Most people who have hosted Thanksgiving have a kitchen drama to share. For me, that story includes Martha Stewart, actress Jennifer Garner, a car crash, and Bell’s Seasoning.
Several years ago, I was a food stylist for Martha’s television show. We had invited Jennifer Garner to our studio to prepare cranberry glazed turkey, and I was the point person on the segment.
For me, this was complicated television. A multi-part food segment with five (count ’em) turkeys that were to be shot at various stages of preparedness so that Martha and Jennifer could stuff, wrap, baste, and carve a (perfectly cooked) bird.
Yeesh. And as if making five perfect turkeys at once wasn’t enough, we were shooting the segment in the morning, so those turkeys had to be in the oven by 6 a.m. This is how I ended up in a fender bender on the perilous Brooklyn Queens Expressway at 5 a.m., with a Jamaican man who understood when I breathlessly explained, “I don’t … have time … for this … I will ruin … Martha’s … Thanksgiving … please … let me call you … after Jennifer Garner leaves.”
I arrived in the Connecticut kitchen just a wee bit rattled, and the only thing that calmed my nerves was a tiny box of Bell’s Seasoning. I had never seen the product before, but Martha said it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it, so into the stuffing it went.
When Martha insisted, I took note. Bell’s (which you can buy at Yankee Grocery) is a combination of dried herbs and spices, most notably sage. It is salt-free, and has been made with all natural ingredients in Massachusetts since 1867.
It’s good, yes, but on that day, it was more than the scent of sage that calmed me. It was that iconic package, thoughts of Pilgrims, Massachusetts, and Yankee ingenuity. I held that box, channeled that first cold winter for the colonists, and thought, If they got through that, then I can handle this morning.
And isn’t that part of the fun of the annual Thanksgiving dinner challenge? Every year, we remind ourselves that though we think we might not make it, we can wrestle that big bird into submission while dodging family drama and making a damn good pie. Yes we can!
Five par-cooked turkeys and one nasty kitchen scar later, my Thanksgiving was a success. But let’s not stop the storytelling there. Share your Thanksgiving stories on our Facebook page.