Friday, November 23, 2007

Much to be Thankful For

Ahhh... how many pounds did everyone gain this year? Thankfully, it was only one for me and I went straight to the gym this morning (but the leftovers have been taunting me all day!). At any rate, although my family was hundreds of miles away this year, my husband and I had much to be grateful for... including an incredible spread! "Feather" from Farm Sanctuary was the honored guest of our feast, as you can see in the background, next to our wonderful Frey vegan wine.

Here is a closeup of the Tofurky that we tried for the very first time this year (at my husband's request). Well, I found out that he is not going to be vegetarian any time soon, but it's not because of this meal - he gave it, "two thumbs up!" The roast looked nothing like a real turkey, thank goodness, but it tasted eerily like it. Even my husband who has eaten turkey much more recently than I (god, it's been over a decade!), said it tasted pretty authentic. He loved the stuffing (it had some wild rice in it), and couldn't stop commenting about the gravy! It was a pleasant surprise, after others had warned us against it. I recommend it highly at your next Thanksgiving meal! The best part? It's ingredients are all organic, non-GMO, and healthy!

Here it is being sliced. Now, of course I wasn't jumping up and down about it, because I don't really want to pretend I'm eating meat, but I had a slice just to try it out.

I know that some vegans hate this holiday, or at least are depressed about it, but I just couldn't feel that way this year. I know it's a horrible day for so many birds (and I shed tears every day about it), but when I think about Thanksgiving, to me it means spending time with family, cooking amazing and comforting food, and not worrying about my weight for one day. It's a celebration of food and cooking and family- three things that are a huge part of my life! But most of all, I'm thankful that my husband has been trying to eat less meat - which means fewer animals suffering and a better relationship for us! He is such a good sport....

At any rate, the side dishes were always my favorite part of Thanksgiving - I never cared much for turkey, and only ate it because I was following tradition. So, here is my plate nowadays. That's corn, two kinds of cranberries, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. I took some plain mashed potatoes later... awesome with the Tofurky gravy! Let's get a close up, shall we?

You can see the two different kinds of cranberry sauce (the nasty, in-the-can style with high fructose corn syrup a.k.a. death by sugar), and my lovely cran-orange relish (which wasn't lacking in sugar, but at least it was natural!). To the side, you see this lovely salad, topped with roasted root vegetables and a balsamic-maple dressing I composed in two seconds to wet the greens. Yes, if you try one thing from this meal, please make the roasted veggies! Here is the recipe real quick-like: One cup each (roughly!) of diced: sweet potato, turnip, carrot, and parsnip. Toss them with 2 Tbsp olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast them at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring twice. Last, mix 2 Tbsp each of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup with 1/2 cup of vegetable broth - boil for 5 minutes on the stove top and then drizzle this on the roasted veggies and roast for 5 more minutes. Divinely sweet and sour! A great way to eat those veggies you may not really care for!

Every year, I try to make a bread stuffing (or dressing, as some call it - not sure why! It's not liquidy like a dressing and I'm not eating it on salad!), and every year I'm slightly disappointed. Last year, it was too dry. This year, a bit too mushy. The flavors kicked ass though, so thanks to Susan at Fat Free Vegan for the recipe! I'll dice the bread pieces smaller next year, and maybe toast them before. I couldn't get a good photo of it . . .

This is the one dish that I didn't eat this year - green bean casserole. It calls for milk (though we used soy milk) and a can of cream of mushroom soup (definitely not vegan). Yet when when I wasn't vegan and tried it, I wasn't a big fan of this dish anyhow. I am on a mission to find a good recipe for it, for next year. I think Susan might have had one, actually...

Speaking of Fat Free Vegan, I also tried her Sweet Potato Casserole this year, and both my husband and I couldn't stop commenting on it! The spicy (like ginger and nutmeg, not pepper!), slightly citrusy flavor in the potatoes was incredible! However, the topping was rather greasy - when I pulled it out of the oven there were little pools of oil on the top! I have a similar recipe from Cooking Light that I used in the past, which I will borrow from for next year's topping. Just calls for more flour, basically, which will absorb some of that grease .... but still, this was my favorite dish of the whole meal!!! I look forward to this every year.
I started cooking the sides for the meal on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and found myself with a hot oven and minute to spare. So, I whipped up this Cranberry Bread, from Colleen's, The Joy of Vegan Baking. I was so excited about her pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie (coming next in this post), that I wanted to try something else. Well, this cranberry bread fell flat. The recipe, that is, not the bread! The recipe seemed to call for a rather large amount of flour, and the pan was incredibly full, but she called for only one pan to bake it in! I carefully followed her directions, but realized that there was something amiss. Well, I think that she should have stated 'two' loaf pans for this recipe! What do you think?? It's was HUGE!! And, underdone in the middle - but oh, the taste! I will try it again with two pans.

Here it is, cut open - see the underdone spots? Oh well, it was still edible - yum!

Meanwhile, I made the Pecan-Oatmeal Crust from the same book, with no bad outcomes. It was a nice change from the typical pie crust and way easier to make! I enjoyed the texture with the filling, but I wasn't blown away by the taste of the crust (could have been sweeter!).

Here is the pie, all baked and cooling down....

And here is my husband's huge slice with some of the Tofu Whipped Topping from the same book! The pie was incredible - not tofu tasting at all, but could have been a little more firm. The whipped topping tasted nothing like Cool Whip, but it had a nice smooth texture and a great vanilla taste!
And I guess that's it for this Thanksgiving! I have just finished putting up our Christmas decorations, as that seems to extend the warm feelings of this holiday for me - I hate when it is over! I tried a lot of new dishes this year, with fun results - really! It sounds like I had a horrible meal, but I was just picking apart the dishes to tweak for next year, or to help others. I loved every bite and wouldn't do a thing differently (except for the cranberry bread!). And what else did I do today to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving? Well, I didn't shop, thanks for reminding us, Bazu, but I did rake some leaves and... bake! Argh, yes, I am addicted to the oven. I had some overripe bananas and zucchini I just had to use up, so Veganomicon's Banana-Wheat Germ Muffins were just the thing for healthy lunches next week, and Joy of Vegan Baking's Zucchini bread was sooo good. Except guess what - the directions for the zucchini bread don't state, "keep it in the pan for 30 minutes while cooling," so it stuck to the bottom of the pan and ripped - blah!


Anonymous said...

Your meal looks and sounds great--even with the few "bad" parts! I hope you had a happy thanksgiving and enjoy your weekend!


bazu said...

Everything really does look good! I really wanted to bake today, but thankfully, I was stopped in time- ha! Feather is such a cool name for a turkey- happy thanksgiving to you!

VeggieGirl said...

aww, how lovely that Feather was the guest-of-honor at your Thanksgiving feast!! I adopted Pearl this year, from Farm Sanctuary; and she too was an honored guest at my celebration :0)

How wonderful that your husband liked the Tofurky, haha - if you're looking for something less "authentic-tasting" (since my family and I get creeped out by that as well) but still fantastically-delicious, I HIGHLY recommend the Celebration Roast (made by the Field Roast company).

I'm the same way - Thanksgiving (and all other holidays as well) is all about being with great family & friends, and having a fun time (and a delectable meal!). There's definitely a lot to be thankful for - that's what counts!! And remember, you saved Feather's life by adopting her this year - that's one less turkey out there that suffered.

Wow, your plate was certainly filled with a lot of goodness!! Your cranberry-orange relish looks particularly scrumptious (the cranberry sauce has always been my favorite component of the Thanksgiving meal); and that roasted-root-vegetable-salad sounds PERFECT with the maple-balsamic dressing (yum!)

Sorry to hear that the stuffing (go to the web address below, to find out why it's sometimes called dressing)...

...and the green-bean casserole were not that great; but hey, that sweet-potato casserole (I love spicy!) looks quite enticing!! and even if the cranberry bread didn't LOOK perfect, it sounds like the taste was perfect (and that's more important, if you ask me)!! And the pie looks sensational as well - that pecan-oatmeal crust and tofu-whipped topping sound like great components for the pie! yum!

Ahh, I'm so sorry about your zucchini bread ripping! no fun! but as I mentioned earlier in this novel-long comment of mine (sorry! haha), it's the taste that matters most. oh and you KNOW that I have an addiction to baking/cooking, so I understand your addiction to it as well :0)

Happy Holidays!!

urban vegan said...

Quite an amazing feast...I've been intrigued by that Tofurkey.

I adopted Luna...Feather's pal.

Rural Vegan said...

First time visiting your blog and you had quite a spread to show off! I adopted Moth this year from Farm Sanctuary, but I love how you added Feather's photo to your table.

cash money winsome said...

oooh, your cran-orange relish looks so good.

also, you mentioned susan's recipe for green bean casserole and i have to highly HIGHLY recommend that you try it! i've never even liked GBC before, but that recipe was brilliant. i used a few shitake mushrooms mixed in with buttons and it was the most delicious dish. you should give it a shot!