Tomorrow marks the beginning of my absolute favorite week of the year. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Thanksgiving. It’s the ultimate holiday for me. All the same great food. All the same great people. But without the shopping and gift wrapping. And what’s better than celebrating gratitude? I can’t wait!
I’ll be helping with a few Thanksgiving meals next week by putting some local dishes on the table. If you’re in the process of planning a feast for 2 or 20, there’s no better time to support local farmers. Here’s my suggestions to have a fantastic Minnesota Thanksgiving Feast:
Turkey Minnesota is the number one turkey producing state in the country. The National Turkey to be pardoned by President Obama this year is coming from a Minnesota farm. Thanksgiving is all about Minnesota turkey. Here’s three great places to look for a local, sustainable or organic bird: Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, MN, Callister Farm in West Concord, MN and Kadejan Inc. in Glendwood, MN. For a statewide list see MinnesotaGrown.com
Sweet Potatoes, Squash & Carrots ALL of these items are still readily available at farmers’ markets and from many local producers. Bake ‘em with butter and sweeten with local maple syrup or honey. Or impress your family with a savory roasted squash with bacon. yum.
Green Bean Casserole & Mashed Potatoes Although I’m a fan of my mom’s green bean casserole, there’s really no local substitute for condensed cream of mushroom soup. And if mashed potatoes seems a little same ol’ same ol’, try a warm green bean potato salad with white wine herb dressing.
Cranberry Sauce If you can open a can of congealed cranberry sauce and plop it on a serving plate, there’s no reason you can’t make your own from scratch. I promise. It’s really that easy. Whole fresh cranberries from local bogs are available in bulk at most co-ops and many supermarkets this time of year. Or get your obnoxious relative out of the kitchen for the afternoon on a road trip to the Cranberry Capital. To make the sauce: cut 3 cups of cranberries in half and place them in a pot with 1 c. sugar and 1/3 c. water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until cranberries open and begin to soften. You may add more sugar to taste, but I like it on the tart side!
And My Thanksgiving Favorite…Pie What would Thanksgiving be without a good pumpkin pie? A true foodie will cook down a pumpkin and make a pie from scratch, however if time is tight there are some great pies available from Metro locavore spots. Birchwood Cafe is offering regular and gluten-free maple pumpkin pie, apple cranberry ginger pie with local fruit, and a Surly Chocolate Pecan Pie, baked with local favorite Surly beer. Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market in St. Paul also has local pumpkin and apple pies available pre-order. And a wild rice stuffing that sounds mighty tasty. Get your calls in this weekend though, most Thanksgiving orders need to be made by Sunday.
Hope you’re planning a celebration full of food, friends and family. You can bet I’ll be saying my “thanks” for the great local farmers and growers that bring it to our tables.