Tired of staring at lumps of starch in your refrigerator left over from Thanksgiving dinner? Don’t throw them away! Here are six great recipes that will turn Turkey Day rejects into December treats!
Stuffing Puppies: Roll stuffing into 3″ balls, sprinkle with flour and paprika. Heat oil in skillet and brown. Place in freezer until solid. Remove at Christmas time and hurl at carollers.
Turkey Hokey Pokey: This “comfort food” is great and easy to make! Melt 1/4 cup butter, add 1/2 cup flour and whisk. Add 1/4 cup sherry, 1 cup cream, 2 2/3 cup chicken broth, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 3 cup chopped turkey and 1/2 lb. mushrooms-salt and pepper to taste. Place 10 oz. cooked spaghetti in baking dish and top with mixture. Put your right foot in, take your right foot out. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
Mashed Potato Mortar: Add 1 cup gypsum, 1 cup sand and a dash of allspice to two quarts leftover mashed potatoes. Using a trowel, spread between gaps in exterior brick walls and allow to dry. Garnish with parsley.
Turkey Piazza: Strip dark meat from drumsticks and thighs. Spread with linseed oil and flatten with a meat mallet. Spread generously over patio. Flatten with a sod roller and coat with extra virgin olive oil. Children on “boogie boards” should wear helmets while sliding across the finished surface.
Cranberry Shells: Add two packages Knox’s Unflavored Gelatin to cranberry sauce and stuff back into cans. When mixture congeals, stuff down barrel of howitzer and fire. Caution: May be considered a violation of Geneva Convention in some upscale neighborhoods.
Turkey Terza Rima: Add mayonnaise to turkey scraps. Mold mixture into three-line stanzas using a progressive rhyme scheme such as a-b-a, b-c-b, etc. Submit to high-toned literary quarterly along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and wait. When rejection letter is received, launch cranberry shells and stuffing puppies at editor. Repeat until satisfied.
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”
WESTLAND, Mass. In this exurban town fifteen miles west of Boston, starter homes begin at $1.3 million and there are few two-income households, leaving many stay-at-home moms with time and money to go overboard on holiday decorating. “It goes beyond creating a festive mood,” says Marci Griener-Wilson as she plugs in her Martha Stewart autograph model glue-gun, “the way crashes make NASCAR more than just a car race.”
But with local progress in diversity consisting largely of inviting a Presbyterian to join an Episcopalian bridge club, there is a tendency towards homogeniety that makes it tough on judges for the annual Women’s League Christmas Decorating Tour, the organization’s largest fund-raiser. “There are so many lovely homes that could be included,” says club president Alice “Winnie” Wilson. “You have to make close calls and cut some women because of their innate tackiness.”
“. . . and congratulations to Winnie for freezing out that bitch Mary Louise Olshinski!”
Those hard decisions inevitably lead to hurt feelings which in the past have been sublimated into a greater involvement in club activities, but this year was different. “I’m sorry, when you bake 15 life-size gingerbread men for your front lawn, you expect more than a ‘Better luck next year’ kiss-off evaluation sheet,” says Mary Louise Olshinski, who incurred the wrath of Winnie Wilson when she cut her off for a parking space in front of the local needlepoint shop.
So Olshinski organized her own alternative house tour, which she dubbed “Counter Christmas.” “It’s the most rebellious thing I’ve done since I went to a Strawberry Alarm Clock concert with Mike Herbsheimer in high school,” says the fifty-something housewife with a plaid headband. “I’m just glad my parents are dead, because I don’t know that they’d approve.”
Drawing inspiration from the underground concerts organized by saxophonist Sam Rivers to showcase cutting-edge acts excluded from the Newport Jazz Festival in the 70′s, Olshinski’s “Counter Christmas” is a tour of the dark places in upscale suburban homes. “We take people into the recycling bins, the kitty box rooms–everywhere that the decorating magazines refuse to show you,” she says as she is called away by her front doorbell.
“We’re here for Counter Christmas,” an elderly woman announces as a gust of cold air blows past Olshinski. “Come right in,” she says to a group of three. “We’re just about to begin the 11 o’clock tour.”
After a leisurely stroll through a cluttered garage, attic crawl space and basement utility room, Olshinski brings the group to the final stop on the tour in her kitchen. “This is really the black hole of Counter Christmas,” she says, “the place where no matter how much of a shine you put on the rest of your house, you find that it’s still–at bottom–a sneaker. Voila,” she proclaims as she throws open her refrigerator, which is stuffed with staples as well as holiday delights.
“Ooo, my goodness,” says Blanche Furbois, the wife of a retired insurance agent. “That certainly looks like it’s chock-full of goodies!”
“Thank you, Blanche,” Olshinski says, “but if you’ll come closer, I want you to notice one detail in particular.”
The women crowd around and Olshinski urges the family’s pet rabbit “Fluffy” to move to one side to afford them a better view. “See that microwave-safe baking dish back in the back?” she asks.
“Yes,” Furbois says hesitantly after craning her neck.
“That’s last year’s oyster-and-sausage stuffing!”
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Blurbs From the ‘Burbs.”
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. It’s the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, and Lieutenant Jim Hampy of the Massachusetts State DMVD is on patrol in the Metrowest area of Boston, on the lookout for students home from college with too much time on their hands and beer in their bellies. “I’m not sure how much longer I can take this beat,” he says with resignation as he watches a carful of twenty-somethings beat a hasty retreat when they spot his car parked behind Ye Olde Package Store, a faux-Colonial retail liquor outlet that is the last place to buy booze before a driver goes through two “dry” towns. “The things you see out here–it’ll turn your stomach.”
Hampy decides not to give chase and takes a sip from his “lahge” Dunkin Donuts regular coffee. “I got bigger fish to fry tonight,” he says. “I been tailin’ a gang of girls for almost a year now. I got a suspicion they’ll be out in force, since they’re probably sick of their parents and this is the last night before they go back to school.”
The instincts of the “statie,” as his adversaries in this cat-and-mouse game refer to him, prove correct as a Volvo blasts down the highway loaded to the gills with six girls, singing songs from their senior year in high school. “Suspects heading west on Route 20, send backup,” he says as he accelerates out of the parking lot, without, however, turning on his siren or flasher. “I don’t want ‘em to know I’m coming,” he says.
The girls have a quarter-mile lead that is lengthened when Hampy is forced to stop at a red light, but he seems unperturbed. “It’s okay, I want to catch ‘em in the act,” he says, and his game plan works to perfection as he pulls up at the dangerous intersection where the girls have set up a makeshift–and illegal–memorial in honor of Amanda Skrulnik, a classmate of theirs whose cheerleading career was tragically cut short when she broke her femur in a car crash last New Year’s Eve.
“I . . . I tried to rhyme ‘awesome’ with ‘possum.’”
“Those things are a fire hazard, and people could mistake them for a traffic signal,” he says unconvincingly, referring to the tall votive candles the girls have kept burning since that horrible night. As he cuts his headlights and cruises slowly to a stop, it becomes clear that safety concerns are secondary to him, however. “Worst of all is the poetry,” he says, shaking his head. “I hope no daughter of mine ever writes nothin’ as bad.”
He exits the car along with this reporter and makes his presence known to the girls, who are sobbing quietly. “Good evening ladies,” he says, and it is clear to this reporter that he maintains an air of professional calm only with difficulty. “I thought we reached an understanding there last summer,” he says, as he plucks a piece of paper from the paws of a stuffed animal at the roadside shrine and begins to read aloud, his voice at times betraying his overflowing emotions:
We really miss you, Dear Amanda,
On the sidelines where you cheered with flair.
We know your favorite animal was the panda
but we could only find this Teddy Bear.
Hampy looks at the girls one by one, as if scanning a police station lineup. “I want to know who wrote this,” he says gently but firmly. “Tracy? Lindsey? Chloe?”
Amanda: She will never *sniff* cheer again!
The girls from the back seat are silent, so he continues. “Siobhan? Whitney? Courtney?”
The last-named friend finally cracks. “It wasn’t any one of us–it was all of us, a joint effort,” she says.
Hampy groans involuntarily. “Haven’t I told you–poetry is the product of a unique and individual vision. It’s not something you write by committee, like the mission statement of a non-profit that wants to rid the world of trans-fats. Now clean this up and go home.”
The girls are properly chastened and get to work at a routine they have down pat; extinguishing the flames, removing beads, stuffed animals and signs, and crumpling up their roadside elegies, as commanded by a duly-authorized officer of the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicle Doggerel.
Today finds Hampy in a public service assembly at Pumpsie Green Consolidated Regional High School, lecturing a gym full of bored and inattentive kids about the dangers of roadside poetry. “For the first offense, all you got to do is take the Junior Operator Scansion Adjustment Seminar,” he says, drawing no reaction from the students. “It’s three Saturdays,” he adds, eliciting sighs and the rolling of many eyes.
“Second offense, you got to go to the Do Not Go Premature Into That Good Night Retreat.” The young men and women are paying attention now, as Hampy pauses for effect. “That’s a whole weekend.” Groans are heard from several students, but Hampy cuts them off to let them know it could get even worse.
“These are good kids–they just write crappy poetry.”
“Finally, after three violations or refusal to comply with prescribed meter or rhyme scheme mandated by court order, we impose the death sentence.”
“What’s that?” asks Wade Aucoin, a pimply 15-year-old in the first row of the bleachers.
“Permanent revocation of your poetic license.”
The fellow tells me he too loves poetry,
but I gather, as I listen to him talk,
he’s the sort who reads no more
than what he finds in anthologies:
The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck
and other various and sundry dreck,
I imagine; he mentions a few Big Names
and I conclude he’s attracted to fame,
and not the hard stuff, or the obscure.
He knows a line or two of Yeats, and
maybe some Frost and Longfellow, so
he’s memorized something that will endure.
Our conversation ends; we won’t be friends,
but we’re friendly. I know how this will end:
him sending me something, asking what I think,
me tossing it aside, having another drink.
And yet, I scold myself for being so cold;
He’s a trace, however slight, of poetry in his soul.
DOWNER’S GROVE, Il. It’s Saturday night in this suburb of Chicago, and Dan Gruenberg is regaling friends with a tale of an incident at his office that has them poised for the punch line. “So the office manager comes in wearing an all-black outfit and sees Tina from accounting at the single-cup coffee machine with a packet of Sweet ‘n Low,” he says, about to burst into laughter himself. “It was . . . like . . . a Monty Python episode,” he says, his voice trailing off. “Or something,” he adds weakly.
“Well–which one was it?”
“Which Monty Python episode?” his friend Royal Blucher asks, genuinely interested and not trying to put Gruenberg on the spot. “The one with the dead parrot, the one with the foreign phrase book that says ‘My nipples are bursting with pleasure’? Which?”
“I . . . I don’t know,” Gruenberg says nervously, and his wife Debra comes to his assistance. “Honey, would you mind going out to the kitchen and cutting some more pork tenderloin?” she says, and Dan quickly agrees, excusing himself from the table with obvious relief.
The Wild and Crazy Guys: A veritable quicksand pit for DHS sufferers.
Gruenberg suffers from Derivative Humor Syndrome (DHS), an ailment that strikes one in seven American males, rendering them incapable of joking except by second-hand reference even when confronted with a situation that reeks of comic possibilities. “They’ll say ‘This is like a Saturday Night Live sketch, or an Abbott & Costello routine,” says Dr. Marlon Minoz of the Overg Institute for the Study of Social Embarrassment in Mankato, Minn. “They’d like to say it in their own words–but they can’t.”
Abbott & Costello: “So my kid hit a single and he was standing on first like . . .”
Remedial therapy is not covered by health insurance, and so DHS victims often become resigned to their fate and lurk quietly on the fringes of social gatherings, hoping that nothing will strike them as funny in the conversations they are afraid to join. “We were on a cruise and my relatives crowded into our stateroom,” says Gail Lerner, whose husband Mike inherited DHS from his father. “I could see Mike struggling to say ‘This is like the scene from A Night at the Opera,’ but he successfully fought off the impulse. I was so proud of him.”
A Night at the Opera
Gail completed the cruise alone as her husband suffered a fatal seizure from the effort required to restrain himself, but she says she will make sure their two kids always remember their father’s valiant struggle to say something original. “It won’t be easy, I know,” she says with a lump in her throat. “When I get home, I’ll have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.”