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A Canadian feast

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, one of my family’s favorite holidays. It’s a holiday that more upstate New Yorkers should celebrate, since now actually is a good time for a harvest feast — unlike that other Thanksgiving that comes long after the garden is dead.

We like Canadian Thanksgiving so much at my house that this year we had two feasts — one Saturday with a mess of cousins and other family members, and another Sunday with friends from down the road and from way up north. (No festival today, since I had to go back to work. But there will be leftovers tonight.)

I don’t know what they are serving in Canada, but for our cousin feast we started off with a variety of cheeses, most supplied by said cousins, along with a fig preserve to go with the cheese and crackers. For dinner we had a smoked turkey, along with corn pudding, a kale salad, roasted vegetables (potatoes, butternut squash, carrots and onions) and a corn and blueberry bread. Dessert was pumpkin pudding and two kinds of apple pie. And the youngest cousin brought gingerbread cookies, made with the recipe he got in his first-grade class.

That young cousin, reveling in his visit to the country, dug potatoes, pulled carrots and cut the kale, all between petting the calves and photographing the big ox and the baby chicks. He is planning a massive show-and-tell presentation when he gets back to school tomorrow.

For feast day two, we made it simple by serving buffet style. We started again with cheeses, leftover cousin cheese and more supplied by the Sunday guests. We smoked chicken this time, and served it with the extra corn pudding, roasted vegetables and corn bread. Our northernmost visitors brought the best Brussels sprout dish ever made (and I know that is true because of the comments around the table). We made another kale salad and another pumpkin pie, and a neighbor brought an apple pie, still warm from the oven and made with his own apples.

Over the two days we had about two dozen guests, ranging in age from 8 to 89, and beautiful weather for visiting inside and out. Various groupings of people, those who knew each other and those who had never met, shared stories and found connections, took off for walks through the woods, followed the mama hen with all her chicks, and strolled what’s left of the garden to talk broccoli and Brussels sprouts and hunt for hidden gourds. The baby ox calves have never had so many hugs and when it was all over we had adopted a new hen.

I’m having leftovers for lunch. Too bad the Brussels sprouts are all gone.

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