Staring at the onions and carrots and potatoes on my big butcher block cutting board one Thanksgiving morning several years ago, I realized that each of the ingredients had come from my own garden. Thyme and sage for the stuffing too. The huge stalk of Brussels sprouts next to the board was from Morning Glory (and the butternut squash as well, though we had gleaned those from a field near us with permission). For dessert I was making galettes with the last few pears from our next door neighbor’s trees. On top of the fridge, a sheet tray of bread cubes from a friend’s peasant loaf was drying out for the stuffing. We had picked up our first-ever local turkey from Jefferson Munroe the day before.

I realized, while it hadn’t happened overnight — in fact it was more difficult to achieve than I’d originally thought it would be — I had finally figured out how to cook and eat locally to such an extent that just about everything on our Thanksgiving table would be Island grown. This was before the days of the winter farmers’ market, but Andrew Woodruff had a winter vegetable CSA, Morning Glory was open, of course, and farm stands, if you knew where to look, had eggs, meat, leeks, turnips, and occasional surprises. Local scallops and oysters made perfect starters.

For me this achievement wasn’t a check on a list; it was a realization that I had finally relaxed completely into my new life on the Vineyard, pursuing a connection to the source of my food that my old urban-suburban life had obliterated. It meant that I had made friends and learned to barter. It meant I’d learned to navigate the Island to find the hidden treasures. It meant I had become a pretty good gardener (trial and error, trial and error) and that I had begun to understand, firsthand, the issues of food waste and humane animal treatment and biodiversity that had started out for me simply as pages out of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which I had read toward the end of my days as the editor in chief of a cooking magazine, where ironically, I had no time to even get to a farmers’ market, much less grow my own food.) It was an emotional shift as much as a physical one.

Susie Middleton

I was filled with an enormous sense of gratitude for living in a place where cooking an all-local Thanksgiving is even possible, a place where there is an entire community of people who care about a healthy food system. (And now, in 2017, the variety of local ingredients, from aged cheese and sea salt to duck eggs and smoked bluefish, is astounding.)

I can’t say I’ve pulled this same Thanksgiving feat off every year. These days I am often traveling at Thanksgiving, or I am bringing a dish of vegetables to a friend’s house. Though at least — and for this I am more grateful than you will ever know — I will never again be traveling to New York to appear on the Martha Stewart Show the day before Thanksgiving, as I did in 2010. Every Thanksgiving since then I have practically fallen to my knees to kiss the ground to celebrate this!

Last week I was organizing a messy pile of papers and a printout of one of the recipes I demo-ed on the show — Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce — fluttered into view. I had forgotten how easy and delicious it was. In fact, all three of those recipes, culled from my first cookbook, Fast, Fresh & Green, had a nifty twist (at least the recipes were TV-friendly): Each could go in the oven after the turkey came out and cook in a short amount of time (thanks to high-heat quick-roasting).

Though I have written three more cookbooks and dozens of magazine articles on cooking vegetables, these recipes (Vanilla Cardamom Glazed Acorn Squash Rings and Roasted Turnips and Pears with Rosemary-Honey Drizzle are the other two) still feel especially timeless, and timely. I figured I’d share them with you this week while you’re planning your holiday menu and gathering your local goodies.

Susie Middleton

Truthfully, once I started thinking about Thanksgiving sides and looking at my recipes, I came up with a list of about 25 recipes I wanted to share with you, but that was a few too many to fit in the paper. These three will have to do for this year; remember you can pop them in the oven while the turkey is resting.