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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Earth Eats Thanksgiving Special

In this hour-long special, Chef Daniel Orr prepares a seven-course Thanksgiving meal. There's music and stories along the way as well. Sit back and enjoy!

roasted turkey in a stainless steel baking pan

Photo: Bernard Gordillo/WFIU

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Earth Eats!

Hi everyone, from the entire staff here at Earth Eats, we wanted to give you an extra special treat for Thanksgiving, so we have a special hour-long episode for you this week.

Chef Orr is going to prepare a complete Thanksgiving meal for you and along the way, he’ll also talk about some family history and traditions, share some music, and a lot of other really great holiday tidbits.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you. Without further ado, let’s dig in:

The Yearly Trek to Mecca of Family Memories

As I get older and my belly gets bigger, Thanksgiving, with its groaning board of goodies, is moving steadily toward the top of my list of favorite holidays. For the longest time, I’ve been a self-proclaimed Fourth of July junkie.

I love the patriotic flag waving, parade marching, 4H Fair competing, and the firework-exploding spectacle that is the nation’s birthday.

But after graduating from high school in Columbus, Indiana in the early 1980’s and moving out east to Rhode Island for culinary school, Thanksgiving became a more cerebral holiday.

Less of a sun burned adolescent frolic, and more of a yearly trek to Mecca of family memories. Where Fourth of July is about folks around you, Thanksgiving is about passing on the love others have shared with you in the past.

History, for me, is usually best learned around a dinner table. I’ve learned more about my kin watching my granma make her famous buttermilk biscuits than spending a weekend in the county courthouse looking up data in a dusty file.

I used to love watch her carefully mix the icy buttermilk into the lumpy flour and butter mixture with her crooked, misshaped fingers, a tragic souvenir from a hayloft accident during her childhood. Thanksgiving is about seeing the reality before us and overlooking it, at least for the day.

Recipe: Sauteed Pumpkin Slices

sauteed pumpkin slices

Photo: Bernard Gordillo/WFIU

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2-pound) pumpkin, good meaty French variety
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • toasted pumpkin seeds

Instructions:

  1. Peel and seed pumpkin. Cut into 1/3-inch slices. Toss in olive oil..
  2. Toss spices, sugar and salt in another bowl and pour over pumpkin slices.
  3. Saute in a nonstick pan unti caramelized. Turn and color other side lightly.
  4. Remove from pan and season with lemon juice.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds
  6. Serve with turkey, veal, duck or game.

For more pumpkin recipe ideas, check out this Earth Eats episode: Not Just For Pies Anymore

An Act of Defiance

Granma Orr always had a smile on her face and something fresh from her garden for us to eat. It’s amazing to think back on that woman’s life now. The boat the Orr’s had been sailing was barely afloat for many of those years.

Granma was struggling with depression and stress, three boys in World War II, and breast cancer. Granma was a writer but burned most of her cherished scripts as an act of defiance to the disease that was eating her up.

Thanksgivings spent with the Orrs were usually centered around the stuffing. Granma would get up early in the morning to create a haggis-like filling of oatmeal, liver, gizzards, and herbs. In the front-neck cavity of the roast, a separate stuffing of oysters and cubed bread was carefully caressed into the void.

The table was full of garden-to-table dishes, even during a time when most families were saddling up to a groaning board of green bean casserole sprinkled with a canister of crispy onions swimming in a gelatinous mushroom glaze.

Recipe: Quinoa with Caramelized Onions

chef daniel orr holding a dish of quinoa with carmelized onions

Photo: Bernard Gordillo/WFIU

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 11/2 pounds thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound (11/2 cups) quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Instructions:

  1. Cook onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil until tender and lightly caramelized, 20 minutes.
  2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil with quinoa and saute until lightly golden and fragrant. Add 21/2 cups water and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook covered for 12 to 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Fluff quinoa and add onions, lemon zest and thyme. Season to taste and serve with roasts and grilled meats and fish.

Brothers and Sweet Peas

I guess I most remember the Thanksgivings spent at my mom’s folks, Granma and Grandpa Kolb. They lived about three hours south of us, and we would go down to Princeton, Indiana to share the holidays with them as soon as school let out for November break.

After our arduous journey through the windy roads and doglegged cornfield curves, we’d arrive late late at night. Tommy, my oldest brother now gone, would stagger up those few steps to Granma and Grandpa’s house, past the sweet peas flowering on the grate.

But my brother David and I would have to be carried into the awaiting lumpy pullout couch where we were carefully deposited. We kids would quickly fall asleep to the comforting drone of the gas furnace fan, but by morning we’d be setting up camp underneath the couch, and we’d have to be dragged out by our feet for breakfast. Thanksgiving isn’t the same now that Tommy’s gone. It’s still great… it’s just different.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

The Orrs and the Kolbs were just folks of the time. Neither of my parents’ families were making a political statement. There wasn’t a green movement back then. They were both just doing what they knew.

They were thankful for what was brought to them through their hard work.

They were giving thanks for the pleasure of holding hands around the table.

For being there for each other.

Thanking Mother Nature for forgiving us our trespasses.

Enjoy the gifts of Mother Nature herself, check out Chef Orr’s recipe for Turkish Stuffed Vegetables.

Recipe: Yellow Lentil Bisque

a large pot of yellow lentil bisque

Photo: Bernard Gordillo/WFIU

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound yellow or red lentils
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 diced/chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 spanish onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 quarts water
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg, and Tabasco to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse the lentils in cold water. Sauté the vegetables and spices in olive oil. Add the lentils, cover with water and bring to a simmer.
  2. When all the vegetables and lentils are cooked and tender, puree the mixture with a stationary or handheld blender and pass through a fine chinoise. Adjust thickness with additional water or vegetable stock as needed.
Season to taste.
  3. May be made 2-3 days in advance and reheated gently as needed.
  4. Serve in warm bowls with crusty bread.
  5. Garnish with: ¼ cup thick drained yogurt, cilantro or other toppings: crabmeat, grilled or roasted vegetables, pumpkin seed oil, toasted nuts, etc.

Other Tips and Recipes

Due to popular demand, we’ve also asked Chef Orr for some tips for preparing the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey and for a perfect post-thanksgiving dessert idea, try our persimmon and raisin bread pudding with ginger/orange rum sauce.

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us at Earth Eats and WFIU Public Radio, Happy Thanksgiving! and be sure to join us next week for tips to deal with all of your leftovers. You can send us favorite leftover recipes or comments about the program at eartheats @ gmail.com

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

View all posts by this author »

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