Every year for the past 6 years that we’ve been married my husband and I have alternated celebrating Thanksgiving with my family in Virginia or his in St. Louis. And each year I have to figure what to make to add to the meal. Not that folks require me to bring a dish, I just like contributing so the host has one less dish to think about. Even when our daughter was only a month old I brought something for dinner, despite my parents saying “Don’t worry about it. Just get here and bring that baby!” Though it was only cranberry relish (throw it in a blender with some citrus–done!) I was happy to bring something.
The first year I started cooking Thanksgiving dishes I worked on mimicking my grandfather’s sweet potatoes. Always a favorite at the table, his sweet potatoes were baked in butter, lemons, white sugar AND brown sugar to a syrupy goodness that left you sopping your plate with a biscuit. I always liked pairing it with ham…must have been the sweet-salty thing. He died when I was in college so I had to call my dad to see if he could remember how it was made. My dad’s recollection was something like “Cut up some potatoes, add the sugars, layer on the lemon slices and sit it on the stove until soft.” Okaaay. But after switching to more healthful cooking I found a recipe for roasted smashed sweet potatoes and went with those for a few years. Just as tasty but without all the butter and sugar. Yes, for some Thanksgiving is for gorging on all the things you’ve avoided all year but between the mac n’ cheese, sugar-crusted hams, pies and cakes I think it’s O.K. if one dish is on the lighter side.
So this year we’re in St. Louis and I’m ready to depart from the roasted sweet potatoes. Luckily, recently a friend posted on her Facebook page the NY Times Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving: an ode to the feasts of Fall that don’t include poultry or pork. Posted at the start of the month, new dishes have been added daily which of course makes selecting one dish that much more difficult. From stuffing to deserts and snacks–it’s a cornucopia of tasty looking dishes that take advantage of in-season squashes and greens plus grains in ways I hadn’t thought of. The Pureed Roasted Squash & Yams keep calling me but that’s too much like the norm so I may end up waiting until November 23rd then go rushing to the store with all the other last-minute folks.
Stay tuned…I’ll post a picture of the winning dish…