Monday, October 12, 2009

Thankful for Day 5, eating on $30/week

lovely toast for breakfast
Over time, my family’s Thanksgiving meals have evolved from the old standby equation of turkey + stuffing + potatoes + gravy + something green.

There have been many years where can-shaped cranberry sauce trumped a homemade sauce (the catch with that is that once you make your own cranberry sauce you seriously can’t go backwards). And I remember one exciting year when mum barbecued a couple of turkey breasts – in what was probably pretty chilly October weather. My little brother has almost always been tasked with mashing the potatoes. One year – it may not have been a holiday – I remember making a big deal out of putting together the mashed potatoes, saying I didn’t know how to do it since Steele "always gets to do it."

Of course, the “Great Canadian Chowdown*” is a little different when one or more of your dinner guests doesn’t eat meat. I went vegetarian sometime in November 2007, and I was only going to try it out for a month, but, as you know, I stuck with it.

The first Christmas meals were tougher on other cooks than they were on me…I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m still holding grudges, but I guess I’m still a bit incredulous at some of the Meals That Forgot About Zoey. It could just be the haughty, holier-than-thou vegetarian in me who likes to get righteous about food, but I was grumpy at the time.
Cinnamon Apple-Spiked Cranberry Sauce
My first cranberry sauce! With half an apple, cinnamon and black pepper.

One such dinner was a gathering of friends from high school, hosted by two folks who were enrolled in a cooking program in town. The menu was something like this: tomato soup (with chicken stock), chicken, potatoes (can’t remember, but I seem to remember they put chicken stock in this too), buns, salad. Maybe they had made the chicken stock from scratch and were really proud of it, hence using it in everything?

My mum’s dinner was great, I assume, although I don’t remember the specifics. In our younger years, mum had been cooking at least slightly different meals for my bro, so along with all of her other kitchen magic, she was well-equipped to make some edits to dinner.
Veggie Pot Pie
Today's veggie potpies. The big one with crimini mushrooms and potatoes, the little one for the picky bro with potatoes and jalapeno.

Another less-satisfying turkey-less feast was a second family dinner where my beloved stuffing was all cooked inside the bird, and I think I was picky about the veg – maybe it was green beans or something. So I nibbled on potatoes and bread and felt left out. Boo hoo.

Perhaps the problem was that I was bewildered at the difference between a meal with and without a single ingredient. As I’ve learned more about vegetarian food, eating seasonally and cooking in general, it turns out that Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to show off the versatility and comfort to be found in vegetarian and vegan food!
Just enjoying my 50 mm lens. This is thyme, pepper and salt for the pastry crust.

This year I am being a bit ambitious given my budget. I imagine that for many families, holiday dinners are a time to splurge a little bit. I figured that since I'm not cooking the whole thing myself anyway, I could stick to my budget, and maybe get a few things from my mum as needed.

*took that one from the Globe & Mail

  • cup of Earl Grey
  • toasted challah (it's staling!) with peach jam 
  • soup from the freezer: apple-squash that I didn't really like when I made it because it was so sweet. But today I mixed in the rest of that brown rice from earlier in the week and a tablespoon of cream cheese and it was quite lovely
  • Crimini Mushroom Pot Pie with pepper-thyme pastry
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon and paprika 
  • Apple cinnamon-spiked Cranberry Sauce 
  • mashed potatoes, dressing, steamed broccoli, steamed Brussels sprouts (from mum's) 
  • chocolate-ginger ice cream adapted from the Veganomicon and oh-so delicious
2 surprisingly large carrots
A couple of surprisingly large carrots.

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