Claremore Daily Progress


November 24, 2010

Sushi anyone?

For some of us, the holidays are full of culinary challenges

CLAREMORE — ‘Tis the season to roast turkey, fa la la la, la la, la la...

Usually, I’m the only turkey at my Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table.

I really prefer ham. Have never liked stuffing. At all. And I’m not that crazy about turkey.

We had a smoked turkey once when I was a teen and I really loved it, but most of the time turkey, dressing and the brownish gravy that accompanies it, is not to my taste.

Still, I am an Oklahoma girl, born and bred to follow the traditions of my mother and grandmothers.

At our family tables through the generations, it has been considered tantamount to an insult to both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans not to have turkey, at least on the Thanksgiving dinner table.

For years, I flew under the radar, showing up to help my mom finish her preparations and lavishly heaping her with praise for her cooking skills while hoping it was never my turn to host our annual Thanksgiving dinner.

Eventually, time catches up with us all and Thanksgiving dinner preparations came around to me.

I was a culinary Jezebel who bucked family tradition and refused to cook a turkey. Once again, I was the black sheep of the family, the child that just had to be different.

For years I held fast to my principles.

Finally one year, I decided to unselfishly put my personal tastes aside and cook a turkey.

OK, since honesty is called for upon this holiday season (Santa is watching me after all and knows when I’ve been naughty or nice...) I will admit the FULL TRUTH.

The price of ham was exorbitant that year and the grocery store where I shopped was running some deal where you got a free turkey with a $50 purchase.

Long story short, I ended up with a frozen turkey in my freezer and decided to take the plunge and cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal for a change.

I drew the line at cornbread stuffing, however, (one of my mother’s traditions) and found a recipe for some sort of wild rice pilaf in one of my health food magazines.

There would be turkey on my table this Thanksgiving.

As is my custom with most meat products, I pulled the turkey out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator that night before going to bed.

I got up early Thanksgiving morning prepared to cook all day.

Unfortunately, that morning I faced a turkey frozen hard as a rock. I read the instructions and realized my mistake.

Surely, if I soaked it in very warm water and cooked it for a long enough time period it would still be finished in time for dinner????

Or not.

Another year I found a special recipe for something made from fresh cranberries. Not a sauce exactly, but a dish that tasted so extraordinary and delicious I knew it had to become our new family tradition, the perfect combination of the past (cranberries) and the new (unique preparation).

It was all good until the first of us got sick.

Victims of a 24-hour virus that had us hanging our heads over the toilet most of the night, none of us ever wanted to taste those cranberries again.

Now my tradition is to find a local foot race to run early in the day – there’s usually a 5K somewhere – and a quick, easy meal later with family or friends.

Potluck is good, Chinese or sushi is even better.

I still love sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and have my own recipes for both. And I occasionally buy canned cranberry sauce as it tastes quite different from my homemade concoction and no cooking or work involved except using the can opener.

So much for Grandma’s tradition.

As I was lacing up my hiking boots the other day, I realized I’m not really the bake cookies kind of grandma anyway. I’m the “let’s go see what leaves, nuts and pine cones we can pick up on a hike” kind of grandma.

I don’t think either of my (so far) two grandsons will mind.

If they REALLY love turkey, their mother can cook it and invite me over.

But the boys may be out of luck as far as American traditions go. Their mama is a beautiful Italian lady and a wonderful cook.

She makes a wide variety of incredible dishes, most of them mouth-watering. Still, I am an inlander and she has a taste for seafood.

The last time I had Christmas dinner at my son and daughter-in-law’s house we had squid ink pasta.

It kinda made me miss turkey. 

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