Turkey’s in the tub: must be Thanksgiving

Gale Hammond

Over the years, I’ve believed my biggest Thanksgiving challenge, short of buying a second fridge, was finding a water-tight vessel large enough to hold a brining turkey the size of a Shetland pony within its confines for two entire days prior to Thanksgiving.
But the true test comes after the turkey and its accompaniments have been served, consumed and mostly digested. This signals the kickoff for my own personal Thanksgiving tradition of staggering around the kitchen amid dirty dishes stacked halfway up the windows, muttering to myself, “I hate Thanksgiving!”
Now I ask you: WHAT kind of attitude is THAT?
Yes, I have a wonderful family that pitches in after dinner, loading the dishwasher after performing the scraping and rinsing ritual at the sink while I pray for just one small sliver of space in the fridge for the avalanche of leftovers before the turkey tryptophan kicks in and I need to find a quiet corner somewhere for a quick and undisturbed nap.
This year, though, will be different. I mean, what kind of person would not be grateful for plenty of food and a loving family on that most uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving? Therefore, I’m giving myself an attitude adjustment.
For starters: It’s the bathtub. YES! THAT’S where the turkey and its citrusy brine will reside until … wait! Turkey is not the only thing we enjoy on Thanksgiving.
I mean—it’s fall! Autumn’s bounty has arrived in the South Valley because, well … a big bunch of it is actually grown right here. So let’s think about those “side shows,” friends: Farm fresh ingredients for awesome side dishes that everybody craves at Thanksgiving.
Now, years ago at Thanksgiving, my mother made sides like plain old mashed potatoes, poured a few green beans out of a can, popped open a tin of jellied cranberry sauce and voila! We thought we’d found nirvana.
However, if you’ve done any creative cooking lately, you already know there are endless ways to dress up a dish of mashed potatoes or a bland bowl of green beans.
Hint: a trip to one of the local farmers’ markets is the place to start.
If you’re a fan of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving (and frankly, who isn’t?), we’re located dead center in the Garlic Capital of the World—Gilroy—which can provide just the trick you need to turn old-fashioned spuds into something genuinely memorable, like … garlic mashed potatoes with browned butter. Got your attention yet?
Sides that stand alone will practically outshine the star of the show—Old Butterball—and can be produced with little more than the veggies themselves, fairly bursting with flavor right now, filling the house with swoon-inducing scents as they roast in the oven under a little olive oil and sea salt.
That’s why I’ll be venturing over to the farmers’ market and letting the produce there inspire me. Squash and root vegetables are yummy this time of year; thus we’ll see where my creative impulses lead me.
So if you, like me, are looking for a Thanksgiving attitude adjustment, visit one of our plentiful South Valley farms or farmers’ markets for a little agricultural magic.
In Gilroy, the last day of this season’s farmers’ market in the City Hall parking lot, 7351 Rosanna St., is Nov. 22—so there’s plenty of time for Thanksgiving shopping. In Morgan Hill, the Farmers’ Market is open year round. Visit them at the Third Street Promenade and Depot Street.
For more info on the markets, visit cafarmersmkts.com.
I know we would all agree that it isn’t just turkey and sides that make Thanksgiving dinner extraordinary. It’s about friends and family, living in one of the most unique parts of the country and remembering to bow our heads in gratitude.
So how am I going to cope this year with turkey brining tasks, creative sides from the bounty of the county and a post-dinner mountain of dishes and other paraphernalia required to get that gobbler to the table?
Oh, that’s easy. THIS year, my younger daughter and her hubby are hosting Thanksgiving dinner. No bathtubs nor attitude adjustment required!
Happy Thanksgiving, South Valley.

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