For the last five years, my friend Daria and I have thrown Friendsgiving dinner. As out-of-staters, we are typically too broke to fly home to eat with (and roll our eyes at) our families for the holiday. Instead, we bribe our fellow Seattle transplant friends with home-cooked food and promises of wine that is better than Two Buck Chuck (Trader Joe's infamously bad wine, Charles Shaw).

We never bothered with bland green-bean casserole or gelatinous canned cranberry sauce from the grocery store. Friendsgiving was an excuse to go all out on a proper feast. Aside from a mountain of garlic mashed potatoes, there was brie en croute, stuffed squash, fancy herbal cocktails, and a slew of other dishes we found on Pinterest.

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The one thing we never planned to serve at our table: a turkey. We were both pescatarians—we ate fish and seafood but no other meat. Instead of a golden-brown bird at our table, we'd make plates of oven-roasted salmon.

This wasn't an issue until Thanksgiving 2012, when a couple of carnivorous friends cried fowl and threatened to buy turkey from the Safeway deli. But Daria and I wouldn't stand for it. We may have been living in a shitty University District triplex with horrendous plumbing, but we were adamant about having a "real" homemade Thanksgiving—even if it meant figuring out how to cook a goddamned turkey.

"How hard can it be? You just shove it in the oven!" we thought while we lugged home the smallest turkey we could find at Trader Joe's.

"Let's make Martha Stewart proud," I said.

We didn't. As it turns out, two mostly vegetarians should absolutely not be in charge of cooking a big-ass bird.

Between the two of us, I was the most experienced in turkey-making, but that didn't mean a lot. It turned into a lot of guesswork. I cleaned and brined the bird in a cooler with plenty of salt and rosemary. I packed butter and herbs under its skin and shoved cut up apples, onions, and herbs into the turkey's freaky, empty insides. And then we shoved it in the oven to slow-roast for hours, all just as my parents had taught me.

The timer finally dinged. The rest of the food was already out on the table, and our friends were eagerly awaiting the centerpiece of their idyllic version of Thanksgiving.

Daria's then-boyfriend pulled the perfectly cooked bird from the oven. My friend and I looked smug. He set it on the table for everyone to oooh and ahhh over (and, okay, probably for some Instagramming, too). He started carving the bird and dishing it out and eventually brought it back to the stove to finish it up.

But then we heard a loud "UH—"

We went to the kitchen and stared squeamishly into the turkey's—ass? Headhole?—at what he'd just discovered. He reached in with his fingers and slowly dragged out a small waxy bag.

It was the bag of giblets. In our efforts to honor the goddess Martha Stewart, Daria and I had neglected to find the bag of innards tucked up into the bird's chest cavity. The meat around the bag was basically raw and it looked like we'd just shot the bird. Daria and I were horrified.

I called my mom from the other room. When I explained what had happened, she cackled into the phone. "What, you thought it was just missing its giblets?" she asked, wheezing from laughing so hard.

We looked over our shoulders to our friends who were circled around the table as they piled mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce onto their plates. We knew the turkey already on their plates was cooked.

"Do we say anything?" one of us asked.

We exchanged looks. Our guests were blissfully unaware—and thankfully too full to go back for seconds. We walked back to the table, poured ourselves big glasses of wine, and shoveled salmon into our mouths.

We never mentioned the Giblet Incident again.


HOW YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO MAKE A TURKEY, ACCORDING TO MY MOTHER

As told from the wine aisle of a Sprouts grocery store.

Ingredients

2 tsp salt, plus more for cleaning

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground pepper

1 turkey of any size, defrosted and brined

¾ cup mix of parsley, thyme, and sage, roughly chopped

1 cup salted butter, softened

3 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 Granny Smith apples, seeded, cored, and chopped

1 large onion, cubed

cooking twine

Instructions

• Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a rack inside of a large roasting pan.

• Prepare the turkey seasoning by mixing together the salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

• Put your turkey in a clean sink. (Mom says: "Don't forget to take out the giblets bag.") Generously sprinkle salt all over the inside and outside the turkey and rub into the skin and the cavity. Rinse with cold water and then pat dry. "That takes out the funky turkey taste," says my mother.

• Mix the chopped herbs with the softened butter until it's a paste. Loosen the skin on the turkey with your hands and then spread the herb butter evenly under the skin. Don't miss the thighs and the wings.

• Spread the seasoning mixture over the turkey.

• Mix chopped celery, onions, and apples in a bowl. Loosely pack them into the turkey's cavity. This will help keep the turkey moist. Separately tie together the turkey's wings and legs with the cooking twine "so they don't splay out in the oven," explains Mom.

• Place the turkey in the oven and bake at 325 degrees for 13 minutes per pound. Baste the turkey with the drippings in the roasting pan every 30 minutes. Turkey is finished cooking when a meat thermometer inserted into the breast and inner and outer thigh reads 165 degrees.

• Rest turkey outside of the oven for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.


FUCK TURKEY—MAKE THIS FISH CURRY INSTEAD

Recipe from Hipcooks, a cooking studio in downtown Seattle.

Ingredients

2 tsp mustard seeds

3 fresh green chilies, chopped

1 handful curry leaves

2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, chopped

3 onions, peeled and chopped in a food processor

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp turmeric

6 tomatoes, chopped in a food processor until just chunky

14 fluid ounces coconut milk

1 knob tamarind paste

1 large handful spinach

fresh cilantro for garnish

6 small filets of fish such as haddock, cod, snapper, sole, or monkfish

Instructions

• Heat some oil in a large skillet and add the mustard seeds. Hear them pop? Good!

• Now add the chilies, curry leaves, and ginger and cook until it smells good.

• Add onion, cook for 5 minutes, add the turmeric, chili powder, and tomato.

• Cook for a few minutes and add 1 to 2 wine glasses of water and the coconut milk.

• Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until it thickens a bit.

• Add a sprinkle of salt, if you think it needs it. Add the tamarind paste.

• Now poach your fish! It should take only 4 or 5 minutes, max!

• At the end of the cooking time, stir in the spinach. Voilà!