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Holiday Menu with Recipes

(This entry originally appeared at Crazy Sexy Life: http://crazysexylife.com/2010/a-holiday-feast/)

Beneath the riffling of the holiday shuffle, we find a very natural and strong undercurrent. It flows from the spring of Thanksgiving, through the deep pool of reflection, into the rushing current of renewal as the year changes.

Thankfulness, as we have just celebrated, brings a warming effect to our lives. Gratitude truly felt is rich and balancing, helping us to offset any troubles that have come our way. Clearing the debris from the year creates space for us to take that all-important personal inventory. From this assessment, popularly associated with religious observances, we determine our next steps.

Seitan Roast, Baked Mashed Potatoes, Onion Gravy, Pecan Fig Cornbread Stuffing, Cranberry Compote
Seitan Roast, Baked Mashed Potatoes, Onion Gravy, Pecan Fig Cornbread Stuffing, Cranberry Compote

The Advent offers a backward and forward look at presence, a pivot point where one can ascertain one’s own standing.

Hanukkah’s honoring of a rededicated temple engenders hope for a future recurrence, filling the present moment with expectation.

Long before either of these celebrations, there was the universal solstice: that turning point of the winter, when the lengthening night gives way to the lengthening day. It’s all much brighter from this day forward.

From the reflecting points of these holidays, we move into progressive renewal. We make adjustments in our course, applying another iteration of fine-tuning on who we are and what we do. In the absence of leaves, we store energy for new ones, awaiting spring.

Remembrance is not only a device for preserving past years. It is also a foundation for building the new year. With the heritage of our traditional flavors as the cornerstone, I offer these recipes to help us celebrate a more sustainable and healthy future.

CORNBREAD STUFFING WITH PECANS AND FIGS
Servings: 12

Ingredients
1 cup pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 dried figs, chopped
6 cups cornbread
2 cups vegetable stock
6 sprigs fresh thyme

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Toast pecans for 10 minutes. Chop and set aside.
3. Warm olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sauté onion, mushrooms, and celery with rosemary and sage. When onion is translucent, 4. add sea salt and figs, and sauté for 3 more minutes.
5. Tear cornbread into small pieces and place in large mixing bowl. Add sautéed vegetables, pecans, and stock. Mix thoroughly.
6. Place mixture in a lightly oiled casserole dish. Place thyme sprigs on top.
7. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes more to form crusty top.

CRANBERRY COMPOTE
Servings: 6

Ingredients
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup raisins
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup fresh cranberries

1. Place orange juice, raisins, cinnamon sticks, sugar and sea salt in a saucepan over low heat.
2. Simmer slowly until reduced by half.
3. Add cranberries and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until liquid is syrupy.
4. Cool before serving.

MASHED POTATOES
Servings: 6

Ingredients
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 onion
6 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Roast whole, unpeeled potatoes and onion until potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes.
2. Peel and dice onion and place in large bowl with the potatoes.
3. Add remaining ingredients and mash potatoes until they reach the desired consistency. Add additional oil or milk as desired.

ONION GRAVY
Servings: 8

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups vegetable stock

1. Warm olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic, sage, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Stir well and sauté for 3 minutes.
2. Add flour, mix thoroughly and sauté for 5 minutes.
3. Whisk in stock. Simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

SEITAN ROAST
Servings: 10

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon Italian herb blend
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten
3/4 cup cornmeal

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Warm olive oil over medium heat in a small sauté pan. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger until onion is translucent.
3. Blend onion mixture with vegetable stock, nutritional yeast, tamari, herb blend, salt, and pepper.
4. In large bowl, mix wheat gluten and cornmeal. Add 1 to 2 cups of blended stock and stir to form dough. Mix with hands as dough gets stiffer. Add more stock, in small increments, if necessary.
5. Lightly oil a 9x5x3 loaf pan. Shape dough to fit pan and press down.
6. Pour 3/4 cup of blended stock over dough.
7. Bake uncovered at 350 F for 45 minutes. Add the remaining stock.
8. Reduce oven to 325 F, and bake for another 20 to 35 minutes, or until seitan is firm to the touch. Add more liquid if necessary to continue baking.
9. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

PECAN TART
Servings: 8

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup rice syrup
1 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 cup arrowroot, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water
1 10″ pie crust, pre-baked

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Toast pecans in oven for 15 minutes.
2. In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine maple syrup, rice syrup, soy milk, vanilla, and sea salt. Bring to simmer over medium heat.
3. Lower heat and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring often.
4. Vigorously whisk in flax meal and dissolved arrowroot.
5. In large bowl, combine syrup mixture with pecans, and stir thoroughly.
6. Pour into pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F, or until bubbly and browned.
7. Let cool thoroughly before slicing.

Happy Holidays!

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