- Make all your chicken broth for your stuffings and gravies ahead of time using just chicken, celery, carrot (peel your carrots or the skins will make the broth taste bitter), and any spices you like (i.e. bit of sage, dried parsley, marjoram, thyme and allspice, for example, make a lovely broth) in a big pot. Boil and then gently simmer chicken bones (or whole chicken if you don't have an available roasted set of bones) with veggies and spices for about 40 minutes (45 minutes for whole chicken after a full boil, then reduce to simmer) to make a nice broth. Longer for stronger. Strain the broth and store it
- Make your own stuffing spices, that you can use with boxed stuffings (careful to make sure there's no sulfur in the bread portion). The prepackaged spice mixes will always have onion, often garlic, coriander and turmeric, so don't use them! Make your own flavorings using your own chicken broth to mix with it, and add the same spices as above with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground mustard to give it a little zap, if you like. *HINT* Use your nose!! Mixing spices can be lots of fun if you smell everything and see what smells great together, what smells right. :) Sage, parsley, marjoram, thyme and allspice are the other standard Thanksgiving spices. Sage can overwhelm, so you use it a little at time until you like it. Good stuffing additions are apples, chestnuts, celery, carrots, oysters, butter-sautéed mushrooms.
- Your turkey should be Kosher! Trader Joe's carries a good Kosher turkey. Most of the standard brining processes use onion or onion flavor, but Kosher turkeys use only salt to brine. Kosher turkeys are the way to go.
- For all your cream and dairy needs, use full fat coconut milk. You can make whipped cream by placing a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge over night. The cream will end up at the top, and you can carefully spoon it off and discard the water underneath. If you add sugar and whip it up, it will be a lovely whipped cream. It's even better if you add a few spoonfuls of the coconut cream into the mix, it will hold better.
- Traditional vegetables are off your plate (i.e. green beans and asparagus) so be creative with a nice salad of romaine lettuce with cherry tomatoes, pecans, fresh chopped dates with a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing. The dates really mesh with balsamic well. This year, we're doing a Maple Roasted Carrot dish, using 1 pound of carrots cut into thin spears, 1 TBSP coconut oil, 1 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP maple syrup (I always use Grade B, so much more flavor) and chopped parsley as garnish. Toss the carrots in the oil and salt and lay single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until tender. Melt the butter in the maple syrup and drizzle over roasted carrots, return to high oven (425) for another 10 minutes until slightly browned and soft, garnish with fresh parsley and wow everybody.
- That "onion" flavor - this is a tip that Andy mentioned to me: cook a batch or two of bacon, save the grease and use both the broken pieces of bacon and a hint of the grease to add a sense of "onion" to the dish. It actually works pretty well! I am testing out a replacement for onion, but do not yet feel comfortable enough to post it, but I will let you know as I continue to test!
- Pumpkin pies! I found three good recipes. Pick and choose your favorite, and replace any soy milk with full fat coconut milk. You won't be sorry! Here they are Pumpkin Pie Recipe 1, Pumpkin Pie Recipe 2 and Pumpkin Pie Recipe 3. You can have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too! :)
I hope this helps people a little We plan on enjoying an enormous range of delicious foods on Thanksgiving and I hope you do, too! :)
In good health and Happy Thanksgiving,
© 2012, Miriam Mason