Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving (or: Night of the Living Bacteria)

I love Thanksgiving. Its about eating and getting together with family. In our case, its all about the eating, the family can just stay all the way across the states for all we care. Ok, fine, if they showed up we wouldn’t throw them out or not answer the door, but still.

For the two of us (five if you count the dogs) I got a 12 pound turkey (hey, shut up, its mostly bones) and a turkey breast for putting on the grill. I got the stuff for the usual side dishes:

Scalloped Corn
Sweet Potatoes (hate them, hubby doesn’t)
Mashed Potatoes (Yum)
Dinner Rolls
Deviled Eggs
Pumpkin Pie

Now this isn’t pre-made stuff, I make all of the side dishes except the mashed potatoes. The Bob Evans Mashed potatoes are actually pretty good stuff, and in a pinch I’ll do the Ore Ida frozen mashed potatoes too, but they had a good selection of the Bob Evans, so I went nuts.

For my job I get to watch a feed of CNN on my computer. Its the ONLY outside world resource that I have, so shut up, I’m actually working I just have to have noise on when I write complex stupid technical documents that nobody will ever read. I’m hoping they come in handy on a cold night and someone needs kindling for a fire.

About a week before thanksgiving CNN played over and over (and over and over and over and over, as CNN does) an interview with some “specialist” on the proper way to cook a turkey. You would think that cooking a turkey was as difficult as defusing a bomb the way this woman went on.

NEVER put the stuffing in the bird, good lord are you insane. All sorts of bad bacteria literally grow right in that stuffing, crawl out onto the bird and will kill your entire family. Um... what? Apparently the “new” thing is that you shouldn’t cook stuffing in a bird. My grandmother cooked stuffing in the bird, my mom cooks stuffing in the bird, I cook stuffing in the bird and nobody in the family has ever doubled over in pain or had to be rushed to the hospital.

Scrub everything the turkey touches or else YOU’LL DIE!!! This woman was obsessive compulsive about the whole cleanliness thing with the bird. She even shined one of those blue lights (most commonly used to identify pee spots as sold in pet stores) to show the reporter all of the gross things that turkey leaves once you set it on a surface. Um, it also picks up dog pee, so how do we know if the reporter lets her dog pee on the kitchen counter? Ok, bad example, but still if her family got sick it wouldn’t be from the turkey.

Wash your hands in really hot water and wash them long enough to sing happy birthday. Um, yeah, I’m not doing that. Oh sure I’m washing my hands, but not after I touch anything, and I’m not singing happy birthday while the flesh of my hands melt under a roasting hot tap. This “expert” had the reporter rubbing, buffing, and scouring every little surface and utensil after each touching of the innocent turkey. She spent more time cleaning than she did prepping the bird.

The last rule was not let anything sit on the counter for more than an hour. If so, throw it out. Ok, this “expert” has never been to my house where pizza boxes have been in the oven for hours on end and been tossed into the fridge, or we’ve left something in the microwave for hours (I do toss it if its been forgotten overnight, I do have some sense) and we’ve never suffered from a food-borne illness.

So, this morning I get up and start the typical prep of the turkey. I had thrown the breast into a vat of brine the day before and dragged out the oven turkey only to find that one of them had seeped into the fridge shelf at some time. I’m sure the “expert” would have run screaming to call a Hazmat team to come decontaminate her entire house and every bit of food in the fridge would be thrown out. I just sopped it up with a paper towel, then spritzed some simple green on there and wiped that up. On to the turkey prep.

Opened the bag in the sink (hey, those things seep in the fridge, wouldn’t want to get that poison on the counter), removed the plastic wrapped innards, rinsed out the bird and threw it in the roaster. Gleefully I spooned heaps of stuffing into it, laughing. Actually did a little dance too. Shoved bird with stuffing in the oven. Cleaned up with another paper towel and simple green and washed my hands in luke warm water for the first stanza of Happy.... done.

Same thing happened when we got the brined breast out and shoved it on the rotisserie stake. Juice and brine all over (the dogs cleaned up what fell on the floor), mopped up what I could with a paper towel.

Once the food was all done, we gorged ourselves silly, I made a pumpkin pie, gorged on that, and now we’re just sitting around waiting for e-coli or something else to kill us.

I tend to think that humans are being born with no immunity to anything. Kids don’t go out and play in the mud and muck anymore, so they don’t build up the tolerance to things that my generation (who dared each other to eat earth worms and bugs and never washed our hands) have built up over the years. We didn’t constantly scrub ourselves with anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, didn’t have anti-bacterial wipes, or soap, we used nasty, gooey sponges for months, used the same cloth kitchen towel to sop up messes of all kinds, and generally didn’t think about all of the horrible microbes that would infest our intestinal tracts. Our intestinal tracts laughed at bacteria and spit them out without a second thought.

So yes, my kitchen isn’t sterile enough to perform surgery in, and my fridge is probably a breeding ground of plague (there’s a can of dog food next to the milk... but its got a lid on it), and I can handle that. If you can’t, then I suggest you don’t eat at my house.

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