Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA
The Heartbeat of Haverhill was assigned turkey and stuffing duty this year after a long hiatus where I was banished to salads and appetizers, and sometimes restaurant reservations. THOH never planned to appeal that ruling brought on by the unfortunate turkey incident of 1996, but this year there was a true need and I stepped up with a significant sense of dread. Turkey is so rife with potential disasters, everyone hates a dry turkey, everyone gets poisoned by a raw turkey, there are too many ways to get it wrong.
You know when you walk through the school doors on your last day of formal education and you swear you’ll never use math again and you’re happy for that thought? Guess again. The logistics of turkey cooking is like the biggest most important math equation ever, when you know 14 people will have their worst beliefs in your cooking ability confirmed by the slightest misstep.
So it went something like this: if Suzy (hypothetically) wants to bring the turkey to the meal at 3:00 pm at her sister’s house about 16 miles away traveling on mostly rural back roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less, and has to pick up her father who lives ten minutes away heading in the same general direction, and wants to put the turkey in the car at the last possible second what time does the turkey go into the oven given that we know it’s about 14.5 lbs (someone threw out the wrapper so not 100% sure), turkey roasts at about 13-14 minutes per pound if cooked at 325 degrees though some of the higher ranked recipes suggest starting at 400 degrees then lowering the temp every hour or so if you believe the cook-the-bird-upside-down-for-a-juicier-meat theory has any validity, but maybe 25% less time because it will be cooked in convection roasting mode which is the only roasting mode on my oven.
My husband must have sensed the smoke coming out of my brain as I struggled with the equation. He insisted we stick the bird in the oven and get out of the house for a coffee and anything that would take the stress off and eliminate the multiple oven door openings that I would be tempted to perform further messing with my equation if I stayed home.
So what calms down The Heartbeat of Haverhill? Why driving around the city looking for beauty and fun to capture on my camera, of course. The new snow had a lot of appeal this early in the season that I expect will wear off by mid-January so best to enjoy it now. And off we went, with a little fortification from Heavnly Donuts, open til noon on Thanksgiving Day (something else to add to my gratitude list!)
Shortly after returning home the turkey was done, and The Heartbeat of Haverhill knew this because the little red button popped up, maybe 45 minutes before my calculations would have suggested.
My dad thought the car smelled wonderful when he got in as it was laden with turkey, stuffing and two pies – good start. We arrived after many, many admonitions about driving over bumps, jack rabbit starts and sharp corners, I had to keep this meal, especially the fragile blueberry pie crust, intact.
Time to eat. I offered to prepare a plate for my father and I’m pretty sure he winced when I asked “white or dark”, and hesitantly replied “white, but just a little”. Obviously, even at 89 years of age, his memory of my turkey failure isn’t failing him. So I gave him an amount that need be he could safely hide under the garnish.
And then there was the Thanksgiving miracle. When he finished his plate, he asked for more acclaiming that this was the first good turkey he’d had in decades. And for the first time in a decade, I forgot my camera so no pictures!
Mental note to self – If I want to make another miracle turkey, I must remember to add a drive through Haverhill to perfect the timing.
The Heartbeat of Haverhill is feeling blessed by all that I have: my family, friends and pets, my Haverhill, the readers of this blog AND my turkey rebound.
(c) 2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell