I feel like Thanksgiving gets much more attention when it comes to a holiday meal.
Everyone is concerned about side dishes and how they should prepare the turkey, or should this be the year they don’t prepare a turkey at all.
Christmas and New Year’s dinner rarely seem to be discussed. Is this because traditions are already set and rarely change? Pasta, Seven Fishes, ham, and tamales come to mind. Or is it that these holidays are all about the cookies and cocktails?
Well, amidst all the baking this year, I decided to throw in a side dish. And if you are more in line with desserts this time of year, despite this being a vegetable, it could very well fall into that category.
A few years ago, I posted about a really great pumpkin dish I had when we were living in southern Brazil. Pumpkin is used there year round, and not solely associated with fall and the holidays as it is in the U.S. So I’d often find it on the lunch buffets, a popular business dining option during the week.
So this dish I speak of combined roasted pumpkin and Gorgonzola cheese. It was the best combination with the sweet pumpkin and pungent cheese.
I made it the same way that I could guess it was made there, but ever since that encounter I’ve envisioned a more exciting and luxurious version. Perhaps one with a different winter squash, fit for the holiday table.
I finally got around to acting on those visions this year.
I don’t consider myself a tea person.
I drink tea. Especially the fun spiced flavors and holiday blends, but coffee holds a special place in my heart (and my central nervous system).
Despite my beverage choices, I am completely infatuated with the culture of tea. How it’s grown, traditions of consuming it, and varieties around the world. The interest is so strong that I find myself wishing I was a true tea person.
If you are a tea person, you should know there is a special aura about you. A relaxing, take it slow kind of aura. It’s the opposite of my give-me-all-the-coffee-so-I-can-do-all-the-things lifestyle. I’m envious of it.
But guess what? I’ve recently discovered that I don’t have to be a tea drinker to be a tea person. There are other ways, and I owe it to my friend Annelies for showing them to me.
I’m talking about cooking with it.
I always struggle with getting the right consistency for cooked brown lentils. And by right, I mean getting them the way I like them – slightly firm, but tender enough to enjoy. Usually, I get them boiling, get distracted and they are mushy before I realize it.
That’s fine for soups, but I enjoy eating them as more of a stir-fry or a skillet meal.
So this time around, I watched them like a hawk.
Actually, that’s a lie.
Peas and carrots have never been all that appealing to me. Carrots by themselves, good. Peas by themselves, or maybe in a pasta dish, good. Together? It’s lost on me. I’m simply not a fan.
So what do I do when I’m not a fan of something? I make my own version. Sub green peas with chickpeas and magically I find one of my favorite side dishes.
In this recipe, cauliflower rice is tossed with a spinach and basil pesto and chickpeas. It makes an easy light meal or side dish for anyone at the table because it also happens to be vegan and gluten free.
I usually post things on Instagram the day I make and shoot them with a note about when they will be live on the blog. Call me old fashioned, but I’m just one of those diehards who still believes in preserving the real-time aspect of social media. Especially those platforms that have a portion of the word instant in their names.
I typically get a few comments from people who can’t wait to see it, but none quite like this recipe. After posting this cauliflower rice, I not only got comments on Instagram, but also follow up on other social sites about when the recipe would be live.
I think there is some unspoken rule that says your simplest recipes, the ones you just kind of throw together on a whim, are the ones that garner the most attention.
That is definitely the case here.
Brussels sprouts are a year round food for me, but the frequency that they appear in my meals picks up when fall rolls around. I’ve already stocked the fridge twice with them in the past two weeks. They are a clear favorite in the vegetable category right now. In the grain category, wheat berries are holding their spot at number one. I can’t get enough of a simple wheat berry salad.
I’ve never served the two together so when I was tossing around ideas for a fall salad, I decided they would probably go pretty well together, especially with a nutty tahini dressing.
Butternut squash and I have been familiar with each other for quite some time. The standard pie pumpkin? We go way back. Even the kabocha and I have shared many moments together.
But I have to admit that the Delicata squash and I are embarking on a fairly new relationship.
To date, I think I have purchased one. As in a single squash. It’s been so long ago that I don’t even remember what I did with it.
I know it sounds crazy. With a winter squash obsession like mine one would expect I’d be an expert at working with them all.
Well, I’m getting there. It’s finally the Delicata’s time to shine.
The end of August is rolling around. Even though schools have started and I’ve been thinking a lot about pumpkins, there is still that one big celebration that closes us out of summer and sends us into the next season.
For all of those Labor Day cookouts and picnics coming up, I decided to go through some of the recipes here on Fake Food Free and pull out a few that are perfect to take or make for your next cookout. Some are from way back when and others debuted just this summer.
I’m preparing myself for the long road ahead. The long, hot road ahead.
I could say that I just started thinking about fall, but that would be a lie. Thoughts of fall began for me way back in June. The truth is, I think of fall pretty much every season of the year.
I keep reminding myself – Self, you live in the Central Valley now. In a few weeks, images of pumpkins, sweaters and warm drinks will enter all of your social media feeds. You’ll flip through them while standing in front of the air conditioner vent. It’s okay. Fall will get here. It just takes its sweet time.