A visit to your garden or to a farmers’ market quickly answers the question about why we give thanks at this time of year.
Colourful displays of squashes, apples, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, berries, onions, potatoes, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, pears, plums, peaches and corn are enough to overwhelm the senses.
I had already planned a couple of the next meals for our household when I headed over to the market in Kelowna Saturday, but I found so many fresh ideas for other meals that I was inspired to toss out my previous ideas and plan anew, based on what I found.
It should have been a bit frustrating, but it was actually exciting, because there was so much in the way of freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables and herbs.
And, that’s not counting the preserves or the baking, made from all that fresh, local produce!
Birds seem to be traditional fare in the way of meat on the Thanksgiving table, but whether that’s a big turkey, a duck, a grouse or game hen or a chicken doesn’t seem to matter much.
Our stuffing always has onions, apples and spiced sausage sprinkled through it, along with a handful of aromatic sage fresh from the garden. It’s my favourite thing about turkey dinners.
Cranberries, sauced with a bit of sweet, are the favourite of others around our celebratory table, and as we eat them, growers are just beginning to flood their fields and harvest them in the Fraser Valley, Richmond and on Vancouver Island.
In terms of wine pairings with a turkey dinner, I tend to favour dry rose wines, but sparkling wines are very versatile and that’s what’s needed to go with the many flavours on the table for Thanksgiving dinner. There are some excellent B.C. sparkling wines, from the renowned Summerhill offerings such as the Cipes Brut, to the Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay.
For more information on recipes for the bounty of B.C.’s orchards, fields, range and waters, pick up a copy of my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, published by the Okanagan Institute, wherever books are sold.
Warm Blueberry Bisque
This recipe from the B.C. Blueberry Council looks delicious and would be a colourful and novel way to begin your Thanksgiving dinner. B.C. blueberries are yummy and good for you too.
1/2 c. (125 ml) shallots
2 tbsp. (30 ml) chives
2 tsp. (10 ml) oil
4 c. (1 l) fresh or frozen blueberries
1 c. (250 ml) veg or chicken broth
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) nutmeg
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) allspice
salt, to taste
1 1/2 c. (375 ml) half & half cream
1 c. (250 ml) creme fraiche or sour cream
2 tbsp. (30 ml) fresh chives
Finely chop shallots and mince chives.
Heat oil over medium-low heat in a pot and add chopped shallots.
Cook just until translucent and add blueberries, broth and seasonings. Cook over medium heat until the blueberries soften and begin to burst, five to seven minutes.
Cool slightly, then blend until smooth. Press through a fine sieve and discard the solids.
Return blueberry mixture to the pot and whisk in the half and half cream.
In a small bowl, combine chives and creme fraiche or sour cream.
Spoon the bisque into eight soup bowls and top each with two tablespoonfuls of the chive creme fraiche or sour cream.
Spicy Baked Squash
This is a combination of different flavours: the sweet and nutty butternut squash, tickled with some exotic spices, interspersed with nuggets of tangy cream cheese and topped with crunchy crumbs. The Larch Tree Hill Riesling from Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery pairs well with this, with its fresh fruitiness and crisp, yet juicy finish.
2 c. (1 l) squash cubes
2 large onions
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 c. (60 ml) fresh ginger
drizzle of oil
2 tsp. (10 ml) cumin
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) five spice powder
1/2 tsp. (3 ml) nutmeg
14 tsp. (1 ml) ground cardomom
1/2 c. (125 ml) chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz. (120 ml) cream cheese
1 c. (250 ml) buttered crumbs
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
I prefer the butternut squash for its flavour and because it peels easily, but any winter squash would work in this recipe.
Peel, halve and remove the seeds and membrane from a winter squash. Cut it into half-inch cubes.
Chop onions and mince garlic and ginger.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a frypan over medium heat and soften the ginger and onions. Add the spices, then the garlic and squash and mix it all together well, browning the squash slightly.
Scrape it out into a baking dish and drizzle a little chicken broth over it all. Sprinkle with lots of freshly-ground black pepper and a little salt.
Cut cream cheese into little cubes and dot the squash mixture with them.
Sprinkle the top with buttered crumbs.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until the squash is crisp-tender.