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Column: Did we just leave the turkey brine outside all night?

As much as I would have liked to visit my mom for Thanksgiving last week, it was too difficult to deliver the paper in Three Forks on Wednesday and prepare to publish the December edition of the Lewis and Clark Journal.

Since traveling can be tricky with the papers, we have established a nice little routine for Thanksgiving and once were lucky enough to have three family members join in on the festivities.

The year my family came, my older sister made us all wear “turkey” hats, and before dinner, we had to put them on and say what we were thankful for. I can still see the look on my stepdad’s face when my sister told him skipping this would not be an option.

Once the paper is delivered on Wednesday, we always head to the store to pick up everything we need. We always get the turkey early so it can thaw, but other than that, we always seem to wait until the last minute. I don’t mind shopping, but being in a grocery store the day before Thanksgiving is chaotic. It almost feels like the apocalypse is happening, and I will have to report home with only three cans of artichoke hearts, a single jalapeno, and diapers. I always tell myself I will start picking up things for the meal in early November, but I never do. This year, I got potatoes, a box of stuffing, and rolls, so I at least knocked three things off the list that seemed to be three pages long.

Once we navigate through the chaos, we get home and prepare for the next day’s meal. We figure it’s better to get ahead of things than try to do it all on Thursday morning.

The preparation usually includes having a few drinks, which certainly makes something like getting stuffing done a lot more pleasant. We always like to brine our turkey, but on one occasion, we started a bit later with this step and put a huge pot outside to cool a little bit so it wouldn’t heat the turkey. It turns out having a few drinks was probably not a good idea this year because we left the pot of brine outside overnight. The turkey still turned out great, but we learned a valuable lesson about starting the brining process a bit earlier.

With much prep work out of the way, Thanksgiving morning is usually a breeze. I do a lot of the cooking at the house, but I stay far away from the bird. I like to tell anyone who will listen that Melissa makes the best turkey in the lower 48, so I just let her do her magic. The kids always hate when I say “moist,” but it is the only way I can describe her turkey.

Usually, around 10 a.m., I start getting really hungry and get into the deviled eggs. Since there are only three of us, we don’t get out of control with sides, but I will start a riot if there are no deviled eggs. My reaction to no eggs would be as bad a kid who was told he had to leave Chuck E. Cheese after only getting a slice of their awful pizza and not getting to play any games.

Many people will not eat until at least three, but we usually eat early. Two years ago, we ate before 1 p.m., which seemed a little bit early but did allow me to have a second dinner at about 6 p.m.

While I miss being around my family on Thanksgiving, I enjoy having dinner at my house because I get leftovers.

My aunt in Wyoming hosts a massive dinner for up to 40 people, but I always feel sad when I leave her house without any turkey. As much as I like a turkey dinner, I might even enjoy the sandwiches with the leftovers more.

I’m hoping next year we have family come and join us. Perhaps they could remind us not to leave the brine outside all night. I wonder if we still have the “turkey” hats somewhere?