Wednesday, November 27, 2013

TOP STORY >> Youngsters share turkey secrets

Leader staff writer

For more than 30 years, the professionally-trained turkey experts who make up the Turkey Talk-Line have been answering turkey-related questions each holiday season.

Available every November and December, the 50 or so turkey experts answer more than 100,000 questions — in both English and Spanish — for thousands of households around the United States and Canada.

But if the line is busy or you want to know how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey from someone closer to home, take the advice of these young students from Warren Dupree Elementary School in Jacksonville.

Second grader Elijah says to make a good Thanksgiving turkey “you can go to the store and buy what stuff you need. Then you can turn on a video and see how to make a turkey.”

Jacob, 7, agrees with the going to the store part. But then he says, “Next you take it out of the bag. Then, put it in the oven. Finally, you eat it.” Length of time and temperature didn’t seem to bother him.

Jayden, an 8-year-old, is also a believer in going to the store. But that is the first step, according to Jayden. “Second step is chop off the head, third is put it in the oven and fourth is have a good night.”

Second grader Ta’Shawn doesn’t mess with the store. “I go to the restaurant and get it,” he said.

Third grader Danny doesn’t need a store either. “You need to hunt or find a turkey and then you kill it with everything you got with you.”

Rachel, 8, is obviously a fast-food fan. She says, “Put it in the oven for 10 minutes. I would have good dressing in it. Yum.”

Fellow classmate Chantz believes in taking a little more time. “I would boil it. I would boil the water for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Then I would boil the turkey and bread it — saltines, if wanted. Cook it about 40 minutes. Then Wala!” according to the 8-year-old.

Andrew, another 8-year-old, would, of course, put the turkey in the oven. “Then take it out of the oven and let it cool down for one minute, then eat it.” He adds, “For Thanksgiving we will eat two turkeys and some mashed potatoes and gravy and some corn. I cannot wait.”

Makaila, a third grader, gives some important advice. “First, take the plastic bag out of the turkey and then turn the oven on the right time,” she says. Continuing, she adds, “You put the turkey in the oven, wait a minute then take the turkey out of the oven.”

Classmate Jeremiah was succinct and to the point, “Wash it, clean it, season it, put it in the oven, eat it.”

Third grader Destiny suggests putting the turkey “on a big fat plate before you put it in the oven for four minutes and 200 seconds and wait.” She adds, “you need to cook other stuff when the turkey is finished, put it all on the table and wait for your family to come.”

Granger, at 9, is a year old than many of his classmates. He takes a totally different approach.

“To cook a turkey,” he says, “I would stick two slingshot-like sticks in the ground and put the turkey on a stick. I would put a fire under it and I would put the turkey stick on the slingshot-like kinda thing and turn it until done like the Indians.”

Jeremy, a 9-year-old, seems to like well done turkey. “To cook a turkey I would roll it and put it in the oven. I would make the fire 1,000 degrees.”

Trsityn plans to deep fry the turkey. “I would pluck the feathers off first. Deep fry my turkey and then put it on the table and eat it,” explains the 8-year-old.

And then there are the first graders. Agiauna, 6, says, “You bake the turkey first, then put it in the oven, then you wait until it’s done, and that’s all you do.”

Classmate Kamora puts the cooking workload on her mother. “My mom puts it in the oven and waits for it to get brown, then we take it out and put vegetables over it,” she says.

Treyden, 6, is very technical in his explanation. “You put it in the oven, let it cook and when the time thingy beeps, you take it out.”

Then there is the out-of-box thinker, Jason. The 6-year-old says, “First you have to make two round circles, and an oval in the middle, then draw two legs, three feet, draw feather hands and draw a circle on the head.”

Of course, if none of this advice is helpful, there is always the Butterball Hotline. Not only will they answer questions about how to cook a moist turkey, they’ll help you with shopping tips, food safety and recipes for side dishes and desserts.

The helpline is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving day. Call them at 1-800-BUTTERBALL or e-mail them at

Foster Farms turkey experts are there as a resource for consumers to help avoid any potential Thanksgiving disasters with their helpline. Foster Farms Turkey Hotline (1-800-255-7227) will answer calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Saturday.

If you’re afraid of making your guests ill or would like to talk to friendly bureaucrats, there is the USDA Meat Hotline. The hotline has a series of pre-recorded messages that answer frequently-asked questions on safe meat handling, cross-contamination and how to not send everyone to the hospital. The number is 1-888-MPHOTLINE.

Reynolds Wrap has a website offering Thanksgiving recipes like pumpkin cake, mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables — all using Reynolds Wrap. Their hotline, 1-800-745-4000 offers pre-recorded turkey thawing and roasting help.