My Vegetarian ThanksgivingPosted by rachel on November 24 at 02:44 pm
As I mentioned, I grew up in the “thumb” of Michigan. A town of approximately 2,000 people and probably ten times that amount in livestock. It’s definitely a Midwest “meat and potatoes” kind of community. Needless to say, there are not too many vegetarians! So, when I go home for holidays, I usually have to do a little grocery shopping before I leave. There is a tiny grocery store with a very limited selection. No Tofurkys, that’s for sure!
My family is definitely in the “meat and potatoes” category. They balk at the idea of a meal with out meat! “But, what are you going to eat?” is an expression I hear all too often and when I am cooking anything too “exotic” for their tastes, there is a lot of curiosity, but not much willingness to experiment. I have learned to ignore it, mostly because I love my family dearly and feel no need to argue over it! So, I have decided it would be much easier to just cook a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast to enjoy before I even went home. By the time Thursday rolls around, I’ll be so sick of eating my own leftovers, I’ll just be ready for Grandma’s pumpkin pie! Most of the recipes we used are available online, so follow the links to see them
Okay, so the “turkey” was obviously not homemade, but Quorn makes AMAZING faux meat! As for the rest of the meal, we knew we were in for a little work. The butternut squash lasagne, which is by far the best thing I have ever eaten, took forever to make. Riki was busy getting the chocolate bourbon pecan pie together as I chopped and peeled and chopped and peeled Butternut Squash until I thought my hands might fall off (3 pounds of squash chopped into 1/2 inch pieces…) The filling for the pecan pie smelled so good I could have just eaten it all in liquid form. It was definitely not long before the kitchen looked and smelled like Thanksgiving! A mouth-watering disaster! Riki was also busy sauteing the vegetables and herbs for the Chestnut Stuffing, while I finished chopping the ingredients for the lasagna.
After the lasagne went into the oven, we got the onions for the green bean casserole ready. They get sliced really thin into rings, coated with flour and panko and baked in the oven to mimic the canned fried onions that are usually used. Well, here arises our only real failure of the meal. That’s right, we blackened the first batch so bad the smoke detectors were going off. This is Alton Brown’s recipe; he’s very scientific and particular, so surely we had neglected a detail or two along the way. Luckily, Riki bought extra onions. We tried again only to find that we couldn’t get them to brown evenly, but we got them to an acceptable level of crunchy and called it good. We got the sauce and the green beans ready and realized we were almost done! After all of that work, all we could do was stare at the lasagne bubbling away in the oven. After we had talked about how much food we were going to have and what would we possibly do with it all, we came to a stunning realization that it really looked like a puny meal. Especially considering all the sweat involved!
This was the point in the process that I really thought about all of the work that goes into feeding a huge extravagant meal to a crowd of people. Every year, my grandma, mother, and aunts start cooking first thing in the morning. By noon, they all seem a little frantic and frazzled and by dinnertime they never even seem hungry. Now, I know perfectly well why they weren’t interested in the food. They just wanted to sit back and watch everyone enjoy their handiwork!
After five hours of waiting, we had our meal. We didn’t bother to set the table, or even open the bottle of Prosecco that Riki bought. We just sat on the couch with our plates on our laps and ate our dinner. It was everything I had wanted, but unfortunately, all I could think about was sleep.
If anyone has any special recipes, especially vegetarian ones, I’d love to hear about them!