We have this lovely little tradition in our house. We circle around the Thanksgiving table and everyone gets to say what they are thankful for. Sometimes the answers are long. Sometimes the answers are only one word.
Hadyn when she was first big enough to answer this question, sat very still for a long time and then whispered, “I am thankful for my guppies.” She had a little fish tank, and she and her Dad raised baby fish. At the time we all laughed. It was an inconsequential and cute response from our three year old. Guppies are not a subject which requires a lot of thought or attention on a daily basis. They sat on the window ledge in her bathroom and did their thing. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had thought about her little fish.
Every year from that point forward she has always responded “my guppies,” when we do our round table gratitude exercise. Today I started thinking about what my answer was going to be this year. I thought about all the amazing things that have happened to me this year. All the lessons I have learned, all the places I have travelled, all the people I have met. What am I most grateful for? It’s a tough question.
Let me be entirely clear: I am probably one of the luckiest people in the world. I am incredibly healthy and happy. I have a man that loves me without reservation or condition. I have healthy and smart children who still call me Momma and like to snuggle me. I have amazing friends who are supportive and allow me to be my silly self. I do work I love. I have the opportunity to help people change the way they think about food every day. I have no major crises in my life or obstacles which are insurmountable.
And yet sometimes I forget about the guppies.
I forget about the little things in my day to day life that give so much meaning and pleasure to my existence. I forget that life isn’t about the big accomplishments or the latest publication or post shares. I forget that life is not necessarily made up of grand gestures or big milestones.
Life is a collection of the very smallest moments that capture your heart and squeeze it tight. Life is about the joy a three year old has watching her guppies while she is pooping on a potty. Life is about keeping that very same joy when you are decades older and worried about choosing to pay for health insurance or groceries. It is not easy, and I’m not going to make some trite comment about the moments that “take your breath away,” but you all know what I am saying, right? If we don’t take joy in the smallest moments then the biggest ones are lost. I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality lately and what things I will remember at the end of it. It is not about the big accomplishments, the latest BEST OF or a great review. It is the little Technicolor fish swimming endlessly in their tank while a flaxen haired child sang with her tiny angelic voice. It is the teenager who smells of dog and needs a snuggle right at that moment because that is the only thing she has been waiting for all day (oh yes and can I feed her too?). It is the loving smile of a man who shares your triumphs and your catastrophes in equal measure. It is a best friend who doesn’t judge you for your fear, but loves you for your bravery.
For the next 33 days I am going to post a daily gratitude of very small things that make me inordinately happy.
For the next 33 days I am going to talk about the guppies.
link on navigating the grocery store (could i have dorkier expressions – NO i couldnt!)
link on turkey
These are the recipes that were emailed to subscribers this week. Make sure you are subscribed!
Walnut Olive Tapenade
Momma’s Famous Vegan Stuffing
Sweet Corn pudding
Red Pepper Jam
Beyond Chicken filling for Kambocha Squash or Corn Pie
Butternut Squash Soup
Kale with Pepitas and Cranberries
Orange Cranberry Relish
Arugula Salad with Truffles
Cauliflower Mash and Gravy
Mommy’s so Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans Almondine
Eggplant Pot Pie with Artichoke Biscuits
Almond Cake with Pear Compote
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
Graham Cracker crust
WALNUT OLIVE TAPENADE
2/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup pitted black olives
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaf
2 TB almond butter
½ lime squeezed (optional)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp white pepper (optional)
Put walnuts, olives and parsley leaf in processor and pulse until clumping into a ball. Add remaining ingredients until it is consistency you want.
Omit almond butter, oil and lime and instead add ¼ cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil.
MOMMAS FAMOUS STUFFING
Of all the stuffing’s that I have ever loved, this is hands down my favorite. It is like a savory bread pudding and a bad boyfriend rolled into one.
6 ribs celery thinly sliced leaves and all
1 cup roasted (caramelized) onion
3 TB finely diced fresh parsley
1 TB finely diced rosemary leaves (optional)
1 head fennel finely diced
8 cups bread cubes and ends (I like a combination of ciabatta& sourdough but I’ve made it with challah and its AMAZING) I let these dry out overnight
1 – 1 ½ cup smart balance vegan butter
3 cups vegetable stock
1-2 tsp herbamare (depends on how much salt is in the broth!)
1 tsp white pepper
Let bread cubes get thoroughly stale or toast to dry them. Put onion, fennel and celery into a heavy saucepan with herbs and smart balance. Sautee till softened and add vegetable broth, seasonings and bring to a simmer. Put bread cubes in a heavy casserole and pour broth mix over. Seal tightly and put in a low oven (275 to 325) for at least an hour and a half. When this is finished it should be wobbly and pudding like.
OPTION: Add 1 TB rosemary leaves, ½ cup softened shallots, 1 cup roasted carrot or roasted turnip finely diced. Any combination of root vegetables will work.
SWEET CORN PUDDING CRUST
2 cups white finely ground corn meal
2 TB baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter or vegan margarine
2 Eggs or 2 vegan egg substitute
Small can cream style corn or see vegan version below*
1 cup grated Sixteen Mile cheddar Cheese or 4 oz shredded Daiya cheddar
Soften butter and cream with sugar until fluffy add eggs and beat well then add cream style corn and dry ingredients. Fold in cheese.
VEGAN CREAMED CORN
1 cup canned corn
2 tsp smart balance
1 tsp GF King Arthur flour
½ tsp cornstarch
1 TB agave nectar
½ cup almond milk
Pick corn in a Ziploc bag and roll with rolling pin. Heat smart balance in a pan whisk in flour, whisk cornstarch into almond milk then add to smart balance/flour mixture, add agave and fold in smashed corn and juices.
SWEET PEPPER JAM
1 cup diced Fresno chilies or sweet red peppers if you don’t like the heat
2 cups diced red onion
2 bottles 16 Mile Old Court Ale or apple cider
1 cup organic sugar or evaporated cane juice
2 TB agave nectar
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp cornstarch mixed to a paste with warm water
Make sure that chiles and onions are diced in a very fine dice and cover with the beer in a medium saucepan. Bring to a slow boil and add the sugar, salt and agave. Stir constantly! When beer is thick and gooey lower heat and whisk in cornstarch ONLY if needed – if you reduce enough you will not need to use the cornstarch as a thickener. I add it to the recipe because a lot of people lose their nerve the last few minutes and it ends up watery.
CORN PUDDING PIE FILLING
3 cups beyond chicken strips or beyond beef
2 ½ cups Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes (1 large can)
1 cup roasted (caramelized) onions
I small can corn kernels
3 TB organic safflower oil
1 tsp Maldon sea salt flakes ( I love these but you can substitute regular sea salt)
½ tsp smoked paprika powder
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh diced rosemary
1 TB fresh parsley
½-1 head cauliflower (riced in food processor)
2-3 sweet peppers finely diced ( I use different colors )
4 cup vegetable stock or water (for blanching beyond chicken)
¼ cup vegetable stock (for casserole)
¼ cup reserved red pepper jam
1 cup grated cheese (I use 16 mile cheddar cheese from Chapelle Creek) or Daiya
Heat vegetable stock to slow boil if you are using beyond chicken, and put chicken in for three to five minutes, then strain and dice into small pieces. If you are using beyond beef then heat oil over medium heat and cook beef then add drained corn kernels and herbs. Cook stirring constantly until crispy and fragrant. Add peppers and cauliflower then roasted onions and vegetable stock and stir until softened. Add all other ingredients except cheese and cook till warmed thorough. Add cheese and spoon into casserole dish with at least three inches of head room. Top with corn crust and bake at 350 until crust is cooked and inside is bubbly about 40- 45 minutes. Check frequently to make sure the edges don’t get too crispy and wrap the top with a piece of tin foil if necessary. Half way through cooking you can put 1/3 cup of red pepper jam in the center and sprinkle more grated cheese on top.
The same filling mixture can be put in a hollowed out Kambocha squash and cooked for one hour to one hour fifteen minutes at 350. If you choose to use a squash clean thoroughly with a metal spoon, wrap body with tin foil tightly and make sure top is covered.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH CURRY SOUP
1 large to 2 medium Butternut squash (depending on size and thickness of soup)
4 cans Coconut milk
1 quart Vegetable stock
1 cup Apple juice
1 ½ tsp Nutmeg
2 TB Yellow curry paste (or more start with 1 TB and keep adding till you have the heat you want)
1 ½ tsp Herbamare
1 tsp White pepper
1 TB Agave nectar
The best way to cook a butternut squash is to do it the day before you need it and put the whole thing into the oven on a cookie sheet at 350. Let bake for thirty minutes, then turn off oven and let residual heat finish the squash overnight. When you take it out the skin will be so easy to remove, cut in half, remove seeds and mash squash. Add to all other ingredients and simmer on stove. Keep checking curry and nutmeg levels for adjusting.
OPTION: If curry is too edgy for thanksgiving leave it out. Or refer to first eBook for cauliflower soup recipe.
KALE WITH PEPITAS
6 cups shredded organic kale leaves
1/2 – 1 cup unsweetened cranberries
1/3 – 1 cup uncooked and shelled pumpkin seeds
1 cup finely diced Spanish onion
1 cup finely diced Granny Smith apple
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan margarine or coconut oil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp sea salt flakes
½ tsp white pepper
1 cup balsamic vinegar – if you can find cranberry infused go for it
½ cup pomegranate juice
1 cup cheap red wine (save the good stuff to drink later)
In heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat put the balsamic, wine and pomegranate and reduce till one third of starting volume. Remove from heat. Whisk in seasonings and cranberries and allow to plump. Add one TB of earth balance and set aside. Sautee pepitas in one TB of earth balance till crispy. Set aside.
In remaining earth balance sauté onion and granny smith till caramelized and browning. Set aside.
Heat a large heavy saucepan over high heat and add one third of the olive oil and heat till smoking. Add one third of the kale and quickly stir fry. When wilted and crispy, set aside. Repeat with remaining kale.
As soon as kale is finished (using the same large pan) add all the separate ingredients back together and stir till warmed through. Correct seasonings as needed.
ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE
2 lbs fresh cranberries
2 juice oranges
½ cup organic sugar
Pinch sea salt
Pinch white pepper
1 cup red wine or pomegranate juice
1 cup orange juice
Cut rind off orange and roughly chop. You can save one TB of orange zest if you wish and add after everything is pureed. Put ingredients (except rind) in heavy saucepan and add water until cranberries are covered. Bring to a boil; reduce to slow simmer until cranberries pop. Cook for another fifteen minutes until thick. Puree all ingredients in food processor, add zest and return to stove to thicken more.
SWEET POTATO AND ARUGULA SALAD WITH TRUFFLES
2 Sweet potatoes
8 cups Arugula
3 TB Truffle peelings
¼ cup Oregano leaves
½ cup Champagne vinegar
¾ cup EVOO
½ tsp Herbamare
1 tsp White pepper
Marinate truffle peeling in olive oil overnight or as long as possible to get the most powerful infusion. Mandolin sweet potatoes on shoestring setting. Stem and wash arugula and oregano. Deep fry shoestring sweet potatoes. Toss all ingredients together. Serve immediately.
Option: add shaved Italian Moliterno with Truffles over top right before serving
CAULIFLOWER MASH AND GRAVY
1 large head Cauliflower
3 Yukon Gold Potatoes
½ cup cashew cream (see below) or soy creamer
5 TB Smart balance
2 tsp Herbamare
1 tsp White pepper
3 TB Blue corn (or regular flour)
3 cups Vegetable stock
¼ cup Roasted onion
8 Roasted garlic cloves
Roast head florets of cauliflower tossed with olive oil and seasoned in 400 degree oven till brown and crispy. Meanwhile boil potatoes till soft and mash cauliflower and potatoes with 2 TB smart balance and ½ cup cashew cream. Make roux with remaining smart balance and blue corn meal or flour. Cook till toasty golden then add vegetable stock roasted onion and mashed garlic cloves. Cook till thickened.
Fresh spring water to cover by several inches
Soak overnight or do a quick soak method by bringing to a boil and letting sit for 20 minutes. Drain and puree in blender with fresh spring water. More or less water will change the thickness of the cream. Add seasonings as desired. Awesome combos are nutmeg and a little agave nectar or a pinch of paprika and white pepper for savory dishes.
1 lb creminis mushrooms
1 cup wine or vegetable stock (can use red or white)
8 oz creminis mushrooms sliced
1 TB olive oil
¼ cup vegan butter
¼ cup gluten free flour
3 + cups vegetable stock
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp (+/-) herbal sea salt
1 TB ground dried porcinis
Rinse pound of mushrooms to remove grit and puree with one cup of wine in a food processor or blender or vitamix. Pour brown sludge into heavy bottomed saucepan and cook very slowly to remove all the water until it is the thickness of a miso paste. Mushrooms are about 80 percent liquid so this will take a while. Stir frequently with heat resistant rubber spatula and don’t rush the process. If you scald it you have to start all over…
In second pan over high heat saute sliced mushrooms in olive oil till crispy. Remove from heat. Lower temp to low medium and put vegan butter in the pan, melt and whisk in gf flour. Let bubble and brown. Whisk in vegetable broth until it is the thickness of light cheese sauce. Whisk in pureed mushroom mixture and sliced mushrooms and spices. Cook slowly and allow to reduce more. Adjust seasonings.
MOMMY’S SO SWEET (POTATOES)
6-8 sweet potatoes
¼ cup Maple syrup or honey
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cayenne (or healthy pinch)
1 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
4 TB vegan butter
½ cup silken tofu (optional)
Cook the potatoes the same way as the butternut squash, skin will fall off and sugars will be properly caramelized. Mash everything together and whip with beaters. If you want super creamy sweet potatoes add ½ cup silken tofu. Put in casserole dish and bake for twenty minutes at 350. Add walnut brittle on top, turn off heat and put back in oven for another five minutes.
3 -4 cups raw walnuts
½ cup vegan margarine
½ cup light brown sugar (can use honey or agave for looser brittle)
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
Healthy pinch cayenne
Heat margarine in heavy skillet capable of holding nuts in a single layer. Put in nuts and let them cook stirring CONSTANTLY. Add in spices and when nuts are browned and spices are fragrant add sugar or agave or honey. After the sugar melts and bubbles put nuts on a single layer on a lined cookie sheet to cool.
GREEN BEANS ALMONDINE
2 lbs Fresh green beans cleaned and snapped in one inch pieces
Boiling water with 1 tsp salt
Ice water bath
1 TB Smart balance
½ cup sliced almonds
½ tsp herbamare
½ tsp white pepper
Toast almonds in a dry pan till fragrant and browned. Blanch beans in boiling water and plunge immediately in an ice water bath. Heat Smart Balance and toss green beans in pan with toasted almonds and season to taste.
Option: when tossing green beans and almonds add a couple teaspoons of honey
ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND MIXED VEGETABLES.
The key to roasting vegetables is to not be afraid of the oil. Most people want to roast with little or no oil and that just means burned and tasteless. Use a medium quality olive oil or organic safflower oil; don’t use expensive and good oils because most of the flavor burns off with high heat. You can finish with a good olive oil. Also don’t bother roasting small quantities of veggies, go big or don’t bother.
The other and MOST important rule is that you cannot mix the different types of veggies in the same pan. THEY MUST BE KEPT SEPARATE!!!! Each vegetable has a different density and EVEN IF YOU CUT THEM THE SAME SIZE IT WONT WORK!!!! Ninety nine times out of one hundred people don’t pay attention to this rule but trust me…did you love your veggies at HOBOS? Of course you did. Use different pans, I promise it will be an entirely different experience.
Also and this is sooooo important. Roast on high heat. Higher than you think. Nope, higher still. Feel like a hot flash yet? Ok that’s high enough.
Get four or five pounds of whatever you are roasting and cut into 1 to 2 inch squares. Cut Brussels in half and remove ugly brown stem end. Slosh oil liberally all over EVERY surface and season with Herbamare and white pepper. LINE YOUR BAKING DISH WITH TIN FOIL. Layer vegetables in a single layer, put in hot oven and move them every five to ten minutes with a spatula. You will want to take them out before they are done. Don’t do it! Wait till almost the entire surface is browned and then remove. You can do this dish one to two days before and if you don’t eat them all toss lightly with high quality olive oil and reheat before serving.
EGGPLANT POT PIE WITH ARTICHOKE BISCUITS
14 cups diced onion
1 cup canola
16 cups diced eggplant
2 ½ cup raw cashews – soaked overnight in spring water
1 cup dried mushroom bits (kibbled mushrooms)
4 TB olive oil
Sautee onions in 1 cup canola (reduces to four cups) over high heat until caramelized
Roast eggplant in 400 degree oven tossed with 1 ½ cups olive oil, 1 tsp herbamare and 1 tsp white pepper. Watch and stir frequently till copper color.
Soak cashews overnight in cold clear water to cover. Drain, rinse, put in blender with spring water to cover. Blend till the consistency of heavy cream. Yields 4 cups.
Put mushroom bits on to boil with 6 cups water turn to high, simmer till all water evaporated
Remove gills of portabellas and slice, sauté over high heat in 4 TB EVOO
After roasting onions, eggplant and hydrating mushrooms, making cashew cream you then add everything together and taste for seasonings. Divide into 8-10 3 cup ramekins. Top with artichoke biscuits.
4 Cups unbleached organic flour or for gluten free use 2 cups Garbonzo flour (ceci) and 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free
1 TB baking powder
1 ½ cups artichoke hearts
1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
2 TB EVOO
¾ cups smart balance
2 TB ice cold water
Roast artichoke hearts in broiler with red pepper flakes, thyme and 2 TB olive oil
Put all ingredients except water in food processer. Blend till the size of peas. Add cold water slowly till dough sticks together. Divide into 8-10 equal balls. Flatten to look like hockey pucks.
Put eggplant mixture in ramekins. Top with artichoke biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
ALMOND OLIVE OIL CAKE
3 cups Garbonzo flour plus more as needed
2 TB baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cup demarara sugar
1/2 cup guava puree
4 tsp flax boiled in ½ cup water (OR 2 egg vegan substitute)
2 TB orange zest
2 TB lemon zest
1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted, coarsely crumbled
2 TB lemon zest
2 finely diced ripe pears – personally I prefer Bartlett’s
5 TB amaretto or pear liqueur
2 tsp organic agave nectar
Toss all ingredients together to blend.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil 8 small ramekins. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Blend liquids together saving the oil for last. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the almonds. Transfer the batter to the prepared ramekins. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool. Top with pear compote and serve
This whole menu has gluten free and soy free options and is entirely
PUMPKIN PIE OR PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE
2 cans (15 ounce each) Pumpkin puree
2 TB Maple syrup
1/3 cup Brown sugar
½ cup vegan Heavy creamer
1 TB Cornstarch
1 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp Vanilla extract
½ tsp Nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne
Whisk cornstarch into creamer. Add all other ingredients together and whisk till well blended. If you are making pumpkin pie cheesecake below you will have more filling than you need and can cut recipe in half or just make two!
PUMPKIN PIE CHEESECAKE FILLING
1 lb organic silken tofu
½ cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons vanilla almond milk
Blend all the filling ingredients in blender for 1-2 minutes till smooth.
Lower oven to 325. Pour filling into pan. Bake for about 15 minutes. Pour pumpkin pie filling over top and return to oven. Cook 50 more minutes. Remove the pumpkin cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool.
Place the cooled pumpkin cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours until chilled and firm.
(I like this best with plain pumpkin filling)
1-2 boxes Gingersnaps (gluten free if necessary enough to make 2 ½ cups crumbs)
2 TB (+/-) Vegan butter
1/4 cup agave nectar
Pinch of pink sea salt
Put gingersnaps, salt and brown sugar in food processor and pulse till broken down. Add vegan butter till ball forms. Press into pie pan and bake in 350 degree oven for five minutes. Fill with pumpkin filling and bake for another 50 minutes. Remove and let cool.
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (GF if necessary)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 TB Smart Balance melted
In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, maple syrup, smart balance and vanilla extract. Mix until the graham cracker crumbs are moistened. Press into pan. Bake in 350 oven for 5 minutes. Remove.