Side by Side–time to think about Thanksgiving!
Well, it’s November, which means…it’s time to start thinking about that Gastronomic Holiday of Holidays, Thanksgiving!
I have to say, of all my40+ Thanksgivings on this earth, one of the ones I remember most fondly is the one I spent with two Australians when none of us were able to get home to family, and they wanted to experience a Proper American Thanksgiving Dinner. Part of the fondness, I suspect, came from the fact that Australians–or at least, these two–drink a lot of wine, starting at about noon and continuing till past-pie. A really big part, I also suspect, came from the other fact that I was the only one of the three of us who actually knew how to cook a Proper American Thanksgiving Dinner (or had watched my mom do it for years; I’d never done it myself), so for the first time in my life I actually sort of had sous-chefs!. I didn’t have to peel potatoes or crush pecans or do any of that annoying stuff, I could give instructions and they followed…Mostly, the fondness is because they were just awesome women and it was a lovely lovely afternoon and evening.
Since that year, I’ve done a few Thanksgivings myself, spent a few more with my mom, a couple with my in-laws…I’m sort of getting the hang of this. And it’s just kind of fun.
This is the time of year when bloggers all over the sphere are posting their favorite Thanksgiving recipes, and I figured why not get in on the fun myself? My own spin on the holiday’s cooking is not terribly unique, but it’s still very much in keeping with all the recipes on this blog: I want maximum deliciousness, maximum wholefoodiness, minimum unhealthiness, minimum cost and work. I want a dinner I can pig out on and eat as much as I want and know that there’s not a whole stick of butter in anything I made, and that the grains are whole and the veggies fresh. I want one day to not have to think about portion control, with no accompanying guilt. (I don’t do guilt. Guilt causes stress, which is related to weight gain and all kinds of unhealthy things. )
So my plan over the next couple of weeks is to post most of the recipes I plan to make for Thanksgiving. The turkey recipe I probably won’t, because it comes from a cookbook and it would be sort of a copyright violation to post it–but I use the one from The New Basics Cookbook by the Silver Palate ladies–it involves a lot of port wine used to baste the bird and, especially if you forget and buy ruby instead of tawny port, produces this incredibly gorgeous almost glowy red-orange turkey–I know that sounds weird, but it’s really really pretty and very impressive to see and serve. (That’s a great cookbook, by the way–a little more chi-chi than I normally cook, but when I’m looking for something impressive to make for an event or whatever, it’s the first place I go. And it has lots of good basic information about staple cooking, like poultry, beans, a gajillion different squashes, stuff like that…) Or you could skip the cookbook, use your favorite turkey and stuffing recipe, add some port to it and just baste the bird with the wine along with the normal basting juices. (Makes a terrific gravy too…)
The other reason I’m not going to talk turkey much for these posts is that someone asked me a couple of weeks ago, “What do vegetarians do for Thanksgiving, anyway?” –the thing is, as much as Thanksgiving is theoretically structured around the turkey for many of us, the sides are (for me) what make Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. The mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the dressing, the antipastos, even the brussels sprouts. And of course the pies. Okay, yeah, on some level it wouldn’t seem like Thanksgiving without turkey…but on the other hand, it wouldn’t seem like Thanksgiving without any one of those recipes missing. (Okay, I can sort of live without the brussels sprouts.)
In my opinion, a meatless Thanksgiving would be really easy and delicious without even resorting to a Tofurkey (I’m sorry, no offense, but why bother?)–there’s so much good stuff, how can you even miss?
So: the “side by side” series, yummy holiday dishes (holiday, heck! Eat ’em all winter!) that are healthy and easy and make good leftovers…additions in the comments more than welcome!
(Click on the links for the rest of the series: potatoes in general, bourbon sweet potatoes, garlic smashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberry relish, and dinner rolls. And maybe I’ll even post some pie recipes…)