November 15, 2007
It seems appropriate to begin this blog on Thanksgiving, especially when I think of all I’ve learned since accepting this new way of life. It has been incredible so far in so many ways, over the last few years since I began and really, I only see it becoming more so as I continue on. I will say a bit about my self and my journey so far, as the blog progresses, but first let me show you what I had for Thanksgiving this year. This is a slight variation on last year’s menu, which was such a success that I decided to just stick with it and I must say, I do believe I feel a bit of a tradition coming on! Though really, it must surely be much too soon to say that, I’ve really, really enjoyed this preparation both years. And so without further ado, may I present:
Shitake Consomme with Arugula garnish to start
Nut and Seed Loaf with Shitake Mash
Cranberry Compote in a pool of Balsamic syrup
Baby Spinach and Arugula Salad with Balsamic vinaigrette
Apple Pear Pave’ with a Nut crust
First of all just let me say: I know. The Pilgrims most certainly did not bring shitake logs over on their ships, but hey, I am very grateful for this particular shroom and so they played a starring role in my personal repertoire of gratitude. And justifiably so. The shitake consomme was SO delicious that I nearly fell off my chair with the first pungent spoonful. Wow! I used dried shitakes, because I knew from my macrobiotic days that the soaking liquid retained a lot of color and some flavor but, amazingly, I had never tried to make a soup from it specifically (because I only rarely used dried ones, preferring the fresh) and so never knew what I had been missing. Kids! It makes an amazing broth, with a bit of the best sea salt you have and a few of the mushrooms sliced into the broth – it was good to go. I will try other dried shitakes later to confirm that this is a reliable trait.
One of the reasons this soup was so incredible was that I tasted distinct and powerful pepper notes, so it was only logical that I add a sprig of this amazing baby arugala that someone in the neighborhood grows and sells to the local grocery store. I was tempted to use an entire handful, mmm, and likely will in my next bowl but decided to exercise restraint as the over-all theme of this Thanksgiving meal was: less is more. Less is more at Thanksgiving???! I know, but I really wanted to give thanks in a simple way that honored my belly and allowed me to truely appreciate the great food I am So blessed to receive! By the end of the evening, I’m sure everyone can relate to just how truely grateful I was; and so was my belly.
That started us off fabulously and next up was the main course, visible in the photo at the top of the post. The main entree was a variation on a Nut and Seed loaf recipe that I created for Thanksgiving last year and which I am trying to come up with a better name for. “Loaf” somehow doesn’t sound terribly appetizing or worthy of being one of the star attractions of a holiday celebration. But it tasted appetizing, all right. Wonderfully delicious, if I do say so my self. I was thinking it might be a bit too simple to be special – I was worried because I’d somehow forgotten a few ingredients at the market – I needn’t have worried. It held it’s own flawlessly, much to my surprise, and after a few tweaks and substitutions was really possibly better than last year’s, just for being simpler. How fun that that can work in our favor sometimes. Or should I say, “in our flavor”, heh.
One of the major goofs that was nearly a disaster was that I had somehow run out of almond butter, which is a major component of the gravy I make to go with the bird/loaf. I recovered by attempting to make a gravy out of the extra reconstituted shitakes because there were extra after making the consumme. Re-hydrated shitakes are very, sort of, gummy however so it ended up becoming a shitake ‘mash’ that I used to top the loaf instead of a gravy, and it worked beautifully, I was relieved to discover. The mash had a light and creamy, unctuous chew that perfectly complemented the crisp crust of the loaf and the moist, herby nut interior. It was gooooood.
Next to that on the plate was a pool of balsamic syrup with a small pressed disk of cranberry apple compote made with the balsamic instead of maple syrup. (I’d run out of maple syrup – of course! which I use instead of agave until I can get real agave that is undiluted with corn syrup – Si! It’s a scandal in the agave world down there in Mexico. I’ll try to post on it coming up.) Thankfully, it worked perfectly together and as a happy surprise, the yummy syrup was delicious with the nut loaf, in exactly the same way that I used to eat each bite of turkey with a forkful of cranberry sauce. Only this really was much better! You know, we are really on to something here. This way of eating is just so much more delicious; and that it is healthier too? Well, we are at the forefront of a wave that is HUGE! I need a vegetable garden or an entire farm, like, right now. And some friends with nut orchards so that we can do trades!
Next item on the plate was again, very simple, but so fresh and good, which is the only way simple works. Local, organic baby spinach and baby arugula. (Everything I use is organic or transitional – goes without saying. I bought a few items recently, like an onion and a zucchini, at a non-organic market and there was a woman actually !yelling! at me for not buying organic in my dream that night. !?! I’ve been totally organic for most of my life and I grab something ONE TIME and the dream police descend. Stay on your toes, folks, this has apparently become serious business!) The salad was dressed with a basic and perfect balsamic vinaigrette using Udo’s EFA Blend oil, a small squirt of lemon and a little sea salt and pepper. I like a bit of lemon in dressings. I only use vinegar in a dressing about once or twice a year, for the holidays really, because I generally prefer lemon both for it’s benefits, and because palatable balsamic is a pricey luxury. Justifiably so, but still. And there is a Meyer lemon tree in my back yard, after all.
After I savored the last bite of, um, loaf with the last smidge of sweet balsamic, I wanted to wait a while before dessert. So I spent some time thanking my lucky stars and everyone else involved that this meal actually came together given the shortage of ingredients. It was really one of those times when everything worked out against all odds! Whew Hoo! I’ve cooked professionally for years and while raw food is the same content, it is a different format and you just never know. I was very lucky!
It was a lovely Apple Pear Pave on top of a nut crust, made with almonds and currents. I would have used dates, as they are so cozy with apples, but! I had run out and forgotten to get those too! How could I run out of such basics, you ask? Well, precisely because they are such basics, I usually buy them in large quantities so that I always have them on hand, which works perfectly for quite a lengthy period of time, until you decide to go on a mad kitchen frenzy of food fixin’ and use up the last of everything and then start a new job and then a couple of other random elements spring out of nowhere and upset your normal routine on top of everything else – et voila! It’s suddenly Thanksgiving and half of your ingredients are not there. How fortunate that improvisation is one of my hidden talents – whew – otherwise, I’d have been…toast?
And so, as the evening came to an end, I lounged around in a semi trance of – Not! a food coma, yay! – but instead, a BLISS of Deliciousness, and I spent some time in appreciation for many, many things, not least of which is the good fortune to have such wonderful food as this for my meals, every day! Actually, this was quite a fancy meal for everyday, I like it simpler most days, but the drift is that it is so nice to have the choice and the knowledge of how to create whatever I feel like having. All of my senses were engaged in the happiest of ways and gave me so very much to feel grateful for. May you also, have the means and inclination to fulfill your own senses with the best of healthy flavors and share with whoever is interested. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
And welcome to my blog! Comments are greatly appreciated as I read and highly value them all! This site has three major goals:
1) To inspire anyone to appreciate the abundance, creativity, connection and joy that health can bring into your life through food.
2) To illustrate specifically how to make appetizing, healthy food for yourself and others.
3) To exercise my writing skills so that I am able to communicate the message of my highest self. I am creating a way of doing more of what I love and truly enjoy – food/art/health, photography, writing and what helps, or at least entertains, others so help me out by posting here and subscribing to the RSS! And I will help you all I can!