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A young shopper at Village Rock Shop in Carlsbad admires Thanksgiving herbal collection. Photo by Jano Nightingale
A young shopper at Village Rock Shop in Carlsbad admires Thanksgiving herbal collection. Photo by Jano Nightingale
ColumnsJano's Garden

Jano’s Garden: The poultry trifecta wins turkey race

“The poultry trifecta,” as it is called in cooking circles, is made up of three fresh herbs: Rosemary, Thyme and Sage. And in a similar fashion to a bet in which a person forecasts the first three winners of a horse race, this trifecta will be a winner in many of your Thanksgiving recipes.

Luckily, for those of us who garden in North County, most of the local garden centers are stocking a wide selection of seasonal herbs that can be planted now in a variety of containers outdoors.

Purchase the seedlings at our local nurseries such as Green Thumb in San Marcos, Anderson’s La Costa in Encinitas and Sunshine Garden in Encinitas.

All of these herbs do well in containers, and the choice of container varies from a large window box to individual terra cotta pots. Be sure the pots are large enough for the herbs to expand in both height and root depth. Place your containers in sunny spots near your kitchen door or patio, so that you can easily access them and utilize their freshness on a daily basis.


Rosemary is a favorite winter cooking herb, since it blends well with traditional holiday roast turkey, duck or beef and can be used for roasted vegetables and homemade bread. This herb is always prominent in stuffing and marries with the thyme and sage to form the perfect trifecta.


Thyme is a classic poultry herb that thrives in containers. It comes in a range of varieties, including the aromatic lemon thyme and the common thyme, which is used for cooking, and it can be used as a stuffing, rub, or sprig in your Thanksgiving dishes. Thyme grows best when it is kept pruned, which is good news for chefs, as it means it you will always have a fresh supply of the herb.


The third herb in the poultry trifecta is sage. This aromatic herb, like thyme and rosemary, grows well in containers and is an essential part of the Thanksgiving feast. Sage is a potent herb (a little bit goes a long way) and after playing its part for the holiday, can be used with duck, pork and chicken. 


Every home cook has their favorite brand of stuffing, so after following your box directions it’s time to add the herbs to the bird. Simply snip at least 4-6 inches of each herb, tie with cotton string and place in the cavity of the bird before adding the stuffing.


Last year I shared a recipe for my Grandmother VanDenBerg’s cranberry relish recipe, and since I have received so many requests for it, I am passing it on to you again. The origin of this recipe is still vague, but my Wisconsin family of Dutch descent has been making it since 1950!

Since it is made with only raw ingredients and not cooked, it does not appear in most cookbooks, so try it out and enjoy.

Grama VanDenBerg’s cranberry sauce far outshines that gelatinous perfectly formed cylinder that slips out of the Ocean Spray can. The 25-year-old sausage grinder that sat on her kitchen counter held the secret to grinding the raw sauce into a blend of oranges, sugar and raw cranberries.

The raw, uncooked flavor was so addicting that when my cousin and I ate the entire bowl, Grama Van would go back into her tiny kitchen to fetch yet another Mason jar full of the tart mix. I am including Grama VanDenBerg’s recipe (original dated 1950), which is deceptively simple, improves with age and will keep in a large Mason jar for at least two weeks, if it lasts that long. The only modern twist is that, unless you own a sausage grinder, you can substitute a food processor or heavy-duty blender to process the mix.


From Edna VanDenBerg, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1950


• One bag fresh cranberries

• Two navel oranges

• One cup sugar

Wash and clean cranberries, removing those that feel soft. Wash and quarter oranges, removing pits and fibrous tissue and chop into one-inch pieces.  Do not peel. Working in batches, add one cup cranberries with one cup orange pieces and process in pulsing action, just until chunky.

Add ½ cup sugar and repeat process with rest of bag and remaining pieces of orange, adding sugar to taste. (Note: If you don’t care for the taste of orange rind, you can peel oranges prior to processing.) Prepare at least two days prior to serving.

Jano Nightingale is a horticulturist and teacher who lives and works in North County. She teaches gardening at the Carlsbad Senior Center and is available for adult and children’s workshops. Contact her at [email protected] for questions, comments or send your favorites holiday recipes!