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November 23: Flash Fiction Challenge

In the US, November 23 is a day of feasting. Not the date, but the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving we call it, and it centers on a roast turkey.

Legend has it, Benjamin Franklin favored the turkey as America’s symbol. Some people find the thought silly because they find turkeys silly. I spent my formative years between three ranches — two cattle ranches and a turkey ranch. That might sound silly, too: A turkey ranch. When you realize turkeys once roamed before “free-range” became a designer label at the grocery store, then ranch fits.

Paullus Turkey Ranch in California

Instead, the US chose a bully of regal raptors, the American bald eagle. As a national bird, would the turkey have led us to be more thoughtful in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness? Perhaps. But it would have been weird to eat the national bird once a year for a decidedly American holiday.

Feasting might not be unique, but the foodstuff set upon a Thanksgiving table originated in the “New World.” Potatoes, yams, cranberries, pumpkins and turkey. To this we add the flavors of our immigrant roots. Does my love of butter and bacon reveal Irish DNA? Does the essence of tarragon waft all the way back to 1840s France? Does smoked Spanish paprika reflect the influence of my native California?

This year we revived several vegan recipes. Runner, Rock Climber, and Radio Geek are all gathering  in the Keweenaw. Radio Geek’s husband, Solar Man, is taking the other two back to Wisconsin and Minneapolis (to fly back to Montana before returning to Svalbard, Norway) so he’ll get a second feast with his family in the Twin Cities. With so much food on the menu, we’ve focused on health as much as feast — less white, more greens. We’ve been talking about eating more fruits and vegetables.

The World Health Organization promotes healthier eating with a 5 a Day (fruits and veggies) campaign in many nations across the globe. It sounds simple, but one aspect of food injustice (at least in the US) is that junk food and filling carbs cost significantly less than fresh fruits and vegetables. Expense is a secondary concern to health, and often it prevents consistent choices.

Returning to grow-our-own is an answer. Urban gardening, community gardens, container gardening, gleaning (of fruit trees in neighbors and on city streets), Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), food cooperatives, cheese artisans, family ranches and farmers markets all serve a sector called community food systems. The people involved in these systems seek to overcome the barriers  to 5 a Day through improved access at a local level.

At one time, community food was my beat.

The Keweenaw Co-op is within a few blocks of my daughter and son-in-law’s house. It’s tiny compared to the large cooperative grocer I once worked for as marketing manager. It’s even smaller than the ones I used to audit or assist in developing marketing plans. Size doesn’t matter. It’s the impact. It’s about bringing fresh regional food to people at a fair price. From farmer to diner, it’s meant to be a sustainable system.

Ten years ago, my co-op hired a meat manager who was an old-time butcher with skills nearly forgotten. It might seem as silly as a brass turkey on a flagpole, but butchering skills are disappearing in the US. With the spread of big-box retail like Wal-Mart, meat processing in the US is completed at the factory. “Butchers” in grocery stores receive shipments of boxed product machine cut (or ground), packaged and frozen.

My friend, the Butcher, knew all about carving whole hanging beef. I did too (remember, ranches?). Our store wanted to work with small family producers to grow beef, pork and poultry according to our clean standards (no fed or injections of antibiotics or hormones, and animals must have access to sunshine, fresh air and be grass-fed). We had the market, and the Butcher had the connections.

One of the small family farms we worked with was Ferndale. They knew turkeys and had raised them for three generations with open access (free-range). They worked with our standards, and for many years they became the signature turkey of my co-op. They were one of six stories a year my marketing team produced in video, magazine, photography and social media. My strategy was to express the brand with the stories about the faces and places behind the food we sold

You can go to Ferndale’s website and see remnants of this work. The top right photo is one I took years ago while sitting in a pasture surrounded by white and red turkeys all giving me the curious one-eyed look. That moment feels like yesterday. You can see the soft glow of a setting sun that cast a glow on red glottals. For me, it’s a bit of a legacy. Not the stories left behind in video, print and photography. But the knowing that I was part of the stories.

So, imagine my delight when I discovered the Keweenaw Co-op planned to special order Ferndale turkeys for Thanksgiving! I’ve moved on from writing about food and sadly, my friend the Butcher died several years ago. The Peterson’s operation looks strong for the fourth generation. And I am serving my family something more than the 5 a Day. Yes, healthy veggies, but also the continuing experience of our Thanksgiving stories.

And for a special treat — if you like recipes — I’m sharing a few recipes from our feasting table. These are ones that include fruits and vegetables, and can be enjoyed across the globe, not just at Thanksgiving time.

Savory Apple Cider

1 gallon local cider
½ C. frozen blueberries
Peel from 1 lemon
10 whole allspice
20 whole peppercorns
5 whole cloves
¼ tsp. cardamom seeds
½ vanilla bean, halved
½ tsp. cinnamon

Pour cider into a stockpot. Add lemon peel as long strips (not zest). Add frozen blueberries and spices. Heat on stovetop, but do not bring to a boil. Simmer and allow the aroma to infuse the kitchen. Serve after 30 minutes. Keep warm in a crockpot, or store in fridge and reheat later.

Roasted Root Veggies

3 large red beets, peeled and chunked into bites
3 large golden beets, peeled and chunked into bites
2 medium turnips, peeled and chunked into bites
2 large parsnips, peeled and chunked into bites
1 large rutabaga, peeled and chunked into bites
8 large shallots, peeled and halved
12 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
¼ C. olive oil
2 Tbsp. tarragon
Applewood smoked salt to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste

Combine vegetables, herbs and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Turn out vegetables onto two cooking sheets. Roast vegetables 30 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 375°F. Reverse baking sheets (top rack to bottom rack) and continue to roast until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes longer. Transfer to platter and serve.

Boozy Cranberry Sauce

1-12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
1 C. sugar
2 1⁄4 tsp. zest of a blood orange
1⁄4 tsp. cardamom seeds, lightly crushed
1 vanilla bean

½ C. Scotch (adjust to taste; booze does not boil off, so add to turkey sandwiches responsibly)

Combine cranberries, sugar and zest in an over casserole. Split vanilla bean in half and scrape into cranberry mixture and add bean. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove to stir, return to oven and bake another 30 minutes. Pull from over and stir in the Scotch. Transfer sauce to a medium bowl and cool. Cover and refrigerate. Can be made one week ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, near or far. We need a day to break bread, gather around the table and tell stories.

November 23, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables. What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt.

Respond by November 28, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 29). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


A Better Five a Day by Charli Mills

Five a day, Mama says. Doesn’t she know how awful they taste? Crunchy raw spindles and squishy flavorless lumps. Good for you, Dad crows. Honestly, I prefer the mash the neighboring farmer drops by our house. Mama says it’s not organic.

My skinny legs chase after tastier treats. Beyond the place where parents coop my culinary dreams I have a secret spot to dream. Beyond our scratch existence meanders a brook with a magical bush. That’s where I found the round globes sweeter than any clover.

Blueberries! I’m in chicken heaven! Better than five insects or worms any day.


  1. denmaniacs4 says:

    A Writers Creed

    “You’ve got a stick up your butt about this, right?”

    “I don’t know how you do it.”

    “It’s quite easy once you get the hang of it.”

    “I’m sure it’s easy. But I’m more interested in why you bother?”

    “Wilde once said, ‘Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art.’ So, I lie at least five times a day.”

    “For art?”

    “For my art, yes. Fiction’s about assembling a selection of lies. Most writing has elements of falsehood.”

    “I’ll never be able to trust a word you say.”

    “Then my work here is done.”

    Liked by 14 people

  2. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. […] taking a chance on one of Charli’s 99-word prompts over at The Carrot […]

    Liked by 2 people

  4. […] taking Ritu’s lead and an Abba song to take a chance on me trying one of Charli’s 99-word prompts over at The Carrot […]

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Juliet Nubel says:

    Hi Charli,
    My brain went on a little walk with this one. On a path I didn’t know was there…


    Heather pulled the pink woollen hat over Emily’s curls.

    “What do you need to do at school today?”


    Emily knew their routine by heart. “Smile. Laugh. Enjoy… I can never say the fourth one.”


    “Yeah, that. And play.”


    Heather prayed hard that her daughter would taste these five ingredients every day of her life, both now and later.

    The yellow bus arrived and Emily skipped aboard, grinning at the driver. She turned to wave.

    “Sleep well, my petal-face.”

    “You too, Mummy. You must try hard too.”

    Heather smiled. It was a start. A very good start.

    Liked by 11 people

  6. […] If you want to participate, here’s the link: […]

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Brrr. 20 degrees and windy in the spot where I get the neighbor’s wifi. I’ll read and comment later. My ten digits are cold.

    Glory Be

    Three is a mystical number, and seven, for sure, but five, the mean of the two, five can be trouble. It doesn’t have to be, but it can be.
    Those five fingers, are they clenched into one fist? If so, trouble; something might be struck, nothing can be held. Be mindful of what those five fingers grasp, more mindful of what they let go of. Stretch those five fingers skyward, press against the other hand, doubled power, decadal symmetry, two hands pressed in prayer.
    Count on one hand the blessings you have reaped. Use both hands to sow more.

    Liked by 10 people

  8. […] Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Charli. It sounds like you have certainly incorporated your five a day in those delicious recipes. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. […] is time for another foray into the world of Flash Fiction. This week, Charli from the Carrot Ranch has given us this image and five a day to use, and here are the […]

    Liked by 4 people

  11. […] via November 23: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Frank Hubeny says:


    Bernard set an alarm on his phone to ring five times a day with the message “Smile”. This annoyed some around him which helped him smile.

    When Bernard’s lips froze into a crescent moon pointing up that was when he annoyed the maximum number of people and puzzled the rest.

    Eventually his brain got the memo. His heart relaxed. Even people he annoyed stopped being annoyed. Bernard’s pleasure in annoying them waned like that moon on his mouth since what’s the point? When they heard the beep, they’d smile and say, “Smile, Bernard, you idiot!” He no longer minded.

    Liked by 9 people

  13. Hello Charli, here is my contribution. I am not much of a foodie, despite my baking passion, so it doesn’t relate to fruit and veg at all.

    Liked by 7 people

  14. Hugs
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    The compassion of enfolding another within loving arm can heal wounds unseen. Thus our days begin with a hug, and God willing they end the same way. After a hard day at school, I greet my children with a cup of warmed cider and open arms. As they traverse the pitfalls of homework, I use cuddles as encouragement. After dinner, when they clean their plates and complete their chores, I give them a big embrace of gratitude. Soon they’ll be too grown to understand their value, so while I have them within arm’s reaching, I’ll share with them hugs.

    Liked by 9 people

  15. […] November 23: Flash Fiction Challenge November 23, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables. What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt. Respond by November 28, 2017 […]

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Pete says:

    It was a manic compulsion that drove Barry Bingham to lick the five fingers of his right hand every morning. The urge struck first at dawn, when he gripped the worn door handle at the gas station where he got his morning coffee. Turning the sports page in the breakroom, Barry’s fingers were just begging for a dip. And again at lunch, when Barry finished off the cheese puffs and eyed his furry fingers. By afternoon Barry was slurping away again, flushing the toilet, checking his hair, and hustling back to work.

    Barry took a lot of sick days.

    Liked by 8 people

  17. Norah says:

    Hi Charli, I hope you and your family had a wonderful time in each other’s company over your Thanksgiving holiday. What a treat to have all you brood home to share this special celebration. Is that what inspired your “chicken” flash? It’s very clever with your choice of words – so many good ones there. Interesting the similarity between the chicken’s attitude to food and our own.
    I found your recipes interesting, too. Thanks for sharing them. I especially like the sound of the roast root vegetables, though your recipe sent me checking for what the vegies are. I’ve not heard beetroot referred to as red beets before, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a golden beet. Rutabaga is another interesting one. They look very similar to turnips to me, or possibly swedes. I’m not fond of that variety of root vegies because of their bitter taste. (Or was that just how my Mum cooked them?) Parsnips are nicer roasted than I recall them being in my youth, with all the goodness boiled out of them. Shallots is a tricky one. We seem to use the term differently down here, and what we call shallots, hub (from N. Ireland) calls scallions. So your recipe has been as much an education for me as a feast for you. I hope you enjoyed your feast as much as I enjoyed my education. Actually – more – more than I enjoyed my education! 🙂
    Oh, and I didn’t know that the turkey was native to North America. How fascinating, and how wonderful to have a Ferndale turkey to assist your celebrations!

    Liked by 5 people

  18. julespaige says:

    I’m pretty sure I posted here, but it’s disappeared…
    (maybe I put it in the wrong space?)
    so one more time :
    Who’s Counting?

    Who’s Counting?

    Trying to get five fruits and veg in a day, Claire added to her
    salad. Dates, avocado, dried apricots, to the already blended
    greens of spinach and young spring greens mix. Cucumber,
    tomato, onion, celery and colorful peppers got chopped up
    too. Add some tuna and peanuts and you got a whole meal.

    Or did one portion of that mix equal just one serving? There
    had to be a way to lose the extra five pounds from Thanks-
    giving. Half of a large grapefruit was waiting to be a mid-day
    snack – as well as those cute little peelable oranges.


    Liked by 8 people

  19. Annecdotist says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Charli! I respect anyone who grows their own food, although I don’t eat meat myself. Before the popularisation of five a day for fruit and vegetables, I followed the vegetarian version of the big five food categories: grains, pulses, dairy (no good for vegans), fruit and veg. My 99-word story isn’t about food, however, but a tribute to my latest review – and to the discipline of the 99-word story itself!

    Five a day, no more no less

    Angels of Nigeria? Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

    Liked by 7 people

    • Norah says:

      Good one, Anne.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Anne! We had a good holiday and plenty of food with lots of vegetables and wild rice. I made a vegan pumpkin mouse with an almond flour crust and coconut “cream” and I also had plenty of Cool Whip for the pumpkin pies. Cool Whip is not a food, in fact, I think it’s made of grocery bags or milk cartons. It’s fake cream, but it’s vegan! I have too much of the buckaroo DNA to go meatless, though I buy meats conscientiously, like the Ferndale turkey. I enjoyed your clever title and precise characters, sticking to the quota count regardless of temptation.


  20. “Why ya grimacin’ Kid?”
    “I’m smilin’. They say smilin’ can change yer mindset. But I tell ya, Pal, I’m strugglin’ with Shorty’s 5 a day prompt.”
    “So keep smilin’. Five times a day.”
    “Hmm. Five laughs a day would be good an’ good for ya.”
    “Seriously! Contagious giggles, love those, almost as much as a real good belly laugh.”
    “Gotta be in the right company fer those. How ‘bout laughin’ aloud at yerself fer doin’ somethin’ stupid, or even fer doin’ somethin’ right?”
    “Yeah. I also like the ‘Ha!’ of revelation and recognition.”
    “Five laughs a day then. Ha!”

    Liked by 8 people

  21. Charli Mills, I too often neglect to comment on your fine flashes, probably because of their location way up there tucked under the prompt and the post. While I was delighted with your flash this week, I must express my worry for you, having chickens as characters. What is genre is that, anyway, Chick Lit?

    Liked by 6 people

  22. […] Narrator’s Note: This ultra-short story is in response to the Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s Flash Fiction Challenge. You can find the details here: […]

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Just discovered this lovely community, so I thought I too should go through my rites of passage. Here’s my first attempt at the Flash Fiction Challenge. Feedback will be genuinely appreciated and taken on board, I promise 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  24. […] November 23: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. […] This story is in response to the prompt from the Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 4 people

  26. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (11/23/2017): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings of fruits and vegetables. What is needed five times a day? Have fun with what pops to mind for the prompt. […]

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Liz H says:

    To help us say “Good morning, God!” Rather than “Good God, it’s morning!”

    Morning Blessings

    Wake up. Open your eyes. Or not.

    Stretch from the tip of your chilly nose, through the arms and shoulders, down your back, deep into the gluteus max, into the length of your calves and out through the end of each toe.

    Snuggle deeper under the covers and melt into the mattress. Breathe. Through your nose.

    Deeply inhale morning blessings, those present just before the day’s demands flood in, the ones just an eyeblink away, if only we remember. Exhale all bad dreams, all anxieties.

    Repeat this breath four times more. Rise, and refresh as needed throughout the day.

    Liked by 8 people

  28. […] as part of the 99-word Flash Fiction challenge with the theme of Five a Day, hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot […]

    Liked by 4 people

  29. […] This week, Charli challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Five a Day. It does not have to be five servings … […]

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Kate says:

    I’m off to an appointment but I didn’t want to miss this week’s challenge. I’ll return later and add a link to my site with the actual post that goes with the story and a title.
    Marcy took a deep breath. She was about to launch her presentation to the Scrooge of all clients at the ad agency.

    “Mr. Wroth, Christmas is about rekindling hope and joy—”

    “Nonsense. It’s just a day in the calendar. I’m tired of campaigns where our cookies light up children’s faces with Christmas woodo. We’re done here.”

    “That’s not what I’m proposing.”

    “Humph. Go on then.”

    “I’m suggesting people buy your amazing cookies and share five of them a day with others to take their blues away.”

    “Christmas prosaic. I like it!”

    Marcy couldn’t help but roll her eyes.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kate says:

      I’m back. Charli, unfortunately life took over here and hence I missed the rodeo. I’ve been reading the winners and can’t believe the creativity and awesomeness displayed by all the contestants for each prompt. Kudos to the organizers and participants! And a happy Thanksgiving and start of the Season of Joy.

      I can’t help but be drawn in by the infectious holiday spirit that sparkles around every corner of Victoria right now. It is my favorite time of the year so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I chose a Christmas theme to my little story. I made a minor adjustment to the original one posted above. Here’s the link to the post and the story.

      Here’s the story:

      Marcy took a deep breath. She was about to launch her presentation to the Scrooge of all clients at the ad agency.

      “Mr. Wroth, Christmas is about rekindling hope and joy—”

      “Nonsense. It’s just a day in the calendar. I’m tired of campaigns where our cookies light up children’s faces with Christmas voodoo. Got something else?”

      “I do.”

      “Humph. Go on then.”

      “I’m suggesting people buy your amazing cookies and when they share five of them a day with others it will take their blues away.”

      “Christmas Prozac. I like it!”

      Marcy couldn’t help but roll her eyes.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        Christmas voodoo! A modern-day Scrooge indeed, but Marcy was able to get through. I’m glad you are enjoying the results of the Rodeo. It was certainly a whirlwind of fun. Enjoy your Season of Joy! I’m looking forward to what will light up the Keweenaw.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. […] Mills’ November 23, 2017 Flash Fiction Challenge was to write a story in 99 words (no more, no less) about Five a Day. It does not have to be five […]

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I’m afraid I’m sitting out this ride. May have flu…maybe an RA flare. Either way, I’m just wiped. Looking forward to the reads!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. […] installment from The Life and Times of Jane Doe is in response to Charli’s flash fiction promptflash fiction prompt for the week: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a […]

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Deborah Lee says:

    Here I am at the bottom as usual…I *must* be more disciplined! New Year’s Resolution, maybe. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  35. I know where I want to be next Thanksgiving! What great recipes. I’ve never heard of scotch used in a cranberry sauce, but we do one here with Vodka believe it or not! Boozy which way you call it! I had dreams once of working a vegetable garden. I loved teaching the kids to grow them in CA with their own little patch. One year we had three huge pumpkins, which were magical to me never having seen them before. Loved your flash…I can taste the joy from those sweet purple globes now 🙂 So sorry I missed this one Charli…next week, SJ will be back ❤


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