Friday, November 23, 2007

The day after the biggest eating fest: Roasted Cauliflower with Apples

Well, I actually woke up hungry after an all day eating fest yesterday. As always time spent with family breaking bread is a blessing. All of us who gathered have so much to be thankful for. The fact that my mother, widowed for just over a year, can do as she pleases, enjoys good health, and doesn't worry about finances is the one thing that I am most thankful for. To be part of a family who can make a plan to meet in some other city for a holiday weekend is truly something to give thanks for.

"But what about the food?" you ask? Well, my family doesn't do things on a small scale, even when cooking for just eight people. My aunt of course took charge and directed the day. My cousin had her list of what to bring by car, and after a couple of trips to the supermarket, including one to the Wal*Mart Supercenter where, I kid you not, my aunt saw someone buying his turkey at around 11:00 that day. We had southern style corbread dressing (never to be confused with stuffing!), green beans, carrots, mashed potatoes, biscuits, salad, and cauliflower. Oh, and did I mention the 25 pound turkey? My aunt who only knows how to cook for a crowd told my cousin to get that large of a bird!

Two days ago I wrote about T-Day as the ultimate eating fest for the food loving crowd, but sitting here this morning after the Tryptophan overload, I can't help but feel guilty about the excess. Even knowing that it's only once a year, I have to admit that next year I'd like the focus to be less on the food and more about something else. Growing up I always felt that the huge eating was a kind of an affirmation for my mother's family. Though we'd weathered hard times, each fall we could be thankful for each other and helping each other get through. Yesterday felt like it was more about excess. Personally I LOVE Thanksgiving leftovers, but I guess not when I'm on vacation. It seems a tragedy that so much food might end up going in the trash. I'm going to try to suggest that maybe next year we do something like volunteer on Thanksgiving morning. It might help us to refocus on the Thanks and Giving part of the holiday.

Anyway, the Ganbaru Cook managed to make more than the peppery ginger cookies. I also contributed one of my favorite roasted cauliflower dishes from Jeremy Traunfeld's The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor. I'd made it a couple of weeks ago with a gorgeous and huge head of purple cauliflower, and I wanted to contribute a a vegetable to the bachanalia. Basically you roast cauliflower at 375 degrees with sliced onion, raisins, and diced apple with a bit of white wine (or stock), olive oil, and salt and pepper. Cover with foil the first thirty minutes (my variation), then raise the heat to 450, uncover, and stir in some chopped dill for 15 minutes more. You'll end up with a delicious roasted vegetable dish that is a perfect Thanksgiving side.

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