Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thinking About Thanksgiving

A few days shy of a year ago I started exploring the world of food blogging. The very first blog posts I wrote was about Thanksgiving, a holiday that has always filled me with conflict. On the one hand I think about our country's terrible history and the criminal treatment of native peoples, and on the other the fabulous food, the gathering of family and friends and a time to reflect and be thankful.

A lot has happened since the blog post of Thanksgiving 2009. I recently was asked to submit some Thanksgiving recipes to the new Elm City Market website, (a new food coop that is going to open). It prompted me to go back and look at what I cooked last year. Since I only had about 20 readers when I posted these recipes last year, I figured it couldn't hurt to take another look at it, and that you all might want to check it out too: Thanksgiving 2009 Menu. There are some fun recipes in that post, and I made the bold move of cutting up my bird and searing and cooking the turkey in pieces, it was delicious.

I'm still trying to figure out what the menu is for this year, still tossing ideas around. So far, I know we'll have turkey (from my friends new farm, very exciting!), flageolet beans with roasted mushrooms for the vegetarian protein, and, a fabulous salad and a butter-free apple and nut tart from my mom. The rest is yet to be determined.

When I am planning a meal I find inspiration in a lot of places. I jot down flavors, dishes or ingredients that seem appealing. I check out what produce is in the markets or from local farms. Then I flip through some cookbooks, look at a few websites such as Saveur or Epicurious for additional ideas. I might see a great idea for a pie or a new side dish, or I might be reminded of a spice or an ingredient I haven't used for a while. In my line up for inspirations for this year so far are:

Brussel Sprout Salad - shaved raw brussel sprouts tossed with lemon, nuts and pecorino, not sure I'll do this combination, but I love the shaved raw brussels with lemon and ......?
Beets - red or golden if I can still find some at the market. I love them roasted or steamed, then sliced with some good vinegar and tarragon.
Corn Pudding - I'm testing out a few recipes to find a good one, since I never documented the one from last year. When I refine one I'll share, but for an idea of what I'm talking about click here.
Canadian Butter Tarts - a great recipe I have been making for years. kind of like individual pecan pies but with raisins rather than pecans, and delicious!
Pomegranate Molasses and East or North African spices - I love pomegranate molasses and haven't used it in a while, a friend and reader is using it in her cranberry sauce this year, which reminded me to consider it, and I was thinking about using some complex dried spice combinations such as those found in Moroccan or Egyptian cooking, also reminded of this by a friend, an Egyptian neighbor who pulled out an impressive folder of Thanksgiving recipes from years past.

I seem to struggle every year with which delicious starches to cook: biscuits? Candied yams? Mashed potatoes? Stuffing? Corn pudding? Gougeres? We can't possibly eat all of that, especially, since we have 3 gluten free folks at the table. The one thing I am certain of is that before we dig in, we all hold hands and give thanks for the good things in our lives, family, friends, food, a home, the earth and farmers that grew our food, the animals that gave their lives, and anything else that comes to mind. It always feels important to take a moment to be thankful for the goodness in our lives, no matter how small.
So, good luck to all of you setting out to cook Thanksgiving dinner! Please feel free to comment here with questions, thoughts or inspirations!  Happy cooking and eating!
To read the Thanksgiving 2009 post, click here

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