Thanksgiving Dinner

By Ellen Neal

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Trying to impress my mother-in-law was not an easy task. She had given me a white, linen tablecloth that took hours to iron, and because she was there for Thanksgiving dinner, the crease-free tablecloth graced the table.

Half of the turkey was carved and neatly laid out on our new platter, the other half sat on the counter for refi lls. The turnips (a necessity for a proper Thanksgiving dinner) were mashed and buttered and the cranberry sauce was sweetened to perfection. Mashed potatoes were in a bowl, and the gravy, with lumps removed, fi lled the gravy boat. Steam rose from a bowl of peas and carrots while red tomato juice sparkled in the crystal glasses (a new acquisition) in front of each plate. Pumpkin pie awaited on the counter for our dessert. There was even a small vase with the last rose from the garden as the centrepiece.

Our house was small, so we dined in the kitchen. Twoyear-old Garrick sat in his high chair, ready for his "adult" food, while Carla, not quite one, had just fi nished her baby food; she still held the spoon in her hand to drum on her tray.

Everything was ready. We sat with heads bowed, as I held Carla's hand still, while Grandma said grace. We raised our heads and were about to begin dinner when Carla, with perfect aim, spewed a projectile of vomit all over the dinner table and the white tablecloth.

Everything was still, until my husband and I laughed. It was so awful! Grandma Neal looked down at her plate of predigested food and sat pompously pursing her lips in disgust. The more she was "not amused," the more my husband and I laughed. Dinner was a disaster!

Impressing my mother-in-law never seemed to work. I bundled up the whole mess and put it in the sink. For dinner, we ate the other half of the turkey and the pumpkin pie. I threw out the linen tablecloth.


Boil the turkey neck in 2 1/4 cups water When the neck is fully cooked, remove it from the water and push it into the turkey cavity.

Add the following to the water:

- 1/2 cup diced celery

- 1 cubed apple (core removed)

- 2 carrots, sliced

- Cut-up turkey giblets

- 1 Tbsp lemon juice

- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

- 1 tsp sage

- 1 tsp thyme

- 1/4 tsp oregano

- 1 1/2 tsp salt

- 1/4 tsp pepper

Raisins or cooked chestnuts (optional)

In a fry pan, cook 1/2 cup of diced onion with 1/3 pound of sausage meat, and add this to the liquid portion. When thoroughly mixed, add 4 or 5 slices of bread torn into bite-size portions and 1 cup of uncooked oatmeal. If there is insuffi - cient liquid to moisten the bread, add water.

Before spooning the stuffi ng into the turkey, wipe the cavity and the outside of the turkey with a lemon-soaked cloth. Stuff the mixture into the turkey. To hold it in, tuck a full crust of bread over the cavity. Brush olive oil over the skin then sparingly sprinkle with salt.

Place in a roasting pan and cover. Cook at 325F for 20 to 25 minutes per pound. Baste twice approximately 1 1/2 hours into the cooking and an hour later. Uncover an hour before the turkey is done.

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