Planning the Feast

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Early wind storms stripped my birch trees and sent golden leaves fluttering down the street. Gardens have faded to brown and grey. I tend to dress accordingly in brown corduroy riding skirt topped by a long grey sweater. But the house interior still retains my favorite fall colors of golds and deep reds and burgundy in blue and white porcelain containers. The dining table it set for our Thanksgiving Feast with an old blue plaid lap blanket and an equally old hammered aluminum pot fill with an arrangement of leaves and berries snipped from the garden earlier this month.

Last week I promised fall vegetable recipes — old favorites with a twist — great not only to accompany the bird but also lovely for roast pork during the winter. Fall vegetables actually are my favorite part of the meal, along with oyster dressing and finishing up with pecan pie and coffee. All recipes are salt-free.


3 large sweet potatoes or yams, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash, peel, dice sweet potatoes/yams.

In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes/yams in olive oil and syrup, add black pepper. Spread the mixture evenly on baking sheet; bake for 30 to 40 minutes until edges of the sweet potatoes are crispy and gold brown. Flip potatoes half way through the baking time.

NOTE: If your oven is too crowded, the sweet potatoes can be pan roasted under a lid just as well. Adjust cooking time as needed, and stir periodically to keep them from sticking.

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HARICOTS VERTS (Skinny Green Beans)

2 pounds beans

2 tablespoons minced shallot

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced if fresh

optional lemon zest

In a large saute pan, saute shallots in 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add beans to the pan and toss well to combine the butter and shallots with the beans. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 1/4 cup water to pan and cover with a lid. Allow beans to steam for 3 to 4 minutes until bright green, tender but not mushy.

In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons softened butter with Italian parsley, optional lemon zest, and whisk until well blended.

Drain beans of any excess water, then transport them into a large serving dish with the herb butter poured over them. Garnish with additional Italian parsley and lemon zest, if desired.

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1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey

2 teaspoons cumin powder

2 pounds carrots, scrubbed, tops and roots trimmed (slice lengthwise if large)

1 medium lemon, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons Italian parsley and optional chives thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, maple syrup or honey, cumin powder. Toss the carrots and lemon slices in this mixture. Spread evenly on baking sheet.

Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until the carrots are tender and the lemon slices have caramelized. Stir carrot mixture at least once halfway through baking time.

Put carrots into serving dish and sprinkle with Italian parsley and chives.

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SUGGESTION: Prepare all vegetables the day before and refrigerate overnight. Make cranberry sauce up to two or three days ahead and refrigerate until serving time. And the grand finale? Early in the week bake your pies. Here is my favorite: SOUTHERN PECAN PIE from an old Colonial Virginia recipe.

1 9-inch pie crust shell

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup flour

1 cup pecan halves

Beat eggs in a medium-size bowl. Blend in sugar, corn syrup and vanilla; stir in flour. Pour into prepared pie crust shell. Arrange pecan halves in a circular pattern on top, similar to illustration below.

Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 45 minutes, or until center is almost set but still soft. Pie will appear puffed up until it cools and settles.

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Bon Appetit!












Just short of fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. In mid-February 2019, I launched Roses in the Rain: A Daughter's Story, following a successful couple years of Invitation to the Garden, both on Watch for upcoming installments to the memoir blog every Tuesday. The garden posts follow on Friday/Saturday. I look forward to hearing from you all!

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