T-Day Prep Underway

I am really glad I decided to get on the road yesterday.  Already the streets and sidewalks here in Vermillion are slick and getting slicker.  The wind is coming up now.  It will be downright unpleasant by this evening.

Pulled in Tuesday afternoon and immediately set upon the parsnip patch.  It’s a double-row bed, and I dug 3/4 of them and left the rest under mulch and cages for early spring.

It’s also a good thing I did that digging yesterday–the top couple inches of soil were frozen–too much longer and it would’ve been hard to get them out at all.  I bagged up the majority of that digging and dropped off the white roots with my CSA members–the last delivery of the season.

A few I kept for our Thanksgiving feast and to bring some back to Big Stone County for winter meals.  There’s not much more comforting in the winter than a mess of roasted parsnips right out of the oven.  So sweet and nutty!

I made a scouting foray into the grocery store, but I didn’t buy anything.  I brought a box full of good things back with me along with the turkey–a few onions, some garlic, and Delicata squash from the gardens plus a couple jars of applesauce and a cut-up loaf of bread I’d made and slightly overbaked that will end up as stuffing.

Later on, H will do his part for the festivities by supplementing what we have–once we get a list together and go back to the grocery store.  I did stop in the liquor store and pick up a bottle of Dakota Rum.  This dark sippin’ concoction from Still 173 used to be called Rum Ration, and it’s tasty enough that I’ve been “rationing” the last bit in my old bottle.  A sad state of affairs.

I’ll pop it open to share tomorrow (very nice in eggnog), but the rest is coming back north to help me stay warm through the long Minnesota winter. I was already laughing at the Vermillionites shivering in the 25 degree weather yesterday–it felt great to be out digging in the garden when it was so warm.

It was in the single digits when I left Big Stone County, though I had to open my coat after going up and down the stairs so many times getting the truck packed.  Now I understand why SE South Dakota is referred to as the “banana belt.” Though I still prefer, “Southern Paradise of the Dakotas”–at least I do when we are not flooding for the fourth time in one season.

Later this afternoon I’ll submerge my Bourbon Red turkey from HumbleRoots Heritage farm near Madison, MN in a brine of salty water and some chopped-up onion and garlic.  It’s about 12 1/2 lbs, so it doesn’t have to brine for super-long. Overnight should do it.

And then we’ll head in and dwell on the food we have and what we want to do with it, and make our shopping list from there.  I always like to have some cranberries, and I’m guessing an extra pound of butter could be of use before the weekend is over.

Maybe some arugula?  It’s nice to have something spicy and green to offset all the heavy holiday foods.  I’m currently kicking myself for not scattering a few seeds here or in Big Stone County this fall–such an easy, cheap, and fast crop that is nevertheless “gourmet-priced” in the grocery store.

I am thankful for the good, local foods we have to eat this winter, and for the Minnesota and South Dakota farmers who produced the bulk of that food.  Since I am one of those farmers, I’ll also give thanks for the good health and opportunities that have blessed me.

Thanksgiving isn’t about having a huge and perfect spread, though.  I’ve no doubt that in the chaos of food preparation something will get forgotten or not turn out exactly how we planned.

To me, it’s about sharing a warm and convivial time–it’s true that I love to cook and that I love to work with great, fresh, local ingredients, but the joy in my cooking is mostly about who I’m feeding.

You can forge relationships around the table–whether it be with family or as a form of community-building.  If the ingredients you’re working with can reflect and support the community you live in, so much the better.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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