If the thought of all…

If the thought of all those turkeys dying for your dinner has you bummed out, consider something else. This season, be a part of a new Thanksgiving tradition – adopt a turkey! "Adopt a turkey who lives at Farm Sanctuary's Watkins Glen, New York or Orland, California shelter for farm animals." For a one-time $20 adoption fee, you get a color photograph of your turkey and an adoption certificate. And you can feel a little better than everyone else when you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner.

Martha’s horses don’t smell

You know Martha Stewart is better than the rest of us when even her horses don't smell like shit. November's Martha Stewart Living features a long article on Thanksgiving With Martha. For the holiday, which was actually celebrated in 2005:

Martha invited 20-plus guests–friends, colleagues, and their children–to her farm in Bedford, New York, for a traditional Thanksgiving meal in the light, airy stable she had built just down the hill from her recently renovated farmhouse. While planning the stable's construction, Martha had envisioned it, with its extra-high ceilings and broad cruciform shape, as a place where she could entertain guests as well as keep her horses. In anticipation, she installed a small kitchen right in the barn.

I couldn't find a photo online, but in the magazine there's one that shows the whole group eating alongside the stables, with the horses looking over. Now you tell me, how is it that that place doesn't stink? It's a horse stable! I have never been in a horse stable that doesn't smell. Of course, I've never been in Martha's. Perhaps that's the difference.

A Guide to Buying Turkeys

Commercial Turkeys
Commercial turkeys in cramped conditions

Saveur offers a short guide to buying turkeys. Though it's not online at this time, I'm posting it for you. They look at three types of birds:

Conventional: This perennial favorite–typically a Broad-Breasted White variety–boasts an ultraplump breast that has usually (but not always) been injected with butter, water, and salt; it will be labeled "self-basted" if it contains these ingredients. Though the flesh tastes appealing when spruced up with gravy and cranberry sauce, it can be bland on its own. The price is the real selling point: conventional turkeys go for about $1 to $2 per pound.

Natural: Our favorite turkeys (often described as "minimally processed") are those that haven't been treated with artificial colors or flavor-enhancing ingredients. (Higher priced "organic" turkeys are bred according to strict rules established by the USDA.) Like their conventional counterparts, natural turkeys are usually a Broad-Breasted White variety. Though you'll pay more (they run around $2.50 per pound), most have a clean, pure turkey flavor and moist flesh.

Heritage: This category of turkeys comprises a host of old-time varieties, like Narragansett and Bourbon Red, which were staples of the pre-World War II American turkey industry. These breeds mature slowly; thus, their flesh can be pleasantly flavorful and moist–or unpleasantly gamey and chewy. It's worth doing your research before buying: at an average price of $6 to $10 per pound, they're by far the most costly turkeys available.

A pretty disappointing guide, but a start I guess. I'm not sure why there's no mention of free range, humanely raised birds. Or why they don't talk about fresh vs. frozen turkeys. And I really can't believe they'd mention a "self-basted" turkey at all (especially when they don't discourage readers from buying it), that thing's an abomination! The best birds I've had are free range birds from local farmers. They tend to be fattier and more flavorful, and I feel better knowing the turkeys lived happy lives.

For more information about your Thanksgiving options, see What to Have for Thanksgiving: Fresh or Frozen? Wild, Organic, Free Range or Conventional? And check out your local farmer's market. Mine's been taking orders all fall for turkeys. You might still be able to order something.

What kind of turkey do you prepare?

I reviewed all the major…

I reviewed all the major food magazines and Gourmet by far offered the most extensive Thanksgiving coverage. So it's no surprise to hear that they begin their Thanksgiving coverage planning a year and a half in advance. Says Ruth Reichl, Editor in Chief, in the November, 2006 Letter from the Editor: "We start thinking about what we're going to serve our readers at least a year and a half in advance…[A]t Gourmet the planning for Thanksgiving is rather obsessive." Obsessive is right. They offer eight different menus, and practically the entire magazine is devoted to the holiday.

Let's kick off this Thanksgiving…

Autumnal LuminariesLet's kick off this Thanksgiving spectacular with a decorating tip from Martha Stewart: Autumnal Luminaries. "With the big holiday behind them, pumpkins are free to be themselves again. In their dressed-down forms, they make lovely lighted centerpieces. Simply cut tops from pumpkins with a miniature saw and scoop out their flesh." For Thanksgiving 2001, I did something similar with gourds and put small tea lights in them. They made lovely centerpieces and were a nice change from basic candles.