Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Exploding Turkey

A fairly new bride, I was planning my first Thanksgiving Dinner. The in-laws would be there, and so would our close friends. I was looking forward to the gathering with a mixture of anticipation and deep anxiety. Everything needed to be perfect. But as with most aspects of life, perfection is a goal, not a reality.

A good rule to follow is not to try anything new when you’re having company. I knew this, but turkey certainly wasn’t new, nor were the potatoes, corn, cranberries, and stuffing. What was new, however, was the method of preparation.

Space-age technology had found its way into the kitchen labs and the result was a marvelous cooking bag. You placed the stuffed turkey into the bag, placed the bag into the roasting pan, and then popped the whole affair into the oven. What could be simpler? No mess! No clean-up!

“When all else fails, read the directions.” Heard that piece of advice before? It’s easy enough to ignore when you don’t think it applies to you. This kind of arrogance can get you into quite a pickle, to use a food metaphor. I was no exception.

The procedure seemed so simple I didn’t think that reading the directions could possibly enlighten me any further. And so I didn’t. “Pride goeth before a fall.” Or in this case, an explosion.

Somewhere between the appetizer course and the ritual of setting the table, a sonic boom roared through the tiny apartment. This was accompanied by smoke. Everyone ran to the kitchen (not a long run) and watched with anxious faces as I nailed the source of the explosion. The turkey was plastered to the oven door, roof, and sides. Pieces hung from the broiling element like Cajun Christmas ornaments.

I had neglected to punch the appropriate holes in the bag. We silently turned back to the table, took up our plates, scraped the main course onto them and proceeded with dinner. Needless to say it became cemented into family lore and I still hear about it, every Thanksgiving. “Remember when Karen blew up her first turkey?” It’s been the stuff of legend for the past 40 years.

I had nowhere to go but up. And from then on, I read the directions, whether I thought I needed to or not.


  1. It's really hard not to laugh at a story like that, Karen. I'm sure it wasn't all that funny the day it happened, though.

  2. I'm afraid I laughed a bit at the story. :P

  3. Karen, thanks so much for the laugh...I'm just getting over my own non-holiday kitchen explosion situation...and I've been cooking for 40 years!

    I was baking acorn squash, split in half and sitting in a glass baking dish when I heard the sizzle that warned me the water I had added had evaporated. I grabbed the teakettle and, as I've done a million times before, added warm water to it and the glass just EXPLODED. It was all over the oven, the kitchen floor, everywhere.

    Thankfully no one was hurt except for a small piece of shrapnel in my bare heel, but I lost my favorite blue glass baking dish and scared my poor husband half to death. Oddly enough though, the squash was completely unharmed, the glass the halves had been resting on remained intact.

  4. Glad you emerged with only one puncture wound, Jan. Glass bombs can be serious. I did that one too. My favorite pyrex baking dish. Who knew?

  5. Oh, I think we could do a blog hop on the subject of exploding food! Has anybody ever put a potato in the oven without piercing it? I have.

    Thanks for sharing, KK and j; it looks like I'm in good company!

    Marian Allen

  6. LOL Karen. I use those bags. This brought to mind a story a Mom told me once. Her daughter decided to make brownies. The Mom was doing laundry and came through the kitchen. The daughters hand were covered in brownie mix. The explanation: "It said to stir by hand."
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  7. Being a guy I often feel I do not need to read directions, let alone ask for them when driving. Wifey on the other hand reads directions carefully and acts accordingly. Sigh. Someday I'll follow her lead more consistently.

  8. Hope you all had a happy and safe Turkey Day.

  9. Oh oh, stressful time can make use forget important detail. At least you make a great impression!

    Fire and Cross

  10. I have tears running down my cheeks. Thanks for sharing such a lovely memory. Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year.