Jewish Journal

Dear Diestel

by Susan Esther Barnes

November 26, 2012 | 7:00 am

Dear Diestel Family Turkey Ranch, I was willing to look past the name, reminiscent of diesel fuel, because of your claims of sustainability and range grown birds. I didn’t know the down-on-the-farm experience would include having to pluck parts of my turkey, which clearly had not been cleaned well before it was shipped to the store.

But the truly cruel part was your label. On it, you claim that an 6 to 10 pound stuffed turkey takes 2 hours to roast at 325 degrees.

Perhaps it is because you spend so much of your time raising turkeys, perhaps it is because you become personally attached to your turkeys, perhaps there are other reasons why you don’t cook very many turkeys. As a person who has been around the Thanksgiving turkey block a few times, however, let me assure you: Bigger turkeys take longer to cook than smaller turkeys. An 6 pound turkey will be done before a 10 pounder. Guaranteed.

Not only that, but if you take the time to do a brief internet search on turkey cooking times, you will notice that the consensus is that a 9 to 10 pound turkey takes 4 to 4.5 hours to roast at 325 degrees. According to my handy-dandy pop-up turkey heat-sensitive timer, as well as my contented guests, I can attest that my 9.5 pound Diestel turkey took 4 hours and 20 minutes to roast to perfection.

I was one of the fortunate ones who knew to give your 2 hour instructions the good, hearty laugh they so richly deserve. But what of those poor, young couples who may have taken you at their word?

I couldn’t help but picture these poor unfortunates, sitting around the living room, trying to entertain their parents and other hungry, grumpy relatives as the potatoes, green beans, and other side dishes slowly overcooked.

I could see in my mind’s eye additional glasses of wine being consumed, children whining, celery sticks being devoured, and arguments breaking out, as confused amateur chefs slowed down the cooking process further by continually opening the oven to check the turkey just one more time. For one hour after another.

Diestel, I don’t know whether the cooking instructions on your label are some kind of cruel joke, or you don’t think inexperienced cooks are worthy of your turkey, or you like to test the mettle of your customers under trying circumstances.

I find it hard to believe you could possibly be so badly mistaken about the correct cooking time. Seriously, Diestel, the holidays can be trying enough without adding this additional frustration and confusion to the mix. Please revise your label for next year.

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Susan Esther Barnes is a religious Reform Jew who can regularly be seen greeting people at her synagogue before services. She is a founding member of her synagogue’s chevra...

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