Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner

In 1995 fresh out of college, living in a strange city and expecting a visit from my parents Thanksgiving Day I sat down to plan Thanksgiving dinner, my way. Turns out my parents at that time weren't interested in Thanksgiving dinner my way, preferring to eat at the hotel restaurant, so my fiance and I instead celebrated early with a feast straight out of the pages of Vegetarian Times, dinner was delicious, and gratifying. A tradition was born and I've celebrated with my own early Thanksgiving ever since.

The guests have changed over the years and so has the menu. In the early years I celebrated with friends, later added family. Now there is so much family we find other ways to toast gratitude with our friends. I've celebrated as a new parent, a newly single parent and for the last several years as a stepparent in my blended family. The menu has undergone its own metamorphosis. Most of all the celebration has been memorable.

There was the year where the extra mashed potatoes were put in the oven and promptly forgotten, until weeks later the stench reminded us, we obviously didn't use the oven much. Then there was the year that my family ooed and ahhed about how real the turkey looked and tasted... I guess they weren't expecting the vegetarians to pick up a turkey from the Honey Baked Ham Company. Most recently Birdzilla, pictured above, made it's appearance...we ordered a turkey from a local farm and didn't pick up early enough to get a midsized turkey, so wound up with a massive turkey, it didn't fit in our roaster and barely fit in the oven. The picture doesn't do the thing justice in the scale department, I think there are still leftovers in the freezer.

The menu is no longer vegetarian but for at least the last 5 years the bird has been fresh and local, raised by farmers I've met on farms I've visited. On Saturday we'll pick up our turkey from Tewes Poultry Farm. The Tewes family has taken the time to show us where the turkeys live, encouraged my son's love of chickens by letting him hold day old chicks and even came through with feathers to use as quills at his most recent Harry Potter themed birthday party.

The stuffing will be prepared from bread baked along the Little Miami River by Mark and Sara of Blue Oven Bakery. Farmer Mike at Martin Hill Farms grew the carrots. Jim, Karen and their family at Running Creek Farm are providing the celery. I grew the onions in our own back yard. We'll add apples Dennis grew at his Back Yard Orchards along the Ohio River. We'll saute the veggies and apples in butter from our local herd share.

Sweet potatoes are courtesy of friends from their garden. Honey is from Richard at Carriage House Farm. This year we'll have Apple, Cinnamon, Cranberry Sauerkraut as a side dish from our new friends Jennifer and Jordan of Fab Ferments. Nancy and Ron at Kinkead Ridge, and Bill and Patti at Harmony Hill grew the grapes and crafted the wines.

And there will be more... but I'll have to see what is available tonight at the Northside Farmers' Market. There I will visit new found cousins Ande and Lauren from Wind Dance Farm. I'll introduce myself to Mike from Idyllwild Farm, who has been a great source of information and inspiration on our Cincinnati Locavore e-mail list but who I've yet to meet in person. I'll stop and see Farmer Mike, Dennis, Jennifer, Richard, Tom of Rising Sun Farm, David of Wooden Shoe Garden and all the other awesome farmers and vendors there. I'll make purchases for our Thanksgiving, our winter storage, and I will purchase some winter squash for a friend which will serve as nourishment for her baby who is newly eating solids.

I really thought this post was going to be about my quest to avoid frozen turkey of unknown origin but in fact it seems to be about how my family and community has grown in unexpected ways. Much has changed over the last 14 years... I use my oven more, my parents not only eat my cooking but are welcoming my husband and I into their kitchen to prepare our early Thanksgiving this year, I love my life and feel very blessed. Plus the food keeps getting better.

I'm also realizing that by getting to know the farmers that grow our food, I have added to my community of friends and allowed them to nourish me, for that I am grateful beyond words.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!


BMO life insurance said...

Hi. Despite the fact that the Thanksgiving in Canada was few weeks ago I love to remember those beautiful moments and your post reminds me that. Thanksgiving is an important day for me because our family meets together after long time. And when you haven't seen your relatives for months it's great that this is the opportunity to do it.

Have a nice day,

valereee said...

Lovely, Susan! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!