Kitchen Porch - Martha's Vineyard - locally inspired, seasonally influenced, thoughtfully sourced
Culinary Experiences
Anyone need 1000 pounds of pumpkin?

Morning Glory Farm on Martha’s Vineyard is advertising 1000# for sale for $300. What a bargain! A few friends, a cool basement, and you would be set with pumpkins for winter. Most folks don’t think of pumpkins for dinner other than for Thanksgiving, but they make a delicious side dish! They keep well in a basement with a constant temperature between 40-50 degrees. A pumpkin is not a vegetable; it's a fruit. In fact, it's a berry. Pumpkins belong to the family Cucurbitaceae, that includes cucumbers, melons, squash, and gourds. Within this family is the genus Cucurbita that includes gourds, winter and summer squash, and all varieties of pumpkin.  Incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins, this humble vegetable, I mean FRUIT, contains vitamin A, and flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as luetin, xanthin, with carotenes in abundance. That is a lot for .30 cents a pound! 

In addition to pumpkins, there is an abundance of local cranberries!  The Vineyard Open Land Foundation (VOLF) has had a great year at their bog off of Lambert’s Cove Road - read about it here. You can purchase these locals through VOLF, Cronig’s, Vineyard Grocer, and Morning Glory Farm.  Cranberries are harvested in October and November, but you can freeze them to use any time.  I make a delicious Raw Cranberry Sauce for our holiday table.

On November 1st, I catered our last wedding of the season.  The bride supplied her own squash. I encourage families to bring family treasures, menus, recipes (or even their own squash!) to the wedding reception and/or table, as it makes for a much more meaningful and personal event.  The fun story can be read here at Wedding and Honeynut

Thanksgiving is my brother Tim’s favorite holiday. He has been saying this for at least 50 years, and by now you’d think I would be used to it, but I was still surprised when he said it again last week. Thanksgiving has always been a beloved treasure of friends and family gathering, but for me it is just too much of everything all at once.

Seriously - eating turkey, squash and cranberry sauce is delicious, but adding oysters, Brussels sprouts, apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and whipped cream is just too much! Maybe some of you can control yourself when it is all in front of you, but I have a hard time with decisions so I take some of everything and feel more than stuffed every year! I often save my pie for the following morning for breakfast when I can really enjoy it!

I have created a fun little poem “If I were in Charge of Thanksgiving” as an ode to one of my favorite children’s book authors, Judith Viorst, and her poem “If I were in Charge of The World”. When I was a librarian we had a lot of fun with this poem in my classes.

Over the years, I have reserved our turkeys with local turkey growers and it is always a bit of a challenge deciding which farmer I should support.  I have a hard time with decisions. I like to support all the local growers and every year I add to my list of folks who are raising turkeys. There are only a few on Martha’s Vineyard that raise turkeys on organic grain and those farmers are saving them for their own family and close friends since they would be too expensive for most if they had to put a price on them. I support The Farm Institute, The Good Farm and Cleveland Farm. They have great tasting birds.  Last year, I did a side-by-side tasting and found The Farm Institute to be super moist and delicious. I believe all our growers here on the Vineyard are raising heritage birds.

Black, Bronze, Narragansett, White Holland, Slate, Bourbon Red, Beltsville Small White, and Royal Palm are beginning to replace the name “Butterball”* when we refer to our turkeys at Thanksgiving.  These are names of the eight varieties of turkeys set by The American Poultry Association (APA) that fall under the definition of heritage turkeys.

Eating turkey on Thanksgiving is tradition, but the Butterballs and others available in the grocery store barely resemble those enjoyed by settlers or even those eaten 100 years ago.  There is a big difference between the supermarket variety and the free-range, farm-raised heritage breed turkey.  My recent post, Turkey:  Farm To Table goes in depth exploring these differences. I heartily encourage you and your family to choose the heritage breed turkeys found at farms that raise their birds in the best of growing environments, rather than the "butterball" and other supermarket varieties that are raised on factory farms and contain additives.  It is well worth the extra cost for our rare and special occasion celebrations!

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving can be a daunting holiday with family and cooking.  Even more challenging when you have to consider your options about turkey, squash and all the other options!  We are including a few recipes and links below to ease the week ahead.

Ordering Turkeys:

Pitman Farms has a few New England outlets, as does D’artagnan
On Martha’s Vineyard, The Farm Institute has heritage birds that are pastured. You can reserve one at 508-627-7007.   
*Butterball refers to a brand type of turkey. Mercy For Animals has conducted multiple undercover investigations over the past 4 years at Butterball factory farms and uncovered horrific animal abuse, including workers viciously beating animals, that has led to criminal convictions of Butterball workers. In February 2013, two more Butterball workers, Terry Johnson and Billy McBride, were found guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty as a result of MFA's investigation. Butterball’s label states “contains up to 8% of a solution of water, salt, spices, and natural flavor.” (hmmm - what is natural?)
Jan Buhrman
Kitchen Porch

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