Dec 5, 2009

The real thanks is from the turkeys that didn't die

Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, so it's extremely sad that I've been so bloody lazy about updating this with my Thanksgiving menu. On the plus side, I totally have the jump on everyone else for next year. So uh, yeah! Suck it, schedulistas!

I made a pumpkin curry last year or so that drew such rave reviews from my friend Manjari that I was intimidated to make it again. Partly because when I made it the first time, I was skint on a lot of the ingredients and cowgirled the recipe a bit - so of course, being a total genius, I didn't note my changes and couldn't remember any of them. I love cooking, guys. I love it more than almost anything. And as a result I frequently just close my eyes and grab what looks good and cook on instinct. These usually end up being my best dishes, but I can never make them again.

The pumpkin citrus curry recipe here is the base recipe, and I would really like to make it properly sometime since it's been such a versatile base for experimentation. But for purposes of this blog, I'll stick with what I did.

The full menu was simple:

Pumpkin-Citrus Curry
Sweet Southern Cornbread in a mini-bundt pan
Banana Chai-Maple cake

and a great willingness to experiment!

There was to be a vegan Thanksgiving gathering at my occasional Spankhaus contributor Allison's place the next day and I thought I'd make an empanada pastry dough and stuff them with the curry once it had reduced overnight, but the empanadas were just not to be. I went through two batches and gave up. This curry is more of a stew than a thick cassoulade, so govern yourselves accordingly.

The recipe:
* 1/2 small pumpkin
* 1 small yam, peeled and cubed
* 1-2 medium carrots, cut into thick slices
* 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes
* 1/2 can chick peas, drained
* 2 Tbsp. grated orange rind

* 3-4 cloves garlic
* 1-2 fresh red chillies
* 1 can coconut milk
* 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
* 2+1/2 Tbsp. Tamari soy sauce
* 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
* juice of 1/2 lemon
* juice of 1 medium orange
* 1/2 tsp. turmeric
* 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
* 1 Tbsp. coriander, 1 Tbsp. ground cumin, and 1 tsp. Thai red curry paste
* 1/3 purple onion, sliced

The curry paste gets done first, in a blender if you have one. I'm a firm believer in not making things ore complicated than they have to be. So I Osterized the SHIT out of that curry paste! Throw everything under "Curry" in the blender and gogogo

The pumpkin...oh my. I'm not one to admit when I'm daunted, but godDAMN this took a really long time to peel, core, and cut. About an hour. And oh were my pretty fingers cut up and sore by the end! Fun fact guys, a paring knife, while great for detail work, is a STUPID THING TO USE ON A HUGE GOURD. I honestly recommend making this with either a stupid friend or an intelligent child. Stupid enough to do this part for you, intelligent enough not to cut themselves open doing it.

The rest is pretty easy - chop your remaining vegetables, and throw the pumpkin, yam, and carrots in a saucepan or big wok and add the curry sauce. Medium-high. When it starts to boil, turn down the heat to medium, stir, and simmer for 8 minutes, or until everything has softened. Then add the bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, chick peas, and orange rind, and simmer for 2 more minutes.

I served this over the cornbread bundts. I thought the little recessed pool at the top of the bundts would make a nice place for the juices to collect, and the sweetness was a nice touch with the citrus notes in the curry. I'M FANCY!

The cornbundts, as I insist on calling them, were a simple recipe from the PPK and all I added was a sprinkling of demerara on top so they would have a glossy, sweet finish, and the bundt pan shape. Thanks, Honest Ed's, for these little pans. Recipe's here, I won't take credit for it.

The cake was a lie. It was terrible. Word of advice: if you're subbing bananas for a binder already, and you make your baked good with whole wheat flour, it will come out like something you'd expect to find in the Metamucil Holiday Cookbook. Lesson learned. Vegan baking, still a lot to learn!

To honour one thing I am thankful for - excellent art - I'd like to leave this here. Tom Robbins talks about the yam a great deal in one of my favourite books, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and I appreciate them greatly. But there is a different quotation I'd like to leave you with today. Remember what you're thankful for, but...

"Any half-awake materialist well knows - that which you hold, holds you."

Let us appreciate the yam