Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Thanksgiving stuffing the Southern way – cornbread dressing

Thanksgiving has a knack for highlighting regional fault lines and exposing local prejudices. Consider stuffing, the holiday’s quintessential side dish. The very word invites conflict, since many Southerners call it “dressing,” whether it’s stuffed into a turkey or baked separately from the bird. But the vital controversy arises over substance: Depending on where you’re from and who your ancestors were, you might make it out of white bread, out of rice or other grains—even out of chestnuts.

In which cases you’d be sorely mistaken, because the correct way to make stuffing is out of cornbread. Cornbread is the only foundation for stuffing that provides real character

You’re Doing it Wrong: Stuffing

In my family nobody owns this sacred dish and next year I plan on making it my own.

I’m soaking up stuffing recipes like a sponge (err, like stuffing) in preparation. L.V. Anderson really sells cornbread but it may not be enough to take me away from Religious Rolls (aka my favorite bread lady at the farmers market).

Price comparison of Thanksgiving turkeys: supermarket vs humanely raised

I hate to say it, but the cost of a supermarket turkey is cheaper than ever. Here are two ads from Safeway showing that they will guarantee the lowest price.

Depending on where you sit this either the best or worst thing ever. To me it means that thousands of turkeys are created in a lab and then hormone and drug injected to survive adulthood while living in a tiny torture-cell with tens of thousands of other birds.

The next best alternative to this is the same breed of turkey but grown in humane conditions and without all the drugs. This is called free range and drug-free (hormone free, antibiotic free).

The price of these birds at Whole Foods is nearly four times more at $2.50 per pound. Instead of $7 we paid $35.

That’s quite a premium for the doing the right thing. There is definitely something wrong with a system that so heavily rewards us for doing the wrong thing.

My Family Thanksgiving 2011 – Organic, Local, and Sustainable

The Lineup

Butternut Squash Soup
Turkey
Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Bread/Rolls
Vegetables (corn on the cob)
Cranberry
Stuffing
Pumpkin/Apple Pie
Whipped Cream

Sourcing

Butternut Squash Soup: Farmers Market. Gourd. Cut in half, remove seeds, bake till a knife slides out easily. Usually 40+ minutes at 350-400. Then, remove the skin, add water, and blend. Also, consider nutmeg and cinnamon for flavor. The perfect Thanksgiving appetizer.

Turkey: Whole Foods sells Free Range, Organic, and Heritage turkeys. All are way more expensive than the $5 dollar supermarket birds, but buying a smaller bird makes it okay. Not as many leftovers but a better conscience.

Mashed Potatoes: Potatoes aplenty at the farmers market.

Bread/Rolls: Every farmers market has a bread vendor, pick your favorite and go. Ours are the Straight Eight Rolls from the Bread Gallery

Vegetables (corn on the cob): This changes every year. For this one I’m thinking corn on the cob, barbeque-d, reminds me the most of the original Thanksgiving meal.

Gravy, Cranberry, Stuffing: Unfortunately, I haven’t found a local or organic source for these items. I think it’s because they are complicated to make and they never sell cranberries at the farmers market. Have to save that for next year.

Pumpkin/Apple Pie: Yumm. Every market has these.

Whipped Cream: Milk by the glass. Every Whole Foods in the nation sells this now and so do most natural food stores. I like Straus Family Creamery from Mother’s Market.

Seafood

Knowing my Mid-Atlantic roots, I hope to one-day introduce some seafood into our Thanksgiving meal. The closer to the pilgrims and natives the better!

From Wikipedia:

“According to what traditionally is known as “The First Thanksgiving,” the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony contained turkey, waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash.”

P.S. – My 2010 post on Thanksgiving

Artificial insemination and too-fat-to-fly – the real Thanksgiving turkey

Something scary is happening in the turkey world. Our scientists and farmers have created a Frankenstein-like beast called the broad breasted white. This creature is created in a lab, through artificial insemination, and then grows fat so fast that it often cannot walk. It usually needs antibiotics to survive to be butchered.

Needless to say, it cannot fly. It can also barely walk, but it does create the biggest turkey breast you could ever imagine.

If that wasn’t enough these creatures are shoved into tight pens with thousands of other birds. All of them too fat to walk around, struggling to survive, and sometimes even injected with butter and salt.

“These birds are grown in large grow-out barns that are fully automated and may house as many as 10,000 birds.” (Wikipedia)

Why is this happening?

Profit, pure and simple. Americans want $5 turkeys and don’t care how they get it. When there is a will there is a way, and this way has been found.

The only thing I can think to say…is it worth it?

Photo credit: INSADCO Photography/Alamy

What is a Heritage Turkey?

The modern turkey (the Broad-Breasted White) has been selected generation after generation for two main traits: white meat and fast growth. The oversized breasts of the Broad-Breasted White render it incapable of flight or natural mating. As it matures, it has difficulty walking. The heritage turkey, on the other hand, is closely related to its wild ancestors; it is heartier, healthier, and capable of natural mating, running, and flying. This enables farms raising heritage turkeys to raise them without drugs. It also makes them more work to raise.

Heritage Turkeys: Worth the Cost?

 

Turkeys must meet all of the following criteria to qualify as a Heritage turkey:

1. Naturally mating: the Heritage Turkey must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating, with expected fertility rates of 70-80%. This means that turkeys marketed as “heritage” must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.

2. Long productive outdoor lifespan: the Heritage Turkey must have a long productive lifespan. Breeding hens are commonly productive for 5-7 years and breeding toms for 3-5 years. The Heritage Turkey must also have a genetic ability to withstand the environmental rigors of outdoor production systems.

3. Slow growth rate: the Heritage Turkey must have a slow to moderate rate of growth. Today’s heritage turkeys reach a marketable weight in about 28 weeks, giving the birds time to develop a strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass. This growth rate is identical to that of the commercial varieties of the first half of the 20th century.

Definition of a Heritage Turkey

 

Heritage Turkeys are the ancestors of the common Broad-breasted White industrial breed of turkey that comprises 99.99% of the supermarket turkeys sold today. But the Heritage Breeds still exist and are making a comeback.

Heritage Turkey Foundation

 

More than ten different turkey breeds are classified as heritage turkeys, including the Auburn, Buff, Black,Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Royal Palm, Slate,Standard Bronze, and Midget White.

Despite increasing interest in heritage turkeys, they are still a tiny minority, perhaps 25,000 raised annually compared to more than 200,000,000 industrial turkeys, and most heritage breeds are endangered in some respect.

Wikipedia – Heritage Turkey

photo by ExperienceLA