22 November 2013

Top Five Friday: Creative Thanksgiving Side Dishes

To invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being for as long as they are under our roofs.
~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy

In November, I am continuing to participate in the Two Pages-a-Day writing challenge.  And I must have been abducted by aliens who replaced my brain with rocks, because I’m also doing NaNoWriMo for the first time.  Someone get this girl a drink!!

rom the time I was able to butter a biscuit, I learned that Southern hospitality is intimately entwined around food.   

It doesn’t matter if you ate at Aunt Ruth’s five minutes ago.  You’re at Aunt Pat’s now, and she’s just pulled her famous corn pudding out of the oven.

We love you, therefore you will eat.
And if you don’t eat, you either
1. Don’t love us 
2. Don’t like the food

Either way, something is seriously wrong with you.

Despite ~ or perhaps because of ~ navigating this emotional and gastronomical mine field, I look forward to hosting friends and loved ones with culinary glee.  I’m happiest when I’m feeding people and making them feel relaxed and welcome.

The expectations for warmth, love, peace, and affection are astronomical this time of year.  Add to that, the decrease in sunlight, and it’s no surprise that people suffer from depression and anxiety.  A lot of times, this can happen even when one is surrounded by family. 

Okay, let’s be honest, sometimes it happens because one is surrounded by family!
Squash and Roasted Mushrooms
Image Credit: Gourmet.com

But when you have no family, it’s tough for a different reason.  So every Thanksgiving, I try to host a few holiday orphans ~ friends without family in the area.  This year’s guest list includes friends who haven’t been out to my place in the country, as well as the famous Fallen Sparrow, who will be wear a chef hat and assisting me in the kitchen.

Squash will never be the same.

I’ll post the menu next week once it’s finalized, but since we’ll all be shopping this weekend for most of the items for the big feast, here are my top five “To try out on my unsuspecting eager friends” recipes for Thanksgiving.

All these recipes and more can be found on my Pinterest board – Autumn

A friend just posted on Facebook today how much she hates cranberry sauce.  I’ll agree ~ canned cranberry sauce has always struck me as odd and unnatural.  Sort of like those gelatin salads of the 1950s.  This cranberry sauce will erase those horrific childhood memories of quivering blobs of reddish stuff.

As much as possible, I like to eat in season.  And I love winter squash.  I plan on making my famous Butternut Squash Soup, but Sparrow also loves spaghetti squash, so I think this will be a great way to highlight the lovely golden gourd.

Everyone has their special way of making the anchor piece of the meal: the turkey (or ham/pheasant/goose/deer/groundhog ~ wait, what?!)  But I’m highlighting sides because whipping up creative sides is  always an issue.  Especially for people who think vegetables are boring.

It’s one of the reasons I like juicing mine so much ~ easier to swallow.

Stuffing is sacred.  I know this, but I like to play with it anyway.  Especially since at least three of my guests are gluten-free.  This recipe is not gluten free but it can easily be made so.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the brand of my favorite gluten-free “bread” crumbs.  I’ll update this post once I remember.

Replace the chicken stock with vegetable and leave out the eggs, and you have vegan stuffing.

Pumpkin Pie Rugelach – Serious Eats
I know I just said that I was talking mostly about creative sides, but pumpkin is a squash, so this counts.  Sort of.

Also, Thanksgiving actually marks the beginning of Hanukkah this year.

This recipe is not vegan or gluten-free.  I would use the tofu based “cream cheese” but processed soy in this country is mostly GMO and phtyo-estrogens aren’t good for me or my guests anyway.  The cream cheese goes into the dough, so I may try substituting lard ~ after all, this recipe is already non-vegan. 

Might as well go all the way.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What are you serving for Thanksgiving this year?  Are you trying any new recipes or sticking with the tried and true?

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