Bite Size Memoir for Carrot RanchWriting a memoir is like eating an elephant as our host, Lisa Reiter, reminds us–one bite at a time. Thus far, she’s led memoirists new and seasoned through ten bites. I’m hoping the elephant is grand and that the meal is greatly extended. I’m enjoying the company around the dinner table as we swap memories.

The swap is enlightening. Sharing memories in bites with others leads to revelations and reminders. My memory reminds another and another’s memory jiggles a forgotten item from the past. It’s kind of like digging into old couch cushions and finding loose change.

This week, we our theme is “10 out of 10.” We are prompted to write about something we excel at be it a hobby, academia or even a certain strand of trivia.

I’m very good at setting that dinner table for Thanksgiving feast. When I wrote food columns, I would get excited for the grandest American food holiday and try to outdo the year before. All my food pairing and menu planning benefited my family who got to eat the results. One year, my eldest read an article that I wrote for the local newspaper and she went online to comment….”That’s my mum and that’s what we’re eating for Thanksgiving!” It made me feel like the best turkey-stuffer in the world.

So let me tantalize you with my best 10.

Memories of the Drunken Turkey

When they were little enough to all kneel on the kitchen counter, the Thanksgiving turkey got a full-body massage. Three little hands rubbed room-temp butter onto the round, raw 20-pound tom. As the kids got older and our food interests matured, we introduced vices to the turkey–smoking, bourbon and Clean Slate Riesling. From this transition, the Mills Family Drunken Turkey rose to the ranks of near-legend. At least for three Mills offspring.

Three days before launching the inebriated turkey into the oven, I create a brine of alcohol, spices, water and Celtic Sea Salt. Sometimes he gets to smoke prior to sloshing in bourbon or wine. He’s the star of the dinner table but accompanied by the likes of: Exotic Vanilla-Bean Cranberries, Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Jalapeno Cornbread, Camembert Mashed Yukons, Maple Orange Sweet Potatoes, Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding, Creamed Peas and Bourbon Pumpkin Pies.

My perfect 10.


Note about photo: this was my Papa Sonny’s turkey ranch in central California, east of San Francisco.Β  Not all ranches wrangle cattle. And yes, the turkeys were free-range.

Turkeys on the Range







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