My Funny/Yummy Food 4 Thought Column 17

       A Turkey-Day Tale of Tom-Foolery and Cheating. (Yum!)  

For this story, we flash back to my freshman year at Franklin & Marshall College.  I was living in a dorm at the time. It was a week or so before Thanksgiving and when we showed up for lunch one afternoon we all got a big surprise: the food was actually edible. Only kidding, the food was never edible. In fact, we took student opinion polls on it in a survey I invented called, “Rate the Rot.”  The survey allowed students to classify such common dorm dishes as “Tuna Poodle Casserole,” “Pusstafazoole,” and “Grilled Sneeze Sandwiches.”

Soon after the survey, the cafeteria management announced a pre-Thanksgiving raffle giving all the guys in the dorm a chance to win one of three terrific prizes: a freshly baked apple pie, a 10-pound, ready-to down spiral ham and a 22 lb roasted Butterball turkey.  

Mr. Deeds, the cafeteria manager and personal friend of mine, despite the Rate the Rot Survey, held up a big ballot box and explained that students should write their name on the entry form, which he held up. I immediately noted that the entry forms were nothing more than blank sheets taken from an ordinary, 3” x 5” note pad. This set the devious wheels of my brain in motion and that evening, I explained my devious plan to the guys on my dorm floor.

I asked if everyone was lusting after the turkey Deeds had talked about?  Bob Brumberg explained that he not only lusting for it, he wanted to give it a ring and get married. I explained that I had a sure way to win if they were all willing to share the prize and sneak, lie, cheat and connive to win it.   “Of course!” agreed the guys. 

“Okay, I said, then tell me what this is?” I held up a small pad of note paper and one of the guys said, “Those are the ballots for the drawing.”

“Yes, indeed,” I said and so are these and these and these. I showed them 15 pads in all and explained that all we needed to do was write our names 25 times each on the note pads and I would stuff the 500 ballots in the ballot box. Winning would be a piece of cake, or like stealing turkey from a baby!

 After everyone filled out their ballots I went downstairs wondering how I was going to stuff the box and then, in a semi-miracle, Deeds saw me and said, “Oh, Jim, can I ask you to watch the ballot box for me for a minute, while I make an important phone call?” He had to be kidding. “Sure, I said. “Happy to do it” and the second he vanished I shoved the 500 ballots in the box.  Now, all we had to do was wait for the big drawing.

Two days later, Deeds appeared with the ballot box during lunch. “You guys ready for the drawing?” he asked.

“Yeaaaaa” the guys cheered as the kitchen staff marched into the room with the apple pie, luscious-looking ham and golden-brown turkey. Then, to my surprise, Deeds turned to me and said, “Jim Ardito, why don’t you pick our lucky winners?”

“Sure,” I said as I walked over to the box and, because I’m a ham even when it comes to drawing for turkeys, I yelled out, “Gentlemen,  may we have a drumstick, I mean, drum roll please?” The guys obliged by pounding on their tables. “This is for that fabulous apple pie,” I announced as I reached in, pulled out a ballot and said, “And the winner of the pie is…Dyke Hendrikson!” The second Dyke’s name was read, our floor started cheering. We had won, how awesome! “Now, for the second place prize,” I said. And the winner of the spiral ham is…Bill Breitman!”  Our floor won again and our guys went wild. “Okay, I shouted, now for the grand prize, of this mouth-watering turkey…. I reached in, pulled out a ballot and announced that the winner of the turkey was… “Dyke Henrickson!” …the same guy who won the pie!

I fell on the floor and started laughing.  The obvious fix was in the open and pandemonium broke loose. “Grab the prizes” I shouted and two guys from our floor grabbed the goods and ran off with a dozen angry guys in pursuit.  

Our guys made it as far as the staircase before getting caught and then a brawl broke out! Thighs and legs got ripped off and luckily they were just from the turkey. When it was over,  there wasn’t much of any prize left, just an ooey gooey mess on the floor.     

Question is, was it worth it? You bet it was! Plotting and pulling off the great turkey fix was heavenly fun. Getting caught and laughing until my sides split, well that was pure gravy.

                                     Turkey Tetra-ziti

This delicious dish is another one of my dear departed mom’s recipes. When I turned 21, she gave me a little book of her favorite recipes, taking the time to type them out and tab the whole little book.  It was a very sweet thing to do. I hope I thanked her enough at the time. That’s the thing about our parents. We take from them all our lives, but when it comes to giving back, we can be real turkeys!

 What Youza Need
4 cups chopped turkey
4 Tbsp melted butter
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp flour  
2-3 cups chicken or turkey broth 
1 cup half and half
¼ cup sherry
Mess of sautéed mushrooms
1/4th cup slivered almonds
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1 pound of ziti

 What Youza Do
Talk about easy and good — you’d have to be a turkey to mess this recipe up. Preheat oven to 350o. Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan, add the flour and make a roux. Keep stirring until it turns almond brown in color. In a separate pan, sauté the mushrooms until brown. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder.  Toss the mushrooms into the roux; add the stock, cream, sherry and stir until it thickens, then add the turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Boil water and cook the ziti, but take it out while it’s still very firm.  Pour the ziti into a buttered casserole dish. Add the sauce with turkey. Top with breadcrumbs and slivered almonds and bake at 350o degrees for 20 minutes. “And the winner is, Dyke Hendrickson!” Heck no, it’s anyone you share this with. Enjoy!

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