So I am back in Seattle now for thanksgiving week with my old babysitter, Penny. We have been having a wonderful time here, eating delicious food, going on walks even when we have liquid sunshine (what Penny calls the rain), and other fun outings. My first full day in Seattle Penny took me to the Ballard farmers market. I love a farmer’s market just about anywhere, but I must say the Ballard market is quite a nice one. There was delicious fresh produce, meats and cheese, baked goods, artisans and crafts and lots of street performances happening. One that particularly touched my heart was a young little boy who could not have been older then 8 who was out playing music with his father and younger sister. As his father tuned some of the other instruments this little boy took the stage and began to strum and sing on his miniature guitar. What a beautiful thing to have such a little child empowered to stand in front of an audience of strangers and play. And the passersby loved it. This little eight year old boy was truly glowing.

After exploring the Ballard market we took the bus downtown to Pike Market, Seattle’s equivalent to Quincy Market  in Boston. Tons of little shops and stands selling everything from chocolate pasta (yes, I’m serious) to lobster tails bigger then any I have ever seen. And of course there was the famous tossing of fish that draws many tourists and made me think of the scene in the movie Free Willy when Jesse steals a fish from the market mid toss. Streets markets are a wonderful thing in my mind. They support small, independent businesses and allow customers to have actual relationships with those whom they buy from. They are such lively places and encourage human interaction and cultural exchange.

A few highlights from downtown were a man who was playing a violin as if it were a cello (and he played it as beautifully as any master violin player!), beautiful paper and wood lanterns that demonstrated outstanding craftsmanship, and a delicious sticky rice lunch with yummy goodies inside of it such as pork and egg. A very good first full day in Seattle.

Wednesday night, the evening before Thanksgiving day I got to introduce Penny to something new in her own town; Dances of Universal Peace. Dances, as I have come to call them are a wonderful thing that happens all around the world. I discovered them first in Ithaca, when Peter took me to one, and I have since been hooked. The dances, although originating in the sufi tradition, takes songs and prayers from almost every tradition and culture and puts them to music, adding simple movements that together create a often spiritual and profound experience. It is like prayer and meditation in motion. And it is a worldwide community that I can tap into just about anywhere I go. Singing together in a group has always felt powerful to me and when the songs have a certain prayer-full theme in makes the experience that much more profound. Sometimes I have found myself inexplicably moved to tears. In Ithaca the dances quickly became a comforting and healing monthly tradition for me and as I have been traveling I have have continued to seek them out wherever I am.

The next day was thanksgiving day and so Penny and I spent most of it in the kitchen, preparing the turkey, pumpkin pie, and stuffing, which would be our three major contributions to our thanksgiving dinner. Penny is an excellent cook and eats mostly gluten and dairy free and these were quite special dishes that I would love to share the recipes for. I have put most of our modifications to these recipes to make them gluten free and extra yummy in parenthesis:

Stuffing Recipe for a 15 pound turkey:

  • 2 one pound loafs of whole wheat bread, finely chopped in a food processor (we substituted with Udi’s gluten free bread and a mixture of other gluten free breads, such as ends of old loafs of homemade pumpkin, banana, or even corn bread.)
  • 2 cups of cooked basmati brown rice
  • 3/4 pound of italian sausage, baked separately (we used chicken sausage), finely chopped
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 1 cup of finely chopped celery
  • 2 cups of chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 large fuji apples with skins on, grated (this helps keep the stuffing moist)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of sage (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Turkey preparation: We then stuffed this into the back and front of the turkey. Before seasoning the turkey we separated the skin from the flesh using our fingers and then we rubbed the flesh (under the skin) with fresh rosemary and thyme and stuck many thin slices of lemon under the skin. We rubbed the skin with a bit of apple cider vinegar and then we salt and peppered the outside of the Turkey and stuck it in the oven in a covered roasting pan at 350 degrees F. After about an hour we lowered the heat to 325 for the remainder of the time. The last wonderful touch that makes the skin deliciously crispy is about half an hour before done baking we took the turkey out and brushed it with a glaze of Pomegranate Molasses.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe, with Penny’s modifications to make it lower in fat and lactose free:

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (we left this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (we used unsweetened soy milk instead)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (we replaced this with 0% greek yogurt. I couldn’t taste a difference)
  • Penny’s addition which I thought was ingenious: finely chopped crystalized ginger, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

All of this is mixed together and poured into a pie filling of your choice. We also glazed our pie crust with apricot glaze made from 5 ounces of apricot preserves and 4 tables spoons of apricot brandy. This is then baked for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F and then for another 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Then, to top this all off there is  topping that is spread on the pie. The topping ingredients are:

  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (we used earth balance instead)
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream (here we used soymilk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (we left this out since earth balance has salt in it)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

This deliciousness is spread evenly on the top of the pie and then the edge is bordered with whole pecans. We then broil this for just about three minutes or until the topping begins to bubble. Be careful not to burn here, it really only takes a minute or two!

I really enjoyed thanksgiving dinner, which was at Derek and Tony’s house- two of Penny’s good friends. Tony had made some delicious candied sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and string beans, among other things to add to our contributions. Thanks giving has always been my favorite holiday; it is all about family, friends and food without the stress of presents.

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