by Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners
It is the time of year to start thinking about Christmas Dinner. When family gathers, we always like to enjoy our garden’s harvest.
For our family, the star of the show is a golden roasted turkey. While we have had a lot of wild turkeys visit our garden, we will go with one from a store. The turkey stuffing, however does contain a lot from our garden. There are onions from the cold storage, plenty of dried thyme and summer savoury. There could still be some fresh sage out in the garden, under the snow but if not, there is lots of dried sage. To accompany the turkey, we will have cranberry jelly made from the high bush cranberries. Because of the pits in the high bush cranberries, we cannot make the traditional cranberry side but, I recently attended a Horticultural Society talk and learned that the home gardener can grow low bush cranberries in a normal garden bed. Commercial growers need to use a bog. Maybe we will try that next year.
To accompany the turkey, we need to have mashed potatoes. They will also come from the cold storage. We could add some of our garlic but Grandpa does not like anything with garlic in it. Too bad! The rest of the family loves garlic mashed potatoes. For vegetables, we have lots of choices. Carrots and rutabaga (we call it turnip at our house) from the cold storage are still sweet and crisp. Brussel sprouts are under a layer of snow in the garden. Peas, beans and broccoli are all in the freezer and finally, the butternut squash is resting comfortably in the cool bedroom closet.
What to choose? We will start with a butternut squash soup and then have two vegetables with the main course - brussel sprouts and mashed rutabaga.
We always like to have some of our homemade pickles to accompany our meal. This year, we have mustard beans, dill pickles and pickled beets. They are so colourful and popular. I would like to make a cabbage salad but our cabbage does not last in storage long enough. Fortunately, we do have cabbage rolls in the freezer that we can bring out to augment our Boxing Day meal of delicious leftovers.
The dessert highlight for many of us is our favorite carrot pudding. The cook especially likes it as it has been made a few weeks ago so little last minute prep is needed. We will also have an apple pie made from apples that grew on our apple trees. Fortunately, too, the pies are made and sitting in the freezer, and only need to be popped into the oven to bake. Maybe next year our blueberries will finally produce enough berries so that we can have a blueberry pie too.
I hope that you can all enjoy something from your garden for your Christmas Dinner and that you and your family will have a very Merry Christmas and a great gardening New Year.