November 30, 2011

Giving Thanks Down Home

Somehow we managed to convince the Abrams family to aim for a local Thankgiving this year. They didn’t even flinch, just a shrug. We could go on about how this is a more accurate celebration of the day, a reflection on the tradition of bringing in the harvest and preparing it with friends and family as they did in the beginning. ………The truth is, Thomas and I cringe at the holidays and what we politely and gluttonously gorge on, only to jumpstart our winter weight gain, kill our energy, and send us rolling in agony. Why did I eat that Jell-o, Cool Whip, and canned fruit medley? Why???

In our everyday lives, we shoot to incorporate as much, if not all our own produce, cheese, eggs, milk and/or meats into our meals. Obviously we can’t cover everything; coffee, bread, and mayonnaise are exceptions. Bread, beef, anything we don’t grow, we get from our wonderful food web of fellow sustainable farmers. The grocery store is reserved for dairy, tortillas, crackers, cereals, and sugar (where honey and molasses won’t do). Food is our paycheck and sometimes our method of payment is the barter system. In this sense, we are RICH!!! We are used to substitutions and adaptations of familiar americana into greener versions of their former selves. Naturally, it was assumed that Thanksgiving standards would be transformed or even replaced. Once we explained this to Mama D and Sissy realized the sky would not fall without cool whip, we were off. The following is a comparison of the feasts of Turkey Day past and this year’s adaptation.

2010 and BEFORE                                       2011
Butterball Turkey                                            2 Red Dirt Ranch whole chickens – roasted
Stovetop Dressing                                           with PPF carrots and PPF onions stuffed
Summer Squash Casserole                              with lime and apples
Canned Green Beans                                      PPF Home-Canned Green Beans
Frozen Yeast Rolls                                          Deviled PPF eggs
(canned) Pumpkin Pie                                     PPF Sweet Potato Casserole
Rice and Gravy                                               PPF Collard Greens Casserole
Canned Cranberry Sauce                                Homemade Biscuits with PPF lard, local     wheat flour, cut with organic all purpose
                                                                        PPF Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Kohlrabi
PPF Butternut Squash Pie with local wheat and PPF lard crust
Grocery List for this year:
Lime for chicken
Sour Cream
Cheddar Cheese (for greens casserole, non-negotiable)
All Purpose Unbleached Flour (to cut the whole grains in bread and crust)
Brown Sugar (for sp casserole)

I started preparing everything the day before. The chickens were salted and air dried in the refrigerator in order to seal the pores of the skin, locking in moisture. Casseroles are almost always better if the flavors sit together a day before baking. I cut carrots, onions, kohlrabi and potatoes the day before to save time later.  The morning of Thanksgiving, we started roasting the chickens, made the pies, started the slow simmer of the green beans, deviled the eggs and got a lesson from Mama D on how to make biscuits, I think the fact that I touched them cursed this batch as usual.

We pulled from our field, freezer, and pantry. The veggies and herbs you haven’t seen on our table at market were grown for our own supply and set back (onions, garlic, potatoes). Puzzle Peace Farm fed eight a local Thanksgiving feast, and the following day’s lunch, dinner, and another lunch (I grossly over prepared). Instead of the post meal sugar crash and coma, we went down to my old farm and loaded up some of my equipment left behind last season in the move. I can’t imagine we’d been able to do that with a stomach full of cool whip.

If you are sensing excitement and pride in my tone, you are correct! I am so thrilled to have reached this apex after 3 years of farming. We’ve eaten an imported feast for our whole lives and this is the kind of meal we’ve been waiting for. Let us give thanks to our families who have supported us in our journey of farming. What an appropriate way.