To have a homestead-style Thanksgiving there is much preparation. It starts somewhere in February when I begin to longingly gaze into my seed catalogs to start planning my garden and herb beds. Since we live in northern Ohio we can’t start planting until around Memorial Day. It is our goal to plant almost everything that we would need to sustain our family until the next garden produce would be harvested the following year. I knew that if we wanted potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, etc. on our Thanksgiving table then Husband and I needed to plant them in the Spring.
Once the gardens are in, we work hard to keep them healthy and growing between rain showers. And once the garden is mature, the harvesting and food preservation starts. My daughters and I can or dehydrate most everything that is needed from our garden for us and their families. It is a lot of work to prepare for Thanksgiving, as you can see.
Last year, since our Thanksgiving table was going to be about 98% organic and from our own garden and hard labor, we wanted to make sure our turkey was one that was raised in a healthy, loving, environment too. We bartered with some dear friends. When our turkey was dressed and weighed we were shocked to learn it weighed 31.5 pounds! It took two roasting bags (one on each end) and the largest roasting pan I had to cook this bird for 13 hours! It barely fit in my oven! If you notice the bottom rack is bowing a little to the weight of that big bird!
We wanted our Thanksgiving to be as “homestead-style” as possible so we even churned our butter for the meal. Four of the seven grandchildren took turns cranking the churn that, at one time, belonged to their Great Grandma Jones. They thoroughly enjoyed taking their turn as you can see on Eleanor’s sweet little face. Braeden, Ethan and Jackson all helped too, while the baby, Princess Lydia, was nestled in her mommy’s arms. That butter was so good and well worth the extra effort.
Last year’s menu…
* Roasted Turkey – all natural, delicious 31.5 pounds of it!
* Mashed potatoes – from our garden–organic and delicious
* Sweet Potato Casserole – from our garden and made with real maple syrup
* Green Beans (with natural bacon and shallots) – beans from our garden
* Sweet Corn – raised by our neighbors (ours didn’t do well last year)
* Stuffing – Made from freshly ground, soaked flour, made into homemade bread, and my herbs.
* Dinner rolls – made with freshly ground flour and work of daughter, Sara’s hands.
* Cranberry Salad – from fresh cranberries and oranges (grocery store)
* Sweet Potato Pie – garden, sweetened with honey, crust made from lard I rendered
* Mock Pecan Pie – made with pinto beans, maple syrup and crust from my rendered lard
* Homemade, fresh whipped cream for topping the pies
* Autumn Salad – organic lettuce from Brother In Law, with organic apples
* Salad Dressing – Raw apple cider vinegar, organic Dijon mustard, EVOO, honey
* Homemade butter – pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized) from Trader Joe’s
* Relish dish – Lacto-fermented organic carrots, green beans, cauliflower and onions
* White Zinfandel Wine – made by Husband & bottled with family help (Emily & Michael)
We all agreed that it tasted better knowing that most everything came from our garden and/or from the work of our hands. Each of my family that were present had a part in growing, harvesting or preserving the produce. We ground our own flours, rendered our lard, churned the butter, baked the bread, butchered the turkey, whipped the cream, baked the pies and cooked every bit of the food – ourselves!
Sure it was hard work (almost a year’s worth) but it is always worth it when you compare the taste to boxed, convenience foods from the grocery store. Those foods contain preservatives, GMO products, high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients that don’t even begin to resemble the names of real foods. (Closely read the labels!)
And onto our next garden and planning my menu for Thanksgiving 2011. We hope to increase the size of our orchard and berry producing bushes this Spring, too.
Laurie blogs at Laurie’s Thoughts.
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