advice for the holiday food-lorn |

advice for the holiday food-lorn

John HartYogurt adds tang and moisture to cornbread, a Thanksgiving favorite.
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Have you noticed that people dish out advice as easily as honey slides off a well-oiled spoon? Horoscopes, columns for the lovelorn, street graffiti – we’re bombarded with everything from decent suggestions to brainless prattle.

Of prattle there’s no shortage. For instance, when I was a kid, grownups professed that if I crossed my eyes, I risked remaining so forever. And after our first daughter was born, a friend suggested that I give our cats away. “They’ll steal the baby’s breath during nap time,” she warned. We kept the cats; no thefts occurred.

Wear primary colors! Never eat carbohydrates in the morning! If you want curly hair, drink carrot juice! Most of this strikes me as pure baloney!

Of course, family lore is always sensible. Beach sunsets with our daughters always stir my husband, Jeff’s, counseling hormones. “Girls,” he says, “marry a man who can see the green flash at sunset.” This warning might sound fishy to you, but I’ll bet that when our daughters do cruise down the aisle, their mates will hold blue ribbons in this category.

Because of advisory overload, I lean towards not dishing it out at all. Although I have valuable opinions, I hold my tongue about suggesting tasteful amendments to my kids’ wardrobes, and I’d never tell Jeff how to barbecue salmon. I do, however, propose that you try these November recipes.

My last instruction: enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Ronnie Paul is a cookbook reviewer, freelance writer, vegetarian chef and teacher at Wild Mountain Yoga Center. She can be reached at

Thanksgiving Chili

(Serves 4)

Why not a scrumptious chili for Thanksgiving dinner? This is an entree so easy, you’ll think someone else did the cooking.

1 medium onion, chopped

4 large garlic cloves, pressed

3 cans canned lentils

8 ounces tomatoes, canned or fresh and with their juices, chopped

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Pinch of cayenne

Salt and pepper

A possible addition of tomato juice

In a soup pot, saute the onions and garlic until limp. Then stir in everything except the vinegar, salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the flame, and simmer for 20 minutes. If the chili looks dry, stir in a little tomato juice. Add the vinegar and cayenne, stir thoroughly and simmer for 5 more minutes. Step aside while everyone storms the table.

Although it’s unlike me to bubble over with suggestions, you’d do well to serve this with the following.


(Serves about 6)

I’m an eager cornbread experimenter. Here’s a family favorite.

1 cup white flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt or a combination of all the open fruit-on-the bottom yogurts that your refrigerator has collected

4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients together then add the wet. Be careful not to over mix. Pour the batter into a greased, 9-inch-round glass pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

As for Thanksgiving greens, this next recipe is your holiday answer.

Autumn Salad

(4-6 servings)

The ubiquitous Thanksgiving cranberry creeps stealthily to your table, this time under a vinaigrette cover.

2 medium pears, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 ounces assorted greens

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Soak the pears in the lemon juice and set aside. In another bowl, toss all the remaining ingredients together.


Whisk together:

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

11/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

31/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 scallion, minced

1/4 cup parsley, minced

Salt and pepper

You might not need all the dressing, so pour it on slowly as you toss. Each leaf should be lightly coated, not drenched. When the salad is ready, take the pears out of the lemon juice, add them to the salad, and toss again.

Pumpkin Mousse

(8 custard cups)

If you have a predilection for pumpkin pie, this low-fat, sugarless, crustless version may make you swoon at the table.

1 16-ounce can cooked pumpkin (use fresh, if you like)

1 12-ounce can low-fat evaporated milk

3 eggs

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Lightly oil 8 custard cups and put them in a shallow baking pan. Whirl all the mousse ingredients together in a blender until smooth and distribute the mixture into the cups. Pour about 2 inches of water into the baking pan, put it in the oven, and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the center of each mousse is done. I recommend that you eat these chilled or at room temperature.

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