff done . . .to my two year old w/ olives on every finger. They didn't have kids yet and so, at the time, it was pretty horrifying.

                                                                            Funny now! Wasn't then!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: JerryMe

                                                                              I think we all need a few stories like this just before the big day, so we can stop being so serious and worried about everything and welcome the day with a smile on our face :+}

                                                                            2. 2 stories actually. First was when I was about 10 and we had about 15 people over. After hours and hours when we SHOULD have smelled a wonderful turkey cooking, my mom (who was not a cook) opened the oven door and she announced she "forgot to turn the oven on" . Good thing that we had lots of side dishes. Second was last year when everyone was sitting and starting to eat all the wonderful food at the table. The bread basket was being passed around when the cloth napkin in the bread basket passed over the candles and went into a huge ball of fire. Someone grabbed it off the table and threw it into the sink... made for an interesting start to the meal.

                                                                              1. My Thanksgiving lesson learned is to never cook in my stocking feet. A few years ago I had to sit through Thanksgiving dinner with a freshly broken toe after catching it on the doorway from the kitchen into the dining room just as I was putting dinner on the table. I couldn't bear to take my sock off and look at it until after dinner because it had already ruined my appetite enough.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                  My grandmother's kitchen was fairly crowded on holidays what with the card table set up for extra counter space. Just a few minutes after she took the turkey out of the roaster and placed it on the platter, one of us granddaughters ran out into the kitchen and bumped into the card table. The leg folded and the turkey did a perfect 10 wobble-roll across the kitchen floor. My grandmother and mother picked it up, brushed it off and we proceeded with dinner.

                                                                                2. Let's see: that would be Thanksgiving '91. I had my entire family and the BF's entire family over for dinner, and things were going swimmingly: good food, everybody getting along, very convivial family atmosphere. Cut to: Aunt Loretta laughing hysterically and pointing out the picture window at #2 son, 4 years of age, standing by the fence taking an extreme pee. It had NEVER occurred to me to tell him not to do this, because #1 son had never done anything like that. He clearly knew that he was skating the borderline of okay behavior, though, because he was looking over his shoulder straight at the window the whole time with an enormous happy grin on his little monkey-face. Cut to : me, standing in the kitchen looking for all the world like Charlie McCarthy, unhinged jaw and all.

                                                                                  1. I turned the timer on the oven on but forgot to turn the oven itself on. We then went out to choose the Christmas tree, which is a Forced Family Fun Day, only to return home to a cold oven and colder turkey.

                                                                                    1. Write down everything you intend on serving. Set the table ahead of time. Make a plan for timing (and when it will be started/done/need to go into the oven) and things you can make ahead starting TODAY! Use your timer on the oven. Never divert attention from toasting nuts unless it is to gulp down wine. And about the wine... ahem. Try not to start the day with a celebratory bottle of champagne with the cooks. If you do, make sure your list I mentioned above is really detailed and the timer is working... and toast the nuts before the drinking. And finally, small burns, soggy crust or funny tasting whatnots should be taken in stride. Setting off the smoke alarm makes for good stories next year.

                                                                                      1. Three stories come to mind --

                                                                                        First, when I was a child. My aunt was hosting Thanksgiving at her house. It was a large group -- with lots of aunts, uncles, cousins, and my then separated grandparents. It was tense with family dynamics and (I think) my aunt's first hosting. Come dessert time, Hosting Aunt announces that she's put the pies in the oven to warm before serving. Cue horrified look on aunt-just-married-into-the-family, as she announces that her contribution was a pumpkin Chiffon pie.... (This story is still recalled nearly every year, 30 years later.)

                                                                                        Next one, 20 years ago, our first T-day married (and just 2 weeks after the wedding). DH had gotten a free turkey from his employer, but we were scheduled to drive an hour or so to my parents' house for dinner. About 6 am the phone rings -- my mother had opened her turkey and it was spoiled! Her market didn't have any fresh birds left. So she asked for ours! It was in the fridge but not thawed, so it went into our largest pot in running water for a long time. Then an earlier trip to the folks' for the turkey to cook. Dinner was later than planned, but it all worked.

                                                                                        A year or so later, we had T-day at my in-law's house, including his brother and his family in from out of state. This was pre-recovery for BIL and I mostly remember too much food on the table but mostly a lot of yelling and throwing of dinnerware, before he stormed out, MIL left the table, and we weren't sure what to do (or how to help the little niece and nephew). Oh, family fun on holidays!