#Thanksgiving Guest Post: Stephen M. Swartz: How to Stuff a Wild Turkey!  

 ‘Tis time to tickle the titillating turkey!

Soon many will be slouching and slumping and snoring or snorting, content in the afterglow of their gluttonous indulgences and warm family camaraderie the put off for almost 365 days each year.

That is our holiday tradition in the north of America, no matter how the origins and historical developments and political corrections have affected it. I, for one, do not indulge much on these sordid days called holidays; however, I always enjoy a day off from the usual.

I recommend this source of information about Thanksgiving because practically all of it is wrong, or considered wrong to someone somewhere. Or the official source, Plymouth Plantation, if you care to surround yourself with facts and speculations. They may yet be debated, if you have time after dinner and between the games.

 

I choose to boil it all down from whatever origins are true and run with the general idea of being thankful for what I have and be humble about what good things I may be thankful for in the coming year. You are welcome to believe likewise.

(A bit of personal connection: I visited the Plymouth site in Massachusetts as a child, gazed down upon the 1621-stamped big rock called Plymouth, yet did not travel there in a Plymouth automobile. The irony!)

Nevertheless, holiday traditions die hard (though the turkeys are fairly easy). From time immemorial I and all my relations would gather at the grandparents’ house with much food in hand and have a grand feast. I recall dinners with a giant turkey at one end of the long table and a giant ham at the other end, and a hundred side dishes and a thousand desserts stacked everywhere. I was a little boy with big eyes; later, I was a starving teenager with a bottomless stomach. I do not recall having much leftovers.

Now, however, I can barely finish a turkey sandwich and a side of baked sweet potato. Then my cousins grew up (and I suppose I did, too) and we all had our own families. By then, the grandparents had passed on and Thanksgiving dinners became separate and self-contained. At some point it became pointless to go to the trouble of it, even at the risk of having no leftovers.

I remember the best of the worst:

  • 2003. Stuck in my doctoral program in the snowy hills of western Pennsylvania, it did not make sense to travel back to Kansas to visit family members for three days. Especially when I had final papers to prepare. So I just made burritos at home and kept typing my papers.
  • 2010. Nobody was interested in going to the trouble of cooking a big dinner, so I went out to the grocery and bought a portion of smoked turkey and side dishes from the deli in the store. Ended up I ate it all myself.
  • 1988 and 1989. I was living in Japan so it wasn’t even a holiday. And turkey was an unfamiliar bird. I cannot recall exactly what I ate on those days yet it was likely something with teriyaki sauce on it.
  • 2007. I had the turkey dinner, which was fine. On the drive back to Pennsylvania, however, I had a flat tire on a rainy Sunday night passing through the bad part of Columbus, Ohio, and had to stay over to get the tire fixed the next morning. I ate at the Waffle House next to the cheap motel.
  • Another year in my youth. To gain the favor of a certain young lady, I agreed to participate a “starve-in” at a local church. Young people would empathize with the starving masses of the world by not eating Thanksgiving dinner. At all. To help us endure our hunger pain we played games and had other entertainments. When it was done, I went home and dove into the leftovers my parents had. I only went to that event to impress a girl. What a turkey I was!
  • Not sure of the year but it was while I was living at my parents’ house, so I must have been young. We had a goose at my request. Richer taste, oily meat, less meat for leftovers, a free portion of pate de fois gras (liver), and a bad case of indigestion which was later identified as ptomaine poisoning. Cook your bird thoroughly!

Or, as the early founding chefs had prominently placed on the menu, stick with venison and lobster! Or, in the alternative, try soybean pudding, sometimes called “tofu.” Perhaps a turkey substitute could be created from various local vegetables and exotic fruits. Use your imagination. And don’t forget the turkey chili . . . for the next two weeks!

No matter what happens this year, indulge in moderation and may your moderation be indulgent. See you on the other side!

Stephen’s Stuffing 
 
[please, no weird puns, ok?]

Ingredients: a loaf of cheap bread, stick of real butter, medium summer sausage, bag of dried apricots, bunch of celery, little jar of sage, a bottle of orange juice, salt & pepper to your tastes. (You could substitute cooked/dried cranberries for the apricots, if you wish; in that case, skip the OJ and use cranberry juice.)

Spread butter over several slices of bread. Tear up the bread into little pieces, putting the pieces into a large bowl.

Cut up the sausage; slice then dice. Put that it the large bowl with the bread pieces. Cut the apricots and celery into little pieces and put the pieces into the large bowl. Shake in a good amount of sage, salt, and pepper. Mix up everything in the large bowl.

Take the mixture from the bowl and put it into a small pan, something like 8×8 inches will do–or 9×9, 10×10, 12×12, whatever fits the size of your appetite. (I do not recommend stuffing the turkey itself because it is rather gross when you think about it and you don’t know for sure what is still inside the turkey.) Then sprinkle some sage on top. Pour some orange juice into the pan; not a lot, but get everything wet. The OJ will make it slightly tart; you can skip the OJ if you want to and it will still be good.

Put the pan with the stuffing in it into the oven and bake until it starts to smell good, perhaps 30 to 40 minutes at 350*F. I’m going on memory now, so be careful. Putting foil over the top may help it along. It seems to me that we always put it in with the foil-wrapped potatoes for the same time and temp, so try that.

Or, you could layer each ingredient in the pan: bread pieces first, then the pieces of sausage, celery, apricot, sage, and repeat. Pour the orange juice over the top, let it soak down into the mixture, then bake.

NOTE: I am not, nor have I ever been, a cook, chef, or baker. However, this recipe is a hybrid of recipes I assisted with in my youth, standing alongside one or the other grandmother, so it checks out. You will not get sick from eating it. Enjoy!

This shall also serve as an example of a process essay for students who do not know just how easy it is to write one.

And thanks to all of you for your indulgence, your patience, and your constant attention to whatever the heck I post here, lo these many months!


© 2015 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved originally published  November 23, 2015 on Deconstruction of the Sekuatean Empire

Stephen M. Swartz  is an author and blogger, and a professor of English at a major university. He is the author of the scifi Dreamland trilogy, along with numerous other fantasy and Mainstream novels. His works can be purchased at amazon.com and other fine retailers. He can be found regularly  blogging at Deconstruction of the Sekuatean Empire.

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Author: conniejjasperson

Connie J. Jasperson lives in Olympia, Washington. A vegan, she and her husband share five children, a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, an editor for Myrddin Publishing Group, and is a writing coach. She is an active member of the both the Northwest Independent Writers Association and Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and is a founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group. Music and food dominate her waking moments. When not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly.

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