THE BLOG

The Bird is the Word

12/06/2016 04:04pm ET | Updated December 7, 2017
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Fossil Farms is known for carefully selecting the farms and ranches they partner with based on their animal and husbandry practices.

Great Holiday Weekends = Great Conversations

We meander into and out of the deep end of the pool. What does it mean to be in an 'I-Thou' versus an 'I-It' relationship to the world? 'I-Though/I-It' is a term coined by 19th century existential philosopher Martin Buber, which resonates for today. (Buber's name surfaced via a chat about his cousin, Helena Rubinstein, of cosmetics fame.)

If you have a contemplative practice, 'I-Thou' is another way to describe engagement with unity in diversity in the world. A goal is to achieve this state without feeling overwhelmed. Living in a world with discrete boundaries and separation, 'I-It' creeps in, potentially impinging on feelings of peace and wholeness, but also making room for mastery when necessary.

'I-Thou' is balance and completion. 'I-It' is duality and compromise
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By the end of the weekend we achieve a loose consensus that some combination of the two attitudes, a 2-for 1 is about the right mix. Sixty to seventy percent 'I-Thou' and thirty to forty percent 'I-It' - provides for a good life. In every ballgame there will be obstacles and challenges. 100 percent 'I-Thou' may work for the end of a long life well lived, but without some 'I-It' along the way, there will be the danger of complacency.

Great Holiday Weekends = Sharing Great Meals

Bonding over food is deeply humanizing. Cooking together and eating at home are ways relax and repair. Time to collaborate, relationships renewed and bonds to one another strengthened, this is why we took the trouble and converged from different places to be with one another. Spontaneous dance and singing jams punctuated our activities. The sound track was Leonard Cohen who died only days before, and the blues, on public radio.

Home cooking is a collaborative domestic art that can soothe the soul.

These sentiments extend to planning the menu, as well as gathering and shopping for ingredients. Coming from an abundance of choices available in, Los Angeles, California, and travelling to a remote oasis for artists and appreciators, Marfa, Texas, fewer choices can be challenging. How then to get the best turkey for Thanksgiving to kick off the winter holiday season right? The internet served up a number of options.

Settling on Fossil Farms, their approach of humanely raising animals in a healthy natural environment, giving them free access to pure water, room to move, wholesome grass and vegetarian grains was in line with our highest aspirations for consuming meat. 100% of their animals are source verified from the farm of origin. Maintaining relationships with these family farms ensures quality and consistency as they say, "from farm to fork, snout to tail."

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12 pounds was perfect for two full meals and several snacks for 6 people, including a half gallon of soup in the freezer.

Eating together at home is an intimate act.

A group of paleo eaters who eat largely vegetarian, when meat and game is consumed there is nothing more satisfying than to have full confidence in a high quality product. A turkey raised with such care and specificity deserves a grand send-off. It was the best way to do justice to the fact that dominion is claimed over the poultry. No matter how much we elevate our darling from 'I-It' to 'I-Thou' status we did not escape certain facts about the hierarchy of this food chain.

This bird handled with such care elevated the entire experience.

All of this was in mind en-porch hammock overlooking the West Texas, Chihuahua high desert, waiting for a Fossil Farms delivery. Nervous from being ambitious to do the bird justice, 'I-It' sidles in. Efforts to get a perfect bird into the oven and happy bellies should not be a missed opportunity.

Knowing the origins story of our bird, how carefully it was raised and transported inspired us to continue the 'I-Thou' approach taken by Fossil Farms and to match it. Stepping-it-up to meet the challenge, doing our part, expanded the experience from merely procuring the bird - 'I-It' - to perfecting the process - 'I-Thou.'

The bird's secrets revealed.

I trembled before the boxed bird. Inside, a bird of gorgeous proportions was revealed, just the right size, not too bloody, its corpse obviously well cared for and minimally processed.

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Homage was paid to become one with the bird from 'I-It' to 'I-Thou.'

Before and After: We received agreements made prior to its arrival and entered into new agreements upon its arrival.

Delivery itself was special, the bird cool, not frozen. Opening the box and lifting it was like a birth. This baby was translucent cargo, opalescent, almost luminescent, lit from within. Once cooked, everyone said it was the best turkey they had ever eaten. Lean, not fatty, tender and moist, with no after taste, just beautiful. The cranberry raspberry blood orange spread found while noodling around the Fossil Farms website achieved the right balance of tart and sweet. New recipes were tried for sides, including Smitten Kitchen's creamed spinach to which we added Pecorino Toscana cheese. How fitting the wine chosen was full-bodied "I" for Italy from Locations Wines.

We did not merely choose the menu, we built consensus.

We are people who will not agree on everything. In areas such as religion and politics, restraint is called for. Some wars are better not fought. It was good to have something - even a turkey - everyone could crow about.

The plan was to make a stuffing from one of Fossil Farms' recipes with pheasant sausage flavored with cognac. A quorum lead to a showdown and the hostess's choice won over. Her choice was to try a new recipe, Texas style corn pudding - a spoon bread wanna-be soufflé.

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Sausage was held back to serve with corn pudding and a green salad for supper the day after Thanksgiving before heading off to Mc Donald Observatory's star party.

We paired this meal with the "OR" for Oregon a silky pinot noir from Locations another good pun on our situation. Either is 'I-Thou,' and or is 'I-It.'

Home deliveries of food predate the age of the automobile reaching back to hunters and gatherers, cart and donkey.

Waiting for deliveries is grand for those who telecommute or work from home. The turkey and brining kit was scheduled to arrive sometime after 10:30 am and did not disappoint. For those who would arrive home post-deliver, do not worry, as there were ice packs worth saving as was the Styrofoam box it came in. The box was very handy to hold picnic lunches post-event.

Ablution Rituals: Brining and Basting

Homage to the turkey took on new heights with new rituals. Having heard good things about brining trying it out was a first and remarkably easy which was a surprise. The herb brine kit arrived with the bird who was put into a 24 hour brine bath after a sunset hike. Liberties were taken to reduce the sugar the recipe called for by a quarter.

We joked that basting the body throughout its roasting was like a baptizing. Every 20 minutes or so, the juices flowing into the cavity and pan was scooped up and poured over the carmelizing skin in another shower of respect.

Cooking time was 35 minutes a pound. Close to the bone, there was redness. Leftovers the day after required reheating the bird which did not result in drying her out. Warm turkey salad was out of this world using another product new to me, Veganaise Next came making boiling the bones for stock for a full day. I preferred the pumpkin pie made with another Follow Your Heart ingredient VeganEgg.

Into the soup pot went a glass from the bottle of "I" (how fitting) for Italy left over from Locations Wines drunk with dinner the night before. The results reveal a savory soup along with kale, chard and sage procured from a neighbor's garden.

The turkey is a sentient being whose spark of life is now in us.

Leonard Cohen taught us how to prepare for the devastation of a broken world with its contradictions, switchbacks and beauty. A bird for the memory banks will be cherished for years to come. Thank you Fossil Farms for paying attention and getting it right again, again and again.

Disclaimer Alert: What I have written here should NOT be construed as or substituted for therapy. If you or someone you know is suicidal, do not hesitate to reach out to a professional, trusted family member or friend to get needed help.

If you -- or someone you know -- need helps, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.