About a month ago, I was driving in my car and listening to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me on NPR when they mentioned that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are falling on the same day this year. They bantered about a couple names, like Thansksgivukkah and then they said this word: menurkey. The mental image that immediately formed in my mind was spectacular. A roast turkey centerpiece topped with menorah candles. I couldn’t get it out of my head. And I started talking about it to people and they saw it, too. How excellent would a menurkey be. My friend Jessica, who is hosting Thansksgivukkah this year, begged me to make it for her.
And everyone had the same idea for how it could be done. Get one of those play plastic roast turkeys and insert menorah candle holders into it. You know those fake plastic roast turkeys? You do, right? So did I. So I went looking for one. I shopped, I googled obsessively. Turns out they don’t exist. But everyone felt they had seen one before. All of us had imagined the same exact thing.
At this point the menurkey had become an obsession. I considered 3D printing(too expensive). My husband suggested casting a frozen turkey in plaster(too gross and a little creepy. Also too big. At which point he suggested a capone). There are, in fact, a few prop houses that have fake roast turkeys, but they were several hundred dollars. So that was out. The only choice was to make one.
I started by making a batch of salt dough.
- 1 c. salt
- 1 & 1/4 c. water
- 3 tbl. vegetable oil
- 1 c. flour
I mixed the first three ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, then added the flour and let it mix for 5 minutes. This makes a loose and pliable form of salt dough. For the project used 1 & 1/2 batches to cover the whole menurkey.
I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap while I made the mold for the menurkey. I shaped a turkey form out of aluminum foil, running a wire through the back end where the legs would be.
I shaped the wire into leg shapes and built legs out of foil.
Now I covered the the foil with the dough. I also added wings to the front. I put some balled up foil under the legs to keep them in position. I spritzed the menurkey with water and smoothed out any lumps with my hands.
I made some simple candle holders by rolling up small balls, putting them on the menurkey and pressing a candle into it.
Into the oven she goes at 275° for 4 hours. I’ve starting calling her Betsey. It’s a tradition of my family to name the Thanksgiving turkey. And they were baffled why I was a vegetarian for 15 years.
I took it out of the oven, let fully cool and sprayed two coats of flat white spray paint to give it a nice Pottery Barn-esque effect. And I have a perfect centerpiece for the upcoming double holiday celebration, which won’t happen again until 2070.
If you make your own menurkey, don’t let the candles burn all the way down, as I’m guessing she’s pretty flammable with all that spray paint. Please know I made the menurkey in the spirit of fun and obsessive crafting. It’s certainly not my intention to offend anyone. Whatever you celebrate this week, Happy Holidays!