One local blog I love to read is The Sandwich Life , by Champaign resident Cynthia Voelkl.
Cynthia blogs about her life and family and often throws in recipes for good measure.
She was kind enough to send me a guest post with two Thanksgiving recipes. She wrote what's below, and the photos are used with her permission.
Also, if you're hunting for some last-minute recipes, check out my Heaping Harvest of Recipes blog series . There are many to choose from, and many are well-loved recipes submitted by readers.
I didn’t grow up with the classic green bean casserole that so many people did. We usually had peas with pearl onions (baby onions, as we referred to them) or Brussels sprouts.
Our Thanksgiving had a bit of a New England twist, I guess, due to my mother. We didn’t have pumpkin pie, we had squash pie, and we didn’t have sweet potatoes, we had squash.
And on the night before Thanksgiving we always had French-Canadian tourtiere. Traditionally it’s a Christmas dish but in our family we have it on the night before Thanksgiving, as well.
Since I’ve started making Thanksgiving dinner at our own house I pretty much dropped the peas, as I like the vegetable to have a bit of an edge to cut through the richness of the rest of the menu. Brussels sprouts do that but so does kale, which is why I’m planning to use this kale recipe. Also, we still have a ton of kale in our garden. I can’t even tell you how many dishes of kale we get out of one little package of seeds!
one bunch of kale
1/4 cup of currants
2 garlic cloves
1/8 teaspoon (or a generous pinch) red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Dice the garlic and put it and the red pepper flakes in a cold pan with some olive oil. Slowly warm up the pan and stir until the garlic has become golden and you can smell it.
Strip the stems off the kale leaves (I used lacinato or dinosaur kale but any kale is fine) and slice into ribbons. Put into bowl of cold water. Once you can smell the garlic and red pepper flakes pull the kale out of the water by handfuls and drop into the pan. You want it still wet and dripping. Season generously with salt and toss, at medium high heat, until it is wilted and the water has begun to cook away.
Add the currants and continue to toss until thoroughly mixed and almost beginning to get sticky. If some of the kale gets browned, that’s OK. It’s delicious.
Drizzle a teaspoon or so of lemon juice over it all, toss and pour onto a platter. Top with the pecans (best if you toast them over low heat until fragrant). If you don’t have currants, of course raisins would wor. Or you can just add a tablespoon of honey. You just want some sweetness to work with the bite of the kale.
Also, you can "plump" your currants in a little boiling water (or warm sherry) if you like. This is also good at room temperature so you can make it ahead of time - and on top of the stove - so it’s a good Thanksgiving side dish.
Every year or two I try a new cranberry sauce recipe, with orange or pomegranate or vanilla or something else trendy, but I always go back to this recipe. I think it’s from a Bon Appetit or Gourmet magazine from many years ago and it is perfect. The spices echo some of the other flavors of the meal and it’s foolproof and delicious. Cranberry sauce is the easiest thing to make in the world and it’s fun to do with kids because you just stir the things until they start popping which - if you’re in the right frame of mind - can make everybody giggle.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
1 12-ounce bag of cranberries
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Boil cranberries with water and sugar for two to three minutes until the skins start popping. Add spices, stir and chill in non-aluminum pan.