Almost Time (+ A Few More Thanksgiving Recipes)

Thanksgiving menu planning, plus a few recipes for naturally flourless and vegetarian recipes for your holiday meal.

Confession: my head has not truly been in the Thanksgiving game this year. Part of it’s the weather – sun for days, temps in the 70s -, part of it’s the whole living not in America, and part of it’s just my hard-won philosophy of taking days as they come and one at a time. So I don’t think too terribly far ahead, and as any cook worth her/his salt knows this is pretty near impossible to do when it comes to the biggest U.S.-cooking holiday of the year. Still, it’s time. Today it’s gloomy and rainy – hurrah! – and we went to the coolest little market/marche yesterday morning to stock up on beautiful produce and turkey (photos to come on Wednesday). We’ve invited a few friends coming to sup with us on Thursday and a couple more for drinks during the afternoon. I think I’m finally getting into it a little bit.

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Thanksgiving for All (+ Dessert Recipes)

A naturally flourless whole grain crust bolsters a creamy pumpkin pie filling that demands a place at the Thanksgiving table. Plus a few recipes for naturally flourless pumpkin desserts and notes on cooking holiday meals for those with unique diets.

When the holidays loom there’s often a bit of trepidation on the part of the host when faced with diners who may have particular dietary needs. If you’re like me and you don’t want to ask your lovely guests to bring their own food — or resign them to ‘just fill up on sides!’ — you’ll want to branch out a bit and seek recipes that ensure everyone leaves the table wholly satisfied.

I wrote an story for NPR a few years ago about the gluten-free (and vegan) holiday table and have written extensively here and there about vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving as well as Thanksgiving (and/or Christmas if you celebrate) on the lighter side. In my own smallish family there’s a vegetarian, someone who eats low fat/low cholesterol, and someone who keeps gluten-free. When I’m cooking Thanksgiving I like to make sure there’s a lot of vegetables prepared simply and healthfully, a hearty main course vegetarian dish (often vegan) that all who are gathered round can enjoy, and most likely a turkey served with vegetarian (and perhaps gluten-free) gravy and vegetable-cornbread stuffing that’s quick as anything to make gluten-free. I find it easy and also enjoyable to cook with an eye towards accommodating all but I also know it can be daunting. With that in mind I’m going to share some links, thoughts, and recipes in the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday in hopes of helping make your meal preparations less about stress and more about enjoying the day and your company.

Because why save the best for last, I’ll start things off with dessert. Specifically, a recipe for gluten-free pumpkin pie.

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Making Good Use (+ A Beet Soup)

Making good use of beets by turning them into a velvety, dairy-free soup that’s spiked with lemon juice.

She totters around the downstairs of our rather enormous house and I let her, hanging back with my cup of coffee (if it’s morning) or tea (if it’s late afternoon) and granting her the illusion that she’s on her own to discover what there is to discover. My intrepid explorer; I hope one day soon her path is the granite of the Sierras rather than the cold, slick tiles of this house (though admittedly granite can be cold and slick too).

There’s a rather astonishing number and variety of birds in our neighborhood; often they fly in great flocks over the slightly pollution-stained houses and somewhat raggedy palm trees and alight on bougainvilla branches and garden walls. There’s one in particular that sounds like a blue jay and every time I hear it I think of being in the redwood forest, maybe Armstrong Woods in particular, the quiet hum of the trees and rushing water and hot summer pressing down all around me. Intellectually I know of course that there are no blue jays here – mourning doves, sea gulls, small white cranes, …. yes, but no jays or other birds similarly familiar to we North Americans – but if I take a moment to close my eyes I can almost believe I am in California of an August afternoon with nothing much to do other than listen to the leaves falling down to carpet the dry ground.

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{Gluten-free, Vegan} Pumpkin Waffles

Gluten-free and vegan pumpkin waffles made with [g-f] oat flour and maple syrup that are perfect for fall even if you’re stuck in the land of endless summer.

[Beach, Casablanca, October 2014.]

I have a nice post in the works for a really stellar beet soup (yes — beet soup. I didn’t believe it either.) but first: we are currently experiencing sort of an endless summer vibe here in Casablanca which despite the calendar telling me it’s November 3 is throwing my internal compass off a bit. I haven’t lived in Southern California but I imagine it’s somewhat the same, minus the horses on the beach I suppose. I never thought I’d be looking forward to rain but I am and there is hope it may arrive tomorrow morning.

To help us get into the fall spirit I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for a Halloween party last week as well as a loaf of the pumpkin-maple bread from Flourless. Truth be told I had a rather large can of pumpkin to finish off and Saturday morning had me up early and thinking about how to use it. Pancakes seemed the obvious choice but, I don’t know, I hadn’t pulled out the waffle iron in far too long so — why not? For ‘fun’ I decided to make my pumpkin waffles not only vegan but gluten-free as well, relying upon oat flour as their base.

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Run On (+ Gluten-Free Whole Grain Biscuits)

[On a run, October 2014.]

I finally downloaded a GPS running app for my phone and hello long runs, my old friends, I didn’t even know I was revisiting you until Runtastic told me so. 8.2 miles is my new weekend run and I’m happy to report that I’ve been running that occasionally for months thinking it was more like 6, maybe 7, miles. Predictably I overextended myself last week and ended up logging 24 miles total and damn, it felt good. Two years ago tomorrow I ran a marathon – missing a PR by three minutes – and so I will try to commemorate it in the morning by pushing myself just a bit farther even than the 8.2 if it doesn’t rain. I haven’t run more than 11 miles in almost two years; I can’t even believe that’s truth but it is. My love of going long has been well documented on this site and I get itchy when I can’t.

This past year has been sort of a blur and I cadged runs when I could (with more miles spent on the treadmill than I’d like to admit). Suddenly my birthday looms in three days and fall is churning on, carrying us relentlessly toward the close of 2014. I’d rather be running out to Arch Rock than dodging pedestrians and horses along the Corniche but beggars can’t be choosers and this is what I have to work with in my present reality. I remind myself at least there is an ocean within throwing distance even if it’s not my beloved Pacific.

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The Weekly Pot (+ Sweet Potato and Vegetable Soup)

We’ve been listening to a lot of Pete Seeger’s great album “Song and Play Time” – which apparently my brother and I listened to when we were kids – after my dad got Sierra hooked on “Ha, Ha, This-A-Way” while we were in California this summer. I don’t love a lot of the ‘popular’ children’s music out there but you really can’t beat Pete Seeger. It’s a truly lovely little album that becomes more catchy the more you listen to it. Funny how that happens. I’ve especially been humming “Soon As We Cook Sweet Potatoes” when I make soup, because, lucky me, I often can and do find yams/sweet potatoes (Japanese yams is what I think they are) here at the market. I’ve been tucking them into salads but mostly have been making vegetable soups heavy on the yams and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge.

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