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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Dinner: A Traditional Thanksgiving Feast?

If you've read any of our recent holiday entries, you will have noticed that we partake in a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and then a vegetarian feast the day after. So, on Christmas Day, Andy doesn't miss the annual opportunity to make a sustainable Thanksgiving dinner. This year, we threw the cookbooks out, called family members to get recipes, and opened our refrigerator and cupboard in a vow to try to buy very little but the actual turkey itself.

After our "research," our menu consisted of the following:

  • Cheese from our CSA box and crackers
  • Canned Pepper Jelly, cream cheese, and crackers
  • Irish cream/mimosas/red wine

  • Turkey
  • Mashed Roots
  • Mushroom Gravy
  • Stuffing
  • Buttered Beets
  • Cranberry Relish
  • A bottle of a big hearty Zinfandel (or two!)
  • Andy's dad's peanut clusters and coffee
Preparing this year's dinner made me truly thankful for our CSA. Having prepaid for our CSA box, we had to spend very little money other than for our turkey, crackers, some of the ingredients for drinks and the actual alcohol itself. We bought our turkey from a local farm, which helped the screaming, animal rights vegetarian within me to find a bit of peace with the soon-to-be cooking bird inside my home. Buying our food from local sources insures our money is going into the hands of the farmer and his workers. Plus the animals are allowed to walk and frolic for much of their lives as animals should, no matter what the end result. What a great holiday feeling for all involved!

Now for the recipes:

To make the turkey, Andy used the Poquette Thanksgiving turkey as a model. The night before, he soaked the turkey in the following brine:

2 cups salt
2 cups sugar
various herbs and spices (typically sage, thyme, oregano, pepper, etc.)
enough water to cover the bird

He submersed the bird in the brine inside of a cooler for 10 hours. The recommended time frame is 8-12 hours.

The next day, he stuffed our 12 lb. bird and put it in the oven for roughly 3.5 hours at 350 degrees. Obviously depending on the size of your bird, that might change. To check if the bird is done, either use a meat thermometer to be sure the coldest part of the turkey is at a minimum of 165 degrees and/or (Andy and my mom's favorite method) lift and twist a leg ~ if it pulls away from the bird with ease, it's done.

And now for everyone's favorite: the stuffing! Andy L.O.V.E.S. his dad's traditional stuffing, so there was no question as to where we'd get the recipe. Now this recipe might take some interpretation based on your culinary abilities, but who am I to alter the words of a family tradition? Here is the recipe, word-for-word as given to us, and I quote:

Simmer giblets in crock pot overnight with onion, celery, garlic, whatever-
Peel off neck meat. Put in processor with other giblet stuff and chop.
Sage and Onion
bread cubes



apple-slice beer

Andy took the liberty of adding some leftover, stale cornbread, but other than that, pretty much followed the recipe "step-by-step." To make both vegetarian and regular stuffing, he simply combined all ingredients first and then added the turkey parts to just a portion, which later was stuffed into the turkey.

We didn't have any potatoes left in the house, so we decided to botch the myth that potatoes are necessary for a holiday feast and made mashed roots instead. They were so delicious!!!

Mashed Roots
cream cheese
Any amount of any of the following roots will suffice:

Peel and chop roots. Boil until tender. Drain water. Mash roots with cream cheese, milk, butter, and salt until desired consistency. We topped this off with gravy, but it was magnificently delicious on its own as well.

Buttered Beets
salt and pepper

Scrub beets clean. Boil beets until tender. Then slice off the ends and discard. Cut beets into bite-sized pieces. Serve with butter, salt and pepper. So simple, yet so very good!

Finally, the cranberry relish. My intention was to mimic the yummy raw cranberry salad from our Thanksgiving dinner at the Poquettes, but unfortunately, I didn't read Uncle Jim's recipe until Christmas Day... I was supposed to have made it the night before and refrigerated it. Oops! Next year, I guess. So, I threw together what I could. It turned out sweetly tart and tasty.

Cranberry Relish
1 pint cranberries
1 cup of orange juice
1.5 cups sugar
1 two-inch pieced of thinly sliced ginger
1 cup water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the orange juice and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the cranberries, cinnamon, and cloves and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Serve.

What a feast!


  1. Sounds and looks yummy! The only thing missing were the guests!

  2. Looks great! Happy New Year, Darcy & Andy!

  3. Thanks for the feedback! Hope you all have a wonderful 2010!