Monday, November 28, 2011

turkey math

No it's not a cutesy homeschool project, it's our reality in late November. Thanksgiving dinner is simple math around here. Your average boat oven measures 15 inches by 13 inches and 7 inches tall max from the bottom rack to the top of the box. And your average turkey roasting pan is 18 inches by 14 inches, plus the mass and height of your average Thanksgiving turkey, a 13-pounder measuring at about 8 inches tall. It just doesn’t add up.  Thanksgiving dinner aboard a boat is nothing short of mission impossible.  As live aboards, we usually find some land lubbers to mooch off of or aim low with one or two homemade side dishes and an order-out turkey from a gourmet grocery store. But the boy is old enough now that he expects the full pilgrim feast scene at home and we can't let the little guy down.

So with a dash of homeschooling thrown in for spice I had Zach measure and write down the dimensions of our over and let him wield the tape measure at the grocery store. Our only hitch this year was that my mushy mama brain just didn't think about turkey until the day before, and by then the pickings for thawed turkeys were slim. The lucky bird who came back to the boat with us was within required measurements, but just barely. Zach, the somewhat guilty carnivore, named him Pilgrim and was chatting with him all day, carrying him around and apologizing for eating him. I swear he does have real live friends, really :)
I am the hypocritical carnivore in the family. While I do like to eat meat, I get all wonky about handling it. Especially poultry. Blech! So Doug was in charge of the bird. "Uh, honey, are you sure you measured this?", I heard from the galley along with grunts and squishing sounds. My husband man handled the carcass and made that thing fit. Just. Barely.

Voila! Dinner is served!
Not too shabby. This is only the second year we have cooked our own turkey. In the past we were all about the Whole Foods special counter for holiday misfits. We joke that you know you live in a little yuppie town when the police are all out directing traffic at Whole Check on the day before Thanksgiving.

Consider the fact that boat ovens are notoriously difficult when it comes to achieving and maintaining a determined temperature. And then there’s the fun trick our former Force 10 liked to do, charring the bottom of anything we cooked to a crisp while leaving the middle cold and raw. Botulism is a sure fire way to ruin a cozy family meal. 

But with two successful turkey dinners under our belts now I think we can avoid the crowds, keep a tape measure in my purse, and cook our turkey on the boat from now on. Gobble Gobble, thank you Pilgrim!
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