Sunday, November 19, 2006

Giblets Roasting on an Open Fire

By C. L. Beck

Aaaah, Thanksgiving—the time of year to eat roast turkey, smashed taters and stuffing. There’s only one way to make the stuffing and that's with sour dough bread and giblets. Ok, I hear some of you gagging at the mention of giblets, but mine is an old family recipe that tastes great. And I wouldn’t be caught dead touching a giblet otherwise.

We have time honored traditions in our home and we follow them to the letter. One year, however, things didn’t go quite as expected. We watched the Macy’s parade in the morning while the giblets simmered in the pan on the stove. Then we turned them off (the giblets, not Macy’s), and made the stuffing . . . using . . . well, I won’t tell you which parts, because it’ll just start you gagging again. I will say I’m picky about which innards go into my stuffing and there’s no way that gristly ol’ gizzard went in there. In fact, being an animal lover, I left it in the pan of water and turned it back on so it would cook more for the cats. Then I shoveled the stuffing into the gobbler and got that baby roasting.

While it cooked, we jumped in our truck and headed up the canyon to go skiing. I could almost catch a whiff of roast turkey floating among the pines. The clouds threw dancing shadows that resembled pumpkin pies, and the snow looked like mounds of whipped cream.

After a couple of hours, it was time to go. On the drive down my tumbly was rumbly, thinking of the turkey that would be ready at home. My favorite Thanksgiving moment always happened when we walked in the door and the warmth of the kitchen washed over us, while the pungent odor of sage, onions and roast turkey wrapped us in a culinary hug.

I was the first to bail out of the truck and raced to the door anticipating the aroma. I stopped short with my hand on the knob. “What’s that weird sound?”

Being deaf in one ear and not able to hear out of the other, Russ had no clue. “I don’t hear anything,” he said.

“It sounds kind of like a high-pitched siren.” Puzzled but not concerned, I turned the key in the lock and opened the door, inhaling to my fullest in preparation for the wonderful smells to come.

Acrid smoke poured out and rushed up my nose, while the smoke detector screamed like a wild banshee. “What’s going on?” I yelled to Russ over the din while waving my hands to clear a path through the smoke.

“Something’s burning!” he hollered.

Duh. I could tell something was burning, but what was it? Had the turkey exploded from its cooking bag and plastered itself all over the oven? Just then my son walked in and said, “Hey, something’s burning!”

My family has a talent for stating the obvious.

By now we were almost deaf. Apparently it never occurred to fire alert manufacturers that some people might not dash out the door, but instead would stand around discussing what’s on fire.

Taking decisive action, I grabbed a dish towel and flapped it frantically under the detector to clear the sensors and shut it up, while Russ dashed to the oven to pull out the turkey. Dave stood in the doorway waving the door to clear the air, and cheered us on in between coughs.

Russ yelled at the top of his lungs, “It’s not the turkey. It’s something on the stove that looks like . . . like . . . a black turkey gizzard, burned until it’s become one with the pan.” Naturally, the smoke detector quite screaming at just that minute, so that even strangers on the streets of Provo knew we had giblets roasting on an open fire.

Despite the fiasco of a holiday where our house smelled of burned gizzard, and we ate bundled in coats because the doors were opened to air out the smoke, it was a Thanksgiving to remember. My son, now thirty-something, loves to tell the story to anyone who will listen.

Some might think it foolish to tempt fate, but I’ve cooked giblets every Thanksgiving since. And even though there will only be two of us for Thanksgiving this year, I still plan to make my grandma’s stuffing. A tradition like that can’t be tossed out the window just because of a little burned gizzard in the past. Besides, I’ve learned from my mistakes and now take extra precautions.

The night before Thanksgiving I always pull the battery out of the smoke detector.

(Have a happy Thanksgiving! May your turkey be succulent, your mashed potatoes fluffy, your pumpkin pie delightful . . . and may your gizzards never burn.)


Stephanie Black said...

Great story. In our house, the smoke detector is placed so close to the kitchen that it doubles as a dinner bell . . . of course, maybe if I'd clean the drip pans under my stove burners, it wouldn't go off as often.

Good luck on the giblets this year! :-)

C. L. Beck said...

I had to laugh at your comment. Your smoke detector and mine must be related . . . it surely can’t be our cooking or the drip pans on the stove! :-)

Thanks for reading, and for your good luck wishes with the giblets.

Triple Nickel said...

What a great story. Reminds me of someone I know! When our smoke dectors go off, so do the dogs! They really howl. All the neighbors then know somethings up for sure! Hope you have good luck this year!

C. L. Beck said...

Triple Nickel,
Thanks for reading. So your dogs sing with the smoke detector, huh? Mine do, too. I always thought they were singing, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." :-)