I was never sure about this Thanksgiving. All along I’d imagined a big, warm gathering, our first Thanksgiving in our new home. I could see and feel it, even when reality kept blocking the view.
Then one September Saturday morning, as we walked through the Wrightstown Farmer’s Market, we took the plunge and put down a deposit on a “happy turkey,” a free range turkey from The Happy Farm in Kintersville. Along the lines of, if you order it, they will come, I guess. At the time we had no guests or plans. But we were hopeful. And then Mark’s sister and family said they would come down from Boston. With my parents, and Mark’s cousin, Ruthie, that would make ten. We also kept inviting people – who weren’t sure if they could, or not, maybe, depending on…
A few weeks later I read an article about a Thanksgiving meal made of all locally grown and bought ingredients. Well, that shouldn’t be too difficult here, I thought. Mark and I had been talking about starting Bucks County Taste; this could be my first blog post. And now we had guests. I was set (just give me a goal). On to the menu.
Ah yes. Next challenge. In the beginning of November we decided it was time to shed a few pounds. Well, more than a few. Mark has had success on Atkins, so we started doing it. How was this going to impact my Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving? Hmmn. No stuffing, no sweet potatoes, no yummy desserts. And, in all fairness, could we really impose this on our family and friends? “Yes we can” seemed an appropriate phrase. Oh, it won’t be so bad.
For starters, some cheeses. Some locally bought, one even locally made – Makefield cheese from Ely Farm Products on Woodhill Road, a firm, slightly sweet, gruyere-like cheese, aged 8 months. Ely’s is better known for its meats, but do try their homemade cheeses. Then from Altomonte’s in Doylestown (and Warminster) some Bel Paese and Testadura. And, finally, from Wegmans, a medium Brie.
For a first course, one of my favorite salads, Greens with Roasted Beets and Chevre Cheese with a light lemon vinaigrette. I bought the organic micro greens from Blue Moon Acres in Buckingham, on Rt. 413. While most of Blue Moon Acres’ business is wholesale, lucky for us Bucks County locavores they sell to the public Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 – 4 pm. I chose their Citrus Blend, a mixture of sorrel and lemon balm. The beets were bought at the Wrightstown Farmer’s Market the Saturday before Thanksgiving and roasted a few days before . The chevre-style cheese (made from cow milk) was seasoned with fresh mixed herbs, sea salt and marigolds. It was made at Flint Hill Farm in Coopersburg, and also purchased at the farmer’s market.
Just as the menu was starting to come together, the first bump came. The Boston family was not coming. Yikes. We were down to five people – who we all love dearly, don’t get me wrong – and we’d ordered a 15 lb. plus turkey . But I still had that image in my head. Confident something would come up, I charged ahead, collecting my ingredients.
Side dishes. Looking for low carb recipes, I found this gem. Roasted spaghetti squash mixed with a garlic-sage cream sauce. The squash was also bought at the farmer’s market (if you can’t find local squash this time of year, you’re really not trying). The cream came from Tanner Brothers Dairy Farm Market in Ivyland. And the sage…from my very local backyard. The other sides were brought by friends and family – my mom’s traditional green bean casserole, Ruthie’s cranberry chutney, and Sally’s exquisite challah and pineapple stuffing. See? I didn’t deny my guests all the sugar and carbs.
Let’s talk turkey. This I was nervous about. I guess I’ve made turkey before, but this felt like the first time (can you become a virgin again?). I collected turkey wisdom from far and wide. My sister, Lisa, in England swears by cooking the turkey breast down for the first hour. Rob, my brother, and a former professional chef, provided supervision and hand-holding from California. And, last but not least, our good friend, Mada, who pointed me to Alton Brown’s great brining recipe and suggested basting the turkey with bourbon, honey and garlic powder. My gracious thanks to all. The bird came out beautifully.
But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. By the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I had all my ingredients bought, my recipes spread out on the kitchen counter and my timetable written out (okay, so I’m a little obsessive). Still, only five due for dinner. And then Tuesday night, Mark comes down with a stomach virus. My mother threatens not to come on Thursday, wanting to shelter my father from catching it. After some serious pouting on my part, we agree to postpone Thanksgiving dinner to Sunday. Can you do that? I mean, is it still Thanksgiving? Or just a turkey dinner? Hmmpf.
Readjusting my carefully laid out schedule (scratch “Thursday”; write in “Sunday”), I brined the turkey Saturday night. But by Sunday morning I was in a funk. I just couldn’t get excited. Where was my Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving? My sensitive and helpful husband suggested calling around to our friends to see if they wanted to come over. Here was the pitch: “We’re making Thanksgiving dinner today. You don’t need to bring anything; just yourself. Wanna come?” To our surprise, both Sally and Arnie, and Deb and Clay, said, “Sure! What time?” without hesitation.
So by 3:30 pm, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, we had a roaring fire in the fireplace, good red wine flowing, and a full house. We sat down to a table of nine, with one terrier roaming around. The turkey was perfect (not dry!), the food mostly local and tasty, and the warmth from our family and friends delightful. Our first Thanksgiving in Wycombe, and a great deal to be thankful for.
Do you have a favorite farm market or local Bucks County food source? Leave us a comment and we’ll check it out.
Altomonte’s, Warminster and Doylestown
Blue Moon Acres, Buckingham
Ely Farm Products, Newtown
Flint Hill Farm, Coopersburg
The Happy Farm, Kintersville
Tanner Brothers Dairy Farm Market, Ivyland
Wrightstown Farmer’s Market, Wrightstown
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