I’ve re-posted a message from my friend Robert Waldrop about his house’s ethical-Thanksgiving meal made from almost entirely Oklahoma-produced ingredients:
THANKSGIVING 2003: SLOW AND LOCAL FOODOur Thanksgiving feast this year was a true celebration of the rich, varied, and authentic tastes of Oklahoma foods. It was restful and slow, even though we prepared a worthy feast that began in the morning and ended about 7 PM.:
+ Roast Turkey, Redbird Ranch, Mark Parman and Family, Webbers Falls, stuffed with a bouquet of garden herbs (rosemary, sage, lovage) and 3 bulbs of walking onions;
+ Mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and rosemary, Broady Farms, Yukon,.& our household garden;
+ Our own homegrown turnips roasted with Honey Hill Farm honey (Jerry and Jo Logan, Edmond), wine, and butter;
+ Dressing made with Horne’s Organic Farm (Charles Horne and family, Cordell) corn we ground into meal and made into cornbread;
+ Hot rolls, PDH farms wheat ground in our kitchen, and Shawnee Mills flour;
+ Cooked home grown mixed greens (turnip, mustard, fordhook giant and rhubarb chard), with herbs and crushed red pepper, and broth from the turkey;
+ Squash pie, made with butternut squash from Worley Organic Farm, Westville, made with a pumpkin pie recipe (and it tasted just like a pumpkin pie!);
+ Deviled eggs, plus the eggs for the various recipes, Redbird Ranch;
+ Frybread, made from PDH farms wheat and Shawnee Mills flour;
+ Habanero sauce, made ourselves from habanero’s we grew
+ Country Sunshine (of Enid) apple butter and wild sand plum jelly
+ Van’s Pig Stand (Shawnee) barbecue relish
+ Turkey gravy, made with a roux of olive oil, oil from the turkey broth, and flour, browned nicely, and the turkey broth.
Besides these local foods, we made a traditional green bean casserole, cream cheese rollups (with habanero sauce and chopped green olives in the creamed cheese), and stuffed celery sticks using supermarket ingredients. We bought butter and olive oil, chocolate, coffee, and 2 frozen pie crusts. Also beer, wine, and Jim Beam 7 year old bourbon.
This morning my eyes fluttered awake about 7 AM; I looked at the clock and thought, “what exactly is your hurry, Mr. Waldrop,” and turned right over and went back to sleep, so my day began about 8:30 with some strong coffee with hot chocolate. A perfect beginning for a day of fellowship, cooking, and a celebration of slow Oklahoma foods, a feast day.
This had been a very busy week, so some prep work which should have been done yesterday or early in the week hadn’t been done. I had 2 helpers in the kitchen, my roommates Sean Kay and Daniel Rogers. We started by grinding cornmeal and making cornbread for the dressing. The corn was from Charles Horn’s Organic Farm in Cordell. We also sliced 2 butternut squashes into quarters and put them in the oven with the cornbread. We didn’t have any pie pumpkins, so I figured we would make squash pies using the same recipe as I usually use for pumpkin pies.
Then we looked at the fridge, and decided we needed more room. So yesterday’s pork roast went into the freezer, as did some tomato sauce I had made earlier in the week. We still had buffalo leftover from the great stew cooking caper of Sunday afternoon, so we fried that and put it in the freezer (if you have thawed out meat, in danger of keeping too long in the refrigerator, cook it and freeze it). We thus made way for two quick meals next week, one of tomato sauce with buffalo burger, and one using the leftover roast and gravy, maybe as stroganoff or with pinto beans. I went outside and picked turnips, one of which was about the size of a softball. We had dough left from Sunday, so I took that out and added a little more white flour, kneading it and setting it on the back of the stove to rise.
Water went on to boil to cook eggs for deviling.. Then we chopped the turnips and put them on to cook in water.. I went outside and picked rosemary, parsley, sage, and lovage from the garden and peeled 3 dried Egyptian onions, and stuffed the cavity of the turkey with the bouquet of herbs and onion. About 11 AM the turkey went into the oven. The squash and cornbread were already out, the first tasty tidbit of the day was hot corn meal. We all love the taste of cornbread made with home ground corn. It is a bit more chewy than cornbread made with store-bought cornbread, but the taste is much more rich and at the same time has some subtleties to it that are missing from supermarket cornmeal. I had mine dripping with butter and apple butter from Country Sunshine in Enid. Most store bought apple butter is really just apple sauce with some cinnamon and colored dark with caramel syrup. But Country Sunshine apple butter is the real thing and it tastes very good on hot corn bread first thing in the morning washed down with hot coffee mixed with hot chocolate. After we broke our fast, I crumbled the rest into a casserole pan and covered it with a cloth.
I went back outside and our Guatemalan neighbors came over and we talked a bit, they speak about as much English as I speak Spanish, so we can manage a basic conversation,”come se dice in ingles” and then they would point to a plant in the garden, tell me the Spanish name and I would tell them the English name. I picked a bunch of greens – mustard, fordhook giant chard, and turnip – and gave them to them for their own feast. Then I picked greens for us to eat.
Came back inside and started the turkey giblets (which were huge) to boiling, took the turnips off the fire and set them out of the way
We decided it was time for something a bit more substantial (it was a little before noon), so Sean began deviling the eggs and I heated up a cup and a half of oil and started making fry bread with some of the dough left from Sunday, it was becoming sour dough.. We all gathered around the stove and I said, “Well, I am going to stand here and make fry bread until we stop eating it. About 9 pieces later, the fry bread appetizer was finished. We sprinkled cinnamon sugar on them, although I had one with some of the deviled egg mix Sean was making. To devil the eggs, Sean added mayonnaise, mustard, our own homemade habanero sauce, and black pepper to the mashed egg yolks. As an experiment, after we had filled most of the egg halves, we added a bit of Van’s Pig Stand barbecue relish for the final few. It is like an old fashioned hot chow chow, sweet and sour, with a definite BBQ taste, and it was very good in the deviled eggs. Van’s Pig Stand is located in Shawnee and Norman, it is the oldest single family owned barbecue restaurant in continuous operation in the state of Oklahoma. Each of their locations is delightfully festooned with 1950s style neon lighting.
After my third fry bread, I decided it was time for a bit of fortification so I added a shot of Jim Beam 7 year old bourbon to my coffee and chocolate. We put some cloves of garlic in a packet of foil in the oven to roast. The garlic was from my garden, and was destined for the mashed potatoes..
Finishing the fry bread, we of course ate about half of the deviled eggs on the spot; at our house, it is a rare Thanksgiving that any deviled eggs make it to the dinner table, they are all consumed as appetizers.
Meanwhile, Sean began to make another appetizer. He mixed cream cheese with chopped green olives, more of our habanero sauce (which is basically ground habaeneros with a little garlic and vinegar added), and some of the pickling juice from the olives. We spread it on flour tortillas and then sliced them, and also stuffed celery with it. So we snacked on some of those and I made another fry bread and added a b it more coffee to my cup and a wee bit more of bourbon.
If we ever get access to a health dept. certified kitchen, I told Sean he should make deviled eggs and creamed cheese spreads to sell through the Oklahoma Food Coop.
Off and on we took breaks, watched a bit of the morning parades, and then bits and pieces of football games. About 4 PM we moved the pace of kitchen activity up a bit, onions and celery were diced, put in a cast iron skillet with butter, olive oil, and rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, and lovage from my garden, and then sauteed until the onions were clear. This mixture was added to the crumbled corn bread mixed with about 5 slices of crumbled dried bread. Salt and pepper were added. I rolled out the bread rolls and put them aside to rise. Potatoes were washed and diced and put on the boil, turnip, mustard, fordhook chard and rhubarb chard was torn into pieces, and sauteed until wilted and then set aside. I bought these potatoes in September, some that were left from Broady Farms harvest earlier in the summer. They are sprouting a bit, but I just cut off the sprouts and they are very tasty.
One menu item that was straight agribidness food was green bean casserole: canned green beans, mushroom soup, and onion rings.. Next year I intend to freeze some of my summer green beans, make my own french fried battered onions, and make a mushroom gravy from Lost Creek’s shitaake mushrooms and soup mix.
We mixed a half cup of wine with a half cup of honey, and a stick of melted butter and dressed the turnips, using a cast iron skillet as a casserole pan. About 4:45 the turkey came out and as usual we all chanted (on the syllable “DA”) “Pomp and Circumstance”. We immediately had a taste, and it was pronounced to be our Best Thanksgiving Turkey Ever (BTTE). It was of course our first ever pastured turkey, from Mark Parman and family of Redbird Ranch in Webbers Falls.
We drained a full quart of juices from the turkey pan, which I put into two quart jars, and then topped them off with water, so we had 2 quarts of broth. I put half a quart into the wilted greens, added crushed red pepper, garlic, and various Italian dried herbs, some more water, and put them on to cook. I poured the broth from the giblets, and then a pint of the turkey drippings, onto the cornbread dressing, beat two eggs and added them to the mixture, also a can of cream of celery soup. Into the oven it went.
We took the cooked butternut squash out of the fridge, it came off the skins really easily and we mashed it with a potato masher. I added 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1-3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 beaten eggs, and a can of evaporated milk.
Then into the oven went the turnips with their honey and wine and the green bean casserole, I filled two pie shells with the squash pie filling, turned around, and – oops – the tray of rising rolls was knocked off the back of the stove and fell flat on the floor, dough side down – oops again. Boo hoo, but fortunately, there was other dough still sitting in the original container, so I rolled out some more and set them in a more secure, but still warm, place.
About a half hour later the green bean casserole and turnips came out of the oven, in went the rolls. A few minutes later out came the dressing, and in went the pies. The last item to be prepared was the gravy. I put some olive oil in a cast iron skillet, and then added some of the fat from the turkey broth. I mixed flour with this, and cooked it until the roux was a rich golden brown. I added the quart of broth plus another pint of water, salt and pepper, and stirred it until it thickened.
Nothing was wasted. We saved the water from cooking the turnips and the potatoes, in quart jars in the fridge, for soup and bread making later. Immediately after the main course of our feast, we wrapped everything up and stashed it in the fridge. We’ve all had additional snacks this evening, and the dogs and the cats also had turkey snacks, and there is plenty to eat tomorrow. The dogs also really liked the cream cheese with green olives and habanero sauce. Food scraps from the preparation went into the compost.
It had been a day of slow food, cooking, conversations over coffee, now we were rewarded after a prayer of thanksgiving with the Feast. The table was decorated with a tie dyed table cloth (yes, really), in the center was a wicker basket was filled with branches of fresh horehound, tarragon, some dried dill heads and a couple of stalks of wheat, and two turnips that didn’t make it into the pot. We arranged all of our food and filled our plates, I managed to get something of everything on my plate. For relishes/condiments we had our habanero sauce, Worley Farms hot red pepper sauce, Van’s Pig Stand barbecue relish and ranch dressing, sand plum jelly and apple butter. The rolls turned out just fine. And so did the squash pie, in fact, it tastes and looks exactly like pumpkin pie! Wine and beer were passed around afterwards. Next year we’ll have our own beer and wine.
There was no frantic rushing, nobody had to drive anywhere to get anything. It has taken several years, but this year’s feast was mostly local foods, instead of mostly supermarket foods with a growing number of local food side dishes as was the case in previous years.
Tomorrow is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, and we are celebrating that by continuing to stay home. We don’t intend to spend one dollar tomorrow, nor to drive anywhere unless there is a bona fide emergency.. December will be busy again, another cooperative order/delivery event is coming up December 11th through 18th, we are celebrating vespers each Sunday evening at church, all my choirs are rehearsing (children’s, traditional, and bell choirs). Among other things, during Advent we are doing “A Star shall come forth” by Mendelson, “And the Glory of the Lord” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, also a Chanticleer arrangement of Ave Maria for 2 choirs (8 parts total).
Last Sunday we received a beautiful gift. Chris Haulk of Christ the King parish, who arranged for us to cook for the Native American event last Sunday, recently made a trip to El Salvador and she gave me two dried leaves from a tree in the garden outside of the chapel in San Salvador where Msgr. Romero was assassinated, and where his heart is buried, which she brought back for us.
This afternoon during one of our breaks I spoke with my father and step mother on the phone, and talked with my Dad about our new food cooperative. This got him talking about the Tillman County Farmer’s Cooperative. The Waldrops were of course among the founding families of that cooperative. But in talking about it, I noticed a feeling of disgust creep into his voice. I never before knew this, but he had two kinds of shares in that coop, an “A share,” which everybody has as a membership and voting share, and which was kept at a nominal cost of around twenty dollars. But over the years, 10% of the value of every load of wheat, cotton, milo, and other farm products he sold through the coop had ten percent deducted from its value which went into the purchase of B shares, this was a mandatory deduction and purchase. He would then receive some dividends from that, but the capital itself is effectively stranded and the shares can’t be sold. It has been years since any dividend has been paid, due to the toxic combination of poor local management and the general hazards of the farm economy. He offered me six bits of advice based on his cooperative experience:
+ Keep thorough public records.
+ Beware of people seeking special advantage through the cooperative structure and management.
+ Don’t extend credit for operations. All members should pay cash for what they buy through the cooperative.
+ Be honest, even if it hurts.
+ Don’t force the membership to contribute, or allow the cooperative to accumulate, “stranded” non-liquid membership resources beyond the basic share purchase.
+ Scrutinize management closely. (His words were, “watch the managers like a hawk.”
Thanksgiving 2003 was a day of feasting and rejoicing, but there was a bit of ambivalence in the back of the mind due to the fact that for the first time since starting this Oscar Romero Catholic Worker house, people who requested food were sent away without any because we flat ran out of food. By last Saturday night the cupboard was bare. We helped 55 households, but there were another 55 or so for whom we had nothing. I emailed their names and addresses to someone who gave them to a particular parish that helps us a lot, I spoke with him this evening and he said he thought many of them did receive food, but wasn’t sure if everybody on the list was served or not.
To help provide more resources for our work in food security, and thanks to the generosity of a parishioner family at Epiphany Church, I have recorded a CD of piano improvisations on Advent, Nativity, and Epiphany hymn tunes. We hope to have them back from the production company soon, and they will be for sale before Christmas. Each CD costs $15, and the money will buy about one bag of groceries for us to give to the poor.
We have many reasons to be grateful this thanksgiving, also many reasons to have grave concerns about the future. Yet, in the rhythm of times and seasons, there indeed is a time and a place for everything. There is a time for work, and there is a time of rest and celebration. We are grateful for all those who made the food that we enjoyed possible. We remember the farmers and workers and families who planted the seeds, cultivated the crops, nurtured the animals, and harvested and preserved the food. They had faith that their work would yield a sufficient harvest, and we had faith in organizing our cooperative and planting our own home garden, which activities made it possible for us to enjoy so many local foods.
There has been one final “fruit” of this day’s celebration. Earlier this year, in conjunction with the annual Creighton University Center for Justice and Service mission trip to Oklahoma City, I wrote an essay “Ten commandments for sustainable and just lifestyles”. Together with the “Works of Justice and Peace”, which is the mission statement of our Oklahoma City Catholic Worker community, I have said that these ideas constitute a practical strategy for resisting the culture of death and creating a civilization of life and love. I have been making notes on redacting these two “lists” into one essay, and completed that today also. Combining “ten commandments” and “seven works”, I came up with one list of 50 ideas (oops), grouped under the headings of Virtue, Justice, Peace, Truth and Self-Awareness, Prudence, Food, Energy/Housing/Transportation, Material Goods, and Community Economics. I also made them a bit more “ecumenical” so that they can be of greater utility to all people of peace and goodwill. I give them to you as my gift, on this day of thanksgiving, in the year of our Lord two thousand and three: “Cultivating a Civilization of Life and Justice, Resisting a Culture of Death and Devastation.”. Grace and peace be with you all.
Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City
This page will be posted in my online blog at http://www.justpeace.org/onpilgrimage.htm .
Cultivating a Civilization of Life and Justice: Resisting a Culture of Death and Devastation.
10 categories, 50 actions.
1. Nurture blessings and hope in your own life and in the life of your community.
2. Promote solidarity and cooperation.
3. Celebrate life, goodness, beauty, virtue, responsibility, joy, and righteous and honest work. Practice peace, non-violence, servant leadership, harmony, community, voluntary cooperation, and the proper stewardship of Creation. Be authentic and honest. Pray without ceasing.
4. Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of the times and speak truth — to power, to the people, and to the community..
5. Protect the poor and powerless– listen, learn, educate, organize, respect life, and empower participation.
6. Live simply and justly in solidarity with the poor and marginalized and be a good neighbor. Make no war on them, rather, be one with them in spirit, truth, and love. Don’t leave the poor behind for the wolves to devour.
7. Be aware of your environment and how your lifestyle impacts the community and world you live in and other people, for good or for bad..
8. Work for reconciliation with truth and orthopraxis.
9. Make injustice visible — witness, remember, teach, proclaim, tell. Light candles, do not curse the darkness.
TRUTH AND SELF AWARENESS
10.. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
11. As you change your lifestyle to be more just and sustainable, don’t attempt too much at first. Set incremental goals and meet them. Learn one new thing at a time and get good at it.. But beware of procrastination.
12. Be willing to start small, or it is likely you will never start at all..
13. Learn many things.
14. Practice many skills.
15. Teach others.
16. Govern yourself.
17. Accept responsibility for your own life, but understand your interdependence with others and the importance of community.
18. “What I do doesn’t matter” is a lie we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about doing wrong.
19. Be ready to adapt to major changes that may come your way.
20. Watch out for dangers and disasters that may be ahead, and act in advance to mitigate the impact of such events. The Bible says, “Remember the time of hunger in the day of plenty.”
21. The time to build the cellar is before the tornado hits.
22. Celebrate a new and more joyful way to do food. Prepare meals with primary ingredients grown in your local region. Share table fellowship with family and friends. Eat with the season, and discover the rich, varied, and authentic tastes your region brings forth throughout the year.
23. Learn how to grow your own food. Plant fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and other perennial food crops. Preserve heirloom varieties of plants and animals.
24. Learn to process and preserve your own foods by canning, dehydrating, freezing, brining, fermenting, and pickling. Invest in appropriate food processing equipment. Encourage churches and community groups to establish community food processing kitchens. Make your own beer, wine, spirits, liqueurs, and soft drinks or buy from local breweries and wineries..
25. Gather up the leftovers and ensure that no food is wasted. Compost or feed to animals all organic waste materials.
26. Abandon the globalized corporation dominated agribizness supermarket and fast food system. Buy as much food as is practical from local farmers and local processors. Do your part to help develop a cooperative local food system.
27. Encourage schools and churches to start gardens and to serve local foods to students and at church dinners..
28. Don’t buy any meats, eggs, or poultry from the Confined Animal Feeding Operation system. If you can’t find local animal products produced with sustainable and humane practices, go vegetarian.
ENERGY, HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION
29. Use energy frugally. Know how much energy you are personally using and which way your energy usage trend is going. When you go shopping, remember that “stuff” has energy embodied in its manufacture and distribution and thus conserving energy requires using less stuff.. Invest in energy efficient appliances, but beware of accumulating energy hogs.
30. Use sustainable and renewable energy wherever practical. Buy wind generated electricity from your utility provider.
31. Walk, take public transportation, or ride a bicycle, where possible. Avoid air travel unless you can get there no other way. For cross-country land transportation, rail and bus are the preferred sustainable options. For freight, rail is the way to go.
32. Use Less Space. Heat or air condition rooms only when in use, do not foolishly squander fossil fuels on heating or air conditioning empty rooms.
33. Super-insulate your dwelling and reduce or eliminate fossil fueled heating and air conditioning by using passive solar heating and cooling in new construction and developing/installing retrofits for existing buildings.
34. Practice personal and emotional detachment from material goods.
35. Understand that you are NOT your stuff. Resist corporate and government propaganda that suggests otherwise. Ignore all advertising.
36. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Restore, Make Do, Do Without.
37. Patronize the aftermarket in places like swap meets, thrift stores, and flea markets.
38. Avoid new stuff as much as possible.
39. Don’t buy clothing made in sweatshops.
40. Limit your consumption of resources, including water.
41. The borrower is the slave of the lender, if you value freedom, Flee The Bondage Of Debt.
42. If you must borrow money for education or housing, pay it off as quickly as you can, always make extra principle payments on loans. Do not forget that the borrower is the slave of the lender.
43. Never finance frivolous consumption with borrowed money on credit cards. I tell you three times: the borrower is the slave of the lender.
44.. Avoid big box corporation stores and franchise chains.
45. Buy from local businesses and as much as is practical earn a living and spend your money outside of the corporation dominated globalized economy. Invest your time, energy, assets, and intelligence in local economies.
46. Organize cooperatives, start small businesses, and create other structures and systems to replace unsustainable globalized economic and political structures.
47. Spend less money, save more money.
48. Keep your money in a credit union or in productive and useful assets (land, buildings, tools, knowledge, books, food, orchards, permaculture. etc.).
49. Support political and voluntary initiatives that promote sustainability and resilience, such as public transportation, energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, small farms, decentralized economics, balanced government budgets, and local markets.
50. Ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere.
By Robert Waldrop, Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, 1524 NW 21, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106, firstname.lastname@example.org . This essay may be forwarded and reprinted for non-profit use.