Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Canadian Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving is a much less stressful affair than the American version. Generally we clean out the garage, tune up the snowblower, close up the cottage — enjoy the fall colors and the fresh air before holing up inside for the long snowy winter.

At the end of the day — Sunday or Monday, there's no set rule — a simple meal of turkey and vegetables is served, maybe with a pumpkin or apple pie to finish. At least, that's how it was at my house.

This year, Larry and I celebrated Thanksgiving on Monday evening with a pumpkin stuffed with mushrooms and barley, the last harvest of green beans from our garden, a salad of crunchy lettuce with pistachios and red grapes, and an apple quince pie for dessert.

As we ate, we thought with gratitude of the organic farmers at the Hollywood Farmers Market who provided us with this bounty.

There are various ways to stuff a pumpkin. Usually I fill it with a grain pilaf and then bake it an hour or so until it is tender.

This year, however, I was late in from the garden, so I scooped out the pumpkin and baked it while I simmered the barley mushroom stuffing on the stove. Unfortunately, I baked it too long so it became soft and lost its shape. No matter, I filled it with the cooked pilaf and it made a lovely, if slightly lopsided, main course.

The mushroom barley pilaf is a delicious fall supper that is great even without the pumpkin.

Mushroom Barley Pilaf
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced
3/4 lb assorted mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, cremini), cleaned and sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups barley
4 sprigs thyme
3/4 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 1/2 cups of my strong stock and 3 cups water)

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to brown.

Add the barley and stir to coat with the pan juices. Then pour in the stock, add the thyme and salt, and a liberal amount of freshly ground pepper.

Cover the skillet and let the pilaf simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes until the barley is tender. Keep an eye on it, and add more water if it gets dry. The barley should hold its shape and be al dente when done — not mushy.

Serves 4

Note: If you are serving vegans, replace the unsalted butter with olive oil. It will still be delicious. I do prefer mushrooms in butter, though.

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