Maybe you remember the Great Brine Incident of 2012. But just in case you don’t, let me refresh:

It was the first time I was making Thanksgiving dinner in my own home. My parents were due in town and I had pre-ordered and picked up a much-too-big turkey from an Amish farm. Having done some research online, I understood that I should sugar/saline-brine my turkey in a container large enough to submerge it in the bath and cover by at least another inch. Owning no such vessel, I probed further online and learned about brining bags — these giant, heavy-duty ziplock bags designed to contain both bird and bath and sit on a shelf in the fridge.

I mixed the solution, took all the bagged things out of the cavity of my giant turkey, plucked the remaining feathers out of it (such is the way with a fresh local turkey) and got it into the bag, sealed, and in the refrigerator.

Later, when my whole family was asleep and my house was blissfully silent, I attempted to turn the brining bag over (in order to evenly soak) one last time before bed. Maybe by now you can see where this is headed. Somehow, in the process of turning the bag, the zip-lock burst open, exploding sugary sticky raw turkey juice all over me, the floor, the refrigerator, and everything in it.

Suffice it to say that I made the decision in that moment never to brine a turkey again. And, between travel to Boston and choosing to roast chicken instead, I haven’t. This year, though, armed with new information, I am braving the big fowl again.

What new information could I possibly have that would change my mind? Two words: Dry. Brine.

This year, I am trying a dry brine. The internets swear that this kosher salt and baking powder rub will yield a juicy bird with crispy skin and won’t flood my fridge in the meantime, so I’m game. I spent the afternoon today picking up my pre-ordered Black Heritage farm share turkey, patting all of its moist parts dry, delivering the salt rub under and on the skin, and otherwise prepping it to sit for two days.

A note about turkeys: they are fucking huge. And I have to tell you, there is a not-small part of me that honestly believed that when I got finished pulling the neck out of the cavity, there would be a head attached.

Anyway. So that’s where we are. My fridge is full up with dry brined poultry (we’ve named him Mort and greet him every time we go in for a snack or a drink) and I have touched more raw bird today than I really need to ever again. I’m ready for Thursday. Bring it.


• I’m 10 years old and I overhear my grandmother making dinner reservations. “Smith,” she says, even though her last name is Cohen. When I question her, she tells me that sometimes people will give them a bad table if they know they are Jews.

• I’m 13 years old and going for a babysitting job interview. Remembering that conversation, I tuck my small gold Jewish star pendant into my shirt before I walk in.

• I’m 16, 20, 29, 34, 40 and I enjoy a nice, long stretch of invincibility. I feel safe and confident being my whole, true self.

• I’m 44 and my kid writes “chag sameach” in the moisture collecting on the car window. Before we leave, I wipe it off. When he questions me, I tell him that we don’t need to be advertising that we are Jewish — that some people hate Jews.

• He’s days away from 10 years old and his mother tells him that he should be afraid because of who he is.


The living room light, on a timer, went off a half hour ago. It’s supposed to either be on later than I am up or signal to me that it’s time to go to bed. Instead, because I napped at 7pm, it only ended up leaving me awake in the dark, playing Candy Crush by the blue light of my device. I left Naked and Afraid on the TV on mute, just so I wouldn’t be sitting in the complete blackness.

It felt like 9pm when I stepped outside earlier at 5:30. Between last week’s unexpected snowstorm and the clocks falling back, it’s like we’ve been collectively plucked from autumn and left in the dead of winter. And yet, it smelled like Halloween when we got home tonight. I said that to The Who as we got out of the car, but the candy’s been collected and the costume’s put away and he saw the snow fall last week, too, so he wasn’t willing to follow me into my “autumn’s still in the air” conversation. “Except it’s freezing,” he said. Spoken like a kid having grown up in the mid-Atlantic and never having had to wear a puffy winter coat over his costume. It a kid dresses as Spidey and no one gets to see it under her jacket, did it really happen?

I need to stock up on hot chocolate and warm blankets. I have a feeling that’s what we’re in for this winter: a lot of hunkering down. In the meantime, it remains hard to remember that we haven’t even carved a turkey yet (I plan to deep fry one this year) or celebrated The Who’s birthday — all things that are supposed to come before snow and boots and gloves and ice-melting salt on the steps, all of which we’ve experienced.

The Who’s birthday. He turns ten this year. How did I get to have a spawn who boasts double digits? It doesn’t seem like he’s been around that long. And at the same time, it feels like there was never a day before he was part of our family. I remember turning ten and being excited that i was able to say things like, “ten years ago…” It felt like a lifetime.

The light’s been off for almost an hour now. Thirty-five kindergarten and first graders will be waiting for me to teach them things I only just barely learned myself. I should get a respectable amount of sleep before I face them.