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.
Interesting Saturday on tap. Earlier, the weather predictions were either for 1-4 inches of snow or 10-20 inches. I hate to be objectionable but there is quite a difference between the two and does put something of a wrench into the weekend planning. So far, it looks like the lesser amount will prevail.
We were able to get out to see a high school production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” which came off quite nicely. All the actors remained in character throughout and no noticeable dropping of lines, all of which can sometimes be challenging for a high school production, depending on the cast. My only criticisms were directorial, I think the director could have done alot more with it but, oh well, it was a school production after all. Lovely to be be at a live performance. It has been a very S L O W performing arts season this year. The arts are truly hurting in Colorado.
I read an article in our weekly rag about a turkey farmer in Carbondale raising heritage breeds of turkeys, including several that were near extinction and have been championed for comeback by-- the Slow Food Movement of course. This farm is committed to raising the turkeys as “naturally and organically as possible”, feeding them wild apples, squash, zucchini, pumpkins and the like. They also have plenty of space to forage for grasshoppers, field grasses, and seeds on their free-range pasture. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? For more about this article, click here.
I know that turkey is neutral for all blood types but I have to admit that I sometimes feel a little guilty eating it. I learned several years ago that the hybrid broad-breasted turkeys that are most commonly farmed have been bred to have such large breast meat, that they can only reproduce through artificial insemination. The breasts are so large on the toms that they are unable to mount the hens. We have created a hybrid species that is no longer capable of natural reproduction. And why??? Because we like that nice juicy breast meat. And I won’t get into the horrid conditions that most birds are raised in. I even have questions over how “free-range” some of those free-range turkey farms actually are.
So thank goodness for farmers like Jim Sorensen of Shanaroba farms and his passion for raising vintage turkeys in a healthy environment, fed with organic and wholesome food, and a chance to chase after a few grasshoppers in its lifetime. I plan on supporting the efforts of these farmers who understand what conscientious and sustainable farming is all about, and who know that preserving diversity within a given gene pool is critical for the overall health of the species.
That is, once I don’t have to take out a second on our house in order to afford one. I sure do hope the price per pound becomes more reasonable!
I was driving through town the other day listening to NPR, when they began talking about a food fair happening in Turin. This particular fair was focused on protecting traditional and heirloom foods from culinary extinction and was a part of the Slow Food Movement.
Whoa!!! a Slow Food Movement??? I had to find out more about that. The Slow Food Movement was founded in Italy in the 1980’s and is about utilizing local, handmade ingredients and traditional cooking methods. Fruits and veggies are allowed to ripen on the vine, breads made from scratch, sea salt raked by hand...you get the picture. It is also more of a philosophy than a cuisine, it is defined by how a meal is prepared and TAKING THE TIME to prepare it well and to enjoy it too.
“The idea was to combat fast food...by looking right near you for something really good, local, and handmade; and putting in the effort to find quality ingredients which supports those farmers and artisans who carry on time-honored traditions.” Corby Kummar, author of “The Pleasures of Slow Food”
Now this is something I can sink my teeth into!
I am all for supporting local, independent farmers and the store where I do most of my shopping has predominantly locally grown and produced food and products. There is nothing like purchasing produce that was just picked that morning. It is still alive!
But in relation to the BTD I think of Slow Food in another way. To eat really healthy and in high compliance takes a strong commitment to spending TIME in food preparation. We all know that buying prepackaged foods will almost always have avoids in them; I’ve been shopping and cooking the BTD way for years and there just is no avoiding the avoids if you rely on someone else to do most of the food preparation work for you. So, what is it about us that we don’t want to spend TIME preparing food? Is there really something better we could be doing with our TIME? Think about it....
Learning about this Slow Food Movement has caused me to reflect on my own relationship to time and cooking. I am one of the lucky ones as I do enjoy cooking and have developed a lot of skills over the years through practice, practice, and more practice. But I still get frustrated with the amount of time it takes to prepare a compliant meal, especially with 3 blood types in the house. And when I feel like I don’t have enough time to prepare a meal is when I make concessions in my food choices.
So I am making a renewed commitment to TAKING THE TIME, and making time to prepare a meal as important as the quality of the food itself.
...or so of Americans that feel as despondent as I do since the national election results were finally decided, rather than tallied... I found this little piece by Michael Moore somewhat uplifting and able to pull me out of my funk. Click here to read “Seventeen Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists” (in response to the election, of course). Whether you love or hate MM, his website is full of information not often reported in the national media.
Also, kudos to Julie Ridl for her blog Sloth Bait to remind us all that exercise really is a key in managing stress/disappointment/inertia...etc.
Here’s looking forward to brighter times on the (not too distant) horizon...
Throughout most of the year, I eat my cranberries in the dried form. I am lucky that my natural foods store purchases the dried cranberries that are infused with apple juice for sweetener which leaves them delightfully tangy. But just last week, I noticed fresh organic cranberries had arrived. Hooray, it is cranberry season! Since I can no longer shout for joy over pumpkins and cinnamon, which I associate so strongly with this time of year, I now turn my affections toward cranberries.
Cranberry...that little garnet jewel of a fruit...varying in color from deep ruby red to luscious pink and white even. I remember watching a cranberry harvest on television a while back. I thought it was fascinating how they flooded the bogs where cranberries grow, and all the cranberries rose to the top and floated on the water before being raked ashore (I’m quite easily amused).
Cranberries are also loaded with nutrients. They contain vitamins A, C, B complex, folic acid, minerals, organic acids, and other phytonutrients. Bioflavinoids are found in cranberries too.
By far, the best thing about cranberries is it is highly beneficial for both B secretors and non-secretors! And we secretors need to maximize our use of the beneficial fruits since there aren’t many for us. But... cranberries are also a high bene for A’s and AB’s, neutral for O’s. So everyone in your household can enjoy cranberries! Since cranberries are a rather sour fruit, we have control over the sugar content, since any sweetness must be added.
Lately, now that the fresh ones are here, I have taken to eating them whole, raw, and tangily sour. But if the thought of raw cranberries makes your toes curl, here are a few recipes to try. Since almost everyone has a cranberry bread or sauce recipe, I will skip those for now.
Cranberry Squash is my absolute favorite cranberry recipe. It is a MUST at holiday gatherings in our house, particularly at Thanksgiving. This recipe is from my fave vegetarian cookbook, “Laurel’s Kitchen”. The ingredients are:
One large, raw, scrubbed clean butternut squash, unpeeled (really!!), cut in small chunks
1 cup or more raw cranberries
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
juice and grated peel of one orange
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon melted butter
dash of salt
Place the cut squash in a baking dish, like a pyrex dish, that has a cover. Scatter the cranberries, chopped apple, and raisins hither and yon over the squash. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the orange peel, orange juice, honey, and salt. Pour over the squash, cover, and bake at 350ºF until squash is tender, about 45 minutes. No, you don’t have to peel the squash when it is done. I let those eating the squash decide if they want to peel their own. My husband always eats the squash peel. I sometimes do if it is not too tough.
If you like apple butter, than you must try cranberry butter! It is very easy to make. And such a nice alternative to spread on a piece of Ezekiel toast, with thanks to The Cranberry Lady.
2 apples, chopped
approximately 2 cups raw cranberries, more or less (I just use the whole bag)
1 slight teaspoon orange zest
juice of one orange
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
a drizzle of honey to taste
Boil at medium heat or lower until the apples are soft, puree, and return to pan to simmer until thickened. Cool and refrigerate. It really is a bit austere at first but mellows when refrigerated. It is quite a luscious color too.
OK, here is the buttery, sugary one that no one concerned with health should ever eat... but it is soooo good. Perhaps some tweaking could be done to make it a little more acceptable. This is adapted from good ole Martha Stewart - Three Fruit Crisp:
2 cups raw cranberries
2 large pears, chopped
2 large apples, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
dash of cloves, maybe cardamom
drizzle of honey or maple syrup (optional)
3/4 cup spelt or rice flour
1/2 cup brown sugar - maybe try maple syrup or honey instead
3/4 cup thick rolled oats
3/4 cup butter!!!
(OK, perhaps it is time to try half butter, half olive oil, or ghee...any other ideas??)
3/4 cup chopped and toasted pecans
In a large baking dish, combine fruit, spices, and honey or maple syrup, mix together. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar (or maple syrup, or honey) and oats. Cut in butter combination with a pastry cutter or two forks until evenly distributed. Stir in toasted pecans. Spoon this mixture over the fruit and bake at 350ºF until juices bubble and topping is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Yummo!!
Well, I hope this at least gets you started in thinking about finding ways to incorporate the lovely cranberry into your diet. So pretty...and beneficial too!!