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2011 December 12
by Thehousedaddy

If you overlook the invasion of the Native American and subsequent conquest of America and transform it into just a day to be thankful, than you get one of my favorite holidays.  Along with Halloween, this season has my two favorite non-denominational traditions of the year.  Whenever family, food and wine are the focus, I am pretty happy to celebrate.

I have only missed one Thanksgiving at home since I was kid and we have now tried to rekindle the tradition of having family, friends and stragglers celebrate with us.  As a kid this always included foreign nationals who had no Thanksgiving tradition of their own, but wanted to experience a traditional celebration.  I have said time and time again how lucky I feel.  In spite of not having any of our parents and also having had my grandmother die on Thanksgiving, this holiday helps me remember and celebrate what we have now and what we had before.  Besides our family we have a tradition that we established in 1988 when my mother came to spend Thanksgiving with me in Madrid after my father died, and I had just returned to finish my studies.  She met a wonderful man who was on his way to spend the holiday with his parents and after cancelled flights and a boarder detention, a new tradition of spending the holiday with this now family of five had begun.  Even when we had the restaurant and we would close for the night and have all the employees and their families come, we were joined by our friends and even some of theirs.  We also have a tradition of going around the table and saying what we are thankful for.  We always have tears, laughs and shared memories.

I hate change and having the tradition and the traditional dishes that have morphed into a vegan and mostly gluten free meal are something I look forward to every year.  Fortunately, as Virginia tried to make some changes to the menu she was met with cries of no from our kids and myself.  We generally cook for hours the night before and pretty much all day until the folks arrive.  The night before is usually reserved for the stuffing which is the protein source and turkey substitute for us.  Nobody who has joined us has ever complained or missed their bird after our meal.  We start by prepping the chestnuts.  This is the most painstaking process of the meal and it can be eliminated by buying the pre-prepped and very expensive shelled and jarred French chestnuts.  If you are a purist you score the tops and bake them in the oven.  We have cut them in half and boiled them, steamed them and roasted.  Regardless of which method you use, you will inevitably sustain an injury to your thumb from pealing the hard shells.

In a large bowl we mix quinoa, which is protein packed and the basis for our stuffing with leeks and or onions, celery, red peppers, carrots, chestnuts, olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, oregano, and the corn stock that I featured a few weeks ago and had in the freezer.  I combine it all together and let it sit refrigerated all night and mix when I can.  I then put it in a few large oiled pans since I never have enough space in just one and since I send some across the street for a sometime vegan who wants it.  I bake it covered for about three hours and uncovered for about and hour so it gets crispy on top at about 350.

The sides always include root vegetables, which are turnips, parsnips and beets if Twin Springs has them.  We always do olive oil mashed potatoes with the local spuds.  The last three years we have been really lucky to get the most insane string beans ever.  They are about 9” long and are fantastic.  I cook them on a hot grill for just a minute with just grapeseed oil, salt and pepper.  We also use the grill for the brussel sprouts and then add fresh ginger and rice wine as a spice.  We always do a green and this year my sister brought a mix of fresh ones from her garden and lightly wilted them.  The kids love sweet potato spears that we grill as well and have become a serious favorite.  The only non-gluten free item is the rolls.

The evening with a cauliflower soup that is just cauliflower, onion, salt, and pepper and then pureed until smooth.  We serve it in mugs and pass sparkling Rose from the Jura as everyone arrives and I grill like a maniac.  Our dinner wine this year was Bordeaux that was fantastic with dinner and deserts.

For deserts this year Virginia out did herself.  Our pumpkin pie was a combination of  kabocha squash and butternut squash, which we roasted and peeled early in the morning.  She had mad two different crusts and therefore two different pumpkin pies.  One was chocolate chip, oatmeal and pistachio crust and the other was almond.  She also made an apple pie with amazing Fuji apples from the market and then a pecan, chocolate and bourbon pie.  It was an insane meal and I can’t wait for next years.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Pat Lampel permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Very nice looking vegan Thanksgiving Kenan, we were almost there this year but I insisted on a turkey breast. Next year however I think we’re there!

  2. sherry pyle permalink
    December 13, 2011

    Such a lovely Thanksgiving Feast! You have all been in my thoughts a lot these last several weeks – don’t wait so long to post again “housedaddy”! Love you all…Happy, happy holidays!

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