The eating began with a fresh crudite spread of sliced vegetables and ranch, with hot artichoke spinach dip on toasted baguette, and an assortment of gluten-free crackers to enjoy the mushroom pate and two new cashew cheeses of G's original recipe - a green herb-crusted derby cheese and a sharp smoky cheddar. To top off this amazing hors d'oeuvres spread, G created mini cheddar quiches with caramelized shallots and home-smoked tempeh.
Salads and sides included wild rice pilaf; a fresh green salad with cranberry, walnut, and apple; orange fennel salad; caramelized yams; brussel sprouts; garlic mashed potatoes; gluten-free stuffing/dressing with home-made gravy from scratch; roasted root vegetables with pomegranate seeds; green bean casserole in a cashew-mushroom cream sauce with fried shallots and gluten-free bread crumb topping; corn; and two kinds of cranberry dressing (traditional and pear cranberry chutney).
The main dishes/proteins in our feast were tofurkey, field roast, and cranberry celebration roast.
J's talent in the kitchen always amazes me, but on this day (and the day before, for that matter) he truly astounded me with his thoughtfulness, attitude, skills, and planning. The execution of this meal was pretty righteous, and everyone chipped in for something or another - whether it was me doing the green bean casserole early to get it out of the way, or Max and other friends peeling and boiling potatoes.
Natalie, our go-to bartender lovely, was in prime form. The cocktail list for the day went as follows: spiced cider with honey crisp apples and anise stars (with and without whiskey/rum); fresh pressed/mulled cranberry with lime, local vodka, and natural tonic; and tangerine- and cucumber- infused vodka martinis.
G's dessert line-up was absolutely delectable and creative: traditional pumpkin pie, maple bourbon pecan pie, cranberry tarts with whipped cream, pear-cranberry sorbet, peanut butter rice crispy treats with chocolate ganache topping, and pumpkin chocolate swirl cheesecake bars. All vegan, mostly organic, pure love. And a supreme pleasure, which I am still grateful for, to enjoy.
A photo collage:
L really wanted to try and strike a balance between what she's learning with me and been eating the past month, and what her and her family are used to - what the meaningful rituals are food-wise versus what's flexible and where the opportunities were to make things the "new" way. Turkey was still on the table, but an attempt was made to decrease the amount of dairy and wheat in the meal, and when there was no alternative, L enjoyed things in very small amounts.
They ate leftovers through the weekend, and on Monday/day 30, L had a friend over for lunch, and requested the raw kale pilaf be prepared again. This was enjoyed also for dinner with a pasta dish (below) and for lunch I brought over a few leftover cashew cheeses (the green herbed and the smoky cheddar), which L and her friend heartily enjoyed along with a fruit spread and some cups of tea and good catching up.
As far as L's healing process - it continues. L went eight hours last weekend without a dose of her nerve painkiller, which is considerable. Weight loss hovers around the same, which is great considering the birthday trip/Thanksgiving combination that was last week. L continues to be focused and driven, much less passive than in the beginning. She purchased a step and a bosu ball and is increasing the focus in her physical rehabilitation - really honing in on strengthening her ankles. She speaks intently on walking without braces in the future. She is starting to increase her water consumption - I would love her to get up to 140 oz. or so a day at least to help her body and liver flush her system. Her favorite things so far have been the herbed squash, raw kale pilaf, tofutti cream cheese (a little on the processed side, but a great cheese alternative), Rudy's brand gluten-free bagels (contain egg whites), fettuccine alfredo, G's homemade cashew cheeses, and green tea sweetened with peach or pineapple juice. We talk all the time about the spiritual aspect of this healing journey, and prayer is the closing for many of our days together. Monday we decorated the house for Christmas, and it was a blessing to see L so excited and festive, and also to hear many of her family histories and holiday anecdotes. The personal relationship between L and I has really deepened, I am now identified as "another daughter", and I even took Max over to their house when he was in town for Thanksgiving (it was so fabulous to spend the holiday together!) so L could "approve". It was lovely time spent.
Tomorrow, I am going to spend the night at L and V's house - both to have our movie night aforementioned (double feature: "What the Bleep Do We Know?", and "Food Inc."), and to give G and J a little post-Thanksgiving, post-house-full-of-people, quiet evening alone with the animals in their home. Here's the recipe for the easy pasta I made on Monday, featuring soy curls (in the bulk section at Whole Foods) - basically, dehydrated textured gluten-free soy protein. They absorb the taste of whatever you cook them in, after you re-hydrate them. They can be chopped down - for this recipe, I left them as-is - about 1-2" thin, curly strands.
Easy Pasta Dinner_____________________________________________________________
1 package gluten-free brown rice noodles
1 jar marinara sauce
2 cups of re-hydrated soy curls
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
2 cups mushrooms (I used cremini), chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-2 cups broccoli, chopped
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
Heat a dab of olive oil in a pan, then saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of each of the herbs, and then saute in this order: mushroom, carrot, celery, broccoli. When the broccoli is slightly tender, add the jar of sauce, stir to combine, and set aside. While you are doing the veggies, cook the noodles as instructed, taking heed not to overcook (rice noodles especially need a cold bath when they're done and not to stand for too long or they'll just end up one congealed giant noodle mess). In a pan, heat a small amount of oil and add the soy curls and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of each of the above herbs. Fry on medium high heat until soy curls are crispy, well-seasoned, and light to dark golden brown in places. Add the soy curls, sauce, and noodles together to serve, but store separately in the refrigerator if you have leftovers.
Here we go month two!
May what you feed yourself continue to inspire and edify you and your purpose,