Versatile Smoothie Recipe

This recipe is kitty approved!

I have been posting a lot recently on my Facebook Page about my post workout Pumpkin Smoothies and those posts have created quite a buzz! I am a huge pumpkin freak and I enjoy it all year long – seems like a lot of you are too! I don’t know what I enjoy better, my workouts or these smoothies afterwards- the best of both worlds! This smoothie is great way to get in some extra grain-free carbohydrates, fat and protein post workout.

That said, many times when I post a specific recipe, I get a lot of great comments like: “can I substitute Y ingredient for X ingredient?” or “I wish I could make that, but I don’t consume X ingredient” or “I wish I could make this but I don’t know where to get X ingredient” or simply “I don’t like X ingredient”. You get the gist…so although I will post my awesome pumpkin smoothie with options and add ins, I will also give you ideas for entirely different smoothie recipes. This is mix and match folks! :)

This is your smoothie recipe – easy to tailor to your tastes and needs. I give some suggestions, but feel free to improvise. Like chocolate? Add a TBS or two of fair trade cocoa powder (no sugar added). Don’t do sugar? Try stevia, or fruit sweetened smoothies – dried dates are great for this. Want to make it a greenie? Add a handful of spinach or kale. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some of my recent combinations:

raw milk, pumpkin, 1/2 banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a little stevia
raw milk, egg, pumpkin puree, almond butter, cinnamon and molasses
coconut milk, avocado, cocoa powder, cinnamon, maple
kefir, soaked almonds, dried dates/figs, frozen berries, vanilla extract

This smoothie recipe is so versatile you can enjoy it for breakfast, a snack, dessert or part of any meal when you need an extra boost.

INGREDIENTS: per smoothie (@ 16 oz)

Base liquid: 1 cup liquid – Kefir, Raw Milk, Coconut Milk are good choices
Thickener: 1 banana – I also like using instead 1/2 avocado
Nuts: 3 TBS almond butter – you can use any other nut butter or a handful of soaked nuts – I usually use almonds – click here to understand about the benefits of soaking nuts
Sweetener: 1 TBS 100% pure maple syrup, honey or molasses or 1/8 – ¼ tsp or one or two dried dates (optional)
Optional add ins: ¼ cup of pumpkin puree, 1/4 yogurt, 1/4 berries, 2 TBS cocoa powder, kale or spinach, dash of cinnamon, 1 shot of espresso or ¼ cup of coffee, 1 TBS coconut oil, raw pastured raised chicken egg (do not use conventional eggs from the grocery store), vanilla extract, powdered ginger, nutmeg, etc.
Ice

METHOD:
Place all the liquids in your blender first. Then add the fruit, butters, oils and nuts and then the cinnamon. Process on medium speed until well mixed, then start adding ice, a handful at a time, gradually, until the smoothie is at your desired consistency. I usually turn up the speed to high during the ice process. Pour and enjoy!

Your Favorite Posts of 2011

 

I really want to take a moment to thank all of my readers and blogging friends for your support this year, both on this blog, as well as through Facebook and Twitter! As social media grows, it seems more of our interactions together take place on other websites, for example my Facebook page and Twitter account has amassed so many followers, I am just astounded and overwhelmed. I have really enjoyed getting to know many of you this way! Thank you!

It is hard to believe another year of blogging has gone by! Getting these posts together every year is always a great look back on all the wonderful food we have enjoyed. I hope all of you reading this also had a great 2011 and are all looking forward to 2012! Here are the top 10 posts from this year. If you enjoy something that I post, please click the “like” button at the top, to “like” it on facebook, also feel free to tweet about it or leave me a comment. This is very helpful to me to know what kinds of posts you all want to see!

Please leave a comment and let me know what kinds of posts you would like to see on this blog in 2012! Happy New Year!

 

NUMBER 10: Breakfast of Champions and my First YouTube!


 

Number 9: The BEST Gluten-Free Pancakes EVER

 

Number 8: Drying Apples For Winter Storage

 

Number 7: Raw Avocado Chocolate Pudding

 

Number 6: Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Parfaits

 

Number 5: Musings on Homesteading

 

Number 4: How to Make Kefir at Home…and Why You Should!

 

Number 3: DIY Holiday Gift Series: Dairy-Free Decadent Chocolate Truffles

 

Number 2: Making Yogurt at Home: Filmjölk

 

And your favorite post of 2011: Number 1: Got Raw Milk? Food Freedom Fighters!


Natural Fruit Soda: Water Kefir and LOTS of Appreciation

Delicious and healthy homemade natural soda: Bartlett Pear (beginning of second fermentation), Turkish Apricot and Montmorency Cherry

WAIT FOR IT….

I am feeling so grateful for all the attention this little blog of mine has gotten lately. I feel really fortunate to have found my voice with this blog over the last 2 years, and recently have had so much support coming in for that voice and the work we do on our homestead! THANK YOU! It is amazing the outpouring of notes, questions and appreciation we have been getting since we really starting doing our Life’s Work here in Northern Vermont and that is no small thing. So I thank you, if you are reading this, for your support, on the blog and also through facebook and twitter.

Today is no exception. My kitchen and blog is being featured on CHEESESLAVE today through AnnMarie’s new series: Real Food Kitchen Tour! This is an honor on so many fronts. Not only is CHEESESLAVE a very successful food blog at the heart of the real food movement, but AnnMarie and I are a bit like kindred spirits, her starting Real Food Media around the time Roberto and I started The Foodie Blogroll. So we have conversed often not only about food, farms, sustainability but also about business! I really appreciate the work she does with Real Food Media and small farms! So thanks AnnMarie for your support and for the feature! We hope to see you and Seth here in the future – I know we would have a great time together!

In that light and to show my appreciation, I want to share with you a simple technique for making a delicious, fizzy and flavorful PROBIOTIC “soda”.  That’s right, a soda that is actually good for you. Really good for you. Now the technique is simple, but I will tell you that I have worked on perfecting it over a couple of months. Many people have heard of dairy kefir, that is a kefir that is made with dairy and is a bit like a yogurt smoothie. Water kefir is a bit different in that instead of fermenting in the presence of lactase (sugar found in dairy) it ferments in the presence of the other “-oses”, like sucrose and fructose. I use organic cane sugar. Last year I tried using maple, and may try that again, but most people use organic cane sugar, so I decided to be a purist. For me, the most important thing in making a fizzy, non-dairy probiotic drink is the FIZZ. Last year I brewed both water kefir and kombucha at home, and wasn’t 100% pleased with the outcome of either in regard to the fizz.

 

This year, I decided to do a double fermentation method, the first time brewing the kefir with sugar water, and then letting it ferment again in the presence of fruit.  This second fermentation creates a lot of beautiful fizzy bubbles, which was exactly what I was looking for! So far I have made a batch with tart cherry concentrate syrup and another batch using dried Turkish apricots. Both were excellent, but on the outset, we were both partial to the apricot.  I am currently brewing one with dried Bartlett pears as one of my favorite sodas is one from Sweden that is pear flavored.

I know kombucha is all the rage these days, and that is a good thing, as it is very good for you, but it can be very expensive – at $3-5 a bottle (16 oz) and I am always for saving money if you can make it yourself for substantially cheaper, which is absolutely the case here.

 

Now you can brew kombucha at home, but I find it to be a bit messy and cumbersome. Kombucha really needs a dark place to brew, and has to be brewed in a bowl with a towel over top, making it hard to move it to that dark spot. Water kefir on the other hand can be brewed right in a large mason jar on your countertop. There are no teabags or lots of pouring liquids, like there is with kombucha. All you need is sugar, water kefir grains, called Tibicos, which is a colony of beneficial bacteria and yeast, sugar and water. For complete instructions and variations and to obtain the water kefir grains, please visit Cultures for Health, by following this link or clicking on the ad on my right hand sidebar. They have the highest quality cultures (kefir, water kefir, kombucha, yogurt, sourdough, cheese, you name it) that are out there and I cannot recommend them highly enough! If you are a member of The Foodie Blogroll, please comment and enter to win a gift card from Cultures for Health!

The water kefir grains are about $16, but can be used INDEFINITELY. Making this a MUCH cheaper and not to mention far healthier option to soda, whether organic, or conventional – and you already know, you shouldn’t be drinking that stuff. You can experiment with your favorite flavors, and it couldn’t be easier to make and the taste is fantastic! I suggest getting some grains today so you can start making this refreshing, perfect for summer beverage!

Here is what you need.

* Water

* Organic Cane Sugar (1/4 cup to one quart of water)

* Water Kefir Grains

* Small unbleached muslin bag

* Clean glass jar (I use a quart size)

*Fruit of your choice

 

To Make Water Kefir:

Heat the sugar in some water to dissolve sugar. Let cool. Place kefir grains in the muslin bag and drop into the glass jar. Pour the sugar water into the jar and then fill the rest of the jar with water.  Place a cloth over the mouth of the jar and allow to sit out on the counter for 2-3 days. The first few times you use your grains, you may not notice any bubbles, this does not mean that your kefir is not culturing properly. You can tell by tasting your kefir before and after. Cultured kefir will still be sweet, but not as sweet as when you started. The bacteria in the grains feed on the sugar, meaning the sugar content decreases exponentially through the brewing process. I have noticed that in the spring and summer, my kefir cultures in about 48 hours. But in the winter it can take another day. Do not let kefir culture for more than 72 hours.

Once the kefir has cultured, pour it into a bottle with a secure lid (leave the grains out). Add about 1/8-1/4 cup of dried fruit of your choice and allow to brew for about 3-5 days with a tight lid on. Then rinse the muslin bag and you are ready to start the process all over again. Let your fruited batch brew until you see lots of bubbles form and it tastes like soda.  DO NOT SHAKE BOTTLE! Remove the fruit at this point, and use it to make clafoutis or put on top of ice cream, yogurt or pudding! You can store the kefir in this container, or pour it into a different glass container for storage and it can be stored in the fridge indefinitely.

TIP: To make your water kefir making experience even easier, I suggest purchasing (also from CFH), a small muslin bag that you can keep your grains in. This makes it easier to make subsequent batches. All you need to do it remove the bag and rinse it before making a new batch.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos (or Bowls)with Kefir Cream

 

I love the combination of black beans and sweet potatoes, it has been a staple combination in my kitchen for a long time, as illustrated by a post I wrote 4 years ago! A blast from the past: Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans and a Food Philosophy! Fun to see that my food philosophy has remained the same since way back then, too.

When we used to live in Saint Augustine, Florida, we had a Saturday morning tradition. We would go to the farmers market and load up on veggies, fruits and other supplies for the week, and on our way out, we would get two black bean and sweet potato burritos to go. Then we would stop at the beach on the way home and enjoy our breakfast listening to the waves crash, a great way to start the weekend off, right.

It has been a while since we had black bean and sweet potato burritos, and so we decided one night to make them. I always have a variety of presoaked, partially cooked beans in jars in my freezer. This makes cooking beans for a dish very convenient, plus cheaper and tastier than beans from a can. I also have gotten into the habit of partially cooking some sweet and white potatoes in bulk as well, so they cook up fast when needed.

So I basically just combined these two elements I already had. I finished cooking the beans in homemade chicken stock. Then I transferred them to my cast iron skillet where I sautéed them in coconut oil, added spices like cumin, coriander, hot pepper and basil, then mashed them. While I was cooking these, I cut up the sweet potatoes into chunks and drizzled them with olive oil. Then I roasted them in a 425 F oven for about 15 minutes.

To assemble the burritos, I placed some of the smashed beans on a brown rice tortilla, added the sweet potatoes, some grated cheddar cheese, hot sauce and my favorite salsa, then topped it with kefir cream before rolling them up to eat. You can also add jalapenos, guac, or anything else you like in your burritos. If you are grain-free, which I am this month (maybe longer), you can just make a bowl of all these yummy ingredients and skip the tortilla!

The kefir cream was an accident. I was straining it one morning, and had to run outside for some reason or other. When I came back in, the kefir had separated from the whey (the whey was in the bowl under the strainer) leaving a luscious cream in the strainer. So I tasted it, and it was just like sour cream – absolutely delicious! If you don’t brew dairy kefir at home, you can just use a good quality sour cream, or delicious quark .

This is really a quick meal to whip up especially if you have the ingredients on hand already and partially cooked. This is why I always encourage people to take part of their weekend, like I do, to spend an hour or two in the kitchen getting prepped for the week. It saves a lot of time and hassle later in the week and ensures that you have time to feed your family delicious and healthy meals all week long, when life is a lot more hectic, with very little effort.

INGREDIENTS:

@ 1 cup of black beans

@ 2 small sweet potatoes

Optional: brown rice tortillas, salsa, guacamole, kefir cream, sour cream, quark, hot sauce, jalapenos, shredded cheese, etc.

Everything is to taste! Use what you have on hand! How easy is that?!

This served 2 adults 2 burritos – and there was a little bit of leftovers that we used for breakfast the next morning and served with eggs.

Homemade Granola

We enjoy dessert almost every night, here on the homestead. The most typical one being homemade yogurt, usually Filmjölk (Swedish counter-top cultured yogurt) with mix-ins. Look for a recipe for Filmjölk coming up later this week. Mix-ins are usually dried or freeze dried fruit, pumpkin puree, nut butters, cocoa nibs and either maple or goat’s milk cajeta stirred in for a little sweetness. Personally I also like a liberal dusting of cinnamon on top!

We also like granola. But good granola can be very expensive, and usually any store-bought granola, even the organic varieties, contain sweeteners and oils that I try to stay away from. So after many months of thinking about making my own, I finally did, and it was awesome!

I looked at several different granola recipes, and settled on this one from Passionate Homemaking, however I did not end up mixing in any extra fruits even though I meant to. I think this calls for a next time! However for my next batch, I am going to use some muesli that I have instead of just plain oats, so that I can get the added crunch and benefit of the seeds and other grains that are in there and then of course add some coconut, which we both love.

This granola was deliciously crunchy and very satisfying and really easy to make!

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups kefir or cultured buttermilk (yogurt often produces a very tart flavor, unless you are skipping the soaking step)
1-2 cups water (use only as much as needed to produce a moist consistency for soaking)
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2-3/4 cup maple syrup (I increased the sweetener just a tad from the original, and I think it was almost perfect – so flex as you desire!)
1 tsp sea salt
4 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp vanilla extract

EXTRAS:
1 cup dried shredded coconut
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or chopped pumpkin seeds (I used the pumpkin seeds!)
1/4 cup minced dried figs (optional)
1 cup nuts (optional) – chopped almonds is wonderful!
1 cup dried apples, chopped

METHOD:

Mix oats with the melted butter and oil, kefir and water in a large bowl. Cover with a cloth and/or plate and allow to sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours. After the soaking time, preheat the oven to 200° F (93° C).

Place honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla in a glass measuring cup in a small pot of warm water on the stove. Bring water to a gentle simmer, stirring honey mixture, until honey becomes thin.

Combine honey and oat mixtures, mixing to incorporate.

Spread mixture out over two parchment paper-lined cookie sheets (don’t use regular paper – I learned this lesson the hard way!). Bake for 2-4 hours, until granola is dry and crisp. Allow to cool in oven before removing to a container. It will get crisper at it cools. Once cool, add your extras, like dried fruits, etc. Makes 5 quarts of granola.

I also want to take this moment, as a rural homesteader to stand in solidarity with all my Urban Homesteader friends! Today is the Urban Homesteaders Day of Action! Recently the words “Urban Homesteading” were trade-marked by The Dervaes family of Pasadena, California. As you can imagine this action has created quite a stir on the internet by bloggers, writers and websites that also Urban Homestead or have Urban Homesteading as a title for their blog, or books, magazine articles, etc. Since the trademark, the Dervaes family has used their legal rights to have facebook pages taken down, as well as letters sent to bloggers that have also been using the words. Many of us feel that this family has co-opted a movement, and we don’t like it!  So today is a call to action! If you are an Urban Homesteader please share your story on your blog, and show that this is a movement, and not a trademark. Something that has been around even longer than the Dervaes family themselves! To learn more about the events surrounding this call to action, please check out these articles.

The Green Movement Trademarking Controversy

Dervaes Family Trademarks “Urban Homestead” Term: Legal Battle Follows

Let’s Get Cultured! Dairy Kefir: Our Daily Elixir

Many of you have been asking me about kefir lately. It appears often as an ingredient on this blog . I use it as a base for ice cream and smoothies, in desserts,  as a leavening agent in baking, and an acidic soaking medium for grains . I realized recently that I had never posted about my method for making it. Let’s make this the first post of my new series: Let’s Get Cultured! In my journey to go from food writer to food producer over the next couple of years, I am going to be experimenting a lot with dairy products.

As some of you know, we are going to be welcoming two Shetland sheep and two Alpine dairy goats to our menagerie in March. Although I won’t be getting milk from them for at least a year or so, I plan to get ready by trying my hand at many cultured dairy recipes, from kefir to cheese and everything in between!

(My Shetlands are part of this herd, but my Alpines have yet to be born!)

We are 100% addicted to kefir in this household. If we miss drinking it for some reason, the whole rest of the day feels “off”. When we travel, we make sure to bring kefir with us. It is that important to our health. Dairy or milk kefir is a delicious probiotic, a cultured milk drink that has over 2,000 years of history, taking us back to the Caucasus Mountains, located between Europe and Asia. Shepherds there noticed that milk carried for long periods of time in leather pouches or animal hides would sometimes ferment to create an effervescent beverage.

We have been making and drinking kefir every day for about a year. During that time we have noticed some remarkable changes since using it regularly – everything from clearing up chronic skin problems, to easier digestion and better immunity. We refer to it as an elixir because it is good for so many things.

The catalyst that creates kefir are the “kefir grains”, which are not actually grains but a colony of microorganisms which exist in a complex symbiotic relationship, in balance . The grains are formed during the process of making kefir and only from pre-existing kefir grains.

What sets kefir apart from other cultured dairy, is the number of various organisms, both bacteria and yeast, present as opposed to just one microorganism like most other cultured dairy products. Which is why in this house, we never go without.

Due to the variety of microorganisms, kefir is extremely beneficial to health. Even for those who are lactose intolerant! Kefir’s abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.

Kefir is an immune booster, and contains a high amount of calcium, amino acids, B-vitamins, Vitamin K and folic acid. Due to all of the chemical reactions that occur when it is cultured, it is easy to digest allowing the body to absorb all of the nutrients.As a probiotic it helps to regulate and balance intestinal flora, controlling the overgrowth of yeast. All of these friendly cultures also make kefir an excellent remedy for digestive issues of all kinds, and a great elixir for people overcoming serious illness, especially if they have been treated with antibiotics. Studies have even shown that kefir stimulates peristalsis and digestive juices in the intestinal tract. This was discovered by Elie Metchnikoff back in 1908!

The best news is that kefir is extremely easy to make at home. Here is what you need.

* Milk – any variety will do, but ultra-pasteurized milk is not recommended. I recommend raw milk (if available) or full fat un-homogenized milk aka “creamline”.

* Kefir grains

* Small unbleached muslin bag

* Clean glass jar (I use a pint size)

* Non-metal strainer

* Pourable glass jar

To Make Kefir:

Place kefir grains in the muslin bag and drop into the glass jar. Pour milk into jar until it fills the jar. Place a cloth over the mouth of the jar and allow to sit out on the counter for 24-48 hours. The first few times you use your grains, it may not culture properly. So I recommend only using a cup of milk at a time in the beginning, and changing the milk every 24 hours. Around the 3rd attempt, it should culture properly. I have noticed that in the spring and summer, my kefir cultures in about 24 hours. But in the winter it can take up to 48 hours.

Once the kefir has cultured, using a non-metal strainer, pour the kefir into a pourable glass jar. You can store the kefir in this container, or pour it into a different glass container for storage.

Then rinse the muslin bag and squeeze it to make sure that if any milk has cultured in the bag it comes out. Then you are ready to start the process all over again.

Kefir will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. But you need to make your kefir regularly. As soon as one batch has cultured, clean your tools and start a new batch. If you are going away and can’t make your kefir as soon as the next batch is finished culturing, you can store your grains, in the muslin bag in about a cup of milk in the fridge. When you want to make kefir again, just discard that milk and start again as you normally would.

I highly recommend getting your kefir grains from Cultures for Health. You can also get cheese and yogurt cultures there, as well as a variety of other products to make fermented foods like sourdough, sauerkraut, and kombucha. They are a fantastic small company with very good customer service. So if you have questions, they can help.

*Parts of this post will be appearing in the 2011 Spring/Summer issue of Hex Magazine including an additional kefir recipe! So be sure to check that out when it becomes available.

Part of Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop!

Buckwheat-Quinoa Biscuits

In my quest for delicious gluten-free baked goods I have been experimenting in my kitchen and have been putting my hand-powered grain mill to work. I am a huge fan of both buckwheat and quinoa – they both have a wonderful nutty flavor that I find very satisfying. I buy these two grains, as well as other things I use often, whole and in bulk. So now that I am 100% gluten-free, I have begun grinding my own gluten-free flour. I do love my gluten-free scones, but I wanted to create a bready item that could be used for sandwiches and so these biscuits were born.

I still have not plunged into gluten-free sourdough baking because I am intimidated by it. Right now I don’t have a lot of extra time to put into that new skill set…yet. But it is on my agenda for 2011 and I think the final solution for our lack of artisan bread in the house. So for now I content myself with some bread “stand-ins” that I can quickly whip up in my food processor without hassle or learning curve.

(My grain mill, from Country Living – sorry about the quality of the photo, but my camera died recently, and I took this with my droid)

Roberto loves these biscuits and that is a huge plus! It is tough being a native-born Italian and living in a gluten-free household. But I have to give it to my man, he is ever supportive of me and cheers me on through my challenges. He has learned to love corn pasta and relishes these little gluten-free breads, which is why every year for his birthday he gets a tray of real lasagna and bread made with wheat flour.

I adapted a recipe I got from Cultures for Health. I signed up for their newsletter and got a free e-book of kefir recipes. Pretty nice deal and it is still going on! So get over there and get signed up!

Kefir is a nice leavening agent, as it contains a colony of both yeast and bacteria to culture milk. I will be doing a kefir post next week, so keep your eyes out for more on this wonderful health elixir.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
½ cup quinoa flour
¾ cup kefir (you can also use buttermilk)
¼ tsp aluminum-free baking soda
1 TBS aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
6 TBS cold butter

METHOD:

12-24 hours prior to making biscuits, mix the flours and kefir together. Cover and allow the flour to soak. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the butter into chunks then work it into the flour/kefir mixture along with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. I use my food processor using quick pulses. Do not over mix. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more kefir. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Gently pat the dough to ½ inch thick (this will yield lighter biscuits than using a rolling pin). Use a round cutter to cut out the biscuits. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet. If you want biscuits with soft edges (and a higher rise), place the rounds touching each other. If you want biscuits with crusty sides, place the rounds about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Makes 10 biscuits.

This blog post is part of the Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop!

A Truly Local Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. One reason is because it is the only harvest still celebrated by the majority of people in North America, where people enjoy a variety of seasonal foods in a ritualistic manner. Celebrating the harvest is a festival that has been going on for a very long time in our human history and humans have always loved a good ritual. Celebrating the harvest is a way to give thanks for having enough food to sustain you through the next season. Living in a rural area, and spending much of this year planting, growing and harvesting our own food, has really put us in touch with a more natural cycle. Something I am very thankful for.

This year, Roberto and I decided in order to really appreciate the meaning of this holiday, everything we were to prepare would be from local ingredients – some ingredients as local as our own backyard! We pre-ordered a heritage turkey from Applecheek Farm. On Wednesday we went to the farm to pick up our fresh (not frozen) bird and decided to pick up other items at the farmstore to create the rest of our menu. We were greeted with an array of wonderful fresh and seasonal produce – fresh cranberries, brussels sprouts, potatoes, squashes, local breads, cheeses, eggs and milk. Everything one would need for a splendid holiday meal.

Since it was just the two of us this year, we decided not to overdo it. This was our menu:

Maple Roasted Heritage Turkey*
(Local Ingredients: turkey, butter, maple, From The Backyard: fresh rosemary)
Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing with sausage oven dried tomatoes, fresh herbs and pine nuts
(Local Ingredients: Cornmeal, homemade chicken/duck stock, sausage, From The Backyard: oven dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary and sage) – recipe below
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
(Local Ingredients: butter, fresh cream, From the Backyard: potatoes and rosemary)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
(Local Ingredients: brussels sprouts, butter)
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
(Local Ingredients: fresh cranberries, honey) – recipe below
Maple and Pumpkin Crème Caramel
(Local Ingredients: maple, cream, milk and pumpkin, From The Backyard: eggs)

*note: heritage turkeys are much leaner and smaller than sedentary commercial birds. This means that fast cooking at high temperatures is a better method than slow roasting. To read more about heritage turkeys, and why you should consider one for your Thanksgiving table next year, read this short article from Local Harvest

I prepared the compound butter for the turkey (I suggest making extra to enjoy with the leftover cornbread – they are the perfect combination with a nice brown ale), the creme caramel and the cornbread on Wednesday, and then spent the morning on Thursday in the kitchen finishing up the rest.

Doing Thanksgiving this way is so much less stressful, because you just go with the flow and what it the freshest and available! So I challenge you to think about doing something like this next year!

We spent the day watching a Lord of The Rings marathon, talking to family on the phone and just relaxing by the fire with the pets. It was a perfect Thanksgiving and a great way to really relax and unwind after such a busy season on the homestead.
THANKSGIVING RECIPES:


Fresh Cranberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups fresh cranberries
orange zest from one orange
juice of one orange
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup dark red wine (like zinfandel, grenache, or malbec)
¼ cup raw honey
pinch of nutmeg

METHOD:

In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients. I even put the quarters of orange in that have been zested and juiced. Turn heat to medium low and bring to a boil while stirring often. Reduce temperature to low simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced and you are left with a thick sauce – about 15 miutes.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Pine Nuts
(Recipe stuffs a 9-10 lb bird)

INGREDIENTS:

half a recipe of gluten free skillet cornbread (see below)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 TBS olive oil
½ onion, minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 TBS each – fresh sage, fresh rosemary
1 cup loose sausage (I use pasture-raised)
½ cup oven roasted tomatoes, chopped
½ – ¾ cup homemade poultry stock
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Make cornbread and toast pine nuts and set aside. Sautee onions, garlic and herbs in olive oil until onions become translucent. Add the sausage and cook until just browned. In a large mixing bowl, break up th cornbread into small pieces, then add the contents of the pan. Stir together with the oven roasted tomatoes. Then add the stock and stir to coat all the pieces of bread – making sure everything is nice and moist. Then it is ready to stuff inside the bird.

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread:
Ingredients:
1 cup oat flour
¾ cup cornmeal
½ cup kefir, buttermilk or yogurt
½ cup milk
¼ cup of butter, melted
2 TBS maple sugar
2 ½ tsp aluminum free baking powder
pinch of salt
2 TBS butter or lard for skillet (I used bacon fat)

Method:
Mix oat flour, cornmeal, kefir and milk in a large mixing bowl. Let sit out on counter overnight or at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients, except the fat for the skillet. Heat fat in a cast iron skillet, then pour the batter in and put the skillet in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a wire rack.