Monday, November 24, 2008

A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is this Thursday and I will be preparing a fairly traditional New England-style dinner, incorporating lots of the bounty from our summer garden. All will be gluten-free, however, and there will be a little of everything to accommodate my omnivorous family. A bunch of tried-and-true favorites are there but I will be trying out a couple of new recipes that may end up in the former category if all goes well. Here's what's on our menu after my Sunday food shopping trip:

2008 Thanksgiving Menu


Grandma’s Stuffed Celery

Gluten-Free South Africa's Zucchini-Cheese Madeleines

Spicy Toasted Nuts

Main Event:

Roast Turkey, Bread Stuffing and Gravy (for the Carnivores)

Portabellas with Rice Stuffing and Mushroom Gravy (for the Vegetarians)

Copper Pennies

Mashed Potatoes

Cranberry Sauce (Despite all my best efforts Dan prefers the jiggly straight from the can stuff, blech)

Apple Chutney

Brussels Sprouts in Lemon Balm Vinaigrette

Sweet Potato Casserole

Roasted Asparagus

Mashed Turnip

Relish Tray – Dilled Green Beans, Sweet and Sour Wax Beans and Black Olives

Cole Slaw

Sweet Endings:

GF Mommy’s Frozen Pumpkin Pie

Apple Sour Cream Pie


The feast will be just for the four of us, as we will have our bookstore open on the following day of what is usually a big weekend of sales. Having an excuse to do lots of cooking is great during this busy time, and I am counting on the feast leftovers to fuel us all for several days. Then again, my kids are now teenagers, so who knows how long my fridge will be full.

Our Thanksgivings are quiet and simple during this stage of life, but there are many memorable and interesting Turkey Days in my past:

***As a kid, our small family would assemble at our house, with my Mom preparing the turkey after it did a short headless jig in the sink while she was rinsing it down. My grandmother would arrive with all her recycled pickle and olive jars filled with her creamed onions, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and her famous Stuffed Celery and Apple Pie (she always put tapioca in the filling to catch the juices) wrapped in brown grocery bags tied up white string.

***A college Thanksgiving smorgasbord organized by my housemates one year when we didn't feel like twice making the 8 hour drive home during the four day weekend. A Cuban buddy made pasteles, these cute tamale-like parcels; I made cornbread stuffing and sweet potato pie, my Florida friend cooked the turkey and a whole bunch of other student friends brought the remnants of our meal.

***At my first job in the Albany State Capitol, my office mates and I spent the day cooking and waiting tables at the Community Feast sponsored by the human service organization Equinox and then went back to our bosses' house for a meal and marination in Red Zinfandel followed by a mandatory sleepover. We all woke up with purple teeth.

***As a newlywed, my husband and I had long, chatty meals with my much-loved in-laws. They came of age in the 1940s-50s so there was always a cocktail hour (or two!) before the feast with Chicken Liver Pate, Chex Mix and other snacks that used to fill me up before we even got to the main event, all bathed in a blue haze of cigarette smoke. I always found room for my father-in-law's awesome Cole Slaw. He wouldn't part with the recipe after many requests, stating that he would leave it in his will for me. After his death a few years later, my mother-in-law gently informed me that it consisted of cabbage, mayonnaise and a packet of seasoning from the produce aisle.

***I had a turn at the family Thanksgiving headquarters one year and invited my husband's family over for a non-traditional Crown Roast of Pork supper. This was in an apartment with a balky stove, which silently and unfortunately turned off after the first hour of cooking so that despite my best efforts to baste and brown this large cut of meat it just kept looking gray and sweaty. The cocktail time now long over, several in-laws got into my tiny kitchen and figured out that the stove timer was kaput, so it wasn't until some ridiculous time of night like 10 pm that we picked at our holiday meal, since we had long since polished off all the hors d'oeuvres.

***When our first baby arrived, it was time to show her off to other relatives on Long Island. There are only a handful of bridges to funnel visitors onto this metropolitan New York real estate and they are jammed all through any holiday weekend, so needless to say, Dan and I grimly memorized every road sign and every piece of curbside trash that we inched by on the Throg's Neck Bridge while our infant daughter screamed and twisted in her car seat. Thanksgiving appetizers consisted of several aspirins and a large glass of wine, as I recall.

***My grandparents had no plans one Thanksgiving, so we trekked down to visit them for the day when my girls were ages 2 and 5. Grandma and Grandpa weren't up for cooking a huge meal then and we proposed taking them out to dinner at their favorite restaurant across the street. I don't much remember the meal, but the pre-dinner show was amazing. My creative and bossy eldest daughter had made American Indian drums and attire at her kindergarten and she got my youngest costumed in a quasi-Pilgrim outfit complete with bonnet and black patent leather shoes. They sang and danced and made music and it was better than any Broadway front row tickets for my grandparents.

I hope that all my blogger buddies have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with your loved ones and have many things to be thankful for in your lives.

If you would like some other gluten-free Thanksgiving menu ideas, I can point you to some other blogger buddies for inspiration:

Fresh Ginger's Mexican and Mostly Home Grown/Raised Thanksgiving Feast

Carrie the Ginger Lemon Girl's Southern Style Thanksgiving

Cheryl of Gluten-Free Goodness' Thanksgiving Roundup

Karina the Gluten-Free Goddess' Southwestern Style Recipes and Cooking Tips



Alicia Foodycat said...

That sounds like the most glorious feast you have planned! The frozen pumpkin pie sounds particularly good. I love all your reminiscences. Thanksgiving sounds like such a wonderful holiday.

Arlene Delloro said...

Rachel, how I wish I were staying in Saratoga this holiday. It's a bit sad...the first without my mom. I'm cooking for 10. I enjoyed your memories of Thanksgivings past. Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

YOu knmow rachel, my mother in law makes a fantastic puree from carrots and she then gratins it. I always have loads and it is gluten free fro sure. I can ask for the recipe if you want, although your feast looks fantastic

Mrs. G.F. said...

This looks like a great menu!! Delicious!!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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