It’s time to start your Thanksgiving planning. Before you start panicking and stressing out about what you have to do and how little time you have to do it, we here at the Co-op want to remind you that we are here to supply you with all of the necessary goodies.

First, the turkey
We’ll have plenty of turkeys from a variety of sources at both of our Willy Street Co-op locations. We were really pleased with the turkeys we had last year and decided to source from the same farms. Dan Schmucker, an Amish farmer in Cashton, Wisconsin, will be providing the pasture-raised turkeys that are distributed through Black Earth Meats. These, along with the free-range, pastured turkeys from Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, will be available by pre-order. Just make sure you get your pre-order in as these turkeys come from small farmers and their quantity is limited. Also, because they are living animals, it’s hard to predict their growth.

There are many factors that influence the growth of the birds; one major factor is weather. This is especially true of pasture-raised turkeys. If the weather is beautiful and the pasture is lush, chances are better that there will be happy, healthy (bigger) turkeys. If, however, the weather is poor—too much rain or not enough, too much sun or not enough—then the turkeys may be on the smaller side. That said, we think the turkeys offered by the Co-op are some of the best birds available in the area, and are really happy to be able to provide them for your holiday needs.

One really important thing to remember if you are pre-ordering your birds is to make sure you let us know which location you will be picking your turkey up from. This is important as we have pretty limited amount space and a limited supply of pre-ordered turkeys.

So, say you don’t pre-order your turkey and, lo and behold, the turkey you were planning on bringing home from that hunting trip “got away,” or Mom decided at the last minute that you are now a grown-up and should be hosting your own Thanksgiving dinner this year—don’t worry; we will have plenty of birds in a variety of sizes to choose from in stock as well. We will have fresh, all-natural free range turkeys from Bell & Evans and frozen organic birds from Organic Prairie. These do not need to be pre-ordered and will be available for you in the store.

Vegetarian protein options
If you are not a meat eater, or you simply have no desire to fall asleep on the couch in a tryptophan-induced coma, fret not. The Co-op will be providing other protein options. Tofurky is available as usual in the Grocery department, and, new this year is a tasty cranberry, hazelnut-encrusted Field Roast. These options will be available in our grocery freezer and in the Deli on Thanksgiving day as well.

Sides
If preparing the perfect main dish is taking up all of your time and energy yet you still want to be able to wow your guests with some fabulous side dishes, stop by the Deli and pick up some of our delicious, preparation-free options. We will be offering Cranberry Wild Rice, Butternut Slaw, Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Autumn Roasted Vegetables and many more! We will also have your more traditional sides available in our grab-and-go cooler and hot case to take home on the big day and day before. We will have traditional stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry-orange sauce and vegan green bean casserole, just to name a few.

Platters
The Deli will also have a few platters on hand for your holiday guests. We will have a Domestic Cheese Platter featuring “Wisconsin Made” cheeses including: mild yellow cheddar, Colby, Gouda and goat cheese. Our Imported Cheese Platter features an exquisite display of imported cheese including: Brie, chevre, and other seasonal specialty cheeses from Willy Street Co-op’s own delicious selection. The Crudités Platter is arranged into a colorful mosaic of mouthwatering veggies which have been hand-selected from our own exceptional Produce department and accompanied by our Willy Street Co-op Veggie Cream cheese or Vegan Spinach Dip. Other options are available and can be ordered in advance through our Catering department.

Holiday Pies
Last but certainly not least—Pies! Who has time to make pie? If you do, great! If not, then don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. As usual, we have a fabulous pie selection. We will have plenty of pies on hand starting at the beginning of November. We will have: pumpkin in traditional, vegan and made-without-gluten options; apple pie made with local apples from Ela Orchards; cranberry-apple, also made with local fruit; and a new chocolate walnut pie. So many pies, it’s a good thing that you’ll have a couple of weeks to try them for yourself before deciding which ones to purchase for your holiday dinner. (For those of you with your hearts set on pecan pie, see Josh’s following explanation as to why we aren’t making them this year.)

So, don’t stress out this year; relax, enjoy some football, go to the corn maze, jump in some leaf piles, and then stop by the Willy Street Co-op. We won’t tell, and you can pretend you spent the whole day cooking.

A holiday favorite takes a holiday: Why we are not selling pecan pies this Thanksgiving


Let me begin this brief memo by saying that pecan pie is, has always been, and will always be, my favorite pie—preferably made with my grandmother’s lard crust. There are plenty of other perfectly good pies out there, but for me and for many others, nothing takes the leap from “dessert” to “soul food” with quite the same earthy, nimble ease as a properly made pecan pie.

So it is with sadness that I write to inform our dear readers that because pecan prices have increased 46% over the course of the past year, we will not be able to offer our traditional pecan pies this year. We could—but not at a price that would look very nice on either our balance sheets or your receipt, depending which way the swing went—so we went to the workshop to come up with a viable substitute.

The general wisdom out there in the market is that pecan markets have undergone this hardening due to the demand from China and the good old laws of supply and demand: more demand, less supply, higher prices. China’s population is right around 20% of that of the entire planet, so you can easily imagine the impact on demand and price when they decide they like something.

Our replacement is a pie made very much in the same fashion as a traditional pecan pie, substituting walnuts for pecans and adding a layer of chocolate beneath the clear custard that normally resides below the pecans in the traditional recipe. Our Deli managers have tried the pie, and it has their thumbs-up. We hope this pie will stand in honorably on your holiday table this year. We also hope the markets will adjust for 2012 and we’ll be able to once again offer traditional pecan pies next Thanksgiving.