Ah, Thanksgiving. If you get back to the root of this American holiday, it’s really all about local foods and flavors. But what is a person to do in modern times, when securing enough local delicacies for one’s friends and family can require monumental feats of planning? The answer requires only a little sleuthing and lots of creativity.
For most, the journey to a traditional, local-to-Corvallis Thanksgiving begins with the bird. One great option to consider for fine fowl is Corvallis’ own Afton Field Farm; they sell birds on site. In addition, the Corvallis Farmers’ Market on 1st Street will continue on Saturdays until Nov. 17 and on Wednesdays until Nov. 21, and you can find turkeys from Norton Creek Farm. Put in your order early—now—to secure your family a fresh, sustainably-raised local turkey to enjoy.
For squashes, vegetables, and dairy products, visit First Alternative Co-op and search out items with the “Local 6” tags. Don’t know about the Local 6? It means those products were obtained from Benton County or any of its direct neighbors—Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion-Polk counties.
Many farm stands also offer seasonal produce such as apples, squash, and hearty greens. Take a drive up Highway 20 and visit Twedt’s, Heavenly Harvest, or Midway Farms. More farm stands such the Peoria Farm Market can be found by driving south on Peoria Road. If you live in Philomath, visit Gathering Together Farm for the same items and more. And don’t miss visiting the Corvallis Farmers’ Market for these items, too—open just long enough to secure your produce and potentially eggs, meat, bread, and cheese!
Speaking of bread, Corvallis has many options if you’re looking for perfect rolls to smear with butter and jam. Check out these local bakery beauties: Great Harvest Bread, Big River Restaurant and Bar, and Alpine Sourdough Bakery. And Blue Monkey Bakery is a great place to look for delicious, gluten-free baked goods.
If you want to ensure that your bread products are as local as possible, you can make your own. Local red and white wheats are available at First Alternative Co-op—you can even grind it fresh there. Red wheat is best for yeasty breads that need to stretch and rise because of its high gluten and protein levels. Soft white wheat has lower protein levels than hard red wheat—it makes great pastry flour because the finished product will crumble or crisp better than flour with more protein.
Need mushrooms for your grandma’s famous stuffing? You’re in luck as ‘tis the season for finding your own, especially the delicious chanterelle variety. If you are inexperienced at locating appropriate edible fungi, visit the Mushroomery in Lebanon, or their farm stand at the Corvallis Farmers’ Market. These unique farmers offer certified organic gourmet and medicinal mushrooms and take the guesswork out of a potentially poisonous forest foray.
What is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? It’s easy to make your own pie filling from local pumpkins. Just cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the “guts,” and bake for several hours. The meat can then be mashed or pureed and mixed with your favorite spices for a totally customized pumpkin confection. Be sure to pick out sugar pumpkins; Jack-O-Lanterns have a low sugar content and will leave your pie tasting bland.
To wash everything down, fresh apple cider simply cannot be beat. You can purchase local ciders at many stores and farms throughout Corvallis, but another fun option is to join an apple-pressing party. You are generally expected to bring your own containers and a willing attitude to these shindigs. It’s a great activity for families and definitely helps you appreciate this classic holiday beverage even more. While it’s true that many pressing parties are held around Halloween, another round happens just in time for Thanksgiving. Interestingly, Craigslist.com is a great source to find out when and where parties are happening.
Wherever you decide to get the ingredients for your feast and however you go about preparing it, remember: Thanksgiving is a time for just that—giving thanks. Take a moment before the meal to lavish your friends and family with a smile, raise that glass of fresh-pressed cider, and toast to the bounty of food and friendship that is sure to grace your table.
by Lisa Tedder