Kitchen Garden

Thanksgiving Menu Planning

Vegetarian Thanksgiving 2013
Vegetarian Thanksgiving 2013

“What do vegetarians have for Thanksgiving dinner?” a colleague at the home, farm and auto supply store asked this week.

The unspoken assertion was it is difficult to imagine Thanksgiving without turkey as the main course.

He noted, being positive, we could still have pumpkin pie for dessert.

We could, but won’t this year.

Our kitchen has been vegetarian since we married. A vegetarian kitchen doesn’t mean we both do without meat. I occasionally consume a meat dish while visiting with friends or at political events.

In 34 years we’ve never stopped at the butcher nor bought anything from the grocery store meat counter. Not even the popular rotisserie chicken has entered our doorway, nor the even more popular pepperoni pizza. By design we eschew meat products at home and haven’t suffered nutritionally.

That’s not to say I don’t know how to cook a chicken. During a stay at our daughter’s apartment in Colorado, I raided her ice box and cooked soup from a rotisserie chicken carcass and roasted chicken breasts with rice and a vegetable for a dinner as the sun set over Pike’s Peak.

My maternal grandmother worked as a cook both as a live-in maid and in the rectory of the Catholic Church where I was baptized. In her later years, she showed me how to bone a chicken. Without practice, it seems doubtful I could do it again without help.

What will Thanksgiving 2016 look like in Big Grove?

This year the CSA where I work offered a vegetable box for $30. That, along with items already around the house, will be the centerpiece for menu planning. Cost wise, that will be our only expense as everything else is on hand. This year’s estimate of the cost of Thanksgiving dinner is $49.87 for ten people, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, so we will be eating well, but for much less.

If we use all of the menu ideas we came up with it will take us five hours to cook the meal and five hours to eat it. Like anyone with an abundant table, we’ll have plenty of leftovers.

The menu is not final, however, here’s what it looks like the day before the holiday:

Beverages: Wilson’s Orchard apple cider, Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, Belgian beer, filtered water and coffee.

Appetizers: Baked pumpkin seeds, Crudites (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots), pickled vegetable plate (sweet and sour pickled cucumbers, pickled daikon radish, pickled red onions, pickled jalapeno peppers).

Salad course: Lettuce salad with fresh vegetables, purple cabbage coleslaw.

Bread: Sage-cheddar biscuits.

Main course: Frittata with organic eggs, braising greens, onions, garlic and thyme.

Side dishes: Steamed broccoli, rice pilaf with collard and Swiss chard, Roasted Brussels sprouts, Roasted vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, bell peppers), and Butternut squash  sweet potatoes.

Dessert: Apple crisp.

No matter how dark the night, there is plenty to be thankful for this year.

Let it begin with a Happy Thanksgiving.

After Action Report Nov. 26, 2016: The actual menu varied a little from the plan and I’ve annotated the changes by crossing off dishes not prepared and added those not listed in italics. I made the red cabbage coleslaw but forgot to serve it.