Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner Plans

The week has come! This Thursday marks the culmination of all that planting and harvesting, scouring farmers markets, and attempting to put food up for the winter. I feel like I'm about to take a final exam as a local eater. Even though I have learned so much more over the past year than I knew previously, I'm concerned that I will still earn the same grade--no improvement. While I surpassed some of last year's efforts, I am sadly lagging behind in others. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that the Three Sisters Stew makes an awesome starter to a Thanksgiving dinner--but not to mine. I'm sorely lacking a number of ingredients. I saved no corn. I am loathe to use one of my only two cans of tomatoes, and I have used all of my Anasazi beans from the Four Corners area. I'm telling myself the lack of soup will make my life simpler...

Other grand hopes have been dashed as I have no green vegetables put up at all--no cans, none frozen, none even dried. That means I will serve no green beans--another Thanksgiving staple as far as my family and I are concerned. My family's traditional green bean dish was the Green Bean Casserole consisting of a variety of store-bought canned goods stirred together, so I wouldn't be making that anyway. Although, the infamous casserole could be made locally with a little finagling. Alas, I have no green beans, so it doesn't matter. I do have kale. I picked up a whole bag from Chad's Produce last Friday. It will make its debut this year as my Thanksgiving green vegetable.

The rest of the menu seems to be holding together relatively well.
Thanksgiving Menu
Apple Cider
Rainbow Carrot Sticks
Herbed Goat Cheese
Whole Wheat Crackers
Sliced Beehive Cheddar Cheese
Main Event
Roast Turkey
Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
Baked Acorn Squash Rings
Sauteed Kale
Cranberry and Pear Relish
Dinner Rolls
White or Zinfandel Wine

And all the details:
Apple Cider
Farnsworth's, purchased from Harmon's

Rainbow Carrots
purchased from Chad's Produce at his Oasis Cafe market

Herbed Goat Cheese
Shepherd's, purchased from Harmon's

Whole Wheat Crackers
either purchased and brought by a guest or homemade. Find the recipe here.

Sliced Beehive Cheddar Cheese
from Harmon's

from Wight Turkey Farm--ordered and purchased from Liberty Heights Fresh. The turkey will be rubbed down with olive oil or melted butter and salt, and roasted on a bed of sage with some carrots, onions, and garlic tucked inside.

After searching the web for a stuffing recipe that could be made locally, I gave up. The crux was the celery. Almost every recipe includes it, but I don't have any. I've decided that celery is necessary. That many recipes can't be wrong. Plus, I grew up with this specific recipe, and I LOVE it! It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it. Of course, I will still keep my eyes open for some locally grown celery.
Here's the recipe for Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing with my own adjustments to make it more local:
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup butter (I'll be using oil--no dairy for one of my guests!)
1 tsp ground sage (I'll use fresh, but I don't know the amount until I'm doing it.)
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups dry bread cubes (I'm making bread all week for this.)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth

In a large skillet cook celery and onion in oil or butter until tender but not brown. Remove from heat. Stir in sage and salt.

Place dry bread cubes in a large mixing bowl; add onion mixture and pecans. Drizzle enough broth to moisten, tossing lightly.

Place stuffing in casserole. Refrigerate until ready for baking. If cooking a turkey, place alongside in oven during last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking, or until heated through.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 11 ed.

Baked Acorn Squash Rings
I chose this because it looks fancy but easy to make, and I have an Acorn Squash in my pantry. Most of the online recipes include using sugar or syrup, but I believe that the local squashes I find are sweet and delicious enough to stand almost all on their own.

Slice the Acorn Squash into 1/2" to 3/4" rings and remove the seeds for later baking and eating. Place the rings on a greased baking sheet and brush with melted butter or oil. For added fun, stir salt and/or herbs into the butter or oil. I will likely gather some fresh oregano and sage and some dried savory for the job. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

To give you an idea of how fabulous this can look, here's a photo of acorn squash rings.

Sauteed Kale
Over medium heat, toss kale and minced garlic in oil or melted butter until it starts to look limp. Add salt and dried pepper (or other seasonings) and toss.

Cranberry and Pear Relish
Yes, you are correct--there are no local cranberries that I know of. The first Thanksgiving did, after all, take place in New England. Our offerings here are slightly different. I was almost considering not making this dish, but I caved. That's all. No excuses except that this one will feature some local pears. I liked this particular recipe because it uses honey as the sweetener and did not go overboard with a ton of non-local ingredients. Recipe for Cranberry Pear Relish.

I am actually making this tonight (now it is Tuesday). It turns out that a blender just doesn't cut it, so unless you have a fancy food processor, this recipe needs some help. I opted to cook the cranberries and honey together on the stovetop for about 8 minutes and then added the pears and lemon to cook for another 10 minutes. I did not use the sugar--it tastes fabulous without it.

Dinner Rolls
I will use the recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 11 ed., but it really is just a basic recipe that can be found almost anywhere. Here's a link to a standard recipe on-line. Note that the on-line recipe calls for sugar. Honey could be used as a substitute if you use half the amount and reduce the liquid in the recipe to keep the liquid amount even. I simply ignore the sugar entirely to keep things easy. If folks want added sweetness, I can always put some honey on the table.

White or Zinfandel Wine
purchased from the State Liquor Store--probably a Castle Creek Wine

However you celebrate a year of local bounty, enjoy every bite!

1 comment:

Tara said...

Oh, and of course there will be a potato dish. What's Thanksgiving without a lot of starches! We have a guest bringing this, so it's simply not included in the menu of food I'm making.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!