First of all, I’m grateful. Grateful for my health, my work, my friends and family, and for the kindness of strangers. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. You don’t have to belong to any particular religious faith–or any religion at all– in order to take part. Plus, It’s about gratitude and chilling out a bit. It’s about being with loved ones. For some people, it’s about football. It’s kind of like the blank canvas of holidays. It’s what you make of it.
I have to admit, though, that the simple thought of putting together another Thanksiving feast so soon (seriously, last Thanksgiving feels like it was only 2 or 3 months ago), exhausted me. Then I felt like a real turkey for thinking that way. At least we have food to eat and time to prepare it! At least I have the luxury of playing around with menu options and recipes.
That being said, it has been an exhausting year, has it not? With the economy and so many other things in this world being the way they are, I think people more and more are returning to the simple. Keeping our creativity alive is all that much more important, even as we go back to basics.
Interesting, isn’t it, how we can see where we’re at in life by looking back on what we were eating on a given Thanksgiving? The year fat free was in vogue. The year the turkey was too warm for the glass serving platter and the platter broke underneath the bird. The year of the burned rolls (wait, that’s almost every year, isn’t it?)
This year, I’m sure my table will look quite different from, say, my friends who eat almost exclusively raw foods. And even though some of recipes carry on through the years, putting a little creative twist on classic favorites can create new classics and traditions.
So I decided keep things fresh by getting creative. To take some of the traditional recipes and give them a Middle Eastern flair. In some cases, Persianizing, as My Persian Kitchen would say. Here are the ideas I’m working on:
- Dry Brined Roast Turkey. I’m a big believer in brining. What I’m not a big fan of is the way it can be such a production, especially in a space-challenged kitchen like mine. Finding a large bucket. Buying bags of ice. Getting the bird in and out of the bucket without incident. This recipe from the New York Times looks much simpler. Of course, I’m going to put my own twist on the recipe. Saffron and honey glaze, anyone?
- Cornbread stuffing flavored with dried figs, dried cherries, chestnuts, turmeric and sage. This will be my own take on dressing, as we call it down South.
This could go either way–either really tasty, or a mishap not to be repeated. That’s what I love about putting together new recipes–that element of creativity and excitement.
- Saffron Sweet Potatoes. I’ve already tested this recipe (click here), and am happy to report that it works. If I’m feeling motivated, we’ll have some Raw Apple-Mint Salsa on top of these.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cumin. I love roasted veggies. Maybe some carrots tossed in for color. Seriously, I might just put a few root vegetables together, depending on what looks good at the farmer’s market prior to Thanksgiving.
- Dessert? I’m not sure yet. My Easy Turkish Coffee Pudding could work. Or maybe something more specific to the season, like baked apples with spices and a bit of ice cream. I’ve found some very cool dairy and soy-free ice creams recently. They might make a fun addition to the meal.
Wow, now that I’ve got my ideas on the screen here, I’m actually energized and looking forward to cooking this meal again. So I’ll post recipes and tips if any of the recipes are a hit. I think the roasted veggies would be a good place to start, so keep an eye out for that one in the coming days. Enjoy your week, guys!