Think nontraditional this Thanksgiving |

Think nontraditional this Thanksgiving

In November, when most people think of winter holidays, my mind turns to gardening. Last week I hummed “Working on the Chain Gang” as I cover-cropped the vegetable garden and mulched the flowers, and vowed never to garden again.

That afternoon, a bouquet of gardening catalogues bloomed in the mailbox.

Pictures of flawless vegetables made me forget my past gardening woes. Gone was the memory of the sore shoulders that wielded the rototiller. I barely recalled my annoyance with the snails that savaged every basil plant and the birds that feasted on green bean seeds.

The brow that sweated from canning gallons of peach jam on the hottest day of summer; the grubby gardener’s heels I pumiced so vigorously: all complaints crumbled away.

And oh, those kaleidoscopic flowers! I pictured my arms overflowing with fragrance and color.

I’m a sucker for daffodil sales, and I can’t do without pink peonies and blue delphiniums. Rose bushes: of course I’ll buy three more. Weeding wasn’t that bad for my back, and who cares if the wisteria is weaving its way through the roof.

Gardening is not for the chicken-hearted, but the fruits of my labor nourish me two-fold.

I love to create with fresh produce and of course, I love to eat.

Try these recipes and nurture yourself in several ways.

Hungarian Pizza

(8 slices)

Sautéed peppers are a popular Hungarian dish. Although I didn’t inherit this recipe from my ancestors, I’m delighted to pass along my Americanized version.

2 large heads garlic

2 large green peppers, thinly sliced

11Ú2 onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1Ú2 tablespoon Hungarian paprika (it’s sweet, not hot)


One 20-ounce Boboli crust

Cut off the round end of each garlic head and peel off the outermost papery skin. Put 1-inch of water in a dish, place the garlic heads cut side up, and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until extremely soft. While the garlic roasts, sauté the peppers and onions in oil until limp. Turn off the flame and stir in the paprika and salt.

Put the crust on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove the crust from the oven. Squeeze the closed ends of the garlic cloves and spread the resulting paste over the entire crust. Top this with the veggie sauté and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. You can almost hear those gypsy violins.

Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup

(4 cups)

This is a nice accompaniment to any foreign-sounding pizza you may have recently heard about.

11Ú2 cups diced potatoes

1 cup chopped onions

1 celery stalk, sliced

21Ú2 cups broccoli florets

11Ú2 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 cup evaporated milk

11Ú2 teaspoons curry powder

Salt and pepper

2 scallions, minced

1 cup seasoned croutons

Put the potatoes, onions, celery, broccoli and bay leaf in a soup pot. Add the water and simmer until the veggies are tender. Remove the bay leaf and purée the veggies with evaporated milk. Return this to the soup pot and add the curry powder, salt and pepper, and scallions. Top each serving with 1Ú4 cup of croutons.

Cranberry Sauce

(6 cups)

If you always flounder around looking for the perfect Thanksgiving sauce, your search may be over.

24 ounces fresh cranberries

3 cups white sugar (I tried several different sweeteners, but this won the taste test.)

1 cup water

1 cup orange juice

1 orange rind, grated

1 orange, sectioned and chopped

Put the ingredients in a cooking pot and simmer for 45 minutes, occasionally stirring and mashing while it cooks. Chill before serving.

I’ve mind up my mind: I won’t garden anymore. That reminds me, I better go out and plant the forsythia I bought last week.


Ronnie Paul can be reached at She has been writing about food for The Union for several years.

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