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Turkey lovers gear up for busy holiday

<p>Selwyn Harris / Pahrump Valley Times - Local resident Ski Censki checks out a Butterball turkey while doing his Thanksgiving Day dinner shopping this week. Censki says he prefers to stuff the bird.</p>

Selwyn Harris / Pahrump Valley Times - Local resident Ski Censki checks out a Butterball turkey while doing his Thanksgiving Day dinner shopping this week. Censki says he prefers to stuff the bird.

Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow and most if not all local individuals and families have special plans for the holiday.

This year the American Automobile Association (AAA) projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year.

While shopping on Sunday, local residents Beth and John Barrett said they are joining the ranks of those who will be hitting the roads for the holiday.

The Barretts said they are driving to Mesquite for a traditional Thanksgiving Day celebration at their son’s home.

The retired couple recently moved to Pahrump from Montana.

“It’s the first time in about 15 years we will be celebrating with them and always important to remember what we are thankful for. I am thankful that all of our kids are doing well. We have lots of grandchildren and great- grandchildren. Thanksgiving always meant that we would get together and go to church depending on the day. We thank God for everything we have,” she said.

Another transplant, Rosemarie Coppa, moved to Pahrump from New York City several years ago.

She, too, has children living in the local community.

Growing up on the East Coast as a child, the retired senior recalled lean times where her family simply could not afford a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings.

“We didn’t have many turkeys when I was a kid because we were a little poor. When I got married, it was turkey all the time. I made the stuffing from scratch with celery, onions and everything and it was delicious. I could never make enough of the dressing. I also made candied sweet potatoes and my aunt used to make all of the pies by herself. She was a terrific baker and I miss them all so much,” she said.

A seeming wave of emotion overcame Coppa as she recalled past Thanksgivings.

She suggested that some of the special luster of that day has been lost over the years.

“Many of my family are gone but I have a wonderful daughter here and I still have a daughter in Staten Island near New Jersey. I just wish I could be with her but it will be impossible this year,” she said.

Coppa’s mood soon turned optimistic when she spoke about her dinner preparation plans tomorrow.

She spoke about the age-old debate on whether to stuff the turkey or make a “stand alone” dressing to accompany the meal.

Coppa said she always prefers the former.

“I always stuff the bird. I know some people don’t like to make it like that but I always stuff the bird. If the bird is stuffed, it’s called stuffing. If it’s not, they call it dressing, but I have always stuffed the bird because that’s the traditional way. I do everything overnight and in the morning it would be done and I would be exhausted,” she said.

Coppa will be traveling this Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, her destination will be her son’s home not far from Rosemary Clarke Middle School.

“He is right near me. He’s making two turkeys and my daughter and me are doing the side dishes. She is making the candied sweet potatoes and the string bean casserole. The sweet potatoes are from a family recipe using brown sugar and lots of butter. It’s just delicious,” she said.

Local resident Ski Censke said Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays of the season.

Censke happens to be the one who prepares the meal each year.

“It’s not about gift giving. It’s about family and good food and it takes away the stigma of the obligations of having to buy something. It’s just about good traditional food and to me, good traditional food is a turkey that you started about five in the morning with yams, dressing, bean salad and everything that goes with it, including pumpkin pie and whipped cream. I can tear up an entire pumpkin pie all by myself,” he said.

Censke is a turkey stuffing advocate, also.

“I think that’s why they came up with the word ‘stuffing’ to be honest with you,” he said with a wink.

As far as traveling is concerned, Censke said he prefers to spend the holiday at home with family and a few friends.

“That’s a home day for me. Basically it’s an open house. If you want to come over and I am sleeping that’s fine. Don’t wake me up. Just eat and leave quietly,” he joked.

Being the primary cook on Thanksgiving, Censke admitted to taking a few shortcuts in the kitchen at least when it came to making the dessert.

“I use the pre-made crust and the canned sweet potatoes but my turkey is as traditional as it can be. I bought mine a few days ago and I like to let it thaw slowly. Not to be promoting a certain brand, but I have always had good luck with the Butterball turkeys over the years. It may be a tom or a hen. I don’t really look that closely,” he said.

Butterball Consumer Affairs can answer questions regarding all facets of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner on the company’s Turkey hotline.

For expert answers company officials suggest calling 1-800-BUTTERBALL during the following times:

Nov. 27 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern.

Thanksgiving Day 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern.

Nov. 29. through Dec. 23. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern.

Christmas Eve 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern.