Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Transforming Traditions

Since Thanksgiving of 2006 I picked up where my mother left off and, as her former sous-chef, continued to prepare a Thanksgiving feast just as she did for the family that survived her. The meal is simple and has an expected menu year after year. Our feast includes, but is not limited to:
  • Roasted Turkey
  • Stuffing (it is really dressing, since I don't stuff the bird, but over the years we have all become accustomed to calling it "stuffing")
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Broccoli
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Giblet gravy
Having worked alongside my mother for most of the 29 Thanksgivings I shared with her, I picked up most of the recipes, or at least where to find them when my time came. When Thanksgiving 2006 arrived, engorged with emotion, I was terrified I would not be able to deliver. Luckily, all went well, and due to that, the tradition has stayed alive and I am amidst preparations for another Thanksgiving with a menu I have practiced and refined over the last four years.

However, this year is different. As I looked down my list of items to prepare for my family, I realized that as fabulous as this may all turn out to be there are only two-three items I can realistically eat this year. You see, with my gluten and dairy sensitivities I can only eat the broccoli and cranberry sauce as they are currently prepared and maybe the turkey if I do something about the butter that I use in its preparation. I knew I would have to sacrifice some of my holiday treats due to my new dietary restrictions, but looking at it on paper, item by item, recipe by recipe, this was a lot more than I had accounted for!

It is an intriguing predicament to be stuck in. I have been very good about changing my habits thus far in order to follow that which has helped my health in ways I never would have imagined before, but this meal is different. This meal is about so much more than just food. This tradition is something I shared with my parents, both of whom are gone. I felt blessed in 2006 when I realized that I could somehow still capture the essence of those memories through my own abilities in the kitchen. I have felt that this meal, this ritual, this ceremony of sorts was a day to keep my family alive. I know it is silly and yet I know, now, for the first time as I write this, that this has been the reason I could not change Thanksgiving in my home.

And now I have to not for anyone else, but for me. Unfortunately, it seems I could not come to this realization any earlier than Thanksgiving Eve.

So the question arises: What will I do for myself this Thanksgiving? As it occurred to me a little earlier today, I have had this thought bouncing around in my head for a couple of hours (it was actually more like, "What the heck am I going to eat on Thursday?!"). Here are some things I think I will do:

Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
Now, I am not suggesting that I serve this to everyone (there seriously might be a coup!), but after all the potatoes are boiled, I will set aside a serving for myself and prepare them without the butter and milk. It is simple enough (I got this from Lidia's Italian American Kitchen):
  1. Drain the potatoes, saving some of the liquid.
  2. Put potatoes in a dry pot and heat to ensure any liquid evaporates.
  3. Add the olive oil. (About 1 tablespoon per large potato.)
  4. Mash and mix until almost smooth.
  5. Add potato water to moisten.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Reheat if necessary.
  8. Transfer to a large bowl, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top.
I bought a bunch of beets on my last trip to the Farmer's Market because they are just about my favorite things out there. I am tossing and turning between two different recipes in my Jack Bishop cookbook - either Roasted beet salad with Sherry Vinegar or Roasted beet salad with lemon and olives. Ooooo I don't know... they both make my mouth water! Whichever one I go with though, I am definitely roasting those beets. If you haven't done this before, it is a ridiculously easy thing to do.
  1. Preheat oven to 400ยบ.
  2. Trim all but the last inch of the stem off the beets. Wash your beets really well (I use  my super awesome OXO veggie brush that my brother got me for my birthday) and cut off any dangling roots.
  3. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil. Place them in the oven and roast until a skewer goes right through them (about an hour).
  4. Remove the beets from the oven, open the foil and let them cool. Use a paper towel to rub the skin off of the warm beets (I am always amazed at how it just comes right off!).
Other Greens
I know I will have green beans left over after preparing the green bean casserole (I bought extra) and I also bought some frozen spinach (I haven't had frozen spinach in nearly a year!), so I might make those so I can veggie myself to death.

I recently bought Glutino gluten free and dairy free bread crumbs. Glutino is a company that has always come highly recommended, so I thought, "Let me grab this and try it out!" I haven't had the opportunity to open it up yet, but when I was trying make room in my cabinet this week, I noticed a recipe for stuffing on the back of the bread crumbs. I might try this one, although it has sausage in it and I haven't had much luck with sausage lately (I can't seem to find one that my tummy likes!). I noticed, after a quick web search, that I am not the only one that is considering this particular gluten free Thanksgiving option.

That's all I've come up with for now, but this day isn't through! It is funny, now, at the end of this post, I am excited about the idea of doing something new this Thanksgiving... I guess this really is a transformation of sorts.

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