This Thanksgiving’s spread turned out just as we’d hoped, a really tasty celebration of all our work throughout the year. While it didn’t necessarily reflect the ratios of food we raise and live on (the only trace of goats was some feta on the salad and yogurt in the cornbread), it thoroughly encompassed our values of self-sufficiency and scratch-made food. With the wood stove and sun keeping the house luxuriantly warm though the outdoors stayed below freezing, we enjoyed a nice day and rewarding meal. Here’s a recap of what we prepared; on-farm ingredients in italics.
SMOKED VENISON HAM
A 5+lb venison ham from this year’s opening day, brined with juniper berries, cloves, and sugar, then hot-smoked with hardwood charcoal and whole hardwood for about 9 hours with a bourbon/local sorghum/brown sugar glaze. Tender, still juicy, and quite flavorful.
Not photographed, but visible on upper left of plate in photo above. The only stuffing recipe Joanna has ever liked, this was just baked in the oven sans bird. Bread crumbs, eggs, herbs, meat broth, leeks, local apples, Missouri native pecans, local honey, salt, pepper.
About 50/50 Missouri wheat (fresh-ground) and regular flour, with a bit of our own fresh-ground sorghum flour
for color and texture, egg
, oil, yeast, salt. Served with Siberian garlic
butter and farm-grown/made strawberry jam
An entirely non-local indulgence, Joanna’s best recipe of cranberries, sugar, and water.
A 10-variety extravaganza. Clockwise from bottom left, potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, sweet potatoes, leeks, garlic, scorzonera, salsify, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes). Scorzonera and salsify were small test crops this year, and we weren’t that thrilled by them on their own, but they added diversity to this excellent mix. Roasted in goose fat with thyme, oregano, & salt.
This was a rough corn year between rain & raccoons, but we harvested enough to feed ourselves through the winter. This was our standard recipe: fresh-ground cornmeal, eggs, goat’s milk yogurt, leaveners, salt, local honey. Served with local honey & sorghum.
Also not photographed, but visible in first image above. Lettuce, goat’s milk feta, local & NY apples (latter brought by family), oil & vinegar.
Simple and sweet, a nice finishing touch. Strawberries, local peaches, local & NY apples.
Our two favorite pies:
Joanna’s sweet potato pie: Sweet potatoes, evaporated goat’s milk, egg, sugar, spices; crust of white flour, sorghum flour, salt, butter.
Eric’s bourbon-apple-pecan pie:
Local apples, raisins, Missouri native pecans (gathered on our honeymoon trip
), Kentucky bourbon, sugar; crust of butter, flour, eggs
, sugar, salt.
In a narrow sense, this was all prepared over portions of two days, with a few things happening Wednesday and most Thursday, on a relaxed and organized schedule that still allowed us to take a long walk during the day Thursday and have everything served around 6:30pm without too much fuss. But in the larger picture, this meal drew from a year’s worth of work. From the garlic we planted 13 months ago, to the goats we bred and managed and milked through to fall, to the spring-fall work of planting, harvesting, and preservation, to our year-round efforts to buy & preserve what we can from other local sources, to the woodcraft of forest management and respectful hunting, to the market sales & business management that allowed us to buy the off-farm ingredients, what we ate on Thanksgiving encompassed much of our lives and deepest values. We knew where most of this food came from and just how much went into it, and thus could be Thankful in a truly personal sense.
We’re grateful for this deep sense of enjoyment and fulfillment we get from our chosen life and work, even when outside forces chew away at our fringes. Hopefully the future will continue to allow us to feed ourselves and many others with the fruits of our labors. In the meantime, leftovers have never tasted so good.