Thanksgiving was stressful for me. I think that goes for a lot of people, but it particularly goes for vegans who live almost 300 miles from their family and who have a family who are guaranteed to not make or have a single thing that is vegan, including the rolls, which contained both milk and eggs. Ridiculous.
I was really organized, though. I made my pumpkin pie ahead of time, ready to eat upon arrival. I made the crust of the raw apple pie ahead of time and did the rest when I arrived at my dad's house on Wednesday night. My spinach-chickpea tart was all prepared, ready to pop in the oven and the gravy was already made, placed in a plastic Tupperware container. I had the potatoes all cut up with half of them peeled in a plastic bag, ready for boiling, and my cauliflower cut up and coated with oil for roasting, with the additions measured in a baggie to put on it already. The butternut squash cheese for my mac and cheeze was made and the kale all cut up -- all I had to do was boil the pasta, saute the kale, and put all three together.
My recipes this year came from the internet, at least mostly. I had some in books, but I ended up referring to the versions I found on the internet. The pumpkin pie, which was the easiest thing I made, came from the blog Fat Free Vegan, and it's Susan Voisin's Impossible Pumpkin Pie (the recipe is here).
Then I also made this raw apple pie that is based off the recipe from Raw Food: A Complete Guide to Every Meal of the Day, but when I looked for a version online for easier reference away from home, I found a version (it's here) on a site called Kayley Hoddick Photography that was more tailored to people like me who would be using dried dates instead of fresh ones, because I have never seen a fresh date in the store, have you? I ended up using that recipe, although I changed a few things: I added some vanilla and cinnamon extract to the crust and I used less cinnamon in the between-layer mush. It looks like a lovely flower when you put it together.
In my opinion, it was perfect. I mean, OK, it's not apple pie like you're used to, but it's delicious, and healthy enough to eat for breakfast for a few days. Oh, by the way, I also added some fresh lemon juice to both the middle layer with pureed apple and banana and to the raw apple laid on top, and I must say, it kept extremely well. I was shocked about that. The following picture was taken three days after I made it.
Do you guys want to see a picture of me wearing the crazy Wonder Woman apron that my friend Sara gave to me and holding both my pies? Of course you do.
But I didn't just eat dessert, oh no! I also made Dreena Burton's Festive Chickpea Tart from Let Them Eat Vegan as my main dish, but I kinda screwed it up. I just took some frozen spinach from my freezer and didn't look at the size, but mine was 16 oz, and she actually only calls for 10 oz. The additional spinach really does make a negative difference, but it's still pretty good with lots of gravy. Sadly, though, (really, I literally cried), on Wednesday night, I went out to hang with some of my old friends in Phoenixville and someone at my house spilled my gravy container out of the fridge. Nice, leave the lone vegan without the gravy she'd worked to hard to make a double recipe of. Boo hiss. Still, mixed into everything, this was fine. It was not the best, but it was pretty good. You can find the NOT messed up version of the recipe right here.
I really wanted to make some mac and cheeze, but next year, I think I'll stick to a simple one that gets baked in the oven. This year, though, overcome with Thanksgiving cheer, I made the Smokey Butternut Mac and Cheese from Manifest Vegan (recipe here) because the squash is nice and seasonal and I had the opportunity to veg up my mac, which is of course awesome. The cheeze tasted absolutely amazing when I made it, but I could also tell that I'd really made it too lemony. See, I always wash my lemons well before zesting them, and normally I'd make damn sure it was dry before zesting, but the days leading up to Thanksgiving were busy for me, and I prematurely zested my lemon and ended up with a very generous teaspoon of zest. It was a big mistake, but the fresh squash in the cheeze tasted so good, I figured it wouldn't be a big deal.
I did finally win the people of my family over with one of my dishes: the mashed potatoes. They agreed that, next year, they'd at least leave the mashed-making to me, because mine was better than theirs with cream and butter, and it was far lower-calorie because I made cauliflower mashed potatoes. What I did was roast a head of cauliflower with almonds and nutritional yeast, as directed by Dreena Burton once again, on this here recipe. Then, I boiled my potatoes and put the two together and used an immersion blender to mix the two things, along with a good bit of Trader Joe's unsweetened coconut milk beverage and a little bit of olive oil and a little bit of Earth Balance. It was utter deliciousness, and although it's too boring to take a picture of mashed potatoes by themselves, they do appear on my overall dinner plate. You also get to see a bit of the gravy that managed to get saved from the Thanksgiving eve fridge disaster.
You can see here that there were three other things that were vegan that I did not make. My aunt brought some terrific string beans that really made everything better, my uncle bought some sort of carrot thing from an Indian store that was tasty, but out of place on the Thanksgiving table because it had a curry taste, and my step-mother's cranberry sauce, at least, contained no animal products.
The truth is, this was my first vegan Thanksgiving. It used to be that, although I cooked vegan at home, I had very little care about what was fed to me by others. That's because it was environmental sustainability that made me cook and eat vegan for myself, so it didn't seem to matter if I ate what was already prepared elsewhere. Once it became also about health, it mattered to me to never consume animal products. And after that happened, I could finally open my eyes to the humanitarian reasons to be vegan. It's weird. I love animals more now. I really got down with my dad's dog Brisket during this trip home. I mean, I always liked Brisket, but this time, we chilled. He did the thing where he walks between my legs, which is only something he does with people he wants to show affection for, and it made me feel so nice. Now I want a dog. You can see me in all my only-at-home, makeup-free glory with my little sister and Brisket here:
He's such a sweet puppy! Now I'm back in Pittsburgh with my cat, though. She missed me so much. She's actually sitting on top of my extended legs right now because the laptop is on my actual lap. Sweetest. Cat. Ever.