Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Musings (and a Recipe)

I was inspired by Kim to make my own pre-Thanksgiving post. My family’s traditional thanksgiving meal is a pretty all-American, meat-and-potatoes sort of affair. My dad handled the turkey (with my sister Carrie eagerly assisting--stuffing and handling that raw bird while Courtney and I looked on with disgust). He also made the stuffing, mashed potatoes and store-bought gravy, while my mom would make her infamous “yams” (sweet potatoes with a bunch of brown sugar and butter). Cranberry sauce (homemade) supplied by my brother-in-law. Add some canned corn and some Pillsbury biscuits, and dinner was served. My dad also made dessert: usually an apple pie or two (fresh filling, but a pre-packaged crust) and a peach pie (canned peaches + pre-packaged crust)…

Not that there’s anything wrong with any of this. This meal has deep-rooted traditions and we all happily dined upon all of its yeasty, starchy glory.

But a few years ago, the official pie torch was passed along to me, after I brazenly declared that I wanted to make “real” pie crust. So for the past few years, I’ve made a crumble-top apple pie, as well as a more traditional one too.

Last year was my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian, so I wanted to bring some more health-conscious and veggie-friendly dishes. I made a hearty vegetable soup for lunch (since we don’t typically eat T-day dinner ‘til 6 or 7, because Carrie & co. lunch with her in-laws), and some roasted root vegetables.

This year, I’m taking Wednesday off work and going to bake 4 (FOUR!) pies - we’re expecting a few guests for dessert (Courtney’s boyfriend’s family & my dad’s Arizona ladyfriend). I am going to  roast a real pumpkin for a pumpkin pie (instead of canned), but I haven’t settled on a recipe just yet. And 2 apple pies and a to-be-determined 4th pie (if you have a knock-out recipe you’d like to share, please do).

I’m also going to make a soup again for lunch (maybe that bean soup from last week) and pumpkin garlic knots (to take the place of the pillbury rolls). And a pistachio/cranberry goat cheese log for snackin’. Oh, and I got myself a Gardein fake turkey thingy for my “main course” (although I feel somewhat guilty about relying on something store-bought. If I am pretty under control on the pie front on Wednesday, I may make myself a shepherd’s pie instead…)

I hope I’m not coming across as some sort of food elitist – my dad works his butt off every Thanksgiving to prepare the meal (he makes my mom’s Yams now, too). But I’ve gained such a greater awareness about my food over the past year & a half, and I want to see if I can add a little bit of my influence to the family meal.

What is your family dinner like?

Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple and Green Onions

Serves 8-10

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
3 large beets, peeled, quartered
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
2 carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 2-inch-long pieces –the thin ones with green tops taste best
2 parsnips, peeled, halved or quartered lengthwise and cut into 2-inch-long pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red onion, peeled, quartered through root end
Brussels sprouts
1 small butternut squash, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix oil, syrup and garlic in small bowl. Place all remaining ingredients except butter, green onions, and additional syrup on heavy large rimmed baking sheet. (You may want to cover the baking sheet with foil). Pour oil mixture over; toss to coat. Spread out vegetables in single layer. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer vegetables to platter. Drizzle vegetables with butter and a little more maple syrup. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and serve immediately.


The Blonde Mule said...

Four pies? Wow! You're such a good cook, I know everything you make will be delicious & well received. I wouldn't worry about coming across as an elitist. I can't imagine that anyone who knows you would ever consider you a snob. Plus, it's nice that you care enough about your family to attempt to provide them healthier options. Yay, Thanksgiving!

catsandyarn said...

I feel you on the veggie front. We are so lucky paul's parents make us veggie chicken stuffing every year. that is the main course. I usually eat so much it's painful.