My first organic Thanksgiving
I love to cook. Especially Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd, which I have made for the past five years.
This year I would like to see if I can make a 100% organic Thanksgiving dinner from the turkey and stuffing to the pies and wine.
I will need your help with tips, tricks and recommendations on where to locate items that fit the bill. Also any suggestions you have (recipes and such) are greatly appreciated.
My local Shaw's supermarket has a Natural Food Section, and I am close to a Trader Joe's.
My menu (tentative) is:
Fresh Fruit Cup
Sausage and Apple Stuffing
Lemon-Pepper String Beans
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Some kind of dinner roll/bread
Dessert- Apple Pie, Chocolate dessert of some kind, cookies
Wines, Red, white, and a sparkling one.
I am flexible on some of these things because not sure if I will find them.
I may be able to order an organic turkey locally...
Have seen organic chicken stock, veggies in the stores...
Not sure where I will get organic sausage...and I wonder if a natural sausage such as Shaw's Wild Harvest brand is same as organic?
Cornstarch...Sugar....Spices.... Any especially good brands?
Pie Crust--- Yikes, not sure if "Crisco" is what I should be using....or what I can do to substitute or if I need to make a crisp instead... Although guests will be disappointed if they don't get pie... If my mother-in-law brings her famous apple pie I won't ban it... But I want to do something organic as well.
Open to your thoughts. Thanks!
Re: the sausage, if it's not labeled organic, it's not organic. That said, if having sausage in your stuffing is important and you can't source organic sausage, go with what looks best to you.
Do you have access to Whole Foods or a full-service (meat and produce) natural-foods market? If so, you should be able to find Spectrum Organics brand shortening, organic flour and baking products, spices, and perhaps some organic meat options. TJ's carries organic dairy products and eggs, plus organic sugar for much cheaper.
Organic sugars are not as refined as regular granulated and brown sugars, and don't behave quite the same in some applications. They'll be fine for apple pie and most simple cake and cookie recipes, though.
re: Caitlin McGrath
I would go to Trader Joe's and look around.. you never know what you might find that's organic and fits in with your menu.
Also, if you're open to a slightly different dish- instead of baked sweet potatoes and roasted carrots.. combine the two and roast with cubed butternut squash, beets, turnips and onions. My aunt makes this all the time for Thanksgiving and it's always the first thing to go. Even better, you can usually find the carrots, butternut, and turnips precut (oragnic) around Thanksgiving time.
If the Shaws you refer to is in New England, I didn't see any listing re "organic." The web site mentions "all natural" but that actually has no specific meaning.
I'm not exactly sure where you live but I would try looking for a food co-op. They tend to have more organic stuff and you can often purchase in bulk, including spices. I really like my co-op for spices because I can always be sure of getting really fresh stuff. Are any of these places near you?
For general ingrediants, you may be able to find some stuff at local farmer's market. Things like squash, pumpkin, apples, onions all can be purchased now and stored until Thanksgiving. As far as a turkey is concerned, try a local farmer---you may be able to find one who hasn't sold all their turkeys. Also check with your local Slow Food group---ours used to organize turkey sales of heritage birds and there was usually a left over or two.
Sausage isn't that hard to make, especially since you need bulk for stuffing---grind pork, add spices. Take a look on the web for recipes.
But mostly don't get so caught up that it stops being fun.
Cornstarch I haven't seen organic, but you can use the organic cane sugar that is evaporated cane juice in most desserts. TJs has it, as does Whole Foods. Spices - we have a organic chain on the West coast, but I would check out Whole Foods again if you have one close.
Pie crust. Organic butter and Spectrum shortening if you don't like an all butter crust. Spectrum is organic I believe. I just make all-butter crusts because I like the flavor. For chocolate, Dagoba seems readily available and is decent organic chocolate and cocoa.
At my Farmer's market they have organic Turkeys and sausage. Do you have one nearby? I'd go for organic butter for the pie crust and just calculate for shrinkage.
Green and black makes organic chocolate. I've never used it for baking, but it does make some really fine eating.
I've used Earth Balance organic spread for making pie crusts, and I've found I get a more tender crust if I use a pastry flour over a regular flour. My local coop has organic whole wheat pastry flour in the bulk section and I splurge on that when I'm baking to impress.
You might also want to check with your local growers. Depending on how much you are attached to "organic" certification, a lot of local growers do have organic operations, but aren't certified because it costs so much more.
I'd also second checking out your local food coop. Some of our local farmers volunteer at ours here in Albany and I've had some great conversations/advice from them about their products. Some of the store employees also know the local products really well, as well.