Monthly Archive: November 2005

Turkey for the uninitiated

Some of the nice people in my family have decided that they’ll spend this weekend in Vegas and go see Paul McCartney in Phoenix, while I get to stay here and take Grandma to her doctor appointment where they’ll probably tell her she needs a hip replacement. These people actually aren’t returning from the west until Thanksgiving Day around 4pm, and they have actually asked me if I wouldn’t mind, oh, cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.  So.  It’s a great honor, but seems like I’m getting the raw end of the deal (P.S., where’s my free trip).  And of course, this is a real winner for me because if I do fine, then everybody gets turkey as usual, but if I screw it up, I’m the Bad Son Who Ruined Thanksgiving.

Without further grumbling, here are the directions for cooking a turkey, courtesy my mom.

  1. On Monday buy the frozen turkey it takes two days for it to thaw in your refrigerator.When you buy the Turkey you will need also
    • Two loafs of bread
    • Four Apples
    • Four Cups of Walnuts
    • Two cups of Raisins
    • One stalk of Celery
    • Four Eggs
    • Sage
    • Parsley
  2. On Wednessday night about 5PM take all the bread and lay it out all over the counter to “dry”  about 8PM it will be sort of dry, flip it over on the other side for an hour or so
  3. Cut the bread in cubes, a seratted knife works better than a regular butcher knife
  4. Cut up the apples and sprinkle with Lemon Juice.. THey wont turn brown if you put lemon juice on them
  5. Wash and cut up the celery.  The slice in small pieces they dont have to be too small
  6. Put the celery, Raisins, Walnuts, all in a bowl
  7. Mix up four eggs with a fork  add the sage into it about two tablespoons you cant over season it
  8. Put the bread now dried out in a bigger bowl cover with saran wrap and leave it on the counter
  9. Put the celery, raisin, walnut egg thing in fridge with saran wrap and the eggs by themselves with saran wrap
  10. Look into the turkey.. the turkey people put many hidden things inside
    You should find a neck, small bag labeled or maybe not that say liver or gibblets, and often chucks of ice
  11. Take all the stuff out of the turkey body  run some warm NOT hot water make sure  you have all the chucks of ice out
  12. Get a clean garbage bag and stick the old turkey in there if he is messy and bloody from the water you can stick a clean hand towel under the garbage bag so he doesnt gunk up your fridge
  13. Read how many pounds he is, I usually get 25 so you have plenty of leftovers.  The sack will tell you how long to cook stuff verus unstuffed.  I think stuffed is 25 minuts a pound on the turkey sack, but I find the overcook it at that amount.
  14. Count back when you want him done based on the sack cooking directions
  15. When you are ready to cook him take half the dried bread and set it aside
  16. Drain the lemon juice off the apples, you dont need much lemon juice just a little to keep them from getting brown
  17. Dump the apples in the walnut/celery/raisin thing
  18. Restir the eggs, maybe add half a cup of water but not very much really
  19. Dump the apples/walnut celery egg thing into HALF OF THE BREAD, remember you set half aside that has nothing on it.
  20. Stir with a wooden spoon or your hands
  21. Evaluate how it looks.. if it looks 50% bread and 50% other stuff dont add any more bread.. if it doesnt look 50-50 add some more bread, you may end up throwing out bread, dont worry it doesnt cost anything feed the bread to birds for thanksgiving
  22. Get the turkey out of the fridge  You wash his insides the night before so the bread doesnt get drowned in the water you might ahve to put in him to get rid of the ice buildup.
  23. Get some handfuls of the stuffing mixture and put inside his big cavity.. FIll it about 80% full.  Cookbooks will tell you less that it will expand but I have never found it to expand, it soaks up turkey jucies and gets smaller to me but that has been my experience.
  24. Rotate the bird to the neck side.  You can get maybe two cups of the stuffing in this side… The idea is to “puff it up” so he looks pretty
  25. Put him in the over at 325 I belive check the turkey bag.
  26. About half way through the estimated cooking time, check on him..  If he is getting two brown take a sheet of aluminium foil and make a “TENT” over him.. Dont secure the tent edges, leave them to flap in the air, if you seal them down it “Steams him” and makes him tough.
  27. Take the rest of the dressing stuff and put in a greased pan and hold onto it until the turkey is almost done.. If there is room cook the stuffing along with the turkey.
  28. If there isnt room in the oven then bring it with you and  you cook it when you put the turkey on the table.  This stuff cooks in about 30 minutes.

Updated for 2015: This recipe withstands the test of thyme, with people still looking it up and using it ten years later. But there’s something new that I do these days which isn’t in here. Before stuffing the turkey, soften 3/4 to 1 stick of butter, and mix it liberally with sage using your fingers. You should have a mostly pliable butter sludge. Also using your fingers, loosen up the skin from the meat… all over the bird, but particularly the breasts. It is possible to totally loosen all of the skin if you want to (but it’s not necessary). After you get the skin unpeeled, shove the butter under the skin. This is messy work and it is really going to freak you out if you don’t like touching meat. However, what I’ve realized is that the presence of the butter under the skin flavors the meat, and it serves as a moisture barrier to keep the meat from drying out. The fat blocks water from leaving the meat… and you will get an extremely tender bird. Do it!

…and who NOT to vote for!

Every year, it falls to me to grouse and complain about the abuse of the public trust practiced by certain local candidates who seem to think they own the whole damn road.  I’m not talking about the driving, I’m talking about their signs in the public right-of-way.

This year on May 23rd, I wrote to City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer to complain about violations of the Columbus City Code.  The relevant section of code is 902.02 (a).

902.02 Obstructing sidewalks or streets.
(a) No person, regardless of intent, shall place, deposit, maintain, or use, or cause or permit to be placed, deposited, maintained, or used upon any street, alley, sidewalk, highway, or right-of-way any materials, containers, vending equipment, structures, appliances, furniture, merchandise, bench, stand, sign, or advertising of any kind, or any other similar device or obstruction except as authorized by the transportation administrator, as required by Chapter 903 of the Columbus City Code.

I did get a very nice and considerate voice mail, along with a suggestion to forward my letter to Public Safety Directory Henry Guzman, but neither of these guys has completely solved the problem.

I don’t drive very often, but I did happen to drive down Olentangy to dinner tonight and in a half-mile stretch, I saw signs from five different candidates!  The offenders cluttering the public landscape were:

  • Phill Harmon, unendorsed Republican
  • Mary Jo Hudson, endorsed Democrat
  • Jay Perez, endorsed Democrat
  • Mike Rankin, endorsed Democrat
  • Amy Salerno, endorsed Republican (Ms. Salerno is the winner of this tacky contest, having staked out seven signs on every corner of the intersection of Goodale and Olentangy River Road)

These signs collect all month, blowing all over the street, and then no one takes them down after the election.  Public land belongs to everyone, and is not to be used to one candidate’s personal benefit.  And may I remind my readers of the irony here, three of the above candidates openly violating city law and the public trust are running for judge?

Party and qualifications be damned.  If you put up a sign on public property, you lose my vote.  Let’s have a little dignity and respect for the process.

Why you should vote YES…

Reading the editorial page of the Columbus Dispatch is like being in an abusive relationship.  Just when you think you’re safe, you wake up, and out of nowhere you get brained.  Unfortunately, unlike a battered wife, I really have to admit that it’s all my fault and I don’t know why I keep going back to him.

This Sunday the Dispatch opposed Reform Ohio Now’s issues 2 through 5.  With all the thoughtful writing they’ve done on local city issues and on abuses of power, plus with the series of articles we’ve seen on Ohio’s lopsidedly gerrymandered legislative districts, I was sure they would back at least some of the issues.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to be lying to my friends that “I fell down the stairs,” because this hurt and I sure didn’t see it coming.

I was not whole-heartedly behind each issue.  In very brief, the issues are:

  • 2: absentee voting in advance
  • 3: campaign contribution limits
  • 4: end party-based gerrymandering of districts
  • 5: pass statewide control of elections to a board rather than the Secretary of State

I have been leaning toward opposing 2 and 3 and supporting 4 and 5.

Issue 2 allows people to vote up to 35 days before the date of the actual election.  I think this is a terrible idea.  While the idea of absentee voting seems nice, a lot can happen in the five weeks before an election.  As we allow voting farther and farther ahead, people are more likely to miss defining events on the campaign trail, and once your vote is cast, it can’t be changed.  Consider what happened last year in the 26th District where I lived: the Democratic primary was won by Mike Mitchell, who defeated his opponent by only 173 votes.  But (according to the paper on March 9, 2004) Mitchell had gotten a DUI citation just two days before the election.  He was also charged with going 70 in a 55 and driving on a suspended license.  (Unfortunately, this didn’t hit the news until it was too late.)  If people had known about this before they voted, I think he would have lost the election.  Early voting costs you the chance to make important last-minute decisions.

Issue 3 is campaign contribution limits; I honestly don’t have a strong position here and I don’t want to talk about it.  I think they are a mistake.

Issue 4, however, is the real jewel of this year’s reform package.  Under issue 4, anyone could submit a plan for the state’s legislative districts, and that plan would be scored for its political competitiveness.  The formula — which is insanely complicated (go read it) — gives higher points if a district is more evenly balanced between the two parties.  The highest overall point-getting plan generally wins and is chosen by an impartial board.  It’s more complicated than that, but it would end the system where last year Democrats won their Ohio House seats by an average of some 60 percent and Republicans by some 40 percent.  Gerrymandering used to be more of an art, but in the last go-round, computer mapping technology had advanced so much that these crazy unwinnable districts have been much easier to draw.  (I know, because I write mapping software.)

The gerrymandering in our state is really costing us, because the people who get elected just have to win their party primary, not appeal to a broad electorate.  In the case of the 26th District, by the way, Mike Mitchell went on to run unopposed in the general election, and he won.  (The Dispatch said that the “solution would be worse than the problem” and that “Democrats’ weak challenges to GOP officeholders have played a role in this problem.”  But it cuts both ways when Republicans don’t field any candidate at all.)

Issue 5 would take election oversight duties away from the Secretary of State and give them to a board of election officials.  Although a board might be less responsive, I think it would be a worthwhile step.  In Ohio in 2004, as in Florida in 2000, the Secretary of State was at the center of a heated, disputatious election, and the Secretary of State was also the chairman of the Bush campaign.  It presented a ridiculous conflict of interest.  I understand Florida has already stripped their SOS of election duties, by the way.

I think the Dispatch does have a good point to make about the complexity and specificity of the laws, saying that “they seek to write highly detailed, prescriptive language and untested policy into the Ohio Constitution.  Once there, fixing any deficiencies would require another statewide vote.”  While this is true, I am not exactly holding my breath for either party to voluntarily level the playing field.  Also, while issues 2 and 3 generally deal with regulation of elections and are probably better suited to being acts of the legislature, issues 4 and 5 are structural in nature and therefore do belong in our state’s constitution.  As an alternative, the broad outlines of issue 4’s formula might have been put into the constitution, along with the requirement of a more detailed enabling act to be passed by the legislature, so that the variables could be tinkered with, but I’m not comfortable with anything coming out of the Statehouse these days.

Our electoral system is fundamental to our functioning democracy.  Vote yes on issues 4 and 5!