For many of us, Thanksgiving is one of the rare moments we can sit down and break bread with our extended family and friends, and we can really enjoy everything that goes into the preparation of feasting together. Because of the nature of that shared time, it may be the most important meal of the year.
At Helena Food Share that annual invitation to the Thanksgiving table is hosted by our entire Helena community. It allows all of us to express gratitude for each other by making sure that everyone has the ability not only to eat, which is our daily mission, but to share, to host and to enjoy heartfelt time together.
This year, in COVID times, Thanksgiving is different in a lot of ways. Many of us won’t be able to travel to be with one another, and many more of us will be faced with making decisions about how to safely make Thanksgiving happen.
Not a few of these choices come with a bit of a heavy heart, a handful of optimism, and an eye toward embracing solutions that allow us to take comfort in knowing that we all are sharing the same burden of “different” right now. One decision that nobody should be faced with is how to put Thanksgiving on the table at all.
At Helena Food Share, we also have had to get creative with how we can best make Thanksgiving happen for everyone without putting our customers, volunteers, donors and staff in harm’s way. In order to facilitate that, we’re moving our annual Turkey Challenge online. If your family or business is like mine and has made our annual Turkey Challenge a part of your personal tradition, it’s probably going to feel disappointing to not drop off a turkey as we all have in the past, but we hope that you’ll continue to put turkeys on the tables of our friends and neighbors by joining us on our website at: https://helenafoodshare.org/turkey-challenge/.
We’re expecting to see more families than ever using our holiday services this year, and we’re counting on all of our Helena friends to help us make it possible.
If your family needs help setting the table with a Thanksgiving meal, Helena Food Share is here to help. To sign up for a turkey and traditional Thanksgiving groceries, stop by, call, or visit our website: https://helenafoodshare.org/get-help/holiday-meal-share/. It’s that easy.
In the spirit of looking forward to making great Thanksgiving tables together, here are recipes for a couple of our favorite staples:
6-8 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples, any kind (about 7 medium apples)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tb butter
2 Tb cornstarch
In a bowl, toss the apple slices with the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly.
Pie crust will need to be chilled for at least a couple of hours, so I recommend making it ahead of time.
2 ½ cups flour
8 oz. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tb sugar
4 oz. cold water
Egg wash: 1 beaten egg with half an eggshell of cold water
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar for a moment. Add the butter pieces and pulse repeatedly until the butter is mostly incorporated but you can still see small bits of butter. With the processor running, add the water in a steady drizzle until it’s mixed in. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Form the dough into a ball, cut it in half, and press it into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours. Once chilled, roll out into two crusts, about 2-3 inches bigger than your pie pan.
For the pie:
Line the pie pan with the first crust. Add the apples, a couple of cups at a time and sprinkle each layer somewhat evenly with little bits of butter. Add the top crust, slice a few vent slits into it with a sharp knife, and gently press it down loosely onto the apples. Trim the excess crust, leaving about an inch at the edge. Roll the edge down inward and then pinch it gently to form a nice crimp all the way around. As an option, you can instead cut the top crust into strips and form a lattice top. Brush your top crust with an egg wash and sprinkle a bit of coarse sugar (“Sugar in the Raw” works well) on top.
Cranberry Orange Sauce
1 12-oz package of fresh cranberries, washed
1 large orange
Grated zest from your orange
1 cup of sugar
Squeeze the juice from the orange into a measuring cup. If you have less than one cup of juice, add enough water to equal 1 cup.
In a saucepan, add all of the ingredients and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a high simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until all of your cranberries have popped and your sauce has started to thicken, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and pour into your serving dish. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
1 loaf of sliced bread, toasted* and then cut into 1” cubes.
1 medium onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
¼ stick of butter
¾ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried sage
Salt and pepper
½ C of turkey or chicken broth
In a skillet, melt the butter, and add the onion, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, until everything has softened. Add the herbs, salt & pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together the bread cubes with the cooked vegetables. Add the stock and toss again to distribute nicely. Your stuffing should be just barely damp. If it feels too dry, add a splash more of the stock and toss again.
Stuff into the cavity of your turkey, and underneath the skin of the crop, if you like. If you have any extra stuffing, you can make an envelope of tin foil and wrap it up with a tight seal, and then bake it alongside your turkey for the last 45 minutes of your Thanksgiving cooking time.
If you are in general need of food and would like more information, or if you would like to make a donation, contact Helena Food Share at: 406-443-3663, or visit our website at www.helenafoodshare.org
Sally Beck works at Helena Food Share where she regularly demonstrates new recipes on the Charlie Cart mobile kitchen. She is a food enthusiast, professional baker and has owned her own restaurant.