Some Thanksgiving recipes (part 1).

Having posted what I'm making for Thanksgiving, I am happy to accede to your requests for the recipes. Of course, I encourage you to violate the recipes at well (since that's how I was taught to cook).

I'm posting these in two batches, so if you don't see the recipe you were looking for here, it will be posted in the next recipe post, which should be up by tonight.


12 pears, pared, cored, and cut into quarters (d'anjou work well)
1.5 cups honey
4 cups cranberry juice
1 cup red or white wine vinegar
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients except pears and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the pears and simmer until barely tender. Lift pears out of liquid an pack into hot, sterile pint jars. Bring liquid quickly back to a boil and pour into jars, distributing 1 cinnamon stick to each jar, leaving 0.5 inch headspace. Adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and let them cool, Yields six pints.

From Keeping the Harvest by Nancy Chioffi & Gretchen Mead. This is the first book I consult when facing down an agricultural surplus.


1 tablespoon dried oregano
8-12 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup water
0.5 cup olive oil
0.5 cup red wine vinegar
0.5 cup soy sauce
0.5 cup red wine
6-8 garlic cloves, smashed with a heavy knife to remove them from their "shells"
heavy pinch of ground cloves

In a 2 quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, toast the oregano until aromatic. Don't go anywhere while you're doing this! It's a fine line (at least temporally) between "aromatic" and "burnt and nasty". Tip the toasted oregano out of the pan (I usually put it in the container that will hold the tofu while it marinates) and reserve for later.

Put the water and the shiitakes into the pan and return to medium-high heat. Once the water hits a boil, simmer the dried mushrooms for about 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients (including the toasted oregano) to the pan, give it a good stir, and heat for 5-10 minutes.

This makes enough marinade for 2-3 lbs. of tofu; if you're only up for 12-16 oz. of marinated tofu, cut the recipe in half.

Making the tofu:

Buy the firmest tofu you can find (mine is one notch beyond "extra firm") so you won't have to bother with pressing and/or draining it. Cut slabs about an inch thick. Place tofu in containers and carefully pour hot marinade over them (resting the shiitakes on top). Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and as many as 5 days.

You can cook the slabs of tofu in a glass baking pan under a broiler (turning when you've got some color and the hints of future charring on each side).

Or, you can cook them on the grill. I use hardwood charcoal (for the smoky flavor note it adds) and a well-oiled grill wok (because there's nothing sadder to me than losing a piece of tofu to the coals). Cook on each side until you have a bit of a char. Depending on how hot your fire is, you may get the outside look and texture you want before the inside has warmed up enough to cook. If the fire is pretty hot, I usually put the grilled tofu slabs in a metal loaf pan, cover the pan with foil, and stick it on a cooler part of the grill (or in an oven indoors) to heat the slabs all the way through.

The leftover marinade is nice for dipping bread.

*This marinade is probably a descendant of the "Marinated Tofu" recipe in The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison with Edward Espe Brown. I got the recipe that I violated to arrive at this one via email from a friend about 15 years ago, and that email didn't mention its source.


Sweet potatoes (as many as you feel like grilling)
Store-bought Korean BBQ sauce
Olive oil (to grease the grill or grill wok)
Finely sliced green onions (to garnish -- at least 0.25 cup)

Peel and trim the sweet potatoes. Slice them lengthwise into planks (0.25 to 0.5 inches thick). Boil the planks until they are easily pierced with a fork (about 8 minutes). Drain, cool, and drizzle with some of the olive oil.

You'll be cooking the sweet potato planks over a grill that is starting to cool down. (Because of the high sugar content in sweet potatoes, if the fire is too hot, they will burn pretty quickly.) I use a well-greased grill wok so I don't lose the sweet potatoes to the coals. Cook the planks a couple minutes on each side until lightly browned. While cooking the second side, brush the first side with the BBQ sauce. Turn to let the sauced side cook (30 seconds to 1 minute) and brush the side that's now up with BBQ sauce. Turn again and cook (30 seconds to 1 minute). You can sauce and cook each side again if you want. Don't burn them! Remove from grill, put them on a plate, and sprinkle with the green onion slices.


3-4 medium-small delicata squash (about 3 lbs.)
4 tablespoons butter
heaping 0.25 cup chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup water
2 cups hard apple cider (I use Blackthorn)
1 tablespoon pomegranate vinegar (or use sherry vinegar)
heavy pinch of salt

First, you have to prepare the squash. Delicata is a squash that you can peel with a good vegetable peeler (unlike the well-defended butternut squash). However, it's still somewhat challenging to cut the peeled squash, so you'll want a serrated knife (so the knife is less likely to slip and cut you). Cut each squash into lengthwise quarters. Cookbooks will tell you to scoop out the seeds with a spoon, but unless your spoon is as sharp as a surgical instrument, that ain't gonna happen -- use a paring knife to remove the seeds. Take each squash quarter and slice crosswise to a thickness of 0.5 inch or so.

In a wide, deep skillet, heat the butter until melted. Add the sage and rosemary and heat (over medium-high heat) stirring until the butter starts to turn golden, the herbs look cooked but not crispy, and the smell is bewitching.

Add the squash pieces to the butter and stir until coated. Add the water, the hard cider, the vinegar, and the salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to keep things bubbling along without boiling over. Stir from time to time to shift the squash around so each piece spends some time submerged in the cooking liquid. After about 30 minutes, most of the liquid will have boiled down. Try a piece of squash. If you'd like it to be more tender, add a bit more water or cider and cook a while longer.

We always make this at least a day ahead, since the flavor is even better the second or third day after you've prepared it.

A slight modification of the recipe in The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfield.


Take your scrubbed beets and put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Boil them until soft enough to prick with a fork (45 minutes to an hour). Save the boiling liquid.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. Slice the beets 0.25 inches thick.

What's going to "ginger" these beets is the sauce you'll make next. Melt 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan, then stir in an equal amount of flour (I use whole wheat). Stir and cook as you would any other roux, letting the mixture get a little color (while getting rid of that uncooked flour taste) but not letting it burn. Now stir in 0.75 cup of the beet boiling liquid (which should make the sauce a reddish-pink color) and keep stirring to get any lumps out. Add 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger, 0.5 teaspoon dry mustard, 1.5 tablespoon brown sugar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and a heavy pinch of salt.

Add the beets to the sauce.

More like this

Thank you, Janet.

I will definitely be trying the pickled pears and the gingered beets. The delicata squash also sounds very tempting, although I've never seen delicata squash in our local farmers' markets. But I have my own butternut and acorn squashes to experiment with.

Fair trade, as promised. Here's my great-grandmother's Penn-Dutch recipe for pear butter (adjusted only by reducing the original sugar content substantially).

Pear Butter

Make extra-thick "applesauce" out of pears (no sugar added yet), cook down till quite thick.

For every 6 cups "sauce", add:
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove

Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour while very hot into sterilized pint or 1/2 pint canning jars, seal jars immediately. No other "canning" necessary unless jars fail to seal, due to high sugar content.

Pear butter is excellent on toast, English muffins, or scones, and is also very good on buckwheat pancakes. As kids, my brother and I preferred pear butter to any and all commercial jams or jellies.

Another contribution to the party. These are what I call "quick pickles" -- designed to be made 3 days to a week before using, they will keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Pickled beets (and eggs)

Cook, peel and slice beets as for Janet's Gingered Beets, saving 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid. Slice beets into a container that can be sealed and refrigerated. Add a thin sliced medium onion to the beets.

To the 1 1/2 cups beet liquid, add an equal volume of cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. mustard seed, 1 tbsp dill seed, 1 1/2 tsp celery seed, about 8 black peppercorns, and at least 1 tbsp sea salt. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, and pour over the beets. (Optional: add a dozen peeled hard-boiled eggs) Make sure all solids are covered with liquid, adding more beet liquid and vinegar if needed. Cool to room temp, then seal and refrigerate for at least three days (a week if you added eggs).

Bonus: Pickled beans

Remove stems and tips from whole green and/or wax beans. Steam just until al dente. Pack beans upright in quart jar(s), adding 1/2 thin sliced onion to each jar. Mix steaming liquid with equal volume of cider vinegar and same seasonings as pickled beets, bring to boil and pour over beans in jars. Cover jars, let cool to room temp, then refrigerate for at least 3 days.

These are probably the best low calorie beer munchies ever.