A Thrifty Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

frugal thanksgiving

It’s November 2010, the elections are fresh in our minds and everywhere we go there are the reminders of the coming holiday season. But, the economy still looms heavy on our minds. Fears about jobs, price increases and shortages have us feeling uncertain about what this season will be like.

BUT – here on our little homestead we’re determined not to let this air of uncertainty affect our love of fall and one of the two biggest holidays of the calendar Thanksgiving. We have however decided to make this a budgeted holiday with plenty of memory making activities like free concerts, walks through the decorated areas of town with a mug full of warm apple cider and holiday programs.

So, how does one have a thrifty Thanksgiving dinner? By using what you have on hand, that’s how.

We’ll start a few days before Thanksgiving by thawing out a 9-1/2 pound roasting chicken from a batch we raised last year. I’ll make a few fresh loaves of bread (saving enough dough to make dinner rolls) with herbs from the garden baked in, as a base for our stuffing. When it’s cooled enough I’ll cube it and let it dry out.

On Wednesday I’ll prepare a brine of coarse salt, spices, herbs, apples and cider. The chicken will soak in the brining bucket, submerged in its flavorful concoction for 24-hours.

On Thanksgiving morning, once the animals are fed and morning chores complete, and the chicken is thoroughly rinsed and set out to come to room temperature, we’ll pack up our gear and head to our favorite hiking area. While most people are frantically trying to get their turkeys in the oven by mid-morning we’ll be trekking the hills breathing in fresh air and reveling in the colors of nature. Home by noon and with a light lunch of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, on home baked bread, we’ll be fortified enough to put our energies into our evening meal.

Brianne will peel and cube homegrown potatoes for our cheesy herb infused mash, while my sister slices a newly harvested Butternut squash that will be baked with brown sugar, butter and spices. Greens will be washed and prepared for a wonderful fall mixed green, pecan, blue cheese and cranberry salad with Blueberry-Pomegranate dressing, all from ingredients in my pantry.

The stuffing, squash and dinner rolls will go into the oven and cook along with the bird.

Once the turkey – I mean chicken – is finished roasting I’ll whip up some gravy from the drippings and all will be laid out on a festive table as a grand feast.

The whole meal will be finished off with individual Harvest Pumpkin cakes, made from our own successful pumpkin patch, and topped with a cream cheese frosting and pecan halves.

There you have it, a wonderfully filling homegrown, homemade Thanksgiving feast.

For the rest of the evening we’ll settle into a roaring fire watching some of our favorite movies. I’ll take comfort in the fact that this years celebration was made mainly from ingredients we grew ourselves or already had one hand, with only a few items purchased at the Farmer’s Market for just a few dollars. I can now rest easy that what had caused me concern will turn out to be a wonderful and intimate celebration of the harvest.

That’s the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Alanna Kellogg

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