A "Tom Sawyer" Turkey Dinner

Tom_Sawyer-238x284Everyone knows the story of Tom Sawyer, a clever young boy who convinces his friends to do his work for him. It is a work of fiction, but the story it seems has inspired many…

About two weeks ago, Murray announced that he was going to cook a turkey for a birthday dinner our community would host while Chris, one of our project managers, was going to be in town. Our Prairie Spruce community rallied behind Murray’s idea and other members quickly offered to make something for the meal. I offered to make extra stuffing. Henning offered to bring perogies. Salads and desserts were volunteered. The Gagnons were going to make some delicious homemade cranberry sauce.

In the lead into the dinner prep, Murray mentioned it would be good to have some help so our host Lois stepped up to help cook the potatoes and Dave volunteered to come early to carve the turkey.3064997632_d930edb767

As with any prairie potluck, there was food in abundance. Jean and Faye brought a spinach salad with strawberries, avocados and poppy seeds. Henning brought perogies whose silky smooth dough and delicious filling drove even those who normally are gluten free or vegetarians to try a couple. Joyce treated us to two types of custard and someone made the best apple crisp I have ever had. Warren offered up cheesecake. Several bottles of wine appeared out of assorted bags and boxes.

Suzanne arrived with a large pan. It was topped with golden brown crumbs and was filled with a smooth, creamy-looking concoction. Hmm, I wondered what it was, some type of delightful potato casserole? Perhaps another dessert? A new vegetarian dish for me to sample? It smelled wonderful. I asked her what it was. Turnip Fluff was her answer. Oh…

I have spent my entire life hating turnips. My mom would boil them to a nasty, pale orange mush and force us to “just try a little.” To this day, some 30 years later, my mom still wants me to “just try a little” of her boiled turnips. As an adult, I can just smile, say “no thanks” and pass them to my dad who really likes them. My dad is English –  you can draw your own conclusions from that.

But life is about trying new things, so I tried “just a little” of Suzanne’s Turnip Fluff. It was delicious. It was fluffy. It was wonderful. I experienced a personal epiphany – turnips are not nasty; they are really quite good. I went back for seconds – a much bigger helping this time. (I wonder what she can do with Brussel sprouts – my second least favorite vegetable?)

When it was time for cleanup in the kitchen, Murray had to retire to the living room to attend the marketing meeting. Fortunately, Ruth came to the rescue. She offered to clean up while the rest of us attended the meeting.

We teased Murray, our “Tom Sawyer of the North”, quite a bit that night about his turkey dinner. But the reality is, we were all Tom Sawyers that night. By splitting up the work, delegating cooking and cleaning, we all benefitted in a way that could only have been possible through group effort. Only one of us had to make the cranberry sauce, only one of us had to bring the turnip fluff and only one of us had to do the dishes. But we ALL had fun. We all got to enjoy the meal and enjoy each others company.

I’m looking forward to Murray’s next party. 🙂

Joanne

 

Being Respectful: Food

As practice for living together in Prairie Spruce Commons, three families cook supper for everyone else once a month. Last week, it was my turn to help cook the community meal before our monthly meeting.

Thanksgiving Church Potluck
Photo courtesy of Lars Hammer on Flickr

First, it’s important I let you in on a secret: I was born and raised on a farm, a cattle farm. I knew from a young age where the meat came from on our table, and not to make pets out of the cattle in the pen. There was meat, potatoes and gravy for dinner and supper every day. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free were not a words our family was familiar with.

Since I’ve been married and had a son, I’ve rebelled against my strict meat-and-potato upbringing. What did my mother know? Some days, we have meat and pasta. Other days we have meat and rice. Occasionally we even have meat and bread. In retrospect, my mother must have known something: my husband and son actually cheer when I make a roast with potatoes and gravy.

So back to the community meal… When we joined the cohousing community, I knew some of our members were vegetarians and vegans. Some members are opting to follow a gluten-free diet. Being an omnivore verging on a meatatarian, these diet considerations are a bit out of my comfort zone. But I wanted to make an effort to show respect for their choices and dietary requirements. The next four blog posts are the recipes I choose to follow in my attempt to accommodate my friends and neighbours in community. I hope you’ll enjoy these recipes as much as we did.

Joanne