We’ve always come together as a family around the table. Dinners whenever more than one is home, breakfasts on Sundays mostly, lunches on holidays or weekends when we find ourselves in the same place. We’ve shared our lives over many a meal, the meal being a means to bring us together as individuals and as a unit. That’s why we have a round table… no hierarchy… everyone face-to-face.
When kids are little, parents choose the meals and we chose balanced, organic, local produce, but also dealt with the green phobia (nothing green please), the white obsession (only pasta please), and all of the other picky practices. Then, as time goes on and people disperse, get exposed to new influences, develop their own habits, bring in friends and lovers, the diversity of pet peeves and personal preferences explodes. My family is now a cast of characters when it comes to food. We have the meat lovers, the vegetarians, the wheat-free and dairy-free, those who want to lose weight and those who want to gain, those who like things mixed up and those who zone the food on their plates, those who like things cooked and those who prefer things raw, plus the dogs who like everything, anywhere, anytime.
My goal in cooking a multi-dish meal such as the Thanksgiving feast, a holiday lunch for our extended family, a reception for a crowd (think post-game tailgate) is to create a menu that hangs together, even though the individual pieces may cater to one person/preference or another. All diners should find several dishes to their liking and the groupings should make an interesting meal, with tastes, textures and colors that work together. Everyone should feel as if that meal were made just for him or her.
So, this year, like last, we have a gluten-free, dairy-free base with only one dish off limits — conventional apple pie — which she doesn’t like anyway. And the vegetarian has plenty of choices. All the others are on their own. This rant is not really about recipes but more about menu planning, so this is what we ate. The leftovers created some interesting opportunities, as we’ll see in the coming posts.
Roasted organic free-range tom turkey from a nearby farm
Homemade gluten-free cornbread and sausage stuffing
Gluten-free gravy (use rice flour and pre-made homemade turkey stock)
Mashed white potatoes (lactose-free)
Roasted roots (sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, rutabagas)
Roasted Brussels sprouts (minis, from our mini-garden, a garnish amount)
Balsamic-glazed cipollini onions (also a garnish amount)
Cranberry sauce (simple, a preference)
Steamed broccoli with lemon and olive oil
Radicchio salad with oranges and pomegranate seeds
Gluten-free dairy-free pumpkin pie in a gingersnap crust