Thanksgiving Feastby Chrysa Smith

So much to do. So little time. So let me be the first to wish you a very happy, healthy and tasty Thanksgiving. There. Now you can get on with your holiday activities.

There’s the planning for the table landscape, selecting a menu, inviting the guests (well, hopefully you’ve done that part already), shopping for food and of course, all of the decisions about your gobbler.

This is one of the nicest times of the year exactly because we want to make everything special— warming the house by turning up the thermostat or putting another log on the fire. Lighting candles to add light to a slowly dulling landscape. Trimming the mantel, tabletops and vases with branches, leaves and berries. And preparing the meal of the year, with seasonal ingredients and the infamous gobbler that make your guests imagine you to be the next Martha Stewart.

Of course with that comes pressure, but that’s nothing new. We experience that constantly with deadlines, family discord, awkward moments with friends, illness—-well you know the drill all too well. So instead of jabbering on about slowing down, breathing, meditating, inviting the divine healing spirits into your soul, let’s talk turkey.

Fresh or frozen? Roasted or Smoked? Grocery brand or fresh? Basted or all natural? Brined? Covered in basted cheesecloth or bare naked? Yep, did you even realize you were making all of these decisions, did you?

One thing we know is that turkey, regardless of fresh or frozen, mass-produced or from a boutique farm, tends to be one of the drier meats. There’s not much fat content in there, thus the tendency to brine, baste, smother in butter, douse with wine, cover with barbeque sauce (although to me, that seems sacreligous on a Puritan based holiday, except in the deep south). So I tend to baste the turkey with one of my favorite fats—butter. I have soaked cheesecloth in melted butter and dressed the turkey with it. It adds flavor, moisture and lots of fat—yum, yum, yum (hey, it’s just one day). This year, I’m experimenting with a truly natural bird. I’ve purchased ‘all natural’ birds from the Whole Foods Market before, and quite honestly, didn’t see any dramatic difference. So now, I’ve gone straight to the farm, where the birds were hatched, raised on natural feed and sorry to say, butchered. Folks around here claim it’s ‘the place’ to go. So, I’ll get the butter and cheesecloth ready for basting and roasting and keep you foodies posted.

As for gravy, the hard cores make their own from the turkey drippings, seasonings and thickening agents, but I like to cheat. I head to the organic section and pick up a couple of packages of Simply Organic turkey gravy mix. It’s healthy, so I like to diminish that just a tad, by adding some of the drippings into it. And it’s done in a flash—no lumps to worry about. You can find it near the Knorr soup packages or in the organic aisle.

However, wherever, whenever you celebrate, may your fowl be as wonderful as time spent with uplifting family and good friends.