Vegan Thanksgivings: A Retrospective | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Twenty-Four

Week Four: Occasions Week
We love a good celebration! This week focuses on those special occasions in your life.

Yes, we’re still a good two months out from (American) Thanksgiving, and no, I’m not planning for it yet. In fact, I think this year will be a relatively low-key holiday. We’re staying in Maryland and going to Steven’s mum’s and stepdad’s for dinner, and they are pretty good at providing animal-free alternatives (like butter-free mashed potatoes and a turkey-juice-free stuffing). I anticipate needing to bring a main, a side, and a dessert, and I’m totally OK with that approach.

Today, I thought I’d look back at my vegan Thanksgivings of the past! Not all of them are documented, but like any good little vegan who always wants to talk about food, I *did* snap photos of most. :)


My first vegan Thanksgiving! Silly newbie food blogger that I was, I have just a single ridiculous photo of my sister and I baking in my parents’ kitchen… and then a long, photo-less post about everything we ate. (Ignore the eggs in that photo; the pie I was making was vegan!) Reading through this post also reminded me of non-vegan Thanksgiving of yore, like when I was newly vegetarian but didn’t think to ask my family to make a gravy sans turkey fat! A gravy-less Thanksgiving is a sad Thanksgiving indeed.


Aww, little Kelly celebrated Thanksgiving alone! This was my first year living in Madison, Wisconsin, where I moved from Rhode Island for my first post-college job. I can’t remember whether my roommate also stayed or whether she flew home to New York State. I (apparently) enjoyed a pretty simple dinner of tofu, salad and some last-minute mashed potatoes I whipped up when the craving struck. I also apparently spent the day knitting and watching movies. That… sounds like a pretty darn good Thanksgiving, actually!


This was a good one! Steven and I were newly dating, and we somehow managed to host my parents, my two siblings, and Steven’s mom in my Madison apartment. They flew in from all corners of the country, and we prepared a massive feast. Too massive a feast, one might suggest in retrospect. I made three main dishes (?!?), five sides, two toppings, and three desserts. The three desserts are obvious and necessary, but three mains and five sides?!? What were we thinking?! But this event was most memorable because it was the first time my parents and Steven’s mom met one another, and it was the first time I prepared a big, all-vegan meal for family. The day taught me an important lesson about letting go in the kitchen and letting people help! No good ever comes from being a kitchen martyr. (I’ll also #neverforget that I clogged the disposal with potato peels and then had to enlist the help of multiple family members to unclog it. Ooops.)


Ahhh, yes. That time Steven and I said “nope!” to making food, flying home, or lifting a finger at all during Thanksgiving and instead went to a big ol’ three-course vegan dinner at the Green Owl, our favorite veg restaurant in Madison. I can’t believe this meal was just $30… midwest prices! (Although we DID get a very measly slice of cheesecake. I would have gladly paid more for a larger piece of dessert!)


Our first Thanksgiving after moving to Maryland. I remember nothing about it and can find no photos. I think we drove to Rhode Island but I have no idea! I do, however, know that we visited Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary earlier in November for their annual “Thanksgiving with the Turkeys.” It was magical. Hundreds of vegans, vegetarians, and veg-sympathetic people converging on a farm animal sanctuary for a potluck dinner. There was so much food! We stuffed our faces then watched the main event: feeding the animals! The turkeys got showered with veggies and other delights, and then the pigs got piles of pumpkins. We had so much fun watching these sweet, smart animals going to town on a feast. It was a frigid day, but it was worth it. A powerful reminder of why I don’t eat animals!


This was a tough one! We’d planned to drive up to RI, but our apartment flooded (!) just before the holiday and so we stayed put. This was also just a couple months after we’d adopted Luna, and we weren’t sure how she would do in a big family gathering. Plus, she was recovering from an abscessed tooth and was a bedraggled mess (you can see her cone o’ shame in the above photo). We got the all-clear to head back to the apartment just in time for a very last-minute dinner, which I think was just a Field Roast and a few quick sides. We were just thankful our apartment and Luna were both on the mend!


We started the season with another trip to Poplar’s Thanksgiving event. I remember this one as being much warmer than our first visit, thankfully! It was almost overwhelmingly crowded. While my crowd-averse self did not care for the hordes, I also realize how amazing it is that hundreds of people would come to a very pro-vegan event like this! We followed up our Poplar trip with a drive up to Rhode Island, where we enjoyed massive quantities of vegan food. The day after Thanksgiving was unseasonably warm, and we decided to #optout of Black Friday shopping (not that I EVER partake) and went for a family walk by the shore. My favorite memory from that day? My sister zipping Luna up in her vest when Luna got tired of walking. I miss my pup so much.


We again drove up to Rhode Island to celebrate. These days, holidays in Rhode Island are spectacular since my mostly vegan family members contribute all sorts of delicious veg dishes. My planner of a mother comes up with a list in advance, but it usually has a few blank spots: “Ian: ???” Although my brother doesn’t always make it back to RI for Thanksgiving (nor do I, for that matter), when he does, he’ll whip something up nearly at the last minute. That usually involves a quick run to the grocery store the day before. I say “quick,” but if you’ve ever hit up an American grocery store just before Thanksgiving, you know that it is never quick. I refuse to make those ingredient runs and always provide a list of what I need ahead of time! This year we had a Field Roast and plenty of sides, along with some beautiful sweet treats.

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion


Steven and I hosted at our place; it was our first time hosting at our new(ish) house. Steven’s mom and stepdad came and seemed to enjoy all the food. I cooked almost exclusively from Isa’s Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook and had sooo many leftovers… which is always a good thing! We tried a veg roast from Trader Joe’s and it was not bad at all. Other highlights included creamy whipped potatoes, green bean casserole, and an orange-y cranberry sauce.

So, there we go. Nine years of vegan Thanksgivings, all of them special in their own way. And all of them delicious.

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Fun Foods for Festivities | VeganMoFo 2017 Day Twenty-Four

VeganMoFo 2017

Week Four: Entertaining
Party! Canapés, finger foods, something to share.

Guess what? We already have our annual winter holiday party scheduled. People’s calendars fill up fast come December, so we decided to send out the evites nice and early this year. I’ve also started thinking about the menu. Typically we like to set out a massive spread of savories, sweeties, and lots of drinks, and I doubt we’ll stray from that formula this year. But I am toying with the idea of a more themed menu — like, maybe I’ll feature recipes from different countries. We’ll see. In the meantime, here’s a slightly blurry shot of last year’s spread — with bonus Moria butt under the table. This was our first holiday party in the new house!

Holiday party 2016

Here’s a tentative list of what we’ll prepare for our lucky guests, heavily inspired by last year’s menu.

  • Savories:
    • Homemade vegan cheeses
      • One of Maple Spice’s almond-based cheeses — you can’t go wrong with these!
      • A nut-free cheese ball from Vegan Richa; this one is particularly yummy
      • A third cheese, probably one of Miyoko’s
    • Crackers!
    • Hot caramelized onion-bacon dip — we are pretty much contractually obligated to serve a double batch of this dip at every party.
    • Sliced baguettes for dippin’
    • Veggie crudités, also for dippin’
    • One more dip, perhaps a mushroom pâté
    • One or two more little nibbles. Last year I made lasagna bites and Steven made sausage rolls, so we’ll do something along those lines again.
  • Sweeties:
    • Maple fudge
    • A couple batches of cookies. Duh. I think I’d like to bring back Isa’s Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles; I haven’t made these in ages and they’re so good.
    • Candied nuts, ‘cuz they’re good for easy snackin’.
    • Some kind of cake, or maybe gingerbread?
  • Sippables:
    • Mulled wine
    • Assorted beer, wine, and hard liquor
    • Various mixers (cranberry juice, apple cider)
    • At least one cocktail — maybe something featuring aquafaba, because I’m digging it in flips and fizzes lately.

If you have any recommendations, share away! And if this post seems familiar, you’re right — I posted a similar one last year during MoFo. :) You’re all invited to this year’s party!


Holiday Baking and Cooking Plans

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Five: Holidays!

Today’s prompt is so appropriate for me: “Holiday Bake Day! – What are you planning on baking over the winter holidays? Do you make cake, or cookies? Or something savory?”


No, seriously. I LOVE the holiday season! And I love holiday baking and entertaining. Steven and I are hosting a holiday party in a few weeks — the first party in our new house — and you better believe I’ve already started planning the menu. Since we’ll have 20+ guests, we won’t serve dinner, but we’ll whip up a boatload of snacks and drinks to keep everyone happy. That’s what we did last year — check out the spread at our 2015 holiday party.


Holiday party spread 2015

Last year’s menu was such a success that I probably won’t change it too much this year. Here’s a rough outline, along with my notes:

  • Savories:
    • Homemade vegan cheeses
    • Crackers, some store-bought and some homemade because I like to make things more complicated than necessary
    • Hot caramelized onion-bacon dip — a perennial favorite; I think our guests would boycott the party if we didn’t serve it.
    • Sliced baguettes (store-bought)
    • Veggie crudités
    • A couple other dips — mushroom pâté? olive tapenade? a classic hummus?
  • Sweets:
    • Regular fudge
    • Maple fudge (insert heart-eyes emoji here)
    • Gingerbread cookies? Or regular gingerbread, and sugar cookies instead?
    • Candied nuts
    • Something else — pie? cake? cupcakes? Probably a cake.
  • Sippables:
    • Mulled wine
    • Assorted beer, wine, and hard liquor
    • Various mixers (cranberry juice, apple cider)
    • At least one cocktail — I made cranberry martinis (with homemade cranberry simple syrup) and this creamy coconut cocktail (with homemade coconut-infused vodka and coconut cream) last year

Holiday party spread 2015: cheese!

What am I missing? What would you choose for my TBD items? And do you want to come to my party? :P

Mashin’ on Memorial Day Weekend

When I was a kid, I never understood why adults got so excited about three-day weekends. Sure, having a day off from school was great, but I certainly didn’t look forward to it for weeks ahead of time. That may have been because I was an incurable nerd who hated missing school, but we don’t have to talk about that. The point is, now that I’m a Working Adult With a Real Job, I get it. This Memorial Day weekend? I’ve been waiting for it since Easter. And after this Friday – which was easily the most stressful day I’ve had since beginning work in December – it was like a gift from above. Three-day weekend? Bring it, baby!

To celebrate, my roommate and I went to the west side farmers’ market yesterday, and then headed to Bratfest before spending the evening chilling by Lake Monona and walking around downtown. Yeah, you heard that right – the vegan went to Bratfest, a quintessentially Wisconsin celebration of gluttonous pigging out on brats. While I may not particularly approve of that behavior, all the proceeds go to charity *and* they have vegan brats. So I decided to take part as a cultural experience. I certainly feel more like a Wisconsinite now, and really, it wasn’t that bad – there was live music and carnival-type food and a really fantastic atmosphere. Much better than I’d expected!

My lunch today was also much better than I’d expected. I whipped up the Chickpea Mash from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian, a cookbook I won a while back but haven’t used that much. But I wanted something light that would showcase the amazing Country Sourdough bread I picked up at the farmers’ market, and this simple, filling mash totally did the trick.


Paired with a massaged kale salad and a few pickles, this was a delicious, simple summer lunch. The mash is not overly seasoned, but you could definitely doctor it up to meet your personal tastes. It’d work great either warm or cold, too. And the local, organic kale and tomatoes – also from the market – shone in the salad; you really can’t beat fresh, juicy tomatoes when you want something that screams “SUMMER APPROACHETH!” …cuz my tomatoes are Shakespearean, obviously.

Happy Memorial Day, American friends! Enjoy the three-day weekend (if you’re lucky enough to have one) but – as trite as it sounds – don’t forget to remember you have the day off in the first place.

Happy, Happy, Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! To the rest of you, happy Thursday – I hope it’s excellent.

I’m posting at quarter past midnight after spending a wonderful evening baking with my mom and sister and then playing a fun new game (San Juan) with my parents and brother. Now I’m going to do a little more packing (I move in a week! EEK!) and then head to bed to rest up for the big day tomorrow. Here’s a little peek at the scene in the kitchen this evening:

Cavorting in the kitchen?!

Rhiannon takes a break from her celery-chopping duties and pretends to down some nutmeg while I whip up a pumpkin pie and look skeptical… silly sisters!

I thought about making a big, photo-filled “I’m Thankful For XYZ” post today, but instead I’ll keep it simple. I’m thankful for a supportive, loving family; for wonderful, loyal friends (both bloggy friends and “real life” friends!); for my two sweet doggies (you’ll meet them soon!); for the fact that I am soon going to be starting a great new job in the middle of an economic slump; and finally, for the simple fact that I am able to celebrate Thanksgiving in comfort.

With that, I’ll end this post. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, the one day when overeating is practically requisite. ;) Enjoy!