Well well well! We made it through the first Thanksgiving meal ever prepared in this home and ever wholly managed by yours truly! As it was my Australia-born husband’s first experience, I wanted to show him a more traditional style holiday meal, while incorporating some of our favorite comfort foods. While our meat footprint was high, the rest of our carbon footprint was quite low, with everything we prepared coming from either local/organic or homegrown sources.
What helped me stay sane? Putting together and printing out a timeline! That way I could do a lot of the work ahead of time and keep as much of Thursday’s time in the kitchen focused on the turkey as possible.
What did I learn from this? I remembered how really unimportant turkey has been to me as part of the meal and next year we’ll probably just make a side dish with it and have a dinner full of sides! Honestly, it’s a very expensive main course to boot, especially when we both prefer chicken 🙂
What was the best part? My husband telling me all that he is thankful for and both of us getting all teary eyed. That and us all (me, hubby, dog) falling asleep on the sofa for a post-meal nap almost immediately after dinner. It was the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had!
As I mentioned earlier, we ordered a Champoeg Farm turkey, pasture-raised less than an hour away in St Paul, Oregon. So with that, I put together a brine that started with a base of New Seasons Market’s chardonnay-based brine, then added the herbs listed on Martha Stewart’s recipe to make my own custom blend! We didn’t have a bucket we trusted to use for this so we bought a bag and rested it in the roasting pan as my husband shows us here 🙂
Yes that’s an entire onion sliced up that goes in with the brine!
Wednesday was mega-prep day in the kitche, and the only photo you’ll see of moi! Don’t you just love my apron, handmade by the wonderfully talented Cherie who writes the Renaissance Garden blog?
There were a lot of eggs involved, and I was psyched to see that NSM now carries Phoenix’s Egg Farm duck eggs at a reasonable price. While we occasionally get duck eggs from our friends in the neighborhood in summer, this was a treat to have dozen local, huge, beautiful duck eggs in late November to enjoy!!
While I’m not a pumpkin pie fanatic myself, my husband is, and we both love sweet potato pie (even had one at our wedding dinner!). So I found a recipe for a Vegan Pumpkin Pie, and substituted a combination of both sweet potatoes and pumpkin (the latter which was grown in our garden!). I cheated on the crust and bought a pre-made one from NSM, but did follow the blogger’s suggestion of adding these cutouts from the top crust instead of leaving it wide open or latticed. Kinda sweet eh? Great making this in advance, but definitely had to be hidden from view after it cooled so it wouldn’t be eaten early!!
Gorgeous Eagle Organic cranberries grown on the Oregon Coast, used for both the stuffing and a last minute chutney. They were SO tasty!
Getting the wet ingredients of the stuffing started on Wednesday to combine with the dry ingredients (primarily the Dave’s Killer Blues Organic Bread I toasted up separately), cooking the Niman Ranch chorizo with organic sweet (and local) yellow onions here in my longtime favorite US-made All-Clad pan. Years ago a neighbor told me, “just get All Clad and you’ll never have to buy new pans ever again, and boy was he right. I’ve had this set for over 10 years along with my Griswold and Wagner cast iron treasures, and that’s it, I’m good to go!
I’ve been promising to make my husband my awesome mac & cheese for eons, so this time (even though yes, I can’t eat 90% of the cheeses out there due to my issues with dairy), he got spoiled. We went with muenster, parmesan, sharp cheddar, a buttery Cotswold, and a Swiss gruyere for this and oh yeah, did I mention there’s a pint of organic cream and stick of local butter in this? He seriously was in heaven 🙂
And then there was mommy’s little helper! She was very very good for the most part, even with the intoxicating smells, staying out of the kitchen and being rewarded with some of the cooked up giblets on Thanksgiving morning!
As my husband has been working a lot of late shifts lately, he got a bit of a break on Wednesday, but on Thursday morning there was no sleeping in allowed! 🙂 So he offered to start us off with Thanksgiving pancakes – SO good!! We topped them with NSM’s Cranberry-Orange relish to get us in the holiday spirit, and I whipped up some Almond Milk Hot Cocoa with a bit of cinnamon. Lovely!
We are huge sweet potato / yam fans but I didn’t want to take up valuable oven space nor make them ahead, so was in heaven finding a great Southern Candied Yams recipe that I could make in the crock pot! To make it more fun I got all three shades of yam and sweet potato. Only thing to remember? It definitely does take 6-8 hours so put this on right when you wake up!
The stuffing dry and wet ingredients were combined. It was a great combo with the spicy chorizo, sweet apples, and sour cranberries as star ingredients. I combined three recipes – a bit of what my mom wrote down years ago mixed with a recipe I found on Pinterest, and a few clever additions of my own. Yum yum!!
Then, oh yes, taking the turkey out of the brine then basting and rubbing and creating a happy mess :). Again I combined several pieces of wisdom I’d collected over the years, starting with covering the bottom of the roasting pan with root veggies which absorbed the juices so beautifully (thanks Jo!), to using a spicy rub recipe for a butterflied turkey that I’d used years ago, to a new Local Harvest recipe for rosemary maple butter to rub under the skin and in the cavity. What amazed me is how many temperatures different sites recommend, from 325 up to 450, with little explanation why. (I ended up doing 450 at the start then turning it down to 325. For a 12.8 lb turkey this took a little under 4 hours to cook it, fully stuffed).
While the turkey cooked in the oven, I made this amazing dish for the first time, Green Beans with Chanterelles and Cipollini….then we threw in some bacon to hybridize two recipes – and because I was pretty insistent that we go on Bacon Hiatus after this holiday was over!! I hate that crispy fried onion dish that is so popular on Thanksgiving, so this definitely was a new – and mouthwateringly good – addition to the recipe book!
Cooked the macaroni the night before and reheated it when the turkey came out and we were working on the gravy. I took a small bite and knew that was enough for my tender tummy, but oh lord this is so incredibly DELICIOUS! Husband will have his work cut out for him in leftovers!
What a gorgeous bird!! Big thanks to my friend Michelle who loaned me her platter 🙂
Gave a big ol’ rawhide chew to Ruby to work on while we got ready to serve it all up!
Dinner is served!!! Everything described above except for the apple-cranberry chutney and Yorkshire pudding, the latter which was topped with bacon and sage (SO good!). For wine, we opened a bottle of a 2010 Oregon tempranillo/syrah blend by Dominio Wines, which was perfect.
And then, pie. Ahh sweet potato and pumpkin pie. Crazy good.
After clearing the table and starting the dishwasher, I asked my husband if he wanted to go for a walk around the block with the dog. He begged for a half hour to sit on the sofa and settle, and I agreed, then we both promptly passed out for a good hour of sated goodness. Our dog who had been amazed at her luck getting the (boneless) giblets, was equally passed out 🙂 A very happy Thanksgiving had by all!
As for the rest of the holiday weekend? Hubby worked the late shifts (what a trooper!), making a valiant effort on the leftovers, and promptly I tweaked my back, making the rest of the weekend quite uneventful with exception of the awesome 90 minute massage, given by Julie Campbell of Written on the Body, to help me on the road to recovery 🙂