Residents flock to turkey traditions

Joe and Lila Herod are breaking tradition today. Their 17-year-old daughter, Chelsey, is cooking the holiday meal.

"She's doing the whole thing, even the shopping," Lila said. "She is not a typical young lady."

Chelsey said she loves to cook, but she's never made a turkey. And, instead of the traditional pumpkin pie, she's trying her hand at a pumpkin roll.

"It'll be good," she promised. Her parents believe her.

Thanksgiving is an annual day of thanks for the blessings of the past year -- an American tradition tracing its roots to a feast shared by American Indians and pilgrims in 1621.

But, instead of three days of eating corn, venison and dried fruits, modern Americans are more apt to sit down at a china-covered table laden with hot turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie.

Some more than once.

All about leftovers

For the first time in years, Brenda Lyons isn't obligated to cook the Thanksgiving meal. Her children, ages 25 and 26, won't be home for the holiday.

"We're breaking all the traditions this year," Lyons said. "It's just going to be weird."

And even though she doesn't have to cook, she's going to anyway.

"I'll still have to cook the whole meal so everyone can have leftovers," she said.

Lyons isn't willing to let go of all her Thanksgiving traditions. She'll still get up early today, make a cup of coffee and curl up to watch the Macy's parade -- a tradition shared with more than 60 million others.

Let the games begin

Even more people will crowd around the TV before and after the big meal to catch the traditional Thanksgiving Day football games.

Craig resident Joanna Hatten said her family traditions include a different kind of competition. For the past five years, she and her husband have battled to see who cooks the best turkey.

"He thinks he's a better cook than I am, but I win every year," she said. "He'll say I'm lying, but I'm not."

Hatten takes the oven -- experimenting with marinades, flavor injections and secret basting recipes. Her husband takes his creativity outside. He's barbecued, roasted and even fried the birds. One year, while frying a turkey, his clothes caught fire. Still, he lost the competition.

Hatten said she doesn't have a clue what he plans to do until he does it.

The couple needs two turkeys to feed the 20 to 30 people who usually join them for the holiday meal. Guests get to choose the winning turkey.

Judging isn't solely on flavor.Plenty of bribes are made, and some votes are prompted under duress, she said.

Tofu alternative

Craig resident Carrie Booth is preparing for what many would consider a non-traditional Thanksgiving feast. Booth is a vegetarian. Her preferences aren't influenced by tradition, though she said she used to get a lot of pressure on Turkey Day.

Booth fills her plate with a variety of vegetables and other traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and leaves the turkey for others.

Booth said she has made a tofu "turkey."

"It's actually really good and looks like a real turkey," she said. "Well, mine didn't look much like a turkey, but it was fun."

She made stuffing, shaped it into an oval and then covered the dish with tofu. A baste of butter and sage and some time in the oven made a great alternative main course, Booth said.

Safeway Manager Chuck Sadvar said the store will sell "very, very, very little" tofu.

Hamming it up

But Craig's two grocery stores will sell more than 3,000 turkeys and nearly 1,000 hams for Thanksgiving.

"That's a lot of turkeys," said Kirk Mahaffie, manager of City Market.

People are stocking up in advance, he said. Although City Market will be open until 2 p.m. today, Mahaffie doesn't expect many last-minute shoppers. Those who do rush down generally seek little items they forgot, he said.

Safeway will close at 4 p.m. today.

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