09 Nov
So, About This Turkey Thing

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I am a culinary disaster. Everything I cook turns out horribly, and I really hate being in the kitchen. My husband has invited his parents over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I know he would be really happy if I made a home cooked feast. What should I do?


Turkey Trouble


Dear Turkey Trouble,

That’s funny, because my husband would be really happy if I walked the Victoria Secret runway in a bra, g-string and those huge -ass Angel wings attached to my back, but that’s not happening either.   Perhaps our husbands can get together and commiserate about ways in which we are not making their dreams come true.   It could be a real Iron John bonding moment, and if we surreptitiously film it, I’m sure we’ll become YouTube millionaires.

I’m sure that your husband appreciates many of your other fine qualities, like the fact that you will even consider the notion of entertaining his parents for Thanksgiving.   It’s time for a moment of truth–can you handle a turkey?   Personally, I think that’s a tall order if   you loathe all things kitchen.   The chances for failure and frustration are just too great. And if you mess up the Thanksgiving Turkey, it’s some sort of a non-forgettable offense. So why not ask your husband if he’ll make the turkey. I suggest saying it casually, as though you’d already discussed it and it’s a fait accompli.   Say, “Okay, so you’ll do the turkey and I’ll saute some brussel sprouts, right?” If he goes along with, fantastic! Problem solved!

Otherwise,   I recommend throwing money at this problem.   Check out the local grocery stores in your neighborhood and see if they provide an already prepared turkey that you can place strategically in your oven. That way, you get to take the turkey out of the oven and look all radiant.   And if you’re worried about the price, don’t fret.   This is what perfectly innocent people in Manhattan have to pay for the privilege of not poisoning their loved ones on Thanksgiving.

Then steam a vegetable of your choice (provided that your choice consists of something steam-able, like brussel sprouts, broccoli or asparagus); make a quick mustard vinaigrette, and viola!   Dinner, she is served.

For dessert, get a bottle of Karo Corn Syrup (I like dark) and follow the super easy recipe for pecan pie on the bottle.   Seriously, you can do it with your eyes closed and you should hear the praise.   (Really, give me your address and I’ll send you the tape that I’ve made of the praise I’ve been given.)

Good luck and good eating!
Marinka, TMH


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9 Responses to “So, About This Turkey Thing”


Comment by DG at Diaryofamadbathroom.

Here are two tips if you can’t find a prepared turkey –

1) If you are having a crowd (10 or more people) it might be safer and saner to cook two breasts instead of one bird. Cooking time and doneness across parts won’t be as challenging.

2) Butterball has a turkey help line that can help you with any any questions or issues you may have. I think they are even open on Thanksgiving day. –

Phone Number: 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372). The Butterball ® Turkey Talk-Line is open annually in November and December.


Comment by phd in yogurtry.

I highly recommend this method:

Part One: Husband cooks the turkey. Part Two: Wife worries about the side dishes.
Part Three: In-laws bring the pies.

Husband stuffs it with oranges and apples (as learned from Harry, formerly LBJ’s Ranch house cook). Also, don’t stuff the bird with bread. Dries it out. Finally, cook the bird upside down. Breast down. It’s not as pretty but the breast stays moist and tender.

Now again, my first hand experience is limited to sitting at the table, stuffing my face with delicious turkey, and listening to my husband expound about his many talents. But it works for us.


Comment by the mama bird diaries.

I’ve always found that throwing money at a problem is highly successful.


Comment by MommyTime.

Save yourself time, hassle, and the nagging worry about salmonella by not stuffing the turkey. Instead make dressing, which is stuffing that is cooked in a casserole dish instead of stuffed inside the bird. An unstuffed bird cooks faster and more evenly, and you can use canned chicken or turkey broth to moisten the dressing, so that it is delicious. Those bags full of seasoned bread cubes that are everywhere right now have very easy dressing recipes on them.


Comment by Brianna.

If your relatives are long-distance, this is pretty easy. Buy your precooked, gorgeous turkey somewhere, a couple bags of those steam-n-mash frozen potatoes, and a bag of pre-seasoned bread cubes. Both potatoes and dressing are nearly foolproof and take less than two hours of prep and cooking time total, even for the complete novice. Then spend at least ten minutes thanking them for making the flight/drive to see you, effectively distracting them from the fact that none of the food was your doing. They’ll feel all warm and glowy from the gratitude you heap on them… and not the food poisoning they’d otherwise get. If they aren’t complete douchebags, they’ll be grateful for the thanks and the poison-free food, and that will be that.

If they live close by, they likely already know of your lack of prowess in the kitchen, and won’t be at all surprised by the bought feast. Your husband will get over the non-home-cooked thing, or he can sleep on the couch next to his (probably much more appreciative) parents.


Comment by Karin.

Those Reynolds turkey bags are awesome and I agree with phd that upside down birds are best (you can also do a “practice” bird the week before and freeze the cut up meat in case something goes wrong on the big day). I just made gravy from scratch for the first time ever (yes, I’m an experienced cook but I don’t really like gravy so it never crosses my mind to make it from drippings) and let me tell you, don’t waste your time – buy the stuff in the jar.

For something that looks hard and can be done in advance, twice baked potatoes – I do both white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Bake potatoes the day before, cut in 1/2 short ways, scoop out potato, set in tact skin “cups” in greased cupcake pan, make mashed potatoes (I use Allrecipe’s gourmet sweet potato recipe for the sweet potatoes), fill “cups” & top, refrigerate. Bake for 35 minutes after you take the bird out of the oven. Make sure you have the stuff that goes on twice baked white potatoes (bacon bits, sour cream, chives) even if you don’t eat it (experience taking here).

Bake everything in disposable tins. This way your Mrs. Smith’s pies won’t look out of place AND hubby dearest will be “doing the dishes” by taking the trash/recycling out. I’d also go with disposable plates but that’s just me – I’ll cook or do dishes but I ain’t doin’ both and I guarantee that the thought of doing either of those things never crossed hubby’s mind (his brain turns to mush when his family is around).


Comment by amy.

Been married 17 years and never done the freaking turkey! From the sounds of it from hubby though it is the easiest part; stuff and shove in oven.

mashed potatos are easy, throw in a veggie side dish or two, gravy and you are good to go.

You Can do this! And hope you fully expect next year they will return the favor~!


Comment by Lisa.

How about an actual conversation with your husband about this? Did he really invite them without asking you? And what gives with him expecting you to cook when whatever you cooks sucks? Are you exaggerating how bad your cooking is or is he just delusional that you will suddenly cook something yummy? I mean, it doesn’t make any sense that he’d want you to cook.


Comment by Karen.

Don’t you remember that episode of Frasier when his dad complained becasue they had fancy “fresh” cranberry sauce because it is just not the same if it doesn’t have the ridges from the can?

You could go all out trying to fix fancy things, but if they are not expecting it then you wasted your time.

I agree with doing the turkey if you feel comfortable or ordering one if you don’t. Mashed potatoes, gravy from a mix, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce from a can, stuffing from a mix…what more do you need? Macaroni and cheese from a box looks all fancy if you put it in a casserole dish, top with some extra cheese and bake it.

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