Sunday, November 25, 2012

here's to george. he didn't die. (a nearly vegetarian gluten free thanksgiving with a swiss fella and an australian couple)

fall is always about family. starting in september, we have family birthdays all the way to november. and then there's thanksgiving.

home sweet home

it might not sound too terribly unlike anyone else's family. after all, thanksgiving is a time of reflection and celebration. but in my family, it's also a time to be thankful that george didn't die.

soule mandalageorge was a teacher who came over on the mayflower. tracing the menfolk, my line goes thusly: George, George, William, George, Benjamin, Ebenezer, Stephen, Justus, Melville, Earle, John. john was my mom's dad.

when i was little, i thought it was the Coolest Thing Ever. as i got older, and learned about genocide (and other fun atrocities), i realised just how distorted the story was. it's not like the pilgrims showed up and everyone got together with the natives and they held hands and were BFFs. That's the vision we're taught in kindergarten. at least that's how my generation was taught. pre-Howard Zinn. (to be fair, my parents were always honest with me; we were not strangers to Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, and my mother introduced me to Ishi at a fairly young age). from a very early age, indeed as far back as i can remember, ive been a part of this history. history is real. history gave me life.

my, arent we hot stuff? 
and this is why i love thanksgiving.

well, that and it's a chance to make glorious food. after all, the origins of thanksgiving stem from a 3 day fête of merrymaking and feasting.

no matter where in the world i'm living, i make sure i have a thanksgiving.

in my family, just like in most USAian families, there are certain staples that are Just Necessary. we are a green bean casserole free household, but we always have dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry, and pumpkin pie. oh, and turkey.

thanksgiving in China, 2008 
i have very fond memories of my chinese thanksgivings wherein i made stuffing and mashed potatoes to share with my students. one year the chef from the teacher's cafeteria wanted to make us a turkey and pie. i have no idea where he found a turkey, and they had to split it in half for it to fit in the oven, but he was quite pleased with himself. the pie wasnt half bad either. a student translated our family recipe and he took some creative license with it.

but all the USAians appreciated the pie. a can of cranberry was shipped to china and we shared a special moment with just us and the red glop.

this year, the mister and i shared thanksgiving with two aussies. nicola made the pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes (and a roast chicken for them), and i took on the rest.


we nearly had a cranberry crisis. apparently, and much to the surprise of the shopkeeps who were not understanding why people with a crazed look in their eye kept surfacing and asking for the berry, the cranberries were sold out and the latest shipment had not arrived. but cranberries were eventually found, quite at the last moment, and there was much rejoicing. and kisses. lots of thank you kisses were given. to the mister. not the berries.

this year i used alton brown's recipe as my muse. i altered it thusly:
1/2ish cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4ish cup honey
IMG_65774ish cups cranberries

i also made a roasted mushroom stock for our gravy and for the dressing.

 this year the dressing was altered once again. i do keep the basic frame of the treasured family recipe, but i am a trouble-maker. because nicola is a celiac, and i dont make it a habit to poison my friends, i decided to use half GF bread, and half cornbread. i made the cornbread much differently than my usual because i wanted it to be more corny.

1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup GF all purpose flour
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon honey
2 tbsp olive oil

IMG_6560then, because i cant just change one thing, i steamed and peeled chestnuts, browned some butter with fresh sage, and added celery.

then i stuffed it into onion shells.

that's what im talkin about right there.

i roasted some butternut squash and made an apple compote with dried cranberries and fennel to glop on top.

dried cranberries
1 apple
1 fennel bulb
1 cup apple juice
splash of Calvados
throw all ingredients into a pot and cook until it seems right.

i then prepped the salmon dish.


i made a glaze with balsamic vinegar and rosemary honey, and dredged some carrots and fennel in that. i cut a pocket into the salmon and stuffed it full of sauteed leeks and garlic, and some chopped pear.

IMG_6583by that time, my sweet potaters were cooked through, so i smashed 'em, threw in some pecan chunks, and squeezed in some orange juice and zest.  once we got to nicola's house, we covered the potatoes with greek yogurt and goat cheese.  we also had a cranberry cocktail (gin cosmo!).  and bananananana cake.
almost ready! missing the sweet potatos (still in oven!) and chicken 

and then! things were shoved in the oven, potatoes were mashed with garlic and sour cream, gravy was made with cornstarch, and we laughed a lot.

we had wine.  we ate. we had more wine.  we ate.  we had some wine.  we ate.

and then.
aaaaaaand then.
aaaaaaaaaaaand theeeeeen.

there was pie.


nicola did a gorgeous job.

plus we got to take some home. pie for breakfast? damn right. the mister says this is a tradition he can embrace. he also asked if we could have pumpkin pie for breakfast every day.

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