This year’s perfectly fine, ‘underwhelming’ turkey. (Grace Kennedy)

COLUMN: The Art of War, Thanksgiving dinner edition

Know the enemy and know yourself, and you need not fear the result of a hundred turkey dinners

I had come prepared for war.

Hair tied back in a bun, plaid shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbow, I stood surveying the kitchen. On the stove, pork, celery and carrots were simmering. A bag of white bread sat on the counter — soon to join the pork mixture as stuffing. And in the sink, my nemesis: the Thanksgiving turkey.

Chosen several days before from the Superstore freezer, it had thawed quietly in the fridge. Now, it was subdued in a bath of cold water, taking away the last touches of frost. It looked meek, unassuming, wrapped in its plastic cover. But I knew better.

I had dealt with turkeys before. Evil birds, I knew — not only because I had been traumatized by my grandparents’ rafter of Broad Breasted White Turkeys. (I still recall their red eyes and quiet gobble with a shiver.) They were also evil for the battles they sent to the kitchen-weary.

The first time I attempted to cook a turkey, four years ago, it remained a frosty beast for hours, refusing to thaw even under running water and fervent prayers. Dinner was late that year.

The following year, I was demoted to Assistant Turkey Stuffer for my inability to properly handle the bird the year before. My roommate, a feisty redhead, took over the battle of cooking the poultry. That year, Thanksgiving dinner was several hours early and the turkey turned to dust in our mouths.

I had moved out on my own by the time the third turkey came around. I approached this one with caution. Somehow, I managed to beat this bird into something so tender it disintegrated before it even came out of the pan. Dinner was on time, but we had to pick small vertebrae out of the gravy.

So this year, standing in the kitchen with the morning sun filtering through a layer of cloud, I knew it was my time to win. To battle the bird and serve the perfect turkey.

Stuffing was easy, rubbing down the skin with a mixture of butter, paprika, sage, thyme, salt and pepper a breeze. The drumsticks didn’t tuck under the flap of skin the way they were supposed to — a trick, I thought — but they didn’t move around as I put it into the pan.

At noon, it went into a 350 degree oven.

I waited.

At 4:15 p.m., it was ready to come out. I grabbed the faded pink oven mitts, pulled the pan from its fiery cave and looked at the turkey I had cooked.

The scent wafting from the newly opened oven, it smelled as a reasonably cooked turkey should. Crispy on the bottom — because I had placed the turkey in the pan breast down for maximum juiciness — it looked as a reasonably cooked turkey should. Flipping it over and carving the breast, it cut as a reasonably cooked turkey should.

It was, in a word, underwhelming.

Like an anticlimactic finish to a minor skirmish, the turkey was carved, plated and ready to eat when the first guest arrived. I had won, subdued the turkey. But the story wasn’t nearly as good.

Just Posted

Optimist Club has its sights set on Cloverdale

The international club has been helping youth in the community nearly 100 years.

Surrey RCMP are looking for 47-year-old Audra Jager

Reports say she is easily confused and disoriented because of previous head injury.

Oct. 21st-27th is Newcomer Employment Week in Surrey

The City of Surrey is offering a number of services to help new residents find jobs

READERS REACT: Surrey School District refuses to rent Bell Centre for Parents United Canada rally

There’s been a wealth of responses ever since the ‘pretending to be gay’ story broke earlier this month

Surrey Art Gallery enjoys ‘fun and welcoming’ family Sundays

The next Family Sunday event will take place on March 18th, 2018

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Holy Heritage Rail Batman: Superheros come to Cloverdale historic train

The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail is hosting its third annual Halloween rail adventure Oct 28, 29

Surrey Eagles prep for road tilt with first-place Vernon Vipers

After a Friday night game against Wenatchee, the Birds take aim at BCHL leaders Saturday

Most Read