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Ecological Inspirations for your Thanksgiving Menu

Posted Nov 07 2012 8:00am

The holiday season is upon us, and soon your family and friends will gather for feasts to ward off the coming chill of winter.

Food brings us together, especially during the holidays. Too many of us have forgotten how to make things from scratch, or never experience the joy that comes with making a special meal with ecologically-grown or raised, local ingredients. To re-ignite your passion for food, this email contains recipes for corn bread, “roots” beer, blue cheese, as well as inspired locavore twists on classic recipes for turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and more.

Take a look at the menu we’ve put together with full recipes below:

Happy reading from the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our full list of books on sale here:


~ Starters ~

Cooking Close to Home
From Cooking Close
to Home

From Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes

Start your Thanksgiving meal with a crispy, savory, vegetarian appetizer.

Wild mushrooms are simmered with garlic and onions in this simple, healthy recipe from Cooking Close to Home

“Mushrooms are low in calories, and rich in antioxidants. Local producers are now growing mushrooms throughout the year, so indulge in whatever varieties are available.”

Authors Diane Imrie and Richard Jarmusz are the chef/nutritionist team who have won awards for revolutionizing the food served at Vermont’s largest hospital. Lucky patients at Fletcher Allen are now served healthy, organic, local, and delicious meals.

The cookbook takes you through the seasons, and is the perfect accompaniment to a CSA membership, or a great gift for the locavore on your list.

Get the recipe here…

Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking
From Mastering
Artisan Cheesemaking

From Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers

A cheese plate is an easy, crowd-pleasing appetizer. But what if you made one of the cheeses yourself?

If you started this blue cheese today, it might not quite be ready by Thanksgiving, but it’s a great example of the kind of valuable, in-depth, beyond-beginner-level information you can find in Gianaclis Caldwell’s new book. With Caldwell’s welcoming tone, excellent information, and the book’s beautiful design, Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking will help you make the cheeses you’ve always wanted to.

“Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking is the one book that tells you everything you need to know to become an award-winning cheese maker. Caldwell’s practical and straightforward explanations make this entire book (along with its amusing anecdotes) a great pleasure to read. Among the recent bounty of books on cheese, this one is a must-have.”  Max McCalman, author of Mastering Cheese

Want to make your own blue cheese? Get the recipe here…

The Art of FermentationFrom The Art of Fermentation

From The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World

Impress your family at the table this Thanksgiving when you share a bottle of homemade root beer, or “roots” beer, as Sandor Katz would put it.

“A traditional root beer is a sweetened and fermented decoction of flavorful plant roots. Contrary to the commonly known singular “root” beer, various roots have been and can be used. As a matter of fact, mixing together more than one type of root yields a better flavor than a single root alone.”

This easy recipe comes from Katz’s new book, The Art of Fermentation, a New York Times bestseller and the most comprehensive guide to fermentation ever published.

Make your own sweet, bubbly root beer. Get the recipe…


~ Main Dish ~

Long Way on a LittleFrom
Long Way on a Little

From Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lover’s Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously

From farmer and author Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemakers, comes Long Way on a Little, or as we like to call it, “the only meat cookbook you’ll ever need.”

Hayes raises beef on her farm in upstate New York, and has been spreading the gospel of grassfed meat for years. Grassfed meats require a little extra care in cooking, but reward you with a depth of flavor, and more nutrients than grain-fed meat. In Hayes’s new book, she covers special lost skills such as how to render fat into lard, how to make broth from bones, as well as recipes for cooking pasture-raised beef, pork, poultry, and more.

This simple recipe for Turkey and Gravy will help you make the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal delicious.

Get the recipe…  

The Farmer and the Grill
From The Farmer
and the Grill

From The Farmer and the Grill: A Guide to Grilling, Barbecuing and Spit-Roasting Grassfed Meat…and for saving the planet one bite at a time

In The Farmer and the Grill, Shannon Hayes shares even more tips on preparing grassfed meats.

Complement Shannon’s t urkey recipe from above with her rich Walnut Sausage Stuffing.

“Cook the stuffing separately. I know a lot of folks like to put the stuffing inside their holiday birds, and if Thanksgiving will be positively ruined if you break tradition, then stuff away. However, for a couple reasons, I recommend cooking your stuffing separately. First, everyone’s stuffing recipe is different. Therefore, the density will not be consistent, which means that cooking times will vary dramatically. I am unable to recommend a cooking time, since I cannot control what stuffing each person uses. Also, due to food safety concerns, I happen to think it is safer to cook the stuffing outside the bird.”

Get the recipe for Walnut Sausage Stuffing… 

This Organic LifeFrom
This Organic Life

From This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader

Joan Dye Gussow is one of the leaders of the organic food movement. She has taught nutrition for decades, but is perhaps better known for her garden on the fickle Hudson River. Sometimes the Hudson floods her potato patch, but still Joan gardens. In this brief excerpt from her book This Organic Life, Gussow realizes that she long ago crossed a threshold, “we had reached a point where we simply never bought a vegetable.”

She includes her easy recipe for Mashed Potatoes for Twelve (with enough left over for Mashed Potato Cakes) and we thought it was the perfect addition to our Earth-conscious Thanksgiving menu. Bonus points if you grew them yourself!

Get the recipe…



~ Side Dishes ~

Home Baked
From Home Baked

From Home Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and Pastry

Serve these savory rolls, laced with lemon zest, alongside your turkey and gravy for a burst of flavor.

Home Baked is more than a bread cook book. The authors are reminiscent of the little red hen from the fable: they grow thegrain, harvest the grain, grind the grain and bake the bread, all on their beautiful island farm in Denmark.

The recipes are simple, but in the tradition of Nordic cuisine many incorporate fresh, wild ingredients such as nettles, elder flowers, and wild leeks.

Get the recipe 

The Resilient Gardener
The Resilient Gardener

From The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

Carol Deppe teaches gardeners how to do more than just grow lettuce and herbs. Her latest book, The Resilient Gardener, seeks to share her wisdom for growing all the food you need even if you suffer from food allergies such as gluten intolerance.

With guides to growing, harvesting, preserving, and storing five key crops, The Resilient Gardener is an excellent sourcebook for those trying to feed themselves from their own land.

Corn is one of Deppe’s key crops, and she has carefully bred the perfect varieties for different uses like polenta and cornbread. This recipe, Carol’s Universal Skillet Bread, is versatile enough to be used for sandwiches as well as a tasty, gravy-absorbing side dish and it uses no wheat or artificial binders.

Get the recipe…

Full Moon Feast
From Full Moon Feast

From Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

Balance the unctuousness of your grassfed turkey with the bright acidic tang of cranberries. Either as a sweetened sauce, or a savory relish, these little American natives are a classic garnish for Thanksgiving meats.

Native Americans prized cranberries for their ability to remain edible and unspoiled for months, which made them an excellent food for traveling and a good source of nutrients over long, hard winters when fresh fruit and vegetables were scarce.

Jessica Prentice’s recipe for cranberry sauce is simple and traditional. It uses maple syrup and honey instead of sugar, which are both sweeteners easy to make on the homestead scale.

Get the recipe…

Wild Flavors
From Wild Flavors

From Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm

Chef Didi Emmons is known for crafting delightful, fresh, and unique dishes, and her latest cookbook, Wild Flavors offers exactly what the title proclaims.

Wild Flavors chronicles a year Emmons spent learning about new herbs and vegetables from organic farmer Eva Sommaripa. Eva’s passion for the earth, and her delicious produce, inspired Didi to take her cooking to new places.

Serve up Didi’s Sauteed Kale Salad with Apple, Walnuts, and Feta alongside your other dishes for a healthy, bright green dish.

Get the recipe…

Full Moon Feast
From Full Moon Feast

From Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection

In Full Moon Feast, accomplished chef and passionate food activist Jessica Prentice champions locally grown, humanely raised, nutrient-rich foods and traditional cooking methods. The book follows the thirteen lunar cycles of an agrarian year, from the midwinter Hunger Moon and the springtime sweetness of the Sap Moon to the bounty of the Moon When Salmon Return to Earth in autumn.

This recipe from is perfect for anyone tending a root cellar. Simply combine enough of your favorite roots to feed your guests. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, beets, parsnips and more all combine beautifully together for a simple and satisfying side dish.

Get the recipe…




~ Dessert ~

The Apple Grower

The Apple Grower

From The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist, Second Edition

Your classic apple pie gets an interesting spin from apple (and peach, and plum, and pear, and berry) expert Michael Phillips. Try his recipe for Lost Nation Cider Pie.

Phillips’s book The Apple Grower has long been the best resource for anyone interested in growing these ubiquitous fruits organically. Now aspiring orchardists can learn about other tree fruits, and berries, (and even more about apples) with Phillips’s new book The Holistic Orchard .

If there’s anything that will inspire you to start growing your own fruit trees, it’s a tangy, scrumptious pie. Enjoy!

Got pie? Get the recipe…



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