Wednesday, November 30

Thanksgiving 2011 - Vegan/Omnivore Style

How the time's have changed. With my daughter's family choosing a vegan lifestyle, Thanksgiving was a challenge, this year. When asked what I could bring to the table, the response was turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes (guess who's the omnivore!)... She would be providing the vegan portion of vegetables, truffled potatoes, salads, cru de te, and faux turkey. I was anxious to try it all.

See that beautiful salad? It's the Salad of Shaved Fennel, Oranges, and Candied Pecans over at Vegetarian Times, except the greens are not arugula but some grown from her very own step "garden!" She's surrounded by trees with just a bit of sun, allowing her to make a beautiful (and, tasty), entryway garden of decorative and edible plants. Very clever, my girl. It was absolutely delicious and well worth your trying. A great way to start a holiday meal. The Vegetarian Times site is chock full of wonderful recipes, so plan on taking your time, there.

I'm not going to post pictures of everything we had because I'm sure most of you have seen cooked turkeys, etc. I did taste the vegan faux turkey and, while it was tasty, I prefer more texture when eating meats. It seemed very close to the pressed turkey rolls but with less biting resistance. The truffled potatoes were lip-smacking delicious and her green bean casserole (made with homemade vegan mushroom creamed soup) was right on target. Couldn't tell the difference. Dessert was scrumptuous apple pie.

The solar sweet potatoes were delicious and something different from my usual side dish/dessert-type offering. Decided to use pomegranate seeds instead of cranberries for the acidity/sweet combo and rosemary, too, and they were fantastic!

Solar Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Seeds and Rosemary
2 cans 40oz sweet potatoes
2 large apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup sweet potato liquor
1/2 cup blackberry merlot
4 tablespoons butter blended with 2 tsps of corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Chinese orange sauce, (or, equal parts soy sauce, distilled vinegar, sugar, and juice from one large orange) [NOTE: you can substitute 1 tsp Tang, in a pinch]

Preheat solar oven to 225F. Use a 3-4 quart covered casserole dish or 3 eight-inch square foil pans.
In large bowl, mix all ingredients together, fill each dish to 1" below top. Place in solar oven and bake for approximately 60-90 minutes or until apples are soft but not mushy.

With changing traditions, I pre-sliced my turkey at home and, for the first time in my life, cut the breast restaurant-style across the breast rather than slicing really big pieces. Duh... (smacking head!). We had plenty of sun to cook the dressing, so I used foil pans and stacked them, for easy transporting and/or freezing the extra. Time became thisclose toward the end, so I didn't take any photos. But, for those of you who enjoy new recipes, here's my solar turkey dressing for 2011. I used fresh herbs still producing proudly on the sunny side of the fence and saw that rosemary...

Solar Turkey Dressing
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large celery rib, finely chopped
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup giblets, finely chopped
1 stick butter
2.5 cups turkey stock
1 14oz bag of herb-seasoned bread crumbs
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh sweet basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh pineapple sage/sage, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 8" sprig rosemary, needles only, chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat solar oven to 225F. Use a 3-4 quart casserole dish or 3 eight-inch foil pans.
In heavy saucepan over medium high heat, saute first five ingredients in melted butter until onions become translucent; add stock and let simmer three to five minutes.

In large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, pecans, giblets, salt, pepper, baking powder. Finely chop all herbs; add herbs and eggs to bread crumbs and mix thoroughly. Pour hot stock carefully over bread crumb mixture and lightly toss to moisten completely. You can add more stock for a softer texture to your dressing. 

Fill baking pans a little over half full; cover, then, bake in solar oven for approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until tester comes out clean from center. If you want a crustier top, remove cover after an hour of baking and then return to solar oven to bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.

Now, back to the Elf Shop for more holiday creations!


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  4. I am pretty close to being a vegetarian, (although I do eat fish a couple of times a month, and chicken once in awhile and, very rarely, pork), so I am always on the lookout for delicious vegetarian meals and recipes. Holiday meals can be an especially big challenge, so thanks for sharing your ideas here in this post. My favorite vegetarian meals are usually the so-called peasant dishes from around the world. Also, the people of India have been cooking vegetarian dishes for a long,long time so there are many delicious vegetarian dishes from there. I also really like vegetarian Greek and Middle Eastern foods. I never feel like I am deprived because there are so many wonderful vegetarian meals to try out there.

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