Posts tagged ‘thanksgiving’

December 2, 2019

Thanksgiving Keeps On Giving at Cooking2Thrive

Thanksgiving keeps on giving by warming our hearts and our bellies. This week, I’m focussing on the role of food in this process. When we’re hungry, it’s hard to feel anything but tired and irritable. When it’s cold, a warm bowl of pasta can set the stage for gratitude on many levels.
pasta
Yesterday, I decided to use some of my Thanksgiving leftovers to create dairy-free pasta sauce. Many Cooking2Thrive recipes begin this way. The process goes something like this:

The idea centered around what was available in my kitchen. For the base, I used two cups of broth leftover from making stuffing. To this I added water, half an onion, a couple of pieces of bacon, two large fresh sage leaves, two sprigs of fresh thyme, garlic powder, salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a dash of cayenne.

When I first cook a recipe, I don’t measure. I just cook. I use sight, smell, and taste to get the proportions right.

I considered thickening my sauce with corn starch but decided I’d rather try using potatoes. I peeled and cubed two Irish potatoes. Once I’d added these to the broth, I brought it to a boil and then let it simmer until the potatoes were falling apart.

I removed the onion, bacon, and fresh herbs and let the broth cool. Of course, I tasted it as well. It was delicious! I considered just eating it as soup with or without adding some leftover turkey. For the ideal soup, I would probably cook the potatoes a little less, add a hint of curry powder, and throw in some frozen green peas.

Once the broth had cooled sufficiently, I put it in a food processor and pureed the mixture. Actually, I just have a small food chopper so I have to do this in stages. At the end, I returned the puree to the pan and turned the heat on low.

While I was doing this, I cooked some gluten-free egg noodles in lightly salted water. This gave me plenty of time to cube two cups of leftover turkey and add it to the sauce to warm. When the pasta was done, I drained it and topped it with the sauce.

The result was hearty, warm, rich and creamy enough to be pleasing without including cream, milk, cheese, or non-dairy substitutes. The flavors are pulled from Thanksgiving, but the combination provides enough variety to prevent leftover flavor fatigue.

Green peas would also be a good addition to the pasta sauce. I almost always have some in the freezer. They cook quickly so adding them into the puree along with the turkey should allow ample cooking time. If I were adding them, I would cover the pan while it simmers.

After tasting a recipe, or eating two helpings, I sit down at the computer and record what I did. To some degree, I’m guessing how much salt I added, but I’ve followed this process for years creating and testing recipes so it’s an educated guess.

I also taste the dish again warm and cold. I note both taste and texture and add notes of things I may want to try next time I cook the dish. This process will be repeated until the recipe is right. Along the way, we get input from tasters and testers. These include friends, family, neighbors, and volunteers as well as professional bakers and chefs.

Sometimes a recipe only requires our minimal triple testing. Other times, it takes more than 10 trials to get it right. If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Yes, sometimes it’s frustrating, but it’s also like solving a puzzle with delicious food as the reward.

We are grateful to have food to put on the table, rework and put on the table again. We are grateful to have input from people who help us improve. We are grateful for those of you who follow us.

And for all of this, we give thanks knowing Thanksgiving keeps on giving!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/food-junkie/201807/the-many-health-benefits-soup

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/im-going-let-thanksgiving-kickoff-new-year-filled-gratitude/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/new-life-for-leftovers/

November 17, 2019

Healthy, Easy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu

This year I need a healthy, easy gluten-free Thanksgiving menu. In the past two weeks, my family has lost two members. We have traveled to visit relatives in hospice care and to plan and attend funerals. We are weary from the travel, the organizational details, and the loss. When I was a child in a small town, the community would have been feeding us. Now we’re spread out everywhere with no central place to deposit casseroles. At moments, it is hard to function through the sadness. There’s no way I can face a full fledged Thanksgiving production in less than two weeks.

Conventional wisdom might be to buy prepared food, but I still prefer homemade and with four gluten-free and family members, the research to find appropriate prepared food sounds exhausting. My solution is to create a healthy, easy gluten-free menu.

I often use holidays as an opportunity to test a recipe. That’s off the table this year. I want to serve dishes that can be prepped, or possibly prepped and cooked, in advance so that I can do a little each day for a week rather than have a marathon kitchen session.
green beans
With that in mind, here’s my menu:

Turkey – I’m going to stick with turkey because the cooking time may be long, but the prep time is minimal. I use a roasting bag to keep the turkey moist. That means there’s no need for continual basting. I flour the bag with sweet white sorghum or gluten-free oat flour and stuff the turkey with a halved apple, celery sticks, and a halved orange. The only other prep is to remove the neck and giblets, rinse the turkey, pat it dry, and lightly oil it with olive oil. You can add herbs or seasoning as well, but I don’t bother and the result is always delicious.

Green Beans and New Potatoes – Green beans are available during any season. I wash them. Then I break the beans into smaller pieces using three containers (washed beans, prepped beans, discarded ends) and the footstool in front of my couch. The lack of need for other tools means I can binge watch while prepping. That makes it seem less like work. These can be cooked in advance and rewarmed Thanksgiving Day.

Baked Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are traditional and healthy when served baked rather than candied. Baking can be done in the oven or the microwave. I like to eat these with nothing but butter added, but I will serve them with a bowl of brown sugar in case someone else desires a sweet topping.

Corn – Rather than cleaning corn on the cob, I’ll use frozen corn. It can be cooked in a matter of minutes and only needs a dash of salt and a pat of butter to be ready to serve.

Orange Cranberry Relish – The only ingredients in this are oranges, cranberries, and sugar. My grandmother served it every Thanksgiving and my sister is usually willing to make it.

Rolls – This is not the year for extensive baking. A local bakery sells frozen Brazilian cheese rolls (Pão de Queijo) that we can pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes just before the meal.

Dessert – I haven’t settled on dessert yet, but I’m considering a version of orange pecan cake. It’s simple, low carb, and delicious.
orange cake
Optional
Cornbread Stuffing – I live in the South where cornbread stuffing is the traditional version. It’s easy to make it gluten-free and the cornbread can be made days in advance. Nonetheless, I haven’t decided whether it will make the final menu. I’m going to wait a few days and see how I feel. It complements the turkey and we all love it, but with rolls on the table, it isn’t essential.

Appetizers – On a normal year, I’d have appetizers to snack on while we visit before our meal. Those might include stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, sausage balls, party mix or something else that requires cooking. If I offer appetizers this year, they will consist of a relish tray or antipasto with gluten-free crackers.

While I realize there’s no green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, corn pudding, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, or pecan pie on this menu, many of the flavors of the most common Thanksgiving dishes are represented. The preparations I’ve chosen for those flavors are more simple and appropriate for a difficult year.

For me, taking this approach is less stressful than trying to purchase appropriate pre-cooked, gluten-free food. I will order groceries through an online app minimizing my shopping time and further streamlining the process.

Whether you choose an elaborate production or a meal in a restaurant, I wish you a peaceful and happy holiday!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

https://www.reynoldskitchens.com/products/cookware/oven-bags/

https://www.oceanspray.com/en/Recipes/By-Course/Sauces-Sides-and-Salads/Fresh-Cranberry-Orange-Relish

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/does-flourless-cake-have-to-be-chocolate/

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November 19, 2018

Cough Drop Pep Talk for Thanksgiving?

Do I really need a cough drop pep talk for Thanksgiving? Why does my cough drop wrapper say, “A PEP TALK IN EVERY DROP” anyway? If I have fever high enough to think cough drops talk, I need something besides a pep talk. The pesky little ovals don’t stop there. They advise me to “Buckle down and push forth!”; “Power Through!”; and “Seize the day.” Whaaat?
coughdrop
Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because I can’t sleep, my throat hurts, and my ear is full of fluid. Eating green beans, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and oranges may be culinary medicine, but they aren’t doing the trick to kick this virus. Now, I’m out of food and I don’t want to get out in the cold to go to the store.

Should I take the cough drop wrapper’s advice and power through? After all, I just have a cold, not the flu. OMG, I’m rhyming in a blog post – I must be sick. That aside, I don’t like clothes with affirmations on the tags or wrappers that tell me what to do. It’s not that I mind affirmations, I just don’t like them in my clothes. It makes me feel like a walking fortune cookie. And it’s not that I don’t sometimes need to be told to buck up, I just don’t want that advice from something I take when I’m sick. It seems inappropriate.

If the wrapper said, “A delicious complement to hot tea.” or “Stay home and sleep.” or “A warm snuggle for your throat!” or “Take time to heal.”, perhaps I could get behind wrapper advice. But telling me to be unstoppable is really bad advice when I’m ill.

The people following that advice are more likely to go to work, church, and the store, sick. They’re more likely to stay stick longer. They’re more likely to be too tired to do their best at work or be as safe a driver as usual on the road. And no doubt they will contaminate the air on my next flight. So stop encouraging them already!

Most of us have been programmed to keep going when we would get well faster if we went to bed and got some rest. We feel like we can’t miss work or class, a family birthday, or a soccer game. Many bosses are happy to reinforce this belief.

And then there’s all of that holiday cooking to be done! That’s certainly something we shouldn’t be doing when we’re sick. Seriously, preparing food for others when you’re sick can expose them. Most states have food prep guidelines for restaurant employees that include restrictions for those with cold, flu, and bronchitis as well as more serious illnesses.

I know it’s tempting to minimize the risks when we think of beloved holiday traditions, but if someone in your family has a compromised immune system, exposure to the flu could put them at serious risk even if they’ve had the vaccine. Having a medically fragile grandchild has increased my awareness of the need to be mindful about spreading germs. It also means I felt the frustration of missing out when the family welcomed her home from a recent hospitalization.

Perhaps those cough drop pep talks are meant to encourage malingering patients to get back to the business of every day, but they’re most likely to feed the determination of those who won’t stop in the first place. If we want to assist our immune systems, it is important to recognize the value of down time. Resting leaves our bodies with more energy available to fight off bugs and rebuild cells.

So, if you’re sick this holiday season, forget the cough drop pep talk! Eat some soup. Order food. Go to bed. Take time to heal. Not only will you get well faster in the long run, you’ll help contain the spread of viruses and/or bacteria.

Now it’s time for me to follow my own advice and take a healing nap!!!

http://www.moodmaybe.com/2016/05/flax-affirmations.html

https://www.gethalls.com/

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html

http://www.health.state.mn.us/foodsafety/dwi/eicondguide.pdf

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/easy-gluten-free-thanksgiving-menu/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/small-crowd-small-bird-cornish-game-hen-thanksgiving/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/hosting-thanksgiving-easy/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

November 24, 2015

Made with Love. Served with Kindness!

StuffingYou hear that the food always tastes better when it’s made with love! It seems to be true, but why mention it now? A lot of us are tying ourselves in knots preparing for this week’s Thanksgiving meal. In our heads, we hold an image of a large harmonious family gathered over a delicious meal composed of perfect replications of our great grandmother’s traditional recipes. We work ourselves into a frenzy to create a real world experience that matches this image. We focus on our expectations and feelings of obligation, then learn too late that along the way we have lost any feeling of connection and joy.

I’m thinking about this because I have a friend who just abandoned his car 2000 miles from home in a city where he was temporarily working, bummed some frequent flyer points and flew across the country to see family who had begged him to come home for the holiday. They picked him up at the airport and within five minutes began blasting him for not doing well because he doesn’t have as much money as he used to have before he lost his job of 15 years, his wife, and his large house. Soon after this berating, he called me.

For the first 8 minutes of the conversation, he mentioned none of this. He did not disclose that he was 2000 miles from where I thought he was, or that he was changing the plans we had made for this week. He accidentally let the story slip when I asked why he was breathing so loudly. As it turns out, he was walking 4 miles to get a ride from a friend. I was taken by surprise. He began explaining that he had made a last minute trip because his mom wasn’t doing well. I felt alarmed, assuming she must be in the hospital. Then he told me about the scolding she’d given him at the airport and how the guys at the gym were giving him trouble. Soooo, obviously, mom was well enough to go to the airport and he had been home long enough to work out. I felt confused. I started asking questions to try to make sense of the story. He still did not address our plans. As the details slowly revealed themselves, I was not pleased with him for failing to notify me of his change in plans and I may, or may not, have said, “There’s no excuse for that!” If I said it, I meant it. I believe I was right and I feel just fine about feeling angry with him.

At the same time, I recognize that it doesn’t matter how right I am, how disappointed, angry, annoyed, unimportant, or betrayed I feel. The bigger truth is that he is afraid and struggling, and, in spite of that, trying to accomplish the impossible task of pleasing all of the people he cares about. This often leads him to over promise and under deliver. While that could be called creating his own problem, my “no excuse” response did not make him feel loved, accepted, or supported. Reviewing the conversation, it seems clear that I have created a space in which I happily confirm for him that he’s not living up to expectations causing him to feel even more worthless and afraid to tell me the truth. That is a bigger problem than anything specific he has done. So while I may be technically right about the situation, I am woefully wrong at the same time.

This is a spot in which we often find ourselves. We are both right and wrong at the same time.
A coworker refuses to take on a task at work that belongs to a slacking worker and the company loses a customer because this task was left undone. What she did may have been technically right, but her choice was detrimental to the team overall.
A friend plans a move to Nashville to become a songwriter, but a mutual friend discourages him because for fear he may eventually have to move back home. Whether he stays home or moves back home isn’t really all that different, is it?
With her kids playing in the room, a neighbor screams to her best friend that her lousy husband cheated and she’d like to kill him. She may be right to feel the betrayal this strongly and to seek support from her friend, but expressing it this way in this situation, creates an environment of insecurity for her children. Can that be right?
A husband gets his kids every other Thanksgiving and it’s his year. He refuses to negotiate when the kids mom asks if he can switch out holidays this year so the kids can visit with her extended family that’s rarely together. Of course he’s within his rights to refuse, but is it the wrong thing to do?
Every time Uncle Paul sees his nephew, he reminds him, and the rest of the family, about the time he slept through Thanksgiving ’cause he was drunk. No matter that it was 10 years ago, then 12 years ago, then 15 years ago and he’s been sober 14 of those. Is Uncle Paul right about the facts, yes! Does it accomplish anything positive to bring it up now?
A woman in your Sunday School class doesn’t like her son’s girlfriend so she treats her politely while making sure to inform family and friends with a big eye roll that the girlfriend was once homeless, hasn’t finished college, uses bad grammar, and has been to, gasp, jail – all correct facts. She fails to remember to mention that the girlfriend has also had the same job for 5 years, is still in school, can sing like an angel, is an incredible artist, supports herself and the nephew she took in, and has never been charged with a crime. Does the portrait she has painted give the right impression?
A man misses his daughter’s evening wedding because his current wife’s daughter loses her house in a fire. Everyone lives in the same town, there were no injuries, and there is a 12 hour window in between events. Is it wrong to celebrate a joyous event in the face of a tragic one?
Aunt Betty never misses an opportunity to tell your sister she’s fat whenever there’s a family meal. She pointedly passes artificial sweetener when she asks for sugar and brings her an apple when she’s passing out pie to everyone else. Aunt Betty says she’s worried about your sister’s health. Your sister cringes every time Aunt Betty enters the room.

I’ll admit it’s sometimes difficult to determine when to challenge an affront and when to let it go because sometimes things that look the same on the surface are exactly opposite underneath, but let’s face it, most of the time it’s just easier for our egos to cling to being right, feeling angry, and lashing out than it is to admit we have been wrong or shortsighted. It takes insight, courage, and commitment to keep your heart open when loved ones let you down or make sure to let you know you’ve let them down. It may help to remember that we can all be right and still be wrong.

You’ll know you have a Thanksgiving made with love and served with kindness when:

• You feel no need to join the chorus when your mom and sister find fault with your brother’s wife who insisted on bringing cherry pie even though your mom told her not to. She also brought her big smile and warm hugs. The pie was just, you guessed it, the cherry on top.

• You notice that your grandmother always finds another place at the table for an unexpected guest without ever missing a beat.

• You discover that you want to forego a large menu and choose a few family favorites that you rarely have time to cook. If your husband loves slow-cooked ribs, you fix ribs! If your daughter has been raving about her friend’s mom’s chocolate lava cake, you forget the pecan pie and make chocolate lava cake. If your son likes pizza better than anything on the planet, you serve mini pizzas as an appetizer. And you make sure to include your favorite roasted cauliflower as well. You make these choices to deliberately show your family that you know and value their preferences. You feel at peace with your decision even when you happen to overhear a snide comment regarding the menu from a traditionalist cousin.

• You enjoy seeing your cousins so much that you hardly notice that your mom, who is angry with you, hasn’t put a single gluten-free item on the table other than turkey.

• You find yourself taking time to absorb the gratitude your family expresses for your efforts. You feel free to sit down and let your kids serve coffee and dessert or wash the dishes.

• You feel comfortable saying no to an 8 hour drive home for Thanksgiving during a time when you have been over obligated and feel that you need quiet renewal time. Will Aunt Helen say a few ugly things to your mother when you don’t show up? Possibly, but you know you are able to choose to let the bad behavior stop with her. You view your decision to stay home as a loving gift to yourself and your housemates.

• You feel more excited than disappointed when your mom encourages the family to volunteer at a shelter that feeds the community instead of maxing out a credit card to meet the expectation of a fancy meal.

• You find that you are beginning to show up for holiday events with your courage and boundaries intact and your defenses down.

• You feel free to gracefully let your reluctant relatives refuse your invitation to dinner and easily shift your focus to providing a fun experience for some close friends.

• You find that you are able to feel grateful for the gifts given you by your most difficult moments.

I am grateful for the insight I gained from the recognition of my shortsightedness. We wish you a holiday full of love, kindness, joy, gratitude, and delicious food!

Happy Thanksgiving!