Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Many Thanks.

For the past 12 hours, I’ve been in Thanksgiving Day prep mode. Honestly, with the exception of 15 minutes for lunch and about 45 minutes for dinner, this is the first time I’ve sat all day. I’m actually feeling pretty good about the amount of preparation accomplished today. Last year was the first Thanksgiving dinner that we hosted, and I was seriously stressed. My goal this year is to enjoy the process, and perhaps actually spend some time enjoying the day with my family. Please remind me of this goal tomorrow when I’m running around like a turkey sans head.

My goal of an entirely locally produced Thanksgiving meal isn’t going to be a reality, but I’m trying not to beat myself up about it. Here’s the menu for Thanksgiving dinner at Chez Adolf:

The Star:
20 pound organic, free range, drug-free, sustainably raised turkey from Live Oak Farms. I opted to try this brining thing that everyone recommends. The turkey is bathing in sea salt, rosemary (from our garden), thyme, and broth as I type, and here’s hoping it’s absorbing those spices and juices to create a yummy main dish. Please oh please don’t let me destroy the bird...

The Traditions:
Dressing, made to imitate my parents’ recipe, which they found on the back of a sage can. We still have the can, dated 1967. It’s a family heirloom. (No fear, I used fresh sage.) While not a local dish, it is delicious...toasted white bread, onions, celery, herbs galore...and the best part--giblets. I know you are now completely grossed out, but boy--they are good. You just can’t think about it when you eat them.

Cranberry sauce, Ocean Spray, canned. Sorry, but there are no local cranberries in South Carolina, plus canned cranberry sauce is Tyler’s favorite. Personally, I’m not a cranberry sauce girl...I just get it for everyone else.

Mashed potatoes...again, not local. These spuds hail from Idaho.

Sweet potato casserole. My sister, Becky, is bringing it. I know I could have found local sweet potatoes, but I’m embarrassed to admit--I’ve never cooked them before, except to microwave them to feed to the kids when they were toddlers.

Green bean casserole, courtesy of my sister, Marsha. Not local, but it’s always good. You know what I mean...can of soup, canned beans, water chestnuts, yum.

Waldorf salad. Whew--finally something with local ingredients. The apples come from Nivens Apple Orchard, which is about 10 minutes from our home. The grapes, walnuts, celery, and mayo...from Publix.

Garden salad. I’m hoping to harvest enough lettuce from our new potager in the backyard to serve a homegrown heirloom salad. We’ll see what the status is tomorrow.

Sweet Corn. Local corn from Beechwood Farms. I froze corn at the end of the summer, but I wish I had frozen more. Our supply is dwindling...but my dad always loved corn, so I’m planning to serve it in his memory.

Red cabbage with local apples. This is not a Thompson family tradition but a concession to Peter. He loves red cabbage. As a Swiss citizen,Thanksgiving is an acquired holiday for him...I started making something he really likes as a new family tradition.

Apple pie. Again, local apples, three varieties. Pie crust: Pillsbury. Shame on me. The egg white used on the pie crust for that shiny Martha Stewart look--local eggs from free range hens. The whipped cream is homemade but without local ingredients...I forgot to pick up cream at the farm.

Pecan pie, courtesy of Becky. Mom’s recipe. I looked for local pecans, but the two places I had time to visit didn’t have them. One farmer told me that every other year they have a good harvest--this wasn’t the year. Last year, they had 200 pounds of pecans.

Pilgrim hat cookies. OK, you serious locavores--you’ll probably hang me in effigy now as an hypocrite. Marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate, stuck on top of Keebler fudge striped cookies (striped side down), decorated with white Duncan Hines icing “buckles.” I know, I know...but my kids love them.

Wine. We have a couple varieties in bottles, but I did pick up a cask of the Black Box Merlot. It’s won lots of awards, and honestly--Peter and I sampled it last night. Pretty yummy. At least we have environmentally friendly wine!

So, although I wish we had incorporated more local ingredients and produce, at least we’ve maintained our traditions while still supporting local producers. Our experiment is about baby steps...trying to be a little better to the environment every day. I’m thankful my family is near so that we can celebrate together, and I’m thankful to our local farmers who worked so diligently to produce healthy, beautiful food...I just hope I don’t wreck it tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all...may your turkey be tender, your potatoes without lumps, and your family healthy and well. I’ll let you know how everything turns out...please keep your fingers crossed that I don’t burn the bird!



  1. OK Let me tell you my progress as well-local turkey (native meats), local sweet potatoes, eggs, pecans for topping on sweet potato casserole and on pumpkin pie. My shame: apples from Publix! Lots of non-local stuff, but that was pretty good for a start I'd say! BTW I need you to tell me the secret of the egg whites for the pie crust (please)

  2. Laura, sounds delicious! The egg white thing is soooo simple. Separate the egg, mix the white, brush on the top of the pie crust, sprinkle a little sugar on top, and voila! It's shiny and pretty...unless you burn it, like I did for book club! Happy Thanksgiving, friend!