Weekly Bits: Thanksgiving Prep

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Thanksgiving is just a few days away! This week's list of reader comments has two Turkey Day favorites -- mashed potatoes and gravy -- covered. Plus, an idea for the vegetarians and vegans. How are you keeping the holiday healthy?

"When boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes, add a couple cut-up parsnips and mash them right in with the butter and sour cream. Very good!" --Brian, via Facebook

"Tip: Nonstick pans seem to be gravy's evil foe. They just don't collect good 'golden brown and delicious' bits to flavor the gravy well. If you're having trouble getting flavorful gravy, consider whether your baking pan is working against you." --Julie

"I like the taste of flour, lightly browned, like my mom always made with her gravy, but I love the silky texture that cornstarch lends. So I start with a flour and butter roux, add hot broth and then season with dry thyme, black pepper and chicken bouillon granules. Stir and bring to a boil, then mix a corn starch and cold water slurry, which you add while whisking. You will never have a lump or a complaint, and it will be done in less than ten minutes." --Beth

"To add extra flavor to your gravy, add a bouillon cube. I thicken mine with flour mixed (very well) with water." --Jane

"My secret, if you will, to delicious gravy is to brown the flour before adding it to the drippings. Put several tablespoonfuls of regular flour in a dry skillet, and let it get to a medium brown color. (You have to keep a close eye on it so that it does not burn.) Using a regular table fork, stir the flour around in the pan as it browns using a kind of scraping motion to make sure all the flour is coming off the bottom of the skillet. When it has gotten to the desired medium brown color, remove it from the pan and set it aside in a small bowl. Then when you are ready to make the gravy, start with a cooled skillet--the one you used to brown the flour--and start with the flour that you have browned FIRST. The browning of the flour gives the gravy a wonderful nutty flavor as opposed to a sometimes gummy flavor you get using only white flour." --Melody

"My wife makes a mean stuffed acorn squash with basmati rice, pecans and cranberries, and a delicious vegan pumpkin pie that we top with Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream. All to the delight of our omnivorous family and friends!" --Mike

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