the local pork sandwich

happy pigs

A few weeks ago I went to visit some pigs out at Well Fed Farms. They were happy, handsome pigs, rooting up grasses on the fertile Skagit flats and being fed with apple pressings.

picnic roast

A couple of weeks later we got the call from Silvana Meats, and we picked up half a pig’s worth of fresh pork, neatly packed for the freezer. The smoked meats will be ready later (we’re very excited about bacon).

studding the roast with garlic

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happy thanksgiving

May your Thanksgiving be warm and cozy! We did our turkey dinner last weekend, so tonight is a little different to keep things interesting: pork roast, spinach gratin, mashed potatoes, and pear-pecorino ice cream. What’s on your table tonight?

the Thanksgiving report

Thanksgiving dinnerbread n cheese

Considering that we didn’t even know where we’d be having Thanksgiving until a few days ago, I think things worked out pretty well.

trussedpie and chicken

I had thawed one of our Well Fed Farms chickens and salted it ahead of time, so that even if we got stuck at home by bad weather we’d have something to cook. Fortunately there was a break between storm systems, so we were able to travel after all. We took the chicken with us to my parents’ house, and it roasted up beautifully. While it cooked we drank Cava and ate Mt. Townsend Creamery Seastack cheese and Breadfarm bread, and my father and I made a joint effort on the stuffing.

butter on the stuffing

Given that neither of us really had a definite idea of how to make stuffing, it came out really swell. Onions, mushrooms, a bit of celery, and lots of sage sizzled in a big skillet, then most of a loaf of Breadfarm Baker White cubed up and stirred in, then some butter and chicken stock, and about half an hour in the oven. It was everything we like in stuffing. My father did his world-class buttermilk mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce with orange, and I shredded Brussels sprouts and sauteed them until crispy.

Thanksgiving dinner

The following night was a turkey at a friend’s house, more buttermilk mashed potatoes, totally different stuffing, more vegetables, and gravy (which we forgot to make the first night). And after both dinners, there was pie. I didn’t have my usual sweet potato pie recipe with me, so I tried one by Ruth Reichl, which we found online (I followed the recipe pretty closely, but added bourbon instead of rum). It was very good, a bit lighter and sweeter than the one I’ve made before. No-one seemed to have any complaints.

sweet potato pie

Also, there was a snowstorm on Thanksgiving day, to make the kitchen extra cozy.

snowy mist

disorganized

fallen

Everyone’s favorite question for the past week has been “Are you ready for Thanksgiving?” and my answer has been a resounding NO. The weather’s been nasty, our old snow tires turned out to be worn out and needed to be replaced, the basement drain clogged and had to be snaked out, there was an art show to put up and take down, and I have homework to do, and it’s frankly been a little difficult to think about Thanksgiving in any serious way. But I did thaw a large chicken, and I plan to stuff bay leaves under the skin and pretend it’s a very small turkey. We have lots of wine. Everything else will get figured out.

afternoon sun

the negroni

negroni

No matter how many odd original cocktails we try, sometimes you just can’t do better than the classics. A plain gin martini, served cold and up. A Manhattan with good vermouth. Or a Negroni.

In some ways the Negroni is the perfect holiday cocktail. It’s easy to make, being equal parts gin, campari and vermouth. It can be served up or on the rocks. The campari gives it a festive color, and its bitterness cuts through salty and fatty foods beautifully – I once made gougeres and stuffed them with bits of truffled salami, and after washing them down with Negronis can hardly imagine a better pairing. The drink acts as a digestif, settling the stomach and readying it for more eating. Sounds like Thanksgiving weekend to me.

Negroni

  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz campari
  • 3/4 oz sweet (or dry) vermouth
  • lemon or orange rind

Stir the first three ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail or rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist.

Thanksgiving roundup

pecan pie

The problem I have with the endless emails and web articles I see about “16 Thanksgiving side dishes” and “10 million pies” and “what to make for Thanksgiving this year” is that, like many people, I like to make the same things for Thanksgiving every year, and I don’t use recipes for most of them. When I’m in charge of dinner, I generally make turkey, mushroom-sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted sweet potatoes, creamed spinach, and pecan pie. And I don’t need other people telling me how to make those things, as I’ve already done them, thanks.

I was going to do a roundup of Thanksgiving recipes from the past three years of my blog, only to discover that I haven’t really written most of them down – for the above reason, that I don’t really follow recipes for this sort of cooking. I do use a recipe for pecan pie, but it’s pulled straight from Baking Illustrated so I don’t really want to reprint it here and have the fine folks at Cook’s Illustrated come after me with pitchforks. I have found a few good recipes to mention here – the fresh cranberry relish with a whole orange that I like so much, sweet potato dinner rolls, the spinach recipe that isn’t remotely healthy but tastes fantastic, and a cranberry tart that doesn’t replace pecan pie in our household but is still really nice.

My favorite cranberry sauce

Sweet potato dinner rolls

Aunt Mary’s creamed spinach

Cranberry tart

And, since I’ve been so lame on the Thanksgiving post front, here are some posts from other bloggers giving a nice range of holiday experience and planning from past years, many of whom avoided all kinds of stress by simply leaving out the turkey:

A Cook Local Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, Downsized

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Local Style

Thanksgiving in France

Gobble, Gobble

Ix-Nay on the Urkey-Tay

creamed spinach

breakfast

This one could be a candidate for Confessions of a Locavore. Local it ain’t, and neither is it particularly healthy. It is, however, highly seasonal, in that I only eat it on or around Thanksgiving. And it’s really, really good. I don’t know where the recipe originated, but it’s a staple of my husband’s family’s Thanksgivings, hosted by his Aunt Mary. No matter what else I have on my plate, I always make sure there’s plenty of room for creamed spinach.

It’s one of those dishes where I might be happier not knowing what was in it. But as Mary writes in the family cookbook, “Don’t worry about the ingredients, just enjoy.” That said, here’s what the ingredients look like before the spinach goes in:

ingredients for creamed spinach

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a dinner that couldn't be beat

Thanksgiving dinner

In case you were wondering, here’s what Thanksgiving dinner looked like (on my plate, at least – there were a few more marshmallows and schnecken on other people’s plates). My husband’s relatives always put on a tremendous do, and this year was no exception.

Thanksgiving buffet

I ended up with mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, challah, creamed spinach, stuffing, and a hefty spoonful of the roasted vegetables that my brother-in-law and I prepared earlier in the day (fennel, onion, mushrooms, beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots).

the pie station

And, of course, there was pie.

the centerpiece

What goes on your Thanksgiving plate?