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By Mark Snyder, Gatehouse Media Columnist
Ok, so Thanksgiving is about family getting together, carving up a turkey, stuffing our faces, loosening our belts and watching a football game. Oh, it also has to do with Pilgrims feasting with Indians in a time period long before any of us walked the Earth. Thanksgiving is also about preparing a huge meal, which has inevitably fallen on mom. Dad traditionally and ceremoniously carved the turkey to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of surgical fans, then went into the living room to watch football and escape Aunt Sue.
Times have changed. Some people go to restaurants for their traditional turkey fare. We did that and it didn’t work out very well. Others have discovered the joy of “catered” meals that you pickup and heat up for the holidays. Traditionalists would say this is not what the Pilgrims intended. Realists, especially those with working partners, would say this is just what the turkey carver ordered. And, it’s not just for Thanksgiving. This column can be saved for Christmas dinner, or just a special occasion at home.
Last year, our family dared to try “pickup” of the entire Thanksgiving meal. We purchased it at Roche Bros. in Easton and got the surprise of our lives. The turkey was moist and flavorful. The stuffing was absolutely delicious. The side dishes brought raves from all my family members in attendance. It tasted “homemade.” Dare I say, it was better than some I had consumed at a few Thanksgivings past, but just short of some of the better homemade meals from my mother and grandmother. Total cost of dinner for 8? About $115. Evidently, I am not alone. Roche Bros. Easton Catering Manager Brandi Maloney tells the Web, “Every year we seem to be serving more and more people. And, it’s not just on holidays. People are buying all year round.” When asked why so many people are selecting Roche Bros. for turkey, Maloney said, “All our turkeys are totally natural. We do not use any injected with hormones. Our side dishes are homemade in our commissary.”
In addition to Roche Bros., that serves hundreds of families their Thanksgiving meal, there are others doing the same thing. In East Weymouth, Pembroke, Quincy and Walpole, there are Boston Markets located inside the Super Stop & Shops that offer traditional turkey and ham, with side dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casseroles and mixed vegetables. A family of eight could be fed for less than $90.
For those looking to get their turkey on the farm, the local area has a couple of options. Owens Poultry Farm in Needham Heights cooks fresh turkeys on the premises and then freezes them for customer thawing on Thanksgiving. Owner Doug Owens says that a family of eight could be comfortable with a 14-pound turkey. “We make them fully stuffed with accompanying gravy. We also make homemade butternut squash, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole,” he said. Total cost of a meal for eight with those side dishes is around $70.
Even more local is Asack Turkey Farm in West Bridgewater. Owner Don Asack, his wife Sandy, and son Don Jr. continue a tradition that started in 1930. Sandy Asack said that they raise turkeys from May until November, and have a store that sells turkey products at retail. If you like turkey, you’ll enjoy some of the selections in the store, which include turkey chop suey and chile, turkey lasagna and meatloaf, and turkey soup and meatballs. Asack says that only fresh turkeys are sold for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “We do not freeze products for the holiday. They are all fresh and ready to eat.”
Perhaps you want to celebrate Thanksgiving without the turkey. Jen Riley of Gentle Thanksgiving says Americans should celebrate the holiday “without a dead bird on their dinner table. Killing innocent birds betrays the joyful life-affirming spirit of giving thanks for our life, health and happiness.” Adds the vegetarian, “290 million turkeys are killed year in the U.S.A. Their flesh is laced with cholesterol, saturated fats, hormones, antibiotics, and deadly pathogens.” She suggests buying a vegetarian “un-turkey” at places like Whole Foods, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
I prefer turkey, ham and brisket for holiday get-togethers. And, as for vegetables, count me out. I can’t be worried about the turkey, it’s survival of the fittest. This Thanksgiving, save me a drumstick. Whether you slaved in the kitchen cooking your meal, go to a restaurant, or take out dinner, have a Happy Thanksgiving!
(Mark Snyder is CEO of PMPNetwork.com, the internet’s entertainment superstation. His radio feature, The Entertainment Minute, is heard on WMJX-FM/ Magic106.7 FM, WROR-FM 105.7 and WBOS-FM 92.9. Mark can be reached by fax at 781-344-7207, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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