Cooking, Thanksgiving

My Mother’s Trunk Turkey

Driving with six kids 2½  hours through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving got old. That’s when we were living in Worthington, a hilltown in Western Massachusetts. So we informed our extended family we were staying put but they were welcome to join us.

My parents took us up on our offer. They didn’t mind making the drive. But, alas, my mother didn’t trust that I could cook a proper turkey. So she volunteered to bring the turkey. I could make the rest of the meal. I wasn’t insulted.

My mother was indeed an excellent cook of anything that had feathers while it was still alive. And besides she wanted to contribute something to the meal. So I said yes even though the smell of roasting turkey is such a savory thing.

The first time, however, the kids and I were surprised when my father opened the trunk of their car and carried an aluminum pan of cut up turkey to the house. What no beautiful bird on the table?  Not this year.

One of the kids – I don’t remember which one – was the one who called it Grandma’s Trunk Turkey.

Of course, not to her face.

But the name stuck.

I should say my mother was a school cafeteria lady in those days. Serving food cut up in aluminum pans was part of the job.

Her trunk turkey, however, was delicious.

So it was Grandma’s Trunk Turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner if my parents came.

That changed when we moved to Taos, New Mexico. Sometimes I had co-workers over for the traditional dinner — by then I had learned to roast a turkey, even using brine one year — and other times we ate at friends’ or in a restaurant. We came east a couple of times.

Now that we are back living in Western Massachusetts, we will be hosting the Thanksgiving meal at our home. It will be a full house with family. Monday we picked up the turkey, which came from a local farm. It was a lot bigger than the 20 pounds I ordered by four pounds so there will be plenty of leftovers. Everyone is pitching in with side dishes — our granddaughter Ella is making biscuits — pies, and wine. 

I’ve done my research on the best way to cook this turkey. I now have a great pan and a high-tech thermometer. But part of me secretly wants me to put the cooked bird in the trunk of my car and take if for a spin before dinner. But only my mother could get away with that.

And Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate the holiday!

BOOKS: Hey, while I’ve got your attention …. THE SACRED DOG: This novel is not part of my Isabel Long Mystery Series although the setting is similar. Basically, there’s bad blood between two men. The title comes from the name of a bar one of them owns. I will be telling you a whole lot more about it from now until its launch date Dec. 27 and beyond. Here’s the link to learn more: 

FOLLOWING THE LEAD: Here’s the link for no. 6 in the Isabel Long Mystery Series:

PHOTO: That’s the bird I will be roasting.