Years ago, my mom had an especially funny Kindergarten class. There was this one boy in particular who looked like he was 5 going on 55, and had the imaginary years of personality to match. It was at this Thanksgiving time when I was home from college and would volunteer in her classroom, thus starting my love for teaching and education. I remember sitting in one of the teeny, tiny chairs watching my mom line up her kids to go home for the day.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” as she started to speak, all those little eyeballs grew big and round and stared at her as if she was made of gold and about to pass out candy and puppies, “tomorrow is a special day. Please turn to the person behind you and say, ‘Tomorrow is the Feast!’”
I watched as 17 little kids whipped their bodies around, almost smacking the next person in line with swinging backpack momentum. “Tomorrow is the FEAST!”
They were so excited! So excited in fact, that if everyone turned to the person behind him or her, they were talking to the back of a head, and they didn’t even notice! The best part being our little boy, happy and jumpy as ever, being last in line, and turning to tell the air behind him that tomorrow is the feast. He couldn’t have been happier to tell nobody!
I laughed out loud that day, and we still laugh about it every Thanksgiving.
Yesterday was the Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast at my school. It is a huge event, and something our school has been doing for years. While quite a production, it provides food for all of the kids, and their families, in our 5 Kindergarten classes. While already being stressed about fitting in everything I need to do before the Thanksgiving break, I also offered to roast a turkey. Sigh! So rather than freak out (which, Rob will tell you, I kind of did anyway), I decided to chalk it up to Turkey Day Trials.
Usually, for my Turkey Day Trials, I make a roasted turkey breast, mostly to test any glaze, rub, or compound butter I would like to try that year. Anyone remember the infamous microwave turkey breast of last year? Anywho, coming home after working all day and getting this turkey in the oven was honestly, something that I needed to not stress about. I had floors to clean, no time to baste. I needed laundry done, no time to brine. This needed to be a no-mess, no-fuss, no-nonsense bird.
So that’s exactly what happened. No funny mishaps here. No microwave, no trips to the emergency room. I stuffed a Meyer lemon in the cavity with rosemary and citrus mint. I sprinkled the juice from another Meyer lemon on the outside, and roasted the lemon quarters in the pan. I rubbed the bird with a stick of softened butter, gave it a very healthy dose of s&p, a small shower of ground cardamom, poured some water in the pan, spanked its hiney, and away it went. Starting the oven at 425, I immediately turned it down to 350. To remove the basting issue, the bird was covered for the first hour with foil. After an hour, I removed the foil, turned up the oven again to 425 for about 15 minutes, and then lowered it to 325 for the last hour and a half of cooking. Wham bam, thank you ma’am, at 155 degrees in the thigh, the bird was out of the oven, covered again with foil, and rested for a whole HOUR (this is because I honestly forgot about it. My dad had just picked up my mom from the airport, and by this time we were all eating one of our favorite dinners– butternut squash risotto with seared scallops and sage brown butter – all of our chit-chatting left the bird resting comfortably, and forgotten about).
When I finally cut into the bird and prepared it in small bites for small people, it was simply the best turkey I’ve ever made. It was completely juicy all the way through, with brown skin and a lovely herby, lemony flavor. We all tasted a bit and Thanksgiving came roaring through the door.
While cleaning up, I asked Rob why he thought this turkey ended up better than the rest.
“Because you didn’t think about it.” Mr. Pilot Hands might be on to something.
My mom came to Kindergarten with me yesterday to help with the feast. While I lined up the kids in our room, ready to go fill our bellies and give thanks, with all the parents watching I said,
“Ladies and Gentlemen, turn to the person behind you and say, ‘Today is The Feast!’”
The same excited, kiddo reaction ensued, and my mom just happened to be last in line. With a huge smile and an audible giggle, she turned to nobody behind her, and excitedly said, “Today is The Feast!”