Maple and Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Squash (And a Story About a Turkey)
Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for friends and family to gather around the table in love and friendship, so that we may all sit down, say grace, and stuff our faces full of delicious foods drenched in butter and cream.
Thanksgiving: the greatest holiday of them all.
At this point, what I really should tell you about is this delectable little recipe I am sharing with you for your holiday table. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any time during this chilly winter season. Acorn squash and sweet potatoes mingle together with maple syrup and a hint of rosemary for a fantastic, comforting side dish.
But what I really want to tell you about is how I’m getting a turkey on a plane for Thanksgiving.
You see, I’m not one for simple, pain-free holidays. They’re just too easy. I like complex, anxiety-inducing holidays that require multiple phone calls, web searches, a Facebook blast, and pleading for favors from family and friends. This all started because my bleeding, YUP-i-fied heart has watched far too many documentaries and read far too many books about the horrors of commercial poultry factories. To ease the burden on my conscience, I thought I would simply buy a local turkey for the Big Day. Easy-peasy, right?
WRONG, PEOPLE. Soooo wrong. Buying a local turkey in Alaska is about as easy as ordering ice cream in the middle of the desert. Local turkey purveyors Triple D Farms, made (in)famous in this fantastic gem of a video by a certain former Governor, closed down in 2011. A fairly extensive search on the web and several phone calls around the Anchorage/Mat-Su Valley area turned up ZERO turkeys for my table.
I told myself, “Heidi, suck it up. Just be like everyone else and go to the store and buy a damn turkey.” I mean, they’re perfectly decent turkeys! I grew up with them, and loved my turkey dinner at every Thanksgiving table. So I went to my favorite wholesale store (need a turkey and a generator and your tires rotated?), picked up an “organic” turkey, placed it in my cart and felt a little better. As I made my way to the front of the store, however, panic overcame me.
How exactly were these turkeys raised? Did they live a good life, running around with their brothers and sisters, left to roam free on grassy fields? A Google search of the company brand turned up exactly what I suspected: it was wholly-owned by one of the big, bad corporate poultry factories. My heart began to bleed again. I turned my cart around, traveled back to the cooler, and placed the frozen bird back into its resting place.
Having already given up on my local turkey, I called a locally-owned market that sells farm-raised turkeys for $85,700.00/pound. From the way they pitch it, these pasture-raised, spa-treated, college educated birds had a life in California better than most of us ever dreamed of. I swallowed the price tag and placed my order.
AND THEN IT HAPPENED.
My friend Renee texted me later that same day to tell me a friend of hers raises turkeys in Kenai for his family. And he had a SPARE he was willing to sell me. I was elated! The only hitch?
It’s in Kenai. And I’m in Anchorage. A 150 mile problem.
A few texts, a Facebook blast, and a couple phone calls later, I learn that my friend Mike is flying home from Kenai TODAY. I called him and simply asked if he’d do me a favor.
Mike: “Sure. What’s up?”
Me: “Uh. This might sound a little weird. Can you bring something home for me on the plane?”
Mike: “I think so, if it fits in my carry-on. What is it?”
Me: “A frozen, 20-pound turkey.”
Mike: “A FROZEN TWENTY POUND TURKEY?!?!?!”
When he said it like that, it really did sound a little crazy.
Luckily, Mike loves me. And my crazy antics.
So in about two hours, Mike is going to board a plane with a frozen 20-pound, Alaska-raised turkey. YIPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How in the world am I going to top this next year? :)
See more recipes at chenagirlcooks.blogspot.com
Maple and Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Squash
1 acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped, and sliced into 10-12 wedges (leaving the skin on- it’s edible!)
1 sweet potato, sliced crosswise and into 8-10 wedges
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh pepper
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
(1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
(2) Place the squash and potatoes on a shallow baking sheet. Toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, syrup, and rosemary. Arrange in a single layer.
(3) Dollop the veggies with the butter (either by breaking it up with your fingers or sliced into small cubes with a knife).
(4) Bake for 35-40 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until golden brown.
About Heidi Drygas
Heidi was born and raised in Fairbanks, and grew up in and around the waters of the Chena River. She graduated with a degree in History from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and received her law degree from Willamette University. A lawyer by day and self-taught home cook at night, she is passionate about cooking and creating tasty, uncomplicated food. She is also a firm believer in buying local produce and products whenever possible, and is an avid fisherwoman. She currently lives in Anchorage with her trusty terrier, Milo.