Saturday, November 30, 2019

Our Thanksgiving blessings

Here's what our Thanksgiving was like.

Like most holiday cooks, the secret is to start the day before (Wednesday). This was the day the weather report promised high winds.

I decided to clean and refill our oil lamps, which were dusty and in need of topping off, in case of a power outage.



My goal for Wednesday was to get both types of stuffing made, along with dinner rolls and pies. We started with the bread stuffing.

Into the wood cookstove oven. I figured since the cookstove was hot anyway, I might as well be efficient and use the oven.

Next, dinner rolls (Older Daughter's particular favorite). I tried a new recipe this year called "Half-time spoon rolls" by the incomparable Jackie Clay in her book Backwoods Home Cooking. Easy and delicious. Here's the unrisen dough:

For the second rising, the dough is spoon-dropped into cupcake tins. Here they've already risen and I'm putting them in the oven.

Hot out of the oven, they're brushed with a bit of melted butter. Yum.

While the rolls were rising, I made wild rice stuffing. No one else in my family likes it, so this is my once-a-year indulgence.

I'm draining some carrots I canned last year, and ready to chop up some of this year's onions.

Sautéing the carrots and onions. After adding the rices and boiling water, it cooks on the stove top.

While it cooked, I tackled the blueberry pies. I still haven't gotten around to canning this year's blueberries, so I started with frozen fruit.

In fact the berries were a little too frozen, so I let them defrost on the warming shelf while I made the pie crust.

Typical happy pre-Thanksgiving chaos.

By 2 pm, everything was done (except the blueberry pies weren't yet baked). I was pleased at how many ingredients came from our own efforts: Eggs, onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, blueberries, bread, chicken stock. But many ingredients were purchased: flour, sugar, yeast, and of course the turkey.

Since it was early and the kitchen was tidy...

...Older Daughter and I decided to stretch our legs and take Mr. Darcy hiking on the same trail we hiked a few days ago.

It was very cold (about 30F) and windy, so we bundled up.

We expected to be blasted from the ridge top by high winds, but in fact we were protected by another ridge, so it wasn't so bad. Below us, the lake surface was choppy with whitecaps.

On the downhill side of the hike, we were thrilled to spy a distant moose across a draw.

Correction, make that two moose! I've lived in Idaho nearly 17 years and have not, in my opinion, seen nearly as many moose as I'd like.

We admired these beauties for a few minutes before continuing our descent.

We noticed some woodland graffiti on the trail.

We also noticed another hiker had dutifully bagged up his/her dog's poop, but left the bag by the side of the trail. Older Daughter thought perhaps they meant to fetch it on the way back and simply forgot. I was a little less magnanimous in my thoughts, but at any rate we picked up the bag and deposited it in the trash can left at the trail head.

The trail head has a bag dispenser for the convenience of hikers with dogs. Since I had extra bags at home, I brought some and stuffed them into the dispenser.

It was dusky by the time we left the park, and passed some roadside deer eating their own Thanksgiving dinner.

It also occurred to us, as we drove home, that on a day when so many people were tied up in massive traffic trying to be with their loved ones for Thanksgiving, we had just spent two hours hiking and had seen not a single soul.

Back home, I finished baking the pies and the last of the rolls.

"Voila," I said as I pulled the last pie from the oven. "All the pre-Thanksgiving cooking is done. And ALL of it was done in the wood cookstove." "Oh, you homesteading nerd," Older Daughter pronounced. (Guilty!)

Since most of the cooking was already done, Thanksgiving Day was a rather leisurely affair. I caught some photos of our barn cat, Simba, dreaming of his own Thanksgiving feast of fresh quail. Simba is quite a hunter, so those were some brave quail.

Here's the turkey, just out of the oven.

Don does the carving.

Setting the table. We had two neighbors joining us.

Older Daughter folded the dinner napkins in a particularly pretty way, with a slot for each utensil.

Last-minute things: making gravy and heating the dinner rolls and stuffing.

Because one of our guests works for the highway department and is currently on the night shift, we had dinner very early (2 pm). As it turns out, he had the day off after all, so everyone could linger over coffee and pie as long as we wished. Still, by 5:45 pm the guests had left and the dishes were done. I was able to sit down with a glass of wine and a book.

Then Younger Daughter called from her overseas duty station and we all chatted for about half an hour, so altogether it was a very wonderful day.

We finished by simmering the turkey carcass overnight...

...and canning up a nice batch of turkey stock.

I hope everyone had a similarly blessed Thanksgiving!


  1. What cleaner are you using to clean your lamp chimneys?

    1. LOL -- just soap and water. I submerge them in soapy water in my dishpan and gently scrub them out.

      - Patrice

  2. May we please have your recipe for the blueberry pie? In case you haven't been told lately, we really appreciate all of your posts. Your homesteading gives me tons of inspiration.

    1. See this post here:

      Hope this helps!

      - Patrice

  3. Half Time Spoon Rolls are our family's favorite.
    They are just like the wonderful rolls the lunch room ladies made at school when I was growing up.
    That recipe is a keeper!

  4. I made an apple pie, but otherwise our menus were similar. I smiled when I saw the canned turkey stock, as that is what I did Friday as well. No one else in my family does home canning, so there is never any competition for the turkey carcass.

  5. Great pictures. Great family. You are living The Redoubt Dream. Just one more daughter to get home safely!
    Montana Goy

  6. In our household, pheasant with wild rice was always the centerpiece of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, which of course meant that we needed to get out as soon as the season started and bag our limit of pheasants on at least a couple of weekends in order to feed the crowd. This year's riced cauliflower gratin with bacon was a very acceptable substitute for the wild rice, but we were unable to locate a farmer willing to permit us to remove a few of America's favorite invasive species, so we had to settle for buying pheasants from folks we met at the local farmer's market. Roasted 'em up in the Weber kettle grill, and they were well received even by a couple of guests who had never had pheasant before. The carcasses are in the freezer and will be made into succulent pheasant soup just in time for this week's cold snap.

  7. We went with ham instead of turkey this year. As I type this, I’m listening to my canner happily jiggling away, full of quarts of navy beans and ham. Many suppers for the upcoming cold winter nights.

  8. Looks delicious! And yay moose!

    We had salmon, as we have for some years past. Turns out none of really like turkey.

  9. Could you give me your recipe for the stuffing.
    You make a loaf of bread and cut up in cubes.
    What is after that?

    1. Here's the recipe:

      1 cup chopped celery (we all hate celery so I omit this)
      1/2 cup chopped onion
      1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
      1 teaspoon dried crushed sage
      Dash salt, pepper
      8 cups dry bread cubes (I use fresh bread, not dried)
      3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth

      Saute onions/celery in butter. Add all ingredients together, drizzle broth to moisten, toss everything, bake (covered) at 350F for half an hour or so.

      This recipe is usually way too much for us, so I end up halving it.

      - Patrice

  10. I'm curious about the book. Did you enjoy it?

    1. Yes, very much. It lacked some of the dry humor in many of his previous books, but it's an excellent overview of the human body. I do enjoy Bryson's work.

      - Patrice