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Preparing for Thanksgiving at North Sea Farms

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By Tessa Raebeck

When Richie King approaches the pen, the turkeys cannot contain their excitement. They flock towards the gate as he greets them and follow him around in a massive cluster. King appreciates the attention, but flattery can’t change the turkeys’ fate; with Thanksgiving around the corner, North Sea Farms and King’s Farm Stand in Southampton are in full preparation for the holiday season.

“A small farm with a little bit of everything,” North Sea Farms has been supplying East End families with their Thanksgiving turkeys since 1945. Richard King represents the third generation of the King family to work the land off Noyac Road, following in the footsteps of his father, Richard “Tate” King.

Brought to the farm as chicks in early July, some 700 turkeys are fully grown by mid-November. Their caretaking is fairly straightforward; the turkeys are fed and allowed to “run around outside,” according to Sam Dosch, who has been working on the farm since she was 14. Both King and Dosch maintain that the fresh feed and active lifestyle North Sea turkeys enjoy on the farm makes their taste – not to mention nutritional value – far superior to caged, mass-produced turkeys found elsewhere.

“It’s all about quality,” writes Julia King, an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health/Fitness specialist and Richie’s youngest daughter, on the farm’s blog on LocalHarvest.org. “It is time we all got back to basics with our food. By building relationships with your farmers you are building relationships with your food. And, as in any good relationship, if you take the time to nurture it, it will give back far more than ever expected.”

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The free-range, organic turkeys available on the farm range in size from 12 to 25 pounds. Some turkeys are naturally bigger, but activity and “which ones are pigs and eat more food” can also determine size, said Dosch. The main determinate of a larger sized turkey is simple: “they hang out a little longer,” according to Dosch.

With perceived cultural shifts away from eating meat and a new children’s film in theaters, “Free Bird,” about the plight of Thanksgiving Turkeys, King is wary that turkey sales will suffer this year, but Dosch is hopeful that social media outlets like the farm’s Facebook page will continue to draw new customers. If all else fails, North Sea Farms can always rely on the regulars, with countless local and visiting families returning every year.

“People kind of slowly start ordering in October,” said Dosch. “But then like a week or two before Thanksgiving, there’s a mad panic and that’s when the phone won’t stop.”

In addition to turkeys, North Sea Farms sells a wide variety of produce, fresh herbs and baked goods to fill Thanksgiving tables.

“We have everything but stuffing mix here for Thanksgiving,” said Dosch, who, while outlining the staples of a fresh and organic Thanksgiving table available in the shop, categorized the food not by type, but by the member of the King family who makes it.

Richie King’s wife, Robin, makes and sells her renowned cranberry sauce and may add homemade gravy to the line-up this season. Richie’s sister, Kathleen King, is the force behind Tate’s Bake Shop, named after her father and started out of the family farm stand when she was 11. She continues to supply King’s Farm Stand with all their baked goods, and an assortment of pies, tarts and other Thanksgiving treats are available for sale.

Most produce is grown on the farm and all of it is grown locally. Outside the shop’s entrance, wooden carts filled with colorful squash, pumpkins and other seasonal vegetables greet visitors. When families pick up their turkeys, they can explore the farm, learn about the day-to-day operations and visit the family’s two goats, Jiggy and Gilbert. Gilbert has been accompanying King to local schools and petting zoos for 13 years.

With cranberry sauce made by Robin, pumpkin pies baked by Kathleen and turkeys raised by Richie, the King family invites other families to enjoy their harvest as much as they do this holiday season.

North Sea Farms and King’s Farm Stand are located at 1060 Noyac Road in Southampton. For more information, call 283-0735 or visit their page on Facebook.

Papillon

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By Peter Hamilton Travis

If you’re fortunate enough to live along the South Fork of Long Island — particularly East Hampton, Southampton, North Haven and Noyac (all the bucolic communities this award winning, historic newspaper covers) you’ve got a bull rake of quahogs to be thankful for.

For those of us celebrating Thanksgiving in Sag Harbor — the holiday is double stuffed with historical significance.  Contrary to academic convention (primarily history buffs with an impartial allegiance to Plymouth, Massachusetts), the 53 surviving Pilgrims celebrated the very first Thanksgiving at The American Hotel.

Not to gossip…but according to a certain gentleman proprietor of Sag Harbor’s only establishment recognized by The Historic Hotels of America National Trust for Historic Preservation — the bill totaled 37 beaver pelts!Split 53 ways.  The tip was left in Wampum.

For those not currently working in the fur trade, volunteering for PETA, or in the process of earning their Ph.D. in Puritanical Currency (you know the program exists somewhere) — 37 beaver pelts is equivalent to: The skins of 74 foxes, 74 woodchucks, 148 raccoons, 37 bears, 37 otters, 18.5 moose hides, or 185 pounds of feathers.

I dislike both math and history, but this is fun…

185 pecks of Indian corn, 370 pounds of pork, 222 fathoms of tobacco (I cannot begin to fathom how much tobacco is in a fathom), 74 small axes, 37 pints of shot, 74 pints of powder, 222 knives, 740 skeins of thread or 74 yards of cotton.

Thanksgiving is on the lower end of my skin lesion-inducing holiday scale (according to my brilliant, compassionate Dermatologist — Dr. Bernard Berger — my skin is a “target organ”).  I’m taking a risk here. After scoring the prestigious (thanks Chief!) “Thanksgiving” Our Town column, leading with such an unappetizing avowal is tantamount to hand mining —intra carcass — deep inside your cold, slippery main course — and pulling out a rabbit.

A seemingly random reference that is anything but.

Remember the Turlapin®?

Really?

So not knowing the origin of the retro, culinary glitch — the Turlapin® — has never kept you awake at night?  Perhaps you’re one of those self-obsessed types. Incapable of losing a single wink over anything but your soon-to-expire unemployment benefits, lack of family health insurance, or terrifically prickly foreclosure proceedings?

True story. And it could easily be the seed of an episode of Mad Men. If Matthew Weiner knew who I was.

Or cared whether I lived or died.

The scene opens on a blustery autumn day. Thanksgiving. 1968. Glen Head, NY. My mother’s twin sister, Sunny — wearing a quilted dinner skirt patterned after a curbside pile of leaves, an overturned crate of overripe avocados, and a snarled length of garden hose.

Ever the consummate hostess, Sunny remained ensconced behind the swinging doors of her sweltering kitchen. Entirely focused on preparing our extended family’s Thanksgiving “feast” (still one of Sunny’s favorite words). Fortunately — distracted by the NASA Mission Control-esque complexity of subdividing her range’s coiled real estate (in preparation for no less than seven boil-in-the-bag side dishes) — Sunny inadvertently reached for a Triscuit.

And ate a slightly rusty S.O.S® Pad.

As legend has it, the next thing Sunny remembered was concocting the Turlapin®— a turkey stuffed with a rabbit.  Followed by an obscenely lucrative, home-based game/lagomorph industry from 1968 to 1972. Sunny even splurged on a brand-new Cadillac in dark brown — the color of a perfectly roasted Turlapin®.

Until the pesky know-it-alls from the FDA, CDC, and a dozen or so local ASPCA chapters got whiff (no doubt from the LIE exit eight miles downwind) of Sunny’s subterranean bird/bunny processing plant.  And promptly shut it down. The only way Sunny could avoid losing her home — and the 1,200 square foot walk-in freezer (Coming to Radio City Music Hall This Holiday Season: “Turlapin® on Ice”!) — was to have her basement filled with cement by her neighbor, Mick — a baker and Deacon.

The current owners of Aunt Sunny’s home have appeared a total of nine times on Long Island’s News 12 to whine about the random, unidentifiable stench that permeates their home. They’re convinced it’s another Amityville Horror.

We know better.

When it comes to food, I have a fairly limited palate.  I eat a grand total of five things.

The traditional Thanksgiving menu rarely strays from my standards: meat (breast, please), potatoes (“can someone please pass the butter?”), canned black, pitted olives, and pumpkin pie. Preferably Lisa’s — from Round Swamp Farm. Those hellions who contaminate their Thanksgiving table with pearl onions need more help than I can possibly provide in 800 words.  Personally, I prefer South Sea Pearl Onions.  And canned Ocean Spray cranberry sauce over Pearl Jam.

I’m partial to tart, gelatinous jellies with deep ridges. Although a deal breaker for me would be any kind of blue cheese. Like the “exceptional” Roquefort Papillon Black Label.

According to one mouse:

“This world famous Roquefort is a noble, all-natural ewe’s milk blue cheese from the Auvergne region of France. Papillon (which means butterfly in French) wraps their top-of-the-line Roquefort in black foil to distinguish it from lesser brands.     The taste of a good Roquefort is similar, in terms of analysis, to a grand cru wine: balanced, fairly salty, with a big personality, it is melting, slightly granulated and lingers in the mouth. In the mouth, its unctuous and supple texture melts deliciously with a recognizable taste, powerful and lingering aftertaste.”

A dear friend of mine recently lost the contents of his home and his health to just such an “exceptional” cheese. Toxigenic molds are referred to as black mold. Not every mold that is black is toxic, however. Toxigenic molds are highly dangerous and can cause severe problems. The most common type of toxigenic mold is Stachybotrys, which produces mycotoxins that act as toxic agents.  Some molds can result in critical damage to any number of internal organs or systems. Once toxic mold enters the body, it can attach itself to an organ and begin to reproduce, consuming the organ in the most severe cases.

So, for my dear friend’s benefit this Thanksgiving — lay off the mycotoxins.


PETER HAMILTON TRAVIS is spearheading a star-studded power charity next season to eradicate blue cheese, ticks, and other useless/dangerous/deeply upsetting things from Long Island’s South Fork.  Like Cablevision.  And Kathy — who regularly hangs from the rafters of the Cablevision Optimum Store in Southampton.

Small Stuff

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It’s that time of year again — the week when we use this page to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for in our little corner of the world.

Of course, there are always the big things to remember (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) so we start with those — the roof over our heads, the food in our belly, the clothes on our back, and the job we (hopefully) still have that provides us with all those things. On Thanksgiving, let us be conscious of the fact that these are important items, for sure, and not necessarily ones that everyone else in the world has the fortune to possess. We’re thinking particularly of those still living in abhorrent conditions in Haiti nearly a year after the devastating earthquake struck there.

Then there’s good health. That’s a biggy in our world, especially for those of us approaching a new age bracket — because so many people don’t have theirs, and you never really know how good your own is until it’s gone (kind of like health insurance, when you come to think of it).

On a similar note, being thankful for family is also a no-brainer — even first graders put this one at the top of their turkey-week worksheet, just because they know they should. Like good health, it’s another one that becomes more obvious when it’s gone — and if you doubt it because you’re currently involved in a family feud of epic proportions, just wait. This is one you’ll really notice big time on holidays like Thanksgiving, especially that first year when there’s a new empty place at the table.
But beyond the big things, this year, we’d also like to tip our hat to the little things that can make a day. Caught up, as we all are, in routines with our heads down and our paces up – racing from task to task, many of us forget to take a moment to pause and just let it all sink in.

Yes, the big moments may make the news, but it’s the small moments that provide the spark of life and trigger the memories that will sustain us when all else fades. Noticing those little things is more important than you think, and it’s a major part of what makes us human.

Small stuff … it’s everywhere, once you know where to look. The magic of a brilliantly unexpected sunset that can mysteriously appear at the end of a rainy day. The smell of the sea breeze blowing in off the bay on the first warm day in spring. The sounds of sailboat rigging softly clanging during a night time walk on Bay Street. The absolute stillness of the woods in the midst of a major snowfall. The feel of a child’s hand as she drifts off to sleep, at peace in her world.

This is the true meaning of the season. So this week, as the annual bombardment of holiday ads revs up and begins invading your psyche with material comforts, try to remember what really matters. And once they’re open, don’t forget to keep your eyes focused on the real prize.

Simple Gifts in Troubled Times

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Those who have followed this paper with anything approaching regularity know that we have written many times over the years about the need to remember those who are less fortunate than ourselves as the holidays approach. It has always been an important message and a vital reminder in this playground of excess. After all, we all know how easy it is for people to forget what matters most when they are flush with the bloom of good times.

But the bloom is fading quickly. In the face of the blackening economic picture, the phrase “trickle down economics” has taken on a new sinister meaning and we are all worried. Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, even untouchable Citibank have toppled like giant dominoes and here on the East End it feels like we’re all standing in their falling shadows. Times are growing tough, this time at all levels of society — including for those lions of Wall Street and masters of the universe.

Locally, even the recently founded Georgica Bank has had to call it quits given the difficulties principals have encountered in raising capital during these uncertain times. Suddenly, it seems we find there is a much narrower gap between the haves and the have-nots. For the first time in living memory, many of those “haves” are becoming “have-beens” as stock portfolios collapse, jobs evaporate and adjustable rate jumbo mortgages go into arrears.

And as companies slide into the abyss, so too, do those folks who depend on them. It may not be long before many local people find themselves slipping to the other side, especially those whose livelihood depended on the success of Wall Street. What will they find when they get to that side? A world where they have to push their old car another 10,000 miles, make a winter coat last one more season or rely on local pantries to help stretch the food budget a little farther so they won’t have to make the choice between eating and staying warm.

This is the stuff of the Depression, not the 21st century. Or is it? Turns out what was unthinkable just five, or even one year ago is our new reality. It also seems like the message — and spirit — of Thanksgiving is taking on particularly poignant meaning this trip around the old calendar.

Things are, indeed, different this year.

But what we find has not changed is the way in which Sag Harbor residents come through in tough times. With King Kullen opting to not give away free turkey coupons to customers for the first time in memory this year, Lillian Woudsma from the Sag Harbor Food Pantry put out the call for help. The community came through and the turkeys poured in — enough to provide one for every local family who will rely on the pantry for their Thanksgiving meal this year. That’s 75 families in need, a high for the pantry and 25 to 30 more than last year. But volunteerism is up as well, and Woudsma has found many ready hands to make light work of the job.

Those turkey dinners will be topped off with fresh pies made by the members of St. Andrew’s youth group. The kids gave up their weekend to make pies from apples they picked themselves and through the generosity of local restaurant owners, found ovens where they could bake all those pies, which were distributed to pantries all over the East End.

Over in North Haven, Kathie Russo has decided to turn her annual holiday fete into a fundraiser for a good cause — Time for Teens, an organization that provides an annual summer bereavement retreat for teens who have suffered the loss of a loved one. For the price of a ticket, party goers can send a grieving teen to the four day retreat. As Kathie so eloquently put it, “It’s really bad out there. I don’t want to hear about extravagant vacations from friends, but how they gave back to the community.” And on Saturday the Koehnes will host their annual fundraiser, in their son’s name, that will benefit children who turn to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

With Christmas on the horizon followed by the rest of the long winter, we can only hope that people will continue to be generous of spirit and kind of heart. Because remember, come January 1, the need doesn’t go away. There will still be those in our midst in need of food, shelter and support from people who care.

And we know we can count on Sag Harbor to help lend a hand.

Many Pies for the Pantries

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While some middle and high school kids planned their Thanksgiving vacations this past weekend, went to the movies or played video games, a group of teens in Sag Harbor were busy making pies — four kinds to be exact — for the local food pantry.
In the basement of Stella Maris Regional School, members of the St. Andrew Youth Group, led by Denny Boyle, spent their weekend assembling and baking hundreds of pies for the food pantry and to sell to the general community in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Aroma” was the word that Janie Peters, principal at Stella Maris, used to describe not only the scent of cinnamon emanating from the school’s basement kitchen on Saturday, but the entire experience and feeling at the school over the weekend.
The busy hands of the middle and high school students in the youth group were complemented by those of local volunteers who joined them to make a difference for those who use local food pantries, including the Sag Harbor Food pantry in the basement of the Old Whalers’ Church.
Last Thursday, the race was on for approximately 45 kids in the youth group as they went to Kraszewski Farm in Southampton where they hand-picked over 40 bushels of apples to use in their annual pie-making event.
The kids tore through the fields, looking for the ripest apples to use for their apple-crumb pie — a community favorite.
Lucky for them, Tim Kraszewski didn’t charge a thing. He donated the apples for the pies and by Friday afternoon, the kids filled the kitchen at Stella Maris where they cut, chopped, sliced, cored and peeled the apples. They also prepped other ingredients for three other types of pies. As the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg filled the air and mounds of flour and sugar surrounded them, the kids — like worker-bees busy making a hive — created 452 pies for the community.
“We had a few food fights,” admitted seventh grader Ashley Nill. Classmate Diana Rozzi said although there were some flour and food fights they also put in a lot of hard work and had a lot of fun.
On Saturday, the teens worked at Stella Maris from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Several pies were sold during the annual Stella Maris cocktail party on Saturday night. By Sunday, nearly 70 pies were delivered to the Sag Harbor Food Pantry where they were distributed to needy families who came to pick up fixings for their turkey dinner on Tuesday. More pies went out to other area food pantries as well.
The pie effort was started as a simple idea more than 10 years ago by Boyle when he wanted to find a fundraiser that the kids could take part in as well as give back to the local community. The kids started out making only apple and pumpkin pies, but last year they introduced banana crème and chocolate crème pies.
This year, the numbers of those in need using the pantry at the Whalers’ Church reached an all-time high, according to Lillian Woudsma, pantry director. For their part, the kids were then put to the test to bake more pies than ever.
“It was so fun,” Anna Winchell said on Monday.
“It was good to all come together and help other people here, in Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Westhampton,” said friend Kaci Koehne.
The girls said although it seemed at times like the pie baking marathon would never end, it was fun to be a part of the madness.
“It was amazing to see them all work together,” parent and volunteer Cheryl Rozzi said on Monday.
“It was a good turnout,” Rozzi said, “it was so nice to see them all getting along so well.”
While some of the kids did the prepping, others were working the phones —taking the numbers from the order sheets they saved from the year prior to call parents and other community members to actively sell their baked goods.
“Some were saved in a database,” Peters said of the phone numbers for those who were called. “The kids also went from door to door in town asking people to purchase the pies and either keep them or donate them to the pantry.”
“The entire community was a part of the effort,” Peters said.
Boyle added, “Part of it we did for the food pantry and part of it was for the youth group.”
“Teenagers always get a bad rap, but if anyone could have seen these kids – the older helping the younger ones – it was just beautiful,” Peters said.
With hundreds of pies to bake, the youth group called on local restaurants to borrow their ovens.
“We baked in the ovens at Conca D’Oro, Il Cappuccino and the fire department, we baked all over,” said Boyle. “When you have to bake 450 pies — you had better find a way to do it.”
“The kids got really involved,” noted Jim Renner of Il Cappuccino. “Three kids came in with the pies and then asked for Fettuccini Alfredo.”
So on Saturday, Renner brought some complimentary garlic knots to Stella Maris for the kids.