Of all the traditional, food-based celebrations, none is more locally focused than Thanksgiving dinner.
The tradition began when American Indians and settlers gathered to share indigenous foods in the spirit of welcoming generosity.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
This dressing can be prepared up to 48 hours ahead of time and then kept, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator. Place in an oven-proof casserole and reheat for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
Choose your wild mushrooms from Mushrooms All Year, available at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market and Jacksonville Inn Wine Shop.
Louis "The Mushroom Man" Jeandin forages mushrooms from Oregon's Coastal Range between Brookings and points north.
"And that's all I'll share," says Jeandin, who hails from the Savoy region of France and has been hunting mushrooms all his life.
A combination of dried local chanterelles and lobster mushrooms add a fruity, clean, fresh flavor to the following dressing, along with a firm, fleshy texture. Jeandin adds pork sausage for depth and flavor (locally sourced through Plaisance Ranch, Willow-Witt Ranch, The Butcher Shop or Gary West Meats), but it's not a deal-breaker — a meat-free version is just as mouth watering.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil*
1/2 yellow onion, chopped*
1/4 pound pork sausage and chopped
giblets from turkey (optional)*
2 ounces mixed dried mushrooms,
rehydrated and coarsely chopped*
3 garlic cloves, chopped*
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine*
1 cup peeled and diced apples*
1 teaspoon dried parsley
(or herb of choice)*
2 cups croutons*
Salt and pepper
Heat oil in a large, heavy kettle or skillet until very hot. Add onions, sauté for 2 minutes. Add sausage and giblets, sauté 3 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms, garlic, celery, bay leaves and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir well and cook 5 minutes. Add wine, cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Add apples, parsley and croutons, cook for 2 minutes. Stir well and check seasonings. Transfer dressing to serving dish.
Note: * indicates locally available ingredients
This year, continue the same spirit in your kitchen. You'll be impressed at the number of items grown or raised within 200 miles of the Rogue Valley that can be adapted to a Turkey Day feast.
"It may take thinking out of the box a little bit," concedes Kristen Lyon, owner of Kristen Lyon Personal Chef Service in Jacksonville. "You gear your menu choices to what you can buy locally rather than sticking to traditional recipes and ingredients. Luckily the bounty around here is perfect for Thanksgiving."
For example, substitute local goat cheese for cream cheese (look for chevres from Siskiyou Crest Goat Dairy and Pholia Farm Creamery). A simple, festive appetizer would be a flavored goat cheese accompanied by Deux Chats focaccia crackers and new crop pears and apples.
"Candied nuts — we have hazelnuts and walnuts readily available — are amazing alongside Rogue Creamery blue cheeses, Applegate Artisan bread and a fruit spread from Pennington Farms," suggests Lyon.
The cheese and nuts would also be great atop a salad of fresh, local spinach.
After appetizers, offer a soup course. "Cream of wild mushroom is an interesting addition and everyone loves acorn squash soup," says Lyon. "Potato and leek soup is also delicious, and almost everything can be purchased at the grower's market."
Substitute local pears, peaches or fruit spread for oranges in the cranberry relish. (Cranberries travel to the Rogue Valley from the nearby Southern Oregon Coast.)
Side dish ingredients, vegetables and even olive oil are easily sourced. Make a day of it at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, open through Nov. 19 in Medford and Nov. 24 in Ashland.
"Those fresh squashes, greens, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions and wild mushrooms will be available, along with bread, eggs, cheese, baked goods and jams and honey for the baking," says Market membership coordinator Mary Ellen DeLuca. "What better place to buy your Thanksgiving meal than right from the farmers that have provided you with the wonderful produce all year long?"
Locally raised turkeys might be tough to find this year. Rogue Valley Brambles in Talent has started growing pasture-raised birds, but the farm is all sold out. (They promise increased availability in the future.)
"We have so many lamb and beef ranchers in the area, consider doing a local roast with roasted root vegetables instead," Lyon says.
Dessert is no problem. "Pear tart or a pear and apple crisp are both very easy, or go crazy with a flourless chocolate torte using local chocolate like Dagoba," suggests Lyon. "And we've got tons of pumpkins around — you could even roast one yourself. I use them for a hazelnut-pumpkin pie and a chai pumpkin pie."
Turn to Umpqua Dairy for cream, milk, butter, sour cream and half-n-half. "It's from 90 miles away in Roseburg versus something from Wisconsin, so you can count on the freshness," says Lyon.
Rogue Creamery in Central Point manufactures top-shelf butter for spreading and baking, while Butte Creek Mill in Eagle Point offers locally-milled flours and other grains, perfect for breads, rolls and pie crusts.
Don't forget to dress the table with locally grown foliage in one-gallon or smaller containers. Doug Hormel, owner of The Plant Connection in Ashland, recommends Dwarf Nandina (commonly called heavenly bamboo) for a bright red and orange centerpiece. Variegated boxwood offers a small, glossy, green-and-cream-colored leaf, while Black Mondo Grass is fun and unique.
"To me Thanksgiving means being grateful for friends and family and for the food and table in front of us," says Wendy Siporen, executive director of THRIVE in Ashland. "When you purchase and serve food and other products from our local farmers and growers, it makes them part of the extended family, and that makes the holiday more meaningful, especially as we have a better understanding of all the work it takes to grow food and get it to your table."
WHERE TO SHOP
The Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market is open at Medford's National Guard Armory on Thursdays through Nov. 19 and at the National Guard Armory in Ashland on Tuesdays through Nov. 24.
Shop for local produce, specialty items and fresh, local flowers at Ashland Shop 'n' Kart, Ashland Food Co-op, Tark's Market in Talent, Sherm's Food 4 Less in Medford, farmers markets such as Fox Run Farms and White's Country Farm (both in West Medford) and Jacksonville Mercantile.
Shop for local meat products, including handmade sausage, at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, The Butcher Shop in Eagle Point and Gary West Meats in Jacksonville. Local ranchers featured at these stores include Willow-Witt Ranch, Salant Family Ranch, Plaisance Ranch and Full Circle Bison Ranch. Look for 4-H meats at larger grocery stores such as Sherm's Food 4 Less in Medford.
Local bread and wine are available at almost every Rogue Valley grocery store and market, including Ray's Food Place, Safeway and Albertson's.