Just in Time for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Finds to make life easier!

This week and next week, I’ve got four Just in Time for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving posts.

Today I'm looking at totally great stuff to make your vegetarian Thanksgiving just a bit easier. Later this week, I'll look at unique hostess gifts that don't break the bank.

Then, next week, I’ll look at vegetarian wine, first, then a question that has perplexed me forever.

Ready? Then let’s go shopping!

Just in Time for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Totally great kitchen finds to make life easier
Here’s hoping they lessen the stress of Thanksgiving, even if just a little bit.

French extra virgin olive oil
There are a lot of amazing olive oils out there, but Alziari Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my standby favorite. Made from Niçoise olives in the oldest mill in Nice, it has the most incredibly fruity, fresh, taste (and it doesn’t hurt that the tin looks so pretty in my kitchen).

This is how this can make your life easy: I use this to make the world’s fastest, stress-free hors d'oeuvres. See, what I do is I pour some of this oil into a dipping bowl, place a smaller bowl of sea salt on one side and a larger bowl with olives on the other, and put out a tray brimming with slices of baguette cut diagonally. It’s elegant, fast, and insanely easy (and really handy when people suddenly drop by).

You can get it at Formaggio Kitchen. A tin lasts a long, long time just as long as you tell the husband never to cook with it or else.

Toasty chestnuts
Now that the weather is turning cold, I can think of no nicer way to spend a brisk Thanksgiving Sunday afternoon then munching on chestnuts. And this year, I tripped across two goodies to help you make those chestnuts.

First, we have Melissa’s chestnut roasting kit. The kit comes with an 11” Blue Steel French Chestnut Roasting Pan, 2 lbs. of fresh chestnuts, and roasting instructions. The best part about this is that you don’t have to sacrifice one of your good pans to the cause.

Second, we have a neat little gadget called the chestnutter. See, you have to cut chestnuts before you roast them to release the pent-up steam (much like you do with baked potatoes). And that's where this device can help. Looking somewhat like a garlic press, what you do is insert your chestnut and press the handles. Only, instead of pressing out the juices, it scores your chestnut with an “X.” Clever, yes?

Pure comfort
Back hurts? Legs ache? Feet sore? If you’ve been spending hours in the kitchen slaving over that hot stove, of course they are. Well, have I got a solution for you! It is called the Gel Pro Chef’s Mat and it is a cushioned surface.

Now, the mat is non-slip and easy to clean with a damp cloth, but the real selling point is that it just feels wonderful to stand on which is a big help if you are spending Thanksgiving in the kitchen. It comes in lots of different colors, so you are not stuck with industrial brown, say, or yawn beige, and different sizes so you can find one that fits your kitchen. And this, with the possible exception of chucking it all and flying to Tahiti for the holiday, is probably the best thing I can think of to make Thanksgiving more comfortable.

A fast, light, and easy (thank heavens) day-after-Thanksgiving meal
Obviously we don’t eat meat on Thanksgiving, but we still manage to eat enough food that it becomes a heavy meal. So the next day, all we want is something light. Which is why I'm leaning toward some good pasta for a fast and light meal. Which is where Rossi Pasta comes in.

The sheer quantity of flavors is incredible (including a Chocolato Cabernet Tagliarini), but, this year, what I recommend is a pasta called Fire! They call this “The Devil's Angel Hair” and well they may because it is made with paprika and cayenne pepper which gives it a helluva kick. With it’s strong flavor and silky texture, I'm thinking this would be just perfect with some sauteed mushrooms and a light cream sauce. Tasty, but not a lot of work, which, the day after Thanksgiving, is exactly what we need!