November comes, wrapped in a gray cloak. Yellow leaves shine against the mist, and persimmon trees blaze up like fires set on a cloudy day, dangling the first of the winter fruits from their branches. In the morning, melting frost shines tiny rainbows on the cabbage leaves, and the evening comes early, nudging people indoors to gather in kitchens, around tables, stretching the days just a little longer. On Thanksgiving Day, we remember a piece of American history, the generosity of Native peoples who shared their abundance with starving settlers from foreign lands. The tangled truths and layers of history are too important to be glossed over or forgotten; still, on this day, we remember above all the human kindness that brought people of different cultures together, and the feeling of gratefulness for the food and complex community that nourished those long ago American ancestors.
The recipes presented here would all do well as sides at a Thanksgiving feast, reflecting as they do a melding of cultures and foods and traditions and flavors. Most of them are being published for the first time today, however, we’ve included some old favorites that deserve a place at the table, too. Old and new, we present them here, in celebration of seasonal eating and sharing, whatever occasion brings you to the table.
There’s always one kid at the feast who just wants to eat the rolls. Please pass the butter.
Someone should tell that kid these Sweet Potato Balls are incredible. Sweet and savory and crunchy and uniquely flavorful…Or just tell him that they’re coated in bread crumbs. He likes bread, right?
This earthy kraut-cousin is a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the sweet potato. Sauerruben is made from cruciferous roots instead of cabbage, but is in all other respects very similar to sauerkraut; the name translates roughly to “sour roots". We used rutabegas here, but any mixture of rutabega, turnips, and/ or radishes may be used. Sour, yes, but there’s a lightness to this ferment that comes unexpectedly from such an earthbound vegetable.
Here’s another ferment that sings to the season. We made it last year, and it was a perfect compliment to many an evening meal. A tradition is born.
There’s something about the bright orange glow of persimmons hanging on the tree that lifts the spirit. That color! So bright and rich as it flares against the rain and cloud. This slow-cooked persimmon butter is another kind of spirit lifter. As it simmers, it fills the house with the aromas of spice and caramelized sugars. It’s a treat spooned over yogurt or hot cereal, on toast, or as topping on a cheesecake or pound cake.
Here’s another treat from yesteryear, that is worth making again and again. Whether you choose to ferment it for a day or three is entirely up to you, as it is delicious either way. Serve it up alongside anything roasted. So good, so good, so good.
What a feast it looks, all spread out on the page. Good enough to eat, indeed. May your days be sweetened and salted with friendship and gratitude.
This stainless steel food mill is non-reactive and hygienic 18/8 stainless steel and comes with 3 stainless steel disks in fine, medium, and coarse. Perfect for making smooth apple sauce or the persimmon butter in this edition of the Journal...or fluffy mashed potatoes. The rests will hold the mill steady while you crank the blade. The wood handle fits comfortably in your hand.