Article Written by Lynn Ogryzlo
Years ago my family stopped being nuclear and evolved into an extended and very eclectic family of friends. And so my thanksgiving dinners have evolved too, from the traditional menu of my childhood to the wondrous offerings of the many chefs who come together, each bringing a different dish to form a collective feast.
There are four cooks in the kitchen and five others responsible for the table setting. The cooks spend an entire week scheming and foraging neighbourhood farms purchasing the necessary ingredients for the upcoming all-day event of cooking, and I’ve often wondered if the busy farmers we buy from have the opportunity to stop and celebrate the holiday in honour of what they do.
Some don’t, but Karen and Doug Whitty of Whitty Farm Market on Louth Street in St. Catharines usually travel to family in Streetsville for their Thanksgiving dinner. “The day before we bake all day and all night for our customers who count on us for their Thanksgiving pies. We bake pumpkin pies, apple pies, we have beautiful fall raspberries on the farm at that time and if there are still peaches around, we bake peach pies too,” says Karen. After they’ve baked pies for everyone else, she brings her freshly-baked treats to the family dinner where more than 28 members gather around the table, all bringing their favourite dish.
Their Thanksgiving table isn’t complete without a bottle of vino or two from their winery, 13th Street Winery. “Maybe some Pino Gris or Rosé,” says Karen, who explains that Thanksgiving falls right in the middle of grape harvest so it’s an incredibly busy time for farmers in viticulture as well.
All the more reason to be thankful for farmers and the food they grow. In our household it’s a ritual of sorts to gather foods for Thanksgiving from the surrounding orchards, fields and gardens. Locally grown root vegetables, pumpkin, chestnuts, fruits such as apples, raspberries and cranberries and nuts are in good supply and economical during this season.
When the day arrives my kitchen is humming with activity. Potatoes are peeled, carrots are sliced, broccoli is chopped, and stuffing is mixed. The table is beautiful, covered in the colours of fall. The sideboard is decorated with fallen leaves, a fresh vase of mums from the garden, and the linens are in bold colours of tangerine and rust.
I catch a glimpse of thin layers of pasta being stuffed with a puree of turnip. I take time to dip a piece of bread into a delicious Madeira sauce, simmering on top of the stove. Next to it is a large pot filled with braised red cabbage and pine nuts. Dinner preparations are moving along well.
Before long the smells of the kitchen have captured everyone’s attention and it isn’t long before corks are being pulled from bottles of wine and the first course is served. A large steaming terrine of truffled cream of cauliflower soup sits in the middle of the table; on either side are smaller bowls of fresh garden antipasto and baskets of pumpkin Parmesan toast with herb pesto to complete the picture.
We all sit down and raise a glass to the farmers who labour long to bring us so much fresh and delicious food. We toast to a wonderful occasion that has brought us together to do so many wonderful things for each other. The conversation revolves around food, wine and more food. I hope your kitchen is deliciously bountiful this Thanksgiving.
Lynn Ogryzlo is an international award winning food writer and Ontario’s Local Food Ambassador. You can reach Lynn for questions or comments at www.lynnogryzlo.com
Shop Locally for your Thanksgiving Feast
Busy Liz’s Farm Shop
8405 Guelph Line, Milton
Beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, garlic, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, tomatoes
9528 Regional Road 25, Milton
Apples, baked goods, cider
6202 Walker’s Line, Burlington
Gourds, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, raspberries, squash
Marshall’s Real Farmers’ Market
13517 First Line, Milton
Beets, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, corn, garlic, gourds, herbs, onions, peppers, pumpkins, rapini, rutabaga, squash, tomatoes, turnips
7256 Bell School Line, Milton
Gourds, pumpkins, Indian corn, garlic, pears, bakery
7388 Guelph Line, Milton
Apples, bakery, cider, garlic, gourds, pumpkins, raspberries, sweet corn