When folks in our area think of Thanksgiving, they think of Bowman & Landes.
When my children were little, there were always nursery school outings to the famous Bowman & Landes Turkey Farm in New Carlisle where the kids could get up close and personal with hundreds of gobbling turkeys. It was quite a sight to behold.
The popular business was founded in 1948 by Dennis Landes and Kenneth Bowman when Ken’s older brother made the decision to leave his turkey farm and move to California.
The company, now operated by second- and third-generation members of both families, today supplies grocery stores throughout our area with free range turkeys and products ranging from brine mix and condiments to canned turkey and canned broth. The newest product is a gluten-free frozen gravy and the farm store also sells Amish chicken, canned fruits and veggies, Ohio products, Mrs. Boone’s angel food cakes, pies and cookies at the holidays. The store’s deli sells lunches.
It seems fitting as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday to invite two family members to be featured in Our Good Cooks.
Meet Mary Bowman and Judy Landes
Mary Bowman grew up on a farm in Kansas with a lot of cattle.
“My husband, Carl Bowman, came to our Church of the Brethren McPherson College, and we met there,” she says. “He jokes he found me in Kansas standing in a wheat field with a bunch of cattle, felt sorry for me and brought me back to Ohio, and now, for 40 years, I’ve been standing in a cornfield with a bunch of turkeys!”
She’s been friends with Judy Landes and her husband, Stan, for more than 40 years. The two men lived next to each other growing up and learned “the ways of a turkey”at an early age.
“Judy and I discovered we were fourth cousins about 15 years ago!” Bowman says. “In Brethren circles, there are many familial connections. Obviously, we are different branches of the original Church of the Brethren, which split first in 1881.”
Both wives have worked in the business over the years.
“I worked at Bowman & Landes for over 25 years during the holiday season with my three young children in tow,” Landes says. “They napped under the counter.”
These days she babysits for her grandchildren at this hectic time of year so that her two daughters and daughter-in-law can work at the farm store.
What are your early memories of food?
Bowman: I grew up in a large Church of the Brethren family and always shared many large Sunday, birthday and holiday meals together with lots of home cooked delicacies.
Landes: My mother was a wonderful cook, and I learned cooking from her and from being involved in 4-H. Family mealtime was always a fun time of sharing. A table full of guests on Sunday was a common occasion in the home where I grew up. Large groups of guests are a common tradition among the Brethren groups, with lots of good food and fellowship.
What’s special about turkey?
Bowman: Turkey reigns supreme in the health department, being a great low-fat option for cooking and eating. We use ground turkey in place of ground beef in recipes in our home. Many doctors send their patients to our farm as our turkey is antibiotic- and hormone-free and vegetarian-fed from our own grains. We often laugh that our turkeys have a healthier diet than we do.
How many turkeys do you sell at Thanksgiving?
We raise about 75,000 a year and sell about 50,000 turkeys at Thanksgiving time.
Tips on cooking turkey?
Bowman: My husband, Carl, always says there are three rules to cooking turkey properly, “Don’t over cook, don’t over cook, don’t over cook!”
In our directions for cooking, we always recommend using a meat thermometer. We always cook our turkey until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees in the middle of the turkey breast, or 175 degrees in the thigh. A turkey breast is easy for those who don’t want a lot of mess or aren’t feeding a huge crowd.
What’s your favorite way to roast a turkey?
Landes: I place the turkey, breast down in the roaster, so that the juices flow down into the breast meat, as it is cooking.
Place 1 inch water in bottom of pan, with 1 tablespoon salt. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup salt into turkey cavity, rotating, so that it is evenly distributed within. Rub plenty of salt on the back of the turkey.
Place in oven, with lid securely on roaster. Start at 400 degrees, for 1/2 hour, then turn to 350 degrees for approximately 2 1/2 - 3 hours. When using the thermometer to check for the 170 degrees done, temperature: be sure that the thermometer does not touch the bone in the turkey. Another good test of doneness is to check to see if the wing or leg moves very easily.
Note that I bake dressing in a separate pan prior to serving the meal.
Cool with lid off, for 1/2 hour before carving. Place the carved meat in the lid of the roaster and pour all broth over top of the carved turkey. Let cool completely — 45 minutes — and cover roaster securely with tin foil and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, place in oven at 325 degrees, for 1 hour and place turkey meat on platter.
Are you ever too tired to enjoy the holiday?
Landes: We are very tired by Thanksgiving, but not too tired to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, by attending church service in the morning and celebrating with family afterward. It’s our favorite holiday — a time to reflect on our many blessings, both spiritually and nationally.
For information on Bowman& Landes turkeys: Many grocery store and meat shoppes in our area carry the Bowman & Landes turkeys and you can buy and order them at their Farm Market, 6490 E. Ross Road, New Carlisle. Call (937) 845-9466 or see www.bowmanlandes.com for directions to the farm, pictures and more cooking tips.
Meredith Moss spotlights at-home cooks or professional chefs throughout Southwest Ohio and invites them to share their favorite recipes, cooking tips and family traditions. If you know of someone we should spotlight, send an email to Meredith.Moss@coxinc.com
What to do with leftover turkey? Here are ideas courtesy of Mary Bowman and Judy Landes
Mary Bowman’s Turkey Enchilada Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large can Bowman and Landes turkey broth
3 cups tortilla chips, crushed
3 cups cooked Bowman and Landes turkey, diced
8 oz. diced green chilis
1 can (10oz) diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 cup sour cream (this can be omitted for a broth-based soup)
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses
Heat oil in Dutch oven or soup pot on medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Add tortilla chips and remove pot from heat. Cover and let stand 10 minutes to dissolve chips. Stir as needed. Add chicken, diced green chilis, and diced tomatoes and green chilies. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated, but do not allow to boil.
Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and cilantro. Serve immediately, topped with cheese. You can also serve with varies toppings, such as green onions, sour cream, black olives and corn chips. Makes 8 cups
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Judy Landes’ Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole:
3 cups cooked turkey
3 3/4 cup instant mashed potatoes flakes
2 cans cream of chicken soup 1/2 c. sour cream
3 3/4 cups water
3 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz. Stove Top Dressing
1/3 cup margarine
1 2/3 cup milk
Layer turkey and soup in bottom of 9 x 13-inch dish. Mix water, salt, margarine, milk and potato flakes according to directions on instant potato box; adding sour cream & cheese. Put on top of meat and soup mixture. Cook Stove Top Dressing according to package directions. Add this to top of potatoes. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until hot, approximately 30 minutes. To avoid oven spills, place pyrex dish on a jelly roll pan, to bake.
(Can freeze after assembling. Thaw completely, before baking.)