Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

Thanksgiving on the Farm

Ah, Thanksgiving.  I’m in the make-smart-compromises camp on how best to handle this food-centered holiday.  The guidelines are simple:

  • Lean toward paleo, but don’t obsess.
  • Enjoy the food, and enjoy the company even more.
  • Eat what’s important for your own emotions’ and others, and skip the “treats” that aren’t really special.

Ironman and I are hosting an early Thanksgiving today at In the Night Farm.  It’s storming outside — whipping wind and temperature ticking down toward zero, while snowclouds twist overhead — but inside we have music and warm, spiced air.  Here’s our menu:

Roast turkey.  It’s a conventional Butterball, I’m afraid.  That pastured, heirloom bird just wasn’t in the budget this year.

Wild Rice, Sausage, & Fennel Stuffing.  Wild rice is a grass seed, which makes it only somewhat better than grain.  It isn’t make it a perfect choice, but it beats the heck out of gluten-filled bread stuffing.

Mashed potatoes and gravy.  Again, not ideal due to carbohydrate content (regardless of how you feel about white potatoes, a topic of much debate in the paleo community), but certainly not the worst food on the planet.  I’ll make them the old-fashioned way, with plenty of butter and cream.  We could argue all day about whether this does more harm (dairy, and the fat-carb combo effect on insulin and bodyfat) or good (lowered GI to mute blood-sugar spike) — but how about we just enjoy them instead?  The gravy will require some starch for thickening, but at least I’m not afraid of fat anymore!  Food is such a pleasure.

Sweet & Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  I’ll put plenty of these on my plate.  They’re perfectly paleo — just cubed sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil and sprinkled with red pepper flakes.  Nobody in their right mind will miss the marshmallows.

Sweet & Sour Green Beans.  Not in the Chinese sense of sweet & sour!  This is an old, family recipe that I used to consider terribly unhealthful, though delicious, because it contains bacon (including the grease) and a substantial quantity of vegetable oil.  By replacing the vegetable oil with a more healthful fat, I’ll update the recipe to nearly paleo — though it will still require a couple tablespoons of sugar.

Whole 9 Cranberry Sauce:  Sweetened with apple juice and figs, this sauce looks and smells far more beautiful — and paleo — than the red-sugar-in-a-can variety.  I’m excited to share it.

Cranberry Waldorf Salad:  “Pink Stuff” wasn’t a staple on my childhood holiday table, but we did always have a salad of canned fruit cocktail swimming in whipped cream.  I think this paleo waldorf, which features chilled coconut milk in place of dairy, will be a spectacular upgrade.

Buttermilk Butterhorns:  When it comes to gluten, I have the magic touch.  That “smooth and elastic dough” is putty in my hands.  Indeed, baking is one of the few foodie pleasures I miss since going paleo.  I’m taking advantage of this rare opportunity to make a batch of traditional, golden dinner rolls to serve smothered in pastured butter.

For drinks, we’ll serve spiced cider, whiskey, and wine.

For hors d’oeurves, a Fig & Walnut Cheeseball with crackers and crudites, summer sausage, kale chips, beautiful Sugared Cranberries, stuffed olives, and pickles.

And for dessert, my speciality, a citrus-scented cheesecake, plus pies graciously baked by our guests.  And whipped cream.  And did I mention the whiskey?

After the holiday, it’s back to paleo…right where I want to be.


6 responses

  1. Tom

    Yummy!!! And a good philosophy on eating for the holidays, too.

    Gotta call you out on the turkey, though. I hope I don’t offend. Factory farming is just too unpleasant (to use the mildest term I could conjure). Spend the $4/pound.

    Since I’m the only one that eats meat, I got two chicken drumstick/thigh quarters for $10. Expensive, but healthy and I know that the birds ran around the barn yard until their time.

    I know that most of your meat comes from In the Night farm, so I hope I’m not being too hard. My wife always says “Pick your battles”, and you ABSOLUTELY walk the walk when it comes to being concerned about the welfare of the food you eat.

    Happy Holidays!

    November 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

    • You’re absolutely right on the turkey (and all other commercial meat, as well). Believe me, I wanted to do better, but couldn’t swing the cost. 😦 Next year, I hope. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

      November 23, 2010 at 10:47 am

  2. Emily

    Thank you for your blog we Love it. Happy Thanksgiving!

    November 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    • Thanks, Emily! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. Happy Thanksgiving!

      November 23, 2010 at 5:42 pm

  3. Crysta

    I made some most excellent broccoli and thought of you this Thanksgiving. =) Not sure if it’s truly “primal” or not but here’s the recipe:

    2 lbs fresh broccoli florets- blanced in boiling water, drained
    1 stick butter (1/2 c.) – melt over medium heat until browned
    1/2 c. chopped shallots or green onions – add to butter when melting
    1 Tbsp. (or more) garlic – again, add to butter
    1 c. chopped pecans
    1/2 c. bacon crumbles
    1 tsp. red pepper flakes

    Mix it all together. I accidently added everything to the butter while it was melting, including the nuts and bacon. Delicious!!!! I can’t wait to make this again to have for lunches at work.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    • That sounds fabulous! And yes, it’s primal — paleo, even, if you swap the butter for a non-dairy fat. Hmm, I have some broccoli in the fridge…thanks for sharing that!

      November 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm

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