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Thinking Thanksgiving

Today in the United States, it’s Thanksgiving Day. All across the country, people are sitting down with their families to enjoy food and togetherness in a way that they simply don’t do at any other time of the year. I’ve often told people here in Canada that Thanksgiving in the US is “bigger than Christmas,” since the only real tenet of the holiday is giving thanks for what you have. It doesn’t matter what religion (if any) you follow – everyone has something that they can be thankful for.

To combat the homesickness that I inevitably feel on this day, I’m being thankful for what I have. I have a loving husband, a wealth of friends and family, and three great cats. I have a roof over my head, reliable transportation, a (mostly) sound mind and body, and a good job. I also have access to clean air, clean water, and enough food to eat.

Farmers' Market Haul, Sept 3 2011

But as everyone knows, not everyone in the world has enough to eat, including too many people here in Winnipeg. So as the holiday season approaches, please consider giving generously to the charities in the Winnipeg area that help those who struggle to feed themselves and their children every day. Here are just three local charities for you to consider giving to.

Winnipeg Harvest is the main food bank for Winnipeg and the surrounding area. They accept food donations at their main warehouse on Winnipeg Avenue, or at many grocery stores around the city. They maintain a list of their top ten most wanted food items on their website if you need help figuring out what food to donate. You can also donate financially at their office, on their website via CanadaHelps.org, or over the phone. As Christmas draws near, you can expect a lot of food and donation drives for Winnipeg Harvest; you can find a calendar of them on their website.

Agape Table is a secular, community-based organization that runs a number of services for the community, including free emergency meals, low-cost breakfasts and bagged lunches, and a low-cost grocery store. Agape Table does all this without receiving any money from any level of government. Instead, it relies wholly on donations. You can donate to them through their website , over the phone, or through the mail.

If you work in an office in Winnipeg, you’ve probably heard of the Christmas Cheer Board. Every year since 1919, groups around the city get together and put together a Christmas hamper for needy families. If your workplace is not sponsoring a hamper of its own, you can donate groceries and toys at a variety of sites, or make a financial donation.

As the holiday season ramps up, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to consider those who may not have as much as you. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that everyone is having a great, safe, and delicious Thanksgiving this year! We had our dinner yesterday, so today I have time to relax and tell you all about it!

Pre-dinner.

We decided to invite several friends over this year, and did a (mostly) 100-mile dinner. (“Mostly” because there was a demand for cranberry sauce, so I relented there. Also, the wine was not local, but I have an explanation for that. Most everything else came from the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, so when I say “the market” in this post, that’s what I mean.

The menu I dreamt up was big. We had a LOT of food, but that way we made sure that no one went home hungry.

Turkey
Our turkey was from Silver Bridge Farm in Landmark, MB. We ordered it back in August so that we would commit to actually doing Thanksgiving. When I put our name down, we specified a “medium” turkey. When we arrived at the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market on Saturday to pick up our turkey, they had a sign asking everyone to get as large a turkey as your roaster would fit. Our roaster could hold up to 22lbs, so we ended up with a 21.88lb turkey. I’m not sure how to show scale on this thing, but here it was before it went into the oven:

Turkey

I stuffed it with onions, sage and oregano from the market, and rosemary and parsley from our garden. That’s it. No salt, no brining, no butter under the skin… All I did was roast it upside down, breast down. It was in a 425F oven for 30 minutes, then a 325F oven for another three hours.

Now, all the calculators I’d seen said that a bird this size should take about 5 hours. But after three and a half hours it was done. Like, DONE. We called everyone in a panic and got them here quickly while the turkey rested, covered in foil and towels. When we sliced the bird, the breast meat was incredibly juicy. I am converted: turkeys go into the oven upside down from now on!

Stuffing
I made homemade stuffing. I got wild rice bread from the Bread Lady on Saturday, and chopped it up into cubes to dry overnight. Other than that, it was a basic dressing: celery and onions from the market in lots of butter, broth made from the turkey neck, some sauteed sage from the market, and parsley from the garden. It all went into a buttered casserole dish and was baked, covered, at 400F for about 40 minutes.

Potatoes
There seems to be a problem with local potatoes this year! Despite looking and looking, we could not find sweet potatoes at the market. I also wanted to do my lavender-coloured mashed potatoes just for the colourful interest, but we couldn’t find the blue potatoes either! *sigh* So, I made smashed red potatoes, which worked just fine.

Green Bean Casserole
This dish worried me, since my standard, classic green-bean casserole involves cans of cream of mushroom soup. Well, Alton Brown to the rescue! I made Alton’s from-scratch green-bean casserole with green beans from my garden, onions from the market, and mushrooms from Loveday. It was a huge success, and my husband has already requested that I make it this way from now on.

Veggies
Our veggies were corn from the market that I’d frozen earlier in the summer, and honey-glazed carrots. Both the carrots and the honey were from the market. (I used this super-simple recipe.)

Rolls and Cranberry sauce
The rolls were butterhorns from Mum’s Country Bakery in Landmark. (Incidentally, if you’ve never tried their cinnamon buns, you must!) I got both regular and multigrain, and they were both great.

The cranberry sauce… *sigh* Well, the cranberries were from Safeway. I was going to do a tart raspberry sauce using frozen raspberries from a friend’s garden this summer, but there was pouting and whining. In the interests of peace, I conceded on the sauce. My husband made a nice lemon-scented cranberry sauce with a touch of allspice.

Wine
Now, I could have gotten local wine. Manitoba has some very nice fruit wines that we could have used. But while we were back home visiting my family earlier this year, we picked up a bottle of Pink Catawba from Heineman’s Winery in Put-in-Bay, Ohio. It was a bit sweeter than I like, but everyone else seemed to like it.

Pumpkin Pie
I am blessed with a husband who makes the most amazing pumpkin pie. He starts with a sugar pumpkin, roasts it, purees it, makes the crust, and bakes them all together. Mmm.

Pie

So, that was our dinner! We have an obscene amount of leftovers (including 8lbs of turkey – we weighed it!), so tomorrow I think I’ll be making some turkey pot pies to freeze.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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