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Thanks to all

for your kind thoughts and good wishes. She’s doing much better, as far as these things go. She’s talking and starting to ask questions about where she is and what happened. She’s even hungry which is apparently a very good sign. My mom, aunts and uncles are making arrangements to move her home with 24 care later this week. So far, so good.

I was able, through some minor stroke of luck, to snag a $125 ticket from Seattle to Minneapolis. Haven’t seen fares like that since 1996! So even though there’s less urgency to get home now than there was before I’m going to make the trip so that I can see her in case this is anywhere close to goodbye. As I wasn’t planning to make a trip for the upcoming holidays, it’s important to me to make this trip now. Don’t want to miss her the way I missed my grandfather 8 years ago.

So, that’s a pretty unorganized group of thoughts. But suffice it to say that things are looking up even if we’re not sure what the final resolution will be.

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grandma.jpg 

Last night my grandmother suffered a massive stroke while taking a bath. She’s currently in intensive care, unconscious. We’re waiting to find out her long-term prognosis. I’m not a religious person, but any kind thoughts or prayers that you can spare would be greatly appreciated.

 Thank you.

Update: She has woken up briefly. She’s still disoriented, but her fiesty Irish blood is showing through. She might not know where she is or what’s happening, but she sure knows what she wants and who should do it for her.

I hope that everyone had a great holiday! As I mentioned, we had a delicious dinner and have really enjoyed the long weekend. We also had many local breakfasts, lunches and dinners this week that I won’t bore you with. And of course, we finally opened our first jars of dill pickles – mmmm mmmm good.

I’m going to keep this brief as we’re going to get a Christmas tree shortly and I need to find the decorations!

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The Middle:

With 21 squash in her garage, Anne (Green Leanings) is set for at least part of the winter. After cooking an unexpected local Thanksgiving last Sunday she froze 1/2 the turkey and made stock and soup with the rest. She spent her actual Thanksgiving at her mom’s house with another local turkey and all the sides. And then yesterday she finished off the week by sleeping in and then making a local brunch and dinner.

Continuing her run of local meals in bowls, FarmMom (Children in the Corn) served up ham, bean and vegetable soup this week with a side of biscuits. This week they also enjoyed a casual Thanksgiving with family, ordered chicks and ducklings for spring and offered a tour of her root cellar.

With her daughter home from college, Penny (Penelopedia) ate out more than usual this week. But she still managed a mostly local Thanksgiving. No apologizing for the things you didn’t have time or budget to find! This is a challenge and as such we do what we can, and make up the rest!

Turk-a-leekie soup graced the stove at Valeree’s house this week (Cincinnati Locavore). If you’ve got leftover bird this looks like a delicious and straightforward way to use it up. I might even have to make it myself tonight – although mine won’t be so local as celery doesn’t grow here and I don’t have any leeks on hand. Oh well…

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The East:

Kim (Yankee Food) mad a fabulously local Thanksgiving using a wide range of ingredients, she even found New Hampshire wine! They’ve managed to finish off most of the leftovers, with the remainders going into soup yesterday. She included ground cherries on her cheese board – we had these in Florence but no one could tell us what they were in English. So cool to see them pop up on her blog! Now to find somewhere to get them around here.

While most of her meal might not have been as fresh or local as she’d have liked, Peg (Orchards Forever) made sure her contributions were. The pumpkin cheesecake and apple crisp both sound delightful!.

Adding to the local holiday trend, Christy (Farm Dreams) made not only a local Thanksgiving feast, but a lunch as well. The butternut squash soup looks great, as does her herb rubbed turkey.

Ed (The Slow Cook) wins the prize for Turkey dinner I most wish I’d been invited to! His local feast started with a 31 lb. turkey he killed himself and went from there. It included enough dishes to feed an army and it all looked amazing.

Starting with eggs and steak for breakfast, to a full Thanksgiving menu to dessert of apple bread pudding, Wendy (Happily Home) had quite the busy day. Just goes to show that eating a meal that’s 100% Maine is possibly even in the dark days of winter.

With her farm in full swing this year, Danielle (Touch the Earth) managed an almost 0 mile Thanksgiving Feast. From a 17 lb. turkey she raised herself, to stuffing, squash and ciabatta bread, it was an impressive spread. She’s also got a great post up about starting small when it comes to farming.

Nicole (Farm to Philly) offers a great pumpkin creme brulee recipe which sounds like something I should try with the small pumpkin on my counter. Her turkey was a bit dry, but everything else was wonderful. And yes, I agree that while I love the holiday, I’m glad it’s only once a year.

The Purloined letter enjoyed two Thanksgivings. One with friends, and a second local one on Friday. They started the feast with pumpkin soup cooked in the shell for lunch. Then followed it up with a full blown turkey dinner and a crustless sweet potato pie.

Sophie (Locavores) hosted a Thanksgiving that was a mix of local and “worldly” foods. For being only 3 months into her efforts as a locavore, I think she did a pretty good job of finding local fixings in CT.

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The West:

In lieu of a Thanksgiving recap, Anita (Married with Dinner) posted a review of local shopping options in her area. She discusses who’s doing what and who isn’t doing anything as far as sourcing and signing local foods.

While still battling a cold, Donna (Chocolate Crayons) still managed to work a variety of local foods into her Thanksgiving menu. Her efforts included making her own sparkling grape juice to rave reviews.

With slimmer pickings and fewer farmers, winter has come to Seattle and Laura (Hello, Sunshine) is feeling just as much as I am. Her meals this week were mostly local salads for dinner and home made juices in the morning.

Making the most of her CSA bounty, Ellen (The Daily Grind) shared a mostly local Thanksgiving with friends and family. She also enjoyed some no knead bread both for turkey day and after. I actually found the recipe through a link on her blog earlier this week – thanks Ellen!

Remember the 38 lbs. of tomatoes that Melinda (Elements in Time) harvested? Frost a couple days later at least means she won’t have any more. While her Thanksgiving wasn’t local, at least she had pumpkin pie from her own garden for her birthday – Happy Birthday Melinda!

While the timing didn’t fall into place exactly as she hoped, Katrina’s (Kale for Sale) local Thanksgiving met with rave reviews. She even managed to convert more than one Brussels sprout virgin to the love.

Jennye at Wool Fairy celebrated local with a potato sorrel soup this week. The recipe actually calls for leeks, but since none were at hand she used the sorrel instead, to cheers from her kids. I haven’t been brave enough to try sorrel yet, but maybe I should.

Marcia in Wyoming sent in two meals this week:

Stuffed chicken breasts: Homegrown chicken breasts stuffed with chopped apples (from that zucchini trade again!) shredded cheddar cheese and Italian flavored bread crumbs, cooked in a butter/white wine sauce.

Calibacitas: Homegrown frozen sliced zucchini and yellow summer squash, homegrown frozen chopped green bell and chili peppers, chopped onion from  the root cellar, homegrown frozen corn, homegrown minced garlic all cooked in a little olive oil/butter mix and then topped with shredded cheddar cheese.

Pucker Face

Remember the dill pickles I made back in September? Well, we finally cracked the first jars open this past week. And they’re just as good as I remember from my childhood. My whole life, this is what pickles are supposed to taste like. Crisp and clean with a rich flavor and so sour that they almost make your face pucker. Yum!

Of course Mike thinks that they’re too sour and is requesting that I tone them down a bit next year. But this is a man that also likes sweet dills (gross) and bread-and-butters (ewwww) best of all. So I’m not sure how much weight to give his request. I think what I’ll do is make some for me and some for him. Pucker and Puckerless dills if you will.

Once we finish off the opened whole pickles and the spears, we need to try the hot dills and the bread and butters before we can call it a complete success. However, these were so easy to make, so much easier than I remember, that if you’re looking for a recipe to try as your first foray into canning, I’d highly recommend pickles. Of course, if you don’t like sour dills you might want to tone down my recipe with a little sugar…

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I won’t bore you with a long list of where our ingredients came from or how far they traveled. But suffice it to say that we had a mostly local, very delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Things that weren’t local that made it to the table? Black olives, organic chicken broth, dried sour cherries, sugar, salt, pepper, Montana flour, Oregon wine, an extra California turkey and some other odds and ends. Everything else came from within 100 miles and it was all fabulously in season.

Our menu?

– cheese, salami and crackers
– dill pickles (homemade) & black olives
– 11 lb. free range organic Heritage turkey  (local)
– 13 lb. free range organic broad breasted white turkey (California)
– traditional bread stuffing
– sausage, apple, sage and caramelized onion stuffing
– mashed yukon gold potatoes
– cheese broccoli souffle
– arugula / spinach salad with hazelnuts
– cranberry / sour cherry chutney
– wheat “no knead bread” (1/2 local, 1/2 Montana)
– the best homemade gravy I’ve ever had
– cherry pie
– apple pie
– homemade vanilla ice cream

The most interesting parts of the menu were the turkeys, the cranberries and the no knead bread, so those are the only parts that I’ll expound on.

*****

Turkey | Leggy vs. The Traveler:

Nov07-041

For reasons that we don’t really need to go into, and that I’m tired of explaining, we ended up with two fresh turkeys and decided to cook them both. “Leggy”, shown on the right above, came from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm and was local, organic, free-range and a heritage breed. “The Traveler”, shown on the left, was an organic, free-range broad breasted white from Diestel Farms in California. I didn’t think to ask whether they were toms or hens.

Since we cooked them both, we prepared them slightly differently, so the side by side taste test wasn’t exact. We rubbed Leggy with salt, pepper and olive oil and let him rest for 4 hours before roasting. The Traveler was brined for 4 hours the night before. The two were roasted side by side in the oven until done – about 5 hours – basted with butter at regular intervals.

And wow, they were both good! Mike and I both preferred Leggy, my sister in law (hi Kris!) preferred The Traveler, and everyone else was undecided. Things that were obviously different? Leggy has a more prominent breast bone and less breast meat. He also was less compact even though they both weighed about the same amount. Finally, the muscle fibers in Leggy’s breast meat were longer, more tender, and tasted more like “Turkey” to me.

In the interest of full disclosure, Leggy cost me $5 per lb. and The Traveler was $3 per lb. To me the extra money was worth it to help preserve heritage turkeys and to support a local farmer that believes in sustainably raising poultry. But if you can’t get your hands on one I’d say that the Diestel was almost as good.

*****

Cranberries
Not a lot to say here, except that I used a new recipe for these that combined dried sour cherries with the cranberries. The recipe also added a hint of rosemary and substituted brown sugar for the traditional white.

Recipe at Roux Seattle

*****

No Knead Bread

Nov07-067 

This was the first time that I’d tried this. But I have to say that it really is as easy as it sounds. I made my loaves with 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 unbleached all purpose white flour. The bread turned out light and airy with a crispy crust. Definitely worth the minimal effort. I plan to keep practicing my bread and make this again soon!

Recipe at The Steamy Kitchen

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A parting photo from the day – the hens enjoying the scraps from my prep work. Once nice thing about all the rain we’ve been having? The grass is finally green again. Note the missing feathers on Lucy (black) and Agnes (white) – they, plus Pru, are all wishing the weather would warm back up or their feathers grow faster!

Nov07-060

Odds and Ends

I’ve got a lot to say about our local Thanksgiving, I just want to think on it a bit before saying it. In the meantime, can you tell what’s wrong with this picture?

Nov07-044

Do you see it? That missing piece of pipe is because I once again forgot that I’ve got an industrial strength garbage disposal combined with a mix of old and new pipes*. And I thought the easiest way to get rid of some sour sauerkraut was to put it through the disposal instead of in the compost bin or the garbage.

Whoops! I caused a massive clog. So bad that Mike had to cut a section of PVC pipe out of the sink drain line and fish around with a coat hanger while I built up pressure running the water. Effective solution, but it blew soggy sauerkraut halfway across the basement. Ah, the joys of owning an older house with an unfinished basement. 

Good thing we’re planning to replumb before we finish the basement. Otherwise how would we get at it when I did something dumb? 

So adding to my list of thankfulness from yesterday? I’m thankful that Mike is as handy as he is. And that his reaction to these incidents has evolved from disbelief to laughter and a good natured “guess I’ll have to run to Lowe’s after breakfast”.

* This isn’t the first such incident. I’ve clogged it with potato peels, coffee grounds and salad scraps. Apparently the list of things you shouldn’t put through a disposal is waaaay longer than the list of things you should.

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In a totally different vein, I’ve been realizing that this blog has shifted from a focus on daily happenings to mostly food and eating local. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I miss writing about daily life and so I’m going to make an effort to include more stories and photos of what’s happening around here that’s unrelated to what we’re eating.

So if you’ve been reading for a while, hopefully you’ll welcome a return to more regular programming. And if you’ve only recently joined us, I hope you’ll bear with me as I start to write as much about what I’m doing as what I’m eating…

*****

Nov07-047

A very large, tired puppy taking an “illegal” nap in my favorite chair. Of course his reaction to being told to get out was “huh? what’s your problem?”. Of course the fact that I was laughing and taking his picture probably didn’t lend my scolding any authority… And yes, those are grass stains on his butt – we had way too much fun at the park this morning.

Nov07-050

Thankful

Last night and today have seen a lot of activity in our small kitchen. As bread dough has gone from sloppy to slowly rising. Cherries and apples have become divine smelling pies. Cranberries and dried sour cherries became delicious condiment. And local arugula and spinach are becoming a succulent salad.

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As I’ve spent my evening and day prepping and baking I’ve been thinking of the things for which I am thankful.

– For my family. We may not always agree or even always like each other, but we’re always there for each other.

– For Mike, who supports me in everything I do and everything I dream.

– For the family with whom we will share today’s bounty of fresh food.

– For my pets. The hens that give us eggs and entertainment. Sterling, the cat, whose been with me 10 years and still likes to curl up for a cuddle in the mornings. For Sam the dog, whose good heart shows through even as his body ages. For Jake puppy who makes us laugh and entertains us with his Marmaduke tendencies.

– For the new connections I’ve made to my community, my neighbors and the foods that nourish me this year.

– For the cold weather that is making it feel like the holidays.

– For the smell of fresh baked bread and steaming pies.

– For everyone that has touched my life and left me a better person for it.

I hope that you and yours are enjoying a wonderful day of good food, meaningful conversations and fun.