So, there’s this holiday coming up. I think it’s called Thanksgiving?
It’s funny. All through the year, people seem to accept their gluten-free situation with grace. And even a sense of humor. There are stir fries! Pot roast! Tamales! Coleslaw! Deviled eggs! I could write down foods for 20 minutes straight and not run out of choices. Who needs gluten?
However, as soon as November descends with its early darkness, there are querulous cries. How do I make stuffing? Pumpkin pie?
And really, I feel the pain. Behind all these questions lies one big question: how do I make sure that I can create a Thanksgiving meal that will satisfy everyone?
Even more sad, the question is often: how do I make the Thanksgiving meal exactly the way I’ve always eaten it, just without the gluten.
Well here’s the deal. The traditional Thanksgiving meal? I don’t think it’s that great.
Where else would you have sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes in one meal? Where else would you have such anxiety infused in the food? (What’s the best way to cook the turkey without drying it out? Will I kill my family if I don’t cook it enough? Do I cook the stuffing in the bird or out?) And just what is cranberry sauce from a can?
Don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite holiday. There are no presents to gather. No obligations to fulfill. No religious pomp. Just eating.
Still, I seriously wish we could mix up Thanksgiving at our house. I wish we could have a Sicilian feast one year, a Thai meal the next, a squash celebration somewhere in the future. I would love a potluck Thanksgiving, where everyone brings his or her absolute favorite food of all time and we all sit around the table and laugh, raising our glasses to the goodness that surrounds us and the gratitude we have for being there in that moment.
Sadly, that’s not going to happen in my family. Love them as I do, my family drives me nuts with their insistence on tradition. This year, my mother asked if she could make a stuffing from gluten bread. “Why?” I asked her. “Have you not enjoyed the stuffings Danny has made the last few years with the gluten-free bread? Should we be cooking them differently?” No, she said. They’ve been wonderful. She can’t tell the difference. It’s just that gluten is traditional.
Um, okay. Clearly, there won’t be any changes in our menu this year.
So here’s the deal. This time of the year, the visitors on this site triple. (Hi, new people!) I can feel the anxiety bleeding into the white spaces here. And in years past, Danny and I have tried to meet that anxiety with new dishes, spins on old ones, recipes that people request. But we’ve done this for the past five years. I don’t really feel like running a magazine anymore. We have plenty of material for you already, foods that will make everyone feel happy and safe.
We’re happy to round up all of them here, so you don’t have to go searching. Here’s this year’s list:
Broccoli Winter Slaw (vegetarian)
Brussels Sprouts Salad (vegetarian)
Emerald City Salad (vegetarian)
Roasted Vegetable Salad (vegetarian)
BAKED GOODS AND DESSERTS
And a long list of gluten-free dishes for the Thanksgiving table, created by other bloggers!
Clearly, there’s plenty there to peruse!
We’re going to take a few days off from new posts to give you time to digest them all. (ha ha) And we’ll be back on Monday with…well, I don’t know what yet. I know we’re playing with a cornbread dressing, because we’ve never made it. We have a coffee cake we love, a gluten-free flour mix we recommend, and something to do with turnips. Oh, and this kabocha squash-apple cake that Danny insists is the best cake he has ever eaten. That, I know. The rest of the posts before Thanksgiving? We’ll see. They may have nothing to do with Thanksgiving at all.
Obligation doesn’t create good food. This year, we’re just doing what interests us right now.
MAPLE-ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” — Julia Child
These days, I’m passionate about roasting pumpkin seeds. These are so simple that I’m not going to write a typical recipe. You want to move into the kitchen with these soon.
Put a good couple of handful of pumpkin seeds in a cast-iron skillet. Slide it into an oven, already preheated to 350°.
Set the timer for 10 minutes. Don’t forget this step. You don’t want to burn these. Check them. Shake them around. Toasty enough? Take them out? Want more? Go longer.
Turn the oven down to 250°.
Meanwhile, melt 2 ounces of butter (that’s 1/2 a stick in the US) with 1/4 cup maple syrup. Heat them until they start to simmer vigorously. Shake that pan, to prevent burning, until the maple butter has reduced in half its volume.
Toss the pumpkin seeds into the maple butter. Stir to coat.
Pour them back into the cast-iron skillet. Back into the oven with the pumpkin seeds! Roast until the maple butter has started to shrink and harden a bit. The pumpkin seeds will be toasty and the liquid a little candied.
Pull them out of the oven. Let these puppies cool.
(You’ll want to make these by next week, when I share the recipe for the kabocha squash cake. These are in that cake.)