Ok so…. we’ve actually already had Thanksgiving here in Canada. At that juncture, in what was sweet, balmy early October, I was still delirious from firing on all cylinders and just thankful to be able to stay in my bed past 530am and watch reruns of House Hunters while pigging out on salt and vinegar chips until I gave myself a canker sore. I was feeling very, very thankful for just about anything mundane, including roaming around a grocery store non-pushed for time, cleaning out the shoe closet, and getting to know my new stove, which it turns out, semi still hates me.
But some time has passed now. I’m feeling very much like myself again, whatever that means. It’s something akin to a slightly anxious outlook on most things bordering on the cynical, mixed with a trepidacious-ness that can only come to an actor who’s on hiatus ie. out of a job. It’s a neat time for my family and friends!
Our show “Family Law” has brought many nice thing to my life, including most recently an award nomination from my beloved union here in British Columbia, one that was voted on by my peers, which means a great deal to me. Instead of enjoying that, however, what’s funny is I spend most of my time leading up to ceremonious evenings in this industry by stressing myself out, worrying about everything from what I’m supposed to wear to what I should eat before, how jet lagged and exhausted I’ll look (I was going on the heels of a press junket in Mexico for the show and was sleeping maybe five hours a night, mostly due to stressing about THAT), and what on earth I’d say in some semblance of a speech if I– god forbid– won (I didn’t.). It’s a head trip I go on whenever I have to “play myself”, meaning it’s always been a hell of a lot easier to play someone else, to show up as an alter ego, than to show up as me, exposed. (I also understand that most likely way too much thought has gone into this notion, and it’s always gone just fine after the fact, save for the odd aside I can’t help blurting out when I’m trying to be funny.) But on the night of, let’s just say the amount of palm sweating that goes on, the sudden stream of panicked “I don’t want to go up there I don’t want to go up there” thoughts that rip through my head is enough to make the pharmaceutical industry stay in business.
I suppose what I’d love to do is get my head out of my own ass and spend more time appreciating the good fortune I have rather than the worrying about how I’ll pull it off. Pull what off, I don’t know. How does a person pull off being authentic anyway? Isn’t the whole point of authenticity that you don’t have to try?
So if you don’t mind, American friends, I might borrow your Thanksgiving for a moment and sink into the idea of being simply thankful, wholly and presently, undistracted. It’s hard to accept the blessings without worrying about What Comes Next. But I’m going to try.
I’m terribly grateful for so many things. I hope this weekend gives you hundreds of reasons to be grateful and thankful, too.
In closing, because I was still a zombie in early October and missed the opportunity, I’m going to leave you with my mother’s roast turkey recipe, complete with stuffing to accompany your bird and– bonus!– shady directions that are approaching the downright offensive. This is my go-to Thanksgiving turkey recipe, too, and has lasted many a generation and has fed plenty of happy “opu’s” in our house. I just want to insert the disclaimer that I did not write this recipe, and if you think I’m a bad recipe writer (we all have our strengths, honey), wait until you get a load of my Ma.
Authentically yours, at least in writing,
MOMS TURKEY & STUFFING
SHOPPING LIST – 2 FULL DAYS BEFORE SERVING
1 20 lb fresh turkey, or two tenners (usually half the price)
Turkey lifter – or you’ll have to make one with wire coat hangers
2 Large tinfoil roasting pans (for each turkey) (they always get a hole in them and your juice pours all over your oven leaving you nothing for gravy.
Tin foil – heavy duty, widest they got
Two loaves cheap bread (un-sliced is easiest)
Carrots -1cup already grated carrots is easier on the knuckles (let there be no blood this year)
Celery –6 – 8 individual large stalks get a bunch (see prep below)
Onions – package of chopped frozen is easiest or you can use onion powder (Nobody will even notice if you leave the onions out altogether…I’ve done it. )
Apples – three small or two large
Walnuts – already chopped (small package)
Spices – parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and poultry seasoning & maybe onion flakes. Get ground/powdered rosemary – those little sticks are gross.
Milk – you’ll only need a bit (1/2 cup)
Eggs – you’ll need two or three depending on size
DAY BEFORE SERVING
Dump bread out of wrapper into your large pan (roasting pan works good) to let the air get to it for about ½ hour – easier to tear that way, tends to lump less.
Then get comfortable in front of the TV. This is going to take a while. Rip (not CUT) the bread into small chunks (about the size of a mushroom). Put it back into the bags it came in and twist top so it stays relatively moist.
Chop or grate the fresh if you didn’t buy already grated ones. Make sure pieces are small – about the size of a crouton. Chop the celery if you bought a bunch – use the outside stalks and also the leafy greens (they have the most flavor). Chop the apples – including the skin – discard the core.
MORNING OF COOKING
Allow one hour to prep and 6 ½ hours to cook.
Take off your rings. You know who you are. Took days to get the damned things back last time.
Get your roasting pan out. Dump bread bits into the pan. Stir in: carrots, celery, onions (if you’re using dried flakes see below), apples, walnuts, all one at a time to make sure they’re evenly distributed – hands work best. Add the spices: Sprinkle all over top, a thin coating of: 6 tsp parsley, 6 tsp poultry seasoning, 5 tsp rosemary, 2 tsp sage (don’t overdo it, sage is very strong), almost 4 tsp thyme (don’t overdo it, not as bad as sage but..). Once all spices are combined, add some salt. Then, break 3 eggs into a bowl, beat with fork or whisk, add about ½ cup milk. Then slowly dribble this egg/milk mixture over your stuffing mixture, stir. Do it again and stir until all the mixture is slightly damp with egg and milk.
Put your turkey in the sink. Rip off the wrappings. Wash with cool water.
Pull out the bag of giblets, which will be inside. There will also probably be a neck stuffed in the other end. Put these aside in a pot and cover with water. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it for an hour. The liquid in that pot will go into your gravy. Save it.
Then, position your turkey so the biggest hole and the drumsticks are facing you.
Very carefully, separate the skin from the meat at the breast and between the legs and the breast on both sides. You should be able to get half way across the breast. If the skin starts to show resistance, then stop. You should be able to create a rather large open space between the breast and the drumsticks on both sides. This will allow you to put stuffing between the skin and the breast and also between the skin and the top of the drumstick and this will help keep the bird moist during cooking.
Salt the bird inside and also give it a thin coating of poultry seasoning.
Then, using your hands, slowly pack the cavity of the bird with stuffing. Stuff under the skin of the breast and between the breast and the drumsticks. Once you can’t get any more stuffing inside, take the ends of the drumsticks and pull them together, sliding them under the flap of skin that you’ll find at the bottom of the cavity. There will be another smaller hold under that flap. You can pull up the pope’s nose (the large chunk of fat under that and stuff it into the smaller hole. This will keep the stuffing moist.
If you have poultry skewers, use them to keep the skin of the breast in place pulling it down to cover the meat of the breast and insert the skewer as you would a safety pin. If you don’t have skewers, you can use a safety pin or even a bamboo skewer or you can even sew it down with a needle and thread.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: My mother once used a safety pin and it got lost in the pan, please do not do this, it was a dark day for Uncle Darryl*
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the top rack, position the bottom rack on the lowest rung.
Cover the top of the bird, especially over the tops of the drumsticks and the breast with any fat you were able to save from the inside. Add about a cup of water into the bottom of the pan. Cover the bird with tin foil. Place in the oven once the temperature is at 450 degrees. Set the timer for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
After a couple hours, start to baste. Turkey basters make the job much easier.
Addendum: If you didn’t buy a lifter, (Tiffany, looking at you) you can make one from two wire coat hangers, twist the hook off the tops and continue to twist and pull until you can twist the hanger into a shape that will fit around the bird – a giant “U” shape. Put the coat hangers into the bottom of the roasting pan, spaced about four inches apart and from the middle – so your bird will sit on them. When the bird is cooked, you can then lift it out of the pan using the ends of the coat hangers. Get Terry to do it…guys love this part
*EDITOR’S NOTE: I do not recommend this backwoods country bumpkin coat hanger mess. You don’t need a lifter, really. We usually just start carving it when it’s still in the pan if it’s too huge to lift.
LET THE BIRD REST. 30 minutes at least. Get someone else to carve it, you’ve done too much already.
While it’s resting, take the reserved water from the giblets and add that to the drippings from the turkey. Whisk in a tbsp of cornstarch at a time, thickening as you go, until a gravy forms.
Pour a drink, put your feet up, have someone else clean up the mess.