Thursday, November 26, 2009
This Thanksgiving presented an unfamiliar issue for me: I was shockingly lacking inspiration, motivation, and desire to prepare my vegan feast. My attitude was laissez-faire and I was more than ready to eat cereal with soy milk at the family meal. For once, I just didn't care.
Then, on Friday the 13th, when I woke up to a flat tire (a puncture wound from a screw, no big deal) and spilled 1/3 of a Sigg worth of water on my lap and all over the interior of my car within minutes of beginning my morning commute on a donut tire, my mom called. You see, her best friend, who has been part of my life for the last 23 years, is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer at the moment and the chemo has affected her taste buds to the point that she finds unpleasant many of the foods that she would usually eat on Thanksgiving. So, she asked if she could share my vegan Thanksgiving foods this year. This is the woman who selflessly cared for my mom when she had her first Crohn's disease surgery 18 years ago, while also helping the 15-year-old me through the difficulty of seeing my mom vulnerable for the first time by endlessly working crossword puzzles with me after school. She's a no-nonsense woman with an amazingly sharp wit and she is one of my favorite people in the world. Magically, my inspiration and motivation reappeared. After one 10-minute phone call, I had a full Thanksgiving menu jotted on a sticky note.
We dined on the Traditional Cranberry Sauce that I love from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, Mashers and Two Pepper Golden Gravy from Julie Hasson's test recipes, Wild Rice Pilaf from Clean Food, Julie Hasson's test recipe for Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and a plain, baked garnet yam.
The test recipes were all delicious and I was happily surprised at how easily they came together. The pilaf was a huge hit and, although it is in the "Spring" section of the book, it has the lovely fall flavors and textures of dried cranberries and slivered almonds. I modified the recipe to eliminate the mushrooms in favor of a drained, rinsed can of chickpeas, used short-grain brown rice instead of brown basmati (that was what I had in my pantry), and omitted the shallots and oil. Baked yams (or sweet potatoes) are among my favorite foods and are so easy to make (scrub well, then prick all over with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet in a pre-heated 400 degree Farenheit oven for 60 minutes or until a fork easily penetrates it).
For dessert, we shared the Baked Pumpkin Pudding from the Joy of Vegan Baking. This had the lovely spices and pumpkin flavor associated with traditional pumpkin pie, except with, in my opinion, a much better texture. Never a pie crust fan and disliking the texture of pumpkin pie, this was a nice way for me to share in the pumpkin pie festivities without actually having to eat pumpkin pie. I had to change the recipe slightly to use a 7"x11" glass casserole dish and bake for about 40 minutes because I don't have 6 oz. ramekins. It turned out perfectly.
While gratitude is a part of my daily life, on this year's Thanksgiving, I was especially thankful to be able to give back by sharing nourishing, home-cooked vegan food with someone who has been such a blessing in my life.