Sunday, April 25, 2010

Natural Bounty: From the Woods to My Plate

Ahh, the elusive turkey. My husband has been in the woods beginning at 4:00 AM, each day this week, courting this plays hard-to-get beast. I say beast because this 21.8 pound bird one was a true fighter; feathers squared-off and nicked from battling other toms. Unlike the black spurs of a youthful bird, his were white; fear not, this bird lived a long, happy life, terrorizing many others in his role of bird boss and I am certain there are toms and jakes everywhere that can feel a little more free to roam the woods in search of a little romance with the lady birds today. I am guessing there are also some lady birds (known as hens) that are glad that big old bully is no longer feeding them bullish pick up lines.

Joking aside, I know there are many people out there who have an extreme disgust for hunters and are frightened by photographs of them posing with their kill. No offense is intended with these photos. I can certainly appreciate one’s choice for veganism and other less extreme lifestyle choices, the bulk of Americans are a meat-eating people and, sadly, we are very far removed from the source of most of what we eat.

Life is very dear and in our home, we eat very little meat or animal product that is not harvested by my husband or one of our friends. Among the creatures you will currently find in our freezer are venison, rabbit, woodcock, snipe, quail, rockfish, flounder, and tautog. When my husband returned home with the turkey yesterday, we had a mournful celebration where we smudged the animal as we symbolically breathed the great warrior’s last breath.

As we were hovering over him in the back yard, admiring his beauty, we were unaware that a hen had been roosted in a tree above our heads. Suddenly, with an explosive movement that sounded as I would imagine a train bursting through the trees would, the hen dive bombed us to get a better look of the fallen tom. We jumped as she flew within feet of us.  It was surreal and yet somehow presented us with this overwhelming feeling of interconnectivity to the planet and every little thing that roams or sprouts upon it. Sometimes it is really difficult in this technological suburban age to slow down and really appreciate the magic of it all.

It is miraculous to sit in my wooded back yard and celebrate with my husband and children that we have been provided for many antibiotic and hormone free meals and that our food had the freedom to roam in its' natural state. It is pleasing to me that my young children have a deep appreciation for life and what had to occur for them to have meat on their plate. I am proud of my husband for his skill and ability to provide for us. Dinner was delicious last night and my connection to my family and the natural world is strong today. This, to me, is the makings of a very blessed life. I am eternally grateful.

From the woods to my plate: Joe grilled a breast of the bird for tonight's meal.  The rest of the bird has been vacuum sealed and frozen and will provide several meals throughout the year.  The legs and bones will provide the makings of a rich, vibrant stock that will flavor meals for months. 

Casual but delicious grilled turkey deserved an equally hassle-free side like these quick and easy oven roasted potato wedges (click for recipe).