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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in Thanksgiving side dishes (1)


Celebrating with Cranberries and Pure Maple Syrup

cranberriesAutumn arrives sooner here in Canada than it does for our US neighbors to the south. As a result, we harvest earlier and celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday in October. Our Americans friends prepare for that event one month later, in November.

maple syrupIn the USA, the holiday has been imbued with a spirituality centered on family reunion. In some places, it is more important to “come home” for Thanksgiving, than for Christmas. Furthermore, this holiday, first celebrated by devout Christian Pilgrims, has so powerfully permeated the American way of life that people of different religions and cultures now gather for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

slivered almondsBecause the holiday gives thanks for the produce successfully grown in North America, gardeners have a unique attachment to this event. There is a natural connection from growing, to harvesting, cooking, and finally eating. Serving food that originated in one’s own back yard enhances the celebration.  While the menus of Thanksgiving dinners reference those of the earliest settlers, an interesting development has occurred: Evolving cultural preferences and nutritional issues have transformed the variety of food served in some circles.

green applesOver time, subsequent waves of immigrant farmers introduced crops familiar to them and suitable to North American conditions, especially in the State of California, where the climate is hospitable to plants from southern Europe and other Mediterranean regions. Consequently, the choices of American-grown produce, suitable  for celebration, have increased. In addition, health conscious cooks have begun to reduce the number of starchy, low glycemic, side dishes on their menus, while increasing the varieties requiring high glycemic whole grain ingredients.

The festive Thanksgiving meal calls for at least one tasty, starchy, side dish. Perhaps, instead of using pasta, potatoes, yams, or sweet potatoes, one might consider brown rice. Here is a recipe for a dish that combines a whole grain with native cranberries and pure maple syrup, along with later-introduced green apples, and almonds.

Although it contains some high caloric sweetness and fat, health-conscious guests, who ate it at my Thanksgiving dinner table, concurred that it is possible to reduce the amount of oil and pure maple syrup without affecting taste. For readers concerned about nutrition, this recipe is a work in progress, just like a flower garden.

Thanksgiving Rice


1 ½ cups brown rice

3 cups water

½ tsp salt

 Apple mixture

¼ cup slivered almonds

2 green apples, peeled, coarsely grated, and squirted with lemon juice

¾-cup dried cranberries [or California golden raisins]


¼ cup, or less, coconut or olive oil

4 tbsp, or less, Pure maple syrup

¼ tsp Salt

1/8th tsp pepper


Cook rice in salted water according to rice cooker instructions or those found on rice packaging.

Prepare apple mixture ingredients, combine, and set aside

Prepare seasoning, combine  and set aside

Heat oven to 350.degrees Fahrenheit

When rice is cooked, transfer to a large mixing bowl

Add seasoning to rice, and stir in gently

Add apple mixture to bowl and blend into seasoned rice

Transfer rice-apple mixture into greased or sprayed baking dish, size 8 by 8 inches [or into an equivalent sized oven-to-table dish]

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Serves 6

Note: Green apples are aka Granny Ramsey Smith in Australia, Granny Smith in the USA, and Green Delicious in some regions of Canada.