November - A Time For Thanksgiving~
Much of the early history of the first settlers (the Pilgrims) has been lost and somewhat modified to suit the easier format of text-book teaching. We do know local Native Americans taught the Pilgrims about native vegetables and herbs.
Along with many herbs valuable for medicinal uses, the settlers learned to use blackberry leaves, sassafras root, bee balm and birch bark for tea.
On September 21 or 22, 1621, close to Michaelmas (September 29, the traditional day for harvest feasts in 17th century England), the 52 surviving colonists and a group of Wampanoag Indians began a 3-day celebration.
Although the complete menu is not documented, William Bradford tells us the colonists supplied wild ducks, geese, turkeys, swans, and passenger pigeons, along with cod and sea bass. The Indians brought venison.
The four "goodwives" who had survived the year prepared simple dishes seasoned with European and native herbs. A recipe for Oyster Cornbread Dressing called for "Onyons cut fine and of Parsley, Sage, Time, Savory."
Although our Thanksgiving occurs about two months later in the year than the Pilgrims' celebration, we season our dishes with many of the same herbs they used, especially sage, thyme and rosemary.
Two varieties of rosemary, Arp and Hill Hardy, are said to be hardy to -10 degrees, we grow both at Sage Hill Farms and at times we can dip to the single digits. The first year we lost most of the rosemary shrubs, but since moving them to a location with a sturdy protection wall they have all survived the winters just fine.
French thyme, my favorite for flavor, seems to be a bit less hardy than English thyme. English is what we grow the most of, both for demand and for output.
Thyme pairs well with sage in poultry seasoning and is a good seasoning for winter squash. It can be snipped even under the snow.
Heavy harvests of sage should be complete by the first of September, although it can be clipped all winter for cooking needs.
Turkey seems to be the bird of choice for most Thanksgiving menus......even though we often opt for other choices we always have a small bird just for the sake of tradition, and they are so very good if prepared with special attention.
Wild Turkey is a much sought after meal for many. More and more wild meat is taking the lead as the healthier choice...void of any of the additives that goes into most domesticated birds and certainly much less expensive than the organic bird from a pasture raised setting.
There are 5 subspecies of wild turkeys populating most of the eastern United States and pockets of the South and West. Unlike its big breasted short lived cousins, the wild turkey maxes out at 20 pounds and has a life span of almost 2 years.
Sage Hill Farms has the pleasure of having these beautiful birds visit our farm on a daily basis up until the hunting season begins...then they go deep into the woods for cover...some make it, some don't.
We do not hunt or eat them, not because we feel it's wrong, we just don't choose to do so.
If you are thinking of purchasing a pasture raised bird for the holidays, now would be the time to do so, many places are already sold out.
Here are a few places to look for local and farm raised/grown foods:
http://yourstate.gov - most states have a site that will supply you with all the agriculture information you need.
Sage Hill Farms will be cooking from the gardens and the freezer for the holidays.
Turnip-greens, chard, kale, and collards are flourishing.
Scallions and winter squash are still plentiful right through the end of November.
Sweet potatoes and turnips will grace the table on more than one occasion.
Regardless what the dish, it can be tastier and healthier with a good dose of fresh or fresh dried herbs.
And nothing shakes the winter blues like a warm fire and a hot cup of herbal tea - soothes the mind, body and spirit.
Don't forget, this is the time to plan next years garden, both herb and vegetable; makes a wonderful fireside project.
Food For Thought~
I recently watched a PBS special with Michael Pollan; he has a new book "The Botany of Desire." It's a must read if one has the slightest interest in organic, healthy foods, farm standards and the future of our world in relation to how and where we are going to supply food for the masses.
Pollan is such a very wise man, we should all read and learn.
A Special Invitation~
Happy November to each and all....
You are invited to check out the specials designed for your shopping needs at Sage Hill Farms and Vintage Store.
Do let me know if I can be of special assistance in any way.
We wish you a very fun and safe season...Enjoy~