On Thanksgiving preparation


Eight pounds of fresh local goodness:  them’s some pretty berries.  (And no, they’re not all for T-Day, it’s our year’s supply.)

Countdown begins until my favorite holiday of the year:  Thanksgiving!

Really, I have this vision of myself as someone who is moderate in most things except politics and food.  I go NUTS for this holiday, people.  Not being terribly religious (nor much of a shopper) the Christmas season leaves me pretty cold, especially since it starts before Halloween.  Thanksgiving, though:  of course I can get behind a holiday that celebrates belt-loosening gluttony with lots of family and friends around.

I have to kill a turkey first though.  Sigh.  This, this is a big hurdle.

18 responses to “On Thanksgiving preparation

  1. Oh, yes! Thanksgiving is *the* High Holy Day of the year. Chirstmas could be obliterated, for all I care. Sadly, this year we’ll be joining the far less culinarily gifted/discriminating side of the family in a distant location where I’ll have only a smidgen of input to the menu. But still, it’s Thanksgiving.

    Nice looking berries you’ve got there, El! Hope all goes well with the turkey slaughter.

  2. You don’t have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. That tradition is beyond my comprehension, but the excitement of gathering with some of my children has me bouncing around like a three-year-old.
    I have to say that I start Christmas in July…. music, movies, cookies (they don’t make it to Christmas), gift projects. I love it all.

  3. *Hugs* You can do it El. Just like chicken, only bigger. I love Thanksgiving too, it is by far my favorite, which is also why I host it every year.

  4. Are 8 pounds of cranberries enough? I’ve never met anyone who hoarded cranberries the way I do (I think I have ten at the moment). On the turkey thing, why does the thought of the turkey seem harder than the chickens?

    On Thanksgiving, I used to hate it. Way too many childhood memories of insanely bad food (which is almost funny in retrospect) and crotchety relatives. Recently I’ve discovered that if we keep the gathering small and the pressure off that we can have a wonderful meal although I did get so stressed out one year we ended up eating dinner on the floor in the living room watching the Southpark movie. The food, as I recall, was good.

  5. Thanks, Kate. I hope all goes well too. Check in with me on Tuesday afternoon. What a shame you’re going to non-culinarily-savvy relatives this holiday; there usually is something redeeming to eat, though I have known people who can screw up mashed potatoes. It IS the getting-together aspect that’s so fun, I think. This year there will be 9 of us, or maybe 10.

    Pamela, I know one doesn’t *have* to have turkey on T-day; I got by without it for 16 years. But some folks think you need to have it, and considering how I feel about critters, we’ll be eating one that’s had a good life. And Christmas. It is exciting for the girl, and then again there’s only one time of year I find cookies edible (highly so). But yes this year we’re making a lot of gifts, too.

    Thanks, Ang. I know it is only mentally going to be really challenging, but actually as you know the cold doesn’t help much. It WILL be a white THanksgiving though: we got a foot of snow last night! Snow day! Woot! And you hit on why I do Thanksgiving too…

    Alecto, I avoid holiday internecine quarrels by quarantining myself in the kitchen and allowing nobody else in unless they’re there to refill my wineglass 🙂 I use the cranberries in muffins and other baked goods mainly but (but!) I made the most wonderful cranberry mustard this year so it makes me think I should’ve snagged more. But yeah, I feel more of the pressure on Christmas, which is another reason why I would rather just stay home on that day. Sigh.

  6. I would have the same hard time on the turkey, although I have prepared many a fowl for our meals. I get through it by doing the old Indian thing of thanking the fowl/animal for giving us their life, then try to turn off my mind until the meat is totally off the bones and I can’t tell what it was anymore.

    Maybe I should live in the city and think everything comes in a box or on foam trays….still I have trouble…


  7. Will this be your first turkey kill? I send you calming vibes (ew, how Marin!).

    You HAVE to watch this YouTube. Keep your eye on the guy in the back. It’s totally relevant; go watch.


  8. I forgot to paste the url.
    Go watch!

  9. ooo!oooo!oooo! A great source for cranberries! I was just planning my T-Day menu (mentally) earlier in the day with a note to find local-ish cranberries.
    I get online, check my emails and then check out your blog and Lo and Behold! You found them for me! Wonderful!
    I’ll hopefully be able to order them Monday morning. Yum!

  10. Linda, exactly, I do the same thing, say a bit of a prayer of thanks to the poor critter. I do feel a bit like an ogre at the time and thankfully it’s always a couple of days later (at least) before the bird ends up on the table so I have usually “gotten over it.” There are some things I just won’t eat (innards, feet, combs) but I suppose if I was hungry enough or if I had more years of experience behind me I would be a bit more broad-minded. Sigh!!

    CC, believe me, the vibes are welcome, as this will be my first one solo. I assume the YouTube thing was our favorite governor blathering on in front of some bloody turkeys? Kat says the one saving grace is she’s a lot closer to the source of food than the average American: that’s actually a good thing, not that ANYTHING is good about that eediot.

    Amanda, yep! They do ship but they’ll be frozen…not that big of a deal really as that’s the main way I eat mine! They’re blueberry-happy too as South Haven is supposedly the world’s capital or some such. Both berries freeze beautifully and are quite welcome year-round around here. Good luck with your turkey! Boy I wish I had a place I could ship our girl off to…

  11. I, too, feel your pain over having to ‘off’ one of your turkeys…I know how easy it is to become attached to such critters. But once that bird is in the oven & the aroma wafts through your house, you may forget all that. It’s life, after all. We’re all slated to die the moment we take our first breath.

  12. My wife and I went shopping today (Saturday) and bought one of those supermarket frozen factory turkeys. I get kind of sick just thinking about the genetic freaks they are and all the chemicals in them. I doubt that I will have much of it this year. Unfortunately, we don’t know where to buy organic, free range turkey around here (central Wisconsin).

    But how can anyone screw up mashed potatoes?? Mashed (or baked) chemical-free, garden fresh potatoes are the nectar of the gods! but then so is pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, squash, ….. It’s all good!

    And cookies are good all year ’round. What would I do without sugar cookies, oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookies?

    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.

  13. Laurene, you are right. I am hoping that next year we have children of the two turkeys we’re going to breed.
    Here’s hoping anyway or it might be a turkey-free year…which wouldn’t be the end of the world of course!

    Hi Dennis. I didn’t think it was possible to screw up mashed potatoes but it is. (I was so disappointed!) And cookies: yes, if they are around of course I will eat them but it’s only at Christmas that I actually feel like making them, you know, the sugar ones and press cookies etc. But as far as Wisconsin goes, next year, or maybe for Christmas, you should check out LocalHarvest.org. Another source is the Eat Well Guide, which is an offshoot of Local Harvest. (And then there’s Eat Wild, a state-wide which will put you in touch with folks who raise grass-fed and pastured meats.) Put in your zip code and I’m sure you will find some farms nearby that sell turkeys. They might not be organic (mine aren’t) but they might be free-range and have led happy lives. You will definitely face sticker shock though. Ours last year was about $65. I just amortized the cost by buying cheaper wine 🙂

  14. Thanks for the sources you gave me. I wasn’t aware of them and am going to check them out. I would much, much prefer to consume a free-range turkey that had lived a good life.

    By the way, with respect to “the two turkeys we’re going to breed,” have you read Bar. Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?? Remember Chap 19 “Hungry Month” wherein she describes the difficulties she had getting them to mate and attend to their eggs? Especially the lovesick Ms Turkey trying to make it with Barbara’s husband Steve: “Stop that!…He is so not your type!” I abolutely cracked up – guffawing – when I read that chapter. Hope you have fun mating your birds!

  15. I have to admit, also, that I have screwed up mashed potatoes, even though I use the Idaho baking type. What am I doing wrong? Is there some magic secret that I’m not privy to?? But sometimes they come out just sticky like wallpaper paste.
    Any ideas?

  16. Too cool, I didn’t even know anyone grew cranberries in Michigan. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though, what with us being the state that produces the second largest variety of agriculture products (actually I think California cheats, so rightfully we should be number one). It’s a little too far away for me to drive there, and mail-order seems kind of extravagant, but maybe my local grocery store will have some. I’m actually relatively lucky in that in Lansing we have a local grocery store that makes a point of selling Michigan produce (Horrock’s in Lansing, I think they have one in Grand Rapids, too), so maybe I’ll get some to go with my fresh, local bird.

  17. Dennis, you’re quite welcome. Considering what a traditional farming kind of state Wisconsin is, I am sure you will have no trouble finding good sources. The one true tip I can give you is if you do find a farmer (say, at a farmer’s market), ask them who they know who might grow different things. Farmers like everyone else are chummy people: especially if folks are growing things more traditionally (organic, say, or free-range grass-fed) believe me they’ll know who else is too.

    SO what’s funny about the Barbara Kingsolver story is I have the same kind of turkeys. It must have slipped my mind when I was making the choice; on the list of the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s list of rare turkeys, I went with the Bourbon Reds because 1. they’re medium sized 2. they can breed naturally though sometimes do have trouble and 3. my husband’s people are from Kentucky. I had completely forgotten her birds were also Bourbon Reds!

    Laurene, sounds to me like you’re whipping them too much. Idaho spuds (russets) are kind of starchy to begin with so they require a lighter touch. I have an old-fashioned potato masher that I use because we’re into lumpy skin-on spuds in this house, but you could also use a ricer if you like a smoother mashed potato. Never let a blender go near them as it brings out their worst characteristics. Martha Stewart’s mother always put a brick of creamed cheese in her spuds: that would probably smooth over the worst case of wallpaper paste…

    Rob! Yep, we grow everything here, and yes California DOES cheat with their free irrigation. If they actually charged farmers what it truly costs to use that water, California produce would be really too expensive for Michiganders (or even Californians) to eat. But I would check with Michigan State’s ag school too: I know they have a kick-ass student-run organic farm, and they do try to grow everything there. I will bet cranberries are grown there too. But thanks for the tip with Horrock’s.

  18. One quick additional note for everyone: New York Times article titled “Paying Extra for an Organic Thanksgiving” can be read by going to:


    Mainly the high cost of the turkey.

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