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Thanksgiving 2021: Some Old Traditions, Some New

By November 22, 2021General
Happy Thanksgiving pie

The October 2020 issue of Connections featured stories of “Homebound Holidays” from Issaquah Highlands residents who shared how they planned to celebrate various fall holidays while facing the challenges and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, we asked the same residents for an update on their holiday traditions and plans.

In October 2020, Dahlia Park resident and Highlands Council Board President Kimberly Kapustein wrote about how favorite recipes would keep her family connected to their Thanksgiving traditions, despite not gathering with extended family. This year, Kimberly looks forward to again sharing a Thanksgiving feast and focusing on personal health and wellness. 

I love the idea of Thanksgiving, particularly now that I’m starting to invite select people back into my home to share our Thanksgiving feast. (“Who’s in your pod?” should be on a T-shirt.)

It will be such a thrill to see familiar faces around a big table, with giant platters of food everywhere, glasses filled with wine and water, and everyone talking at once. I’m bringing back group favorites, like mac and cheese; sweet potato (see recipe below), pumpkin, apple pies (yes, you need all three); a crockpot-amount of mashed potatoes; homemade biscuits; and stuffing. I like any long night of eating that ends with someone asleep in a pile of coats in the bedroom.

I will take pictures to remember it all. We’ll still be careful and keep groups smalls, creating comfortable seating areas as part of this year’s celebrations.

The day after Thanksgiving, instead of Black Friday shopping, I will participate in REI’s #OptOutside and walk/run in the Issaquah Turkey Trot. Afterward, I’ll get my flu and shingles shots and have a mammogram. (The long weekend offers time to recover, in case I have a terrible reaction.) As an adult, I never paid attention to my health and personal inoculations before COVID; my kids’ health was always at the front of my mind instead. Now, I know the whole family needs to stay on top of personal health, vaccines, and boosters, as required.

Sweet Potato Pie with Chocolate Almond Crust

Kimberly Kapustein sweet potato pieIngredients
For the crust

  • 2 cups almond or hazelnut flour
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or butter
  • ½ cup semisweet dairy-free chocolate chips
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the filling

  • 4-5 medium-sized sweet potatoes or yams
  • ½ cup of nut or oat milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest and juice of half an orange
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°.

To make the filling, clean the sweet potatoes and, using a fork or paring knife, poke holes into the potatoes to create air pockets. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45-50 minutes, until a knife passes through easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then peel off and discard the skins.

Lower oven temperature to 300° and have a 9-inch spring form pan nearby.

To make the crust, in a skillet slowly toast the flour over low heat, stirring constantly so it does not burn, about 5-6 minutes for hazelnut flour and 10-12 minutes for almond flour. Once the flour starts to smell like popcorn, turn off the heat and add the chocolate, oil or butter, and salt. Continue to stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined into a course crumb. Dump the mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan and press down evenly across the bottom and about an inch up the sides. The mixture is still warm, so use the bottom of a cup if you are sensitive to heat.

Make the filling by combining the nut or oat milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, orange juice and zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and peeled and cooled potatoes in a blender or using a hand mixer. Blend until smooth and pour into the crust.

Place pie in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 50-55 minutes or until the center is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

Slice and serve with whipped coconut cream, made with vanilla and a touch of maple syrup. Add roasted almonds for crunch.

Kimberly Kapustein is the president of the Highlands Council Board of Trustees and a Dahlia Park resident. 

Click here to read all stories in the “Homebound Holidays” series >>