This year, East Side Marketplace ran a special where, after spending a certain amount of money from late October to early November, customers could turn in their receipts for a free turkey. My roommates and I, as four students off meal plan and with a kitchen, were able to get two after our weekly grocery trips. In other words, I finally had the perfect excuse to want to take on the challenge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner in a dorm room kitchen.
11:00 a.m., Sunday We head to East Side Marketplace, picking up our free turkeys (one of which we gave to another friend for her Thanksgiving dinner). It turns out the free turkeys were frozen, which would never thaw in one day, so we took a voucher to get $20 off of a refrigerated turkey breast (which cooks faster and was cheaper, so win-win there).
11:08 a.m. A very nice woman at the deli counter calls me “papa.” It’s going to be a good Thanksgiving indeed.
11:20 a.m. We pick up the other necessary items: stuffing, potatoes, cranberries.
11:33 a.m. It takes two employees plus myself to find gravy in a jar.
11:35 a.m. Found it.
11:55 a.m. We return and unpack our groceries. One of my roommates is a vegan and has prepared well for dinner later (see below).
11:58 a.m. I start to prepare the turkey. I have no clue what I am doing, so I mix salt, pepper, and brown sugar and begin to rub it all over the turkey, which looks like this:
12:01 p.m. I realize how intimidating
and slimy trying to prepare a turkey is.
12:07 p.m. Wow, I am not at all equipped to roast a turkey, mainly because we don’t have a pan. East Side MiniMart luckily carries roasting pans. The day is saved.
12:15 p.m. The oven is preheated and I have sufficiently put more brown sugar and butter on this turkey than is seen in your average episode of Cupcake Wars. Meanwhile, the cranberry sauce simmers.
12:30 – 3:30 p.m. Now, I’m going to be honest with you: this part is really boring. There’s a turkey in the oven, and not much else is happening except that I’m following simple instructions on how to make potatoes and stuffing… and Adele’s album playing in the background.
3:42 p.m. The turkey is about 155°F, but it needs to be 165°F. I’m starting to worry, considering I told my friends to come and eat at 4 p.m.
4:00 p.m. No friends have arrived. I’m a bit disappointed, but mainly relieved. The turkey is 160°F. Some say you can take the turkey out now and let it sit, but I’m not risking Salmonella, or whatever you get from raw turkey.
4:30 p.m. The turkey is a solid 165°F. I take that bird out of the oven and, wow, I am impressed.
4:32 p.m. It’s immediately replaced with a pumpkin pie as my roommate begins filling a cupcake tray with corn muffin batter.
4:44 p.m. I start to heat up everything that I made during that boring three-hour span, and begin to set the table. One friend has shown up, and she keeps eyeing the turkey. I keep an eye on her to make sure we don’t end up completely out.
4:52 p.m. The pie is still in the oven, and the muffins join it. We turn down the temperature from a balmy 400°F to a chilly 350°F.
5:03 p.m. When my roommate tries to rotate the cupcake trays in the oven, disaster strikes, and batter spills onto the floor of the oven.
5:05 p.m. I’m kneeling in front of a 350°F oven, scraping muffin batter off bottom with a rubber spatula. I question the whole “giving thanks” thing for a moment.
5:08 p.m. My roommate attempts to pick up a few dry crumbs from the oven with a paper towel, which brushes against the heating mechanism of the oven and immediately catches fire. He considers stomping it out, and decides to throw it into the sink.
5:09 p.m. Phew, the fire’s out. Good thing that sink worked. Oh, wait, no it didn’t.
5:10 p.m. Phew, the fire’s actually out.
5:33 p.m. The dinner is done, the table is set, and a few more people begin to arrive. The dinner is complete, and after only one injury.
6:18 p.m. Everyone is here, and the pie is finally done, and with a minimal “smoky” flavor.
6:21 p.m. “Hello” plays and we eat.
So, yes, I made Thanksgiving dinner in a dorm room. And you can too! But maybe neither of us should, at least not for a while.
Would I do it again? Yes, fire and all, if only for the Instagram:
All images via Anthony DeRita ’18.