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Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a child, we traveled to my aunt and uncle’s house for the day. There was something of a predictable routine for the holiday that I found very comforting. We ate dinner at 1 PM, with the whole turkey, mashed potatoes, marsh-mellowed yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce thing. My aunt made pumpkin and mincemeat pies every year. After dinner, the menfolk, all 8 of them, watched football and read the newspaper while the females, all 3 of us, washed dishes and cleaned up. So glad times have changed on THAT one! At about 3 o’clock, out came the homemade fudge and card games. Around 5-6, another meal was served and we then stumbled out to the car and traveled home stuffed to the gills.
Usually with Thanksgiving, I don’t think about compliance much ~ it is a holiday after all. But this year, I was excited to try a little holiday alteration to the compliance side of the scale, which suddenly became a bit complicated as we decided to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s aunt and his family in Santa Fe. So, to keep my agreement with myself on sticking to BTD principles, we had a pre-Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday before heading south.
I love cooking a turkey and have long ago given up on stuffing, so that was an easy one. This time of year my Grandmother Sage is still green and so I picked several sprigs plus fresh rosemary and often thyme to stuff the turkey with. Sans stuffing, the turkey cooks quite quickly and stays moist as well. We also had mashed potatoes and gravy with our pre-holiday feast plus butternut squash with cranberries, and steamed green beans. I made a pecan pie with a spelt crust for dessert, using maple syrup in place of the corn syrup and half & half for some of the cream. Just enough food to fell like a holiday but not enough to feel over full. Quite delightful.
So on the actual holiday, we made a huge green salad to bring along, and having had our mini-Thanksgiving beforehand, it felt like just another meal with family. I ate several helpings of the salad since I knew exactly what was in it and avoided most questionable dishes. One caveat however, Aunt Clo had made an apple & green chili pie. I had to try that one. Oh My Goodness it was SOOO good!! So, I had a second piece - that was my downfall. It was loaded with cinnamon and I began to feel irritation in my stomach almost immediately. But the pie was so wonderful that I will have to come up with my own compliant version without cinnamon but with lots of hot green chili peppers! Oh ~ ya gotta try this one!
Thinking about turkeys lately has spurred other memories too. When I was 11 years old, I hatched a couple turkey eggs that my mother picked up from a turkey farm for a science project. They were calds - too small by turkey farm standards - so we didn’t know if they would hatch or not. Two eggs out of the five did hatch. I remember watching them peck out of their shells all wet and new and fresh to the world.
Now, domesticated hybrid turkeys are not the smartest birds on earth. I had to teach them how to eat and drink by placing shiny objects in their food and water dishes to peck at. One of the turkeys drowned in our sump pump, so I was left with one and he grew to be quite large. He was our pet and would follow us around the yard and out to the garden, searching for bugs and scratching in the dirt. He had people he liked and those he did not and would chase after strangers, something like a guard turkey.
But the day came when I saw a large weasel or fox lurking about his pen and realized the time had come to find him another home. My mother found a farm that would take him as a pet but I knew he would eventually end up on their table.
And he did. They said he was the best tasting turkey they ever had. Perhaps it was because he was fed well and had a good life chasing after bugs and the like.
But I think it was because he was loved by a little girl who watched him miraculously hatch from an egg for a science project.
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