Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Let's see if I can write about Thanksgiving before Christmas arrives. We had a white Thanksgiving this year, especially at my parents' house atop a mountain, which was laden with a foot of snow. As usual, I spent all of Wednesday cooking. I like to get things done early so I can sleep in and just reheat dishes on Thanksgiving. My mom made the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cake. I made the rest of the sides, and other relatives brought more desserts.

Green bean, chickpea and carrot salad

Every year it's a challenge to find a way to prepare the green beans stored in the freezer from my mother's garden. They always tend to defrost mushier than expected. This salad worked, but next year I think I'll try a more traditional green bean casserole, which I've never done before.

Thinly slice half a red onion and sauté it on low heat until caramelized. Chop a few large carrots into small cubes and roast until lightly browned and tender. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Chop a few handfuls of green beans into small 1-2 inch pieces. In batches, blanch the green beans by briefly steaming, placing in cold water and then draining. Whisk a dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.  Gently combine all ingredients and stir in the dressing to lightly coat.

Roasted brussels sprouts

Such a family favorite that my grandfather mentioned them in his speech at my wedding!

Same salad salad as last year. This continues to be my favorite kale salad to make.

Roasted sweet potatoes with honey and sage

I tried to double the honey from last year's method for sage leaf sweet potatoes. What a mistake - the sugars quickly burned the pan and the bottoms of the sweet potatoes, while the potatoes were nowhere near cooked through. I was able to salvage them by slicing off the burned edges and coating in olive oil and a sprinkling of dried sage and then continuing to bake for a while. I want to find a new sweet potato recipe for next year. I like Rachel's idea of baking them whole first and then chopping and fancying them up with additional ingredients.

Whole wheat buttermilk biscuits

I usually make rolls but have always wanted to try my hand at biscuits. Through my research, I learned that biscuit dough should be made immediately before baking for maximum rise. And said biscuits should then be served immediately while warm and fresh, since they will turn somewhat stale by the next day. To avoid making a floury mess in the last hour before Thanksgiving dinner, when the kitchen is a flurry of people arriving, turkey carving and foods reheating, I chose to make them ahead and freeze them.

Working with the Kitchn's recipe, I grated a stick of frozen butter, soured milk with vinegar in place of buttermilk, and included 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour. Even though they were only frozen a day, it felt worth it to be able to easily pop the frozen biscuits on a pan to bake right before dinner. This method is not supposed to affect rise. However, my biscuits weren't as fluffy as ideal - but I don't know if that was because I used whole wheat flour, because I rolled them too thin, or from the freezing method.

My new joint Thanksgiving tradition with my husband tends to be a three day affair of food and fun, involving Thanksgiving with my parents, then a hunt and game bird feast on Friday (it was our first time back at the farm since our wedding in June), followed by birthday celebrations on Saturday. My mother-in-law and I happen to share our birthday at the end of Novemebr. 2014 is a milestone birthday for both of us, so this year we also had a big party for her over Thanksgiving weekend.


  1. Awesome spread of food! My mom and I have made some major changes to our diets lately and have, therefore, had to do some experimental cooking lately. My mom has started freezing her green beans whole and raw and, let me tell you, it is the trick! We've decided to do a lot more freezing next year. They are fantastic either roasted or sauteed with some onions. I highly recommend it. Also, sweet potatoes have now become a staple of our diet. All other spuds are off the list. Although I love them pan fried, my second fave is to chop them into cubes, roast them with olive oil and then sprinkle generously with feta cheese and pumpkin seeds when they come out of the oven. Yummmm.
    I still want to try your kale salad. I think I'm just concerned with how tough and bitter kale can be. I'm going to try it though. It looks so good.

  2. We had the pleasure of leftover kale salad and it was delicious.