A New England Thanksgiving Meal
by Jennifer Wojenski

To me, there is nothing more
New England than a Thanksgiving
meal.
 It has all of the smells,
warmth, and sustenance of a
“comfort meal” yet can be brought
up to gourmet status in
a New York minute
(well maybe not quite that quick!)  

I guess this is no coincidence since
the holiday originated as a Harvest
Celebration for the settlers who
landed at Plymouth Plantation,
Mass. in 1621. Throughout
the years the harvest celebration
continued as these original settlers’
ancestors moved to the new states
and in 1863 Abraham Lincoln
declared Thanksgiving
a national holiday

I, personally, enjoy the Thanksgiving
meal more than the Christmas meal. I love to prepare a Thanksgiving meal
without the distractions of shopping that Christmas brings. We have had many
different invites throughout the years and we have taken people up on them.
But I always have a little bit of regret afterwards because I miss the preparation,
the smell of turkey roasting, apple pie, pumpkin pie, homemade cranberry
sauce, the setting of the table and the LEFTOVERS!

I believe in using as many local and natural ingredients as possible. I also have
a personal commitment to make as much as possible from scratch – this little bit
extra time put into the meal is my way of saying thanks - to the Lord, my family,
and the earth . This means no Stove Top stuffing, homemade pie crust, real
whipped cream, and homemade cranberry sauce.  On the weekend before
Thanksgiving I go to
Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH and stand in line for a fresh
turkey from a farm in Hinsdale, NH. If you have never had a fresh (from the
farm) turkey before I urge you to give it a try – they are delicious.

My dinner consists of Butternut Squash soup, Turkey, mashed potatoes with
garlic and sour cream, Walnut Cranberry sauce, Balsamic green beans with
sesame seeds, Apple and Onion stuffing, Baked Maple Carrot, Pecan and Apple
pie.

Here are some of my recipes.  

Walnut Cranberry Sauce

12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup raspberry-cranberry juice
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup walnut halves

Combine the cranberries, maple syrup, juice and orange zest in a saucepan.  
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries
pop open, about 10 minutes.  Carefully skim off any foam that has formed on
the surface of the cranberry mixture, and stir in the walnuts. Allow the sauce to
cool; then cover and refrigerate. You can make this several days ahead.

Balsamic Green Beans with Sesame Seeds

Steam green beans. In the meantime; heat butter and olive oil in frying pan.
Transfer green beans to frying pan and add slivers of roasted red peppers and
sesame seeds. Sauté until green beans are coated. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar on
green beans, toss, and serve.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

4 T. butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
5 tsp. curry powder
2 medium-sized butternut squash (about 3 lbs. total)
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shredded unpeeled Granny Smith apple

Melt the butter in a pot. Add chopped onions and curry powder and cook,
covered, over low heat until onions are tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile peel the squash (a regular vegetable peeler works best), scrape the
seeds, and chop the flesh.
When onions are tender, pour in the stock, add squash and apples, and bring to
a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until squash and apples are
very tender, about 25 minutes.

I like the following verse sung at my children’s school for the beginning of the
Thanksgiving meal:

Oh the Lord is good to me. And so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I eat, the sun
and the rain and the apple seed. The Lord is good to me.

About the author: Jennifer Wojenski, a freelance  writer, is owner of Hors D’
OeuvresUnlimited, a catering service based in Keene, New Hampshire.  To contact her,
drop her a line at
jwojenski@ne.rr.com
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Happy Thanksgiving, Turkey