Friday, November 21, 2008

Harvest Dinner 2008

Harvest Dinner 2008

For the past decade or so, at least since my Mom passed away, Jack and I usually travel to the LA area to attend Thanksgiving dinner at the home of one his relatives, usually one of his sisters. This means that for several years I did not have the pleasure of preparing and hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner celebration in my own home with my family and friends. It also meant that I did not get to make the traditional foods for Thanksgiving the way my own family did or the foods that I had learned to make as a young woman when I was married (both long ago).

So a few years ago I started the tradition of having what I call our annual Harvest Dinner celebration in the comfort and relaxation of my own home, with my friends and family, with my traditional foods, served on my favorite plates, with my festive tablecloth, using my serving dishes, my decorations etc etc. In other words, Harvest Dinner is Thanksgiving my way.

Here is our Harvest Dinner invitation that we gave to our family and friends:

The 3 of us invite you to share in our annual Harvest Dinner. It’s our way of celebrating our abundance and to give thanks to the earth, our loved ones and our universe (spirit). Sort of like traditional Thanksgiving, but not on Thanksgiving Day.

I like to include a moment or two before we begin eating the feast of food to express our thankfulness for all of the abundance that we have. Some would call this moment of thanks a prayer or the traditonal grace that is said to give thanks for our meal, but I mean it to be much more than mere gratitude for the food. This moment of acknowledgement for our great abundance, is meant to bring into our consciousness how fortunate we are to have not only an abundance of food on our table, but also our great abundance in many other areas of lives. We have homes, health, safety, freedom, friends, family, and most of all we have love. So as we raised our wine glasses to toast a Happy Harvest, we thanked each other for being being here, Mother Earth for our abundant harvest, and Spirit for guiding us each day. Then we dug into the mounds of food on our plates.

Some years I have printed out this grace that I found in one of my Mom's books long ago, and we have made it a part of our Harvest Dinner thankfulness moment. I do not know who the author is:

This is a time for giving thanks
This is a time for remembrance

Let us remember our past and
Give thanks for what we have become

Let us be present in the present and
Give thanks for the here and now

Let us remember our future and
Give thanks for all that is to happen to us

Let us give thanks for the whole universe
Especially for our creation
And the life that is in us

Let us give thanks for that consummation of all things
Which Spirit is working out in us

May light and love surround us
And guide us to right action

I think it is a lovely, although lengthy sentiment.

Anyway, I wanted to share our most recent Harvest Dinner with you. We usually have it on a Sunday afternoon about two weeks before Thanksgiving. We had our 2008 dinner last Sunday, November 16th.

Here's the menu:

2008 Harvest Dinner Menu

Baby Carrots & Celery
Mixed Nuts
Goat Cheese & Crackers

Main Course
Free Range Turkey
Greek Stuffing
Bread Stuffing Casserole
Cornbread Pudding
Mashed Potatoes
Turkey Gravy
Pineapple-Orange Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Apple Pie & Sugarless Apple Pie– both by Bob
Pecan Pie – by Jen
Pumpkin Pie – by Jack
Whipped Cream

I got lots of photos of the food, but absolutely none of us or our guests! We invited Bob's parents and a close friend of the family to make us 6 for dinner. Just the right amount of people to fit around my dining table.

So what follows here are the photos of our food feast with no pictures of any people or pets! Oh well, I guess I was totally focused on getting the food prepared and on the table for everyone.

Harvest Dinner Dining Table

That tablecloth was made by me 15 years ago for a Thanksgiving dinner I hosted in my little condo in Southern California, long before I moved to the mountains and my rural life. I still love the tablecloth and its rich colors.

Buffet Table set up in my kitchen

We served the food buffet style on a portable table set up in my kitchen. Everyone filled their own plate with whatever they desired from the buffet setup. I find this is the easiest way to serve the food because all of that food would never fit on my dining room table. This also eliminates the need for everyone passing heavy hot serving dishes around the table. It limits spillage and other dining "disasters".

The roasted turkey before being carved

I try to buy naturally raised hormone and antibiotic free turkeys when I cook turkey. I find that I like the way they taste better, and I feel better about buying a turkey that was raised without chemicals. This one was a Diestel Farms brand turkey. That's the brand I usually buy.

On our buffet table there was:

Roasted Turkey ~ light and dark meat

Pineapple Orange Fresh Sweet Potatoes

Bob's Famous Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Turkey Gravy ~ photo taken while gravy was cooking

My Mom's Greek Chestnut Stuffing

Cornbread Pudding ~ made this year by Jack

Bread Stuffing ~ Mrs. Cubbison's with my "doctoring up"

Fresh Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Bob's parents brought some flaky dinner biscuits that were wonderful, but I failed to get a picture of them. Trust me, they were good.

And then after dinner we had pie! Errr...make that pies. Plural.

Jack's creamy Pumpkin Pie

Jack tried a new filling recipe this year that used real cream instead of evaporated milk. It was a richer pumpkin than I have had before.

Bob's Sugarless Apple on the left, and regular Apple on the right

Both apple pies were great. I couldn't even tell the difference between the sugarless and the one with sugar in it.

My Pecan Pie ~ tasted great even if the crust is ugly

Well, that's it for this year. The turkey and all the leftovers are long gone by the time I am writing this post. Maybe next year I'll get a photo or two of the people as well as the food!

Happy Harvest everyone! And Happy Thanksgiving!

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket


CaliforniaGrammy said...

A wonderful Harvest Dinner celebration. After reading through the posting, I'm now drooling in anticipation of our Thanksgiving dinner. All the food looks scrumptious as it must have been. I made myself a tablecloth of what seems to be that same fabric, and I love it too. The colors are so festive and "fall-ish!"

So do you and Jack still go south for Thanksgiving dinner in addition to your own Harvest Dinner? This is the first year since we retired nearly nine years ago that we'll be able to stay put since our daughter and family moved to the mountains. And we are thankful, among so many other things, that we don't have to make that drive!

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Farmer Jen!

Hardware Bob said...

I really look forward to Harvest Dinner at Jen's every year, it's a wonderful family tradition, and I also like to show off my amateur baking skills.

Jen places a lot of herself into preparing for this annual event. We help as much as possible, mostly staying out of her way, and following orders. And, while doing chores, I am also remembering the delicious scents of roasting turkey, the sweet tartness of homemade cranberry sauce, and how wonderful her fabulous Greek dressing and pecan pie is going to taste.

Harvest Dinner is also an appropriate time to celebrate and give our thanks to the Universe for all that we have received.

And, how great that Thanksgiving arrives only a few weeks later, one can never have enough turkey, gravy, dressing, and all the yummy desserts.

Sadly, my Harvest Dinner leftovers are all gone now, but Thanksgiving will soon arrive. Yay for the holidays.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

What a great idea! Way to take care of yourself, Jen...
It put a smile on my face to read how you have reinstigated your own personal holiday traditions - and made so many others happy with it in the process!
I would love to know all that is in your greek sounds yummy. And Bob's garlic mashed potatoes? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!

Farmer Jen said...

Reviewing this post and all of the food pictures makes me hungry for Thankgiving food now! (thank goodness for Merlot with Cheese & Crackers, which is what I am nibbling on as I write this)

Hi CA Grammy,
The food was delicious and went very fast! Yes, Jack and I will be driving to LA for Thanksgiving. We usually do go down there to spend it with his relatives. Once or twice due to medical issues we have stayed home and celebrated with Bob's parents or other friends. We used to spend it with my Mom sometimes when she was still alive. I do miss her Thanksgivings. They were small and "homey".

Hi Bob,

I am happy that you look forward to our Harvest Dinner, and I am glad it is now a family tradition for us. Your baking skills are not amateur at all! We all love your pies.

Hi Danni,
Thank you for your support and encouragement of my family traditions. I knew you would pick up on that and be one who would understand how important those things are to me. I feel honored to carry on for my Mom.

You know, I have never given out my Mom's Greek stuffing recipe before, but did promise it to Bob's Mom this year, although I have not written it out for her yet. I suppose my Mom wouldn't mind if I gave it to you too. Then you and Bob's Mom would both become "honorary Greeks". It's actually a simple recipe. I will email it to you soon.

I am not sure exactly what Bob put in his famous garlic mashed potatoes, (yeah, garlic, but how much and what kind?) and I know he has at least one "secret ingredient". If he tells me what the recipe is, and OK's me giving it to you, I will email that to you too.

frugalmom said...

That sounds like a very special time for you and your guests. Its a nice thing to be able to share what means so much to you with others.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

That Grace is really beautiful, Farmer Jen. And the food has made me really hungry, which is not so great since I'm still on a bland B.R.A.T diet. wah.

I'd love to know how you doctor up your stuffing. Is that cranberries I see in there?
I love pecans in mine, or walnuts, too.

The pumpkin pie with real cream is going to be tried by me this year for sure. Any tips?

New Mexico

Farmer Jen said...

Hi Frugalmom,
I do enjoy our small homey gatherings with close friends and family. Sharing our abundance, including our abundance in love, is a wonderful way to celebrate.

Hi Lisa,
I added chopped celery and apple, walnuts and a handful of dried cranberries to the bread stuffing. I also put in an egg (should have used 2 eggs!) and some chicken broth, maybe some butter or olive oil too, plus some seasonings. I don't really remember, and I tend to make it differently each year, butthat's the basic recipe I use.

I don't know the exact recipe that Jack used for the pumpkin pie this year. I usually use the recipe that I got off of a can of Libby's pumpkin that calls for evaporated milk. Jack usually uses that one too, but this year he decided to use a different recipe he found in the newspaper. I think it uses a combination of heavy cream and evap milk.

I hope you can get back to your normal diet very soon! Heal well first please.