Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For several years running I’ve been one of many people fortunate to be invited to celebrate in the barn at Bee Heaven Farm. It’s an extra special dinner because almost everything is local or organic, and many people at table are farmers who grew some of the food. Thanks to them, we had an amazing feast.
This Thanksgiving, 25 people attended. They filled a long table set up by Tim, this season’s intern, which was decorated with centerpieces designed by apprentice Marsha and Rachel, farmer Margie Pikarsky’s daughter.
An enormous amount of food was prepared by Margie in the farm house kitchen. The tradition is to load all the dishes into the back of the farm’s golf cart and bring them to the barn. (It’s a lot easier and faster than carrying it all by hand.)
And 25 people made a lot of food disappear. We devoured three turkeys — two organic and one conventional. Two of those were smoked by Robert Barnum over Australian pine wood (and if you throw enough money at him, he’ll smoke something for you too). One organic turkey was split in half and oven roasted by Margie Pikasky. I’ve never seen a bird cooked that way, but it was quite good, flavored with Tuscan seasoning. We also had a Smithfield ham with a honey mustard glaze.
A beautiful salad garnished with edible flowers (wild petunia and clitoria — no I’m not making up that name, go look it up) was artfully arranged by Rachel. Yes, the flowers are edible!
Other sides included: local green beans (grown by Dan Howard of Homestead Organic Farms) and local pearl onions (grown by Margie) in a balsamic-wine reduction sauce; sweet potatoes roasted and mashed with coconut milk; savory cookies, and beet and yogurt cheese tarts baked by Sadie; two kinds of cranberries; Hani Khouri’s fiery harissa, and a lively caponata made by lychee grower Steven Green.
Also on the table were: local bok choy, baba ghanoush, mustard greens; and carrot soup made by farm apprentice Marsha. Sadie also made stuffing with her mom Karen who came down from Pittsburgh. Last season’s farm intern Weber stopped by early to chop and stir the super-local guacamole made with Murray Bass’s avocados.
For dessert, farmer Nick’s father Mickey, a retired pastry chef, made several pies — key lime, an amazing sour orange, and the traditional pumpkin, all topped with smooth and rich homemade whipped cream. We also drank about 8 or 10 bottles of wine. After all that food and drink, it was all one could do to waddle to bed and sleep for a long time.
Thanksgiving Day has passed, and I hope it’s a happy memory for you too. Other holiday feasts are coming up. Don’t forget to stop by your grower-supported farmers market to pick up your holiday goodies, and don’t forget to say thanks to your local farmers for all their hard work growing healthy and nourishing food. Without them, you won’t be eating. Anything. Any day. As Margie put it, no farms, no food.