Saturday, November 29, 2008

My First Turkey & Mom's Altered Book

My First Turkey

I cooked my first turkey for about 25 senior hikers. The group of seniors were on a walking tour of the Continental Divide and they’d requested a full fledged, American Thanksgiving dinner once they arrived back at the ranch. They were from London.
Working as a wrangler and all-purpose ranch hand, I was 25 and from Florida. I’d never cooked a turkey in my life, much less one for more than 25 folks. The grocery store was 2 hours away—down the mountain in Creede. I made a list and B.K. went to gather the goods. I figured I’d make turkey, green bean casserole, scalloped potatoes, yeast rolls and a green salad. Sound good?

On the day of the great turkey feast, I found myself in the kitchen with Michelle, the rancher’s 16 year-old niece, also a wrangler, who worked with me. She was peeling potatoes while I tried to figure out how to light the gas ovens. The ranch kitchen, recently remodeled, housed 3 gas refrigerators and two gas stoves. I needed to light the pilot light on the stoves in order to get the ovens heating.

Click. Click. Click. My lighter just wasn’t doing the job. I could faintly hear the blue, whoosh of the gas, so I new that there was fuel to light, I just couldn’t get it to light. Click. Click. “Let me try it,” Michelle interrupted. Click. Click. Nothing. Next to the fireplace in the lodge, we kept long stem matches. Probably as long as my forearm, I figured I could light a match and then stick it right into that old hissing pilot light.

The gas had been going for a while.

I lit the match. “Lee Ann, maybe…”

Whoooosh! A ball of fire shot out of the oven and hit me in the face. It was gone just as quickly as it appeared –I wasn’t hurt, but I was quite surprised.

“Well, it’s lit now,” I declared turning to face Michelle.

“Are you … oh my gosh,” she dissolved into laughter.

“What? What?”

“Your eyebrows!”

The big woosh had taken care of all of my facial hair and a good part of my bangs. No eyebrows, no eye lashes and as a matter of fact, I didn’t have to worry about my mustache for weeks.

Needless to say, the turkey came out fine.

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