The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 25, 2012

Mike Pound: Cat, dog no help with turkey worry

What they are supposed to do is take the worry out of cooking, but they don’t.

At least they don’t take the worry out of cooking for me. By the way, I should point out that I’m writing this from home. Right now, I’m sitting in my chair in our living room, and my laptop computer is — follow me here — on my lap.

Working from home has its advantages. For one thing, when you work from home, you’re home. For another thing, if you want something to eat when you work from home, all you have to do is walk into your kitchen.

Of course, the disadvantage of working from home is also that you are home. As I’m typing this, our German shepherd, Shilo, is trying to put her head on my laptop, and Peanut Butter, one of our cats, is sitting on the back of my chair. Ever tried to write a column with a cat looking over your shoulder?

It’s not fun.

Anyway, the thing that is supposed to take the worry out of cooking but doesn’t is the digital meat thermometer. You know the kind that allows you to monitor the temperature of whatever you’re cooking while it cooks? You put the probe in whatever you’re cooking and check the temperature on a remote monitor.

The thermometer is supposed to give you peace of mind. It is supposed to keep you updated on the progress of whatever it is that you’re cooking. But that’s not what it does for me. What it does for me is drive me crazy.

It’s almost noon as I am typing this. About two and a half hours ago, I put a turkey in the oven. When I did, I stuck the thermometer probe in the turkey and set the monitor by the oven, and I have been obsessing about it ever since.

At first, I worried that the turkey wasn’t going to cook at all. For the first 10 or 15 minutes, the thermometer said the turkey was only at 33 degrees. I figured I had messed up and gotten one of those novelty turkeys that never cooks. But then I wondered why anyone would make a novelty turkey that never cooks.

Finally, though, the temperature on the turkey began to rise. But then I worried that the turkey would cook too fast. I worried that I had gotten one of those novelty turkeys that cooks all at once. But then I wondered the same thing I wondered about the novelty turkey that never cooks.

After a while, the turkey temperature started to even out a bit. But, still, I worried. Has it stopped cooking? Is the thermometer still working? What will the Kansas City Chiefs do with the first pick in the NFL draft?

I worried is what I did.

I just checked the turkey again. The thermometer said the turkey was almost done. At first I was happy, but then I realized that the turkey wasn’t supposed to be almost done yet. So I moved the probe to another part of the turkey, and the temperature went back to what I thought was an acceptable range.

See, the last thing you want to do is overcook a turkey. If you do, the turkey will be dry, and nobody wants a dry turkey. Unless you have pet turkey, and it just came in from the rain. But who has a pet turkey, and if they do, who lets it in the house?

On the other wing, you don’t want to undercook a turkey either. An undercooked turkey is gross. An undercooked turkey can make you sick. And you don’t want to get sick from undercooked turkey. As sickness goes, undercooked turkey sickness is one of the worst. It’s almost as bad as something I call “Limbaugh-bago,” and believe me, you don’t want to ever contract Limbaugh-bago.

If the turkey I’m roasting was just for my wife and our 14-year-old daughter, I wouldn’t worry so much. But it’s not. It’s also for a group of folks who will be arriving at our house in a few hours. When you invite folks to your house for Christmas dinner, I figure the least you can do is give them a properly cooked turkey. Nobody wants to sit down for dinner and have to say how wonderful the turkey is even though it is so dry it feels like Lawrence of Arabia is living in your mouth.

I just checked the turkey again. I don’t think it’s going to get done in time. I just checked it again. I think it’s going to be done too soon.

I don’t know. All I know is I hate that thermometer.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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