I found these words today, from a writer and person I've long admired:
"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men."
Turkey day? Uh-uh.
Well, there will be one at the gathering I'm going to, because the vegetarian members of my family, several of us, give our whole family the respect we want extended to us: that is, the right to eat what we will and not be ostracized for our choices.
So we ignore the bird, and I thank my mother for making her delicious stuffing with veg broth instead of chicken broth as she did for decades. It's worth some gratitude, with slowly caramelized onions and a moist texture I love; and it's a mouthful of memory.
Thanksgiving has always been about the side dishes for me. Salad, three kinds of cranberries on the table, fresh green beans, peas or broccoli, yams-- let's not forget the ten different starches that might show up, too.
I'm lucky that our traditions have always included lots of vegetables and not just potatoes. It made going veg easier, and it makes my choice of what to "bring" easier too, now that I attend a family dinner instead of hosting. We do a potluck style meal, everyone pitching in to make a true groaning board. We've never bothered with a consolation main course for us vegheads.
For those of you, my friends, that don't have vegetarian friendly families to help them along, I hope you'll treat yourself to a nice little feast of your own. Personally, I'm bringing coffee, one of the cranberries, a dessert I have to decide on TODAY, and the recipe below.
I'm looking forward to Mom's stuffing, my older sister's roasted brussel's sprouts, my younger sister's pumpkin pie, whatever awesome new taste my most experimental niece brings (the women do most of the cooking with us, but the guys can cook, especially my brothers... but most of us cook because we enjoy it), and yes, the mashed potatoes. It'll be a big, warm feast just as winter is starting to close in here in Buffland.
Wishing you calm nourishment, whatever you do this week--
Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin with Horseradish Crumbs
Gourmet | November 2002 (how I miss Gourmet!)
Makes 8 servings
3 lb cauliflower (1 large head), cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch florets
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk (I'll be using unsweetened soymilk)
6 oz sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion greens
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
20 (2-inch square) saltine crackers
2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Cook cauliflower in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain cauliflower well in a colander and transfer to a buttered 2-quart baking dish.
While cauliflower is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook roux over low heat, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a slow stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese, scallion greens, salt, and pepper, whisking until cheese is melted. Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower and stir gently to combine.
Coarsely crumble crackers into a bowl. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in horseradish. Pour over crumbs and toss to coat.
Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cauliflower.
Bake gratin in middle of oven until topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes.