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Just the words “Thanksgiving dinner” can strike fear into the hearts of the “kitchen challenged.” After all, there are romantic images of beautiful crispy brown turkeys, delicate pastry, and robust gravies and sauces plastered across the walls in nearly every supermarket, spread throughout those “women’s magazines” (thanks to Oprah and Martha), and flashing on TV.
You, yes, you, the one with the apron – while that’s historically been the woman of the house, it’s more and more often the man – time to step up and lay out that spread. OK, let’s take a breather and talk turkey here… (sorry).
You have choices! You can go all Martha Stewart on us and do it from scratch, you can supplement with a few prepared items from your favorite market, or you can let someone like the in-house chef at Seattle’s Whole Foods Market – Interbay, do it for you.
You’re ready; it will be a do-it-yourself holiday – so what to make? Turkey or not turkey, that is the question. Let’s face it, about 88 million people will eat turkey this Thanksgiving, that’s about 46 million birds.
All turkeys – wild turkeys and the broad-breasted white or the dozen or so “heritage” breeds grown domestically today – are the same species (Meleagris gallopavo). Farmers produce nearly 250 million turkeys every year of all kinds for the American table; 99.9% of those are the broad-breasted white breed sold in supermarkets across the country.
Around 25,000 heritage breed turkeys are raised on small farms and sold directly to consumers or through specialty markets. And if you live in Wisconsin or Minnesota, you are just as likely to have a wild turkey on your dinner table as a heritage bird.
While those heritage birds can be expensive – $170 for a Thanksgiving Turkey? You’ve Got to Be Kidding! – let’s not even talk about the real cost of those wild turkey hunting expeditions, OK?
“Not turkey” the choice in your household? Don’t worry, Ina’s in the kitchen and she’s got you covered: Ina’s Unmeatloaf.
Time for dessert! So what’s the most popular pie for dessert? Yes, Virginia, it’s pumpkin pie… but a close second is apple. Good, old fashioned, homemade apple pie! And just because you are forgoing gluten, that doesn’t mean you can’t have pie. Here’s our favorite recipe for Gluten-Free Apple Crostata.
Bring everyone into the project, don’t try to do this alone. Thanksgiving dinner should not only be eaten with family and friends, but cooked (and baked) with them too!
You’ve more ambition than energy, so now is the time to bring in a little help. Roast that turkey or bake that pie, but top it off with the extras like Whole Foods’ crème fraiche mashed cauliflower or mini kale cakes. Both are amazing – trust me, I’ve tried them! I’ve also noshed on Whole Food’s house-made spiced nuts – great chopped on a big mixed salad.
On the other hand, why not mix up some Red Kraut Cranberry Sauce made with Firefly Kitchens Ruby Red Kraut? A great combination of red cabbage, beet, and carrot sauerkraut, and cranberries, ginger, and orange juice that takes just 10 minutes to make. The recipe is in the new Firefly Kitchens cookbook: Fresh & Fermented, available here.
Then slip a lovely “pre-baked” pumpkin pie in the oven to warm up and no one will be the wiser.
By the way, save the brine from the kraut and add a shot glass full to a Bloody Mary for a nice bit of zip. Or just drink it straight – it’s tasty and healthy and full of probiotics and antioxidants.
Bring It In
If this shopping-baking-cooking-cleaning thing is just not on your list this year, let the professionals make Thanksgiving yummy and stress-free for you! Chef Anne from our neighborhood Whole Foods Market, will be turning out traditional – and not so traditional – Thanksgiving dinners for the next few days by the hundreds. There’s a “Chef Anne” at your Whole Foods too, although your chef just might go by the name “Chef Andrew.”
You can order anything from a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings – mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberries, stuffing, and pumpkin pie – to a vegan feast anchored by Field Roast’s Wild Rice, Cranberry Fig Roast. Now THAT sounds amazing!
The good news: “in house” products are scratch-made of nutrient-rich whole foods, mostly plant-based. Let Chef Anne make dinner for you, then sit back and enjoy it with your family and friends. And the best part? You will have leftovers, so scroll down and get our advice on how to make your leftovers lively.
Sources and Resources
- Holiday Baking on a Budget
- Gluten-Free Apple Crostata
- Ina’s Unmeatloaf
- Kate’s in the Kitchen: It’s All About Bread
- Brussels Sprouts: My Affair with Unpopular Produce, Episode 3
- My Affair with Unpopular Produce, Episode 2: Parsnips
- Lively Leftovers
- Thanksgiving – Give Thanks for Your Local Farmer
- $170 for a Thanksgiving Turkey? You’ve Got to Be Kidding!
- Thanksgiving by the numbers
Photo credit – Thanksgiving Table: Mr.TinDC (used with permission under Creative Commons license)
Full disclosure: Whole Foods Market – Interbay, Seattle, launched its holiday season offering with a special media event where we were guests. We were not compensated for our coverage.