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Well, a little breather before the next rush of the Holiday activities. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. It was very relaxing and for the first time in many years, we didn’t dash off to shop on Black Friday. Extended Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday has kinda eliminated the need to.

Every year since we came to the U S, Thanksgiving has always been held at our house. Different combinations of relatives have graced our tables. I have had so much fun planning the meals and preparing it. I thought it would be nice to deconstruct my Thanksgiving preparation and share the process with you.

I usually start a week before TG and list out all the usual suspects of a vegetarian TG meal and l start to think about how to make a menu out of it. I mull over different combinations of meal ideas, then run it by my family and we decide on what is going to grace our table. One caveat though, no repeats from previous years. Except for a bread stuffing which has become a staple every year.

So here is my list I started with for this year,

Cranberries, Pecans, Members of the Pumpkin/Squash family, Corn, Lima beans, Green apples, Apple cider, Sweet potatoes, Green beans, Bread, Biscuits, Sage, Maple Syrup.

And this was our menu that we decided on

Mulled Cider

Bread Stuffing

Succotash  Pot Pies

Salad with Sweet Potato Chips

Apple Cider Dressing

Oven baked Green Beans and Onions. [A nod to the classic Green Beans casserole, skipped the mushrooms as we were not feeling it this year]

Upside down Apple Cake with Cranberries, Pecans and Maple Butter.

I woke up on Thanksgiving Day, literally with a song on my lips and a smile on my face, happy to cook our planned meal. I set a huge pot of apple cider with cloves and cinnamon to simmer on the stove so the aroma would infuse the house and greet the family as they woke up. While everybody was still asleep I made candied pecans and sugared cranberries. These were going into the cake that I was going to make. Besides making mulled cider, I also reduced some apple cider to ¼ of its quantity. This was going to make an appearance in several recipes later. Got a head start on a few things, till the familia could come down and help with the rest of the meal.

Candied Pecans [for the cake and munching!]

1 cup pecan halves

2 tablespoons reduced apple cider [reduced to 1/4 of original quantity]

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon melted butter, salted or unsalted

1/2 teaspoon salt, scant

1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon

Preparation

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees [175 C]

Mix all the ingredients together and stir till pecans are evenly coated.

Bake on any oven proof dish for 12-15 minutes turning them once midway.

Remove from oven and cool completely. Can be stored for several days. For stove top candied pecans, check here.

Tip; Put pecan halves in a colander and shake to remove tiny pecan crumbles and grit before adding the seasonings.

Sugared Cranberries

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoon reduced apple cider, reduced to ¼ of its volume

About a cup of granulated sugar to coat the candied cranberries.

Preparation

Put powdered sugar and the cider in a wide pan over very low heat.

Stir to combine and add the cranberries.

Coat the cranberries with the syrup while continuing to stir, till you hear a few cranberries starting to pop.

Turn the heat off, and stir till all the cranberries are glazed with the sugar syrup.

Cool completely. [At this stage you have plain glazed cranberries which are delicious, just the way they are. I set aside a batch for my cake]

Spread granulated sugar on a plate and roll the cooled berries and coat thoroughly.

Store at room temperature, will last at least a few days.

So that was just some of the prep work. In my next few post I will I’ll share the rest of our Thanksgiving meal recipes. 

Thanks for dropping by,

Best, S.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I have a new favorite thing. My Spice Palette which I brought back with me from my recent trip to India. But first let me tell you a little bit about a very traditional game called “ Pallanghuzhi”.

Pallanghuzi [palla- many; kuzhi-pits; in my native Tamil language] is a wonderful board game I used to play in what seems like a bygone era. A time when young girls giggled often and talked shyly when spoken to by adults. We were so naïve and untouched by the stresses that seem to afflict today’s children. A time when lazy summers were spent on swings chatting with friends or playing games like hide n seek, catch and hopscotch. Going out meant going to your neighhors house to play. Oh, such uncomplicated times!           

                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I would play Pallanguzhi, a game similar to Mancala with my cousin on the front Verandah of her house. We filled the pits in the game board with improvised counters like cowrie shells, tamarind seeds, smooth rounded pebbles or my favorite, beautiful red seed pods called Manjadi, that resembled ladybugs.

Fast forward years later, I spot this Pallanguzhi at an antique dealers’ while shopping for old Chettinad furniture. I bought this as a present for my mother. Fast forward ten years further I acquire it back as my parents are downsizing. When I held it in my hands I had this vision of filling it with spices and setting it on my kitchen counter top. Nostalgia for another time meets today’s passion for cooking. How perfect!                   

Thanks for dropping by,

Best, S. 

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