Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dead Animals

I love Thanksgiving. (This will probably be the only post I ever do that has absolutely no mention of babywearing, BTW). Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. I think it's because when I was growing up, Thanksgiving was the only holiday that almost all of our extended relatives came to visit, and I loved that. That and all the food. My Dad's female cousins were amazing cooks, great New England food, very hardy, delicious. I waited anxiously for Thanksgiving all year long.

Now that I have a husband and three children of my own, I long to have them experience and appreciate Thanksgiving the way that I did as a child. But since we don't have the family closeness aspect, I focus instead on the food, and try to include as many friends as possible. This year, just to mix it up a bit, we decided to go away for a little lakeside vacation, and celebrate Thanksgiving in a new environment. My plan is to make the turkey ahead of time and bring it with us, and then fix the side dishes when we arrive there.

I decided to start the whole turkey process yesterday. Let me say this, I love meat, and while I can appreciate the individual choice that a vegan makes to NOT eat meat products, I can't fathom why they would want to make that choice. Except when Thanksgiving rolls around again. Every year when I pull that big ol' turkey out of the freezer, my stomach starts to churn. (You should have been there the few years when I was pregnant and trying to cook the turkey. Not pretty.)

I'm well aware of all the "thawing rules" that one is supposed to follow when preparing a turkey, however, I've always been one to flout the rules, and turkey thawing holds no exceptions for me. So, I hauled the frozen carcass (what a gross word, carcass) of our unfortunate turkey out of the deep freeze yesterday morning, intending to throw it into the microwave for a marathon defrosting process, and then let it cook for days in the crock pot. Some of my best turkeys have come from this "special" technique.

I put the turkey in the sink, peeled off the plastic wrapper, only to find it had been hog-tied with a length of wire sturdy enough to put King Kong out of commission. And it was frozen as solid as a pond during a frigid New England winter. There was no way that wire was coming out. I began to wonder what the turkey had done that it's handler had needed to resort to such drastic measures. Perhaps as it's executioner raised the axe dramatically over it's head, the turkey looked back at him over it's shoulder, pleading with it's eyes for mercy. Perhaps the turkey went postal, and fought back, grabbing the axe from it's would-be executioner. Perhaps . . .Whoah, my imagination is way too vivid.

I thought for a bit on what was the best way to remove the offending wire. I tried kitchen shears. No luck. I turned to my husband's tool box. (Good thing he wasn't home). I tried leveraging a screwdriver under the wire and stabilizing it against the rock-solid body of the frozen turkey. Nothing. I tried pliers, several varieties-- needle nose, slip grip, you name it. Nothing was working, and now there was rust all over my turkey.

I looked at the clock. It was almost 11! Dang, I still hadn't started the meat for supper! I left the rusty, frozen, now partially mutilated turkey in the sink, and went back to the deep freeze. Ooh, I forgot we had goat. We're having goat for supper.

Before you get too freaked out, most people the world over eat goat on a very regular basis. Goat is amazing when prepared well. My kids love goat; my husband, not so much, he gets stuck on the mental image his brain has created. Anyway, I took the goat out of the wrapper and put it in the microwave to thaw before popping it into the crock pot. Let me say this about goat-- as much I love love goat, uncooked goat has this very distinct odor that just turns my stomach. I looked over at the sink, with my poor turkey lying there helplessly, smelled the raw goat as it traveled in my hands over to the crock pot, and began to get sick. Why were all these dead animals in my kitchen? What kind of freaks were we that there were dead animals just laying around? PETA would would have a hey-day if they ever just stopped by my house on a day like this! What was wrong with us?!

I somehow managed to get the goat seasoned and into the crock pot; the turkey was not so fortunate. It ended up waiting forlornly in the sink until my strong, handsome husband came home from work. Surely he would be able to wrestle off the wires that held it in it's death. (And he did, effortlessly, that's why I married him, so strong, so sexy . . . he's going to read this, you see! ;)

The turkey was now free of the bonds that had held it, but it was far too late for me to do anything culinary with it now. I'd wait until morning. But what was that noise? Someone pounding on my roof? Oh, I'd forgotten that my husband had gone up there to clean out the gutters before the predicted weekend snow got here. He always needed me to guide him back off the roof. I went outside, expecting to direct him off the roof and onto the ladder that was several feet too short. Instead he was making strange gestures and whispering something, I had no idea what he was trying to communicate to me. He kept pointing at the side of the house, to the strip of yard between our house and our neighbors. I pointed over there and he nodded vigorously, but put a finger to his lips to shush me. I tip-toed to the side yard, feeling foolish, trying to look inconspicuous. What?, I gestured silently to him. I don't see anything. He kept pointing, more specific now. I crept closer, squinting to try to see something in the twilight. "A dead animal," he whispered VERY loudly. A dead animal? Was it that half-dead mangy rodent that they called a dog? (I'm not that lucky). Maybe one of the hundreds of squirrels that were rampant in our neighborhood, my kids have named them all, I swear. I kept looking, trying to see something. And then I stopped. Something had caught my eye.

What the . . .?! Is that what I think it is? Oh, my gosh, I live in the city for crying out loud! What was wrong with these people? Did they have something against "field dressing"? Dead animals.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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