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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions, Day One

During the holiday season, Andy and I continue to make it a priority to live both sustainably and compassionately. Each year, for Andy's side of the family, we provide the bird. I am a vegetarian, but I realize that at this time of the year, there will be meat on virtually every table in America, so we do our best to assure that the bird Andy and the rest of the family is eating has been treated kindly, with respect, and is antibiotic- and hormone-free. In early November, Andy orders the family bird from a local farm.

Andy's dad treated this turkey with a brine this year, which Andy tells me made it super moist and delicious. The majority of the guests commented that it was the tastiest turkey ever! Way to go, Mike! Alongside the turkey were plenty of yummy vegetarian sides. Andy's mom made her "famous" baked beans ~ sweet and slightly spicy (I had to go back for seconds!); Andy's dad prepared a batch of local and organic pureed squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes from their CSA farm (Primrose Farms) This blended Vitamin A Extravaganza (as named by Mike) of Butternut, Acorn and Delicata squash with the carrots and sweet potatoes was silky, smooth, and perfectly buttered and seasoned. The cranberries were also a very special treat this year: Andy's Uncle Jim made an organic, raw cranberry relish, which was honestly (this dish calls for a cliche) out-of-this-world! So delicious!

Andy made his signature Thanksgiving dish: Fresh Green Bean Casserole (no canned or processed food here!). As always, the combination of "fresh veggies", homemade cream sauce, and crispy made-from-scratch onion rings tantalized our taste buds!

Fresh Green Bean Casserole (adapted from Harmony Valley Farm's 09/10/05 Newsletter)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus more to spread on dish
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4" dice
1 red bell pepper (We used frozen, roasted red peppers from this summer's harvest!)
1/2 lb. mushrooms, stems trimmed and mushrooms quartered
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 lbs. frozen (or fresh) green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1/4 pound frozen (or fresh) sweet corn kernels
3 T all-purpose flour
1 C milk
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 C grated Parmesan
1/4 C breadcrumbs
1/4 C canola oil
2-3 onions and/or shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch sections

1. In a large skillet over med. heat, melt 2 T butter. Add onion & sauté about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper (we used frozen roasted peppers) & mushrooms, & cook about 8 minutes. Season with 1/2 tsp salt & 1/8 tsp pepper. Let cool.
2. Toss thawed beans & sweet corn with mushroom mixture; set aside.
3. Melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan over med-low heat. Add 3 T flour, whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 min. Pour in milk, & continue whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 min. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, & the remaining tsp salt & 1/8 tsp pepper. Remove from heat, & let cool to room temp, stirring occasionally. Pour over beans; toss to combine.
4. Butter a 9"-by-9" glass or ceramic baking pan. Spread half the green-bean mixture over the bottom. Sprinkle on half the grated Parmesan, & spread with the remaining green beans. Combine the remaining Parmesan & the breadcrumbs, & sprinkle over casserole. Cover with foil, & refrigerate until just before serving.
5. Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over med-high heat. Toss shallot rings with the remaining 2 T flour. Fry the shallots in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place in an airtight container, & set aside until ready to serve.
6. Heat broiler, positioning rack about 8" from heat. Cook casserole, covered, until bubbly & heated through, about 10 min. Uncover; cook until top is golden brown, about 30 sec. Sprinkle fried shallots over top; serve immediately.

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