Between the lines

Between the lines by David Lias We've all been so consumed lately with serious stuff, like trying to find the fathers of all those pregnant chads on the ballots in Florida, that it's easy to forget to lighten up a bit.

The people who package and market Butterball turkeys take their work just as seriously as Florida election workers. They have, in fact, established a Butterball Turkey Talk-Line � a place where people like you and me can call to have all of our questions about preparing a Thanksgiving meal answered.

These Butterball folks, however, know how to have fun. Over the years, the talk-line staff has had its share of memorable calls.

Lucky for us, they've saved these true-to-life gems in a Butterball Turkey Talk-Line archive.


* A trucker called the talk-line stating he planned to cook his Thanksgiving turkey on the engine of his truck. "Will it cook faster if I drive faster?" he asked.

* Home alone, a Kentucky woman was in the doghouse when she called the talk-line. While preparing the turkey, her chihuahua jumped into the bird's body cavity and couldn't get out. She tried pulling the dog and shaking the bird, but nothing worked. She and the dog became more and more distraught. After calming the woman down, the talk-line home economist suggested carefully cutting the opening in the cavity of the turkey wider. It worked and Fido was freed.

* Birdie, eagle and turkey? Roasting a turkey doesn't have to interfere with the daily routine, so said a retired Floridian. He called "Turkey Central" for turkey grilling tips while waiting to tee off from the 14th hole.

* Taking turkey preparation an extra step, a Virginian wondered, "How do you thaw a fresh turkey?" The talk-line staffer explained that fresh turkeys aren't frozen and don't need to be thawed.

* Don't wait until the last minute! On Thanksgiving Day, a Georgian woman took the "Be prepared" motto to heart. She had just agreed to host Thanksgiving dinner and called the talk-line a year ahead of time for turkey tips.

* Thanksgiving dinner on the run. A woman called 1-800-323-4848 to find out how long it would take to roast her turkey. To answer the question, the talk-line home economist asked how much the bird weighed. The woman responded, "I don't know, it's still running around outside."

* Tofu turkey? No matter how you slice it, Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without turkey. A restaurant owner in California wanted to know how to roast a turkey for a vegetarian menu.

* White meat, anyone? A West Coast woman took turkey preparation to extremes by scrubbing her bird with bleach. Afterward, she called the talk-line to find out how to clean off the bleach. To her dismay, she was advised to dispose of the turkey.

* A young girl called on behalf of her mother who needed roasting advice. To provide approximate roasting times, the home economist asked what size the turkey was. Without asking her mother the little girl paused, then replied, "Medium."

* A novice turkey-cooking chef wanted to know if the yellow netting and wrapper around the turkey should be removed before roasting. Envisioning a melted plastic turkey blob, the home economist responded, "Yes," then offered complete roasting directions.

And one more ?

* A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, "Do these turkeys get any bigger?" The stock boy replied, "No ma'am, they're dead."

By the time you read this, either your bird or you should be stuffed in celebration of Thanksgiving. But what about next year? What if it's your responsibility to cook a turkey and you've never done it before? You can call the talk-line, of course.

Or consider this. A bunch of kindergarten students (I apologize for not knowing where they are from) have posted their instructions for cooking turkeys on the Internet. Their teacher states she is not responsible for any medical bills that may ensue from actually following this advice.

Russell said, "You cut the turkey up and put it in the oven for 10 minutes and 300 degrees. You put gravy on it and eat it."

"You buy the turkey and take the paper off," Geremy said. "Then you put it in the refrigerator and take it back out and cut it with a knife and make sure all the wires are out and take out the neck and heart. Then you put it in a big pan and cook it for half an hour at 80 degrees. Then you invite people over and eat."

"You cut it into 16 pieces and then you leave it in the oven for 15 minutes and 4 degrees," according to Meghan. "You take it out and let it cool and then after 5 minutes, you eat it."

"You put some salt on it to make it taste good," Danny said. "Then you put it in the oven. Then you cook it for an hour at 5 degrees. Then you eat it."

Moriah said, "First you cut the bones out. Then you put it in the oven for 10 hours at 600 degrees. Then you put it on the table and eat it."

Vincent's turkey preparation ideas are radically different. "You cut and put sauce on it. Then you cook it for 18 minutes at 19 degrees. Then you eat it with stuffing," he said.

It appears that a shovel is a required cooking utensil, at least according to Jordyn, who said, "First you have to cut it up and put it on a plate in the oven for 9 minutes and 18 degrees. Then you dig it out of the oven and eat it."

Have a sweet tooth? No problem. Follow Grace's advice. "First you add some salt. Then you put brown sugar on it. Then you mix it all together with a spoon and then you add some milk and mix it again. And then you put it in a pan. Then you put it in the oven for 15 minutes and 16 degrees. Then you take it out of the oven and then you eat it."

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