Every year at Thanksgiving I get the urge to re-read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Why? Several reasons. For starters, the book is phenomenal. And I know I probably sound like I rave over most books, but this one really is special to me. So if you haven’t taken my advice to go pick up I and Thou or The Color Purple, please, pretty-please with perfect-pumpkin-peanut butter-parfait on top go and get this one to read during your Thanksgiving break. I’m guessing it’s even better over a leftover slice of pie the day after Thanksgiving.
The other reason I love reading this book at Thanksgiving is the epic Thanksgiving scene. I can’t write as well as Laurie Halse Anderson (nor am I going to try) and I definitely can’t capture an emotional family breakdown in a manner as beautiful, insightful, and frank as she can, so I’m going to go ahead and quote her. Maybe this snippet will make you want to read the book:
“Cooking Thanksgiving dinner means something to her. It’s like a holy obligation, part of what makes her a wife and mother. My family doesn’t talk much and we have nothing in common, but if my mother cooks a proper Thanksgiving dinner, it says we’ll be a family for one more year. Kodak logic. Only in film commercials does stuff like that work.
I finish the potatoes. She sends me to the TV to watch the parades. Dad stumbles downstairs. “How is she?” he asks before he goes into the kitchen. “It’s Thanksgiving,” I say. Dad puts on his coat. “Doughnuts?” he asks. I nod.
The phone rings. Mom answers. It’s the store. Emergency #1. I go into the kitchen for a soda. She pours me orange juice, which I can’t drink because it burns my scabby lips. The turkey floats in the sink, a ten-pound turkey iceberg. A turkeyberg. I feel very much like the Titanic.” (Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson)
I rest my case. Read the book! You’ll love it! Plus, this Thanksgiving scene (which goes on for a few more pages just as brilliantly) will make you feel extra thankful for your family and friends and the delicious food that will be set out on your table in a few days. And if any cooking disasters happen, you can just rest knowing that Melinda and her parents end up eating pizza and doughnuts on Thanksgiving in the book.
This weekend I had a really nice Thanksgiving dinner with friends. We all got together to cook, bake and share stories and laughter between bites of delicious food. And I’m talking DE-LIC-IOUS! We had incredibly creamy green bean casserole, tangy cranberry sauce, chocolate-pecan pie (which doesn’t even need a modifier because it stands delicious on it’s own!) and so many other great dishes. Stuffing, sweet-potato casserole, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, homemade bread and pumpkin pie. I’m getting full just thinking about it again. But, that’s not the point of me telling you this. Underneath my rambling about how darn-good the whole dinner was, I really want to say how thankful I am to have food and good friends and memories like the ones I made this weekend.
Now before I get too sappy on you, I have a little guest visitor who would like to say hello!
It’s a veggie turkey!! Isn’t he cute? I used all of the vegetables on the turkey to make brown-sugar roasted veggies. Drooling yet? Nah, not until you see this…
Mmm…yes, you see BUTTER and BROWN SUGAR and FRESH VEGGIES.
So now for the recipe. It’s vegan, it’s healthy, it’s delicious, and it goes with anything. Including Thanksgiving dinner. So, if your turkey fails and all you’ve got left is pizza and doughnuts, try making this instead.
Butter-me-up Brown Sugar Vegetables
1/2 Butternut Squash, cubed
1 Zuchinni, sliced into quarters
1/2 Red Onion
4 Baby Sweet Potatoes (or one medium sized one), chopped
8 Brussels Sprouts, ends chopped off
6 Carrots, chopped
8 Mushrooms, chopped
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance (or butter or margarine if you’re not vegan)
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar (plus a little more for sprinkling on top)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the easiest vegetable-roasting recipe you’ll find out there. Just put all of the veggies you just chopped into an 8×13 casserole dish (preferably sprayed lightly with coconut oil or some other cooking spray) and then sprinkle butter over the top of the veggies. Next, sprinkle your brown sugar over the top of the vegetables and add a little bit of salt and pepper. Put the casserole dish in the oven at 375 degrees. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the butternut squash and sweet potatoes are cooked fully (I recommend sampling liberally while making the dish-it doesn’t get much better than piping hot butternut squash out of the oven slathered in butter and brown sugar…). And, voila! You’ve got an incredible, colorful, healthy abundance of vegetables to share.
Phew, that was a LONG post! Sorry about that guys! This might be my last post for a few days because I don’t know when I’ll get internet over the break. So, enjoy break and have a lovely Thanksgiving with your loved ones. If you can, pick up Speak and read it by a fire, or accompanied by a cup of tea, or alongside a cold slice of leftover pie. Cherish your time wherever you are and the things that you’re thankful for.