Giving thanks–to Gail and her turkey

I have a little Thanksgiving confession to make. Growing up, I never really “got” the appeal of our national bird, turkey. Even though my mother is a gifted kosher cook, I always found turkey meat to be a bit bland, even our kosher bird.  My mother did her best to bring out the juices in our store-bought Empire turkey, but it paled in comparison to her other wonderful and kosher Thanksgiving dishes, like challah stuffing, homemade cranberry relish and her unbelievably delicious apple pie (we were not a pumpkin pie family).

vermont seal of qualityAll that changed when we shared Thanksgiving with my friend Gail at her home in Vermont. At her table, I first tasted the true delights of turkey from Stonewood Farm. Three generations of the Stone family currently operate Stonewood Farm, a one thousand acre farm located in Orwell, Vermont. Gail even knows the owners, Paul and Frances Stone. “These are great people,” she says of the couple. The parents of four grown children, Paul and Frances are involved not just in turkey farming, but in community life as well. In fact, Paul is the Democratic Representative from Vermont!

When I first put a forkful of her Thanksgiving bird and Cranberry and Turkey Sausage Stuffing in my mouth, all my preconceptions of what turkey should taste like…well…melted away. The bird was juicy and flavorful. It also doesn’t hurt that Gail, like my mother, is a fabulous cook. But starting with a fresh bird gives a cook a head start out of the gate. These turkeys are not fed antibiotics or growth hormones.

Rum Pumpkin Tart
This Thanksgiving, Gail is coming to our house for Thanksgiving and bringing the turkey with her. It will be a passenger in her car, travelling in a special cooler that she has designated for the 5 hour trip to Connecticut. I will prepare some of the side dishes, of course, serving challah stuffing but also serving some of my favorites, such as green beans, corn bread, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and of course, a lot of desserts, including–but not limited to!– carrot cake baked by my sister, chocolate pecan tart, pumpkin tart and a berry tart.

Chocolate Pecan Tart

As I sit around the table with Gail, and our entire family, I will be thankful for their presence in my life.

And Gail’s delicious turkey!

Looking forward to a wonderful Thanksgiving and wishing the same for you,


P.S. I’ve included Challah Connection’s very own challah stuffing recipe below. (It and many other delicious Jewish recipes can be found on our website). Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Stuffing


  • 1 lb. plain challah cut into ½ cubes

  • 6 tablespoons butter (or margarine)

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped

  • 1 lb fresh cultivated white mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon

  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

  • ¾ cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 eggs, beaten until blended

  • Preheat over to 400.

    Spread challah cubes in single layer in a large baking pan. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

    In a large, heavy frying pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. When hot,
    add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about
    20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add mushrooms and celery and cook,
    stirring frequently until tender, about 8 minutes. Add to the challah cubes, along with the tarragon and parsley. Add stock or broth to the same pan and bring
    to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add to the bread and season to taste
    with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

    To bake the stuffing in a turkey, fill the cavities with the stuffing and truss. Increase the roasting time of the turkey by 30 minutes.

    Butter (can use margarine) a baking dish large enough to hold the remaining stuffing. Cover with foil and bake alongside the turkey for 30 minutes. Uncover
    and bake until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes longer.

    To bake all the stuffing in a baking dish, preheat oven to 325.

    Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish and spoon stuffing into it. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is golden brown, about
    30 minutes longer.

    Makes about 12 cups stuffing; enough for 16lb. turkey

    Copyright, 2009, Challah Connection

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