Thanksgiving is my perfect holiday. No gifts, no guilt, no religion, just FOOD! My husband hoards chicken carcasses all year for stock to make his sublime gravy that I drink like soup. Eight loaves of Challah (ordered from Stop and Shop) get chopped up for his famous stuffing (click here). I tend to the sides: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (some with marshmallows, some without) and a version of Brussels sprouts. Last year they were shredded in the food processor and sautéed with garlic. Delish. My daughter does most of the baking: a fantastic pumpkin cornmeal cake that’s even better for breakfast the next day and a rustic apple tart (both recipes from dog-eared Fine Cooking magazines). If I’m feeling ambitious (or my sister is coming) I’ll make a pumpkin cheesecake with a bourbon sour cream topping, from an ancient issue of Gourmet that turns out perfectly wicked every time. I tear recipes from magazines for months but we end up making the exact same thing every year. After all, this perfect feast comes around but once. I hope you enjoy yours. (To have this list on hand and at the ready, click the print button at the top of the page next to the facebook and twitter icons.) The Bird and Fixings Me, I don’t mind the cooking marathon, but I do mind the schlepping. It makes sense to order the bulky stuff for doorstep delivery from CT Farm Fresh Express: an organic turkey, white and sweet potatoes, squash, onions, Brussels sprouts, cranberries and organic herbs. You don’t have to stop there; order your breads, butter, desserts and even flowers (from Roses for Autism) through CTFFE. Newcomer Sow Fresh Organics will deliver a box of organic produce too, and if you gather a few friends and order together you can save the delivery charge under their Neighborhood Coop program. The medium-size veggie and fruit box (pictured) showed up on my doorstep at 6am, filled with a colorful mix of organic arugula, kale, onions, carrots, Brussels sprouts, plums, pears, bananas and a couple of pumpkins with a sweet handwritten note. Oh, and a bag of Seashore Multigrain Chips (I couldn’t help myself, they were on sale!). Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm in Moosup can supply you with much more than just your New Holland White Turkey or Heritage Breed free range birds. Pick up a pie or three and if you’re hungry, head to the Brown Cow Cafe for a “Hot Gobbler Sundae”: a mound of mashed potatoes topped with roasted turkey breast, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce! www.ekonkhillturkeyfarm.com Gozzi’s in Guilford is famous for their day-glo dyed turkeys though some of us find the display at the farm a little disconcerting. Nevertheless, their prized broad-breasted Gozzi Whites have been a favorite on the Shoreline for generations. Call 203.453.2771 to reserve your bird. Fans of epicurean meats will head to Bishop’s Orchards for an organic D’Artagnan turkey (8 – 24 lbs, $4.99/lb) or an organic turkey breast (4 – 10 lbs, $8.29 per lb). All the fixings, plus soups, rolls and Bishops famous pies are available too. bishopsorchards.com 1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford (203) 453-2338 Cliff’s Quality Meats in Essex provides an all-natural bird. Order it up oven ready with their signature sausage and bread crumb stuffing and a quart of house gravy or surprise your family with one of Cliff’s smoked turkey breasts and skip the cooking altogether. 88 Plains Road Essex (860) 767-1539 Order your Bell and Evans organic, free-range turkey from 8 to 28 lbs. ($3.00/lb) at Bennie’s Farm Market in Essex, and while you’re there, pick up homemade mashed potatoes, plain or sausage stuffing, organic Plainville Farms gravy and an assortment of pies. 5 Main Street, Centerbrook (860) 767-8448 La Rosticerria in Guilford is taking orders for organic and heritage turkeys. What’s the difference? Find out here. See below for their take-out menu. Take Out To Feed A Crowd What could be simpler than inviting your nearest and dearest over and heating up a full-on feast, from bird to pie? Some of my favorite restaurants and take-out stops provide all the fixings. Dispense with decisions entirely at Coffee’s Country Market. You can’t beat the price of their dinner: $250 feeds 8 – 10 and includes an herb-rubbed bird, gravy, butternut bisque, cranberry walnut chutney, stuffing, choice of sides and a mile-high apple or pumpkin pie. Order by November 22nd. Elizabeth’s Cafe/Perfect Parties makes a spectacular feast, choose either an all-natural or organic turkey and add the classics or try Granny Smith Apple, sausage, and caramelized onion stuffing, puree of celery root and apple, or honey and chive carrots. Just the two of you? Order individual dinners for $21.95 each including soup, turkey, gravy, stuffing, two sides and pie! Order by Sunday, November 24th. (A personal favorite!). Newcomer, Bliss Gourmet in Westbrook is ready for the foodie with offerings that include fully-cooked organic free range turkeys, consomme of local pheasant, house-cured andouille sausage and cornbread stuffing and lots more. See their menu here. La Rosticerria has a full menu of sides and desserts including Butternut Squash Ravioli and Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cranberries. (Skip the pie and order a dozen of the best cupcakes on the Shoreline!). Guilford Call La Cuisine in Branford for a brined and butter rubbed bird and choose from a mouthwatering menu of sides OR just tell them how many mouths you’re feeding and they’ll put together a feast. Here’s the menu. Dinner for two to a full spread for 20 and smorgasbord of desserts at Mystic Market. Here’s the menu. Spiral Ham, Boeuf Bourguignon, Lobster Mac and Cheese are some of the offerings at Pasta Vita, along with all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Click for the Thanksgiving menu. Old Saybrook The Thanksgiving menu at La Belle Aurore won me over with their highly original Stuffing Muffins! A perfect ratio of crust to doughy interior offered in a bunch of flavors: Traditional, quinoa (gluten free!), sausage and apple, butternut, cornbread and bacon. Who needs turkey? Stuffing heaven. Pick up sides made from locally grown veggies and a Pat’s Pasture Raised turkey, too. I am a huge fan of Anna and her team at Gourmet Galley and they had me at Corn Pudding. Click here to see the menu on facebook. North Stonington, delivery available. Perfect options for Vegetarians & Vegans: G-Zen’s take-out menu includes organic maple-roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, vegan gravy, sauteed garlic greens and a seitan turkey. Can’t wait? Enjoy a vegan sit down feast the day before Thanksgiving at G-Zen in Branford. Call to order take-out: 203.208.0443. Enjoy a “Healthy Holiday Takeway” or enjoy in the dining room at Six Main in Chester. Their vegan, gluten free menu is available Monday thru Wednesday of Thanksgiving week and includes: mashed potatoes with cider gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts, stuffed acorn squash with gluten free cornbread portobello stuffing, apple cranberry sauce, kale salad with cranberry vinaigrette and pumpkin pie. Call to order: 860.322.4212. And a few more desserts: Hen and Heifer of Guilford’s stunning pumpkin cheesecake is but one of several gorgeous offerings. If you’ve got a houseful, make sure to stock up on their perfect croissants and homemade granola. One of my favorite cakes on the Shoreline is the Austrian Apple Cake at 4 & Twenty Blackbirds in Guilford, a superb combination of creamy custard, crisp apples and cookie crust and beautiful, to boot. Owner Nancy Ackermann packed up a slab and I just couldn’t wait; I started picking through the buttery crust in the car. Even the sour cream custard couldn’t deter me. Managed to demolish the thing without utensils. How embarrassing. Place your order early to get your paws on one, they run out. Call 203.458.6900 Dagmar’s Desserts has a roster of yummy desserts but I’m partial to Dagmar’s Hazelnut Pumpkin Roll with ginger cream cheese filling. Here’s her menu. Audrey of Folly Baked Goods makes all manner of lovely treats. The E List staff easily plowed through a box of her gorgeous cookies. She’s got a full list of Thanksgiving cakes, tarts and cookies (including gluten free) that she can email to you. She suggests her Pear Frangipane Tart with Red Wine Poached Pears. Sounds great to me! Call Audrey in Chester at: 860.532.0401 Gluten Free: Touch of Sweet bakes pies, tarts, crisps, rolls and more. See their Thanksgiving menu here. You can always find a fresh-out-of-the-oven pie on the counter at The Cooking Company in Haddam or Killingworth. Skip The Whole Megillah I threatened my family with a restaurant meal this year, but they weren’t having it. My daughter is just so, um, traditional. But if it’s only a few of you, why not let someone else do the shopping, cooking and cleaning? Having just visited the new and reimagined Weekapaug Inn, I can’t imagine a sweeter spot to spend the holiday. With the ambiance of a turn-of-the-century lake house, it’s the sister property of The Ocean House. You’ll find the same attention to detail but not so fancy schmancy. Enjoy your turkey with sweeping views of Quonochontaug Pond and the Atlantic just beyond. Seatings from 11:30 to 5:30pm, $64 per person, $28 kids under 12, free five and under. Call 888.813.7862 to reserve. Westerly. The Ocean House offers a buffet in the ballroom or five course local plated menu in Seasons. For an authentic New England experience, head to The Griswold Inn and a mammoth buffet ($35 for adults, $18.95 for kids under 12 and if they fit in a high chair, they’re free!). Reserve now, this one sells out. Essex The restored Old Lyme Inn has a new chef and they’re offering an elegant Thanksgiving menu: $47 for adults and $25 for kids under 13. The Bee & Thistle Inn A favorite in my family, the cozy Bee & Thistle Inn serves a four-course dinner with seatings from noon to 4:15. $65, 1/2 price under 12. Click here for the menu. The Wharf at The Madison Beach Hotel Serving from 11am to 6pm on Thanksgiving Day, the brand new Madison Beach Hotel is offering a varied menu including the classic feast, and they’re able to accomodate large groups in the upstairs dining room. $42 per adults, $21 for kids 6 – 12 and under 6 are free. www.madisonbeachhotel.com. Reservations: 203.245-1404 Saybrook Point Inn Enjoy your turkey with a water view at The Saybrook Point Inn’s Thanksgiving Buffet, from 11am until 4:30pm. $46.95 for adults, $22.95 for kids 5 – 12, and under 5 are free. Call 860-388-1111 for reservations. Click here for the menu.