Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Let’s Make Your Thanksgiving Beautiful + Simple

IMG_1786 Across the glow of candles, you deeply inhale the aroma of comfort + harvest to see the twinkling faces of your beloved people who have gathered to celebrate this feast of gratitude. As the bowls and platters begin their merry go round the table you feel the spirit of Thanksgiving filling your heart.

Once your plate is properly piled on, you taste the first bites and melt into delight. You made this! You didn’t just reheat it in the oven as so many weeknight dinners seem to be lately, rather this dish was simple, comforting and exactly what you wanted to eat today. As an added bonus, making this dinner was a surprisingly joyful process.

Looking up from that first bite, you notice there is a slight hush with occasional murmurs of glee as everyone else dives into their favorite dish. Once each item has been properly sampled, the lively conversation of your family begins again and you find yourself reflecting on the fact that not all Thanksgivings have felt this blissful.
signupbutton_tealRemember the year you drove five hours for dinner only to be served processed food that tasted blah and made you feel icky afterwards? Had you known, you at least would have brought some real food to contribute.

That time when the entire meal was made safe for your sweet cousin who has so many allergies including peanuts, eggs, dairy and gluten, yet the resulting dinner was rather disappointing. There must be a way to balance the safe foods with the traditional deliciousness.

What about when your aunt brought that bizarre fat free fluffy, orange-colored dessert as a replacement for Pumpkin Pie. Even she was laughing through apologetic tears.

And then there is the loving, but slightly controlling hostess who wants to make it all themselves, to not burden another soul with work, but seems to not realize food can go beyond the can or box to include the actual harvest.

Of course, sometimes you are the solo hostess as everyone travels from out of town. As you find you are doing nearly everything yourself, you barely have time to properly plan with kids home from school on break, work to do and daily life still demanding. When that Thursday arrives suddenly all the cooking happens at the last minute and you were almost too exhausted to eat by dinner time.IMG_2260

Are ready to enjoy the process of cooking, planning and preparing this beautiful dinner?

Do you crave a Thanksgiving that is simplified, delicious and truly celebrates the harvest and everyone gathered?

Let’s chat. You and me, on the phone together to guarantee a meal full of love and real food, rather than stress and less than satisfactory dishes.

I have cooked for all types of dietary needs and challenges for Thanksgiving whether I ate it with them or they served it to their own family. The art of planning the meal in advance or delegating to those gathering is something I have spent years crafting.

It is my immense pleasure to consider all the cravings and food needs of your diners as well as your unique schedule and challenges to assist in creating a Thanksgiving that is special for your family.

IMG_1940Through our 30 minute conversation, I will answer all of your questions as we map out a plan to make this year’s Thanksgiving your favorite. I will also set you up with any recipes we determine you need and we will discuss the timeline for making it realistic and simple.

As an added bonus, you can contact me by email or text during Thanksgiving week. It is like a Butterball Hotline except I will answer questions about real food as I ease your nerves through the planning, shopping, and cooking process.signupbutton_yellow

After you sign up for our call, I will send you a calendar to select the perfect time for us to chat.

I am looking forward to helping make this Thanksgiving a calm, celebratory time of beautiful food and delicious time spent with your loved ones.IMG_0654

Thanksgiving for Strangers

photo (16)One of the two strangers invited to our tiny Thanksgiving over 11 years ago, was a student at the yoga studio where my sister taught and I took classes almost daily. My sister overheard he was having surgery the day prior and she asked if he had Thursday plans.

Honestly, I was a touch annoyed that my sister so boldly invited him to our no-responsibilities, no-expectations Thanksgiving. Although, I didn’t turn the idea down either– I mean he was cute and I was single, so what was my issue, right!? But, it did put a little fruit fly in my excitement as I now had to carefully consider my attire on top of the recipes I was crafting and preparing.

The stranger could barely walk post-surgery, so my sister escorted him into the kitchen and propped him on a stool. We chatted casually. In my nervousness of having this handsome guy watch me cook, I kept cracking awkward jokes until he begged me to stop as laughing made him cringe in pain from the surgery. We talked about the ‘horror’ of food packaging waste on veggies, the fact that he was much, much older than me (in fact, he is only two and half years ahead) and his own interest in cooking. Apparently, he had been a chef, including starting a restaurant, before going back to school to get his doctorate in Physics.

I was intimidated, but admittedly more + more smitten.

The dinner was great, despite my apprehensions. We talked about what we were grateful for. I remember being thankful my Personal Chef business was finally happening after years of dreaming + scheming and that there were clients eating my food that very evening. But, I will never forget when he stood to get seconds, hobbling his way to the buffet determined to do it himself, chattering on about how it was one of the best Thanksgiving’s he had ever had.

He was smitten… at the very least by my food.

The next time I saw him, a week or so later, I was in a full tutu with a crown wrapped around a bun on my head as I lead my ballet students in a mini performance of the Nutcracker. Somehow that didn’t deter him. Our story has continued including many adventures, several change of addresses, countless more scrumptious shared meals, and now a couple of cute children we are figuring out how to raise.

Ever since that fateful day, we have an unspoken tradition of inviting someone we barely know, who is not in our immediate circle, for our Thanksgiving. I like to think it is in honor of that day when I first cooked for my sweet husband Xerxes, and that other stranger, Fig.

We don’t always have a guest that fits the ‘stranger’ requirement and on occasion my husband and I have been the strangers at someone else’s Thanksgiving. But, what that beautiful day years ago reminds me of is to not resist the life changing possibilities of opening your doors to someone or something new. That day, I was annoyed with my sister’s willingness to reach out to strangers with ease + grace, but I took away more than a future husband as I know now that outstretched arms can change any story.

We live in a world of uncertainty. Sigh. Lately, that statement seems to be understatement. Recently, Xerxes and I have shared sadness over our own family challenges as well as genuine heartache about events on the world stage that have left people without loved ones, without a home, without a country.

Too often… we feel helpless.

We are all striving, trying and forging our own journey. How can we honor our fellow humankind, even when we are thousands of miles away and seemingly useless? How, beyond dollars sent, can we be of service to our fellow humans who are suffering, displaced and challenged in ways we hope to never experience? How can we also honor our smaller more personal conflicts beyond wiping our own tears and attempting to learn from the lessons?

I wonder what would happen if all of us, me, you and everyone in between, reached out to more strangers? Would our worst fears come true? Or… would opening ourselves up to others actually lead to blessings… new paths, new stories?

The tragedy in Paris led to the twitter hashtag #porteouverte. This open door call came on a night when being afraid and closed off would be more than justified. That brave act of love, that was reposted over and over, hit me deeper than any other story from that evening as love was clearly winning. The new possibilities can only start with each of us courageously reaching out. When we are the ones who open our doors or if we are brave enough to be the ones who accept an invitation to be helped, we will inevitably receive a flood of love.

I know you have a story to share below when you connected with a stranger and goodness came forth. Maybe it was that homeless guy who you gave a couple of bucks in loose change and his giant smile filled your heart with blessings. Maybe it was the frazzled mom who you gave an understanding smile as she rushed her kids into school late with a baby screaming on her hip. And maybe now, you two go for a walk around the lake on a weekly basis as you talk about the craziness and bliss of raising children.

Our stories unite us and as we practice this muscle of giving a little love to a stranger, I believe we can change our world. The simplest days will be brighter, but also days such as Thanksgiving will turn into more than a holiday or an excuse to eat too much as we toast new people who come into our lives bearing the blessings of their own heart.

Join me. Let’s be grateful for the stranger everyday, but especially this Thanksgiving.

With love + gratitude,

Lilly

PS- This cherished photo above was taken the day our story began Thanksgiving in 2004. Xerxes and I are the ones looking towards the camera… and maybe into the window of our coming future yet unknown to those two innocent faces.

Customized Just for You Thanksgiving Meal Plans

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Thanksgiving is a fabulous holiday! Every year I push myself to go fancy-schmancier, but in many ways Thanksgiving is a meal I could quite possibly make in my sleep. So why not, let me take my obsession with cooking and planning and LET ME HELP YOU! Yes, I cannot come and actually cook for you (my own family will rebel), but I can hold your hand, give you recipes, an action plan and more. Promise.

IMG_8700You see, I love being a resource for all things food. I love running my meal planning service. I try to text or email back as quickly as possible whenever a friend asks a random food question. I honestly dream about food, people. So, just let me help you figure out your Thanksgiving out this year.

And it gets so much better! I want to help you… FOR FREE!

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Well, kinda.

I am actually going to do it for all of my dear members to Lilly’s Table. If you have yet to sign up, come on over, sign up and start enjoying 1,000+ recipes that I created and photographed myself, weekly meal plans featuring seasonal produce, shopping lists and more. At just $12 per month, you will get this free customized Thanksgiving plan, too and after that you are welcome to cancel at anytime. However, if you are already a member, it will be free for you! Yippee! Congrats! T-Day will be so easy for you!

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Now, I realize this is a smashing deal that I should probably charge for and maybe I should only offer it to the first five people who contact me, but I do not like that “should” word and my goal is to help as many folks as possible this year. So, please spread the word! Share this post with the host of your Thanksgiving. Share it with your friend who is not sure what they were thinking when they signed up to bring three side dishes. Share it with your Mommy groups, your dentist, your neighbor… who else? You know a few of them are scratching their head wondering what will make their 2014 T-Day special and unique to them.

IMG_1786Still not sure if this is for you?

Maybe you are hosting Turkey Day this year and have to coordinate Aunt Sally’s Celiacs, with your brother’s new found veganism and your niece’s pickiness. What will you do? 

Maybe you are bringing a dish, but it has to be made ahead and travel three hours before being served. What would be the easiest, most stunning dish to provide?  

Maybe you are tired of attending the processed food, albeit traditional, Turkey dinner that your in-laws host every year, but you are desperate to see a veggie on the table that isn’t from a can. I have the perfect solution!

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Let me be your secret weapon. Let me help you become a Thanksgiving super star!

Now, that you are convinced. Let’s do this in three easy steps:

1. Make sure you are a member of Lilly’s Table.
2. Email me at lilly@lillystable.com or comment below with your email address and I will send you a survey.
3. Fill out the survey before November 20th. 

If you have any questions, comment below or send me an email.

I am so excited to be a part of your Thanksgiving experience!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well!
With gratitude,

Lilly

Naked or MarshmallowsMy senior year of college, we found out a few of our friends were not going home for Thanksgiving. It seemed a crime for them to not enjoy a turkey feast, so we decided to have a pre-holiday meal altogether. There were about 20+ of us in our circle of friends and I went to task finding out everyone’s must-have T-day dishes.

Since I was a vegetarian at the time, I had no interest in cooking the turkey, but a couple of friends signed up for that job. So, other than the mashers, which arrived fluffy with beautiful red skins throughout, I made the rest of the meal.

I remember a few items being requested that I had never actually made before such as Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows and Creamed Corn, but they were requested and thus I worked on figuring out how to make them. Please note, this was long enough ago that the internet was not swarming with information, so many phone calls later I figured it all out.

While the college crowd was thrilled, I found myself pleased and grateful for my incredible friends, but not completely satisfied with the canned food-centric feast I had prepared. The years of Thanksgivings that followed became an unraveling of that meal.

Thanksgiving can be as simple or as complicated as you like, but I also see no excuse to eat processed food. Not just because I prefer the flavor of real food, but most sides are easier to prepare than most of us believe.

Here are a few ways to create an unprocessed, easy as pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving:

1. Fresh not Canned Sweet Potatoes (aka Yams)

The last time I opened a can of sweet potatoes (possibly that day back in college), I was amazed by the slightly syrupy, super starchy, lacking in flavor nuggets that were inside. No wonder you need marshmallows! Oh, and yes, they were called yams, (except they are not actually yams unless they are white, not sweet and all starch) but that is another story for another day.

The can-free, tastier, easier method: Scrub your sweet potato, prick all over with a paring knife, and toss in the oven alongside whatever is cooking. A temperature between 325-425 will be sufficient to roast them. Once you can squeeze the sweet potato and it feels soft, about 25-60 minutes depending on a number of factors such as the sweet potato’s size and the oven temperature, then it is ready. Chill it outside or in the fridge until it is cool enough to handle them and then peel off the skin. They will be crazy sweet from roasting and can be chopped or smashed from this point forward to be used with your favorite flavors or toppings.

What is your favorite sweet potato topping? We do this Streusel Topped Sweet Potato at home, but do you prefer Marshmallows?

2. Green Bean possibilities beyond the tins

Since the Green Bean Casserole is such a classic, try this simple enough version including my own homemade creamy mushroom sauce and crispy, oven baked onion strips. While I love dairy, I found myself wanting to explore the vegan possibility and recently created this Creamy Cauliflower Green Bean Casserole.

Typically though, I keep it simple with steamed green beans, maybe a squirt of lemon, a generous dollop of butter and toasty almonds, aka Green Bean Almandine.

3. Veggie Time

Turkey’s don’t make people sleepy. Turkey’s starchy buddies exhaust us.

One of my biggest complaints about this otherwise tasty meal is the lack of vegetables. Nothing balances all that starch like a nutrient packed salad or cooked veg.  Of course, green beans are popular, but what about a salad? Or roasted vegetables? If you are a guest at a T-Day dinner, volunteer to bring a vegetable or side salad. Here are some of my favorites:

Chopped Kale & Pomegranate Salad
Creamy Roasted Potato & Apple Salad
Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Florets

But, you can also make it crazy simple with your favorite salad mix, a crumble of dry cheese (maybe blue or feta?), pecans or other toasted nuts, and generous splash of a good quality balsamic and olive oil. This Balsamic Dressing recipe is what I use when my balsamic is not rich and aged. Follow the season’s abundance- it will not let you down!

IMG_18884. Skip the Pre-made Gravy

Here is the deal. If you are already making a turkey, the gravy is simple to make delicious and amazing. You have all of the ingredients, most likely. Flour (all-purpose or gluten-free rice flour both work) and butter (or your fat of choice- ghee? bacon? olive oil?) are critical. A box of good quality chicken broth is about as ‘processed’ as I would go if you want to cut corners. We make homemade broth at our house after roasting chicken or turkey wings and I try to always have some available before Turkey day. Here is my gravy recipe and I will keep it up and available to you until after T-day this year. If you have never made it before, this is your year. Grab a whisk and let’s make a delicious gravy.

If you have vegetarian guests, this vegan Mushroom Gravy will satisfy your entire crowd. I say this as a non-mushroom eater. They are pretty much my least favorite veg, but this gravy surprisingly makes me happy.

5. Stuffing? 

I know Pepperidge Farm and Stove Top sold us all a long time ago with their ‘easy’ take on stuffing. But, your favorite bakery fresh bread chopped into pieces and dried out will give you all that love without the processed ingredients. You can also go crazy with any combination of carb-rich bread: whole-grain, studded with dried fruits, pumpernickel, gingerbread, cornbread, panettone, and more! Here is my recipe for drying out the cubes yourself, but really it is quite simple. If you do it a few days before you won’t even need an oven. 😉

Gluten-free? There are certainly lots of possibilities these days for that, but last year I did this Herb Polenta Stuffing and it kind of rocked. This year the Roasted Root + Polenta Stuffing is rocking my world.

Your turn! How do you un-process Thanksgiving? Or are there a few dishes you prefer to have out of a box or can, otherwise it just doesn’t taste like turkey day.

Comment below and let me know!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well!

In gratitude,

Lilly

Creamy or Lumpy Mashed Potatoes?

Mashers AD Creamy or Lumpy

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To prepare for a huge Thanksgiving project I was working on several years ago, I asked friends & family about how big of a serving they prepared for every side dish.

This was the conversation with my Mom:

Me: How much stuffing per person?
Mom: ½ cup.
Me: Sweet Potatoes?
Mom: Hmmm… ½ cup.
Me: Harvest Rice Salad?
Mom: ½ cup, too!
Me: Mashed Potatoes?
Mom: 2 cups.
Me: Hahahahaha!

Clearly, as a family we are big fans. Huge, in fact! We must have an amazing recipe? Actually, we change it up a lot, but we always follow a few essential tips to ensure the tastiest, creamiest potatoes:

1. Start with cold water.
Peel the potatoes, if desired. Cut into even chunks and place directly into the pot of cold water. Once all of the potatoes are chopped and taking their cold bath, then bring the water up to a boil. This will ensure even cooking, rather than cooking the outside of the potato and leaving the inside hard.

2. When are they done?
The potatoes are done when they can be smashed with a the back of a spoon or fork. If you like a lumpier Mashed Potato, going a bit more el dente is fine, but if the goal is smooth and silky, you will want them soft. Drain the potatoes well before the next stage.

3. Creamy, Lumpy or Glue-like?
Over-beating or mixing the potatoes to oblivion will not result in a creamier potato, but rather a gluey, strange pile of blob as the starch in the potatoes becomes overworked. This has happened to me and I sometimes salvage them by making Potato Pancakes. But, patties of mashers are not the goal of course, so instead simply avoid mashing too much.

Lumpier potatoes are easier than creamy, because you are typically compelled to stop mashing sooner. Regardless, the best way to make them creamy or lumpy is to select the perfect mixing devise. Everyone has their preferred method, but avoid a food processor, blender or handheld immersion blender. In general, my favorite mashing tools are the cheapest and involve mostly my own elbow grease… or a buddy who is lurking in the kitchen ready to assist.

I have had luck with the following mashed potato tools and I put them in order of my preference, with links:

  • a simple potato masher I recently upgraded from plastic to all metal. Something about smashing burning hot potatoes with plastic creeped me out.
  • Potato Ricer This device is helpful for squeezing excess liquid out of cooked greens, too!
  • Food Mill
  • Wire Whisk This works best if your potatoes are tender, soft or you want to make lumpy mashers.

For the following, I have had some gluey experiences with these methods, but I have also had creamy deliciousness, too. Your call:

4. Flavor them up!
Beautiful flavor can often make up for potatoes that weren’t what you were hoping for. Whenever possible, warm the ingredients prior to adding. These are a few of my favorite add-ins:

  • Melted Butter
  • Brown Butter
  • Warm Cream or Half & Half*
  • Stock: turkey, chicken, vegetarian or ‘no-chicken’ broth
  • Garlic (raw or roasted)
  • Fresh herbs such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (in general I avoid basil, mint, and cilantro for this application)
  • Lemon zest
  • There are so many more options… such as chopped kale or shredded veggies, mustards, cheeses, etc.  Get creative and share your favorite combinations in the comments below!

5. Bonus Tip
Does the type of potato matter? I believe there are certainly starchier and creamier potatoes, but just like people each one lends its own unique flavor and texture to the experience.

I tend to do russets, because that is what I grew up with, but thinner skinned yukons, reds, and goldens all make a delightful masher, arguably, better than the russets that I normally use. I believe the hearty skin on the russets should be peeled, but I usually skip peeling if the potato is thin-skinned.

My sister and I made Purple Mashed Potatoes one year. The best part was how the color on the plate next to the drab starchy sides and beige turkey made the experience so much more exquisite! I highly recommend giving them a try soon for your most colorful T-day ever.

6. Got leftovers?
Technically leftover mashed potatoes are  a rarity in our home. But, Shepherd’s Pie and Potato Pancakes occasionally appear when we do manage to make too many potatoes.

What are your Mashed Potato tips? I know I hit just the tip of that fluffy pile of advice, so please enlighten all of us with your insightful comments below.

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well!
In gratitude,

Lilly

 

*Yes, any milk, including skim milk can work in theory, but if flavor is what you are after go for a bit more fat. At least whole milk, please!? If you are feeling nervous about fat, chicken or vegetable stock is probably a better route for adding flavor.

IMG_0654In many ways, tossing a turkey in the oven is simply one of the easiest dishes for Thanksgiving. With minimal maintenance hours later the turkey pops out ready for carving. However, there are a few simple methods that can give you a higher possibility of having the tastiest bird ever. And it is not brining the bird every 20 minutes… I am lazy and skip that opting for these tips below:

1. Brine it! 

Ever since I have started brining, I have been very, very, satisfied with my turkeys. It is all about the brine, baby. It is surprisingly simple to make the brine, but a large container for submerging the bird, an XXL Ziploc bag or brining bags are needed to complete the mission.

The simple way to brine is to bring the following up to a boil:
1/2 gallon of water
1 cup of kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar up to a boil

Simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Cool. Once it is no longer steamy hot, stir in another 1 1/2 gallons of ice packed water. It will now finish cooling.

Submerge the bird.

If it is not fully under the brine, add water until it is. You may need to double the brine recipe if your bird is gigantic or your container is too big. Next pull out the bird, air or towel dry and then follow your favorite turkey recipe.

Rest at least 8 hours up to 24 hours. Overnight is the general rule. Last year, I was super lazy and tired. I didn’t fully submerge my bird (space was an issue) and we fully intended to flip it several times. I failed miserably and while the turkey was fine, it was oddly half-brined with a strange combination of delicious and then ho-hum pieces. Learn from my mistake and fully submerge!

Bags are awesome for this, too. I know where my bag is located (couldn’t find it last year- hence the issue) and I am excited to use it this Thanksgiving.

Of course, if you want to follow a more detailed, flavorful recipe, try my Cranberry Spice Brined Turkey.

2. Want a Crispy Skin? Butter it up! 

If you brined your turkey, let the skin dry out a bit in the air before cooking or pat dry with towels/paper towels.

Next, generously rub the turkey with a big old stick of butter. I am serious about being generous with the butter, the goal is for it to penetrate down into the flesh. Better yet, if you can slip some of the butter below the skin directly on to the flesh, even better. Olive oil can work as well, but it is more challenging to maneuver and massage in.

If you skipped the brine, season it with at least a 1/2 cup of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper everywhere, too.

If you want an even more flavorful skin and bird, try my Herb Roast Turkey.

3. Cook it Breast Side Down

The juice from the legs and thighs will run into the breasts which have a tendency to get dry by the time the legs have cooked through.

Also, this gives the skin on the legs and thighs have an additional opportunity to get a bit crispy and flavorful, too. (Have you noticed? I am a big fan of the skin!)

4. In my home the Stuffing is not Stuffed

If you want some of the juices from the bird going into the stuffing, just pour some drippings across the stuffing afterwards. I prefer a super moist stuffing, but find that a homemade turkey, chicken or vegetarian broth is all I need to satisfy that flavor. Also, since I often have a vegetarian guest or two, this gives them another dish to enjoy.

The stuffing can often cause issues when being cooked inside the bird. It means, you have to cook the bird longer to ensure the bird and the stuffing are all safe.

And it is messy. Ugh. Since I am hardly neat and tidy when it comes to cooking (I try, I swear!) I cut out messy when necessary.

Rarely, is the cavity empty though! I usually toss in a few handfuls of onion quarters, apples, oranges, lemons and a bouquet of herbs. Just fill it about half full in big chunks with lots of space in between. If desired, some of these fruits & veggies can be chopped and added into the stuffing as well afterwards.

5. Use a thermometer

There are certainly methods to check the turkey, such as pulling the leg up and out to reveal juices that run clear, but a thermometer is crazy helpful when you are running around the kitchen multitasking as I so often do on T-day when the turkey is needing my attention.

Test your thermometer if possible or buy a new one if you are unsure. I am a big fan of this remote thermometer, since I can stick it in the thigh and close the oven door.

Once you hit 160 degrees, check the rest of the bird in a few of the thickest parts (center of the breast, center of the thigh, deep in the joint where it meets the body) the goal is for at least 160, but hitting 165 is considered safest.

6. As John Lennon said…

Let it be, let it be,
Let it be, yeah, let it be…

Remove the turkey from the oven and cover with a lid or tent of foil. Allow it to rest and come up to temperature, at least 10-15 minutes. The internal temperature should usually come up to about 170-175.

This also gives you an opportunity to place all of the side dishes in the oven to finish warming up. I try to make sure most of my sides are warm before this final heating process, but if that is not possible, I blast the heat in my oven (about 425) making sure everything is tightly covered and moist. I have more tips about making side dishes and the whole meal in general, too… coming soon, so stay posted!

I certainly could go on from here, but these are the tips I share off the top of my head whenever I am talking turkeys!

What do you always do for your turkeys? Or what tips have you been curious to try?

Let me know below!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well! xoxo,

Chef Lilly  IMG_0683

I’ve been checking on our stores from the garden this week.  Potatoes, parsnips and apples have moved to the downstairs fridge, garlic, onions and shallots are in our cool basement, winter squash is in a large pile in the kitchen serving the dual purpose of decoration and dinner, and popcorn has been taken off the cob and is dry enough for popping.  I’m debating whether to harvest the carrots now before this next storm or just keep digging them up as we need them.  I also finally got the garlic into the garden and covered it over with dried up parsnip greens to wait for springtime sprouting. We are bringing things indoors and getting ready for the cold months ahead.

During the summer our energy is all about the external.  We run fast, play outdoors, soak up sun and eat fresh, light foods.  As the light fades and we move towards winter solstice, our energy moves inwards.  We reconnect with activities that require more mental focus such as work and school.  Autumn is a season of Gathering–bring our harvest in and bring our energies in so we have sustenance for the cold months ahead.

Autumn holidays are wonderful expressions of what we experience during this season.
With Thanksgiving coming up this week, we are reminded of the importance of being with our loved ones.  We are making plans to gather together, reconnect, and rekindle the human relationships that support us through the winter.  And there is no better showcase for the foods of the season than Thanksgiving.  You need look no further to get an intuitive feeling for fall support foods than your menu for dinner this Thursday.

In fall the foods we focus on are those that take all summer to ripen:  winter squash, apples and pears, crucifer vegetables such as brussels sprouts and cabbage,onions, garlic, mushrooms, and of course the root vegetables.  Mother nature takes many months packing energy into these foods so we can take advantage of them now.

As I have mentioned in other posts, the primary systems that need support in the fall are the immunity and upper respiratory system.  Coming back indoors and spending more time in close quarters with people means that colds, flus, and other infections become far more common.  Beets and crucifers help to detoxify the system, and apples and pears contain pectins that improve elimination. These both help the body can fight infection more effectively.  Onions and garlic are highly antimicrobial.  Mushrooms boost the activity of immune cells.  And winter squash and sweet potatoes are warming to the system.  Also, don’t forget the spices of the season:  ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves all improve circulation and the movement of lymph to quickly resolve colds and flus.

One last thing to remember is the star of the Thanksgiving show: the bird.  If you have the good fortune to end up with a turkey carcass, put it to good use!  Bone broths are an excellent support for the immune system.  All of our blood cells including our immune cells are manufactured in the marrow of our bones.  When we boil the bones of an animal (be it beef, chicken, turkey, or whatever mammal you happen to be eating) we mobilize those immune cell making parts of the animal and can consume them to nourish our own immunity.

Whatever your traditions are, enjoy this great festival this week and enjoy the opportunity to give yourself what is needed during this season: community and immunity.
Happy Thanksgiving!