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What Is Your Most Disastrous Thanksgiving Turkey Story?

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I think everyone's had a disastrous Thanksgiving Turkey event in their lives. My personal disaster happened in my sophomore year at Fordham, at the very end of the sixties. I was living in my first apartment, with three other roommates, in what turned out to be a tough neighborhood in the Bronx. It was the kind of building where the police broke into your apartment by mistake looking for someone else, but the rent sure was cheap!

Anyway, we wanted to have our own Thanksgiving dinner with friends before we all went home for the holiday. I offered to cook. I had plenty of enthusiastic, untrained helpers. We all went shopping together on Fordham Road. Early on the morning of the big day, I put the bird in the oven, rubbed with melted butter, and draped with slices of bacon, as I had seen done oh so many times at home. We had a big old-fashioned white stove: your classic New York apartment standard issue to cook the whole meal. Then we began work on the side dishes, which went on all day.

Friends gathered. There was lots of noise and excitement and drinking of wine, and eating of appetizers. But after awhile, we couldn't help but notice there was very little in the way of wafting cooking smells. After five hours in the oven, the bird was still a pale yellowish gray. The oven didn't work, or just barely. We had fourteen guests, a vast quantity of uncooked food, and lots of wine and beer. So we ordered pizza from Arthur Avenue, and took our uncooked food to the very large Albanian family down the hall who turned it into their first American Thanksgiving dinner. We went on to have a memorable, fun, Thanksgiving feast with our friends, and so I guess, my Turkey Disaster worked out pretty well after all. I'd love to hear any of your Thanksgiving Turkey Disaster stories if you have a moment to share them.

This week on DishandDine, we're running a Holiday Recipe Challenge for Thanksgiving Side Dishes. Here's a recipe below from my good friend, Shawna Barrett, for Cranberry Relish. It's easy and scrumptious, with apples and walnuts, and offers a wonderful alternative to the traditional cranberry relish for your holiday feast.

Cranberry Relish
1 lb. bag fresh cranberries
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup Granny Smith apples, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp. orange rind
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Bring cranberries and water to boil. Boil gently 15 minutes. Add sugar, stir and cook 2 minutes. Cool. Add orange juice. Bring to simmer. Add 1 cup golden raisins. When raisins are plump, add to cranberry mixture. In addition, add remaining ingredients. Keeps beautifully for one week, or more.

This recipe and many other family favorites are available on And the Holiday Recipe Challenge is underway! Join the fun and submit your family's favorite recipe for this week's challenge: Thanksgiving Side Dish. Your recipe could be featured on DishandDine's Today's Hot Dish next Monday. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! And remember, pizza is a great idea the nite before Thanksgiving when you just don't feel like cooking another thing.

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