Thanksgiving with a twist.


For the past 5 or 6 years I have spent my Thanksgiving with the people I love the most.  Not my family, but the family I have found support in.  This year I was supposed to be in Africa, but that changed.  So I spent my first Thanksgiving away from my chosen family in Sacramento with my chosen partner in crime.  He is on call today.  This means he could have to leave at any moment for any sort of cable outage.  He cannot drink, and for us, drinking is a huge part of our holiday.  I know we are supposed to sit down and talk about all the things we are thankful for, but seriously we should be thankful every single moment of every single day!  Why set aside one day a year to show people we love them and are glad they are in our lives?

Being a vegetarian, I obviously do not eat turkey.  Being that it is just the two of us, if I made a turkey, Richard would have to consume 5 times his weight in bird goo!  I wanted to make a decadent meal.  As a person who probably should have become a chef but never realized it, I look forward to events where I am able to show off my culinary finesse.  I sometimes even make up reasons to do so!  This year was no exception, except for the fact that my kitchen is really not set up for any sort of baking.

We started off our day with my favorite, french pressed coffee and a few glasses of water.  My coffee is one of my favorite rituals.  I hand grind my beans and then put them in the french press.  I add a teaspoon of organic vanilla extract, not the imitations stuff.  I also add a teaspoon of nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves, I then add the water and allow it to “brew”.  I have been thinking that I might change-up my spices and try cardamom.   I then use a coconut creamer.  I savor every last drop of this magical blend and I never have to add sweetener to it.  One of my greatest joys in life is a cup of coffee as I look out my window.

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I was going to make breakfast, but that just did not really happen.  Instead I proceeded to make this Hungarian dish called a Galette.  I got the recipe from Eating Well Magazine, November/December 2014.  This was delicious and I told Richard after he ate a couple of pieces that it had chard on it.  He was surprised, he does not like chard, normally.  I thought this dish was delicious, although I did not have ricotta so I subbed in cottage cheese and used just a few teaspoons. Sometimes you have to be inventive.  I did not have a food processor or a hand mixer so I used a blender, which required some holding in the air and tipping in different directions, not something I would recommend.  Also when the dough needed to be rolled out, I used a glass jar full of flour to replace a rolling-pin. Sometimes you just use what you have.  While that was cooking I set out a bit of brie and goat cheese with crackers. I also warmed up my pumpkin dip.  This was made by roasting a very small pumpkin two days before and the night before peeling and blending it with ground cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, green onions and a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese.  It turned out brilliant!  We snacked all day on these items.

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After noon I pulled out my Sangria.   I prepared it the night before, with a bottle of red table wine, some bourbon, orange juice and some fruity limeade.  I also dropped a chopped persimmon, lemon, fresh mint and lime into the mix.  This morning I dropped an apple core from the kale salad in it and some triple sec.  Richard had the same combination without the liquor.

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Yesterday I did the unthinkable!  I beat some meat to a thin tender pulp.   Richard wanted schnitzel instead of traditional dinner.  So I picked out  a nice pork loin and I beat it down.  The funny thing is, I do not have a meat tenderizer.  I had to compromise and use a sturdy pint glass.  I must say this works very well.  Once the meat is beat down I dredged it through flour and wrapped it up in the fridge overnight.

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I cooked down some veggie broth with some shiitake mushroom bits in it for a very long time this afternoon.  This was the base for the gravy.  I cooked up some brown rice and mixed it with homemade celery soup, simply because it was what I had left over and needed to be used up.  I added green beans and portabella mushroom bits.  Richard loves green bean casserole, but I wanted to at least cut out a bunch of the preservatives.  I even made my own french fried onions for the topping.  I used regular milk instead of buttermilk and they turned out fine.  One thing I did was let them sit overnight and then put them on a cookie sheet the next day and baked them for 25 minutes at 350.  This helped dry them and crisp them up.  Sadly the rice and celery soup were too under seasoned.  I will pay attention to the flavor before I bake it next time.

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For myself I made a portabella cap in a similar fashion to the schnitzel, minus the beating it down of course.  We had decided to eat around 5, so I tried to time the food to that time.  I made a rue, with butter and flour and slowly added the broth with the mushroom bits for the gravy.  It turned out very well.  It is a bit more difficult to whisk the clumps out with bits of mushroom floating around, but if you keep the broth hot and add it slowly it seems to work well.  I put a pot of water on for the dumplings.  These are items I picked up at a German sausage maker’s shop.  You simply drop the pouch into cold water and let it stand for 10 minutes.  While that was happening I heated up some oil and took the pork out and dredged it through some egg and then through a panko bread crumb, paprika and pepper mix.  I really like to use the panko crumbs, they seem to crisp up the best.  Once the meat is breaded, I gently drop it into the oil.  I then prepare the next piece of meat.  By the time I drop the second piece of meat into the oil the first one is ready to flip.  While all this is happening the mushroom cap is on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet in the oven.  I simply pull the meat off as it gets done and stick it on the pan with the mushroom.  I am very careful not to allow them to touch.  During this process I turn the dumpling water on medium and let it come to rapid boil.  By the time all the meat is done, the dumplings are ready to remove from the water.

I pulled the mushroom from the pan and put it in a cast iron skillet and fried it up to crisp the coating.  Everything worked well timing wise and we had a lovely dinner.  Last night I prepared the cookie dough for our dessert.  I opted for this crazy rich chocolate snowcap cookies.  I also found the recipe in the Eating Well magazine.  Funny they had a whole article on a German themed Thanksgiving meal.  I also found a kale salad recipe.  This morning I was busy half the morning baking cookies.  I should have halved the recipe, 4 dozen cookies is too much for just the two of us.

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The one thing I think I am proudest of is that I kept my kitchen clean.  This is not normal for me.  I was expecting a FaceTime call from my friends in Seattle and so I wanted to make sure the place was clean.  I kept all the dishes washed, and due to having limited resources I used them plenty.  All in all it was a very nice day.  We ended it with a walk along the river and a FaceTime call from friends.  I have the greatest people in my life.  My friend Johnny got a bit teary eyed and he said that he had never tried to Skype or FaceTime before, but it made him feel like we were right there.  I got a few calls through out the day from people who felt like I should be there. That is something to be truly grateful for!

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