I suppose it goes without say that we are in search of things to be thankful for. It’s been a tough year and a half. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving draws our attention to the harvest, to nature’s perennial gifts and to joining together in celebration. I think Thanksgiving meals are the most wonderful meals. Whatever is left in the garden gets onto the table in some form and the pantry gets raided for many accompaniments.
I buy my turkey from Spirit Walk Farm in Maxwell. Marg is at the Flesherton market on Saturdays. She and her husband are primarily sheep farmers, but they also have turkey, duck and chicken. It’s so nice to support local farmers, to know from where your food comes and to enjoy the freshest products. Marg also makes beautiful wool and is a darn good baker as well!
To season or accompany the bird, my garden is still full of beets, leeks, potatoes, chard, squash, peppers, arugula, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs. What’s not to love about bringing it all together on the Thanksgiving table?
I know there are probably as many stuffing recipes as there are households, but I am a fan of a simple onion-sage bread stuffing. A day-old loaf of bread cubed, lots of butter to sweat a large sweet onion diced and about four tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or four teaspoons dry sage with salt and pepper to taste. Simple and delicious.
From the pantry, I have gooseberry jelly, apple-cider cinnamon jelly, cranberry sauce and new this fall is a cranberry-apple-pear relish with Grand Marnier! I found this recipe in the preserving book by Canadians Topp & Howard (available through Indigo). It’s a simple combination of the three fruits, raisins, sugar, orange juice & zested rind, cinnamon and nutmeg with the liqueur added at the end. I notice that the Ball preserving book has basically the same recipe but calls it a “pie filling”. They also suggest its use on top of baked brie. For the day-after, cold turkey sandwiches with Cranberry Mostarda are excellent.
This leaves us at dessert. Typical to the Thanksgiving dinner is a pumpkin or apple pie, or possibly a crisp. To be honest, I’m always so full, so I generally don’t enjoy the indulgence. For me, my hands-down favorite fall dessert is Caramelized Pears by Canadian Trish Magwood (2007). Pears are halved and cored and then lightly cooked i(10 Min) in a frying pan with 2 TBSP each or butter and honey, ½ vanilla bean, 2 star anise, 2 cardamon pods and ½ a stick of cinnamon & ¼ tsp nutmeg. Add 2 TBSP brown sugar and 4 tsp lemon juice. It creates a beautiful, flavourful sauce to drizzle of the pears. Trish adds a mascarpone cream but I never do. Simple is good. If you need to, add a small scoop of ice cream in the middle of the pear and ladle the sauce over. Traditional or non-traditional, a little sweet at the end is just so tantalizing.
Thanksgiving is around the corner. Enjoy your traditions, family and friends, and a great walk on the trails to witness the colourful wonders of the Fall season. With thanks.
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