Thanksgiving Dinner Without a Plan

I’m telling you, it’s been a long summer with lots of travel, work, and other activities keeping me quite busy. So I’ve been looking forward to winding down a bit at Thanksgiving. It means I’ve made all my deadlines, I can rest for four days, and I can cook. And this is the first year I didn’t plan a menu.

What?! A planner without a plan? That’s right. And it sure is liberating. I’m no Martha Stewart, but usually I ponder Thanksgiving dinner for at least a week or so before the event. It’s my favorite holiday because of all the cooking involved. But this year, I decided to wing it.

For one thing, I could count on what’s available in the house because I knew there were a few chickens from our CSA, Mud Lake Farms, in the freezer. Plus, Bill and I just picked up our pork and lamb from Lubbers Farm. Except for our mixed quarter of beef, we are set with our meat for the year. And, I’ve been consistently cruising the Holland Farmers Market for things like squash, root vegetables, leeks, and apples–stowing them away in the garage and basement. So I knew I could throw something together from our stash. The only special trip I made (okay, I guess there has been some planning going on behind the scenes) was to The Berry Bunch, the organic cranberry farm where I picked up fresh cranberries last Thanksgiving, too.

So what was on the menu? Well, for two people, you don’t need much. Usually, I like having a large sampling of side dishes but this year it’s all about simplifying. We started off with goat and sheep cheese with flax chips, Bosc pear, and Prosecco for appetizers.

I decided upon a chicken from Mud Lake Farm, which I roasted according to Bon Appetit’s Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken (a favorite at our house!).

The only substitutions I had to make to accommodate Bill’s allergies to wheat, corn, and cow-dairy were olive oil instead of butter for the rub, and oat flour instead of all-purpose flour in the gravy.

We also tried the Potato-Celery Root Mash recipe from the December issue of Bon Appetit. I omitted the sour cream and substituted chopped shallots for horseradish, since I didn’t have any. Oh, and no butter, of course! I used olive oil instead.

We also had roasted butternut squash with leeks and sage and Red Harvest Quinoa from Betty Crocker Whole Grains. For the quinoa, I substituted Pecorino sheep’s cheese instead of Parmesan and threw in some walnuts in lieu of pine nuts since I didn’t have pine nuts on hand.

For dessert? Apple-Cranberry Crisp. You can check out my improvisations to the recipe in my previous blog post.

Was it simple? Yes. I started cooking at 3:00 and we were eating dinner by 7:00. Basic, wholesome, traditional autumn fare. Thank you, farmers, for making it so easy for us to eat good, fresh, local food.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s