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Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Harvest

Below, I share with you how I used my garden harvests for Thanksgiving. Check out more harvests over at Daphne Dandelions Harvest Monday.

This Thanksgiving was a special one for us. As discussed earlier, we decided to try for a 100% local and organic Thanksgiving meal. In the end, we were able to realistically accomplish a 100% local or organic meal. We learned a lot about what is available locally, how much things costs, and now....we also know how the food quality compares.

Now to the how the harvest was used.

We made this eggplant paramesan with eggplants grown in our garden (plus some bought at the store). The tomato sauce used was made from tomatos grown in our garden and canned by us a few weeks ago. The tomato sauce was made using Ball's recipe and it was quite good!

From the garden, we also made zucchini cakes, squash casserole, and spinach brownies.

For meats, we had a locally grown grass-fed chicken which we prepared on the rostisserie, a locally grown grass fed roast which was prepared into a delicious mushroom gravy roast, and a farm raised turkey which hubby smoked to perfection....I'm talking fall off the bone perfection....and we did it on a regular grill!

I used organic flour, sugar, butter, and eggs to make the pound cake. In addition, organic goods were used to make the apple pie and sweet potato pie (pie shells homemade). Sweet Potato Pie is not shown.

The cornbread for the dressing was also homemade with organic ingredients; as was the homemade cranberry sauce (which turned out very good as well --- first time making this!).
This is where organic ends. After making the above, we were out of organic flour and low on organic sugar, out of organic butter and low on organic eggs. Given the expense of buying more, we decided to buy regular nonorganic and possibly nonlocal replacements; as we still had several items to make that needed these ingredients. The expense of doing it all organic had gotten to us, so I guess in a sense we bailed on our original 100% plan.

So, all of the bread is homemade (hotwater cornbread, rolls, and cheddar bay biscuits), but none of it is organic.
So in the end, I can say that we had a meal that was mostly organic and local. Only a very few things weren't local and even less was not organic. I am still pleased that we did the exercise and now we are better prepare to make an informed resolution for the new year.

Now about the food quality first. First thing is that no one could tell that the food was organic. This may sound silly, but if you remember the first versions of low-fat or low-sugar and how horrible they were; then you understand how some (who are unfamiliar with organic) may wonder about the taste difference. Secondly, the grass fed meat was obviously leaner. Almost no fat to remove. We rotisseried the chicken and it gave about 1-2 cups of stock. We usually get at least twice that. This shows us just how much perservatives (salt walter,etc) are being pumped into the store bought chickens. No noticeable difference in the vegetables or fruit. The organic flour is nonbleached which means more gluten which means DO NOT overbeat (best to stir in the flour by hand in this case) when using it for baking or you'll end up with rubbery bread instead of cake. The organic sugar seems fine as a 1 for 1 substitute with no differences that I noticed. Same with butter and eggs.

I will say - though - that having to pay more for the organic sugar has caused me to use it more sparingly. I have used it for about 2-months now and my tea is getting less and less sweet. So perhaps its a good thing; because I would still be pouring the cheap sugar by the cup full; now I only use spoonfuls worth. Same thing with the organic butter. Organic butter costs twice as much and it has made me think twice about adding butter to my food and searching for alternatives....like I used cooking spray to saute my asparagus instead of butter and it was the same! So perhaps having to pay more for food is a good thing. I read in several places that Americans spend less of their income (percentage wise) than most other countries on our food. I can definitely say from this experience that if my food costs this much, I would definitely use less and waste less (through spoilage). So perhaps that is reason enough to totally commit to the switch....only time will tell, we've got about a month to figure it out....will let you know when we do.


  1. Though you might not have made it to your goal, it's the trying that matters — snaps to you for your efforts! We're usually around 80 to 90% local, sometimes at 100% depending on the season, but it wasn't easy at first. As they say, all those baby steps eventually add up to something.

  2. I think you did very well. I would not be able to do it here unless 'local' were within 200+ miles. Because there is no farming at all within 75 miles and then mostly it's chemical....

  3. What a great goal for Thanksgiving! I try to buy organic as much as possible and its amazing how much more expensive it is, so I mostly buy organic dairy and meat and try to grow most of my veggies. I wish the conventional farmers had to pay the environmental costs caused by pesticides and herbicides. It seems crazy that conventional farming is actually cheaper than organic.. doesn't seem right.

  4. You did very well. Each year we push the envelope one step further and it does not feel quite so overwhelming of a change - but yet we have gotten very local and organic after many years of this step further forward approach. Our primary goal for Thanksgiving is to have all the vegetable inputs come from our garden and the fruits from local sources (within our state). The rest is organic and local if possible - or fair trade and organic if not.

  5. Congratulations, thanks for sharing your experience.
    You stated: "The organic flour is nonbleached which means more gluten which means DO NOT overbeat (best to stir in the flour by hand in this case) when using it for baking or you'll end up with rubbery bread instead of cake."
    Does this hold true for unbleached non-organic flour also?

  6. Sustainably Modern12/1/11, 8:50 AM

    Thanks all! I am encouraged to keep pressing forward. I am a little amazed that there was once upon a time where everyone only ate local. Now things have changed so that its nearly impossible to eat local. I can honestly admit that I was once one of the unaware. I had no idea that chemicals were being sprayed on food and that all animals weren't raised in a nice pasture on a farm. So now that I am aware of the truth its like I want to change NOW. But you're right, its going to have to be more gradual.

    Norma - This is true with all nonbleached. I just singled out organic because all organic flours are unbleached (I believe); since bleaching involves chemicals.

    WheatFoods.org has a nice PDF about wheat flours. Here is what it says:

    ¨ “Bleached” refers to flour that has been bleached
    chemically to whiten or improve the baking qualities. No change occurs in the nutritional value of the flour and no harmful chemical residues remain. It is a process which speeds up the natural lightening and maturing of flour.
    ¨ “Unbleached” flour is aged and bleached naturally
    by oxygen in the air. It is more golden in color,
    generally more expensive and may not have the
    consistency in baking qualities that bleached flour
    does. Unbleached is preferred for yeast breads
    because bleaching affects gluten strength.

    So the last sentence basically states the difference. Unbleached for bread. Bleached (or pastry flour) for baking bc gluten strength has been weakened by the bleaching.

    I've learned this the hard way...more than once :(.

  7. Thanks, learned something new.

  8. You did very well although I want to point out that the cooking spray you used to save on your butter--well, you might want to look at that label. I don't eat totally organic or local but I eat it when I can.