November 22, 2011

How SuperMommy Does Thanksgiving

Last year's Thanksgiving Dinner at Casa SuperMommy: Turkey (my first whole bird!), sweet potatoes, more turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, risotto, veganized risotto, Three Sisters, and a basket of biscuits and corn bread.  And of course a bottle of wine.
Truth be told, I'm sad that we're not going to be with my side of the family for Thanksgiving.

Don't get me wrong, I love my in-laws.  I truly do.  I enjoy their company, I have a ton of fun, and of course it's always good for the girls to see their grandparents- either side.  It's just that...

Everybody has their own family traditions.  Everyone has "the way that you do things."

My husband's family is, in many ways, very traditional.  They're about as midwestern American as they come.  Friendly, heartland people.  Meat-and-potatoes people.

And my family?

My mom was writing a world cuisine, completely vegetarian cookbook for most of my childhood.  Thanksgiving was her opportunity to showcase everything that she knew about American Food.

And by "American Food," I don't mean burgers and fries and deep fried butter.  The way my family, led by my mother, has always done Thanksgiving is to cook foods that could have been made by American natives.  That the non-Pilgrims would have brought to the feast.  Assuming that those natives were vegetarians.

Nothing on the table isn't indigenous to the USA (well, there are cheeses who's cultures originated abroad).  There's succotash with lima beans and corn, there's sprouts with chestnuts and maple, there's homemade corn bread crumbled into stuffing, wild rice, cranberry sauce and spinach stews, there's roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash risotto, pecan pies, pumpkin pies, apple pies... and then there's the Three Sisters.

The legend of the Three Sisters is that they are vegetables that care for each other.  Unlike European farmers, Native Americans farmed by planting all of their crops together, very densely, in small plots.  One acre would provide a plethora of vegetables, in a gigantic mass as opposed to nice, tidy rows.  The three sisters are squash, corn, and beans.  You see, the corn stalks provide poles for the beans to climb.  The squash keeps the ground clear, allowing the corn to remain spaced and get enough sun (and the squash crowds out some bean-hating weeds).  The three together even keep from excessively draining the soil of nutrients like nitrogen.

So we have something we just call, "Three Sisters."  Beans, corn, and squash.  The way I cook it, it's a day and a half long affair.  I makes the house smell alternately savory and sweet, and then just plain like Thanksgiving.

For my first Thanksgiving with my in-laws, I'm making the Three Sisters and pumpkin pies.  Out of pumpkins.  Not that canned nonsense.

I honestly don't know what to anticipate for dinner.  If it's anything like Christmas, I expect a turkey, some potatoes, corn bread, and gravy.  And cranberry sauce, I'm sure.  But I'm not expecting a lot of vegetarian fare.  And what vegetarian fare there is, I'm not expecting it to be... well.. anything like my mother's.

The fact that my mother isn't cooking a Thanksgiving dinner at all this year isn't a lot of comfort.  I was kind of hoping she could bring me leftovers.

So here, for your family's enjoyment, are two of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes.  Three Sisters, the way I make it, and Butternut Squash Risotto.

Three Sisters

Day One:
4c dried beans- assorted
2-4 quarts water
1.5 tsp salt
14 black peppercorns, whole
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion- halved
2 carrots
2 stalks celery- leaves attached

Rinse the beans carefully, discarding any stones.  Place in large stock pot with 2 quarts of water while you prepare the vegetables.  Discard any beans that rise quickly to the surface.

Bring pot, with all ingredients, to a boil.  Boil for one hour, adding water as needed to keep beans covered.  Stir occasionally.  At the end of the hour, turn off the burner, cover tightly, and allow to sit 8 hours or overnight.

Day Two AM:
2-3 acorn squash, halved
2 tbs butter
1/2c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger

Yesterday's beans
1 onion- halved
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 stalk celery- leaves attached
1.5 tsp salt
2-4 quarts water

Pour out the water from the pot of beans.  Remove vegetables.  Discard onions, garlic, and celery, but reserve carrots.  Place them in the fridge for later.

Rinse, and return to pot.  Add vegetables.  Bring water to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour.  Remove from heat.

Place the acorn squash on a baking sheet.  Divide butter, sugar, and spices into squash halves.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, occasionally brushing butter over the inside of the squash.  Remove and allow to cool.

Day Two PM:
Beans from before
Reserved carrots
Cooked squash
2c frozen corn
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 heirloom tomato, yellow and red if possible- skinned
1+ tbs coarse salt- I prefer black (from Hawaii, so... technically Native American?)
additional brown sugar and cinnamon to taste

Drain and rinse beans again.  Reserve carrot, throw out other vegetables.  Put in large mixing bowl.  Add corn.  Add peeled, chopped tomatoes.

Remove squash from rinds.  Cut into 1-2" chunks.  Add to bean mixture.  Mix thoroughly, and add any additional sugar and cinnamon.

Place in large baking/casserole dish.

Cut reserved carrots into thin rounds.  Cut tomato into thin slices.  Use sliced carrots and tomatoes to decorate top of Three Sisters, with one tomato slice in the middle, and concentric rings of carrots/tomatoes radiating outwards.  Take coarse salt, and sprinkle liberally on top.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until tomatoes have formed almost a crust.

Serves 6-8.  And a heck of a lot more on Thanksgiving when plates are overflowing with other goodies.

Butternut Squash Risotto

6-8 c broth
5tbs butter, divided
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 c butternut squash- balled with melon baller but not yet cooked
2c long grain rice
1c dry white wine
1c grated Parmesan
2 tbs fresh rosemary
salt and white pepper

Heat broth, and keep at a low simmer until required

heat 4 tbs butter in a very big pan.  Cook squash and onions and rosemary for 5 min.  Add rice, and cook for another two minutes.  Add wine, and stir gently until absorbed or evaporated.  Add broth, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, uncovered.

Add remaining ingredients and remove rosemary.  Add salt and white pepper to taste.

Garnish with Parmesan and a sprig of rosemary.


  1. Holy Crap. That is WAAAAY too much work for me. You really ARE Supermommy!

  2. I really, really enjoy your writings!

  3. AWESOME! Thanks for linking up! I hope to see you there again next week! I love your banner btw, did you draw that?

    Jessica @ Healthy Mommy Healthy Baby

  4. @JessicaI did! I do cartoons for the blog on occasion. :)

    I'm sad to say, it's the most use I get from my art school education! >.<



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