I am a sucker for food porn. My kitchen shelves are teeming with cookbooks. My precious homemade recipe book is stuffed with torn recipes from newspapers and magazines. I have a whole accordion folder – divided by categories – for recipes I plan to try.
Then along comes Thanksgiving.
The grocery store shelves and newspapers are filled with creative ways to “rethink” the holiday meal with innovative menu ideas like sous vide turkey, smashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts pomegranate-tahini sauce and cheddar, bacon and beer stuffing.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a risk taker who’s not afraid to try new things. Case in point, I often try recipes for the first time when I have a dozen guests coming for dinner that very evening.
You would think I would be all over these delicious-sounding ways to spice up Thanksgiving. But you'd be wrong. Year after year, my table is graced with the same (and let’s face it, rather monotonous and predictable) meal: brined and roasted turkey, plain old mashed potatoes, sage stuffing, roasted veggies, regular cranberry sauce, lots of gravy and a pumpkin pie for dessert.
I satiate my rebellious streak with the vegan gravy I make for my daughter and me, and by the regular addition of my aunt’s famous savoury carrot cake – best served smothered in that same gravy. Yes, these additions are a little out of the norm, but after two decades of serving them with the holiday meal they are hardly outliers at our house.
So, why is it that on Thanksgiving I depart from my normally adventurous self and collapse into my comfortable repeat performance?
I can only explain that as our family grows and shrinks like the accordion folder that holds my recipes (four of my parents’ six grandkids, including my own eldest two, are now away at university), the comfort of something that remains predictably unchanged year after year is a welcome prospect. This Sunday I will be very grateful to be serving my family and friends the same old bird.
Auntie Natalie’s savoury carrot cake:
(Adapted for my vegan daughter)
1 ½ cups vegan butter (regular butter or even shortening will work)
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups grated carrots
4 flax eggs (I like this recipe, but real eggs work too)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
2. Combine nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and flour in a medium bowl.
3. In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer) cream the butter with brown sugar. Add the (flax) eggs, carrots and dissolved baking soda.
4. Add the flour mixture and mix well.
5. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 1 hr.