Turkey on the house

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

One needn’t grab an ax and a turkey to find a feast this Thursday.

Tucumcari’s First Baptist Church is offering a free Thanksgiving meal — and everyone is invited, said church member A.J. Williams, who coordinates the event’s committee.

“We encourage people who are alone, or couples who don’t want to cook, to come join us for good fellowship — it’s like one big family,” Williams said.

Mealtime is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, with those who wish to help invited to show up around 10 a.m.

Williams said they will also deliver food to shut-ins who are unable to leave their homes, but they should call the church by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Williams said the church’s Thanksgiving meal, which includes turkey and traditional side dishes, averages about 150 people and has been going on for 14 years with all food and help donated by church and community members.

“We’ve had repeats every year,” Williams said of the diners and the helpers. She also said it’s not uncommon for families who start out as dinner guests to end up part of the congregation.

Of course, if one would rather raise his or her own turkey, tips can be found on the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association Web site.

Breeder Mike Walter of Walters Hatchery in Oklahoma cautions, “Most people make the mistake of raising turkeys like chickens, which is like raising horses like cows. They are different than chickens, and need to be raised in deference to their natural tendencies.”

Walter said it’s best to keep new turkey chicks on clean wood shaving for the first eight weeks, bring them out to range after that, make sure they have a spot for shade (although he finds they rarely use it) and be sure not to pack too many turkeys into a small area. He also recommends working with state extension personnel and the Department of Agriculture when designating a pen system for the birds.

As for food, Walter suggests a mixture of at least 28 percent protein up to slaughter time.

More of his tips can be found at www.apppa.org/APPPA/articles/turkeys.htm — or one can simply pay a Thursday visit to the First Baptist Church.

What: Free Thanksgiving meal
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, 10 a.m. for those who wish to help
Where: First Baptist Church, Adams and Center streets
Those physically unable to leave their homes at all may call 461-2724 by Tuesday at 4 p.m. for delivery

George Washington’s Thanksgiving prayer:

Most gracious Lord God, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, I offer to Thy Divine Majesty my unfeigned praise and thanksgiving for all Thy mercies toward me.
Thou made me at first and hast ever since sustained the work of Thine own hand.
Thou gave Thy Son to die for me, and hast given me assurance of salvation upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to His holy precepts and example.
Thou art pleased to lengthen out to me the time of repentance and to move me to it by Thy Spirit and by Thy Word, and by Thy mercies and by Thy judgements.

Source: Janice T. Connell’s book Faith of Our Founding Father

The morning after:

Day-After-Turkey-Dinner Hash

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups leftover stuffing
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 cups chopped, leftover turkey
1 cup leftover gravy

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a large cast-iron skillet and stir in the onion. Saute over medium heat for 7 minutes; then crumble up the stuffing and add it. Spoon the mashed potatoes here and there in the skillet and scatter in the turkey. Warm the gravy and thin it with a little water. Pour into the skillet, tossing lightly with a fork. Mash the hash down gently with a fork and bake 20 minutes. Yield: four to five servings.

Source: The Old Farmer’s Almanac