Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Day Round-Up

Thanksgiving. A holiday focused on food, family, food, getting together, food, telling stories, food, and more food. I mentioned the food, right? 

My Leftovers Day Plate


I only had class on Monday this week, so much of my time was spent cleaning, cooking, and nervously awaiting the arrival of our other guests. We were eight around the table: Mama Dazz, the Burt-man, Grandpa B, Grandma D, Uncle Rich, myself, and the boyfriend’s father and brother. He came later in the evening, back from his five-day excursion in Mexico.  The energy at the table was enormous, and food was plentiful and beyond delicious. It wasn’t completely Morri friendly, and being grain-free and sweetener free made it slightly more difficult (I indulged with a sliver of pie), but the food that I could and did eat did not leave me wanting. Plus, it was my first Thanksgiving back from Sweden, so I was just tickled pink to be there.

First and foremost, the Turkey, a bird named after the country the English believed it originated (The Turks called it the Hindu, I think, though the bird comes from Northern America). We typically buy the all-natural Trader Joe’s turkey each year, which came with its own brine. Only, upon further inspection, I realized that the brine wasn’t Morri friendly because of the sugar, so we ended up getting the smaller and yes, more expensive Kosher bird. 

Regardless, it was totally worth the extra few bucks, because not only did it taste amazing but it occurred to us that maybe the bird was raised and fed differently due to its, uh, Kosher-ness. It wasn’t some hulking, too-big-for-its-own-legs, obese thing. It was smaller, with some of the feathers in the skin, and juicier than I remember turkey ever being. Next year, I’m going to look in buying a Morri friendly bird online and see where that goes.

As I was going grain-free, I decided not to make a gluten free stuffing which, until I got sick earlier this month, I was making it with a spoon bread base. Instead of putting it in the bird it was baked like a huge bread pudding and a whole onion was put in its place. The onion was my “stuffing”.

There were two kinds of greens, my Uncle Rich’s infamous collard greens, cooked with salted fatback, water, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, and I made green beans with a delish twist, and whose recipe will be posted shortly.

Like many Thanksgiving dinners around the United States, our menu was rather heavy on the carbohydrates, but I think we did rather well in bringing color and balance to the table. Instead of mashed potatoes, we went with “small” sweet potatoes, baked at 400 ºF for 1.5 to 2 hours. The result is a caramelized and sticky exterior with a gooey middle that melts in your mouth. 

We had two sauces, turkey gravy and cranberry sauce, both homemade, grain-free, and definitely not out of a can. I'm doing my best not to brag too inanely, but our cranberry sauce was beyond amazing, and I wish I had written down the recipe (we used this one for inspiration). Mama Dazz started off with two bags of fresh cranberries, used two cups of orange juice instead of water to cook them, and finished it off with fresh orange pieces and walnuts. Before adding sugar to the whole thing she poured a bit into two ramekins, one for me and one for Grandma D, who has diabetes. I personally liked it unsweetened, but she used a sweetener for hers.

Except for the turkey and Uncle Rich’s collards, I was surprised that most of the things I put on my plate (and made) were vegan. Then again, since everything was mixed into a tasty jamboree of flavors, I guess it wasn’t so vegan after all. Oh well…

As for drinks, I made two kinds of ice tea, Irish Breakfast (caffeinated) and Green Rooibos (non-caffeinated), and poured them into wine bottles for a change of pace. We also had chilled white wines, a 2010 Da Vinci Chianti Big Sergey brought (along with pink roses), and sparkling apple cider. 

Mama Dazz's Apple-Quince Pie (Not GF)
Mama Dazz's Sorghum Pecan Pie (Not GF)

Dessert was a Thanksgiving feast in its own right, with four (count 'em, four) different pies, vanilla ice cream, homemade unsweetened whipped cream, and lots of coffee. Mama Dazz made Grandma D her own special single-serving berry pie as one, but she also made pecan pie and an apple-quince pie for the gluten eating crowd. I made a gluten-free pumpkin pie with a dairy free filling, using the second half of the pie crust recipe I made for last month’s Gluten Free Ratio Rally.

Grandma D's Three Berry Pie
My GF Pumpkin Pie!

It was weird having pie, with its not-so-much grain-free crust and honey sweetened filling, not to mention eating more than one fruit serving a day (the cranberry sauce was my second serving). After we picked him up from the airport, I ate a tiny sliver of my pie while he ate a reheated plate of amazing deliciousness. I felt loopy and slightly intoxicated after that, and my stomach didn’t know what to make of it. It wasn’t a bad feeling, though I did feel off. I think having a grain-free/sweetener free/limited fruit servings diet for a while may help, but it may end up becoming a long-term thing. FiveLac has been helpful; I just don’t want to take 3 – 6 packets every day for the rest of my life. And as long as I have garbanzo bean flour, I'm golden.

All in all, this Thanksgiving gave me a lot to be thankful for; you know, besides being thankful for the family I have. For my birthday I have this idea that, for every year after my birthday that’s the number of hours I give to doing community service (i.e., I’m twenty-two, so this year I do at minimum twenty-two hours). I am thankful that my lifestyle enables me to do that. I am thankful for the world I live in, for the people in it, and for the life I lead. I am thankful for every experience, every lesson, every mistake, and every success. I am thankful for my education, for my job, and for my bright today and the tomorrows that follow.

I am thankful for this year’s harvest, whatever that may be.

I end this post with a Happy Day After Thanksgiving to you all. May you have food in your cupboards and pantries all year long, a roof over your heads and a fireplace to keep you warm and dry, and finally, an open heart that grows with each passing day.

Dijon Green Beans with Almonds and Mushrooms (adapted from this recipe)

1 lb 8 oz French-cut green beans, preferably frozen
10 oz Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 oz Almond slivers
1 oz Coconut oil
5 Garlic cloves, left whole
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/2 tsp. Cracked pepper
Dash nutmeg
2 oz Dijon mustard

Put a large pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil.
Sautee the mushrooms, almond slivers, and the garlic cloves until thoroughly cooked and browned (careful, though, the almonds can burn if you are not watching).
Add in the green beans and stir until the ingredients are completely integrated.
Cover the pan with a lid and lower the heat to medium or medium-low for up to three minutes.
Pour in the spices and Dijon mustard in the final minutes of cooking (i.e. the green beans are still a vibrant green and lukewarm).
After it has cooked, let it sit for five minutes before serving.

Serves 8 – 10 people as a side dish, with a very likely chance of leftovers.

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