I was never sure about this Thanksgiving. All along I’d imagined a big, warm gathering, our first Thanksgiving in our new home. I could see and feel it, even when reality kept blocking the view.
Then one September Saturday morning, as we walked through the Wrightstown Farmer’s Market, we took the plunge and put down a deposit on a “happy turkey,” a free range turkey from The Happy Farm in Kintersville. Along the lines of, if you order it, they will come, I guess. At the time we had no guests or plans. But we were hopeful. And then Mark’s sister and family said they would come down from Boston. With my parents, and Mark’s cousin, Ruthie, that would make ten. We also kept inviting people – who weren’t sure if they could, or not, maybe, depending on…
A few weeks later I read an article about a Thanksgiving meal made of all locally grown and bought ingredients. Well, that shouldn’t be too difficult here, I thought. Mark and I had been talking about starting Bucks County Taste; this could be my first blog post. And now we had guests. I was set (just give me a goal). On to the menu.
Ah yes. Next challenge. In the beginning of November we decided it was time to shed a few pounds. Well, more than a few. Mark has had success on Atkins, so we started doing it. How was this going to impact my Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving? Hmmn. No stuffing, no sweet potatoes, no yummy desserts. And, in all fairness, could we really impose this on our family and friends? “Yes we can” seemed an appropriate phrase. Oh, it won’t be so bad.
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I’m still new enough to Wycombe that discovering a nest of deer bedded down in the hedge is a thrill. My neighbors, who are careful gardeners, are less thrilled, as is Cody, whose only thought is to get the intruders out of his territory. Two of the does scampered off as soon as we wandered abreast of them, but the third, the biggest of the three, remained as she was, watching us steadily and making it clear she had no intention of moving, no matter how much she was yapped at. Cody would have stayed out there yapping all morning, but I needed coffee and he needed breakfast, whether he remembered it at that moment or not. Once he was fed, I settled in with the paper and came across this article in the New Jersey section celebrating the notion of locally grown food. Outside of elections and sports, the Times doesn’t write about Pennsylvania much, so most of the coverage here is about farms and chefs across the river, but some of them – like the Honey Brook Organic Farm and Hopewell Valley Vineyards, both in Pennington – are close enough for an easy visit (though you have to be a member of the farm in order to harvest there).
One cook who is going all out, however, is Sherry Dudas, 44, who operates Honey Brook Organic Farm in Hopewell Township with her husband, Jim Kinsel, 50, and will get nearly everything, including lemon balm for tea, from her farm or others in Mercer or neighboring counties. She will pick turnips from her fields and get cranberries from Haines Berry Farm in Pemberton and honey and cultured butter from nearby farms. She will even buy flour milled from local grain at Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville to bake homemade bread. There’s a playful aspect to her provisioning; when she drives to Pemberton for cranberries, for instance, she’s not far from Brendan T. Byrne State Forest. “I work in a hike,” she said. “The trip is fun.”
And certainly, it’s easy enough to find similar venues here in Bucks County. Lynne and I are getting our turkey from the Happy Farm in Kintnersville, and the vegetables will come from a variety of farms within a few miles of our house.
Sunday being lazy, we made it just in time to watch the winners of the gobblers contest at Davis Feed Mill in Rushland, sponsored by the Middletown Grange. I’m not sure which was more impressive – the size of the winners, none of whom would have been as sanguine around Cody as the deer – or the way their growers herded them around the yard.
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