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Garden Lifestyle

A Gardener’s Thanksgiving

Homegrown vegetables and herbs make for an extra-special dining experience on a day that celebrates the harvest.

  • Photo/Illustration: Sarah Dobsevage
  • Garlic lasts for a long time when stored in a cool, airy location, and my drafty Connecticut farmhouse qualifies on both counts.
    Photo/Illustration: Kate Frank
  • Crabapple pie adds a colorful touch to the Thanksgiving table.
    Photo/Illustration: Ruth Dobsevage
  • My first shallot crop did well.
    Photo/Illustration: Kate Frank

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For decades, family and friends have gathered at my house, a 200-year-old Colonial, to celebrate the bounty of the season. The weather might be raw and chilly, but the woodstoves are lit and the conversation flows, as dish after dish is brought to the table in this long and leisurely repast.

Shallots (above) and garlic (right).

I’d love to be able to say that the entire meal comes from my garden, but that wouldn’t be true. Nevertheless, the garden is well represented, both on the table and around the room. Garlic, hot peppers, and herbs hang from the beams, and the side table is festooned with bowls and baskets of onions, shallots, squash, and pumpkins.

After the appetizers, we move to leek soup, a longtime family favorite. This year, the leeks look strong, so we will be serving a homegrown soup. Into the stuffing goes my parsley and garlic, along with some dried basil, hot peppers, and maybe even some chestnuts, if we get them before the squirrels do.

At a traditional event such as this, my family expects no surprises, though I am emboldened from time to time to vary the menu just a tad. I doubt that roast turkey will ever give way to salmon or that candied sweet potatoes will yield to mashed potatoes, but less radical substitutions do occur. Slow-cooked green beans may stand in for steamed broccoli; a tart fruit granita may replace a green salad after the main course.

Crabapple pie
  Crabapple pie.

Several years ago, I broke into my stash of frozen blueberries, and blueberry pie was added to the dessert menu. It proved very popular, served alongside pumpkin pie and apple pie. Most people sampled all three. This year, my son’s crabapple pie will make its debut.

So what is everyone else doing to celebrate Thanksgiving? Will you be a host or a guest? Do you have a special Thanksgiving garden recipe to share?

Need cooking inspiration?
Visit Fine Cooking‘s Thanksgiving Guide for recipes, videos, timelines, and a menu maker

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