Taking a little cooking break.
My mom usually hosts Thanksgiving.
She is a glorious over-cooker. Within her circle, she’s legendary for it. It totally comes from a place of love. She wants to make sure that every person who has come to her house will leave full, regardless of their tastes or dietary requirements. So Thanksgiving at her place, yes, includes turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and yams and brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce. But it also probably includes vegetarian gravy and vegetarian stuffing and bread rolls and broccoli-cheese and corn and peas and salad. And there will be the wild cards of at least two recipes from the latest issue of Fine Cooking. Dessert will have the traditional pumpkin pie, pecan pie and apple pie. But if the crowd is big, there might be something chocolate too, just in case the chocolate lovers feel somehow deprived.
One time she hosted a pretty big Thanksgiving dinner – I think there were maybe 20 people or so. She actually forgot to bring out the turkey for over half an hour. No one noticed. It’s like that. When people say to me (and they really really do), “Oh, you’re vegetarian? What do you eat?”, I just laugh.
This year, Mom’s in Europe, so we’re staying home for Thanksgiving. They don’t even have Thanksgiving in Australia, so my husband would have been content to let it pass by, but I felt like doing it, so we invited over a couple of friends and I’m hosting and cooking my first ever Thanksgiving. But I will not do turkey. Raw meat does not enter my kitchen. Especially not raw meat that involves giblets. (Blergh.)
I was raised in my mother’s kitchen, so I share her syndrome. But I fight it, mostly successfully. It helps that my kitchen is smaller and I have fewer pots to work with.
I have a receptive audience tonight, I think. There are only four of us. One of our guests is Iranian, and I don’t think she has strong thoughts on what a traditional Thanksgiving dinner should look like. The other one managed to survive quite well at our vegetarian wedding, so I’m pretty sure he’ll handle it like a trooper.
I’m trying almost all new recipes this year. Here’s my menu:
- Grilled Peach Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella and Arugula – I actually couldn’t find arugula, so I’m using a mesclun mix instead. I find mozzarella a little boring, so I’m going to use shaved asiago in its place. And we don’t have a barbecue, so I’m just going to roast the peaches. And I might roast the onions a little with them, because I find raw onions a little bitey. Close enough though. – The flavours in this were ok, but the recipe makes way too much dressing and I used it all and it made a really wet salad. I would probably halve it at least if I were to make this again. Also, I’m not sure asiago was the right cheese choice, so would probably try something else.
- Caramelized Brussels Sprouts – I’m mostly leaving this recipe alone, although I’m going to add a titch of butter and I think I’ll include the brown sugar in the cooking process instead of at the end. – This recipe was fine, but I’ve had much better. Probably won’t make it again.
- Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes There was no picture for this one. I’m subbing in rosemary for thyme, but otherwise keeping this like it says. – Ok. I burnt and threw out half of these. But the ones that survived were excellent. I will definitely make this again. (I think I put in about four times as many chili flakes as the recipe called for.)
- Cauliflower mushroom gratin – No link for this. It’s my grandma’s recipe. It’s yummy. You’ll just have to imagine. – Ok, on request, here’s the recipe – don’t judge.
- Chop a head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and steam until tender. Meanwhile, slice and fry up a big handful of mushrooms.
- In a big bowl, mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 tin cream of mushroom soup, 1 Tbsp curry, 1 cup grated cheddar.
- Stir everything together. Bake uncovered in a dish at 350 for 30 minutes.
- Mashed Potatoes – I’m adding asiago and roasted garlic to this. – This was good, but I think it’s a pretty standard recipe, so I wasn’t expecting surprises anyway.
- Pumpkin Pie – I just took this recipe for this off the side of the can. I doubled the cinnamon and added a bit of vanilla, but otherwise it’s the same. – I always use this method. It’s always reliable.
I think it’ll be good. I promise to report back if any of the recipes are duds. Wish me luck!