It’s Officially “The Holidays”

It has come to my attention that I posted four days in a row last week (a feat sort of unheard of outside of Vegan MoFo).  I guess I just had a lot to say!

And now, just like that, it’s December.

The next few weeks will be a whirlwind of festivities, friends, family, and food.  I know a lot of people consider this period of “The Holidays” to be stressful, but I personally find the madness to be awesome and fun!

Next up will be planning the menu for our annual holiday party, plus figuring out what food gifts I am going to be giving to neighbors, co-workers, etc.  Still fixated on Slow-Cooker Vanilla Rum Apple Butter, for the time being.

But first, I want to recap the celebrations of the past week!

Last Tuesday, I went to the Boston Vegetarian Society’s pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Red Lentil in Watertown.  Earlier that day, I posted the incredible menu here.  What you really need to know is that the dinner lived up to almost every expectation I had.

Creole-Spiced Red Kuri Squash and Macintosh Apple Bisque:
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And my [first] plate:
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Starting at the 12 o’clock position, you have: Herbed Baked Zucchini-and-Pepper Gratin with Cashew Ricotta Cheese; Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy; Braised Seitan Medallion in Mushroom Gravy; Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts; Moroccan Pumpkin and Lentil Stew; and Round Polenta with Mixed Mushrooms and Cilantro Harissa Gremolata.

And, of course, dessert:
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Apple Pear Crisp with Graham Cracker Crust, with Locally Made Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream (from FoMu!); Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Sauce.

There were a couple of surprises for me, taste-wise.  I expected to adore both the zucchini gratin and the Creamy Cauliflower Soup with a Garnish of Fresh Mint, but they ended up being my two least favorite things.  I also wasn’t gaga over the pumpkin cheesecake. 

On the flip-side, there were a couple things I expected to find so-so that blew me away!  Perfect example is the Moroccan stew.  I figured that, because I make stuff like that so often at home, I would be more excited about the other dishes available, but oh MAN was that thing tasty!  It was perfectly spiced and textured and I had a huge second helping too.  The stew, along with the polenta and the mashed potatoes with that unbelievable white mushroom gravy are the three-way tied winners of the night.  Seriously I couldn’t even believe how good that gravy was.

So all in all it was a fantastic dinner, a fun way to meet some new people (I always show up to BVS functions by myself and I have never once lacked for someone to talk to), and a great way to gear up for the holiday weekend!

As planned, I brought two appetizers and one dessert for H’s family’s Thanksgiving celebration plus an entree for myself.

First was my new staple recipe for Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Cashew Cream by Becky of Glue and Glitter, served in a bread bowl!
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It has been requested that I make this every year on Thanksgiving from here until perpetuity.

I also made hummus from scratch using a recipe that one of my judges recommended to me.
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This is life-changing hummus.  The trick is not only to cook the chickpeas from dried, but to actually peel them once cooked.  It’s a labor of love but something worth doing for a special occasion.  The hummus went with my sister-in-law’s veggie turkey platter:
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Two appetizers, two huge successes!  And no leftovers.

For my entree I decided to try out Vegan Richa’s recipe for Portabello Mushrooms Stuffed with Harvest Chickpeas (click here for the recipe).
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Um, wow.  This recipe makes an absolutely perfect vegan holiday entree.  It has a taste similar to traditional stuffing and it is SO GOOD with cranberry sauce!!  Here is my full plate:
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H’s aunt had made the most delicious and tender roasted brussels sprouts, and I had some leftover mashed potato from another recipe, which again was perfect with the chickpea stuffing and cranberry sauce.  No starving vegan this year!

And of course, for dessert:
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Chewy Ginger-Molasses Cookies by Chloe Coscarelli.  These are fail-proof.

And Friday after Thanksgiving means leftovers!  Chickpea stuffing on a bagel with cranberry sauce hit the spot:
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I’m working to catch up on everyone’s blogs from the last 4 days or so, but in the meantime, I want to hear about all the great stuff you ate over the weekend!  What were your Thanksgiving successes?

Celebrating Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

For all who celebrate this holiday, there is great joy in taking a step back from our outrageously busy schedules to gather with loved ones and give thanks for our myriad blessings in this life.

For many, however, there is also a sense of sadness for the 46 million turkeys that lose their lives each year in the name of tradition.

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This was my submission this
 year to the 46millionturkeys exhibit at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine.  I chose to portray white turkeys (the kind raised for slaughter) rather than wild turkeys (the kind most often [misleadingly] depicted in Thanksgiving-related graphics).

I understand the importance of tradition, really I do.  I grew up in a house with two religions and two nationalities; a huge part of my upbringing consisted of sharing, understanding, and celebrating different traditions.

But I also believe that traditions can, and should, evolve and change based on the development of society and social consciousness.  It is not mandatory that a holiday designed to celebrate life, gratitude, and family relationships must have a symbol of death as its very centerpiece.  There are other ways to show your appreciation for life’s bounties.

I am starting a new tradition of celebrating turkeys rather than celebrating the consumption of a turkey.   Today I am sharing my celebration on the Chic Vegan blog.  Click here to read the post and to learn how to make this silly little guy:
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Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyful holiday.

My Life Revolves Around Food

Sorry but I’m too excited to keep this to myself!

Although it’s probably apparent from the fact that I write a food blog, I really find food to be one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile parts of life.

Avocado love! Please note that when this was taken, I was 24 and it was still okay for me to do kissy face pictures.  

And tonight right after work I’m going to a vegan Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the Boston Vegetarian Society at Red Lentil in Watertown and I’m so so so SO excited!!!  Check out this freakin’ menu:

Hot Spiced Cider

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with a Garnish of Fresh Mint
Cashew cream and coconut cream based cauliflower soup touched with the flavors of celery, onions, star anise, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon stick

Creole-Spiced Red Kuri Squash and Macintosh Apple Bisque
Velvet smooth bisque made with leeks, white wine and carrots, and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds

Fall Harvest Salad
Mesclun greens and romaine mix, diced and roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans, maple toasted pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate seeds, with sherry vinaigrette on the side

Roasted Beet and Poached Apple Salad with Orange Tahini Dressing
Roasted red and golden beets, pine nuts, golden raisins, parsley, Granny Smith apples, sesame seeds and shaved carrots

Round Polenta with Mixed Mushrooms and Cilantro Harissa Gremolata
Polenta, butternut squash, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, shallots, parsley, green peas, and harissa

Herbed Baked Zucchini-and-Pepper Gratin with Cashew Ricotta Cheese
Zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, tomato, Piment d’espelette and mint

Entrees and Vegetable Sides
Braised Seitan Medallion in Mushroom Gravy
Tender seitan strips in a savory gravy of mushroom, red wine, rosemary, sage, thyme, carrot

Moroccan Pumpkin and Lentil Stew
Green lentils, pumpkin, cumin, tomato purée, spices, with a hint of jalapeño chili

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy

Apple Pear Crisp with Graham Cracker Crust Served Warm, with Locally Made Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Sauce

I die.

Please don’t be too jealous!  I will take many photos and will attempt to make them as non-horrible as possible despite the fact that it is currently 4:13 p.m. and pitch dark.

Also, I went for a run today but I don’t think that is going to even put a dent in counteracting the amount of food I am about to eat.  I’m not even mad.