Well, it’s Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, which can only mean one thing: Star Trek marathon on Space Channel! Or maybe: Ellen Page gets a surprise celebration from buddy Justin Long? Or how about: only 257 more days until summer?
Okay, in reality, Thanksgiving means that, like it or not, the holiday season is already upon us. Orange and black streamers hanging from gift shop ceilings, Hallmark stores overflowing with turkey cards and placemats, Christmas muzak on every elevator and wafting through every shopping mall, heart-shaped chocolate and chocolate eggs at every checkout. . . yep, the holiday season is already upon us, and will continue pretty much unabated until somewhere around May 1st.
Okay, then: let’s party!
Before I get to today’s recipe, however, I’d like to wish all my Canadian compatriots a very Happy Thanksgiving! And in honor of the onset of the holiday festivities, I’m happy to offer a very special sale of Sweet Freedom.
I found myself with some extra stock of books and think these would make excellent holiday gifts, whether for a friend, family member, or even yourself! Until December 1st, 2009, you can purchase a signed copy (dedicated to the name of your choice) of Sweet Freedom that I will ship directly to you, for just $25.00 US (a 35% discount). There are no extra charges to this price–no shipping, no taxes!
If you’d like to purchase a copy of Sweet Freedom at this special sale price or would like to learn more about the book, simply click on the “Cookbook” tab above or the book icon to the left. Choose the first (sale) option. There! You’ve just completed your holiday gift shopping–more time to have fun! 😉
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As much as I appreciate living in the 21st century, in some ways I am decidedly old-fashioned. In fact, in many ways, I tend to cleave to the archaic (and not just because I use words like, “cleave,” either). For instance, I don’t care how convenient bread machines may be; to me, it’s not really bread unless it’s mixed, kneaded and shaped by hand. When I was younger, I used to carry handkerchiefs with me rather than tissues (but had to stop the practice because too many people just got grossed out. Even though I washed them after only one use–I swear!). Ever since living with Mr. Audiophile (aka the HH), I’ve come to prefer LPs to CDs (they really do sound better!), though I suppose both will become antiques in the very near future.
And while I’m comfortable using a computer (sure comes in handy when one keeps a food blog) and I participate (nominally) in Facebook and twitter, I have never really warmed up to the concept of a PDA. I don’t own a Blackberry, iPhone, or any other similar electronic device. What I use is an old-fashioned, faux-leather bound, paper daytimer.
I love my daytimer and couldn’t imagine giving it up for any reason. I mean, it’s 100% portable (slips easily into my purse); it’s easy to use (only basic language skills required); and it never requires recharging (which means I can use it anywhere, any time, even during power failures or while in a root cellar during a tornado). When I want to know what’s planned on December 17, for instance, I simply flip the pages to that date and–voilà!–“dental cleaning” (ugh! has it been six months already??). If the HH sidles up to me and murmurs, “Ric, sweetie, honey, um, can you drive me to my follow up eye surgery appointment next Wednesday at 10:45?” all I need do is flip, flip, flip, and the answer is immediately forthcoming (yes, HH honey sweetie, I will drive you.).
The other day, I realized that I’d soon need to acquire a new, 2010 version of my book. While flipping through the last few pages of 2009 (where a few blank sheets are reserved for “Notes”), I happened upon a recipe that had been hastily scribbled on the last page. Well, what do you know–it was in my own handwriting!
I do remember, vaguely, copying a recipe from a magazine in my doctor’s waiting room one day. Which doctor? Can’t remember. How long ago was this appointment? I have no idea. Which magazine? Hmmm, my mind’s a blank. Was the dish something I’d still like to make? You betcha!
In fact, the recipe–a roasted plum and baby spinach salad topped with bacon–sounded perfect for the upcoming Thanksgiving table. A novel departure from cranberries or pumpkin, the salad still featured a seasonal fruit, as well as pure maple syrup, one of Canada’s most beloved domestic products. As a bonus, I happened to have a bag of organic plums from our organic box waiting patiently on the kitchen counter and had been looking for a way to use them (since my all-too-frequent tendency is to wait until they’re on the verge of spoilage before sussing out a recipe). I made a quick switch to tempeh bacon–and had a great recipe to try out this long weekend!
The salad came together very easily as the kitchen was flooded with the dual sweetness of warming plums and crackling bacon. The crisp, young spinach is the perfect foundation for the slightly softened plums and smoky tempeh. When roasted, the plums just begin to caramelize; tossed in maple syrup, they offer a lovely contrast of sweet, crusty exterior and tart, juicy inner flesh. Punctuated by thin slices of red onion and the sharp piquancy of dijon dressing, the salad offers a pastiche of flavors that was–well, plum delicious. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). 😉
In this second phase of the ACD, I’m allowed one (non-sweet) fruit a day, so I decided to revamp the original recipe so I could eat it, too. I prepared the original version for the HH, set aside a few plum slices for me, and whipped up a separate dressing for each of us. I’m including both recipes here for those of you on restricted diets so that you can enjoy a little sweetness of your own at Thanksgiving. One serving of this, and I guarantee you’ll be ready for party season.
“Um, Mum, you forgot to mention that Thanksgiving weekend also means one more extra long walk for us Girls. . . we love the holidays!”
Tempeh Bacon-Topped, Roasted Plum and Baby Spinach Salad
adapted from a magazine in my doctor’s waiting room (ACD Stage 2 and beyond version below)
A perfect first course to a holiday dinner, the salad is substantial without being overly filling. To make a meal of it, increase the amount of tempeh per serving, and add a side of rice pilaf or quinoa.
1 batch (about 12 slices) tempeh bacon, homemade or store bought (I used the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, with the ACD-friendly alterations listed below)
8 plums (not black prune type), cut in half and stone removed
8-10 fresh sage leaves
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp (30 ml) dijon mustard
1/3 cup (80 ml) red wine vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp (30 ml) pure maple syrup
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 pkg (20 oz or 570 g) baby spinach
Preheat oven to 450F (230C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Place the plums cut side down on the cookie sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil. Scatter the sage leaves onto the sheet around the plums. Bake for about 12 minutes, until plums are softened and cut side is beginning to caramelize, but plums still hold their shape. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature, then slice into half-moon shaped slices. (If you are using homemade tempeh bacon, you can keep it warm on a heatproof platter; cover with foil and reduce oven temperature to 250F (120C) before placing in oven to keep warm.)
Meanwhile, mix the dressing: In a small jar or bowl, combine the minced garlic, red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Either whisk the mixture or shake the (closed) jar vigorously until well combined.
To assemble, place spinach leaves on a platter and scatter the onion slices over it. Toss the plums with the maple syrup and place over the spinach. Top with the warm tempeh. Drizzle with dressing, then crumble baked sage leaves over all. Serve immediately. Makes 6-8 servings.
Set aside 1 serving of plums before tossing them in the maple syrup; have yours without syrup.
Instead of the dressing above, mix (per serving): 2 Tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp (1 ml) mustard powder, and salt and pepper to taste with 1-2 drops stevia liquid.
Make these changes to the tempeh bacon recipe: omit apple cider, tomato paste, and liquid smoke (unless it’s sugar and alcohol free). Instead of apple cider, use 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with enough water to make 1/3 cup (80 ml); add 5 drops liquid stevia. Use tomato paste that is free of sugar and wheat (or use puréed tomato). Instead of liquid smoke, use smoked paprika. Otherwise, follow the recipe as written.
Last Year at this Time: Mini Coconut Loaves or Cupcakes (gluten-free)
© 2009 Ricki Heller
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