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Renegade Chef: Tryptophan and sofa-turnips

The holiday season arrives early and stays late, like a boorish and inconsiderate uncle who hangs around until the last minute, picking at the scraps of a decimated party buffet.

I should know — I’m that uncle. And since it “‘tis the season”—regardless of whether you’re yawning or looking down at your watch, I think I’ll hang around for awhile and ramble off a few random holiday thoughts—just after I ask: “Is there any more turkey? There’s nothing left but bones, here.”

--They say turkeys contain a chemical—tryptophan--that makes you sleepy and turns you into a comatose couch-potato. I argue there is only circumstantial evidence to support such a claim. Think about it—turkeys come by the stuff naturally—when was the last time you saw a turkey snoring on the couch? And, if that ever happened, how do you know said turkey didn’t pass out from too much pinot, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie?

--Speaking of “couch potato”—I’ve coined the term “sofa-turnip”. Hopefully it can catch on—you know, like Sprite did with 7-Up.

--Do you think cranberries will ever get to the point when they’ve been forgotten so many times they lose their self-esteem and simply quit showing up?

--Since the NFL seems intent on single-handedly fueling the airline industry by scheduling games in London, I think it would be kind of neat if Dallas and Detroit played each other on Thanksgiving. I can just hear the announcer saying, “That’s the end of the first quarter in Dallas. We’ll be back with the second quarter in Detroit in about, oh, five hours, depending on traffic and lines at the airport.”

--I guess I took the whole “shopping locally” idea a little too far. I didn’t want a dry bird, but instead of calling the turkey hotline I called 911. The person on the other end told me I could go to jail for making such a call. And then she said, “Baste, baste, baste.”

--Someone told me they were having a tofu “turkey” for their holiday meal—so I called 911 again. This time the dispatcher said she’d send out a squad immediately and that I was doing a great service for America. And then she asked, “How’s the basting going?”

--Alas, I do not own a baster. After another call to 911, a SWAT-team arrived with shields raised, battering-ram poised, rifles loaded and a camouflage-colored baster—well—ready to baste. With machine-like efficiency they basted my turkey. And then they took me to jail. Now I am in prison, with no baster, no turkey and an unfinished column in search of a segue. All I can say is, the following recipes require no basting.