Wild turkeys are indigenous to this area. Despite that the town where I live is rather urban/suburban, it is not uncommon to see one of these large birds darting across the street or wandering through your backyard, especially if your lot backs up to a wooded area. I'd guess this is because of our wonderful metropark system. There is quite a bit of forest interspersed in between all of the commercial and residential areas. It's one of the reasons that I like it here, and I'd bet that the turkeys agree! (I'm sure proximity to a mall and Starbuck's in addition to great hiking are tip top of the turkey's list when shopping for real estate.) Wild turkeys are most likely the variety that graced the tables on those early Thanksgivings in the 1600's. It's also probable that the pilgrims ate other wild fowl like goose and duck and wild game such as deer. Lobster, seal, eel, and cod may have also been on the menu. Remember, the original settlements and eventually the colonies were largely coastal (Pennsylvania being the exception).
These days most of us stick to the farm-raised, domestic type bird (think Butterball) that we purchase from the grocery. But there are still those that bring home their Thanksgiving bird fresh from the field or woods. From what I understand, wild turkeys are somewhat plentiful. They inhabit every state in the union, however, are the most prevalent in the Eastern half of the country.
There are whole magazines published about turkey hunting.
While turkeys are rumored to be fairly unintelligent, the hunters could probably still use a few tips...my research shows that wild turkeys can run up to 25 mph and fly at speeds of 50-55 mph.
I personally have never tasted wild turkey. I did once try a wild goose that my grandpa shot. It was beyond awful. That single experience kind of turned me off on wild birds altogether. However, if any of you adventurous readers are of the mind to stalk a turkey in the wild and bring him home over your shoulder for the Thanksgiving feast, here are a couple of links to recipes that might interest you: Wild Turkey Recipes and these recipes from the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Last week, while visiting the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center I finally got close enough to a real, live, wild turkey to snap a picture.
Check out this one! We had a staring contest. Who are you lookin' at, lady!?
Of course, some of you may be familiar with this type of Wild Turkey at your holiday gathering. For cooking purposes, of course. It certainly wouldn't be on hand to ease the stress of large family gatherings with crazy Aunt Bethany (remember her from National Lampoon's Christmas Family Vacation? "Is this the airport, Clark?"), dozens of lively young children running wild and touching your "breakables", and heated political debates with cousin Eddie. Right?
You really can cook with this stuff. A few of my favorites are Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Warm Vanilla Cider. Click here for recipes. Hey, if you sneak a nip in between all of that chopping and mixing, who am I to judge?
Here are MY wild turkeys...absolutely essential for all of my holiday gatherings. They are one of the things in life I am very most thankful for. They may look innocent, but trust me, they're WILD! It's genetic.
This year my daughter's class got to be the turkeys for Thanksgiving Chapel. Last year she was a Native American or a warrior or something like that (I'm pretty sure they're not allowed to call them Indians). The chapel was also filled with classes of Mayflower ships (they sported sails on their heads), Pilgrims, and the young Warriors among other Thanksgiving mascots. They were so cute!
And now the countdown is on! Thanksgiving is one week away. Time to finalize the menu, make the grocery list, press the linens, polish the silver, and shine that crystal! Last year I hosted Thanksgiving at my house. This year we're travelling (insert sigh of relief). Don't get me wrong. I loved it. I can't wait to host it again, but it's also nice to go home for the holidays. Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, as documented in my kitchen last year. I was a baby blogger back then, plus I was knee deep in holiday preparation and celebration so please excuse the photography and sketchy directions. Whatcha really need though, the recipes, are there.
Herb Turkey Rub
Grandma Shirley's Bread Dressing
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Baked Irish Corn
And for dessert:
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
French Apple Pie
Grandma Bailey's Apple Dumplings
Grandma Kathleen's Cherry Pie
Peanut Butter Pie
Happy cooking, happy eating and most of all, Happy Thanksgiving!
Stay tuned next week for ways to utilize that leftover turkey!