That title may be a bit deceiving because in truth, the turkey was a struggle for me. But Thanksgiving and turkey dinners go hand in hand, right? While we’ve opted out in past years (pizza!), this year we decided on a full-on traditional stuff your guts spread. Here’s how it’s going to shake down:
Turkey: I did not raise my own bird as author Laura Grace Weldon did. As far as I know, there’s no place to get a locally raised turkey on this island. Next stop: grocery store. Here, my choices range from the familiar Butterball to obscure brands that seem to appear only during the Thanksgiving shopping week, along with several organic and free range options. Everything’s equal as far as packaging (plastic), but what’s inside? Some were injected with solutions containing water, salt, modified food starch, sodium phosphate and natural flavors. Others were “minimally processed.” I couldn’t bring myself to fork over nearly $5/lb for an organic bird, so I opted for a “free range” bird who lived the good life and didn’t have needle tracks along its wings.
Mashed potatoes: I didn’t grow potatoes this year. Organic potatoes are unheard of here. I figured I’d be stuck with the usual brown plastic bag of russets, but was happy to discover some “volcano potatoes” grown right here on the island. Trying those for the first time.
Stuffing: All of the stuffing packages I checked contained high fructose corn syrup. (Seriously, what is UP with that?) They also came in plastic packaging. My mom always used to tell me that my grandma made her stuffing with actual loaves of bread without even toasting the bread. Hunh. So I stopped at the local bakery and picked up a couple of loaves of bread. I’ll probably toast the bread a bit in the oven, since the moisture in the air here eliminates the possibility of “stale” bread. I’ll saute Maui onions to add to the stuffing, but the celery and parsley came from a distance. (Must plant celery and parsley!)
Sweet potatoes: I’m no fan of those marshmallow topped sweet potato casseroles. I’m not even sure if I’ll put them on the menu – I mean, how many starches do we really need? But if I do, I’ve got some purple sweet potatoes that I picked up at the farmers market. If I decide to use them, I’m tempted to try this recipe for sweet potato and smoked cheddar gratin.
Kale salad: I just tried a great kale salad that a friend made, and I’ve got a bag of island grown kale in the fridge. I think I’ll add that to the table for the people (ahem) who will be avoiding a carb load.
Cranberry sauce: My eldest son’s contribution to the meal, he’ll make his famous recipe that starts with whole cranberries. Not local, by a long shot. And the berries come in a plastic bag. But we are avoiding the BPA-lined cans.
Pumpkin pie: My 16-year-old is making dessert this year. The homemade pie crust is my grandmother’s recipe and what we always use. But this year, instead of canned pumpkin, I picked up a couple of kabocha, or Japanese pumpkins, that were grown locally. We’ll cook those up and use the flesh in lieu of the canned pumpkin.
So, what about you? What will your holiday meal look like? Have you managed to make some more sustainable choices this year, or are you throwing caution to the wind since it’s just one meal a year?
Photo: Library of Congress