We see amazing sights from our home in the country. Last week as I drove into town, I came upon a flock of wild turkeys, plump from their diet of berries, insects and special treats from a neighbor’s corn field.
I’ve seen this flock before. But this particular morning, half of the group — sunrise at their backs — stood posed in full feather regalia. I slowed down and fumbled with my phone to snap a picture but missed it as they scurried away.
Later I learned that turkeys can detect movement from as far away as 100 yards. Oh well. Here are some other facts from the University of Illinois Extension:
Turkeys are related to pheasants. They fan their feathers to attract females. Only male turkeys gobble. Females make clicking noises, perhaps when the males are showing off their feathers.
According to the National Turkey Federation (eatturkey.org), Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in the nation, followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana and Missouri.
Nutritionally, turkey has slightly fewer calories, fat and sodium per serving than the same cut of chicken. It is an excellent source of protein — 24 grams for a 3-ounce portion. (Generally, experts say we should aim to eat between 20-30 grams of protein per meal to retain our muscle mass and protect our immune system.) Turkey is also a good source of iron, the mineral that carries life-giving oxygen to each cell of our bodies.
If turkey is on your menu this Thanksgiving, plan at least 1 pound of turkey per person from an 8 to 12 pound bird, especially if you like leftovers.
Give yourself at least three days to thaw a 15-pound frozen turkey in the refrigerator. That’s the safest and easiest way, says the Turkey Federation. And make sure it’s on a lower shelf so you don’t accidentally have juices dripping onto other foods.
Don’t have three days? No worries. Put your frozen turkey in a leak-proof bag, place it in the sink and cover it with cold water. Change the water every half hour. NEVER thaw a turkey at room temperature. This creates a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
Cook your turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. (Best places to poke your thermometer: the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast. If you stuff your bird, check it in the center; it should also be 165 degrees.
President Harry Truman said on Thanksgiving in 1947: Older than our nation itself is the hallowed custom of resting from our labors for one day at harvest time and of dedicating that day to expressions of gratitude to Almighty God for the many blessings which He has heaped upon us. Now, as the cycle of the year nears completion, it is fitting that we should lift up our hearts again in special prayers.
Slow down. Take time to be thankful. God often hides blessings in the bushes. Don’t miss it.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.