Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time for Thanksgiving Prep--with Recipes!

Here we are, just a little over a week away from Thanksgiving.  How quickly Autumn has been zooming by!

I loved this post by Jessica Goodfellow, who talks about getting ready for the Thanksgiving meal in Japan.  She has no car, so she has to buy the stuff for her dinner bit by bit--she's limited by what she can carry.  All morning, I've thought of that juxtaposition:  preparing for the holiday that celebrates abundance but being limited to what one can carry.

I've also been thinking about a time in grad school where the local Kroger had whole turkeys for 39 cents a pound.  We bought 3, and they filled up the whole freezer.  I remember staring at the full freezer and saying, "But I'm a vegetarian!"

So, I was, mostly, but occasionally, carnivorous cravings set in.  Thanksgiving was one of those times.  And once a summer, we grilled steaks or burgers, and I just couldn't resist.

If you need to create a vegetarian Thanksgiving, I recommend Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu.  She's got a complete menu, with step by step instructions.  Sounds delicious.

Of course, even when I was in my strictest vegetarian phase, I still found plenty to eat at my family's meal.  I love Thanksgiving, meal of many side dishes.

I've never understood families who come to impasses over the question of white potatoes vs. sweet, cornbread dressing vs. french bread stuffing.  Why not make it all?

And the meal can be healthy.  Healthyish.  The brussel sprouts have great nutrients, as do sweet potatoes and yams.  Turkey is a fairly healthy main dish.  Pumpkin pie gives you great amounts of vitamin A.

Oh, I'm hungry just thinking about it.  Let me share some recipes with you.

Aunt Billie's Sweet Potato Souffle

3 C. sweet potatoes (a large can should do it) mashed.

Add 1 c. sugar, 1/2 stick butter--melted if potatoes aren't hot (both butter and sugar can be reduced to taste), 1/2 c. milk (or orange juice), 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. cinnamon (you can also add a dash of other autumn spices:  cloves, ginger, allspice, nutmeg

Place mixture into a greased baking dish.

Mix the following and put on top (my mom's notes say that this is very rich and you might want to cut in half--I love the praline topping and can't get enough--you be the judge):
1 C. brown sugar, 1/3 c. flour, 1 c. chopped nuts (I like pecans best), 1/2 stick butter melted

Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Easy Spiced Nuts

You probably have a recipe that has you boil the nuts, drain them, roast them in the oven while stirring them every few minutes so they don't burn.  There's an easier way!

Put some Tablespoons of sugar in a skillet, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Put in several handfuls of pecans and heated until the sugar melted and covered the toasting nuts.  Don't walk away as it goes from unmelted sugar to perfectly coated to scorched very quickly. This nut concoction tastes great on it's own, but it's also wonderful on salads.

Or make a cheese spread!  This past week-end, I needed a cheese spread, and wanted something Christmasy, holiday-y, autumnal.  And so, I experimented:

Autumnal Cheese Spread

I grated a pound of cheddar and poured in 1/2 c. beer (the beer binds it, but kind of disappears; I wonder if red wine would work as well, or apple juice or cider). I wanted a bit more to bind it, so I put in 2 tablespoons of apple butter and 2 tablespoons of honey mustard. I mixed it all together with the nuts and spread it on crackers, served with red wine to drink.  YUM.

However, my spouse thought it was much too sweet, but I loved it, as did the other 2 women who ate it. It hit that sweet and savory spot that I love.

So, are you shopping for Thanksgiving already?  Or maybe you're thinking about Christmas?  Or maybe you're resisting it all and eating a sensible salad?  Whatever your Tuesday has in store, I hope it's brimming with whatever kind of deliciousness would bring you joy.

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