Thanksgiving Yummies

This week of dark days and rainy weather here in the Northwest makes it a time for coziness and comfort food so I thought I’d share a few of our recent favorites.

It is also a time for counting our blessings, though I try to do that every day.  Among the many things I am grateful for are all who take the time to read my posts.  As my web site title suggestions, they wander over many topics, but I hope they add some interests, insights, knowledge or smiles to your life, if just for a moment. Thank you for following my wanderings!

with goat cheese

Quinoa Sweet Potato Patties   (30-45 mins. to prepare) incorporate several traditional winter holiday foods into one non-traditional dish. This simple recipe could be a peace maker at a holiday meal, meeting various dietary choices. It’s a good main dish protein source for vegetarians and vegans, yet can also be served along with meat or fish. And most people on a gluten-free diet can tolerate quinoa. These could be made without the quinoa, but they would not be as protein rich. (My photos did not turn out well of these, they actually are quite nice looking with the chopped cranberries in them!)

1/2 cup dry quinoa – cook separately while preparing other ingredients

1 small onion or white part of a medium size leek (my preference) chopped fine by hand or put in food processor

1 LARGE sweet potato
Peel and grate or chop fine in food processor. You could also bake a sweet potato then scoop it out to use. This adds to prep time. Sauté in water all the chopped ingredients (see options below) except nuts (if using them) in a skillet until the sweet potato is a soft, mushy consistency. Be sure not to use too much water or they might not hold together. Add salt and your favorite seasonal spices. Sweet potato is your binder so be sure to use a large one or a few medium size.

Options to add in with sweet potato and onion:

1/2  cup cranberries roughly chopped
4 large crimini mushrooms chopped fine
1/2 cup ground nuts (cashews and pecans work well, I mixed them)

good combinations are cranberries & mushrooms or cranberries & nuts. Be creative and add what you think would be good!

In a large bowl mix the cooked quinoa into the cooked sweet potato mixture and add chopped nuts. Make small, firm patties, lightly cook in a skillet using coconut or olive oil, turning once to brown both sides.

with vegan mushroom gravy

Topping options:
Goat cheese
Yogurt
Mushroom “gravy” made with coconut milk and cashews (vegan)

Served with a green vegetable and cranberry sauce, you have a tasty, balanced, holiday meal, or an everyday easy meal! This recipe makes about 12 patties, they keep well in refrigerator for a day.  Leftovers are good for breakfast or lunch!

(want to know more about quinoa, this ancient protein rich food of the Americas? Here’s a short history: Origin & History of Quinoa)

And for dessert…….

Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding combines two of my favorites, tapioca pudding and pumpkin pudding, into a gluten free, vegan dessert. It is easier and quicker to prepare than pie but gives you the warming, comforting seasonal spices everyone loves. I ONLY use Edward & Sons Trading Company Native Forest organic coconut milk and Lets Do Organic tapioca. Their “classic” coconut milk is rich and creamy, like cooking with cream.

Heat 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
Add 1/4 cup tapioca granules
Cook a few minutes then add
1 1/2 c. puréed pumpkin made from a fresh pie pumpkin or a sweet winter squash.

Cook until it begins to thicken and tapioca is clear. It will thicken more when cooled so don’t worry it not very thick.

Remove from heat. Add maple syrup to taste, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/8 t. each of cloves and nutmeg.

Let cool in refrigerator briefly to set up, but it’s best (and a great comfort food!) served a bit warm.

Serve with a coconut/cashew “cream” made by combining 1/2 – 3/4 c. full fat coconut milk and 1/2 cup cashews (roasted unsalted or raw) in food processor or blender. Add a sweetener such as maple syrup and vanilla extract.  Spoon on top. Obviously you could use whipped cream instead!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Other Thanksgiving posts:

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Recipe For Winter

Recipe For Winter

For readers who may not live in the coastal Pacific Northwest…it’s raining out. Not just raining, November raining. The rain that spawns temperate rainforests of water-loving Sitka spruce, Western hemlock, Western red cedar, and Bigleaf maples, whose branches are covered with thick moss, holding the rain like sponges. It’s the type of rain that brings those gentle giants down by saturating the soil where their roots try to hold on while water pours into the earth, loosening even the hardest of clay soils, and moving in rivulets the rich peaty soils of the forest floor.

In our small, old, house with 2×4 framing, thin-glassed old windows, and low ceilings, November rain is a pounding force to be reckoned with, an omnipresent noise, day and night. The barrier between the sheets of falling water and us seems a bit weak-willed. I review in my mind…how old is our roof? Did we leave any unfinished projects at any buildings that might have left even a crack where water could get in? How will the old chicken coop hold up?

Everyone – us, chickens, ducks, are warm and dry…and for the most part staying indoors.

And then it stops. Just when you think it will never stop, when it has rained for at least 48-72 hours, when the weather forecast says 90-100% rain every day in the foreseeable future, the faucet suddenly turns off, the darken sky lightens, and the world opens up.

Going outside after the first good multiple-day November storm is always an awe-inspiring experience. Deciduous trees have lost nearly every last leaf (except our strange peach tree, which has never produced more than a few peaches, yet holds on to bright green leaves until Christmas). There is sky where there has not been sky since early the previous spring. The road noise, drowned out by the rain, is audible again, yet there is a silence when compared to the deafening water that has pounded, like the surf on a beach, and poured for hours. The rainstorm, washing away autumn,  has given birth to winter.  It is not the same stillness of the first snowfall, yet there is a tangible winter calm to the quiet that follows a robust rainstorm.

Remarkably, with the winter solstice still a month away, darkness increasing daily, and the days continuing to get shorter, there are signs of spring. New buds have formed on the Indian Plum, and on the Flowering Current, which I guiltily pruned today, cutting off many tender buds. It is difficult in the northwest to find a ‘dormant’ time to hack away at plants. With the wet weather and mild winters, the dying back and the budding forth appear seamless in many perennial bushes and trees.  Even some early perennial flowers have put forth new leaves, but it is a premature effort, for the first snow or a prolonged freeze will cause them to die back.

It is the lull before the next storm, according to the weather pundits, a much-appreciated lull before feeling buffeted around again by stormy weather. As this week of Thanksgiving, infamous for challenging weather patterns, begins, I am grateful to go out and work in the wet garden, breathing in the clean air as I prune back dead flowers, pull down soggy bean plants, cover the whitened, decaying squash plants with fallen Maple leaves, preparing the hills for next summer’s planting. An appreciated lull to put the garden to bed for the winter.

Northwest weather is made for soup.  I make a lot of soups.  Here is one of my latest. Warming food for stormy weather! A nice pre or post-Thanksgiving meal, easy, not too heavy, but filling.

Acorn Squash Soup

Quarter and bake in a 350 degree oven one acorn squash (any winter squash will do just fine) until a knife goes in easy and there is a little browning on top. After it has cooled, scrap out the meat, cut into chunks, and put in a soup pan. (You can also quarter and steam in a pan on the stove top, this saves time, but if you have the time, baking/roasting the squash in the oven brings out the flavor and sweetness more.)

Add a quart of water (actually I never measure so I’m just guessing on this, might need a little more)

Chop and add:

1/3 cup onion

2 medium to large carrots – not the bitter supermarket kind, but local, farmers market ones, this adds flavor and sweetness. (Nash’s Organic Produce or Dharma Ridge Farm are favorites of ours.)

Dharma Ridge Carrots at the Chimacum Market. The Port Townsend Market is still open on Saturdays with lots of winter veggies from local farmers.

1 small apple, a tart one is good

Also add:

¼ cup basmati rice

1 bay leaf

1 t. grated fresh ginger

1 to 1 ½ t. homemade curry powder

Cook until rice is done.  Put into a blender in batches to blend smooth.  It will have little pieces of apple skin, for a smoother soup peel apple first.

Options: I added homemade almond milk I had on hand, coconut milk is also nice, about 1/3 cup.

Garnish with a dollop of tahini and fresh grated ginger, the tahini adds protein, and a distinctive, richer flavor, but the soup is delicious, and a little lighter, without it.

Ah, it is raining again.  Think I’ll go make some soup! 

Happy Thanksgiving all! 

I am grateful you do me the honor of reading my musings!  It helps keep my creativity alive!