Monday, October 12, 2015

Make your own Thanksgiving Dinner

It's Thanksgiving in Canada and the weather is amazing.
You don't have to wait for an invite to celebrate Thanksgiving or have a big family to enjoy it.

This week I have been feeling sick and super exhausted.  I think my stressful crazy month of September caught up with me.

Since I don't have family dinners anymore and my friends were either sick, working or busy with family I decided to get up and make my own Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.   I cooked all day and probably could have invited a few people over but I put all my energy into just making the food and cleaning up afterward so I didn't have any energy left to entertain anyone.

It started when I decided to get a Turkey Breast roll from Whole Foods.  I don't eat Turkey that often so it's nice to have some around Thanksgiving since I don't celebrate Christmas.  I thought it might be good to cook up the Turkey Breast and then have it for a couple of meals and sandwiches.


Rolled Turkey Breast Roast
Spiced Cauliflower
Basalmic Brussel Sprouts
Mashed Pumpkin
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Cranberry sauce

Since the Turkey took up my whole oven because I only have one oven rack I had to do things in stages so it took me a few different tools and a whole day.  I decided to use my new T Fal Actifry XL to make Brussel sprouts and then I added spiced up Cauliflower.   They took about 20 minutes each without any fussing or turning. The Actifry did all the turning and timing.  It's really a great tool for a big dinner because it's like having an extra oven or fryer because it's a good substitute for frying and also works like a roasting oven.  It caramelized my vegetables beautifully.

I got a couple of small Squash Pumpkin's in my Fresh City Farms delivery so I decided to roast one and then I mashed it.  I also roasted the seeds.

I ate a bit of it but wasn't really in the mood to make Pumpkin pie but I would like to make a pumpkin loaf but need to get some flour first.   You go through a lot of flour cooking a lot of holiday types of dishes but I used up my flour making my no knead bread recipe.  I have posted the recipe I used before.  You can see it on a previous post, but I just used a recipe I got from Michael Smith.  It basically sits and rises for 20 hrs an then you bake it in a dutch oven on high heat for 25 min.
I also made cranberry sauce with the cranberries I had in the freezer from when they went on sale last.  I added star anise, a few cardamon pods and a cinammon stick to the simmering pot for extra flavour.  I would have used orange zest but I didn't have any oranges.   Don't buy the can, it's easy to make and you can add your own twists to it.

I made everything from scratch except for a little help from a bag of Ace Bakery stuffing mix which is just seasoned croutons.  I added fresh celery, carrots, onions and apple and fresh sage to the mix.  I cooked it on the stove and then finished it in the oven.

I added celery, carrots, garlic, onions, herbs and chicken stock to the bottom of the pan of the roasting turkey so I was able to make gravy from the flavours of the vegetables.  There won't be much turkey drippings because there isn't much fat and it's all light meat but using chicken stock added to the pan will give you enough to make a decent gravy.  I put all the stock and vegetables in a saucepot and reduced it down and added a bit of water and soy sauce and then thickened it up with a slurry of cornstarch and water.  I strained all the vegetables out but I think some people don't mind having chunky gravy.  I am not one of them.

I prepared the turkey by rubbing butter all over it and seasoning with salt and pepper and paprika for color and then added fresh sage sprigs on top.  I wanted to try the low and slow method of cooking the Turkey but it took too long so I cranked up the heat so that I could bake my bread.  However you cook your Turkey just make sure you use a Thermometer and cook it to 165ºF to be safe.  But be prepared to wait because Turkey is usually a lot of meat and if you cook it whole and stuff it that takes even longer because the heat doesn't circulate as well.  You could break down the turkey and roast it on a baking sheet but you will lose the presentation factor.  I liked the wrapped Turkey breast I found at Whole Foods.. nothing to do to it.  Just season it and pop it in the oven.

My food came from all over the place.  Some from Fresh City Farms, some from Whole Foods and the rest from Loblaws.  Try and get as much as you can that's local if you can since it's Agriculture Week but I know it can be hard if you don't have a good market near you but you can request local produce from your local grocer and if enough people ask they will add more.  Support your local farmers because they do their work so that you can eat well.   That's what I am thankful for this year.  That I have good food on my table and farmers who work hard for people like me who can't grow their own food.

Here is my finished plate.
Thanks to all the farmers and food workers that had a hand in the ingredients on this plate.

Is it worth it to do all this work?  Maybe not.  I spent a lot of time doing it and a lot of time cleaning up but there is a pride of making everything yourself and knowing what's in your food and also there's always leftovers and no big cooking the next day. Just warm it up and eat and relax you did enough work for a couple of days so you can have a rest now.

I understand why single people don't cook at home.  It's not always as economical but don't lose your cooking skills because they really are skills for life.  Sometimes I choose to cook and sometimes I choose not to but at least I have a choice I can make a great meal or have someone else make one for me.    Don't let being alone on Thanksgiving stop you from having the Thanksgiving Dinner you want to eat.  Just get in the kitchen and make it for yourself.  You are worth it.


Happy Thanksgiving.

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