thanksgiving 2016

“This food has no love. I can’t eat it. It hurts my heart.” These words were said as fact by my dining partner, without judgement or pretentiousness, over a meal I shared in a little cafe in Belize nearly 15 years ago. They’ve echoed since and I’ve let meals go because they’ve had no love. When you cook, you put your energy into the food. There’s another old saying about not crying into the cake or you’ll make the whole party sad.

This year was the first year I celebrated Thanksgiving in my own home, cooking entirely on my own. My daughter shared the morning with me, but then was with her dad. There was definitely a level of bittersweet sadness as late morning began, but I was busy and found my joy in cooking. Ultimately, many people surrounded a table and we laughed and ate until our hearts and bellies were full.

Here are most of the the recipes:

No knead bread
http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread

Muhammara (I don’t use cumin)
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/muhammara-10982

GF cornbread in gf dressing
https://glutenfreegirl.com/2009/07/gluten-free-cornbread/

Kohlslaw recipe (fun fact: kohl is cabbage in German)

I recently discovered kool cabbage which has a sweeter flavor than the round cabbage we are accustomed to seeing at the grocery store. That’s what was used at Thanksgiving. I didn’t measure so much of this is go by taste.

In a big bowl:
6 C thinly shredded cabbage
1/4 – 1/3 C rice vinegar
1/4 C light oil (canola or vegetable)
1 bunch of minced fresh mint
salt & pepper to taste

Dig your hands into the mix and really squish it around … massage that cabbage. Best if you then move that whole mess to a storage bin that is slightly small … so you really have to squeeze it all in … and let it get to know itself overnight. Alternately, eat it straight out of the mixing bowl. Enjoy!

Dressing

2 skillets, a BIG bowl, large large baking dish

1/2 cup (1 Stick) Butter
1 black pepper
1/2 Large Onion, Diced
3 stalks Celery, Diced
2 carrots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Fresh sage, marjoram, thyme, minced for about 1 tsp each
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, bulk, not linked
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage, bulk not linked
Innards of turkey (neck, heart, lungs … yup, that’s what’s in that bag inside the turkey!)
~3 cups hot water
1/2 loaf gf cornbread
1 loaf no knead bread
1 baguette style french bread (the long, skinny loaf that people carry in baskets in cartoons about Paris)
1/2 bunch Parsley, Chopped
1 egg, 1/2 C heavy cream or milk mixed together
Salt and pepper to taste
extra butter to rub

+++

2 skillets:

In one skillet: Place butter in cast iron skillet (or another large skillet), allow to melt. Add pepper. Cook for about 1 minute. Add veggies and spices. Cook on low till butter is melted and everything is melded together. Everything will be softened.

In the other skillet: cook the sausage on low-med, mashing it so it’s in bite-size bits, til it makes crackly sounds … trust me, something about cooking it til it crackles makes it amazing.

Next, add the sausage & innards to the veggies. Let cook a few minutes to slightly brown the innards. Add water. Cover and cook on low for about 30-45 minutes (braising the innards pulls wonderful flavor out of them). After 30-45 minutes, remove the innards (if you have a cat or dog, chop up the innards and add to pet food over next couple meals). Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

BIG bowl:

Place about 1/3 of the bread in a BIG bowl. Cover with about 1/3 veggie/meat mixture. Mix well. Repeat. Add milk/egg, parsley, and final 1/3 of veggie/meat (NOT the last bit of bread). Mix well. The mixture should be a little wet and make a sound that resembles walking through mud just after a rainstorm. Add enough bread that the mixture is still moist, but sounds more like light mud. The bread should be dampened, but not soggy.

Pre-heat oven to 350-deg.

Butter a big baking dish. Add dressing. Bake till hot through.

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