(Image Courtesy of: http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Turkeys)
Forgive me, anyone who was loyally reading this. Writing has been a bear recently – I have been sick for the last week, busy at work for the last several, and hesitant to dare to write anything non-political. Hopefully, the lot of you will take a breather from your regularly-scheduled election-themed ranting to read something about food and more importantly, a lovely upcoming holiday that should, in theory, unite one and all to enjoy all things delicious.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs (he says, as if they were world-famous) or simply know me, you’re more than aware that I get excited about the holidays for no reason other than the food. Christmas involves a pilgrimage to Philly’s Italian Market to procure crazy amounts of charcuterie, hard-to-find poultry from D’Angelo’s Meats, and an endless variety of Italian antipasti to snack on throughout the day (and to think, I’m not even Italian). Gifts are great, I do enjoy a good rendition of “O Holy Night,” and I cannot wait to watch a few of the greatest Christmas films of all time: A Muppet Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Scrooged, and of course, Die Hard. It is an undeniably fun season.
The frustrating part is that most people seem to mentally skip over Thanksgiving in favor of jumping right into the Christmas season. I personally don’t get it. Thanksgiving is simple: it’s a time to cook a lot of seasonal food to enjoy with family or friends, sit around and enjoy a football game or parade, and take one last deep breath before the plunge into the pine-scented chaos that is the first 3/4 of December.
I’ve written before about prepping for Thanksgiving, but this year, I had a startling revelation: I’ve never had to buy my own turkey. In twenty eight years, I’ve always either been at my parents’ home, my grandmother’s home, or my in-laws’ home for Thanksgiving. Needless to say, when I’ve been a guest, no one ever requested that I “bring the turkey” as a polite gift (I opted for wine the first year I went to my in-laws’ home, but in recent years I simply ask to be put to work in the kitchen).
Really, this isn’t a major task – just one that you don’t think about until you have to do it yourself. Of course, every major supermarket can pre-order a monster bird for you at this time of year: Butterballs and Honeysuckles are probably the most popular. Now, a slightly younger and more elitist-foodie Eric might have demanded that you buy a farm-raised turkey, ranting about issues with the poultry industry such as steroid use, “plumping,” and the downright prison-like conditions that most of those birds are raised in. The fact is, do whatever sits well with you. If all of the above stuff bothers you, consider options outside of the supermarket; if you either don’t have those options, are on a budget, or simply don’t give a hoot, do whatever you want!
I am getting a farm-raised turkey this year. Why? Pretty simple: my house is in farm country. My neighbors raise turkeys that wander into my yard from time to time. If fall turkey season hadn’t been cancelled for the past few years in my region, I’d probably be out hunting for one. It just makes sense to order from a local farmer even if for no other reason than to simply support their efforts.
Fortunately, after a bit of internet browsing, I found Bendy Brook Farm located in Oley, PA about ten minutes or so away from me. The same family has farmed the land since 1941, and does everything chemical-free, hormone-free, and GMO-free (a rarity these days). The nice part is, they aren’t doing any of this because it’s trendy or hip: they’re just raising livestock and poultry the way they always have. I can’t speak to the quality of their meats just yet (I’m sure they’re amazing) because I haven’t ordered any. I did, however, order a turkey carcass and some necks to make a big batch of stock and I’m amazed by the quality and depth of flavor.
So although it’s a few weeks away still, get out there and order your bird! Plus, chances are, if you order from a farm, you’ll be getting a very fresh turkey as well rather than one that’s been frozen for a while. More to follow in the coming weeks as I continue to prep for one of the most wonderful times of the year!