November 26, 1996 in Features

No Thanks! From Turkey Fights To Grease Fires, Slice Readers Serve Up Their Recipes For Thanksgiving Disaster

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A good-sized flock of readers answered The Slice’s request for Thanksgiving dinner horror stories.

So many, in fact, that we can’t share them all. But here are our favorites.

(Here’s hoping none of what follows happens to you Thursday.)

“Our daughter and her husband had a loud argument resulting in her throwing a cooked turkey at him,” wrote Piff Comer.

He threw it back. Both missed.

And though the ensuing pushing match wasn’t exactly a Norman Rockwell scene, things ended happily enough - with the couple sitting on the now-greasy kitchen floor laughing.

On the occasion of her first Thanksgiving dinner prepared for her husband, Linda Waddell started a grease fire that produced so much smoke dinner had to be eaten with all the windows and doors open.

Newport’s Bonnie Exworthy smoked her guests in a similar fashion.

When Cathy Pedersen was 5, her family had Thanksgiving at her grandfather’s house. And though she politely declined the yams when they were presented to her, she was instructed to eat them and like them. Well, she ate them all right. But she quickly “gave them back” on the table.

To this day, she still doesn’t like yams.

Kyra Brandvold hopes this year’s big event goes better than last year’s, when a clogged sink dominated the day. “The Roto-Rooter man arrived just as dinner was served, so we had to enjoy our meal while listening to the screeching and grinding of an electric drain snake.”

Kathy Altieri once cooked decorative gourds that she had mistaken for squash. Big mistake.

Newman Lake’s Denise Bledsoe remembered the time her mother demonstrated beyond any doubt that just being a mom doesn’t mean a woman is a good cook. “The bird looked pretty nice outside but was frozen inside, with a bag of chilly giblets still intact … and the ham was like jerky.”

Pat Blanchette’s 1993 holiday pies weren’t her best ever, on account of rancid shortening.

Mead’s Marie Mason recalled a Thanksgiving several years ago in Olympia when the power went out with the turkey still several hours from completion. (Her father finished cooking it on a gas grill.)

Joy Lake of Post Falls recalled the time her mom really made the taste of the baby peas stand out when she mistakenly cooked them with one-quarter cup of salt instead of the one-quarter teaspoon called for in the recipe. Rose Hall made a similar eye-opening too-much-salt mistake with a pie.

Betty Von Heydrich described her first turkey dinner with her mother-in-law in attendance as “burnt bird and black gravy.”

Wendy Cowden’s brother brought a woman to the family dinner one year. And she found it necessary to say, over and over, “This tastes poopy.”

Katie Howard of Post Falls recalled the Thanksgiving where her first bite of turkey burned her tongue so badly she couldn’t taste anything for the rest of the meal.

Marylu Sletmoen still thinks about the Thanksgiving 40 years ago when a pet parakeet marched through the cranberry sauce and then across a white linen tablecloth. Yes, that left red footprints.

Dordeen Elmore’s first Thanksgiving at her mother-in-law’s included being told to leave the kitchen because a secret ingredient was about to go into the stuffing. (As if a ton of cloves was tough to detect.)

Orient’s Sharon Nelson wrote about the Thanksgiving when the septic system failed big-time.

Marilyn Allen’s reliable stove picked Thanksgiving Day to quit on her. The same thing happened to Anne Finer.

Ione’s Homer Chambers remembers a Thanksgiving long ago when his old aunt served a chicken that was cooked with an intact gizzard. “Corn and sand was all over the plate.”

Kyri Watkins recalls a Thanksgiving turkey in Montana that had been similarly prepared. “Bird seed spilled everywhere.”

After a big holiday dinner had been polished off, Willard Rasmussen’s 3-year-old granddaughter was asked how she liked the turkey. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I didn’t get any.”

Shirley Schoenleber still talks about the Thanksgiving in 1970. Everyone was on the way to her sister-in-law’s. Schoenleber’s then-teenage daughter, the proud owner of a learner’s permit, was driving. And on the way there she hit the brakes so hard that four pumpkin pies went flying.

Annie Gannon of St. Maries remembers the Thanksgiving when the turkey seemed kind of scrawny, until someone realized it was being cooked upside-down. (Though Penny Schwyn, who has had to defend this roasting style against loud objections, insists doing the bird breasts-side down for the first half of the cooking time yields mouth-watering results.)

Peggy Rolando got really sick one Thanksgiving and couldn’t make it to dinner at the home of relatives. But unfortunately for her mother-of-the-year chances, her first-grade son, upon returning to school the following Monday, mostly played up the fact he’d had leftover pizza for Thanksgiving dinner.

Louise Rogers once discovered her sink’s drain-basket in the turkey’s crop.

Jim Nelson’s new puppy’s name was Duke. But Nelson’s name was mud after the dog pulled the turkey off the counter and chowed down.

Carol Klinzman still winces when she thinks about the Thanksgiving when a card table collapsed and spilled a cornucopia of food.

Deanie Pizzillo remembers her shock when she opened the oven door and, because of a switch she hadn’t been told about, she saw a tiny cornish game hen where the big turkey had been.

Colville’s Wilma Clowser once turned off the oven while checking the bird and forgot to turn it back on after closing the door again.

Just as dinner was about to be served about 35 Thanksgivings ago, Barb Hancock got a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. An uncle had to drive her to the emergency room and when they got back, dinner was history.

Brian Birren wrote about the year some dogs got his goose, literally.

Sarah Hagy didn’t know the frozen pumpkin pie she’d purchased only had to be thawed. She learned too late that she shouldn’t have cooked it.

Edward Schaefer was in college when he attended a Thanksgiving dinner at the home of one of his professors. Several international students also were there, including one who deflated the festivities with the announcement that they wouldn’t dream of eating turkeys in his country.

Clare Staton’s mother was the assistant dean of home economics at Oregon State University. But some things aren’t genetic.

Clare once tried solving the problem of lumpy gravy by putting it in the blender. “We ended up with foam on potatoes.”

When Sharon Hicks was a little girl, a family cat took several unauthorized hits of turkey after walking over several pies to reach the succulent bird. “Everyone had their pie served with lots of ice cream,” she recalled.

The fax from Sarah Kuest began: “It was my first time preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my husband’s family, and I wanted to impress everyone …”

Her mother-in-law poured the turkey drippings into a pan to make gravy. And there in the drippings was a huge black stink bug.

Kuest’s mother-in-law calmly flipped the bug into the sink and went right on stirring. “She didn’t tell a soul until much later,” said Kuest. “Of course, now not a holiday goes by without someone carefully - and loudly - checking the gravy for ‘extra protein.”’

A reader in Hope, Idaho told about how, right after everyone had finished a huge holiday meal, her mother-in-law took the false teeth out of her mouth, put them on a dessert plate and began to pick at the remains of her dinner right there at the table.

Thanks to all those folks and the other readers who shared their stories.

But we’ve decided to award the gift certificate for a turkey to Spokane’s John J. Shaffer.

“I was born on a Thanksgiving Day,” he wrote. “The horror relates to the fact that a doctor had to interrupt his Thanksgiving meal to preside at the event. Every time I saw that doctor, he would remind me that I had interrupted his Thanksgiving dinner. The horror of going to the doctor was having to hear this story over and over again!”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Staff illustration by Molly Quinn


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