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  • Writer's pictureKatherine

Farm to Table Thanksgiving: Part 2

As this year comes to a close, a phrase that has been circulating through my thoughts is "Gratitude is a choice".


I love this phrase because it reminds me constantly that I can choose gratitude in any given circumstance, and after a year like 2020, I feel that's an incredibly important reminder. This Thanksgiving has been a wonderful holiday filled with lots of quality family time and (of course) superb food. It's such a great reminder of the community that it takes to grow and harvest our food. This year, I have been extra grateful since ~90% of our meal was locally sourced from small farms here in South Carolina! Check out Farm to Table Thanksgiving: Part One to read the full breakdown of where I sourced everything.


Surprisingly, the preparations for the full menu with a large local selection did not take any longer than previous years' preparations. In fact, I'd say the only time consuming part was shelling the gorgeous pecans for the sweet potato pie and pecan pie brownies. They added such a unique and delicate flavor to the dishes since they were shelled on the day of instead of pre-shelled in a bag. It is definitely an extra step that I am willing to take again!


In case you missed it, here is the breakdown of our full Thanksgiving meal for our small family gathering. There was so much food leftover that we enjoyed these dishes again and again until Sunday afternoon!


Thanksgiving Day Menu:

Herb roasted turkey

Sweet potato casserole with honey pecan drizzle

Venison cornbread dressing

Mixed greens (kale, mustard and collards)

Blue crab macaroni and cheese

Pecan pie brownies



The biggest hits were the mixed greens and blue crab mac and cheese. The delicate flavors of the various greens paired so perfectly with the chicken bone broth and red wine vinegar that it was actually one of the first dishes to disappear! If you haven't tried local mustard greens, then you are missing out! It's such a wonderful flavor with a spicy bite, plus its often one of the cheaper greens to buy!


As for the blue crab mac and cheese, the crab meat paired perfectly with the various white cheeses used in the dish. It was also really nice to know that all of our hard work of shelling the leftover crabs this summer and preserving the meat turned out to be such a "wow" factor for one of our holiday dishes! If we ever do a crab boil again, we will definitely make sure to set aside a few crabs for this purpose again!


All of these dishes turned out to be a huge hit and, while I am not a recipe person, I will save all of these ideas for future holiday meals!



Reflections

As I was cooking and reflecting on the meal, there are a few extra local items that I would love to add to the making of this feast. Local milk and butter being the top of the list, since they are such an important staple in traditional southern cooking! Now, I am no butter hater, but I was very shocked at the amount of butter I ended up using for this meal. My fear was that I would spend good money on something that we do not eat on a regular basis in our house and I would be left with tons of milk and butter that's quickly spoiling. That was simply not the case for this meal. So, for the future, I will be sourcing these items locally knowing that they will certainly not go to waste!


The other main thing that I will be sourcing locally is our turkey! (Pause for dramatic gasp)

Yep––I was unsuccessful at finding a local turkey small enough to fit our needs this year so I ended up making a 5 lb split turkey breast. My husband wasn't too thrilled with the concept of a Chickensgiving (and to be honest I wasn't either) so that local option was off of the table. So, if you don't have a preference and also want a smaller bird, that could be a great and inexpensive local option for you! My game plan for the next holiday that revolves around turkey will be to try and source a smaller one throughout the year and keep it in the freezer, or find a farm that will sell a whole turkey split into cut pieces. Just be sure to get on a waiting list with a local farm early for your heritage turkeys as they are a rare commodity!


I am so thankful for all of the hard work that our farmer's do to provide us with healthy and nutritious food! It was truly a blessing to be able to look at my Thanksgiving feast and know that I had some kind of personal connection with every single farmer that helped to put that food on my table. Whether it was a farmer friend that owns a CSA or the friendly farmer that I chatted briefly with at the farmer's market, having that connecting with the people that grow your food is an absolute blessing! And before you think that sourcing locally grown food is more difficult and more expensive, I'll break down exactly how I did it and how much it cost. I actually believe that I spent less this year than I have in previous years!


All together, our Thanksgiving meal was around $100 for our family of 3 with plenty of leftovers that we enjoyed for a few days. When I broke it down into the categories of how much the local items were vs the grocery store, it came out pretty even on both. However, I will say that I got more product for the dollar with the local items since I have leftovers of most of the dry goods etc. We will still be enjoying the goat cheese feta and raw local honey for a few more recipes in our house!


A great way to lessen how much you spend on the meal would also be to start "collecting" local items weeks and maybe even months prior. I actually bought the pecans a few weeks earlier at our local Saturday market and they kept perfectly until Thanksgiving day. $5 for a lb of pecans was a pretty good deal, so of course I jumped on the chance! This does take a little planning and some diligence not to indulge on the items before the big day, but it certainly does help to not have to buy everything the week of Thanksgiving! Bye, bye stressful grocery shopping!


All in all––our local Thanksgiving feast was a huge hit and I look forward to continuing to increasing the amount of local items that I am using! Our continued family goal for the remainder of 2020 and up into 2021 is to source the majority of our food from small local farms!


From our family to yours, here's to a wonderful holiday season this year! May your days be filled with love and joy (and lots of great food!)



Check out our full spread in the short little slideshow above

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