Tag Archives: gravy

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Even being the master of denial that I am, I can’t help but think that, in this case, leftovers are symbolic of a bit more than the excess of Thanksgiving; this post itself is a bit of a leftover, seeing as Thanksgiving was over two weeks ago. The fact is, I’ve been a bad blogger, and I know it. I got crushed under the weight of 700+ India photos and sort of crumpled into a sad little heap – but I’m back! (And that India post is soon to come). I’m so back, that I’m actually making a casserole as I write this, my left hand checking its progress in the oven as my right hand commandeers the keyboard.

My family Thanksgave in Philadelphia this year with my dad’s side of the family. The first Thanksgiving I can remember away from home – I instantly told myself that I’d only be making the vegan main course, some gravy, a vegan dessert, and maybe, just maybe, one side. After all, I was going to be in someone else’s kitchen, without my trusty cookbooks, equipment, and stockpile of somewhat exotic ingredients (okay, I don’t think they’re exotic, but someone who’s not a foodie might…).

Of course, the vegangelical master chef in me reared her overachieving head, and all of a sudden, I was packing seven photocopied recipes – Faux Turkey Breasts, Rosemary Mushroom Gravy, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pecans, Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices, Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes,” Pumpkin Pie, and Apple Crumble – and multiple plastic bags worth of pre-measured and labeled spices, herbs, flour, and sugar into my suitcase. So much for sitting back and contentedly watching the parade.

This was my third Thanksgiving as a vegan and I knew I wanted to make a special main course. Year one, hosting my friend Chelsea and my visiting mom, dad, sister in my tiny Edinburgh University student flat in Scotland, I’d made a peanut-based nut loaf from a box mix because I was having trouble finding away to churn out a feast’s worth of food with little to no counter space and an oven the size of an Easy-Bake. It was good, but, c’mon, it was from a box. Year two, we just did the Tofurky Roast, which was pretty decent; but now, in my third year of veganism, I’m almost too vegan for those things. I try to avoid processed faux meats and pretty much stick to whole foods.

These Faux Turkey Breasts from the Real Food Daily cookbook are what the Southern California restaurant itself serves  for Thanksgiving. After combining shredded tofu and tempeh with sautéed onions, miso paste, mustard, and spices galore,  the mixture is shaped into breast-like patties, brushed with olive oil, and baked in the oven. The whole ingredients make for a delicious texture – almost like “turkey” and stuffing in one! As I said on Twitter at the time, “you know you’re a level-7 vegan when your homemade faux turkey contains three different types of soy, two of which are fermented.”

The Rosemary Mushroom Gravy from Get It Ripe was the perfect light topper for the “turkey,” and it also went pretty darn well with the Mashed Cauliflower I made. I used a recipe (see link), but it was more of a template than anything. My family loved it, and, I’ve become unpardonably obsessed with it. Proof: since Thanksgiving, I’ve made it almost every day and developed my own superior (in my opinion) iteration of it, the recipe for which I plan on sharing in my next post! I apologize in advance for making you “that person” who shows up at the Whole Foods check-out line with 6 heads of cauliflower.

Thanksgiving’s not Thanksgiving without Brussels sprouts. Roasted, they are truly the candy of the vegetable kingdom. But Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Pecans? Outrageous.

The recipe’s from The Vegan Table, with pecans subbed for pistachios; I’m all for being “alternative,” but pistachios at Thanksgiving just doesn’t fly with me. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, people who had Mac ‘n Cheese – vegan or not – at your holiday table. Pardon my language, Auntie Jane, but what the hell is up with that? You have 364 other days to have it.)

For the obligatory sweet potato side, I chose the Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices from Vegan Soul Kitchen. We’ve made these before – you can’t really go wrong with layered apples and (pre-roasted) sweet potatoes, drenched in a spiced agave-lemon-orange-apple cider syrup. Plus, can someone please tell me what’s more fun than using a baster? I really have no idea.

The desserts Liv and I made were just mediocre, so I’m pretending they didn’t happen because I only publish the best. :)

Despite our Thanksgiving being a potluck with 25 extended family members and friends, all assigned to bring something, at the end of the day, my contributions turned out to be pretty necessary. My grandma had no idea I was making as much as I did, but if I hadn’t, there literally would not have been enough food for everyone. We hardly had any leftovers!

However, there were some leftovers. And like many before me, I enjoyed them for breakfast the next day even more than the original meal. I like them cold, after a long morning of Black Friday sales (okay, Liv and I just hit one store, but it took a while).

We had a little of everything, including the sweet potatoes my aunt made, whipped with coconut milk and topped with shredded coconut and toasted almonds, and a green bean dish contributed by my uncle.

I’d say it was a pretty successful T-day. Not only did I spend a lovely evening with family who I don’t see anywhere near often enough, but I got 25 people – many of whom know fairly little about veganism – to eat a meal that was at least 50 percent vegan. Making the world less cruel, one sweet tater at a time!

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Second Thanksgiving, 2009

Well, it took me long enough, but I’ve finally gotten around to my actual Thanksgiving post! So here it is–Thanksgiving, Part II.

I drove back to Phoenix from LA with some friends on Wednesday, and stayed until Sunday night, so not only was it a lovely holiday, but a nice mental vacation from school as well (Yeah, I worked on thesis at home, but it just didn’t feel as painful…)

I didn’t get a chance to plan my menu until Wednesday night, which kind of stressed me out (not the least because I’m still trying to avoid gluten and sugar for digestive problems), but I eventually got a good group of recipes together!

First, my sister and I made Dreena’s Festive Chickpea Tart. Well, Liv made the filling, and I attempted my first gluten-free pie crust to go with it. I used the Cornmeal Pine Nut Crust from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Book, which I acquired recently. I used coconut oil instead of palm oil, but besides that stuck to the recipe. It was delicious, with a delicate, crunchy texture, and, surprisingly, the corn/coconut/pine nut flavor combo really complemented the chickpea/spinach/cranberry/walnut mixture. Sadly, we burned the outside of the crust and had to scrape it off, but it still looks pretty, I think. Kind of? Maybe?

I also made the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic from Vegan with a Vengeance. Prior to these babies, my mom actually had the nerve to think she didn’t like Brussels sprouts. and Liv hadn’t even had them before! I was glad to be able to remedy both of these unfortunate situations.

I loved the crispy, just-burnt enough-to-be-amazing stray leaves–kind of like mini kale chips, no? Liv ended up liking them, I guess. :)

I also made two tester recipes for Celine & Joni’s new book, Vegan Substitutions. Pumpkin Sage Bread “Rolls” and Green Beans with Toasted Pecan Gravy.

I wasn’t able to taste these “rolls,” but they were very well received! The pecan gravy for the green beans was delicious though. You can see the green beans next to the mashed potatoes a few pictures down.

An entire wall of our living room is a sliding glass door, which connects it to our backyard and pool area, so, given the lovely mild weather we had in Arizona that evening, we had a slightly alternative table set-up. Half in, half out!

Here’s the spread! (Oh, did I mention that we had 9 people over besides the 4 in my family? That explains the giant table above and the buffet style arrangement below). Our entire Thanksgiving was vegan except for the turkey and gravy (oh, and my mom’s pumpkin pies) that our friends brought for the omnis. Of course, it sucked to have a turkey there, but I count it as a win that every single side dish was vegan–and that there were THREE vegan gravies! (two that I made and the Tofurkey one).

Here’s my poorly lit plate! In front: Garlic Mashed Potatoes from the Real Food Daily Cookbook (my mom made ’em) with Rich Brown Gravy (that I made) from Vegan Vittles.

We had a wonderful time–as usual, we went around the table to say what we were thankful for, and then we dug in! Here’s my dad enjoying the company:

Even though I couldn’t have dessert, I still had to make some vegan ones for everyone else! I chose the Pecan Pie from Real Food Daily and the Gingerbread Apple Pie from VWAV.

Pre-baked:

Not as pretty baked, but still:

What’s the BEST part of Thanksgiving though? Um, leftovers! Brunch next morning:

In the front you see the Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon, which was definitely my favorite thing I made (I didn’t mention it earlier because there were no good pictures of it on my actual T-day plate). I followed the recipe, using gluten-free brown rice bread crumbs for the topping! This dish was kind of heaven on earth. Just pure comfort food. I think I ate like 1/3 of it myself. I’ve never had chestnuts either–it was really quite fun to roast my own! One of them actually exploded in my mom’s hair, and she made a gross joke about it. ;)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, squash.

Anddd, obligatory sister shot. My dress = thrifted. Score.

First Thanksgiving, 2009

First of all, I have to apologize for my extended absence. I’ve had so many things worthy of posting, but so little time! The rough draft of my thesis was due today, and I just emailed all 93 pages of it to my two readers! It’s currently conclusionless, so I’m guessing it will clock in at around 100, but the worst is over! Plus, 100 pages on veganism is 100 pages well spent, I say.

I lurveee me some Thanksgiving, so I can’t complain that I got two this year!

The first–and more unique–one was at Animal Acres Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA. The first time I went to AA (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous) this year was for my friend Stephanie’s birthday, and it was just our group, but this time, it was a full-fledged event of a couple hundred people: the Thankful Turkeys Celebration!

For the first hour or two, we just got to walk around, and hang out with the animals. This is Regina (or Regina’s cute little butt), the baby of the sanctuary.

Pretty pink piggies:

And we got to feed the horses. This is my friend, Dawn, with her lovely hair the same gorgeous auburn color as the fella she’s feeding. :)

Then it was time for the main event, the “Feed the Turkeys Ceremony!” All the kids lined up at the end of the yard, ready with the turkeys’ (and the other birds’) Thanksgiving feast.

They smell something:

First course, salad.

Also, plenty of “stuffed squash,” a.k.a. pumpkins filled with seeds. Oh, and cranberries!

Also, pumpkin pie. But–and I know this is a shocker, folks–turkeys apparently don’t like pie, and prefer salad and seeds. After being completely and utterly neglected, this pie’s smile turned upside down.

The funniest part was that some of the kids who got tricked into holding pies got really frustrated that their goods were undesirable (squash envy?). Hence:

Having fed the turkeys, it was time for our feast, catered by LA’s One World Vegetarian Cuisine.

Some sort of savory roast with stuffing and a frighteningly skin-like skin, mashed potatoes with (excessively oily) gravy, and roasted vegetables. The roast was One World’s own recipe, and it was absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t believe how soft and chewy the “meat” was, and the stuffing was carby comfort food at its finest. And the potatoes and vegetables were, well, potatoes and vegetables. Simple, but good.

Stephanie and Dawn at dinner (or whatever the 3 ‘o clock meal is called):

And then…a chicken tried to eat someone’s leftovers.

The end.

Be back soon with my second, real Thanksgiving!

Package Swap

I was lucky enough not only to get in on a vegan care package swap this year, but to be paired up with the orchestrator herself, the wonderful Lindsay from Cooking for a Vegan Lover!

For a look at the package I sent Lindsay, click here!
Here’s what I received:

I know, I know, Lindsay’s awesome! In the back we have some Road’s End Organics Golden Gravy Mix–I can already see a nice dorm room dinner with that in my near future–and (also organic!) Pacific Natural Foods Simply Tea in Green Tea Tangerine flavor!

Lindsay’s from Vermont, so she also sent me some VT specialties:

Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies (Did you know Liz Lovely was Vermont-based?), and of course, real Vermont Pure Maple Syrup from Kingdom Mountain family farm!

The package also included a mother load of PranaBars, which I’ve never had before, but am really excited about because the flavors are so exotic and healthy! These superfood bars are all organic, gluten-free, vegan, and mostly raw.

Yeha, that’s apricot pumpkin. Can you believe it? There’s also coconut acaí, pear ginseng, cashew almond, apricot goji, and apple pie. These will be perfect pre-run snacks when, come winter break, I start training for the January half marathon I’m doing!

The package also included two packs of Heart Thrive bars, cranberry and chocolate, which I’ve seen before, but never tried (and isn’t that the point of these exchanges? to try things that you might not normally buy because they’re a luxury or you don’t know what they’re like?). I really, really like that they’re heart-shaped. I think eating them will be that much more fun.

Also, as you can see, Trader Joe’s Instant Vanilla Pudding! I’ve seen it in stores, but never realized it was vegan–all you have to do is add non-dairy milk instead of cow’s milk. Sweet. :)

The remainder of the package was lots of fun little trinkets, like milled flaxseed, green tea mints, gummy bears, a JamFrakas bar, and hot sauce.

Thanks so much, Lindsay. This was a great first swap experience, and I’ll definitely be doing more in the future because I had so much fun. Opening the package was like vegan Christmas.

Also–ugh–this is one of those posts where almost every single paragraph ends with an extra word that wouldn’t fit on the line above it. I could try to fix it, but it’s kind of funny. I’m sure all bloggers get annoyed about little things like that, so I’ll leave it as a tribute!

Finally, Maggie at My Breakfast Blog tagged me for “Truth Week,” so here’s my little piece of kind of embarrassing truth: Sometimes when I’m snacking on a jar of peanut butter straight with a spoon (not a plain jar, but fancy, semi-expensive ones like PB & Co. flavors), I’ll make myself put it in the freezer to make sure I save it for more exciting uses than eating it plain, like oatmeal, baking, and fun sandwiches. I’m all for eating PB plain–God knows I do it enough–but when you pay so much for nice nut butters that aren’t always easy to find in the first place, it can kind of suck to go through it so quickly. It’s sad that I have to freeze it, but I just love PB that much. Truth!

Edited to add: HAHA, even my note about my paragraphs ended up with an extra word on another line! FML. I bet it will happen to this one too.