Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Demeter's Thanksgiving Feast

Just a day away from American Thanksgiving and I am starting to reflect on what this season means to me.  Each year, I travel from Atlanta to Michigan to visit family and friends and really begin to enjoy all that the holiday season brings to me.  I had thought of it as a reverse of Persephone's journey - that Atlanta was the Underworld and that Detroit was Olympos.  Truth be told, I believe it might be the other way around.  We travel from a place where the weather is pretty nice all year round to a city already deep into winter.  In either case, there is nothing like the winter holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, to reflect on the things that are really important in our lives.  This year I am thankful for many things including my amazing partner, my wonderful and very silly feline companion, the experience of building our own cabin in the woods, and all my friends and family in Atlanta, Asheville, Detroit and all over the country. 

The great Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, once said:
If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice.
No matter what your faith tradition, I believe these are words everyone can live by. 

This holiday I would like to share some recipes that you can make to say "Thank You" to your own friends and family and enjoy the festive harvest feast with Demeter and Persephone.  Kick off the holiday season with a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and start building your own family traditions. 

Whole grains are, as you might imagine, sacred to Demeter as the Goddess of the earth and agriculture.  As an alternative side dish with your Thanksgiving turkey, try this recipe from


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or canola oil
1/2 cup broken whole-wheat spaghetti pieces
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup instant brown rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pasta and onion; cook, stirring, until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add broth, rice, salt and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Fluff with a fork and stir in parsley.

And to compliment all the heavy holiday food, try this Pomegranate Salad from  The pomegranate connects us all to Persephone's journey. 


1 cup candied pecans
1 large bunch red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1 pomegranate)
2 cups large dark seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 ripe red pears
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh orange zest


1.  Make candied pecans.
2.  In a large bowl, toss together the pomegranate seeds, grapes, red onion, and the blue cheese.
3.  Divide torn lettuce leaves among 8 salad plates, and top each salad with the fruit mixture.
4.  Halve and core pears and cut into 1/2-inch slices-- put a pear half, skin side up, in the center of each salad.
5.  Arrange candied pecans around the pears.
6.  Just before serving, heat balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, cooking and stirring until brown sugar dissolves. Off the heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
7.  Drizzle warm dressing over each salad, sprinkle with orange zest, and serve right away.

Blessed Thanksgiving.  May you use this season to harvest all the love that you have planted throughout the year. 

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