Cooking is a learning experience


November 29, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Thursday we had a typical Thanksgiving feast — turkey and all the side dishes — with our extended family. Conversation before and after the meal made the day complete.
That’s the way it has been around the Johnson household for years.
Beverly and I were married on the Saturday before Thanksgiving in 1965.
She grew up in a family of eight, and being the oldest of six siblings cooking wasn’t a new adventure, although we had a few interesting culinary experiences early on.
First off, she tried her best to cook squirrel, biscuits and gravy in our first sit-down meal as newlyweds. The squirrel was tough, the biscuits were hard and the gravy was lumpy. As I chewed my way through, I told her it was one of the best meals I’d ever eaten.
Mom had cautioned me never to disparage meals in married life, always to be complimentary. I took the advice to heart.
Eager to please, Beverly invited her parents for Thanksgiving.
We shopped for a turkey, which we put in the refrigerator to thaw but not quite as soon as we should have. When it was plopped in the oven on Thanksgiving Day morning, more hours of roasting were required than Beverly had figured. She checked in late morning and the bird still was far from ready to carve.
A call to the parents changed dining time from noon to late afternoon.
When we pulled out the turkey later, it was pretty as a picture in the roasting pan and fully cooked. The only blemish was something that quickly became conspicuous in the bird’s cavity.
Neither of us realized that that when the turkey was plucked and cleaned, its heart and liver were bagged and along with its neck were stuffed inside.
But, that was a minor setback.
By the time we all sat down to eat, the meal was as good as could be, a precursor of many to come in the years ahead, including Thursday’s.

— Bob Johnson

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