LARRY PENKAVA COLUMN: When it comes to Thanksgiving prep, I’m a turkey

Published 10:46 am Monday, November 21, 2022

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I found out several years ago that I’m a “coddled trophy husband.”

My elite status was thrust upon me by a friend, who had informed me that her husband does virtually all the cooking for Thanksgiving for her extended family, which is rumored to number in the hundreds. Rumor also has it that they have to rent the National Guard Armory for all their crew as well as the poor homeless people known to crash their party.

At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, when I learned of her husband’s unique skills I reflexively called her a “coddled trophy wife.”

I told her the women in my family do all the cooking while we men sit around and mumble stuff about the weather, the Panther’s current plights, what the woolly worms are predicting and the latest surgery.

That’s when said friend came up with her “coddled trophy husband” designation.

She said the women of my family may someday feel the urge to rebel, throwing off their repressive aprons.

My response was that, in case of a revolt, we’d be destined to eat our Thanksgiving meal at K&W. I said the Penkava men are lost in the kitchen.

But I should back off a bit from that summation. I’ve been known to prepare the sweet tea for Thanksgiving, a particularly important endeavor.

I’m also the designated turkey slicer at our house. The poor bird winds up looking like it’s been through a meat grinder by the time I’m finished.

Then there was the time during my college days when I heated up my meals on a prohibited hot plate that the resident adviser across the hall graciously, and full of pity, ignored.

One day I decided to speed up the heating process by placing a can of beef stew on the burner before removing the top. When the stew was hot enough, I took it off the burner and placed the can opener on the can.

I pressed down on the handles to puncture the lid and out spewed a chunk of beef stew that splattered against the 10-foot ceiling.

Thus ended my experiment in speed heating. Only the invention of the microwave oven a few years later advanced the technology.

I’ve been known to let pots on the stove boil over — at least until my wife Ginny revoked my cooking credentials. But she still allows me to flip pancakes on weekend mornings, a practice that’s become a rarity since years ago when all our kids left home.

That’s not to say I don’t have some remaining culinary skills that I practice regularly.
In fact, I’ve come up with a unique recipe for Thanksgiving leftovers, something I’m quite proud of actually. The directions are fairly simple and suitable for even the most inept at food preparation.

First, you select two slices of your favorite bread. Whole-grain is my preference because the fibers tend to keep the pipes cleansed.

Next, using a case knife, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread. Unless, that is, you’re using low-fat, low-cal mayo, which can be slathered on generously. But I can’t guarantee the results using that stuff.

When your slices have been coated, take one of them and begin layering. First, you want to fill in with leftover turkey pieces — light or dark meat as preferred.

Then add layers of dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie. Anything else remaining from the Thanksgiving meal can also be used.

Finally, add a dollop of brown mustard, cover with the second slice of bread and, voila, my famous post-Thanksgiving treat.

I like to call it turkey remains a la Wonder.

Bon appétit.

And, by the way, have a great Thanksgiving.

Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189,