Hi! Yes, I’m still here! Wow it’s been a long time since I even thought about blogging, there’s been so much going on! We need to catch up, but first – did you have a good Thanksgiving/Columbus Day weekend?
My long weekend marked the end of a week off work, staying close to home and enjoying local adventures and relaxing in the backyard. I’ve wanted to explore Hamilton since we moved to the west end, this past week was the perfect opportunity to check out a few spots – I’ll do a mini round-up of the places we’ve discovered soon – but one place we visit monthly is our local food co-op – The Mustard Seed. Located just across the bridge between Burlington and Hamilton, and well situated to take advantage of Niagara and Halton region farmland, the Mustard Seed has nine sourcing priorities – you can read about them in detail on their website, but local, fresh, non-toxic, ecological and socially responsible practices, environmental packaging, ethical animal practices, small-scale and innovative trials, alternative dietary options and affordable options. The last one has sparked some discussion around here – the co-op is not cheaper than something like No Frills, or big box grocery store, but it’s definitely cheaper than the health food stores around here. I believe in supporting farmers and local businesses where possible, and are fortunate that we are able to choose to do so.
We’ve been members of the co-op since last year, joining before they even opened in January, and so far we’ve been very pleased with what we’ve purchased there. This year, we decided to take advantage of the co-op’s Thanksgiving offerings – ordering a large fresh pasture raised turkey, and two of their large Thanksgiving “bounty boxes” of local produce (they came in small, medium and large). We were hosting dinner on Saturday, so we stopped in on Friday and picked up everything at The Mustard Seed! It was super convenient – only had to go to one store, and didn’t have to battle long lineups at the big stores. Our 22lb turkey was delicious but the Bounty Boxes really made cooking up a feast super simple!
Aside from some extra potatoes and garlic that I got at the farmer’s market, the two boxes contained everything we needed to make a local food feast! They each contained butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, apples, carrots, celery, leeks, pie pumpkins, gourds (decorative), onions, parsley, rosemary and sage – all locally grown!
Here’s how we cooked up everything – except for the pumpkins, broccoli and beans, we ate everything else on Thanksgiving. We’ve since finished up the other veggies in the past week, although I still need to do something with those pumpkins.
The pictures are all of post-thanksgiving meals – there was just too much going on and I generally don’t take food pics at family gathering.
- Soup: Butternut Squash, sweet potatoes, apples and sage- roasted whole in the oven with garlic (from the farmer’s market) the night before, then cooked down in the slow cooker the day of with some homemade veggie broth, ginger and some curry powder. A little hand-blender action to make sure it was free of lumps and mmmmmm soup! It was good the day of, but great the next day with a grilled applewood smoked cheddar cheese sandwich and a side of my soon to be cousin-in-law’s amazing beet, chard, feta and candied pecan salad.
- Frittata – some of my cousins came a bit earlier – so in addition to the cheeses I picked up at the Ancaster Village Cheese Shop, I used 1 bunch of leeks and some potatoes to make a frittata.
- Stuffing/Dressing – Picked up some bread at the Mustard Seed to make the dressing – 3 onions, used up the leeks, apples, celery, parsley and sage. The second dish of dressing used up the mushrooms from the box as well.
- Veggies – Brussel Sprouts and our own homegrown (huge) carrots – drizzled lightly with oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, then roasted in the oven.
- Potatoes – 12 lbs (some from the market), mashed of course. There’s a bit of a tradition in my family when it comes to having mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think there’d be shock if we tried potatoes in any other form – since you can’t make gravy volcanoes with roasted, boiled or scalloped potatoes. Gravy volcanoes are very important!
- Cranberry sauce: We added 1L of cranberry sauce to our order, made by the Mustard Seed’s kitchen. I was trying to keep things easy for everyone (my uncle usually makes the sauce). We can get pretty fancy with our sauce, so I knew that for us, the apple cider cranberry sauce needed a bit more oomph! I liked that the Mustard Seed’s sauce wasn’t laden with sugar so it was an excellent base and a good time saver. Uncle to the sauce rescue: version 1 – pine nuts from the freezer, rosemary from the bounty box and some rum; version 2 – lime, ginger and tequila – definitely not local but soooo good! He also made non-boozy versions so that everyone could enjoy it. So goooood that I’m just eating the rest with a spoon.
I’m hoping that the Mustard Seed offers the turkey orders and Thanksgiving bounty boxes again next year (they have weekly bounty boxes), if they do, we’ll definitely be making it a tradition at our house – nothing beats cooking up a delicious family feast while supporting local farmers and a local business!
And now… it’s turkey left over for days, but with a meal like this, I’m not complaining. I’ll try to be back before the left overs run out 🙂