gluten-free Thanksgiving, 2008

autumnal squash puree I

Can you smell it?

Whiffs of woodsmoke, unexpectedly. Damp skin — approaching drenched — from steady rainstorms. The first hints of cinnamon in the kitchen.

Nearly all the leaves on the trees have surrendered to the ground. The sky has become a flat scrim of grey. We have lived through Halloween, the time change, and the election. Instead of tricks, confusion, and divisiveness, it’s time for gratitude.

The Chef and I are grateful for so many moments of this year of birth and surprise, most of them too small and enormous to write here. Little Bean, in every moment of her life, has given us such wide-grinning joy that I don’t know how to write it. As one of our dearest friends said last night about her daughter, only four weeks younger than Little Bean, “Sometimes I love her so much that it positively hurts.”

Life has slowed down. I never knew that the greatest gratitude could come on the couch at 6:30 in the morning, the newspaper opened but still unread, little squeaks and giggles the best noise in the world. Whenever Little Bean smiles at us, we drop everything but our thankfulness.

Considering the way her life began, Little Bean’s presence in the world is all we need to feel grateful for this year.

We can think of no better way to celebrate that gratitude than with food. The long communal table, heaped high with platters of steaming food, surrounded by people who love each other? Well, we aren’t all so lucky to have that moment. That’s why, when we are in Tucson with the Chef’s parents, a few weeks from now, we’ll pause for a moment of gravity, the gratitude for the gravy even more immense.

Now, Thanksgiving actually inspires a lot of anxiety for some of us. Each year, the hits to this site start rising, about now. Every google search seems to be the same: gluten-free Thanksgiving. Gluten-free stuffing. Gluten-free pie. So many seem so eager to replicate the meal from the year before, without growing sick.

I still say the meal could use a bit of mixing up. How about homemade focaccia bread for the stuffing? Or curried red lentil puree for a pre-meal dip? Cranberries with shiso and cucumber? Why not experiment?

But you know what? Every year, even with the Chef in our lives, my family has still eaten essentially the same meal as the year before. There’s something comforting in the increasing dark and cold about eating our familiar foods.

And so, in the spirit of celebrating the familiar, I’m offering up some pieces from the past, old tried and true recipes that still work for Thanksgiving:

Gluten-free gravy

Gluten-free herb stuffing

Cranberry chutney

Gluten-free pumpkin pie

Some advice on how to survive this and still feel grateful, gluten-free:

How to have a gluten-free Thanksgiving

How to cook for someone gluten-free

Some lessons we learned after last Thanksgiving

And finally, if you want to throw in some food that is not so familiar, here are some suggestions of what might fill out that table:

broiled figs with brie

frisee salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette

butternut squash soup with smoked paprika

green beans with pancetta

sea scallops dusted with black rice flour

meyer lemon sorbet

In these next frantic weeks of the holidays approaching, I hope we can all pause to find places for which we are grateful. Me? Right now?

I’m grateful for the annoying sound of the Wii remote as the Chef plays Tiger Woods golf behind me. (Last year, I wondered why my father bought a Wii for himself. This year, I’m happy that they bought one for us.) I’m thankful for the tin whistle and Wabash washboard sounds of the Hoosier Hot Shots coming from the stereo in the corner. I feel my feet on the floor, my hair that needs washing, my stomach grumbling contentedly after breakfast. The rain has stopped, after a blast of the Pineapple Express for 24 hours. I can see. Mostly, though, I’m so filled with gratitude, like water rising up the banks of the river, for the little girl cooing on the playmat to my left, her feet constantly kicking, her fingers in her mouth, those eyes alive.

She is here, and so are we.

The meal on Thanksgiving Day is important, but the gratitude is more.

For what are you grateful this year?

autumnal squash puree II

Autumnal squash puree

Inspired by everyone’s comments on squash a couple of weeks ago, the Chef and I tried Delicata squash for the first time. After roasting it with a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper — so basic — we sat down to eat. After one bite, we both looked at each other in amazement. “How have we not eaten this before?”

Since then, I have been smitten. We’ve been eating it nearly every day. Yesterday, we discovered that the combination of Delicata, butternut, and sweet potato is so potent in a puree that we’re going to be making this for Thanksgiving in a few weeks.

You might like it too.

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
½ large butternut squash, peeled and cubed, seeds removed
½ Delicata squash, peeled and cubed, seeds removed
1 tablespoon salt

½ cup olive oil
½ large onion, rough chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
½ teaspoon rosemary, chopped

¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

Put about 4 cups cold water and the salt into a large saucepan. Put in the sweet potato, butternut squash, and Delicata squash. (You should have enough water to cover the vegetables.) Bring them to a boil and let them cook until you can put a knife through the sweet potato.

Drain them. Set aside.

While the sweet potato and squashes are cooking, heat up 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Cook on medium to low heat until they are soft. Add the sage and rosemary. Cook for one more minute.

Add the spices to the onions and herbs.

Put the vegetables and the onion mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the butter and remaining olive oil.

Season to taste.

Feeds 4.

44 comments on “gluten-free Thanksgiving, 2008

  1. La Niña

    Almost one year ago you diagnosed Booth with celiac. This will be my first gluten-free Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to making this one to remember… and my family and friends will not know the difference!

    I am grateful for you, Shauna– and the miracles that have swirled around you/us in the time we’ve known each other… Danny, Lucy, books, food, love. What more can we be grateful for: friends, food and love.

    The rest is just gluten-free gravy.

  2. GREEN KEY

    I agree with you about mixing up the Thanksgiving menu. I am no longer a vegetarian, but for all the many years I was, I got creative about special food for Thanksgiving. It’s fun to create new items to add to the traditional menu. The best of them will become traditional!

  3. Suzanne

    I really appreciate your post as I am hosting two gluten-free people this year.

    Best,

    Suzannesloco

  4. Sho

    –grateful that my Crohn’s was diagnosed 15 days after ending up in the ER (on Yom Kippur) and that the right medication was started.

    I would like a nice sweet potato recipe without added sugar. It is already sweet enough. Maybe walnuts or marcona almonds…

    ~Shoshannah

  5. Dr. Jean Layton

    Hi Shauna,
    The squash puree is definitely on the list to cook this weekend!

    You ask what we are thankful for this year. For my family, it is the joy of being healthy after so long hurting. The comraderie of friends, the support of folks like you who put such energy and joy into all the food you create.

    Thanks again for coming up to Bellingham, for allowing me the joy of holding your amazing daughter. She is a very, very lucky girl to have parents like you and Danny.

  6. Joy

    I was going to list the things I’m grateful for in my comment, but instead I think I’m going to make it a blog post. :0)

  7. Gina Perry

    Your squash recipe sounds heavenly — something for me to try on my family, nothing too different but not the same ol’ butternut mash. Last year I made your GF stuffing and several non-GF people were won over, including my mother who is a stickler (as was I) for her traditional stuffing. I think the fresh herbs made all the difference in the world. Here’s to having so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

  8. Anonymous

    I have been enjoying your blog immensely for about a year now! Will be trying delicata soon. Thank you so much for all you do for those of us who feed Gluten Free folks!!!

  9. Ellemay

    Although we don’t do Thanksgiving, every year a group of friends has a huge Christmas dinner. Entirely gluten free.

    You are completely right about not being afraid to ask stupid questions. I’ve spent the last two years peppering my gf friends with questions about what they can have and even more importantly what they like!

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  10. Mama JJ

    “Whenever Little Bean smiles at us, we drop everything…” Even your drawers? Thanks for the giggle!

    –JJ

  11. Becky

    I love squash and just prepared delicata myself for the first time earlier this week.

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday — the great family and food without the gift pressure. And this post made me cry, especially as I just had a great morning with my husband talking to our baby in my belly, the one we can’t wait to meet in January …

    I have been diagnosed with celiac but it never developed very far and I can occasionally cheat, so I am planning to cheat on stuffing for Thanksgiving. I just haven’t found a GF bread I like enough to sub for such a traditional occasion and I haven’t taken the step of making my own bread yet .…

  12. Ellen

    i just LOVE my orange veggies, and i crave them regularly. however, i do NOT love them sweet, gooey or syrupy. i just never understood the need to take a flavorful, naturally sweet food and hide it under marshmallows or brown sugar.

    thank you for this savory recipe. it sounds amazing. here’s to comfort food!

  13. Sho

    Jeez! I left a comment here earlier about being grateful that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s 15 days after being in the ER. What I meant was that I am lucky that my doctor diagnosed me quickly so that I could go on the medicine and get better. I am grateful for the quick diagnosis.

    And for this site!

    ~Shoshannah

  14. Anonymous

    I am grateful that this month will mark the one year anniversary of my being GF. After being sick for over 23 years, it still feels like a miracle to finally understand what was wrong.

    Lisa16

  15. Deborah Dowd

    Isn’t it funny how we are drawn to the same foods at Thanksgiving?As mykids have grown, any attempt to try something new is met with questions and consternation. Tradition is very important to children. I am thankful to have happy, healthy children who still want to spend time with me (and each other) even though they are grown!

  16. Anonymous

    Becky,

    Treatment for Celiac Disease requires complete and total abstinence from gluten, and 100% compliance with the gluten-free diet. Please don’t hurt your body and further your disease, not to mention open yourself up to other, not-as-simply treated autoimmune diseases, by eating gluten-containing foods. With so many alternatives there isn’t any reason to eat traditional, gluteny stuffing.
    I say this to you in the most supportive way possible.

  17. Anonymous

    My mother called me a few weeks ago & said that this year it’s going to be a completely gluten-free Thanksgiving. Since little man’s diagnosis she has made changes to the holiday dinner, not cooking stuffing in the bird, etc, but this year she’s going all the way! Like she says, all her babies eat at her house.

    And all because of a little man who’s not even 6 yet.
    Susan

  18. Anne

    Shauna,
    Your site is so inspiring. I’ve been gluten free for one year now. When I went to the book store looking for a gluten free cookbook I found Gluten Free Girl and I’ve been a devoted follower ever since.

    My mom and I cook Thanksgiving together and she insists on honoring my grandma’s recipes, which include adding cream of chicken soup to the gravy. I’d like to use your gravy recipe but I’m afraid of resistance from her. She also makes the stuffing using grandma’s recipe, so I just avoid the stuffing and gravy but that’s obviously no fun. I did add a wonderful FRESH sweet potato casserole last year, and some expensive chocolates for my dessert. I haven’t had much luck with gluten free baking yet, which is a disappointment, but I’ll keep trying. Maybe this year I’ll try a gluten free pumpkin pie. Thank you for your wonderful site!

  19. Petulia

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! I am in Paris and will have some American friends coming over. I was really hoping to welcome them with a Thanksgiving dinner on the 27th, and now I can make it gluten free (this way they will not be the only ones eating!). Thank you!

  20. milhan

    I love Thanksgiving! This year I am thinking about having cornish hens instead of turkey, and stuffing them with a Turkish rice pilaf made with pinenuts, currants and cinnamon. Just feel like mixing things up a bit :)

  21. Lisa

    Oh jeez, I am grateful for so much. I’m grateful that I’m getting married next year to the man who’s been my best friend for almost five years. I’m grateful for the health of my family, my job security, the food in my fridge. I’m grateful that my first child will most likely be born in an Obama presidency! After a very rough 2007, there is so much to be grateful for this year. As my fiance said at the start of this year, “2007 was far from heaven, but 2008 is going to be great!”

  22. glutenfreeforgood

    I have been addicted to kabocha squash this fall. I’ve been getting it in my CSA box and have made some wonderful thick soups out of it. Like your puree, but with broth to lighten it up. And I agree about mixing it up on Thanksgiving. I always do some kind of a green chile casserole dish as a side rather than the typical sweet potatoes or green beans.
    Melissa

  23. Marlow

    I am currently reading your book and I just got to the part about your first Gluten Free Thanksgiving. This year will be my first Thanksgiving since my Celiac diagnosis and I am SO NERVOUS about my Thanksgiving. My family is very understanding, but also very Southern! Everything is dredged in flour. Luckily my sister is hosting it this year because she recently had her own little punkin and her and her husband aren’t quite ready to travel! Although she is not gluten free, she does have food allergies, so she at least understands where I’m coming from!

    I am loving your book. It is teaching me to be strong and not shy about my condition, I need that more than anything!

  24. Becky

    Anonymous, I prefer to take action based on what my doctor and my body tell me. And that is that occasional ingestion of gluten does no harm to me physically. Maybe that means I don’t really have celiac disease. Maybe there is a spectrum that is not understood (as much in this area is not well understood). I don’t judge or question those who instantaneously react to the tiniest bits of contamination, even though that does not match my experience of the condition.

    I’m also not encouraging others to eat gluten without care, I hope my comment won’t be interpreted that way. I’m just sharing a variation in experience with this community.

  25. Jamie

    Shauna — you’ve inspired me to run out and get some squash. Yum!

    Becky — please don’t feel like you’re getting jumped on here, but a true diagnoses of Celiac Disease means that whether or not you are experiencing symptoms (believe it or not, there are people out there that have it and don’t know it because they are asymptomatic) you MUST refrain from eating gluten in any shape or form. I’m not sure what type of tests your doctor did to give you that diagnoses, but if you were told you have it, then the gluten free diet is the only way to treat it.

    I am one of those people who has it, but am not that sensitive to gluten. I have, on accident, ingested gluten on occasions since I’ve been diagnosed with no ill effects — but I still do not choose to eat it because of the implications it carries (damage to the small intestine and puts you at a higher risk of damaging your body in other ways — as this all should have been explained to you at the time of your diagnoses).

    You’re right though — it is your choice, but there is no spectrum to the disease — you either have it, or you don’t — and if you do, the only way to live with it is to eat gluten free.

    I hope it all gets sorted out for you and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  26. Anonymous

    I grew up in a really big family where Tday was about mountains of food. My Mom really knew how to cook (I never knew you could buy cranberries in a can until I went to college) so it was great, but massive and always followed by the food coma. 2 years ago we switched to making not loads of food, but a favorite for each person with the best ingredients we could find and the making became the celebration. No food comas ensued and we really were able to enjoy every minute. We haven’t looked back since.

  27. pokettiger

    This last Saturday we held my husband and I hosted our first Grateful Veggie Fest and made a Thanksgiving style meal for a small group of friends that was entirely vegan. So much fun to cook for friends and share delicious recipes. We felt so grateful to sit down with friends and toast each other and to our hopes for the future.

  28. jbeach

    What a lovely post. Thank you! I’m grateful to read your words, that’s for sure. Ever since a GF friend turned me on to your blog and I read through your archives, I look forward to each post and the wisdom (and recipe!) it delivers.

    I am going to try this squash puree asap.

    Thank you for the reminder to pause and consider how to be present in the moment and appreciate all that we have to be thankful for.

  29. Bowl of Soul Gal

    I am grateful for being a Celiac because of the abundance it has brought to my life and for the wonderful, world-wide GF community that is right at our fingertips. I’m also grateful for your blog and your book, Shauna. You inspire me.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  30. Kinderhook

    That comment about loving your child so much it hurts rang so true to me. I remember my infant daughter every time you mention yours. But you want to know the really wonderful thing? That love doesn’t go away. I still love that daughter so much it hurts and she’s now an amazing, lovely, kind, and generous 37 year old woman who will one day have her own amazing children. And there was no such thing as terrible twos or terrible teens. It’s all been wonderful.

  31. Anonymous

    I’m looking at my 22 month old trying to understand his new language. I think that he spoke Mandarin and Russian in a past life…that wonder, amazement and painful love get stronger every day.

  32. Anonymous

    I get sick from Jennie-O extra lean turkey breast. My doctor tells me I need to find a turkey that is 100% corn fed. Any suggestions.

  33. Kristin Byrne

    Hi, I have a question about your GF Sugar Cookies from a post in Nov. 2007. I noticed its the same recipe as Bette Hagman’s except for your recipe omits the salt? Was that intentional?
    Thanks for the great blog!

  34. Star Gal

    Amazing GF bread — sold at Whole Foods. Called Prairie bread. I had given up all hope on ever eating a good bread again, then I found this!

    Also, La Tortilla sells an amazing wrap — Ivory Teff Wrap that is sold at our local grocery store — also GF — Yeah, I can eat burritos again!

    Cheers,

  35. Sally

    Still one of my favorite fall dishes! Making it tonight to go with pork tenderloin with cranberry sauce. We roast the squash (squashes?) instead of boiling them for an extra depth of flavor and otherwise follow the recipe as-is.

  36. Gina Perry

    Two of your recipes have become Thanksgiving staples: this amazing puree, and your stuffing. Thank you for all that you have done for those eating (or cooking for) gluten-free.