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Thanksgiving Mishaps

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?

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  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

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