Dark Days, big feast

Posted by Anita on 11.30.09 9:46 AM


With all the hullabaloo about 100-mile Thanksgiving, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is possibly the easiest Dark Days Challenge week of the year. Maybe it’s because we’ve done this for three years now, and our holiday menu rarely changes much. Maybe it’s because nobody thinks it’s odd to plan this particular meal far in advance, including ordering the main course well before the first leaves turn colors. Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is one of the few times each year when Americans eat with the seasons, whether they’re aware of it or not. But to me, planning a locavore Thanksgiving celebration isn’t just fun, it’s also pretty simple.

My mom, sister, and brother-in-law joined us this year, and our family feast included a big pasture-raised bird from Bill Niman’s BN Ranch, with all the traditional sides: Shredded brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon, mashed potatoes and gravy, Grandma Anne’s stuffing, and a new-to-us recipe for sweet potatoes that kicks the usual sickly-sweet toppings to the curb with thyme and a dash of red pepper. And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a big slice of pumpkin pie to round out the food coma. (I don’t like pumpkin, but I’ll boldly claim once again this pie will win over even the most vehement squash haters.) Our only non-local dishes were two bowls of cranberry sauce — one plain, one fancy — but since our friend Jeanne bought the berries direct from the Cape Cod farmer who grew them and toted them home in her carry-on bag, I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over this little lapse.

Some in our family would say that the best part of Thanksgiving is actually the leftovers, including turkey/pork-sausage hash with poached eggs, a riff on Chuck’s holiday turkey gumbo (made with local Dungeness crabs in place of shrimp), and of course good-old turkey sandwiches on delicious homemade bread.

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Farmers and food artisans who created the ingredients for this week’s meal:

BN Ranch, Bolinas: Heritage turkey
Mariquita Farm
, Watsonville: russet potatoes, sweet potatoes
Balakian Farms
, Reedley: pumpkin
Dirty Girl Produce, Santa Cruz: shallot
Catalán Family Farm, Hollister: onions
Fatted Calf, Napa: bacon
Spring Hill Cheese Company
, Petaluma: butter
Guisto’s Vita-Grain, South San Francisco: flour (pie crust, stuffing bread)
Clover Organic, Petaluma: cream
Vella Cheese, Sonoma: dry Jack cheese
Iacopi, Half Moon Bay: brussels sprouts, garlic
G&S Farms, Brentwood: corn (stripped and frozen in August)
Bariani, Sacramento: Olive oil
Soul Food Farm, Vacaville: pastured eggs
Hamada Farms, Kingsburg: clementines
Fleur, Napa and Mackenzie, Sebastopol: wine
…and our own homegrown sage, parsley, celery, and thyme

Exemptions: Salt, pepper, sugar, yeast, nutmeg, cinnamon, cranberries (hand-carried from Massachusetts by Jeanne)

Dark Days challenge, Eat Local Challenge, holidays & occasions, locavore



Comment by Cooking with Michele

Totally agree with you on the seasonality of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. I’m going to try to repeat this performance with a 10 course meal to ring in 2010 on New Year’s Eve and each course will feature local products – all the meat is from CO ranchers (I buy direct), most of the veggies from the winter share of my CSA, eggs & dairy from local sources, and a smattering of things preserved my my own summer harvest (herbs, relishes, pesto, tomatoes, etc.). I’ve had fun planning the menu and can’t wait for the actual event in a month!

Posted on 11.30.09 at 2:46PM

Pingback by Dark Days 09-10 :: Week #2 Recap (West and Pacific Northwest) « (not so) Urban Hennery

[...] have prepared 100-mile Thanksgiving feasts for three years, Anita thinks that this is perhaps the easiest week of the Dark Days Challenge. Anita says, “Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving is one of the few [...]

Posted on 12.03.09 at 12:08AM

Comment by Whisk-at-hand

I love this idea of the 100 mile Thanksgiving! Think summer I discovered CSA’s and am trying to buy as local as possible. I think living in CA–especially the Bay area (south bay for me) makes this so much easier since we are surrounded by agriculture. I noticed in your picture the bottles of Straus dairy…this to me is the best. I’ll gladly pay a little extra for such wonderful milk and cream.

Your menu sounded so delicious! Do you have a recipe for the brussel sprouts?

Posted on 12.03.09 at 10:57AM

Comment by deana

The photo felt like a dutch still-life, gorgeous! I think it’s great you post the purveyors… they are the unsung gods of the holidays. WIthout their heroic efforts on farms across the country… none of it would be possible… we would all be eating plastic turkey with GMO side dishes!

Posted on 12.04.09 at 7:25AM

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