Making Room for Vegetables on the Thanksgiving Table

Remember this scene from the 1973 cartoon classic "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"? Buttered toast and jellybeans for everyone!  The strange twist of irony, If you remember, comes at the end of the film (not included in this clip), when Snoopy and Woodstock dine on turkey and pumpkin pie. In absence of the bird, did Charlie Brown and his pals have a vegetarian Thanksgiving? Carbo-tarian is more like it!

If you use the farmers market as your compass, you'll quickly see that a Thanksgiving without a meaty centerpiece is still one heckuva feast. After all, Thanksgiving historically is a harvest celebration, and with so much local, seasonal produce to choose from, it's one of the easiest meals to make meatless. 

There are two easy ways to turn a turkey-centric affair into one that's more plant-forward: 

Add a soup course and make a puree from the many fall vegetables on offer --  broccolicarrotscelery root and sweet potatoes, to name a few. Make ahead and freeze until the day before Thanksgiving, and you've got one dish ready to go.

Include a stand-alone meatless dish that can dazzle rather than ask your vegetarian guests to cobble together a meal of sides. Two ways to get there:  

Check out SFMA's Harvest Guide to help you plan your holiday feast.  The farmers market has everything you need!

Thanksgiving Planning Tips and Tricks

Photo credit: Kim O'Donnel

Photo credit: Kim O'Donnel

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is just two weeks from today. No need to panic, but it is  time to get busy — or at the very least, scribble down a plan. Whether you’re a first-time host or an old pro, the key to pulling off both a delicious yet stress-free Thanksgiving feast is in the planning. 

To help you get this party started, a few thoughts to chew on:

Guest List

* Who’s coming this year? Getting a firm head count helps planning the menu. 

* Is this a free-for-all potluck, designated dish assignment or a solo venture? Think about what’s realistic, both in terms of time management and your budget. Even if you embark on all the cooking, your guests likely will want to contribute. Encourage them to bring a bottle of their favorite beverage or vittles for the snack plate.

Menu Planning

Are there any vegetarians or gluten-free folks to consider? Anyone with food allergies or other dietary issues? Check in with everyone individually to get the scoop.

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

Take inventory of your cooking rig. For a turkey dinner or equally sized meaty centerpiece, you’ll need:

  • A roasting pan large enough for the bird (yet small enough to fit into your oven) and a roasting rack
  • An instant-thermometer (to make sure the turkey is cooked to a safe temperature: Turkey is done when the deep part of the leg reads 165-170 degrees)
  • Extra cutting board to fit inside a baking sheet for carving

If the budget won’t allow, borrow from neighbors or friends or pool your resources and buy a community roasting pan or instant read thermometer. Also: check out your neighborhood thrift shop.  

Get a head start on three classic elements of the meal

Stuffing: Buy the bread this week and get it good and stale by leaving it on the counter for a few days. Then make bread cubes:

Cut into 1/2-inch slices. Stack in piles of two or three slices, then cut into strips, then into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until dried out. Cool completely before transferring to a freezer bag and store in the freezer until you’re ready to make stuffing.

Stock for Gravy: Make your own, or pick up some poultry stock at the market. Either way, put it in the freezer until a few days before you need.

Here’s how to make 1 quart of vegetable stock:

  • 1 cleaned leek, cut into fourths
  • 1 medium onion, cut into fourths, skin on (rinse if need be)
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into thirds
  • 3 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • a small handful of parsley stems
  • 4 1/2 cups cold water

Place everything in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-low heat, covered, for about 45 minutes. Cool, strain and put into ice cube trays or freezer-friendly containers. 

Cranberries

FACT: Cranberry sauce is infinitely better made by hand than by factory elves, especially when you live in Cranberry Country, like we do! No special equipment is required, and it calls for just 30 minutes of your time, start to finish. 

Check out the how-to details for Maple Crans and stock up for all your Thanksgiving goodies at our sister market in Ballard.

Scenes from Closing Day

It's only been a few weeks since we closed for the season, but we already miss you -- and our vendors.  We've put together a few snaps from closing day that remind us of the  wonderful and delicious summer that we spent with you. Happy fall, and come see us at our sister market in Ballard on Sundays!

P.S.: We'd love to hear about your 2015 market experience. Share your comments, concerns and questions in our End of Market Survey.

Market Farewell, Full of Gratitude Beans

Mayocoba beans getting a short hard boil before simmering.

Mayocoba beans getting a short hard boil before simmering.

We wrap up the 2015 season today. Although sad to part ways for the winter, we are buoyed by abundance in many forms:

Our Wallingford neighbors: If you didn't come week after week to support our vendors and shop local, there wouldn't be a market to speak of. You sustain us and our mission, which is to create a space for the community to connect with nearby farmers, fishers, ranchers and food producers -- and by spending time with us every Wednesday, you hold that space. 

Our vendors: This year, we hosted more than 50 local businesses, a robust mix of vegetable farmers, flower growers, jam makers, bread bakers, picklers, ranchers, fishers, candy and cookie fiends, ice-pop stars, brewers, orchardists, and assorted artisans crafting food, drink and home goods from locally sourced ingredients.  Your dedication and tireless efforts in the face of extraordinary climate challenges never cease to amaze and inspire. We salute you, we love you and want you to have a long winter's nap to recharge for next year, okay? 

Mother Nature: This year's drought has been hard in ways we non-farming folk cannot even begin to fathom. Many crops suffered or had particularly short seasons. But the unusual heat also gave us the gift of the sweetest, juiciest peaches and tomatoes that we can remember. Even the sweet onions were sweeter, and those Italian plums truly have been the stuff of dreams. Our bellies are full, and we will savor these delicious moments all winter long (while we do a rain dance). 

But before we fold up the tents, we'd like to express our thanks in person.  SFMA's Kim O'Donnel will have a pot of beans on the burner, one of the most practical ways to make dinner for under 10 bucks. Stop by the Farm Stand demo tent around 4 for a taste and the conversation. 

Basic Pot of Stovetop Beans

  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dried beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Rinse the beans and remove any dirt, pebbles or debris. Place in a large bowl and cover with cold water until they are submerged by an inch or so. Soak for at least 4 hours, then drain. The soaked beans will have doubled in volume, to about 4 cups.

Place the beans in a large pot, add 8 cups of cold water, plus the garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook at a hard boil for 5 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the top. 

Cover, lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for 25 minutes. Season with the salt. Cover, and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Check for doneness. Cook in 10-minute increments until the beans are tender to the bite. Cooking times may vary depending on the age of the beans. 

From here, you can take the beans to the next level -- chili, stew or soup. If you're making in advance, cool the beans and refrigerate, reserving both the now very soft garlic cloves and a small amount of the cooking liquid.  The cooked beans are now triple in volume from their dried state, about 6 cups. 

Got Peppers? Let's Make Soup.

Photo Credit: Zachary D Lyons.

Photo Credit: Zachary D Lyons.

Happy first day of fall! 'Tis the season of golden afternoons and chilly eves. Have you noticed how quickly the sun is setting these days? We love a pot of soup to take the off the autumnal chill. But just because we're talking soup doesn't mean we have to reach for the winter squash just yet.  Sweet peppers, which are in all their glory right now, make splendid soup.  Start to finish, dinner is ready in an hour, with top-shelf leftovers for the next day.  Wallingford pepper people are: Alvarez Organic Farms, Around the Table Farm, Growing Washington and  Seattle Youth Garden Works.

Roasted Sweet Pepper Soup
Ingredients

  • 3 medium-size sweet peppers -- any shade of red or orange will do
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 medium-size potatoes (about 1 pound; Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, German Butterball or red-skinned are all great choices), peeled and quartered
  • 1 to 2 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Optional: A few lemon wedges for finishing

Roast the peppers: You may do this on a grill, on top of the stove in a cast-iron skillet or in a 400-degree oven.  Roast until thoroughly blistered and charred, at least 20 minutes.Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover to create steam to help loosen the skins, at least 15 minutes.  With the help of a paring knife, remove the skins, but resist the urge to rinse --- you'll lose all that good flavor. Slice open the peppers and remove the seeds and veins, then chop coarsely.

Meanwhile, get the rest of the soup going: In a  medium-size saucepan, warm up the oil over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is slightly softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the potatoes, thyme, water and salt. Bring to a lively simmer, then lower the heat, cover and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. 

Remove the herb sprigs, add the peppers and cider vinegar and stir in the cayenne and smoked paprika. Puree until smooth and free of lumps: A stick immersion blender is particularly handy here, but a stand blender works well -- but you may need to puree in batches. 

Taste for salt and add more as needed. Reheat the soup and serve hot, with lemon wedges, if you like, for a finishing spritz.

Makes 4 servings.