I honestly can’t remember if I told the tale of my strong dislike of Thanksgiving last year, gentle readers, but just in case I didn’t, I’m going to tell it again now. For the first 8 to 10 years of my life, I somehow managed to be violently ill on Thanksgiving — either sinus-infection-can’t-even-move-my-eyes-without-barfing ill or full-blown-stomach-virus-gagging-at-the-smell-of-all-food ill. My loving mother and grandmother tried to tempt me with what they thought were delicious Thanksgiving treats every year, from fluffy stuffing to succulent turkey to fancy pies (strawberry pie was one that REALLY triggered an unfortunate peristaltic reaction), but every year just further cemented my hardcore aversion to just about every iconic Thanksgiving food that you can imagine. To this day I cannot stand the smell of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin in their traditional Thanksgiving forms. So when it comes to my family’s Thanksgiving feast, the most I can manage to be grateful for is that mashed potatoes and gravy somehow escaped the gastric embargo.
Now, as an adult, I get to help my mom create this abundant holiday feast for my brothers and their families – all the while shuddering as I prepare the bird and all the fixings. It’s not pleasant. And please don’t even get me STARTED on the influx of Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING in the Fall…my response to most cuisine this season, to put it eloquently, is “Gag me with a spoon.”
BUT…there is blessing to be found in the bounty of Thanksgiving food available at this time of year. I have kept my kitchen warm and cozy with lots of recipes that employ some of the staples, but dressed in a very different way.
For full disclosure, a few of my experiments came out horribly, horribly wrong – it would be a disservice to you, gentle reader, to let you believe these abominations are worth your trouble. (Blog names are redacted to avoid my being an asshole, but you’ll know the type of recipe if you’ve been on Pinterest this season!):
Pumpkin Apple Crisp: this recipe just ruins regular, tasty apple crisp by coating it in sticky, nasty, chewy pumpkin
Pumpkin Brownies: a nefarious scam that claims that one can get delicious brownies by mixing one box of brownie mix with one can of pumpkin. That is a LIE. All one gets from that combination is a nasty pan of fibrous fudgy sludge that tastes like chocolate and butt. 🙁
HOWEVER, I have found some keepers! Here are a few of my favorites from this month:
Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal with Maple and Pecans: Samantha at Five Heart Home has done some wizardry with this one – she made me like pumpkin AND pumpkin spices. (Props to you, my friend – you have done the near impossible!) Her baked oatmeal recipe is moist and flavorful when served with a good cup of yogurt in the mornings – a nice, warm start to the chilly, snowy days we’ve been having this year.
Pumpkin Chili: Olivia’s Cuisine has an excellent pumpkin chili recipe that happens to employ pumpkin as a thickening agent – nary a hint of pumpkin spice to be found.
Sweet Potato Cornbread: Jessica at Savory Experiments has come up with a sweet potato cornbread that is baked right in a cast iron skillet – super fun and super tasty! Her recipe calls for the use of pumpkin pie spice, but that can easily be left out or replaced with a Scarborough Faire mix (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme) if you’re like me and can’t stand the seasonal mix. The bread itself is on the dry side, but works really well to soak up the chili deliciousness I served it with. Excellent pairing!
So, am I a total Thanksgiving food convert? Not by any stretch of the imagination! But at least I’ve come to terms with pumpkin in some way this year – perhaps I can stop maligning it quite so vehemently in the future. Perhaps I’ll try to take on turkey next year – we’ll see how this year’s feast goes!
Happy Thanksgiving, gentle readers! Are there any traditional holiday foods you can’t stand to eat? Let me know in the comments or at the Half-Assed Circle on Facebook. Until next week!