Thank you once again to my holiday-guest post-extraordinaire, Barb!
The holiday season is upon us and a large portion of thought goes into the meals. For the last six years or so, I've had a hard time simply trying to weed the MSG out of the foods I consume – it triggers horrible migraines and some stomach upset if I eat even one Dorito. When it came to holiday meals, that task seemed impossible and a great inconvenience to family members helping to prepare the meal, or other family members that had invited me over only to find that I couldn't eat anything. Then about four years ago, we began our transition to Real Food…
Holidays were a time of intense disappointment and discouragement for me.
Between high fructose corn syrup in even the croutons used for stuffing, MSG in just about everything – gravy/mix, broth for the stuffing, in the mushroom soup used for the casserole, and all of the other crap ingredients in the typical processed holiday fare, it just seemed I couldn't win. It was overwhelming and a source of stress and tension, especially between my parents, in-laws and I. People have created new traditions, and new versions of old traditions, and just about any suggestion that may alter those traditions is generally seen as a threat. I get that and can respect it.
Last year, everything changed for me in the way we celebrate the holidays with family.
We chose a date that worked for everybody and had them over to our place. We wound up doing it a few weeks early so that it didn't interfere with work schedules and the others' holiday plans and that worked out just fine for us. We made a big meal, in our own family fashion, enjoyed each other’s company and didn't suffer afterward.
I tried to source everything locally, just to see if I could do it, but couldn't find a turkey. Instead, I roasted a nice plump chicken. Wild rice cooked in chicken stock with dried cranberries served as our dressing, smashed garlicky potatoes with celeriac (Nourishing Traditions) and giblet gravy, green bean casserole, kraut, acorn squash stuffed with apples, nuts and cranberries, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and our newest family tradition of making stag's antlers cookies (a great Thanksgiving cookie recipe) with family members the day of the meal in honor of deer-gun season. Not everybody could make it unfortunately, so the chicken was enough, but just in case I had planned some lamb as well. I plan to try some other things this year and offer some snacks like holiday nuts, pate and some other ferments.
Made with love…
Now when I say, “in our own family fashion”, I mean that I didn't really do anything different than any other meal, other than some specific traditional dishes and the quantity of food. I make just about everything from scratch from conscientiously sourced ingredients and believe in the power of love and intention. When I create meals, I like to be in a place of peacefulness without a lot of outside distraction where I can focus on the love I have for my family. I believe that putting that love into the food will have an impact on the health and emotional well being of the people eating it. I don't feel that I can accomplish this by dumping a can of sweet potatoes into a baking dish, topping them with sugar or marshmallows and throwing them in the oven. Another advantage to cooking your holiday meals from scratch is that you will be aware of the ingredients and it will be easier for you to accommodate others with food sensitivities or dietary restrictions and neither of you will feel that these issues are taking away from your holiday together.
I found that I could've gotten a local, even organic and/or heritage breed turkey IF I had ordered one in the spring time.
You may have to plan this for next year, there are a lot of Amish that do this in my area and if I just drive around and ask I'll either be directed to a family that raises turkeys or I'll just wind up at a farm that does. Sourcing things locally requires more foot work than one might expect, but it’s worth it!
Here's Barb’s recipe for Green Bean Casserole, with HOMEMADE SHOE STRING ONIONS!!!
Barb's bio: “I’m a stay at home mom, beginning sustainable homesteader, heritage (everything) enthusiast and real food foodie living in the Driftless region of Wisconsin.”
Check out Barb's blog here.
Here's a handy list of a few Thanksgiving recipes that you may be able to use:
- Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing with instructions on roasting a turkey too.
- Thanksgiving side dishes and tips on how many potatoes fills a crock pot, how to make gravy, etc.
- My cranberry gelatin recipe (it's addictive!) or Fermented Cranberry Relish
- Green Bean Casserole with homemade crispy shoestring onions
- Here's how to make homemade dinner rolls or cinnamon rolls
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- For those of you that were thinking ahead and got some healthy tallow for frying, are you going to deep fry your turkey in it for a healthy frying oil?
- Kelly’s Organic Squash Bisque
- Grain-free pumpkin cream cheese bars
- Pumpkin pie ice cream would make a great turkey-day dessert!
- Stags Antler Cookies for a Thanksgiving cookie recipe
- More side dishes and salad recipes
- Spiced cider recipe
- Homemade applesauce is a nice side dish with turkey
- Ideas for turkey leftovers
- There are tons of chicken recipes here that you can use leftover turkey in instead!
Luckily I’m doing Thanksgiving. I really wanted to get an organic turkey, but my mom keeps kosher so it looks like I have to get it at the store. I have a farm nearby where I get chicken and they have turkey for Thanksgiving, but alas. Not kosher! Last Wed. someone posted a recipe for fermented cranberry sauce I wanted to try. Then I realized it has whey in it. Can’t do that, can’t mix dairy and meat so I will stick to the recipe in NT, which is very good.
I also made some sourdough bread which didn’t rise well enough for sandwiches, so I will use that for stuffing. I know I didn’t want to buy store-bought stuffing. I’m tackling a lot to do this dinner, but it will be worth it! Now all I have to do is get through Christmas dinner, which I’m not doing.
Our only family in the area is my husband’s family. We find it extremely difficult to eat at their house, as they eat the Standard American Diet, and they don’t seem to care about what we can and cannot eat. We decided this year that we would cook Thanksgiving our way so we could enjoy it, and invite them to join us. I think it’ll work out!
Does Barb have a blog?
I forgot to add the link before, but it’s there now, on the bottom. 🙂
Thanks! I can’t wait to check it out. 😀
Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama says
I did this last year, as we were “free” of so many things. I hosted and cooked. They were a bit skeptical — coconut milk in the mashed potatoes?! — but everyone loved it and it worked out nicely.
Nikki, I used to work with your husband – please say hello for me! Glad to hear you will be getting a turkey through TNG – love their poultry! And everything else I’ve had pretty much from them. Thank you Barb – I loved this post, and thanks to Kelly for having you post it. This year, I’ll be with family out west, and not sure what is in store for me nutritionally and food-wise, but I am just so overjoyed to be with them for Thanksgiving (last time was 9 years ago). That being said, I am going to help make a few things and will bring my knowledge and real food practice to the preparations I can assist with. Christmas will be another story, though, since we’ll be in NYC. It should be a real food extravaganza! 🙂
Nikki Ostrower says
I know how challenging it is as well. This is the 4th annual Thanksgiving my husband and I are hosting for our families in our tiny NYC apartment. I am also grateful my husband is so on board with the traditional foods lifestyle because he is the chef in the family. We are members of the traditional nutrition guild and ordered our turkey through them. I also found a website where you can order your local, pastured Heritage turkey at the link below.
It looks like there are still some left.
I would love to see more fun Thanksgiving recipes on here 🙂
Wishing ya’ll a healthy and happy Thanksgiving….we have A LOT to be grateful for.
I understand, it’s totally hard…my family (besides mom and dad) wants everything to just TASTE good..they have no open mind to anything!!!! i’m on the hunt for our turkey..by golly i better hurry! i can’t wait till Thanksgiving, i’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that i’m going to do to get RID of those pesky additives, for once and for all…at leat from our Thanksgiving table! 🙂 nice post, very helpfull for the holiday season!
It’s a hard line to toe with family when they don’t have the same food philosophies – no matter how tactfully or graciously we put it, we are rejecting their choices! Opening your home can be such a great example of the loving hospitality we show by cooking from scratch with quality ingredients. Thanks for the encouragement!