Thanksgiving is ALMOST HERE!

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re enjoying the crisp autumn weather, as the days grow shorter and snowflakes begin dotting the air. As our thoughts turn collectively to turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, I wanted to touch base for a quick run-down of Thanksgiving recipes.

The holidays can be especially hard for those on salt-restricted diets – but they don’t have to be. With a little preparation and ingenuity, these times can be the best – and healthiest – you’ve ever known.

So let’s talk TURKEY. When it comes to the bird, think fresh. Although most free range fresh turkeys are expensive, they’re worth it. Not only will you be getting a bird much lower in sodium, but the animals themselves are also treated much more humanely. WIN-WIN. Whole Foods Markets, as well as many food co-ops, farmer’s markets, and butcher shops are selling fresh birds like hot cakes this time of year. With a little leg work, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find one. If you haven’t or can’t purchase a fresh bird though, don’t despair! Most supermarkets have a whole array of options. In the past I’ve opted for kosher birds, which tend to be lower in sodium than the standard butterballs. But don’t limit yourself. Roast chicken is a healthy substitute, as are guinea hens, duck and quail. And many butcher shops have fresh birds that have not been treated with the broth/salt injections commonly afforded the processed birds.

Or, if you’d prefer skipping poultry altogether, I highly recommend this fabulous recipe for Roast Pork with Dried Plums.

Not to overlook vegetarians, I have recipes for several meat-free entrees that are sure to please. Vegetarian Holiday Loaf is adapted from a Vegetarian Times recipe of the same name. Vegetarian Lasagne, Zucchini Cakes, and meaty Gorgonzola Portobellos are all delicious, and there are a ton of other vegetarian entrees at THE DAILY DISH.

But – as usual – I’m getting ahead of myself! Why not start at the START with a delicious soup or salad! Soup makes any meal more memorable, and I have recipes for some serious stand-outs. Butternut Squash Soup will have your guests raving. As will the phenomenally gorgeous Beet Soup or Apple Butternut Soup. If greens are more your speed, try this tasty Warm Asparagus Salad or Simple Autumn Salad.

Now, let’s talk sides. No turkey dinner is complete without Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing! Baked apple slices are delicious with fowl, and are a sure hit with kids. Another idea is topping Mashed Sweets with some marshmallows, baking, and serving as an irresistible sweet potato casserole. Or you could try your sweet potatoes roasted, as in Fingers and Sweets. Creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes are FABBBULOUS, as are the always popular Twice-Baked Potatoes. Winter squash is also wonderful this time of year! For an extra showy and delicious meal, I highly recommend both Stuffed Acorn Squash, as well as Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallots.

Since most of us love some bread with our meal, try the simple rolls I made this summer with my daughters. Incredibly easy and delicious – and a great time even if you don’t have children of your own.

And what holiday meal is complete without DESSERT? Pumpkin pie is a must-have at our house. But there are some other absolutely delicious pies to consider as well – Squash and Pear Pie and Sweet Potato Pie are particularly popular this time of the year. I also highly recommend Pears in Wine, which look (and TASTE) divine but are supremely simple to make.

Finally, don’t forget beverages! I recommend a nice chilled white wine to complement the meal, but if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no reason to feel deprived. Try some sweet milky Chai Tea with dinner or dessert.

Just remember, Thanksgiving is set aside as a day for giving thanks for all of our blessings, enjoying friends and family, and celebrating life. So don’t let your kitchen time stress you out so much you lose perspective. If things burn, flop or turn out just plain ugly, laugh and put your feet up, knowing you tried your best. There was always plenty of cursing around the kitchen while I was growing up, and my mom often sat simmering long after the meal was over. But there’s no reason to sweat the little things. So enjoy yourself, and enjoy a big satisfying meal without having to worry about the aftermath.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sorry I’ve been AWOL..

The past few weeks for me have been interminably long. In a good way, though. Somehow, it just feels as though time started and stopped mid-October, and although days keep progressing on, I’m somehow fixed within the calendar. Three weeks ago, I was in New York. The night was blustery, raining, just plain ugly, but I was giddy inside. John and I had gotten tickets to the premier of a movie we’d discovered a year before. A Cricket in the Court of Akbar. The tale of a white guy from Texas, who discovers Indian music and falls in love… with the sitar. He learns to play, and eventually goes to India – to win a music competition – not once, but twice. TRUE STORY, by the way. I’d stumbled upon the trailer on youtube months and months ago, it struck such a chord (no pun intended). When I found out the movie was premiering at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea October 25th, I bought tickets w/out hesitation. That night, girls safely deposited at John’s grandmother’s, the weather miserable, I was elated. Few things matter to me more than a truly compelling story, and I was not disappointed. After a meal of sushi & Sapporo, we made our way to the museum. John got seats in the front row. We watched as the star and director sat directly beside us. WOW. The movie… just plain amazing. Captivating, start to finish. Afterward, Andrew Mendelson answered audience questions. We got home late, tired, bleary eyed, and happy.

The next week wrought another tremendous surprise. As a lifelong Philadelphian, I know I fall prey to the mentality of doubt which pervades this city like so much garbage. A year ago, Philadelphians were rumored to be the ugliest people in the nation, according to a poll conducted by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Before that we endured the whole FAT THING, with the American Obesity Association ranking Philadelphia in the top ten for overweight people SIX YEARS IN A ROW. In sum, Philadelphians have long succumbed to being the less worthy, less interesting, less sophisticated shadows of our cosmopolitan cousins to the north and south.

Until October 29th… when somehow, someway this city rose above its tarnished image to win the title of WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS. No longer would Philadelphians be the has-beens, the not-quites, those sorry sacks incapable of sealing the deal. We were WINNERS! and BOY was victory sweet. We turned out by the millions to celebrate on Halloween Day. To cheer on our beloved Phils, and to embrace something not felt for 28 years. The thrill of success. And that collective charge made us – as a city, and as a people, ONE.

Last week, fate parlayed Philadelphia’s victory onto the nation. NO LONGER WILL THE WORLD SCORN – B/c November 4th 2008, Barack Obama made history. His election, like Philly’s World Series Championship, has restored the faith of – not just millions of people across the Delaware Valley, but BILLIONS WORLD WIDE. By becoming the 44th President of the United States, and the first of hopefully many of color, Barack Obama proved – for once and for all – that we are not prisoners of our checkered history.

In the ensuing days I have done many things on a personal level. Hours of work went into the upgrading of my eponymous low sodium recipe site, THE DAILY DISH, which launched the same day as the election. I’ve spent nearly every day since in the kitchen, testing recipes, taking photographs, and having an exhausting but grand ole time reacquainting myself w/ what it’s like to be creating art on a daily basis. Last Thursday we took in an unbelievable lecture by the world famous Dr. Irene Pepperberg, whose African Grey Parrot, Alex, changed the world’s perception of what a “bird brain” really is. You KNOW I was first in line for the signing too, tears in my eyes. “To Christy & Kiwi, with kindest regards, Irene & Alex.”

My dad spent last weekend with us – leaving Tuesday morn. And now my beloved sister and her brand new & FABBBBULOUS boyfriend are coming Saturday afternoon. Leaving me two days to get the house in order for the ensuing chaos, once again. To meet with the girls teachers for parent conferences, to assess direction and performance. To commune with nature and spot another Ruby-Crowned Kinglet . To do all the schtuff that one needs to do, always.

Having spent many, many days now listening to the radio, to people’s opinions, to stories of what is happening to our nation, to the world’s economy.. Listening to the election recap, hearing how people are being slaughtered in the Congo, how the civilian casualties are rising in Afghanistan.. I can’t help but wonder.. WHERE ARE WE HEADED NEXT? As bad as things seem – and they do seem dire for a whole lot of people – sitting here typing away in Philadelphia. I remain hopeful. Things which seemed impossible even a month ago, today are reality. I cannot help but wonder, WHAT NEXT??

Barack Obama accomplished something the critics never thought possible. And unbelievably, Philadelphia did too. Can you imagine what could happen if we as a collective envisioned victory in a way we never had before – and MADE IT HAPPEN? The possibilities are endless.

Attention DAILY DISH Readers

Today’s recipe – Salmon Cakes – will be my last new post for a week. We are celebrating my grandmother’s 95th birthday with extended family this weekend and I’ll be BUSY!!! Unfortunately, waaaaaay too busy to make updates to the website. I will resume regularly-scheduled posting on Wednesday, April 30th, once the craziness has died down and everyone has returned home. Till then, please feel free to browse the Recipe Index at your leisure for hundreds of mouth-wateringly delicious low-sodium dishes. Many thanks for your continued support and VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA!!!

Attention DAILY DISH Recipe-a-Day READERS

A quick note to all of my Daily Dish recipe-a-day readers. My older daughter’s Spring Break begins today and runs through Monday, March 24th. I will BE JOINING HER in a well-deserved respite, and wanted to alert you that today’s Banana Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce will be my last new post until Tuesday, March 25th, when I will again resume regular posting. Please feel free to browse the Recipe Index at your leisure for hundreds of delicious low-sodium dishes. I will of course still be blogging here as the urge arises, and as always, please feel free to contact me directly: christy AT thedailydish DOT us. Many thanks for your continued support. Till then. Happy Easter & WOOHOO! FOR SPRING BREAK!!

WOW. I just won another contest. ROCK ON!!

Dear Christin:

Congratulations! The recipe you submitted to our website, Stonyfield.com, was selected as a winner in our Monthly Recipe Drawing for the month of November. Your prize, a bag full of Stonyfield Farm goodies, is waiting for you! Please reply to this message with a mailing address that we may send your prize to.

We will be featuring your winning recipe on the Get Cooking Monthly Recipe Drawing section of our website and would also like to include your photo and hometown. If you would like your photo included, please send us a digital headshot of yourself when you send your address. Thank you for submitting your delicious recipe. Be sure to visit Stonyfield.com frequently to get new and updated recipes!

Best Regards,

**** ******
Marketing Coordinator
Stonyfield Farm

NEW! Reader Recommendations page

For those of you reading through from my “day job” — this morning I launched a new READER RECOMMENDATIONS page. I hope this will become a valuable feature of the site; a place to share and collect information about low-sodium products (and the all-important where to find them), salt-free recipes & other cooking tips.

I created the THE DAILY DISH website to be a COMPLETELY FREE resource to those in need. I myself despise those obnoxious flashing banner ads and loathsome deceptively-placed promotional links. So contrary to (what many see as) good sense, a year into this venture I still continue to run my website gratis for the world. Over this past year I have garnered a dedicated and growing readership. Hundreds of people visit the site each week and find it a useful tool. So… Here’s your chance to give a little bit back!

AS AN EXAMPLE.. People google into THE DAILY DISH each day looking for places that sell salt-free or low-sodium bread and lavash. If readers would just take a second to email about where they buy their bread, I can post a list of stores by state and location. I myself can provide information about not only Philadelphia, but Atlanta, as well as some parts of Vermont. And I’m just one person. If Knowledge is Power, then collectively we can all be stronger.

My readers are valuable, and I KNOW they have valuable information to share. People on low-sodium diets suffer from inconvenience as well as health ailments. Some feel alienated from life and loved ones, particularly when it comes to social (read, eating) situations. Eating out isn’t fun when you have to check and re-check orders! And having to explain your medical history to strangers is embarrassing. But life on a salt-free diet doesn’t always have to be so hard. Through this forum, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE and all it takes is a moment of your time. I look forward to hearing from you.