Thursday, December 03, 2009

eco-friendly thanksgiving

this year matt and I have been out of town for at least 75 days. maybe more. that's right, friends. 20% of the time, out of town. no joke. Over the whole year that's more than 1 day of every 7 out of town. yeah. crazy.

So, we decided that this year we would spend Thanksgiving AT HOME. and we did. and it was glorious. My fabulous friend, sister, bridesmaid, fellow sustainable-living/environmental-ist and all around awesome human being, Jennifer was going to be in town too, so we decided to celebrate together, just the three of us.

which quickly escalated :)

we cooked up an awesome plan (excuse the pun)--we would have a LOCAL Thanksgiving. We thought: North Carolina is a farming state, I'm in a CSA and regular patron of the Durham Farmer's Market, Jennifer works at State, and they have a farmer's market too, and Raleigh has one, and the local Wholefoods/Earthfare has a lot of local stuff, right? We can TOTALLY do this.

And we TOTALLY did.

I made a little video of the fixings and tables and fabulous guests.

We think that if you boil it down (oh, here I go with the puns...) we were around 90% local. And we didn't skimp at all, and we didn't go without. We didn't have a turkey because all the local turkeys were spoken for or were, like, 22 pounds, which is far too much for 8 people and an almost-2-year old. So we had chicken and ham. So here's the rundown:

what we ate:
chicken, ham, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, beer rolls, roasted acorn squash, mashed potatoes, collards. we had pumpkin pie, apple pie and peanut butter pie for dessert, along with cupcakes. and there were sausage ballas and cheese and crackers for snacking while things cooked.

sweet potatoes
green beans
acorn squash
whole wheat flour in the pumpkin pie crust and beer rolls
cream in the sweet potatoes and served whipped w/ the pumpkin pie
apples in the apple pie
beer we drank (3 growlers from LoneRider--YUM!)
honey (in the glaze for the ham & in the beer rolls)
asiago cheese
farmer's cheese
carolina moon cheese
sausage in the sausage balls

what wasn't local:
all of the peanut butter pie
the cupcakes
the mashed potatoes (potatoes aren't in season now, which was news to me!)
the canned pumpkin (could've gotten a local pumpkin and cooked it down. not that hard core!)
all spices
the yeast in the rolls
the bread in the stuffing
the crackers for the cheese
flour in the apple pie crust
the wine (our nearest winery only makes sweet sweet wines)
orange juice in the sweet potatoes
cheese and bisquick in the sausage balls
and the beer in the beer rolls (we had Smashed Pumpkin from our trip to Shipyard (which whoa I've yet to blog!) and some Boulevard Wheat we brought from OK)

Now, although those lists are pretty close to the same length, you'll notice that only small bits were included--individual ingredients. I recently learned that we maaaaayyyyybe could've gotten north carolina sugar, and if we had gone to another part of the state we could've gotten NC wine. But oranges don't grow here, and I just didn't have 12 hours to spend cooking down a pumpkin for the pie. And of those, one was leftovers from another dinner, so I don't really think they count! But all the meats, all the veggies except for potatoes, all from NC? And the crackers and the flour and all? WOW!

So based on volume? Well over 90%. I mean, there were only 3 of our dishes that didn't contain local ingredients, you know?

This was also the first time I've EVER used my china for anything other than a china cabinet decoration (and y'all know how I love, love, love my china cabinet). And, another fabulous thing happened too--I was fretting over the table decoration (seriously I had the craziest time finding a damn tablecloth. I needed two that matched. wtf? anyway) and I thought I had it figured out, and I decided I would have Matt take ~1 hour and make some tissue paper flowers for it like he did soooooo long ago.

Well, on Wednesday when my dear friend Karen came over for dinner I had told her she didn't need to bring anything, so she brought me flowers. It was totally cute and thoughtful!! Dark red gerbera daisies. Which went PERFECTLY with the red tablecloths and red, orange, yellow and gold tablescape I had going on. Loved it!

It was fabulous how everything fell into place. There were nine of us counting Luke--Jessica, Aaron, Gurdas, Nicole, Dave, Luke, Jennifer, Matt and me. And we knew everyone from a different part of our lives--there was a couple who had just moved from Houston that we met at Nicole's Halloween party, Matt and Dave know each other from HPU, Jennifer and I are KDs and Gurdas and I know each other from school. It was a splendidly motley crew! And we even watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving :)

Luke LOVED playing with Hazel (I really hope she tells you what he said while he was chasing her--it was funny and cute!)

Everyone was really helpful with the cleaning, and left at maybe 930ish I think? Luke was already fast asleep downstairs :) At the end of the evening while the last load of dishes were in the dishwasher, Matt, Jennifer and I watched some eps of How I Met Your Mother, enjoyed some more Lonerider brews and sat. We spent ~9-10 hours cooking Thursday and both cooked Wednesday night too, so it was much deserved.

And the only thing that burned or wasn't like it was supposed to be was our simplest dish of all--the green beans :)

And to that I say: my compliments to the chefs. Just 'cause I'm one of 'em doesn't mean I'm not proud of myself!! Jennifer and I had assisted with meals many times, but neither of us had ever done it without parents/family. but we DID. And it was GOOD. And we ate before 3am. And no one got sick! And it was a SUCCESS! And check out our shirts--that's what we wore to cook. She's in the shirt the NCState students made for the farmer's market on campus. Mine is from the one in Durham. That's our chicken, green beans (before cooking!) and the sweet potatoes before we toasted the marshmallows (which was always my job growing up, and I must say, they were TOP NOTCH). I am SO proud of our local thanksgiving, so thankful to have been able to share it with such incredible people and grateful that I won't be cooking on that scale for the whole rest of the year :)


Jennifer said...

Yay for us! What a great Thanksgiving! I am so happy that we were able to celebrate with such fun people!

melissa said...

good for you, ladybug! the spread looks DELICIOUS and buying local warms my heart. :)

Unknown said...

I love the pictures and video! Totally awesome!

katandkarl said...

your table looks GREAT and everything looks delish - i am already nervous about the day i have to undertake an entire turkey day dinner alone!

The Writer said...

Makes me want to eat Thanksgiving all over again! Looked great!


Imperfection Is Perfection said...

what an outstanding task and accomplishment! I enjoyed reading about it!

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