The pilgrims did it, so why can’t we? I’ll tell you why. Because it’s laborious, it’s costly, and I won’t be able to find exactly what I want.
Those are the canned responses I usually get in response to eating locally, but just for a minute, detach yourself from your lifelong addiction to preservative-laden pre-made pie-crusts (made to stay “fresh” for years upon end) and trans-fat-filled Mrs. Smith’s Apple Pie (4 grams, i.e. over a week’s worth, in one slice!), and eat pecans that fell off a tree last week, 20 miles down the road.
Obliterating the chemicals and preservatives from your food will leave you with only more energy, a healthier immune system, better skin, and a more positive demeanor.
Why Eating Local Is Better
Eating local is better for you, and it’s better for our environment. The closer you are to the origin of your food, the less it had to travel to get to you. Eating local has many benefits:
- Supporting our local economy
- Enjoying fresher produce
- Keeping produce longer – local produce has longer to ripen
- Preserving our air – the miles that organic food usually travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic, as shown by this March 2005 study
- Protecting us from food-borne disease – less distance from farm to table means less chance for disease
I think local might be a long-term partner of mine now. We’ve passed the lusty obsessive phase and have seen each other with ratty hair and bad morning breath…and we’re still together.
Recipes for a Local Thanksgiving
As for Thanksgiving, there are many options and resources for eating local. The following are recipes for a complete Thanksgiving dinner for 8 – with (almost) all local ingredients, from a distance of 100 miles or less. So get out to the Farmers’ Market, meet new people, learn about your food, and provide your family or friends with a nutritious, tasty Thanksgiving meal.
For more great recipes, visit my blog at saltimbocca.wordpress.com.
Notes for ingredient sources:
- AFM: Austin Farmers’ Market (Wednesday 4-8 at the Triangle, or Saturday, 9-1 at Republic Square)
- WFM: Whole Foods Market
- BF: Bikkurum Farm (Wednesday 4-8 at the Texan Market on Amherst [1 mile from NI!], or Saturday, 9-1 at the Texan Market)
- NL: Not local (most of these ingredients could be omitted!)
Pumpkin Pie Martini1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 T. sugar (Imperial – not within 100 miles, but it’s within 200!)
1/2 oz heavy cream (Sand Creek Farms)
2 oz vodka (Tito’s)
1/2 oz pumpkin liqueur or pumpkin spice syrup (NL)
1 T. simple syrup (Imperial)
1 tsp whipped cream (Sand Creek Farms)
cinnamon stick for garnish (NL)
Mix sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Rim glasses.
Pour cream and vodka into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Add the pumpkin liqueur or syrup. Shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with a teaspoon of whipped cream. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Adapted from Gourmet
2 heads garlic (3 inches wide) (BF)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (NL)
6 (4-inch) sprigs fresh thyme (Specialized Plants, AFM)
3 (4-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary (Specialized Plants, AFM)
1/2 teaspoon salt (NL)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (NL)
8 tortillas (Maria’s, WFM)
Extra olive oil (NL)
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
Cut off and discard 1/2 inch from tops of garlic heads, exposing cloves. Put garlic in a pie plate with oil, herbs, salt, and pepper and cover plate tightly with a double layer of foil. Roast until garlic is golden and tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Cut tortillas into 8 slices each. Brush them with olive oil and bake 12 minutes at 450 or until browned.
When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves into a bowl and pour oil through a fine-mesh sieve onto garlic. Mash well with a fork and season with salt.
2 bunches Swiss chard (Buena Tierra Farm, AFM)
1 cup fresh Gouda cheese (Sand Creek Farms)
1 T. butter (Sand Creek Farms)
1/2 cup sugar (Imperial)
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup pecan halves (about 3 ounces) (AustinNuts)
Line baking sheet with foil; Butter lightly. Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with pastry brush dipped in water and swirling pan, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in pecans. Quickly pour mixture out onto prepared baking sheet. Working quickly and using 2 forks, separate pecans into individual halves. Cool completely. Break candied pecans apart, leaving each pecan half intact with some candied caramel attached. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)
Wash and stem Swiss chard, divide among 8 plates. Top each with 2 T. cheese and pecans.
Adapted from Gourmet
1 (12-to 14-pound) turkey at room temperature 1 hour, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for turkey stock (White Egret Farms)
6 ounces butter, softened, divided (Sand Creek Farms)
3 cups water, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onions (Sand Creek Farms)
4 cups hot classic turkey stock (see recipe below)
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (NL)
Equipment: kitchen string; a 17-by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan with a flat rack; a 2-quart measuring cup or a fat separator
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third.
Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Working from large cavity end, gently run your fingers between skin and meat to loosen skin, being careful not to tear skin. Push two thirds of butter (4 ounces) under skin, including thighs and drumsticks, and massage skin from outside to spread butter evenly. Mix 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly in turkey cavities and all over skin. Fold neck skin under body, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with string.
Put turkey on rack in roasting pan and pour in 2 cups water. Roast, rotating pan 180 degrees after 1 hour of roasting and adding remaining cup water, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (test both; close to but not touching bone) registers 170°F, 1 3/4 to 2 hours total.
Carefully tilt turkey so juices from inside large cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to a platter and let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 175 to 180°F). Discard string.
Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into 2-quart measuring cup and skim off fat (or use a fat separator), reserving fat. Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners and cook shallots in 1/4 cup reserved fat over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add wine and boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until mixture is reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add enough turkey stock to reserved pan juices to bring total to 4 cups, then add to wine mixture and bring to a boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-to 3-quarts heavy saucepan, pressing on and then discarding solids, and bring to a boil.
Mix flour with remaining 2 ounces butter to make a paste, then add to boiling sauce, whisking until thickened. Simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve turkey with this gravy.
Adapted from Gourmet
*Stock can be made 3 days ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Discard any solidified fat.
Neck and giblets (excluding liver) from a turkey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (NL)
1 large onion, quartered (Sand Creek Farms)
10 cups water
1 celery rib, sliced (Buena Tierra Farm, AFM)
1 carrot, sliced (Buena Tierra Farm, AFM)
Greens from 1 leek (optional), coarsely chopped (Buena Tierra Farm, AFM)
3 parsley sprigs (Specialized Plants, AFM)
3 thyme sprigs (Specialized Plants, AFM)
Pat neck and giblets dry, then cut neck into pieces with a large knife.
Heat oil in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook neck, giblets, and onion, turning occasionally, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, then simmer, partially covered, skimming any froth, 2 hours.
Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids. If more than 5 cups, boil to reduce.
*adapted from Bon Appetit
1 pound applewood-smoked bacon slices, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups) (Sand Creek Farms)
2 3/4 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth, divided (Sand Creek Farms)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (Sand Creek Farms)
4 cups finely chopped onions (Sand Creek Farms)
6 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled cored sweet-tart apples
2 cups finely chopped fresh fennel bulbs
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (BF)
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (NL)
3 large eggs, beaten to blend (Sand Creek Farms)
2/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided (Specialized Plants, AFM)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread bread cubes on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Toast until light golden and crisp around edges, about 20 minutes. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine bacon and 4 cups water in large saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.
Drain, discarding liquid. Place bacon in large roasting pan. Pour 2 cups chicken broth over. Roast until broth evaporates and bacon begins to crisp around edges, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 cup water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until water evaporates, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until onions are soft, about 5 minutes longer.
Remove roasting pan with bacon from oven; reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Mix cooked onions, apples, and fennel into bacon in roasting pan. Roast until apples and all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store toasted bread in large resealable plastic bags. Chill bacon-apple mixture uncovered until cool, then cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2- inch glass baking dish. Combine toasted bread, 3/4 cup chicken broth, and bacon/apple mixture in very large bowl. Mix in 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix in eggs, then 1/2 cup parsley. Add more chicken broth by 1/4 cupfuls if mixture is dry. Transfer to prepared dish. Cover dish with buttered foil; bake 35 minutes. Uncover; bake until top is browned, about 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Adapted from Gourmet
3/4 cup heavy cream (Sand Creek Farms)
3 sage leaves (Specialized Plants, AFM)
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
Toss squash with cream, sage, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Bake, covered, 30 minutes.
Stir in half of cheese and sprinkle remainder on top. Roast, uncovered, until squash is tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving (cream will thicken).
Adapted from Bon Appetit
(Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter (Sand Creek Farms)
3 pounds small carrots (5 to 6 inches long), peeled, trimmed (Naegelin Farm, AFM)
2 tablespoons honey, divided (Local Wildflower Honey, WFM)
1/2 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt (NL)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided (Specialized Plants, AFM)
Melt butter in heavy extra-large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt; sauté until carrots are coated with butter mixture, about 1 minute. Add 4 tablespoons white wine and enough water to almost cover carrots (about 4 cups) and bring to boil. Cover and boil 2 minutes. Uncover and boil until liquid is reduced to syrup and carrots are tender, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon honey and 2 tablespoons wine to carrots and toss over medium-high heat until carrots are heated through and thickly coated with glaze, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon parsley. Season carrots to taste with more coarse salt and generous amount of ground black pepper. Transfer carrots to large bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and serve.
3 extra large eggs, slightly beaten (Sand Creek Farms)
3 c sugar (Imperial)
2 T butter, melted (Sand Creek Farms)
1/4 c Whiskey (NL)
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (Innocent Chocolate)
1 c whole pecans (AustinNuts)
1 cup cream (Sand Creek Farms)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
Boil 2 c. sugar and 1 cup water until sugar has dissolved, forming syrup.
Combine eggs, sugar, butter, syrup, and whiskey. Mix well. Sprinkle most of the chips over bottom of an 8×8 pan. Cover with pecans. Pour filling over chips and pecans. Sprinkle top with remaining chips.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and the edge comes out slightly gooey [chips sprinkled on top will make this difficult — they melt.]
Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar, whip again to medium peaks.
Scoop pie into bowls and top with fresh whipped cream.