With Love and Gratitude – Inspired Sides

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year with its focus on gathering people around the table for a meal, connecting with loved ones and expressing gratitude for all that we have.  I find meaning in the cooking, the eating and the gathering around the table with friends and family, and for me it is an ultimate expression of loving and being loved.  Slow down and savor the connections, the conversations, the flavors.  Remember to focus on the present moment… and during the busyness of the day perhaps take a moment to pause for a delicious cup of matcha tea.  If possible try to get outside as a group and maybe take a walk after the meal

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Fare Isle Cup of Matcha with August Table Napkins

I have always taken my cues from my Virginia grandmother, who all summer long canned fruits and vegetables from her gardens, which were set up in lovely rows on the banks of Carters Creek just off the Rappahannock River.   Everything she cooked was fresh and made from scratch with love and attention to detail.  She was a bundle of energy (a ball of fire really) and had routines in place for every day, and special traditions for the holidays.

This year we are spending Thanksgiving at our friends’ house where various families and multiple generations will come together to cook together, share a meal and give thanks. My friend Mia has always made sure her family is intentional about their choices for the day around food and activities, the only requirement is that everything needs to be stress free and everyone comes early in the day so that we all cook together.

I have offered to set the tables (we’ll have multiple tables of guests) and hope to create a serene scene with rustic centerpieces, lovely linens (natch), and personal touches for the celebration so that everyone feels special.

Recently I’ve been perusing cookbooks and social media for inspiration on the sides that we’ll bring to complement the meal.  Below are a few that inspire me along with their recipes.  I hope you find some inspiration too.

Starters

I always love having appetizers around the kitchen and house when guests arrive.  This allows everyone to nibble while they catch up, cook and prep for the meal to come.

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The Little Plantation Beet Hummus

Beets are a versatile vegetable that when used as a dip add a beautiful ruby color to the table.

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Mia served her beet dip last week at a Holiday Market

Mia’s signature dish is her beet dip, which is divine, healthy and colorful.  She purees beets, soaked cashews, lemon juice and salt.  You must try it – it is earthy and addictive, served with sliced cucumbers and crackers.  I hope she’s making it on Thursday.

London’s Yotam Ottolenghi makes lush gorgeous vegetable dishes.  His Plenty and Plenty More cookbooks are some of my favorites to flip through, especially when I’m looking for sides.  This muhammara with feta would be an amazing starter for the meal along with elements from a board of olives, pita bread, chopped veggies, rice crackers and more.

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Vegetarian Ventures Beet Hummus with Hazelnut Oil

Cranberry Sauce

I love cranberry sauce, seriously love it.  Any way it comes, relish, chutney, from the can, all of it. And no holiday meal goes unadorned without it.  My sister Coree is famous in our family for her cranberry sauce (and pies) but since I won’t have hers this year, I think I’ll try this recipe from Fare Isle.

sides

Sides

I think the side dishes at Thanksgiving are where you can get really creative, and not only rely on the standard traditional fare, think bright colors and varied flavors.

For this stuffing recipe you can add or subtract as needed. Gluten-free? No problem, swap out for a gluten-free loaf of bread.  Vegetarian?  Use veggie broth instead of chicken broth. You get the idea.

In addition to the green beans, salads, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, think about pasta as an option too!

Desserts

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Banana Trifle and chocolate cake in Charlottesville with Krister's parents.

Thanksgiving is a time to bring out many types of dessert for the dessert table.  Three years ago I made a banana trifle and chocolate cake to mix things up a bit; however,  traditional apple and pumpkin pies are always a hit.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat, Capture, Share

August Ardor is all about passion and sharing stories of passion with the hope of inspiring more people to follow their dreams and bliss – more happiness brings more joy into the world, natch.

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Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Kimberly Espinel, an award-winning food photographer and stylist, photography teacher, author of The Little Plantation blog, and creator of the EAT, CAPTURE, SHARE podcast.  Kimberly lives in cool and cosmopolitan London, creates stunning plant-based dishes and images that make your mouth water and your heart skip a beat, teaches workshops, works on her blog and podcast all while pursuing her bliss.

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She inspires me every single day.  It’s no wonder she was the Saveur Blog Awards Editor’s Choice for the 2018 Best Food Photography for last year. Kimberly has a very distinct lush style with her photography – one that she honed herself as a self-taught photographer.

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I asked Kimberly how she got started and what inspired her to take the first step towards following her passion in food photography.  Her journey was circuitous (as many journeys can be) with twists and turns and back roads traveled, with side journeys along the way, before she found where she wanted to go.  She worked as a social worker for 13 years or so and then had her son.  She realized that going back to the same job did not feel right anymore or fit in with the family life she wanted to create.

She asked herself is there a way I can work for myself and be more present in his life? What opportunities are there… what am I passionate about that would allow me that opportunity?  She decided to go back to school to be a nutritional therapist and at the same time moved from an omnivores diet to a plant-based diet.

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She started the food blog as a way to have recipes to share with clients when she was finished with school; however, when she started picking up the camera and shooting food and writing recipes, she filled a void in her heart and it brought her so much joy.

By the time she graduated from school she already had 40,000 followers on her Instagram account.  Yet when she started the blog, she had not heard of Instagram.  In one of her nutrition lectures another girl sat next to her and said “she’d just discovered this photo app and said it’s insane” …Kimberly was mesmerized.

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What’s important to note is that she was not a photographer before starting the blog.  She says she did not know how to work a camera or anything, but once she got the gist of it, she loved the feeling of creating something in her mind and making it come to life.  She said “I loved recipes, I loved to cook – the styling and the photography are my favorite part and now I love teaching others on the side.”

Many other bloggers go to recipe development but she went to photography.  I asked her what inspires her most when she shoots and how her style evolved.  She had always been interested in interior design and architecture, and as a teenager she would redesign her bedroom and kept a scrap book of fabric, looks and visuals that she liked.   At that time, she didn’t know her style yet, but through trial and error she noticed a pattern in the way she shaped and sees things.  She is really drawn to nature, the colors of nature, the colors of the seasons, the colors of vibrant plant-based food that she gravitates towards.

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Over the years she always leaned into her strengths – one of her strengths is bringing people together and creating a creativity community.  She listened to her followers and their needs, wants, and struggles and she realized a podcast would be a great way to bring the community together to further address their pain points and help them achieve their dreams.  The EAT, CAPTURE, SHARE podcast is for a wide audience of food bloggers, food lovers, and everyone in between – mainly people who love sharing their photography, their art and creativity.

Give it a listen and you can check out more of Kimberly’s images and posts on The Little Plantation blog.

All photos by Kimberly Espinel

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here.