When my brother and I were kids we often spent summers at my grandparent’s house in Michigan. The soil was rich for many things – particularly fruits being so close to Lake Michigan. My grandparents chose in mid life to “opt out” of their urban lives. I believe my grandfather had a health incident and they picked up the three kids – my dad being the eldest at 14 – and they bought a 100 acre farm outside a town of about 300 inhabitants. They may have been the hippies of their generation. The farm already had cherry trees, asparagus fields and they added different fruit varieties, peaches, pears, apples, plums and they had a patch of raspberries both black and red, blueberries and of course a vegetable garden. My grandmother cooked on a wood stove, she would not consider an electric range, she baked bread every day and preserved all the bounty of their farm and put it away in the root cellar which for my brother and I was a creepy place that our grandfather went down to periodically to get food supplies. He opened a hatch in the kitchen and there were steep steps and darkness when Tom and I peered down.
One of the many holidays we spent at the Michigan farm was Thanksgiving. My grandmother cooked the turkey in the wood stove, she actually cooked the entire dinner in the wood cook stove and it wasn’t very large. She must have timed everything just so. I remember a few key things about our dinner. There was always homemade bread and jam, there were other pickles and preserves, and the next day there was turkey and biscuits made with the left overs. Or if it happened to be chicken – chicken and biscuits. I used to hate biscuits as a child but I loved this dish. It is the epitome of comfort food and worth making any time not just over the holidays.
This recipe is from my grandmother. It’s been over 25 years since she passed away. It’s hard to believe. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think of both of them in some way. Opening a jar of pickles, starting the wood cookstove in my own kitchen, baking bread, having jam and fresh bread (which we don’t have for dinner that often). She was such a great influence on me. I just ordered fruit trees and berry bushes for our garden which I’m hoping will bear fruits in my life time. Cultivating berries was a hobby for both my grandfather and then my father who has been picking a bonzana crop of blueberries this past month and putting away who knows how many containers in the freezer. My mom making jams and pies. Traditions of preserving that will be passed on at least through my generation and I hope my daughters.
South Pond Turkey and Biscuits
Prepare and butter a casserole dish – I usually use a 2 quart pie dish or square pan.
Take all the leftovers that you think you would like to use out of the refrigerator. It can be as simple as just the turkey or add some vegetables and even stuffing! The important ingredient is left over gravy. If there is none, use chicken stock homemade or boxed.
Take 4 tablespoons butter and melt in a sauce pan large enough to hold all the stock and meat. Add 1 cup of chopped celery and a small onion or leek chopped finely. Saute for5 minutes or until soft. Add in 4 tablespoons flour and stir until all the vegetables are coated and gently cook but do not allow to brown. Add in about 3 cups of warm stock and stir slowly until the sauce thickens scraping the bottom of the pan. Let this simmer gently for about 5 minutes and then add in about 2-3 cups of the leftover cooked meat which has been cut into smaller pieces. Heat through. Add in 1 cup of cooked vegetables such as squash or peas or carrots. (I have added in stuffing!) Turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400
Making the biscuits
In a bowl add 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 tablespoon sugar. Mix together. Add 4 tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces. Mix together with your hands under the butter is worked in with the flour. Add 2/3 – 1 cup milk. Mix together with a spoon just until combined. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough.
Turn onto floured board and pat into 1/2” thick dough. Using a knife cut into triangles or cookie cutter.
Pour the turkey mixture into the buttered casserole and place the biscuits on top. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the biscuits are gently browned. Serve with cranberry sauce, pickles and for an extra treat, bread with jam.