Hello, I'm Tom, the apple turkey!
One of my favorite holiday traditions as a young boy was making apple turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. I remember waking up to the smell of turkey roasting in the oven mixed with the smells of apple, pumpkin and pecan pies cooling upon wire racks on the kitchen counters.
Breakfast was always cold cereal and juice because mother was far too busy preparing the feast to be served later in the afternoon. Morning entertainment was always easy. My brothers and sisters would all gather around the television and watch first the Rose Bowl, then the Orange bowl, and last but not least, the grand daddy of them all; the Macy’s parade with Santa Claus on the very last float.
In those days you never saw a single Christmas decoration in any store until Santa had appeared in the Macy’s parade. It was always the signal that the Christmas countdown had officially started. It was a wonderful time to be young. Once the last of the marching bands had passed and the final float had received its share of oos’ and ahs’ and the parades were over, boredom would set in and we’d begin to move towards the kitchen and the lure of forbidden goodies.
This would always bring about the beginning of apple turkeys.
As soon as mom would notice the approaching horde of children attempting to invade her kitchen she’d reach up into one of the cupboards above the sink and bring out a bag of apples. She’d walk into the dinning room and set the bag upon the table.
Soon, there would be five children sitting in chairs around the table choosing apples from the bag and waiting patiently as mom would begin bringing the necessary ingredients to begin the making of the turkeys. Our essential contribution to the success of the thanksgiving feast was to produce one turkey for each place-setting for each guest that would be joining us at table.
Somehow, each and every year, we would complete our important task just in time for the banquet table to be cleared, cleaned and set before guests would begin to arrive for dinner.
Without further adieu, here is how apple turkeys are made...
One bag of small red apples
One box of raisins
One bag of Mini-marshmallows
A handful of whole cloves
A bowl of small green olives with pimentos
One box of flat toothpicks
Place one red apple on the table so that the stem is facing you. This is now the “front” of the turkey. The bottom of the apple has now become the “rear” of the turkey. (Or, as we call it in my family, the George W. Bush of the bird.)
Take a single flat toothpick and use the pointed end to spear three or four raisins. There should be about a quarter of an inch clear wood at each end of the toothpick. These will become the “tail feathers” of the turkey. Insert enough of the tail feather toothpicks around the rear of the apple until you have a nice full tail. (See illustration)
You will use three toothpicks with two to three raisins each for the “wings” on each side of the turkey. There should be about a half inch of bare wood on the point end of the toothpick and a quarter inch of bare wood at the top of the pick. The wings should be shorter than the bird’s tail feathers.
The “legs” of the bird will use two toothpicks for the front, each using two to three raisins each, with half an inch of bare wood on the point end of the pick. A third clean toothpick with nothing on it whatsoever will be used for support on the rear of the bird.
The “head” of the turkey will consist of one toothpick with two to three raisins on it leaving a quarter of an inch bare wood on the top and a half inch on the pointed end of the pick. Carefully remove the pimento from the olive and unfold it. Reinsert the pimento into the olive so that it will hang and become the “gobbler” for our bird. Secure the pimento with two whole cloves making the “eyes” of the bird. Insert the toothpick at about a forty-five degree angle to make the “neck” of the turkey. Attach the olive head.
The finishing touches are easy. Take a marshmallow and holding the two ends between thumb and forefinger, use a pair of scissors to cut it in half. Repeat this process until you have enough rounds to tip the tail feathers and wings of the bird.
Use the finished caps, facing forward, to make the fancy tips of the tail feathers.
The wing tips should be parallel to the ground.
Use one whole mini-marshmallow to form each of the two “feet” of the turkey.
Fun and cute as a button!
Now, name each of the “turkeys” after your favorite republican buffoon. (If you have enough guests invited for dinner your table will resemble the old congress.)
I have never seen the apple turkeys fail to delight both young and old. They are always a big hit at our Thanksgiving gatherings and I’m sure your guests will enjoy them too.
Happy holidays from our family to yours...