Thanksgiving: Serving up each recipe with a side of SAFETY in mind!
If you are WILD about RICE (or even not so wild about it), you will love this recipe! It’s best made a day ahead so the flavors truly have time to blend together. I find that even folks who aren’t fond of mushrooms love this dish, unless you have allergies of course! That’s a topic that can be serious, so I’ll come back to in a second. The recipe I’m sharing today has been handed down through my mother’s side of the family and is an all-time favorite around the Thanksgiving table. Since my mom grew up on a cattle ranch in Cody, Wyoming I like to play up the WILD SIDE of the rice with an image of a bucking bronc.
Brady and I try to stick to the rule of making a recipe the way it’s written the first time around. I do admit that we taste test along the way and in the end the recipe is often spiced up a bit. Unless you have a true allergy, I highly recommend trying this recipe the way it is. For example, don’t be tempted to skip the water chestnuts; their delicate crunch is part of the magic that makes this dish really light up!
SAFETY & SERENITY: During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be easy to overlook ingredients that create a safe, serene atmosphere. Overlooking a recipe ingredient can change the taste of a recipe tremendously, but usually it isn’t a life-altering event. There are lots of kitchen safety tips that are important to keep in mind, but one that is often overlooked is the issue of ALLERGIES! Because of our bed and breakfast, we are always conscience of the dietary needs and preferences of guests on a daily basis. When you’re not in the business of needing to know, it’s easy to forget this aspect in the midst of holiday laughter and fun. Unfortunately, at family occasions and pot-luck events, the issue of allergies sometimes falls short of being on any safety list. I know plenty of family dinner tales that tell this all too well! In fact, this particular recipe, though one of MY VERY FAVORITES would need to be served with a warning sign and here’s why.
Tales NOT to be “RE-TOLD, here for YOU in Three-Fold:
-Mysterious Mushrooms: Many years ago, one of my dear friends spent half of Thanksgiving Day in the emergency room, the culprit- mushrooms (the common cooking kind). A botanist once told me that everyone is allergic to mushrooms to some degree but that it varies a great deal from person to person and mushroom to mushroom. Having to watch an emergency crew come into a family home on a holiday is not for the faint of heart! Remember this story and keep it smart.
-Ornery Onions: Another friend I have gets violently ill if even a hint of onion is in a dish. The flu season is bad enough without “catching” it just from something you eat!
-Well, NUTS: … And then there’s my cousin whom, like many people, is deathly allergic to certain nuts. One time he ended up in the emergency room after kissing his wife TWO HOURS after she had eaten hazelnut ice cream; now that gives some lip service to the meaning of a NUT ALLERGY! My wild rice dish calls for almonds, which are technically not a nut. Because of this, my cousin can have this dish, but I’m sure there are many almond allergies out there! While on the topic of nuts, I know of a little girl who has her very own peanut sniffing service dog. Without him, she would never be able to visit enclosed public spaces- it’s that serious. Don’t underestimate the power of nuts and seeds, they pack lots of protein and sometimes a nasty punch.
Today, gluten-free and other diets are common and it’s only courteous to, in some form, cater to those needs. But, you ask,… What IS the best way to deal with everyone’s needs in a simple and caring way? At our gatherings, we’ve gone to the following motto.. “RECIPE SHARING IS CARING! Anyone bringing a dish also brings a side of recipe cards, that way nothing is accidentally overlooked. Since Thanksgiving is about sharing, it’s a good time to take that to heart! There’s no need to hoard a secret recipe. Here at Blue Mountain B&B, we’ve always been happy to share recipes with guests and it hasn’t stopped them from coming back yet. If anything, it creates a feeling of true family when you share something you’ve put a lot of love into.
One last word to the wise! It’s always smart to maintain some checks and balances. Don’t rely totally on one kind of food safety strategy. You’d hate to weigh in on all the fun just to have it suddenly go sour because of an oversight. Whether you are hosting the party or you are a house guest, let your needs and those of others be known if it’s direly important. If it’s more of a food preference or slight restriction, the recipe cards are a great way of discretely “discussing” dietary issues!
Photo taken by Pam Morris, Colorado
Now, on another note… here is a recipe that should make you sing! I know it does that to me, so be forewarned. I dub tomorrow, WACKY WILD RICE MAKING WEDNESDAY. If you care to join me, please dig in!
RECIPE: Wonderfully Wild Rice Bake!
½ C. Wild rice
½ C. Rice (white or brown)
1 C. Onion, diced
1 C. Celery, diced
2 T. Butter or olive oil
1/4 C. Soy sauce
3 oz. Can mushrooms
5 oz. Can water chestnuts, chopped
1/3 C. Slivered almonds
-Cook rice as directed(on packages).
-Saute onions and celery in butter and then add the almonds.
-Mix all ingredients together and let sit over night if time.
-Bake the next day at 350 for 20 minutes.
CHARITY & Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for so many things… our family, our friends, our health and happiness. Remember to donate something to your community as well as your family! Some schools as well as food pantries and shelters can really use donated items as well, so call and ask! As a kid, one of my favorite memories is my mom taking two beautifully browned birds out of the oven; one for us and one for the local Poverello Center. We’d always take it down as a family the day before the holiday and somehow it made my heart feel just a little bit better.
Here at Blue Mountain B&B,we do as much as we can to help various non-profits in Missoula. Some of them help those in need, some help Missoula’s cultural community, some keep our wilderness areas wild and last but not least, our history a live! We welcome you to stay with us year round. Blue Mountain is a place of beauty during all of the seasons and we are truly thankful for the guests that visit us and soon become like family!
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