Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up. On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual. Listen to your friends and family talk about Thanksgiving and you’ll see.
It’s an odd thought, but Thanksgiving is overwhelmingly vegetarian. I mean, think about it. Except for the turkey, everything is basically and definitely vegetarian (or appears that way); even the gravy and the stuffing could be if you so wanted. Mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, buttery rolls, pumpkin pie; it’s all on that side of the equation. Skip the turkey or duck-duck-goose stuff, as well chicken broth in the various sides, and there’d you’d be at a nearly totally vegetarian meal.
above: Our son Sean with his smoked turkey a couple of years ago. No gravy joy here, but lots of luscious, scrumptious eating. Buy gravy or make it ahead using roasted wings, etc.
Talking Turkey: When you buy your turkey, look at the ingredients list on the wrapper. If it says anything other than just TURKEY, you may want to check out another brand.
As Maria (a la “Sound of Music”) would say, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” And we all know we can trust her, right? My theory is that if you start early with a few basics, you can enjoy Thanksgiving from now until the leftovers are long in your tummy or stored safely in the freezer for busy December nights.
Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of the year and I want it to be yours, too. I like it to last for days and it should when you consider how long it takes to prepare and make.
Food bloggers, too, are in recovery-from-election mode. Skip down to recipe if need be.
In our difficult, name-calling, post-election country, our American world appears divided–though not shattered–by fear, unhappiness, anger, and misunderstanding. (The entire world is divided not just by politics, but between those who have food and homes and those who don’t.) As we move toward our usually happy day of Thanksgiving, we feel left and right, liberal and conservative, blue and red, educated and unscholarly, open and closed, Fox and MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh and NPR… I don’t feel as if we are split as much by religion (though some might not agree) if only because I drank the “justice for all and freedom of religion” kool-aid and do not want to believe any government of mine would pit one religion against another. The issue of race is, it seems, more complicated. A mix of cultures and religions is who we’ve always been and always will be, though; it’s the beauty and at times the ugliness of the United States. Right now it’s ugly. The train left the station long ago about this being a Christian country. And, truthfully, while Dave and I remain firmly entrenched, working and worshiping within a progressive protestant Christian community, the majority of people we know don’t even worship. Anywhere. (Though worshipers are still largely and sadly divided by race.) The believing who go to mosque, synagogue, or church regularly are, more and more, the faithful fewer–perhaps under 25% of our population. How could religion be key here? Hmm. When I hear, “The evangelicals are back in power,” I can’t help but wonder. Continue reading
above: soup without half and half
If you’re a soup cookbook writer, you probably love soup. I love soup. I’m seldom happier than when I’m heating up a kettle while chopping a big pile of vegetables. Perhaps I’m happier at the table with a hot bowl and a cold class of wine or driving home knowing there’s a big pot of soup in the fridge making me feel rich. I don’t know.
above: Vegetable soup was a puréed delight at a street cafe in Dubrovnik, Croatia last month
Coming up with a new soup happens in one of many different ways. Maybe there’s something on sale I drag home or someone somewhere has a special dietary need. I might be watching my weight. Perhaps someone leaves garden bounty on my front porch. Could be my sister’s in town and I’m cooking for her. More than once a freezer’s had to be cleaned out and some meat has to be cooked. Whatever happens, however it happens, a big pot of goodness somehow takes shape and comes to the bowl making us happy, healthy, and wondering where it came from. It’s a gift. That’s for sure.
above: my Guacamole Soup with Grilled Shrimp from the soup book–made for my sister’s visit
Come fall, I’m nuts about winter squash. I’m always looking for something to do with it. Something new. Or old again. I also have a heart for wild rice–which is not really rice, but a water-grown grass– having lived in Minnesota. Somehow, last week, needing a big pot of vegetarian soup for a church meeting (someone else was making a soup with meat), I kept thinking of butternut squash and I kept thinking of wild rice. I wasn’t sure how the two would come together, but I knew somehow it would work.
While this soup is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free for Meatless Mondays, it’s easily vegan (see notes to the sides of ingredients in recipe) or made with meat (cook’s notes.) Make it how you’d like. It’s good with or without half and half and, if you’d like a little smoother soup, purée a few cups and add them back into the broth at the end of the cooking time.
WILD RICE INFO:
Wild Rice is actually an acquatic grass and is the official state grain of Minnesota. Please buy Native-American grown, hand-harvested rice to support this important mid-west and Canadian industry. If it’s not available in your grocery, drive to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, or Canada and buy some! It’s worth the trip. Or ask your grocer to carry it. Why not? Otherwise, order on line.
What Native-American rice growers say…
“Manoomin, or wild rice is a gift given to the Anishinaabek from the Creator, and is a centerpiece of the nutrition and sustenance for our community. In the earliest of teachings of Anishinaabeg history, there is a reference to wild rice, known as the food which grows upon the water, the food, the ancestors were told to find, then we would know when to end our migration to the west. It is this profound and historic relationship which is remembered in the wild rice harvest on the White Earth and other reservations-a food which is uniquely ours, and a food, which is used in our daily lives, our ceremonies, and our thanksgiving feasts.” From www.saveourwildrice.com.
Wild rice is a nutritional bonanza:
Wild rice is also a great source of folate, manganese, zinc, and iron, which is great for gluten-free eaters and grain-free eaters who don’t get those nutrients in typical grains like oats, rye, wheat, and other types of grains like brown rice.
above: soup with half and half Continue reading
I had no leftover turkey as I traveled for the holiday, but I did have some from the deli and, in need of lunch, made this sweet and savory salad. It was just the ticket for a day when, after boatloads of family dinners, my jeans were not exactly in their happy place. This meal is fast, nutritious, figure-friendly, and family-pleasing. Could you add a little of that leftover cranberry salad or relish off to the side of the plate? I’m thinking you could. Happy Giving Tuesday!
STILL HAVE FROZEN TURKEY? Take out a bit, unthaw, and use that. By the way, your frozen turkey is at its best-tasting for 2-3 months if it’s wrapped properly and stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, according to STILL TASTY DOT COM, my go-to for storage questions. If it’s in your refrigerator since last Thursday, it’s past time to throw it away; it was good/safe for 3-4 days only. In fact, even simple vegetables cooked Thanksgiving day and stored in the refrigerator should be tossed after today. Sad, I know.
TURKEY-ACORN SQUASH SALAD WITH APPLES AND PARMESAN DRESSING
I’ve been dreaming about a gluten-free and vegan Thanksgiving dinner for the blog. Not that I truly follow either diet totally (thought I eat vegan quite a bit for health reasons); I simply want the challenge. Either direction is simpler than both together, as anyone who’s tried to make both vegan and gluten-free bread will tell you. While I’ve got several recipes in-process, I thought it might be fun to have more than one entree or main dish. As it was Dinner on the Grounds at First Congregational Church in Colorado Springs — the time when we celebrate our congregation’s giving and commitments — I made this quick brown rice and broccoli dish for the meal. While it might feel like a salad, and perhaps it technically is, I think it’s hefty enough to fill you up for days and feels more like a casserole! This recipe makes a big bowlful and is enough for 12 side servings or maybe 8 as a main dish. Even if you don’t eat gluten free or vegan, you’ll like this healthy and tasty dish. I was very sad to see there was none left to take home.
how you might change it up……
I used currants in the dish, but feel free to substitute dried cranberries for a more festive Thanksgiving table. Raisins or chopped figs or dates would be fine, too; I just like the tiny sweetness of the currants myself. There’s no garlic, though you might add some –no more than a single finely minced single clove unless you cook it with the rice. Minced celery could be an addition to increase the crunch factor. Walnuts or pecans could replace the sliced almonds; toast them in a dry skillet over low flame for 6 or 7 minutes. Could you use white rice? Sure; brown rice has more protein, though, which is a big consideration for a vegan dish. Wild rice would be glorious, I’d think. Carnivores: Throw in a couple of cups chopped chicken or leftover turkey.
This morning I’m cooking a big pot of beef-vegetable soup for Inter-Faith Hospitality Network (IHN), which is a group of local churches that houses and feeds homeless families, as well as helps them find jobs and permanent homes. I’ve been cooking these meals for many years now and not much feels better when you love to be in the kitchen like I do. Dave will go with me and we’re working with the folks from Temple Shalom. This time we have a companion dog, too; I get to bring dog treats!
CURRIED BROCCOLI-ALMOND BROWN RICE SALAD
12 side servings or 6-8 main dish servings
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups brown rice
- Extra-virgin olive oil –can sub canola oil
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 10 scallions, minced – white and green parts
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds cooked broccoli florets
- 1 cup sliced almonds, plus extra for garnish
- Red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup dried black currants or 1/2 cup dried cranberries, plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Kosher salt
In a medium pot, heat water to boiling; add rice with a drizzle of olive oil and a few grinds of pepper. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook 45 minutes or until tender. While still hot, add 1/4 cup olive oil, the cooked broccoli, and almonds. Stir well and drizzle with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
Stir in currants, curry powder (start with 1/2 teaspoon, adding more to taste), crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well. Taste and readjust seasonings, including curry powder. Add an extra drizzle or two of vinegar and/or oil to moisten and season if needed. You might also want to add more almonds or currants to taste; I liked the dish garnished with extra for looks and flavor.
Serve immediately at room temperature. You can also cover the dish well, refrigerate overnight, bring to room temperature, and serve the next day. If the rice seems dry, moisten using a tablespoon or two of olive oil and stir well.
(Below: Rosie and Tucker taking a nap while I made the beef stock this morning and granddaughter Piper doing a little dance to her own beat.)
Sing a new song,
It’s spring in name only in Saint Paul. Whereas many food writers and bloggers are already complaining about too many fresh pea or asparagus recipes, people here are still sniffling and shuffling around town in their by now worn-out snow boots. (Uh, there are not even pea tendrils in St. Paul because snow covers the vegetable gardens; see below.) In fact, if you move here, you’ll save a lot of money on shoes; you only need them May – September. Not only that, you can write about fresh peas, rhubarb, and asparagus when folks further south are eating their first tiny tomatoes and are getting tired of grilling already.
This picture is out my front door this morning.
While people keep emailing or texting me, “Aren’t you tired of snow?” I’m not. I’m happy to make one more bubbling cauldron and a big pan of biscuits. I might be sick of my sweaters, though.
If it’s not too warm where you are, maybe you’re still in the mood for a big pot of soup with bread. (It’s also a perfect way to use that leftover Thanksgiving turkey if it’s that time a year. ) Try this:
turkey-wild rice + vegetable soup
makes about 10 quarts of soup
Using up leftover turkey from a holiday meal? Skip that 1 1/2 hours cooking the turkey thighs and just add your 2-3 cups shredded or chopped cooked turkey after the rice (#3).
- 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 2 onions, chopped
- 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, divided
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 quarts chicken or turkey stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 6 cups water, divided
- 2 turkey thighs, skin removed (or 2-3 cups shredded or chopped cooked turkey)
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed several times and drained*
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices (can sub 2 medium potato, peeled, and diced)
- 1/2 cup each fresh or frozen green peas and corn
- 1/3 cup dry sherry for garnish at the table
- 1 cup roasted, chopped walnuts or almonds for garnish (optional)
- Heat butter and olive oil with red pepper over medium heat in a 12-quart stockpot for one minute. Add onions, 1 of the cut-up carrots, the celery, fennel, parsley, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt with 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cook five minutes or until vegetables are beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook another minute or two, stirring.
- Pour in stock, wine, and 2 cups of the water. Stir well and add turkey thighs, poultry seasoning, another 1/2 teaspoon of salt and another 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until turkey is tender.
- Remove turkey to cutting board and let cool several minutes. While the turkey is cooling, add rice and 3-4 drops of Tabasco (or more to taste) to the broth. Bring back to a low boil. After turkey is cooled, shred using two forks, and return to pot. Let cook about 20 minutes and add parsnips along with the rest of the carrots. Continue to cook another 20 minutes, skimming off fat as needed.** Stir in peas and corn.
- Continue to cook until turkey, rice, and all vegetables are tender –another 5-10 minutes. Continue to skim off fat. Add more water or broth if necessary. This should not be a thick stew, but rather a rich, brothy soup. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over or with biscuits. Pour sherry into a small pitcher and pass at the table with the walnuts, if using, to garnish soup. (Just a teaspoon or so of sherry per bowl is plenty, but it’s a matter of personal taste.)
**Turkey thighs give off a lot of fat. You might have 1/4 cup of fat skimmed off (or more) by the end of the cooking.
makes 12 2-inch biscuits
- 2 cups all–purpose, unbleached flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and cream of tartar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cream of tartar and baking powder. Add butter and cut in well using a pastry blender, two forks, your fingers, or even a food processor until some of the mixture is the size of peas and some are larger, some smaller.
Stir in the milk all at once and keep stirring until a ball of dough is formed. Place dough on a floured board and knead 10-12 times. Pat out (or roll) into a rough circle until dough is about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out using a 2-inch floured biscuit or round, fluted cookie cutter. * Place biscuits on a baking sheet or in a glass pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold. (I like to bake biscuits in a Pyrex pie plate or casserole pan because they stay warm at the table.)
*You can use the mouth of a small, floured glass to cut biscuits if you have no cutter. Another option is to cut them with a knife into squares or rectangles. They’ll bake.
( Biscuit recipe courtesy FANNIE FARMER BAKING BOOK by Marion Cunningham.)
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|My south window today.|
If you like turkey thighs, you might want to try this if the weather is warmer where you are:
By the way, I still have a few soups left to test for my soup cookbook. Interested? Leave contact information in a comment or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. No pay, but hopefully a good meal and fun!
Sing a new song,
Each Friday, a wonderful group of women reaches across cyberspace and joins culinary hands to salute one very healthy food, one single beautiful ingredient from Power Foods : 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients. (Scroll down for the list of blogs.)
I won’t say it’s not a challenge to come up to that gorgeous plate each week. If I’m busy learning music for church or have my daughter home, or am busy with the soup book, I sometimes can’t give the opportunity the intelligent focus and attention it deserves. I used one great recipe for more than one blog recently….life can get ahead of me sometimes. Hopefully I’m forgiven!
This week, the week of pecans, I had the time I needed to give this a good stab. To give it my undivided creative space. I’m grateful for the opportunity and the chance to move one sweet iota further in my cooking and writing. I hope you’ll enjoy the idea of this light vegetable gratin…which is maybe a bit more like a terrine in character, though not in the size and shape of a terrine. There’s no cream and no butter here unlike most gratins. There is a crusty, crispy topping; it’s a savory oatmeal granola without butter (yes, it has olive oil) to which I’ve added the traditional gratin component of cheese, but also finely chopped pecans.
While pecans are an American nut staple grown in the southern states, they’re not terribly common in other parts of the world, with the exception of South America. High in protein (though lower than almonds and walnuts), they are also high in healthy unsaturated fat, a good source of fiber and vitamin E, calorically dense, and weigh in at nearly two-hundred calories per one ounce serving. Store them in the freezer and use as needed. They are excellent for baking, cooking, and for general snacking.
Gluten-free and easily vegan (leave out the Parmesan), this winter vegetable gratin with healthful pecans in its topping is not only a gorgeous side if you need or your partner really needs a chop… but is a lovely lunch or entree for those in love with vegetables. (You might add more pecans for protein for the vegan version.) A sharp knife, a shallow dish (I used a heavy quiche pan in lieu of a gratin dish as I liked the shape, but even a 2 quart Pyrex would do), and a boatload of winter vegetables are the central components of your beautiful, filling meal. Try this:
winter vegetable gratin with savory granola
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (needn’t be extra virgin)
- 1/4 cup red onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 3 stalks celery, trimmed, stringed, and sliced thinly
- 2-3 parsnips, peeled, and sliced thinly
- 1/2 fennel bulb, cored, and sliced thinly
- 1 turnip, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- finely grated lemon rind, optional garnish (at table)
granola: (in a medium bowl, mix together well:)
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 teaspoon each: kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1/8 (pinch) aleppo pepper (can sub crushed red pepper)
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (omit for vegan version)
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped finely
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, rubbed well in your hands or chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius). In a small bowl, mix together red onion, garlic and parsley; set aside. With 1-2 teaspoons oil, brush the inside of a 9-10” shallow casserole dish or gratin dish.
- Layer carrots, celery, parsnips, fennel, and turnips in dish, drizzling each layer with a little olive oil, salt/pepper, and sprinkling each layer with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the onion mixture. (Place the rest of fennel at center if possible.) Mix the broth with the wine and pour over the vegetables.
- Top with savory granola mixture* by crumbling it evenly over the vegetables. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes until granola is crispy and vegetables are tender.
- Serve hot with a bit of finely grated lemon rind, if desired.
*You may not need all of the granola; you can eat the rest as is for a good snack.
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If you liked this, you might like my Derby Pie–a Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon specialty made only for the Kentucky Derby–May 3-4, 2013.
Or you might like my Go Nuts! which can be made with all pecans or a mixture of nuts:
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Here’s our wonderful group of bloggers. Join us!
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
- We’d like to have you as part of the group. Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
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P.S. If you linked my cinnamon rolls to your blog, I’d love to know who you are! It’s now my top post in nearly five years. I’d like to thank you….
Sing a new song,