I’m finally starting to pull myself out of my post-election stupor. My head is a bit less foggy. I’ve wiped the salt away from my eyes. And I’m working like a mad women in the kitchen. Preparations for Thanksgiving are under way, which, by the way, is LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AWAY.
Holy crap. How did that happen?
I have to admit that I’m not really feeling ready for the big day. But I’m sure I’ll get everything done in time. I always do.
Brainstorming new Thanksgiving recipes is something that I always find particularly challenging. Part of me wants to stay super conservative and traditional. While the other part of me wants to push the boundaries and experiment with new flavor combinations.
I guess I usually end up settling for someplace in the middle. Last year I jazzed up my mashed potatoes with mascarpone cheese and sage browned butter. And I opted for this Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Tart instead of baking up a standard pumpkin pie. So nothing too crazy or different. But enough tweaks to keep me happy.
This year, I decided to tackle sweet potatoes.
I wanted to make a vegan mashed sweet potato side dish. I knew I could easily use non-dairy milk and forgo the butter entirely (shocking, right?). But it took me a while to figure out what else to incorporate to make them worthy of such an important Holiday. I eventually settled on adding tahini and a few warming spices. And then I swirled in a rich coffee glaze. It totally takes this recipe over the top. If there is such a thing as grown up mashed sweet potatoes, these Vegan Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Tahini and Coffee would totally be it.
The garnishes are totally optional. But also kind of not optional, because they are just so gosh darn pretty. But that’s just my humble opinion.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rodelle. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands and companies that help to support Floating Kitchen!
On Tuesday, I made bread. In the morning, my hands gently worked the dough. I kneaded it, rolled it, shaped it and braided it. I made it pretty. I watched as the heat from my fireplace helped it to rise to it’s full potential. And I watched my social media feed fill up with announcements from friends who had voted. The hashtag #ImWithHer seemed to dominate the landscape.
That afternoon as my bread baked, my house filled with warm, comforting smells of vanilla and cinnamon. I audibly squealed as I removed the braided loaf from my oven, absolutely delighted over just how beautiful it looked. The swirl was somewhat hypnotic. While the blushing sweep of cranberries provided just the right pop of color. It was perfect.
I anxiously awaited for it to cool. I snapped my photos and took my first bites. I felt happy and accomplished.
But as the day wore on, I struggled to hang onto those feelings. The election coverage that evening caused me to stress eat almost half the loaf, sending me into some kind of a carbohydrate-induced downward spiral. And eventually, I found myself too mentally and emotionally exhausted to even stay awake for the duration of the reporting. I went to bed not knowing the final outcome. In the morning when I checked my phone, I cried. And then I called my Mom and cried some more.
Pajama-clad, I re-warmed some bread and ate it reluctantly. Later, I shared a slice with my neighbor in his backyard. And we both tried to breath.
I think it’s safe to say we’ve got some work to do. Although, I have to admit that I’m not 100% sure what that means or where to even start. But for now, I bake. And listen. And love. And vow to not grow weary.
This Cranberry Pecan Braided Bread certainly won’t solve our problems. But maybe make yourself a loaf and find some comfort and solace in that action. Share a loaf with a friend (or perhaps an enemy). And take care of yourself and the people around you. It’s the least we can do for one another.
I’ve partnered with Rodelle to bring you today’s recipe. Rodelle’s vanilla extracts and other baking essentials are top notch, and I’ve been using them exclusively in my kitchen for years now (did you know they also have a line of savory products!). When I’m cooking and baking with Rodelle ingredients, I’m completely confident that my recipes will turn out to be total show stoppers. And that’s an awesome feeling to have.
I’m also proud to work with a company that not only supports their farmers and growers abroad, but also derives 100% of their energy from wind power and other alternative sources. I hope that more companies will follow their lead.
This Cranberry Pecan Braided Bread might just steal the spotlight at your next Holiday gathering. And as your guests “ooh and ahh” over it’s festive presentation, you’ll be secretly smiling on the inside knowing that it actually wasn’t all that difficult to bake (I promise it’s not nearly as intimidating as it looks!). So be sure to stock up on some essential Rodelle baking ingredients this season, and let’s rock this whole Holiday entertaining thing!
Recipe adapted from my Braided Cinnamon, Apple and Pecan Bread