Reflections on Thanksgiving

You’d think – what with the fact that Thanksgiving is a pretty food-centric holiday – that I’d have some photos of our T-day spread. But do I? No, no I do not. But trust me on this – it was a good one.

Since going vegetarian ~4 years ago, Thanksgiving and I have had a bit of a rocky relationship. There was the year when Mom didn’t realize that I wouldn’t want to eat gravy made from turkey juice, and then the general lack of interesting side dishes (my family keeps our veggies simple, for the most part) made Thanksgiving a bit boring. So it was no wonder that I was a bit apprehensive about my first Thanksgiving as a vegan. But then I decided to take matters into my own hands to make sure I wouldn’t be dissatisfied when we all sat around the table, forks in hand, ready to dig into our plates heaped high with yummy food.

First, I decided to add a new veggie to our traditional side dishes. I was inspired by this post on shredded and roasted Brussels sprouts, so I decided to give it a try. Then I wanted to make a vegan pumpkin pie, so I checked out VegWeb and decided that with so many five-star ratings and good reviews, this one looked promising. Finally, I wanted to make a vegan version of the cranberry-orange bread that is an appetizer-table staple at our Thanksgivings. VegWeb provided me with the recipe for Sweet and Spicy Cranberry-Orange Bread, which I happily made on Thanksgiving Eve along with the pie.

This year, my family was lucky in that my aunt from Colorado is staying with us for a couple of weeks. Since she is also vegan, I knew I’d have an ally in the kitchen. My mom is also mostly vegan these days, so between the three of us we made darn sure that there was enough cruelty-free mashed taters, gravy, and stuffing to keep our plates full even during second helping time.

So, the results? I have to say, this was the most delicious and satisfying Thanksgiving experience I think I’ve ever had. My plate was so full of colorful, beautiful vegetables and the other aforementioned Thanksgiving accoutrements that I couldn’t help but smile at it. Besides my Brussels sprouts, we had broccoli, corn, homemade cranberry sauce, and an absolutely delicious roasted yam and apple dish that my aunt made. I ate two big plates at dinnertime, but when dessert time rolled around, I still had room to test out my pumpkin pie.

Happily, the pie was really yummy. I’d been a little concerned about it because it sort of separated from the sides while baking, but it tasted just fine. The tofu wasn’t noticeable at all, other than a tiny textural weirdness I noticed after each bite. I wish I’d gotten an omni’s reaction, but between the non-vegan apple pie, lemon meringue pie, and cheesecake, the omnis in the family had their mouths too full to try some humble pumpkin pie. And the cranberry-orange loaf was phenomenal! My vegan aunt especially loved it; she doesn’t do a lot of baking and was surprised at how easily it could’ve fooled an omni.

I was also gratified when my cousin’s wife asked for my Brussels sprouts recipe. I didn’t season the sprouts with anything more exciting than olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic, but I think shredding them made them easier to eat and allowed for lots of more of those crunchy bits to form. Yum!

Of course, there were some less than-pleasant-moments when my omni cousin felt it necessary to comment on the alleged quality of vegan food and the superiority of stuffing cooked inside a dead bird’s body cavity, but I made a conscious effort not to let it get to me. I wanted to enjoy my food, my family, and the day itself. I’m happy to say I did just that.

So, Thanksgiving? Greeeat successss! :)

Sorry for the boring, picture-less post! I’m making cupcakes for my sister’s big 18th birthday party, so I’ll be back with those soon.

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