In Thanks for Michigan’s Bounty

Two years ago, I made a concerted effort to cook our entire Thanksgiving Dinner, save for spices and olive oil, with products from MI.

I’ve moved twice since then, but found this year that I almost pulled it off without trying (I didn’t use MI flour and butter).

Here are some of the great farmers and producers we’ll be thanking tonight for their bounty:

Crane Dance Farm: We’ve come to rely on this Animal Welfare Certified farm for most of our meat and had the opportunity to tour the farm back in September, when we met the turkey (above) and bacon (right) we’ll be eating tonight, as well as the hens who laid the eggs in our pumpkin pie. This is one of those farms that cycle their stock (pigs follow chickens follow cows) to optimize the use of the land. Did you know chickens like to wallow around in the dirt if they’re able?

Hilhof Dairy: I’ve never been to this farm, but I’d like to, because their milk and cream tastes amazing, with a real depth of creamy flavor.

Blueberry Heritage Farms: When we moved to west MI, we moved to blueberry country. This particular farm, which does some organic berries, also sells cranberries in big 2 pound boxes. So in addition to the cranberry-apple chutney we’ll be eating tonight, we’ll be eating lots of cranberry goodies for the next several weeks.

Ham Family Farm: Since we didn’t do a CSA this year, we got the veggies for tonight’s feast from a range of farmers at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market. One we buy from a lot–Charlie Ham–talked me into brussel sprout leaves this year, rather than brussel sprouts themselves. The leaves look like collard greens and have the bitterness of the brussel sprouts to set off the sweet and rich food, but also has a hint of sweetness to it. Plus, I figure it’ll cut down on work to just saute the greens.

Brys Estate Wines: Between a great wine dinner we had at Salt of the Earth restaurant and some trips up to Sleeping Bear Dunes, we’ve been trying more Brys Estate wines. I’ve got some wines I mistakenly didn’t get sent waiting for us at the winery. So tonight, we’ll just have some Riesling (along with an unoaked chardonnay from Bowers Harbor and some Old School Red from Peninsula Cellars).

Founders Brewing Company: And of course, we now live in beer mecca, just over a mile from Founders. There might be some Reds Rye PA in my future, particularly if the Kitties don’t win this afternoon. Also likely if they win.

May your bounty be as wonderful as ours today! Happy Thanksgiving.

Update: I’ve had a request to explain how I use bacon on my turkey. As I’ve explained, I think the bacon serves the same purpose as brining (slow application of salt), without the meat losing it’s “bite” as I think can happen with brining. Plus, it protects the breast from over-browning. And best of all, you can pick it off at that point of the afternoon where you start to get really hungry but don’t want to ruin your appetite. And once you’ve cleaned the bacon off, it’ll brown nicely.

As you put the bird in the oven, cover it with bacon. I will use a full pound for a big bird, which is what we have this year (14 pounds).

I’ll tent my turkey for about an hour, then let the bacon brown for about 1.5 hours, and by then I’ll be ready for snacking. Which, after a couple of trips back to the oven to strip the bacon, should leave about an hour for the bird to brown.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

21 replies
  1. emptywheel says:

    @dakine01: Yum. I’ll try it. I have a feeling we’ll be eating turkey for the next month, so I’ll probably have reason to make another batch of cranberry sauce-type product.

  2. dakine01 says:

    @emptywheel: I usually make it each year as my contribution to wherever I am having T’giving dinner knowing that even if folks don’t eat it (cuz they don’t know what it is usually unless I’m right there to tell them), I can take it home and have it with just about any meal for the next week or so.

  3. karenjj2 says:

    Happy T-Day, ew,bmaz & folks

    glad to hear Fulton St market still going — will have to “fly over” via google some time.

    All MI dinner is great “tradition” you’ve begun; hope it catches on everywhere!


  4. Jim White says:

    The sauced cranberries at our place: for each pound of cranberries, add 1 and 3/4 cups sugar, 1/3 cup brandy and spread thin on bottom of baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees about 45 min until berries pop and sugar turns into a syrup that cooks down.

    This stuff will keep in the refrigerator all year to put on turkey or ham.

    My stepdad brought us some bacon that is very heavily hickory smoked. It’s going to coat our turkey breast before it goes on the grill. Can’t wait…

  5. emptywheel says:

    @karenjj2: They’re even upgrading the market! They’re putting up a roof and, I think, permanent tables.

    And, presumably, repaving the parking lot, because right now there’s a pothole that regularly threatens to eat my car there.

  6. emptywheel says:

    Also: correction, the butter is from MI. So it’s just the flour where I failed.

    Incidentally, we get our sugar from MI, too. From this company up in the Thumb. I’m sure the beets are GMO and the processing really toxic, just like cane sugar. But it’s our big Ag.

  7. Soeren Schnieber says:

    Happy thanxgivving to the wheelhouse + friends

    Just checking in hope you all injoy your dinners…got a little surprice for you marcy….think ill save it for cristmas though ,-)…ho ho ho

    Just my five cents worth…t004r

  8. JohnLopresti says:

    Keep an eye on those chickens, EW. I once had some Polish hens and roosters who seemed more birdlike than ground fowlish; they even had feathers on their legs. I always thought the dust bath with chickens to be much like what horses do when they roll over on their back in a bare spot on a pasture: a flea bath, or perhaps it is a home remedy some horse or chicken thought up purportedly to discourage mites. Chickens and mites are a symbiosis if there is bare dirt which the chickens can access. Though my favorite flock was barred Plymouth Rock chickens I mailordered; they give brown eggs; and the barred rock’s appearance is somewhat comical, like a zebra, all black and white and gray.

    I once studied a program in science for kids in MI when I was working on some grantwriting for youth in CA. There is some wonderful MI farming, and there are interesting university faculty in the biological sciences in MI.

    On the chardonnay, many of which I have helped fabricate; I have noticed the unoaked tradition recently. Similarly there is a sauvignon blanc with the same philosophy. My own preferences are much more toward the barrel aging; however, I think there are too many exhuberant experiments with chardonnay like in-barrel fermentation, though some of those are so pricey I probably would become an aficionado, if I could afford to try them and discover their distinct buttery, aromatically herbaceous accents. Chardonnay is so strongly subtle it supports elevated levels of alcohol well. Which makes it almost as good as beer.
    Have a nice thanxgiving.

    And watch for those zebras when greenbay plays detroit.

  9. P J Evans says:

    The beets might not be – sugar beets have been used for a long time (being non-tropical and thus easier to grow in most places), so they were pretty well modified before the latest technology showed up. Spreckels sugar was mostly beet sugar; that’s why C&H made so much of theirs being cane sugar.

  10. JTMinIA says:

    We started to do something similar, using only things from Iowa. But about half-way through the bottle of Templeton Rye we said “[spiral fastener] this!” and we had a pizza.

  11. Greenjeans says:

    Change starts with our individual choices. Time to cut out the high carbon-footprint living. A good place to begin is cutting out animal products.

  12. emptywheel says:

    @Greenjeans: Um, you do know the reason why animal products are associated with high carbon use is 1) the conventionally produced high petroleum additive grain most of them eat and 2) the huge logistics networks between the big feedlots in CO and similar places and your table.

    These animals involved neither of those things. In fact, they almost certainly involved less carbon consumption that most traditional veggies shipped 1500 miles. Pretty sure there are just 5 combustion engines in this entire food chain–two tractors, two trucks, and my car–over a span of about 45 miles. And sure, the poultry and pigs get organically produced local grain. But they also all eat natural foods: grass for cows and sheep, bugs for chickens.

    In fact, most carbon calculators have a special category for eating like this.

    You see, “personal choices” also must involve some knowledge about what those choices mean. And this kind of animal stewardry is not what you’re attacking here, or shouldn’t be.

  13. P J Evans says:

    You need to look at the over-all picture a bit more. Beef is less efficient in energy use than poultry: it takes a lot of food to get a large animal to a size where it can be eaten. Poultry, not so much.
    Look at foods in the Middle East and Africa and Asia for better ways of eating. Eat more local foods (if you can).

  14. emptywheel says:

    @ezdidit: Ah bollocks! Founders, Bells, and Avery all have multiple beers in the top 100. Aside from Belgium, only one or two states have anything like it. I’ve got them, plus a lot of other excellent breweries, within an hour’s distance.

    Asheville is great, mind you. But few places can compete with W MI for beer.

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