OK, so this one is going to take some explaining to my family. We are having Thanksgiving at our house this year (usually we go to family in Chicago), because my brother and his new wife are flying in from England. But now that we are raising our own chickens and organic vegetables, it only seems fitting that we hold a harvest Thanksgiving- a day to be thankful for and enjoy the fruits of our own labor. And since we did not raise any turkeys, we will not be eating turkey. Seems logical enough, at least to me.....
My grandmother doesn't seem to be taking it so well. Her response was to offer to pick up a pre-cooked turkey meal from Meijer. "No, Grandma," I somewhat hesitantly explained. "We want to eat our chicken and our vegetables this year. What we raised and grew ourselves, and that's mostly it." She again responded by pointing out how cheap those pre-cooked meals actually were. In fact, she would be more than happy to pick one up in Chicago, and bring it up here to Michigan for us (in case we didn't have that kind of thing "way out here").
Oh well..... Hopefully the idea will settle in by the time Thanksgiving arrives...
So what is exactly on the menu? Well, our 11-pound chicken, for starters. No, that wasn't a typo. If you've been keeping up with our posts, you may recall that our inability and hesitance to slaughter our own chickens resulted in their getting quite large. I'm a little concerned that the meat might end up being a bit tough. But that's all part of the learning process, I guess... Additionally, we are going to have a free-range, organic ham that was raised on a local farm (since we don't have hogs... yet). We are expecting between 12 and 14 people, so I'm trying to make sure there is plenty for everyone (especially if the chicken is....well.... a little tough....) It is my first time hosting Thanksgiving, after all, and I'd prefer it if no one went home hungry.
Let's see... what else are we having? We saved butternut squash from the summer, so I'll be baking Candied Butternut Squash (a yummy twist on the popular candied yams). Using green beans we canned this summer, there will be plenty of green bean casserole, and swiss chard with balsamic, and from frozen golden zucchini I will create Zucchini au Gratin. A mostaccioli (I just had to look up that spelling in a dictionary) made from canned tomatoes will be a vegetarian option, and homemade bread will be a-plenty. And for the incredibly snowy and chilly weather we have had lately,venison and pasta stew will be hot hearty to warm everyone's tummy. Freezer pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, and our walnuts (which have almost finished drying and curing) will be setting on the table to munch on. And last but not least, apple pie, with some heavenly Sherman's Ice Cream from the local creamery.
Of course, not everything will have been grown on our farm. Organic cranberries will have to be purchased, as will potatoes (we have already devoured our potato crop- obviously we need to grow more next summer). I'll be buying mushrooms for the gravy, salad greens (our winter greenhouse is not growing as well as we hoped), and a few fresh salad vegetables from our local market.
But there's another reason that we won't be having turkey this year, and the video from PETA at the bottom of this post explains it pretty well. Any time you have some 200,000,000 people deciding to eat the same thing on the same day, well, it kinda spells a recipe for suffering.
WARNING: This video is not for the faint of heart. And it's not just here to gross everyone out, either- but to point out that if you are going to eat turkey this Thanksgiving, it's only fair to know how that bird got to your table. Alternatively, you might want to consider sourcing an organic, free-range, or heirloom turkey for your feast. I realize that becoming a vegetarian is a very noble alternative to the cruelty of factory farming (I've had a number of readers point that out). But realistically, there are many, many people who are not willing to go that route. You can still limit the cruelty and suffering inherent in meat-eating by supporting farms that raise their animals in a healthy, organic, more gentle way. (Here is the article that goes along with the video:Breaking Investigation Reveals Holiday Horrors for Turkeys)
But anyway, however you celebrate your Thanksgiving, we hope you have a healthy, and safe, and enjoyable one, filled with warmth and laughter.
And we would like to send out a most sincere thank-you to those who have helped make our journey so much more enjoyable with their support, and ideas, and contributions. We couldn't have done it without you!
Here are some resources for an organic, healthy Thanksgiving: