i feel like I should talk about Thanksgiving. It is after all, my favorite holiday; it was, after all, especially splendid this year.
First, a recap of what the truly North American holiday means to me, and what it has been to me for the past twenty years.
Holidays have always been a struggle for my family--will anyone come, and if they do, will they all get along for once. Stress is as abundant as colored eggs and tinsel per season, and often more time is spent bent over backwards to accomodate and rally church attendance than is enjoying the festivities. Not so with Thanksgiving. It is neither religious nor directed at one person or happening; there is no gift giving. It is simply celebration of the earth and what it offers us, and whether you can find the time to come to our home, that Turkey is going to be stuffed and served with all the from-the-ground-fixings the horn of plenty giveth. Oddly, though, i could care less about the bird (except as a vessel for stuffing); give me a plate of that bread filler, yams, and some buttery brussel sprouts and i have plenty to be thankful for. Oh, praise be to dessert made from winter veg.
Pumpkin pie is the epitomy of the holiday for me. In fact, last year, it was all that I had. Sad, yes, yet so delightful. Being a province away from my ma and her fabulous stuffing, I longed for the familial meal. Her side of the family out my way hosts Thanksgiving at a national park about an hours drive from me. But I was working the night of, and the morning after, so I could not go--at least not in a timely way to really enjoy it. So instead I made a pie...and ate the whole thing. I am thankful for excusable gluttony.
This year however, I did get to Fintry for the Kouwenhoven Thanksgiving, and so did my ma. Though she did not make the stuffing, she did bring yams, and a sense of closeness that reminded me of why the holiday makes me feel so good--just being with the ones you love the most, the ones who dont judge you for third helpings of food and wine. Just being with the whole family, guitars and all, brought not only a reminder of why I love this holiday, but why I love food period.
And I brought pumpkin pie. But so did about twelve other people. I also brought a baked tomato dish that (though late, like me, to arrive at the buffet style table) was much loved. And it came from a much loved magazine that is often present at my holidays. I am thankful for Gourmet, and so is my well fed, singing, laughing, family.
Baked Tomatos with Hazelnut Bread Crumbs
Like I said, I dont like Turkey. So I stewed some lima beans with a bay leaf and shallot, and layered the slices of tomatos atop them before baking, so that I would get at least some protein (besides turkey seepage in the stuffing) to go with all of the carbs I love. This also made for hearty leftovers atop barley, adn I imagine it would make a mean pasta sauce too.
In a large pan, toast:
1 cup shelled and skinned hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat or rye
Drizzle with olive oil and toast a little bit longer, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Thickly slice 4 pounds of large beefsteak tomatoes (i used heirloom black clems) and layer in rows in a medium sized, rectangular casserole dish.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the leaves of 5 sprigs of lemon thyme.
Top with breadcrumbs and bake at 450 for just ten minutes (nice short time if you show up late!)