So Thanksgiving has come and gone in Canada. What a wonderful weekend. It was beautiful. Cool nights, days warm enough for long sleeves and no jackets, autumn colours, lots to do… and food. Good, good food.
An annual favourite of mine, after sampling all of the treats in the food tent at a local craft show, is freshly made apple fritters. Teens sat around a cauldron, dipping gloved handfuls of apple chunks into batter before carefully lowering them into the boiling oil. They are dusted (doused) in powdered sugar and served up fresh and hot. A real autumn treat, to be sure!
During our Thanksgiving dinner, we encouraged the kids to think about what they were thankful for. We talked about how wonderful the summer has been for playgrounds. We’ve been to so many. I have lost count. From here to Toronto and back again. And even this weekend we were cramming in more visits, in the slim moments of daylight between dinner and darkness.
We also talked about the harvest around here, which was amazing this year. Such abundance of everything! We bought local corn on the cob and strawberries – STRAWBERRIES – this weekend. Apples have not only recovered from last year’s disaster, they’ve made up for it. Everything was incredible this year, it seemed. We have had so much to be thankful for this year. I want our kids to grow up understanding the link between what they are able to enjoy and the work that others put in to enable them to enjoy it. We shop locally as much as possible, bringing the kids to farms and farm stands, letting them see what’s available through the local food co-op… It’s a connection that matters to me very much. We owe a lot to people who are seldom seen, but who provide the things that we are so thankful for.
The main event
(I apologize now for the lack of photos – we were too busy eating to take any) We don’t do a big family thing for Thanksgiving. It’s just the four of us. But I still love to prep many things ahead of time. Some integral to a proper Thanksgiving dinner, some for fun. In the week leading up to our dinner, I made pumpkin pickles, cranberry sauce, dulce de leche ice cream base, and sausage stuffing. We picked up our fresh, drug-free turkey on Thursday and I dry brined it with Hawaiian red salt, which left a pretty colour on it.
Our side dishes are simple. Garlic mashed potatoes and carrots, fresh green beans, roasted golden beets… When food is fresh and good, it needs little prep. And honestly, the point of me doing so much in advance is so I have less to do the afternoon of the big meal.
And as so many know, sometimes the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers. I made a hash of sorts with some of the turkey and all of the stuffing. We had it with the above mentioned corn on the cob on Monday. Yum!
Yesterday afternoon I made a soup for hubby to take for lunches the rest of the week. I haven’t used the turkey bones for stock yet, so I cobbled this together with what I had. It’s not a recipe, per se, but a list of suggestions that worked for me. Adjust the flavours to your taste.
Leftover Turkey Soup
I call this “leftover soup” not just because it has leftover turkey, but because it has a lot of the leftovers in it. Beer, cranberry sauce, gravy… had there been leftover veggies I would have added them too.
I started with a roux of butter and flour in a medium sized saucepan. A little more butter than flour, because once it was ready, I added some chopped celery, onions and yellow pepper. They got friendly for a bit before I added about 1/3 cup of leftover beer. Wine would be fine, too. I added a little water to keep it from getting too thick.
In went the leftover gravy. About 2 cups. And enough water to thin it all to soup consistency (I would have used stock if I had some). Then I added about a quarter cup of barbecue sauce, a dash of smoked paprika and a little ancho chili powder. Flavour it the way you like. Curry, tex-mex, Asian… I wanted something different from the Thanksgiving flavours we’d had the past couple of days.
I stirred in some leftover diced dark turkey meat, a couple spoonfuls of cranberry sauce and a brown basmati and wild rice blend. It simmered for a while to get the rice tender and it was done. I tossed in some frozen peas at that point and put it into mason jars for hubby to take for lunch. Easy peasy, and warming for the cooling days ahead. I think I got about 6 cups or so altogether. This can be scaled up or down as needed, and would freeze well.
Shifting gears – but not really
Today is World Food Day. I don’t want this to be a side note or afterthought, as I see it tying in quite well with thankfulness and abundance. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, some 852 million people in developing countries were undernourished in 2010-2012. That’s just in developing countries! In Canada, food insecurity isn’t exactly a foreign issue either. 1 in 8 households live with “insufficient access to safe and nutritious food that meets dietary needs for a healthy life.” Every year we direct money that we’d otherwise spend on “stuff” gifts at Christmas (you know, the meaningless extra “stuff” you buy because you’re supposed to) to a charity. This year I’m looking at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and I encourage each of you to look into where you can meet needs, if you’re able, and give. Locally, nationally or globally. Hunger is everywhere.