Since this is Thanksgiving week, I feel moved to stray from my normal blog topics. I’ve been thinking a lot about family, traditions and ways of life lately. Not necessarily because of the holidays, although they do bring all of those thoughts up. Much of it is because of where I live and the choices I have made in the WAY I live.

I live on a 20 acre ranch in the high desert of Wyoming. We heat our house with a wood burning stove because we choose to. Don’t worry, we do have a furnace as a back-up. The hubby and I enjoy our trips to the sawmill to get wood. We talk, we laugh, we enjoy each others company.  We’ve also collected wood from town and in doing so have helped people who had wood they needed removed from their property. Good deeds! The hubby cuts and splits and I stack. It’s teamwork and time spent together. It may sound weird but in some sense I feel I am honoring and connecting with my ancestors who had no choice but to heat with wood. I am, however, very grateful for running water and flushing toilets and will not be giving that up any time soon!

We’ve had chickens for a few years for fresh eggs, but we recently added a calf to raise for beef. We only have one grocery store and a very small Walmart in town, so choices are limited. I am concerned about what I am putting in my body, not to mention the dent it puts in my pocket book! I don’t feel I am getting the quality of meat I pay for. This calf will be an experiment in cost, quality and how many tears I’ll shed when he goes to the butcher. His name is Charles by the way.  This December I will also be hunting for the first time for real. I’ve gone on several hunting trips over the last several years but I was just along for the learning experience. I got a lot of hiking and horse riding in. I saw a lot of beautiful country but very few animals. This past January I was on a successful hunt with a friend, finally! I learned how to field dress and process an elk. This time it will be all me and I hope I’m successful. Again, I feel connected to my ancestors who raised animals, grew crops and hunted to sustain themselves.

This Thanksgiving I’ll be cooking for my girls and their families. It’s an extensive menu but one that has tons of tradition! I’ll like to share it with you…

Turkey – what more can I say? However, I am trying a brine and if it’s good, it will be my contribution to tradition. Elk Roast – as I’m now a hunter, this is my contribution to our Thanksgiving feast, even though I have one daughter who refuses to eat game. Oyster dressing – my mom always made it and I’m assuming her mother did as well. I just sent my mums a message asking where it has it’s origin, as oysters aren’t exactly a common thing in Illinois where we came from! Sage Dressing – this is the same dressing as oyster dressing, just minus the oysters because again, I have a daughter or two that don’t really care for it. One flat out refuses to eat it now that she’s an adult! Mashed Potatoes and Gravy –  pretty standard. Sweet Potato Casserole – made for Christmas in 1983 from a recipe given to my mom from her friend Peggy Sampson. My mom has tweaked it over the years and that’s how I make it now. Egg Noddles – I’ve used a few different recipes over the years but this year I am using my cousin Amanda’s recipe. It is her Grandmother Mikeworth’s recipe from her mother, my Aunt Karra’s side. Green Bean Casserole – this was added from my hubby’s side but it is my own recipe. Beet Salad – this recipe comes from our Russian neighbor, Tonya, when we lived in Texas. Cranberry Salad – this recipe is from my friend, Kat, in Michigan. She invited us to Thanksgiving one year, the only non-family Thanksgiving we’ve ever done!  Deviled Eggs – this is my mom’s, although I’ve upgraded the presentation. Sweet Rolls – this is my Great Grandma Burcham’s recipe. I usually double or triple the batch so that I can also make homemade cinnamon rolls. This year my youngest daughter will be bringing the deserts, a chocolate cake and a pumpkin pie. I believe she’ll be making the cake from a recipe in the cookbook she got from her Grandma Reta as a wedding present. The pumpkin pie recipe is from the same Grandma Reta, my mom.  To finalize the whole thing I’ll be making “Boiled Can”. This is something I learned to make from my older friend, Sharron, who I met here in Wyoming. She has become a part of our family over the last couple of years and at 81 years young has been a wealth of information, as well as, many amazing stories!

So as you can see this dinner is dripping with tradition. I feel connected to all those people in some way. There are many imaginary chairs sitting around the table this year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Picture is from 2014)1461085_10204347846087988_2327172800712071426_n