15 November 2014

Vegetable Side Dishes, Part Two


Sautéed Apples and Carrots with Roasted Pecans
We have no real Thanksgiving traditions at our house. Last year was a big family event, with everyone bringing a specialty. One year the entire family went out for dinner. A few times we've traveled on that weekend, enjoying wonderful dinners at urban restaurants in other cities, with just a few family members joining us.

But somehow the humble little dinners we've had alone are my favorites. This year, because of my recent back injury, that's what we'll do: An unfussy dinner at home.

One thing I do like on my table each November: Green beans.

Here's my favorite option:

Green Beans Amandine with Shallots: This dish works best with fresh green beans, but frozen will do in a pinch. It pairs well with everything, from turkey to ham, from beef to fish.

I love shallots with green beans. The mild flavors compliment each other. Add something else, something a little richer, maybe and you've got a dish that happily accompanies turkey with all the trimmings:
Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta.

A full turkey or ham dinner demands the addition of a tart or sweet side dish, too. Cranberry sauce, or even applesauce are contenders. But this dish, along with green beans, is really a spectacular option: Sweet, tart and nutty:

Sautéed Apples and Carrots with Roasted Pecans. I love this. I think it's the best thing I've ever done with apples. It's easy, too, and like the green bean dishes above, you can make it ahead of time and reheat it. In my experiences, most dishes improve after the flavors have time to marry.

14 November 2014

For a Frugal Thanksgiving: Vegetable Side Dishes, Part One

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Carrots
For the past seven weeks, I've been dealing with some back issues that have made mobility painful. I'm on the mend, but the process is slow.

I miss cooking. I've been getting by with bagged salads, cereals and easy-to-make sandwiches plus the contents of my freezer's soup stash and my husband's cooking.

I miss puttering around in the kitchen. The organization, the prep, the chopping and slicing and dicing. I'm hoping to be back in full action in two weeks, just in time for Thanksgiving.

Some people insist on tradition, serving the same menu year after year. That would drive me crazy. I like to mix it up a little, try something new. Each Thanksgiving and each Christmas is different. One year we had chateaubriand. Last year we had coq au vin. No final decision on this year yet, but it's safe to say we will have one or two vegetable side dishes.

Roasted Cauliflower with Gruyere and Cheddar Cheese
Our choices may be one of the following:

Sautéed Fresh Corn with Onions: I've been making a roasted version using frozen kernels that is almost as good.

Maple Roasted Carrots with Onions and Thyme: This is a classic at my house, but I'm the only one who eats it. I now use fresh carrots. When I took this photo, I was cleaning out the freezer, so I used an emergency ration.

Roasted Carrots with Brown Sugar and Thyme: This is one of my favorite carrot dishes. It takes the recipe above and kicks it up a notch.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Carrots: I prefer fresh vegetables, but if you're pinched for time, this recipe makes frozen Brussels sprouts taste really good. I paired mine with fresh carrots.

Roasted Cauliflower with Gruyere and Cheddar Cheese: This pairs well with ham and sweet potatoes. A side salad of Brussels sprouts rounds out the meal. Corn bread is a nice addition.

More frugal side dish options to follow.

24 August 2014

Sunday in Frenchtown: Farm Market Vegetables



At Grandma Annie's, Sunday dinner fare was almost always the same: Roasted chicken with potatoes and whatever vegetables were in season.

Vegetables were prepared simply: Boiled and served with butter, salt and pepper.

Save for the addition of herbs and sautéed almonds or walnuts, that is often the best way to prepare them today. At least once a season, I serve vegetables with nothing to detract from their earthy flavor.