Food Celebration Day

Happy Thanksgiving, or more appropriate for today, Happy Black Friday to all of those crazy shoppers out there.  Now that we have survived the gastronomic event that is Thanksgiving, we will share with you our food exploits for Turkey Day this year.

Yes, a giant flying turkey.

This year, instead of cooking one big meal to be eaten all at once, we decided that we’d rather not stress ourselves out, since it was to be a celebration with just the two of us.   Therefore, we planned many small dishes and set about cooking, stopping whenever a group of dishes were done and savoring the fruits of our labor.  This enabled us to eat a lot stretched out over the day and enabled us to try a lot of different dishes.

Beauties: Chioggia Beets and Purple Beets from Red Fire Farm.

As already shown yesterday we began the never ending meal around 1:30pm with our starters:

  • Roasted Red Fire Farm Beet and Pumpkin Seed, Atlas Farm Spinach, and Narragansett Feta Cheese Salad, with Warm Colors Apiary’s Honey and Apple Cider Vinaigrette
  • Red Fire Farm Leek and Wood Prairie Farm Potato Soup with Thatcher Farm Milk and Cream, Sidehill Farm Cultured Butter and garnished with a sharp Queso Viejo from Chase Hill Farm.

Lots of Lovely Leeks for soup!

Our Potato Leek Soup and Beet Spinach Feta Salad Starters.

After having our starters, we set to prepping all of our veggies for the next round of dishes. We began to oogle over the gorgeous produce as we worked over our cutting boards.

Red Fire Farm Rutabagas... pretty in purple.

Brussels Sprouts in a light and leafy green.

Sweet Potato in mellow orange.

One thing to say about Thanksgiving.  It really is a celebration of food.  I think that at not other time of the year can you really appreciate the hearty stick to your ribs type of abundance as during the fall.  A locavore can easily be stuffed with all of these root veggies.

Our next set of courses didn’t come about until much later in the day, when we finally started to get hungry enough to sit down to a few dishes of produce deliciousness:

  • Red Fire Farm Rutabaga and Narragansett Harbor Blue Cheese Custard, made with Red Fire Farm Eggs and Sidehill Farm Cultured Butter, garnished with UMASS Orchard Apple.

The Rutabaga Custard being put together (mashed rutabaga and cheese on the left, beaten egg on the right).

This was a new dish for us to try and it worked out splendidly.  You steam rutabaga, mash it with butter and blue cheese (the Narragansett Habor Blue was a nice mild blue) and beat eggs into it and bake it.

Rutabaga Blue Cheese Custard with Apple.

The result was a nice firm custard with lovely mellow rutabaga and touch of sharp cheese and mild blue cheese flavors.  It has quickly moved to being a favorite dish.  And a wonderful way to enjoy rutabaga (one of those often misunderstood root vegetables).

The next dish was a simple classic:

  • Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts with Stillmans Farm Bacon.

Lovely brussels sprouts cooked in reserved bacon fat, browned and combined in traditional savory bliss.

The next dish was a play on the idea of a Baked Alaska (a dish that I believe holds a lofty place in Theresa’s  chef pantheon), or a sweet pie:

  • Roasted Red Fire Farm Sweet Potato Baked Alaska, with soft Meringue made with Red Fire Farm Eggs, and sweetened with Maple Syrup and Sidehill Farm Butter.

Roasted Sweet Potato hidden under a lovely soft sweet meringue.

The Maple and Butter Roasted Sweet Potato revealed.

After having this set of three dishes, we set ourselves to the daunting task of handling the turkey.  We got a huge (and by this “small”) turkey from Stillmans Farm.  It was 12 pounds.  It took up a lot of space in the fridge.

This lovely creature from Stillmans Farm would make the main dish to our day of food celebration and feed us for months to come.

It is unfortunate that we must present this beautiful creature in such a naked and non-living state.  But, nonetheless it was still beautiful, fresh, and magnificent.  Such a large animal could no possibly just feed us for one meal.  We set to ‘butchering’ it so that we could freeze pieces to be eaten throughout the winter. We also had to remove some things from our freezers to make room for all this turkey- so we set blackberries to dry and also made peach butter- yum!

I must say that I am always so entranced by how beautiful fresh meat is. This turkey was lovely on the inside.

A single turkey breast was butterflied and rolled with stuffing for this meal.

I’m sorry to all those vegetarians out there for posting such graphic pictures.  We will move on to more produce centric preparations now.

Romanesco Cauliflower with Kale in the background. We were planning on having Kale chips as snacks.. but we found we didn't need snacks during this food-a-thon.

Parsnips pretty in pale.

Cranberries dashing in a robust magenta.

After much fun with our preparations we sat down for the next big set of dishes:

  • Roasted Stillmans Farm Romanesco Cauliflower with Stillmans Dried Bosc Pears, Red Fire Farm Onions, and Balsamic Vinegar.

Very Tasty Carmelized Cauliflower, but I think we should have used more balsamic.

  • Atlas Farms Creamed Spinach with Red Fire Farm Roasted Garlic and Thatcher Farm’s Cream.

Garlicky Creamed Spinach- nom nom.

  • Fresh Verrell Farm Cranberry Sauce with Our own Apple Cider Reduction and Warm Colors Honey.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce, a favorite.

The final dish of the meal was turkey.  Theresa managed to make a lovely rolled Turkey breast filled with yummy stuffing.  It was to be served with mashed parsnip and apple.  I was in charge of the parsnip and apple, but managed to attack myself with the immersion blender (doing something very thoughtless).  I thankfully still have my pointer finger, but I certainly have a good gash to fondly remind me of this year’s festivities.

Turkey breast rolled around stuffing, cooked in our giant dutch oven. With cooked onions on the bottom in yummy turkey juices.

Rolled Turkey Breast, sliced and pretty.

  • Roasted Stillmans Farm Turkey Breast rolled around Stuffing made with Wheatberry Baguette, Our own Dried Apples and Blueberries, Red Fire Farm Carrots, Celery, Onion, and Rosemary, served on top of Red Fire Farm Mashed Parsnip  and UMASS Mashed Apple and Red Fire Farm Onion.

Roasted Rolled Turkey and Apple and Blueberry Stuffing with reserve onions served on top of Mashed Parsnip and Apple.

Nom, nom nom.  After having all of these dishes, we were needless to say, quite full. We had planned to make two desserts as well, but decided to instead, make one simple one:

  • Spelt Berry Pudding, with spelt from Lazy Acres Farm and milk and cream from Thatcher Farm, garnished with Taza Chocolate.

Spelt Berry Pudding with Taza Chocolate

Our original intent for dessert had been this pudding inside of a baked kabocha squash, but we were so full, we decided to skip the squash (it will happen another day).

We made small portions of each dish, but still have a decent amount of food leftover.  So we will be eating the leftover all day today.  A full day of not cooking….. after this marathon of sorts.

The food was delicious and very fun to make.  Obviously, this post would be huge (it already is) if I included all the recipes.  If you’d like any of the recipes for these dishes, ask in the comments section and we’ll add it there.

My thoughts on Thanksgiving: Other than being the perfect day to celebrate fall food, it (obviously) is a day of thanks.  There are some obvious things that I am thankful for:

My beloved hooligan family (not all shown).

However, other than just being thankful for friends, family and food, I think that I’d like to add that we should be thankful for the people and time put into our food.  Our nourishment falls upon the shoulders of really great farmers, animals that give their lives, specialty food makers, and also ourselves who cook up these delightful ingredients into something grand.  Taking the time to think about all the hands that went into making this scrummy piece of food that you happen to be munching on, is important.  And I think that Thanksgiving is the perfect day to reflect back upon the growing season of this year and think about the great people who contributed to your family and life this year, out in the fields, or cheese making shop or whatever, making sure that your life was nourished, not just physically, but almost spiritually, with good, clean -love, sweat, and tears filled food.

For this purpose, I tried to list the sources of all of our food items in our meal for Thanksgiving to bring consciousness to the many many hands that brought it all to our table.  I utterly, and entirely, give my thanks.

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