Let me offer a recollection of Thanksgivings past: Having to explain to my young children why perfectly good pumpkins might be sitting on someone’s curb waiting for trash pickup.
Part of the beauty of fall is that those Halloween pumpkins still in good condition can be roasted and made into pies. OK, the carved ones can go to the compost pile, but putting the good ones to use is, well, economical. And tasty.
Those fall and winter squashes have a long shelf life, which is why I’m writing about Thanksgiving in October. While most of our area farmers markets wrap up by the end of September, the farm stands stay open at least until Halloween or beyond. This is peak season for squashes, long a Thanksgiving tradition, so I’m inviting you to “think squash” now, because they keep. Depending on your storage conditions, a good winter squash can make it through most of the winter. So local squash is a great option for your Thanksgiving table.
Let me offer a few ideas while we’re on the subject of squash. At our house, we make a nicely spiced squash soup as well as roasted squash stuffed with seasoned ground turkey or apples. A favorite when our children were small was a Caribbean-spiced whipped squash that includes apples and pears. Total comfort food with great nutrition.
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Other local items
In addition to squashes, the farm markets in the area have potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, apples, and other delectables — abundant now, but harder to find locally in the weeks before Thanksgiving. They keep! Awesome. Time to stock up.
What about the turkey, you ask? A quick check with our area markets reveals only one farm that’s selling Thanksgiving turkeys, and that’s Nightfall Farm in Crothersville. Those pasture-raised turkeys must be ordered in advance, and they usually run out, so don’t wait. Find Nightfall Farm’s contact information at their website, nightfallfarm.com. Delivery to Columbus is part of Nightfall Farm’s service, and they offer pork and poultry CSA shares in addition to Thanksgiving turkeys. If you are thinking “pork for the stuffing,” also pasture-raised, you may be in luck.
A call to Daily’s Farm Market reminded me of the pie orders that are popular in the Thanksgiving season. I am told that pie orders for Thanksgiving will be taken until Nov. 20, so you have time to consider that dessert course. Daily’s contact information can be found at dailys farmmarket.com.
When I lived in Georgia, some of the best pecan pies came from the pecans picked up off the ground after harvest. The Indiana version of that pleasure has got to be persimmons, picked up off the ground, of course. So whether your dessert comes from that well-kept Halloween pumpkin, from persimmons gathered under the shelter of a grand old tree, or from your favorite pie-baker, I hope you get a good taste of local.
Kris Medic is Purdue Extension Bartholomew County’s educator for agriculture, natural resources and community development. She can be reached at 812-379-1665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.