Friday, November 28, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Meal


Okay, honesty: I'm mainly posting this so that next year when I can't remember for sure which recipes I used, I can always revert back to this post :-). Also, I took very few pictures. This is not an "eye candy" post. Just the facts, ma'am. We have an assortment of food restrictions. Some of the ingredients we were avoiding were: wheat/gluten, dairy (except butter), soy. Those are main ones, anyway :-).

Recipes and preparation notes, for my own reference next year:

Turkey: Okay, yeah, that turned out kind of dry. I really need to watch the temp better next year :-P The 15 minute estimate per pound for a free-range turkey was about spot-on. Remember for next time. Still turned out edible, especially with gravy. And yeah, yeah, brine. I KNOW it's a good solution, but confession: I hate raw meat. Brining means extended time with raw meat in contact with something I later have to disinfect. *squirms*

Gravy: We tried something different this year. The last few years Adrian (our gravy master) has made gravy with the turkey drippings and a combination of arrowroot and almond meal (1:2 ratio) and had good results. It's more "earthy" and coarse than a standard smooth gravy, but we have really liked it. 100% arrowroot for thickener closely resembles snot. We tried that one year. Do NOT ever repeat. This year I had bought a bag of Namaste gluten-free flour blend as a splurge to try to make some "real" pie crusts. Since we had it, we used it for the thickener for the gravy. I actually really liked the result. Adrian prefers the arrowroot/almond combo, as the Namaste is a bit more snotty of a consistency. But a very edible consistency, not the same level of snot-ness as 100% arrowroot. Plus the Namaste gave a smoother and more "normal" result.

Cranberry sauce: Seriously, this is the EASIEST thing to make and tastes so much more amazing than that awful canned stuff. We have made this for a few years and it is a nice "pizazz" of color and flavor. This is the recipe we use.

Mashed potatoes: Since Gretchen can't have milk, we just omitted it. Just potatoes, butter (lots), and salt and butter. It really worked well. I think certain kinds of potatoes would need a liquid, but the kind we had worked well. We used Russet. Another dairy-free option that I've tasted before is using a small amount of poultry broth. This gives a bit more creaminess and wetness, and actually is not a "distracting" flavor, but blends in nicely. We don't do soy or rice milk or coconut milk, so those weren't options. Almond milk is. . . over-rated.

Sweet potato casserole: Pretty much always a universal favorite. The recipe we have used for a few years now is one I found I-don't-where. All I tweaked for the base was simply omit the milk (and even though it was a full cup omitted, it has never been dry!) The topping, I made up.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Base:
4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 large), peeled and cubed
1/4 cup Sucanat (you could use brown sugar)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Bake or boil sweet potatoes, then peel and mash with other ingredients. Transfer to a buttered 9x13 glass baking dish. Then prepare topping.

Topping: Combine equal parts almond flour and semi-soft butter by mashing with a fork, then add a small amount of honey to sweeten - not to much or you get a gloppy mess. Add chopped pecans (as many as desired) and "plop" the topping onto the casserole in penny-sized pieces, scattering evenly.

Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees or until heated through and topping is browned lightly. (This casserole preps ahead nicely. Just pull straight from fridge to bake.)
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Stuffing: This was a new idea for me. Stuffing wasn't super-important for holidays growing up, from my memory, and of course being gluten-free does limit options now. But I saw an interesting recipe for a Wild Rice Stuffing and wanted to try it! Results: deliciously tasty but the cooking was not as predicted. After an hour, practically no liquid had absorbed and the grains were still pretty hard. It took about 2 hours of simmering (maybe a tad less) for the wild rice to cook properly, but even then, there was lots of leftover liquid. It actually made for a nice thick soup that was really flavorful, and with leftover turkey added, made a nice stand-alone leftover dish. Because the wild rice took so long to cook, we gave up on eating it with our main meal :-D. Another recipe note: instead of the 2 tablespoons of poultry seasoning, I added: 2 t sage, 1 1/2 t thyme, 3/4 t rosemary, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/2 t black pepper. I would have added 1 t marjoram, but was out of it.

Green beans: No exciting prep notes here. Frozen green beans. Cooked. Yum.

Wassail: This is a carry-over from the Keister side of the family. Kind of like a mulled spiced cider, with some cranberry attitude. If you like sweet drinks, it's good. It's too much for me :-), but generally popular when we serve it to others. Combine in a 6 qt crockpot: 1 liter cranberry juice cocktail, 1 liter apple juice, 3/4 cup orange juice. In a tea infuser or a cheese cloth bag, place 1 stick of cinnamon and 4 whole cloves and let steep in juices. Add 1/4 cup sugar. Heat all ingredients in crockpot (a few hours on low). When ready to serve, remove spices and taste, adding more sugar if desired.

Pecan pie: This was yummy. Not as gooey as a traditional one, but very moist and flavorful. We used the crust from here (but used the Namaste flour instead of all-purpose) and the filling from here.

Pumpkin pie: This was kind of a combination of a lot of recipes. And alas, I cannot find my scribbled notes for it anywhere. Best I can remember, I combined the following and poured in a pie crust: 4 eggs, 2 cups cooked pumpkin, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and maybe 1/2+ cup of honey? I wish I could remember for sure. I might have also thrown some nutmeg in there. This is why I'm noting all this in a blog post now, because my memory will be far hazier next time I want to make it :-P. I used the same pie crust recipe/ingredients as I did for the pecan pie.

Chocolate "pudding": Okay, really not pudding, but close enough, and yummy. I just took this chocolate gelatin squares recipe and poured it into a bowl to gel instead of molding into squares. I always use butter instead of coconut oil.

Fried pears: I just sliced some pears up semi-thin (removing seeds, but leaving skin) and sauteed in butter in a frying pan. Then added some honey (to taste) and sprinkled on some arrowroot for thickener. Then stirred and heated until it was yummy and a good consistency.