The Lessons of Thanksgiving

My original plan was to take some pictures of all the vegetables we used from the garden for Thanksgiving dinner, then show how we prepared them in a series of before and after photos. This plan went well first thing in the morning when we went out to pick what we needed:

Clockwise from the top we have mixed greens and herb salad (lettuces, arugula, kale, beet greens, mint, and cilantro), cabbage and broccoli, frozen green beans from earlier in the season, frozen peas from earlier in the season, a jar of dried sage, chives, and carrots.

My Thanksgiving photography took a nosedive as the day went on, though. I took only one other picture all day, and it wasn't of prepared food or even of the kids. So instead of a big recipe extravaganza, here's what I learned yesterday:

1. It takes three times as long to pick damp vegetables on a freezing morning than it does to pick them later in the afternoon. This is because you have to stop several times to thaw your wet, frozen fingers by washing them in warm water. I hate gardening in gloves because they seriously cut down on your mobility, but I'll be on the lookout for something waterproof with a second-skin kind of fit for future forays into the winter garden.

2. The five-second rule applies just as well to whole turkeys. If you hilariously drop your uncooked bird on the floor, it will still taste fine if you pick it up fast.

3. Vodka with pomegranate seltzer and lime is a truly excellent pre-dinner cocktail. Light and refreshing, it works with cheese, crackers, and salad appetizers without filling you up too much to enjoy the impending feast.

4. Carrots are adaptable to a variety of soils, including those with bits of wire left over from the excavation of an old, ugly water feature:

We were so pleased with our carrots this year, which seem to have benefitted from the loose, fluffy soil that was newly dumped into the raised beds. We haven't had any mutant carrots forking around stones this year, but we did find this one Thanksgiving morning. It looks like it managed to grow directly down into a loop of wire in the soil, which made the bottom half much smaller than the top. What are the odds? Hopefully this is not a sign of bad soil screening on our part, but gardening is always at least a little bit of an archeological dig.

5. Carrots that you accidentally pick while they are still tiny are excellent, crunchy afternoon appetizers for kids and adults alike.

6. There is absolutely no need to try to fancy-up green bean casserole. I will admit to having second thoughts about smothering our good garden green beans in cream of mushroom soup and onion crunchies. I was wrong. That classic processed food recipe simply cannot be improved upon, and was even better with the more flavorful green beans. I will never doubt again.

7. It's really hard to take pictures and eat at the same time. This is especially true when you've turned your garden bounty into (refer to the first photo, clockwise from the top) green salad with cranberries, broccoli, and walnuts; Italian cabbage; classic green bean casserole; turkey stuffing flavored with sage, chives, and a Sparhawk School garden onion; and maple-drizzled carrots. You'll have to take my sleepy, tryptophan-addled word for it.


  1. My mother-in-law didn't make green bean casserole. I could have cried.


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