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On Your Mark, Get Set: Family Recipes

2011 November 15

By Meredith Lownes

Cider-and-jelliesNew York, NY – When my daughter Kara signed me up for an experiment in mother-daughter food blogging, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. Kara’s enthusiasm has a tendency sometimes to overtake a situation, steamrolling over dissent. This was certainly the case during Thanksgivings past in our family’s history: I remember one year when she was in high school and, deep in her exploration of being vegan, she decided the holiday would be the ideal time to share her cause with all members of the extended family. In lieu of a Thanksgiving tablescape, the dining area was adorned with PETA pamphlets detailing the cruelty of factory-farming turkeys, and everyone was forced to make do with (vegan) stuffing and potatoes when the Tofurkey we’d excitedly purchased turned out to be – well, less than a case for a carnivore’s conversion.

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Our culinary adventures have come a long way since then (and Kara’s brother later mastered the art of seasoning Tofurkey to make it quite palatable). I was a raw foodist for many years, and our Thanksgiving table at times contained up to three variations of classic dishes like mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie to suit everyone’s needs. Years later, Kara still makes Thanksgiving dinner for our omnivorous family, and an organic, free-range turkey from a local family farm is included as the center of a spread that includes vegan sweet potato cake and parmesan-stuffed mushrooms, butternut squash soup and chorizo stuffing, gluten-free bread and hot bourbon apple cider.

This year, Kara and I decided to share a piece of our Thanksgiving tradition with back-to-back RecipeRelay posts: recipes for raw and vegan Thanksgiving desserts. We’ll be making this week’s raw sweet potato parfait in Kara’s tiny New York apartment kitchen, with sweet potatoes and apples and fresh apple cider and raw honey fresh from the Tucker Square Greenmarket near her house, and, in a compromise that’s true to the spirit of the holidays, medjool dates and nuts from Mexico and California. We were inspired by The Blender Girl’s recent RecipeRelay contributions, as well as by the butternut squash (while not related to the sweet potato, similar in seasonality, color and texture) in Amri’s Kale and Butternut Squash Phyllo Pie. Tune back in on Thursday to see what we (un)cook up!

Having always made food and nutrition a priority in her life, Meredith Lownes spent six years working as a chef in natural food restaurants and healing centers from coast to coast, including The Healing Center in Atlantic City, NJ, Plowshare Macrobiotic Restaurant in Chicago, and It’s Natural in Evanston, IL. In 2009, she spent 5 months living and working at Optimum Health Institute in San Diego, CA. Meredith currently lives in Evanston, IL.