Friday, November 25, 2011

Crafting a (Nearly) Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner

Our nearly vegan Thanksgiving (1018)

Here is the table set with our *nearly* vegan Thanksgiving dinner including (from bottom right) sweet potatoes with pecans, walnuts and vegan marshmallows, green beans, cranberry-apple sauce, tofurky with roasted vegetables and homemade mushroom gravy, apple-pear sauce, apple-raisin stuffing with walnuts and pecans and last but not least mashed potatoes.

Our nearly vegan Thanksgiving (1008)

Our nearly vegan Thanksgiving, a photo by LeighAnneD...Mugging Over Coffee on Flickr.Soy margarine replaced butter in all dishes. Vegan sugar, maple syrup or agave syrup were used to sweeten dishes when needed. While butter was available on the table, no one used it. The stuffing and the pecan pie (not pictured) contained Egg Beaters and one egg (and the stuffing didn't really need it -- note for next holiday meal).

Favorite dish of the day for me, despite the slight flambé, was the sweet potatoes. They were parboiled and then tossed with Earth Balance soy margarine, a sprinkle of brown sugar, a dribble of maple syrup, cinnamon and a pinch each of nutmeg and cloves. They were topped with a light handful of pecans and walnuts and roasted in the oven just to reheat them and meld the ingredients. Then, they were topped with vegan marshmallows, which BRIEFLY caught fire.

While tart, I still enjoyed my homemade cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, I was unable to relocate the recipe I've been using in recent years (it was bookmarked on the laptop that was stolen from our house in August). I did my best to remember the recipe, but believe I was a bit short on the sugar measurement. I used about 3/4 cup of vegan sugar warmed until dissolved in 1 cup of organic orange juice with the zest of one orange and a cinnamon stick added to one 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries and one Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped. Tasty but, as I said, tart. A touch more sugar or a second apple would've made it perfect.

The apple-pear sauce is always an "ad lib" and a family favorite. A couple apples (usually two varieties) and a pair of pears, peeled and chopped, and then simmered low and slow with apple juice or cider, a bit of maple syrup and cinnamon sticks. Once the fruit reaches a lovely soft consistency, I remove the cinnamon sticks and stir in a splash of pure vanilla extract and let is cook for a few minutes long. Then, I let it cool for a while in the pan before serving or storing in the refrigerator. Delish!

The Tofurky is made with a plethora of carrots, potatoes, celery and onion and the original basting juice recipe of 1 part sweetener (agave syrup), 2 parts soy sauce and 2 parts orange juice. This year I threw in a few pieces of orange in (left over from juicing and zesting for cranberry sauce). My mom cannot eat turkey, and she was delighted by the Torfurky. Her husband can eat it but opted to go veg with us this year...he liked it as well, complimenting the texture as well as taste.

The pecan pie tasted a bit on the sweet side this year (magically compensating for the cranberry sauce?). It contained one whole egg and 4 oz of egg beaters with soy margarine instead of butter and was baked in an all vegetable oil crust. It was served with the option of whipped cream or vanilla Soy Delicious Ice "Cream" and Peet's (Best?) cinnamon coffee with milk (and raw sugar for me).

Although not completely vegan, it was the closest we've come--especially when hosting family members--and was enjoyed immensely by all. I *love* Thanksgiving leftovers since I try not to over-indulge on the day and don't tire of them.

This has been a rough year for us, and yesterday was our first major family holiday without our fur babies, Chestnut (16) and Marble (20), who both passed away in July (intestinal cancer and CRF, respectively).

I am thankful that we got a last weekend with them both, that our mothers came to visit their "grandcats" before the girls left us, that my Bubba and sister-in-law were there beside us and for us when we had to let go. While it kills me inside to be without my girls, I am truly grateful that their suffering is over.  Both were truly companion animals in every sense of the word, and I am so appreciative to have had them in our lives as long as we did.

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