November is upon us. We have fallen back. The leaves have fallen down to cover the ground. Darkness is encroaching. The air is chilly and damp.
Short, muddy, damp days and long, dark, dreary nights replace summer’s light and gladness with darkness and gloom. This is why each day we need to focus on our blessings. This is why we join together with friends and family to give thanks. Every day it is time to be thankful. Soon it will be Thanksgiving.
Already, we have the Election Day Turkey Supper sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in Saranac Lake. This annual event ushers in the turkey season with all the traditional treats — turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, squash, green beans, coleslaw, dinner rolls and of course, pie. Volunteers prepare the food, and it is a big fundraiser for the church. Following Election Day, Wednesday’s Community Supper was another turkey feast, with the same menu as the night before, free for the taking. The best was the pie — pumpkin, apple or cherry.
Another turkey dinner, a free Thanksgiving community supper at the Adirondack Presbyterian Church in Lake Clear, is coming on Nov. 18. And then on Nov. 23 — Thanksgiving Day — the Women’s Civic Center and St. Joseph’s rehab are sponsoring a free community Thanksgiving dinner held at the Saranac Lake Adult Center. Serving begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m.
These community events are a great way to meet people. They offer opportunities to volunteer. The food is good but is often pretty standard: mashed squash or sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, bread stuffing, a standard tossed salad or coleslaw. Pie for dessert. There is little variety, and few choices for those with other dietary needs, like vegans, vegetarians or those requiring a gluten-free meal.
When I brought home my turkey supper on Election Day, I embellished it with a spinach and radish salad. I added bacon, onion, garlic and mushrooms to my green beans. I ate some of the turkey and cranberries on a sandwich the next day.
These dinners lack the variety of meals with family or friends where everyone brings a dish. You probably won’t have seasonal treats like roasted winter vegetables, kale or spinach salad, squash with garbanzo beans, brussels sprouts with carrots, or braised winter greens with sweet potatoes. Cranberry-nut bread, Betty’s famous cheesecake, or avocado dip may not be on the menu.
But they do offer good food and camaraderie. So enjoy!
In addition to food, Thanksgiving-themed events include the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Fighters Thanksgiving Ball on Nov. 10 at the Historic Hotel Saranac Great Hall Bar and Ballroom — with music, dancing, and a variety of beverages, hors d’oeuvres, and delightful desserts. On Thanksgiving Day, the Turkey Trot, sponsored by Bitters and Bones, is a good way to run off those holiday calories! Proceeds from the event support our Interfaith Food Pantry and the Saranac Lake Student Needs Fund.
Whatever you do, remember this is a season of gratitude and a time to celebrate our wonderful community.
What are your favorite non-traditional Thanksgiving treats?
Green Beans with Bacon and Mushrooms
Here’s how I dressed up the canned green beans that came in my take-out turkey dinner.
1 slice bacon
1 clove garlic
1 cup green beans
Chop bacon and cook to release fat. Transfer to paper towel to crisp.
Peel and chop the onion and add. Cover and cook 5 minutes.
Chop the mushrooms. Peel and mince a clove of garlic. Add to the skillet with the onion, sprinkle with salt, cover and cook on low for a couple minutes.
Stir in the green beans, and heat through, or cook a little longer if you’re using fresh ones.
Stir in the reserved bacon, serve and enjoy.
Squash and Kale Gratin
6 – 8 cups diced winter squash (about 1 large Butternut)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound kale
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sharp shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
To prepare squash: Peel, remove seeds, and dice into 1-inch cubes.
In large bowl, toss with seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika) to coat, then toss with olive oil. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment, and roast about 20 minutes, or until tender.
To prepare kale, remove from stalks, wash, chop, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a skillet, cook onion in butter — sprinkle with salt, on low heat until caramelized, about 10 or 20 minutes. If you wish you can add a chopped apple during the last 10 minutes. Drain and stir in 1 cup cooked or canned garbanzo beans. Set aside.
In medium bowl, beat eggs with mayonnaise. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and the steamed kale.
Butter large casserole or 9” by 13″ baking dish.
Place squash on the bottom. Top with onion-apple-garbanzo mixture.
Layer kale-egg mixture on top.
Top with bread crumbs and remaining cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees F. 30-40 minutes, until top is brown and eggs have cooked and set.
Serves 6-8 as a vegetarian main dish.
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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: Writing and cooking. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter: @yvonawrites.