Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankfulness in the Kitchen: Free Range Turkey for Dinner

So many, many things to be thankful for this November night. Seasonal blessings and farmyard bounty brought to the kitchen and shared at the mealtime table sit high on the list. (As does the annual Cranberry Apple Chutney; see recipe below.) The 2009 Food Groups, Farm Finds, and delicious celebrations of nourishment and life have urged my heart to praise a Creator who so intricately designed a system of sustenance, renewal, and the joy of harvesting the delicious fruits of labor...

The story of this year's heritage Thanksgiving turkey began many months ago when, Genevieve, our raw milk source, informed me that they would be raising free range fowl on their farm... I placed my order right there on the spot, and over the course of the spring and summer, I returned and found the little ones growing into mighty fine birds. (Benjamin Franklin would have been proud.)

When this afternoon's table was set and the turkey served up alongside the traditional holiday fare, my thankfulness extended toward our friendly farmers who raised the bird, the sun and rain that grew the grass, the soil that (temporarily) hosted the grubs before they became a turkey snack...and ultimately, the One who first placed us in a garden and called all things good...

A Turkey Year in Review
Visiting the little guys early on...
We didn't choose any one turkey in particular (nor were there names involved!)...but collectively they were a hilarious sight to behold.
A genuine "Spring Chicken"
And oh, the funny sight of adolescent geese.
They reminded me of me at thirteen.
But there must be hope:
A return in the late summer revealed elegant, graceful birds in place of the original gangly, awkward flock...
Pokrov Farm
Sandy, Oregon
And here, the turkeys have reached their awkward adolescence. Spring Chicken no more...
Autumn came, and came to a close...likewise the turkey's life of free ranging on the farm. However, I am grateful to know that the end came not at the expense of a quality life for the bird; respect for Creation and care of living things go hand in hand with the the thankfulness for the nourishment they provide. I can't explain the silly excitement in my chest when I carried the butcher paper wrapped turkey out to the car the night that Ted and I drove to the farm to make the pick-up. A short two weeks later, we celebrated!
Thank you to my father in law, Dave, for his delicious brining and masterful grilling on the Traeger , and thanks to my husband, Ted, for the carving skills... I can't wait to report back on the turkey stock magic I plan to work tomorrow...


Cranberry Apple Chutney
(From the Williamsburg Manor Bed and Breakfast)

1 lb. fresh cranberries
1 C. sugar
1/4 C. red wine vinegar
1/3 C. sugar
1//2 t. cloves
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
1 C. water
2 green apples
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. cinnamon
1 T. grated ginger

In a saucepan, combine the cranberries and one cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Peel, core, and cube the apples and place them in another saucepan along with the vinegar, lemon juice, 1/3 C. sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and walnuts. Lightly cook the mixture until the apples are soft.

Combine the apple and cranberry mixtures and allow to cool. Refrigerate.

My leftover food for thought: I love using the extras on turkey sandwiches...but best of all is this: spread heaping spoonfuls over a wedge of brie, crumble brown sugar around the sides, and broil until it's just the right texture for spreading on apple slices or bread... Mmm. Heaven!



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