The Practical Cook adores a challenge, especially a vegetable challenge. When life gives you a bountiful harvest, why not have a Thanksgiving feast? Sunday Dinner went vegetarian with Complicated Veggie and her crew on board. If you want to test your culinary skills, invite them over, they earned the moniker from being vegetarians who all dislike different things, sometimes all at once. Don’t even think of waving a shitake at CV.
But I digress. Special thanks to CV Tall for coming up with the name Summer Thanksgiving, which captured the feeling of the event very nicely. Vegetables were cooked, and we got out of the way of their flavor. I was also inspired by two Algonquin Books cookbooks (Bill Smith’s fantastic Seasoned in the South and Dori Sander’s cookbook) and two from Workman (Crescent Dragonwagon’s awesome The Cornbread Gospels and Cheap.Fast.Good! from Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills). So there was much inspiration around this table.
Here’s the menu:
Cucumbers and Onions: I opted not to grind black pepper in them this time, due to the low spice tolerance of the audience.
Sliced Tomatoes: Home-grown, purple cherokees, and sungolds, with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, mayo on the side.
Black-Eyed Peas: Home-grown, picked and shelled by The Practical Cooks Junior, with an assist from TPC’s Mom.
Butterbeans: The trick is a LOT of butter. Thanks to the waiter at Acme in Carrboro who tipped me off to that one.
Fried Okra: Medium high heat, medium heat with a cover, and a final sizzle. Perfect for the non-battered non-deep-frying home cook. And no potatoes in my fried okra, thank you very much. I never could abide by that.
Corn on the Cob: Pulled and shucked by The Practical Cooks Junior, with much pride and little oversight. Rock on you two.
Tractor Cornbread: This is, shhhh, one of the “Northern Cornbread” recipes from The Cornbread Gospels, very sweet and cakelike. I wanted a sure bet and a larger recipe to fill up the tractor pan.
Mashed Potatoes: They were late to the table and eaten fast, but I promise they looked good and tasted delish.
Squash Casserole (with a Soda Cracker and Parmesan Crust): I love squash casserole, but my crew does not. Of course, Team CV did, so it was a victory lap for me.
I’m sort of tired just typing this up, much less making it. I’m a pretty efficient cook, but this took some effort. However, the leftovers rocked out, and the company was well worth it. Next time I send out a call for help in eating up vegetables, you’ll know I’m not kidding! And, everyone left the table full, with just enough room for chocolate ice cream in a cone outside with the fireflies.
What do you cook for a crowd in the summer? Post your ideas here, or as a video response on YouTube.
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Up next, the antithesis of vegetarianism, Foie Gras Tasting from the top of Las Vegas.