Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Talking Turkey and Teachers

Isn't he just flippin' gorgeous? This is a wild turkey, photo courtesy of the Public Photo Gallery of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. He is puffed up in all his glory to impress the adoring females and I think he succeeds. I'm certainly impressed -- with what a major job it would be to pluck all those feathers. You'd have to start sometime around last August to be done by Thanksgiving.

Actually, I was looking for one of those pictures that were available not too long ago of a turkey bearing a sign that said something like, "Save a turkey. Eat ham." I did find one but it involved (gasp!) payment. Not that the photo wasn't worth the price, you understand. It was quite similar to the one above, only the bird was wearing an "Eat Ham!" sign. I decided I'd rather spend the money on the real thang if I was gonna do it.

There are, of course, lots of photos floating around the Internet of Bush doing the traditional Thankgiving gig where he officially pardons a big white turkey. These are often accompanied by pointed, pungent captions and, while tempted, I decided to restrain my mean streak, telling myself, "Why bother? Bush is too easy a target. There's no sport in it."

For myself, I am saving a turkey this year. There is a chicken thawing in the refrigerator as we speak. I'm going to brine it and then roast it with an apple juice-molasses baste. I haven't figured out all the accompanying elements yet but I'm about to go on a hunt for some kind of slightly different pumpkin pie recipe and then I'll proceed to make it with the winter squash I have in the freezer. Sort of a faux pumpkin. Well, not really faux. Pumpkin is a type of squash, isn't it? I could do the same thing with sweet potatoes but I only have one of those and I have other plans for it.

Another thing I'm going to make is my favorite dinner roll recipe. It fits my F.E.D. standard (Fast.Easy.Delicious) perfectly. It comes from my favorite eighth grade teacher, Mary Capps, who is still going strong after all this time.

That year was notable for the number of teachers we went through. I can't remember all the names but there was one handsome male teacher who had a wonderful Heathcliff aura about him. All the girls had a crush and we were devastated when he was let go due to a little drinking problem.

Then there was "Polly," another male teacher, so named for the parrot association because he was such a puffy, pompous little fellow. He once went through all the desks during recess and confiscated comic books, which he tucked into the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He played innocent when outraged children discovered the loss and we were all mystified as to who the culprit might be. Until later that afternoon, when he informed one of the boys that if that unfortunate didn't shape up, "this is going to come off!" and he pulled wide the lapels of his jacket for emphasis. At which point, the pilfered comic books fell out on the floor and the whole room collapsed in laughter. Polly didn't last long after that.

The final teacher that year was a stumpy little woman who used to tell us stories about her adventures at the state insane asylum (as it was called then) when her husband worked there. Once she was chased across the lawn by an inmate. Terrified, sure she was going to be murdered, she stopped to catch her breath. The inmate ran up, tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Tag! You're it!" She also chased me up and down a couple of aisles one day, swinging a yard stick. She missed me and accidentally hit one of my girlfriends, who was innocently sitting at her desk, watching the show.

I tell you all this to give you an idea of the framework in which Mrs. Capps did her magnificent stuff. In between each teacher, she was called in as a temporary until a new candidate could be hired. She was so cool. No nonsense. We didn't get away with anything -- and I swear we learned more during her multiple brief sojourns than at any other time. We respected her -- and we all loved her. I still love Mary Capps.

She donated this recipe for a local cookbook project, in honor of another woman she admired, so it's got some respectable mileage on it. If you decide to try it, you'll understand why it's been passed along.

ONE HOUR YEAST ROLLS (no kidding) In a mixing bowl, put 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast, 3/4 cup lukewarm water, 3 tablespoons fat (solid or oil), 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Let yeast dissolve. Add 2 cups flour and knead until smooth. Let rise in warm place for 30 minutes. Shape into rolls, place in greased pan and let rise 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees fairy height for 15 minutes.

Fast. Easy. Delicious. I'm telling you.


Wendy, NC said...

Dee, they bred him up special (or at last fed him up) just for the photo. I grew up in PA and, in the wild, turkeys there are just as scrawny and silly looking as they are down here in NC.

Those rolls, however, are a whole 'nother matter. That's the recipe I've been after for years. Bless Mary Capps for it--may she continue to live long and well. Same to you for sharing it.

Dee said...

No kidding, Wendy? I wondered about that because the wild turkeys around here look pretty scrawny -- and tough -- too. I'm delighted you found affinity with the roll recipe. May you enjoy them in good health!

John Bailey said...

We don't do thanksgiving in these here parts but Graham and I are beginning to think about our Christmas feast. We've decided to drop the trad turkey, too, in favour of a nice big free-range organic-fed and kept chicken. I've started looking for a suitable candidate already and will zap it in the freezer when I find it; if by some magical chance in the immediate pre-Christmas rush I should find another I'll buy that for the day. We shall call one of them 'Belt' and the other 'Braces'.

That one hour yeast rolls recipe/method looks fabulous, Dee, and I shall be trying it out pronto, report and pictures will be forthcoming.

bonnie said...

Well now I don't have to do anything but the turkey and it is already smoked so that is a matter of re-heat. Now to remember to get it out of the freezer tomorrow. (our day will be Sunday)

Dee said...

One thing about it, John, it's a heck of a lot easier handling a little bird than a big bird! Hope you enjoy the rolls as much as I do. I'll look forward to the pictorial report.

Bonnie! Smoked turkey. That sounds wonderful. And it should make for some great hot turkey sandwiches with the left-overs. Yum!

As we speak, my HIGHLY experimental pie is in the oven. I'm calling it The Thing because it's a scary mixture of a couple of different recipes and includes substitutions. Yikes!

Mage And George said...

Good for you kid. We are eating with our friend Duck and being chicken with the holiday.

WendyNC said...

It's four years later, Dee has been gone from us for almost two, and I'm still coming back here to pick up this recipeon-on a sort of emergency basis. Dee, I miss you!