WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published November 21, 2011, 05:13 PM

Thanksgiving Nightmares: What Not to Do on Turkey Day

On a high-stress cooking day like Thanksgiving, there’s sure to be something that goes wrong.

By: Teri Finneman, Forum Communications

On a high-stress cooking day like Thanksgiving, there’s sure to be something that goes wrong.

We asked for your Thanksgiving dinner horror stories and heard some good ones.

Horror stories? Like the time I turned on the oven self-cleaner with the turkey in the oven?

I was at somebody’s house making Thanksgiving dinner. This would have been 15 years ago or more. I was not familiar with the oven … it had this bar on it. The turkey’s in the oven, and I pushed this bar thinking I’m closing the oven door tight, but actually what it did was it started the self-cleaner.

We actually ended up taking the stovetop apart to get at the latch. We probably could have just gone down to the circuit breaker and threw the switch. The turkey was fine … it was only like that for a couple of minutes.

Lyle Halvorson, Bismarck

Communication is the key to having a successful family Thanksgiving dinner. My husband, Wade, was evidently thought to have smoked a turkey in the family’s smoker and was to bring the turkey to his mother’s house for the family Thanksgiving. But Ardella said the kids (our nephews) didn’t like smoked turkey, so she would fix the turkey. So, we came empty-handed to Ardella’s home, but Ardella opened the door to only ask where the turkey was. No turkey! So, Wade and Ardella ran to the grocery store, while it was open until 3 p.m. So the Newgards had ham for Thanksgiving 2010 instead of traditional turkey. Lesson learned – communication!

Carla Newgard, Minot

The Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be forgotten is when my sister-in-law had a bottle of chokecherry wine and opened it, and it blew all over the walls, ceiling and everything in the kitchen.

Marion Drenth, Jamestown

Mom was self-taught in the kitchen and would never claim — nor aspire — to be a gourmet cook.

Imagine my Mom’s delight when the microwave oven arrived in our home. The first affordable countertop models reached stores in the late 1960s. The microwave became a foolproof shortcut for her work in the kitchen.

It also became the cause of her greatest holiday disaster when my wife and I, married barely a year, returned home for our first Thanksgiving with the family. Without fanfare or warning, Mom had decided she would save much time and effort by cooking the turkey in … yes, the microwave.

Mom had carefully rinsed the turkey, added the stuffing and then squeezed the bird tightly into the microwave. Unfortunately, she overlooked two key facts about microwaves … perhaps more true of those early models than today. First, unlike a regular oven, microwaves don’t brown food. And second, they don’t—or at least didn’t in those days –cook evenly, especially when large pieces like a whole turkey are involved.

My wife’s face kept switching between astonished and horrified, though I think the latter expression had more to do with the prospect of having to give her new mother-in-law a cooking lesson. And try as she might, my wife certainly wasn’t going to talk me to into pointing out the mistake.

So we waited, knowing the Thanksgiving meal was doomed but hoping that somehow, some way we would see a miracle take place in the microwave.

Didn’t happen. When Mom finally threw in the kitchen towel, we pulled out a sickly gray bird, steaming hot part way through and a sure case of salmonella in the middle. We rescued the stuffing and put it back through the microwave by itself, and then did the same with a few thinly sliced pieces from the edges of the bird.

Let’s just say that the mashed potatoes and gravy were particularly popular that day.

Rick Matteson, Bismarck

When I was in junior high, my brother hosted Thanksgiving in his apartment. There were over a dozen of us in the tiny space and the kids brought home a virus from day care. It spread around like wildfire. We spent the rest of the weekend trying to even eat an ice cube while we took turns in the bathroom!

Other occasions: My cousin didn’t realize you had to thaw the turkey, and dinner was served after midnight instead of in the afternoon.