**NOTE** the funniest part of this post is at the bottom. The rest is just lots of detailed buildup. Feel free to skip ahead.
Thanksgiving in Amsterdam is an interesting event -- our ovens are small, cranberries are scarce and we work on Thursday. This year I decided to have dinner on Friday for about 18 friends. I had waited way too long to order my turkey from Small World, the place that delivered such an excellent bird two years ago, so this year I had to cook one myself.
I went to the market last Saturday and visited my favorite stall where I get the most awesome eggs and ordered a five kilo turkey...a WILD turkey to pick it up Wednesday (they only sell on Saturday at one market and Wednesday at another - see? Not the easiest holiday to shop for here oh friends in the land of 24 hour shopping in giant supermarkets). Since my only reference for wild turkey was the booze, I turned to the internet for help. Apparently they are all dark meat and can be very dry. Jeez. Armed with new knowledge and a fair amount of fear, I went to a shop to buy a roasting rack and other requisite turkey cooking gear, and wound up getting an earful of advice from a guy who works there and apparently LOVES cooking the big fowl. The key, he said, was basting the turkey every 20 minutes through bacon-grease soaked cheesecloth, while roasting at 150C until the bird gets to 56 degrees, and then it comes out of the oven to rest for an hour.
On Wednesday morning I went up to the market to pick up the turkey in a cold rain storm before going to work. Despite the fact that they were just setting up the booth, the farmer got it out for me, after asking me a few time if I was SURE that I wanted a wild turkey, and if I was SURE I knew how to cook it. He told me I should use at a lower temperature for a longer time, so I reconsidered my plan and committed to 130C for around four hours. Keep this change in mind as you read...
As I was loading the turkey into my bicycle saddlebag, the farmer's daughter tapped me on the shoulder and said, "He wanted me to tell you. He shot the bird last night in his forest." Oh my - the pressure of honoring a life. And then I rode to work with a turkey...Thanksgiving in Amsterdam.
I took Friday off to cook all day and put the turkey in the oven promptly at 3pm, after it had slept all night in a sea of salt, water, molasses and herbs. The first surprise came when the turkey, sitting on its new roasting rack in its new roasting pan and covered with bacon-grease cheesecloth, hit the oven ceiling and caused a tiny fire. Right. No roasting rack. After two hours, the turkey had yet to release any drippings and I was freaking out that it wasn't cooking. The temperature was up to 40C and I was telling myself that it needed to get all the way to 150 degrees. Confused? Me too. After three hours there were some drippings but not many, so I raised the temp a little bit. 30 minutes later, I took the cheesecloth off, 30 minutes after that, the temp went up a bit more. See a pattern?
By 8pm, the temperature was up to 70 degrees, when I started freaking out that it would never be finished. It was brown and gorgeous and smelled AMAZING and there were drippings for days, but it wasn't cooking! I turned to Jen and Mariah and said, it isn't hot! They asked how hot I wanted it to get and when I told them, they looked at me and said, "150 Celsius? That is like 300 degrees!!!" Oh. shit. I somehow got so confused and had remembered a different temperature and was reading Celsius when it should have been Fahrenheit and I killed the bird.
Then there was drama and pacing back and forth on the roof calling myself stupid and an idiot, convinced that I ruined Thanksgiving for everyone. Luckily I have amazing friends who talked me down (literally) and wouldn't let me throw the bird in the trash or myself out a window. The funny part is that if it were me on the other side, and my friend had done the same thing, I wouldn't even consider the night ruined or the situation to be that bad, but when it is you (me), the responsibility to make the evening perfect, or at least delicious, is so strong, everything else is dwarfed. I now understand a little bit more about my mom and why she sometimes was the way she sometimes was before big holiday dinners.
We let the very brown turkey rest and went to work on making so many sides that no one would notice if it was dry, but when it came time to cut up the turkey, it was fine! A bit on the dry side, yes, but certainly not the driest I ever had, and the brine made the meat taste SO GOOD! Our plates were full and everything was great. The company was even better. The bird did not die in vain and the bones made a beautiful stock so everything was used to bring delicious joy for meals to come.
And that is the beauty of Thanksgiving. Despite hurdles, it all comes down to enjoying food with people who love you and who you love. Warts, forgetfulness, drama and all. XXX
As I stare out the window at the gray Amsterdam winter that is sucking all the color out of life, I fantasize about whizzing along the Mediterranean coast in a sleek sports car, wearing some sort of sheath number that doesn't get stuck on my thighs or gap at the arms, and carrying a dossier detailing my next super-spy adventure.
Watching sixties-era Bond movies throughout my childhood made me question wide lapels and hippies. And I never really jived with women in power suits unless that suit is a hip-hugging bikini because those women are BAD ASS - sexy, powerful, smart and beautiful.
This is why Yuki-7, the creation of artist Kevin Dart, makes my heart bounce around with glee.
From Kevin's website/blog: Swinging 60’s spy girl, Yuki 7. Seductive, intelligent, and charming, Yuki romps through film after film, vanquishing villains while looking fabulous. Since these madcap movies exist only in his imagination, Kevin has brought Yuki’s world to life through a collection of original artwork and stories.
You can see more of Yuki-7 in digital gallery form to help get your super spy groove on. I am mentally applying fake tanner and coral lipstick to get me in the mood for trouble.