Every year, I add a few holiday albums to the mix and listen to them from now to New Years! This years are really exciting:
A Very She & Him Christmas
This was my second time ever cooking the Thanksgiving meal, and the first time since the no eating meat clause. I was a bit worried about planning traditional dishes - which is what makes it Thanksgiving for me - but without hurting the animals. It turned out great and was completely vegetarian, and would have been vegan except for a bit of butter and cheese which, in hindsight, I think could have been substituted pretty easily.
I was resolved not to have a turkey, but a little worried about how the husband and kids felt about missing out on that tradition. when I saw this post on The Kind Life about Adopt-a-Turkey, I was thrilled: A great annual turkey tradition, but helping instead of eating one! So, next time they asked if we were going to have a turkey for Thanksgiving, I said, sure, pick one out!
For dinner, we did a Tofurky instead. It totally started out as a joke when people asked what I was going to cook, and then I decided to really cook one. A tofu-turkey? It was - is - hilarious to me. Every time I opened the fridge and saw it thawing there, I totally cracked up. Come on, you know this is funny:
The Tofurky, surprisingly, was a big hit with the kids. They went back for seconds and thirds, and even said that it tasted like a real turkey, but juicier. I made it according the the box, with potatos, carrots, onion, and a baste of Italian seasoning, soy sauce, and olive oil:
Here is hubby slicing it as thinly as possible, since the box said thin slices are really, really important:
We had our Tofurky Roast with mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, southern cornbread stuffing, green bean and artichoke casserole, sweet potato bake with pecan topping, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, and (store-bought) pumpkin and pecan pie with chocolate and vanilla (coconut milk) ice cream...
Canned cranberry sauce is traditional in my family, last time I home-made it from fresh cranberries and it just wasn't the same:
The southern-style cornbread stuffing was the hardest thing to veg-ify. I used this recipe for cornbread, doubled it and used applesauce for the egg. Then I followed this recipe for savory cornbread dressing, using half the soy sausage since I had a smaller package, Italian seasoning and dried parsley, and a cup of mixed dried berries. I used two cups of veggie broth, and would add a cup or so more next time.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes is a sweet potato casserole (although it's really yams), and my mom's calls for mini-marshmellows mixed into the dish and topping it. Since I couldn't find vegan marshmellows, I left them out and made a pecan topping instead. This was the best surprise ever, it was so good with the pecans!
Here's the simple recipe, minus marshmellows:
2 32 oz. cans yams, drained
1/2 c. plain soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. brown sugar
Stir in other ingredients.
Spoon evenly into a greased baking dish.
For the topping, I used the topping only from this recipe, doubling it, but using 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses instead of 4 tablespoons of maple syrup. Baked at 350 until the topping browned, and it was so delicious!
The green bean and artichoke casserole had Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, making it the least animal-friendly dish we had. We made sure to buy vegetarian cheese, but next time I will try it with soy cheese instead. I have to say it's also one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and I think that I got the recipe from my mom:
1 can French-style green beans, lightly drained
2 cans artichoke hearts, lightly drained
1 c. Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
4 oz. grated Parmesan
4 oz. shredded mozzerrella
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix green beans, artichokes, bread crumbs, and cheeses together with your hands in large bowl.
Add garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
Distribute evenly in baking dish, and drizzle olive oil on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes or until top is slightly browned.
For the mushroom gravy, I used this recipe, using about 2 1/2 cups of baby portabella mushrooms instead of what the recipe called for, and Italian seasoning instead of poultry. I followed the user recommendations and mixed the flour vigorously with the veggie broth before adding to the mushrooms, and no lumps. It was so much tastier than normal giblet gravy!
And I served it in our gurgling cod from my mother-in-law for a tiny bit of New England tradition:
Everyone served themselves, and while we ate, we played UNO, our fun little dinnertime card game.
The house was quiet all morning except for Christmas music. My mom always played holiday music on Thanksgiving, and although I hated it then, I love it now. And for family movie night last night, we watched Elf, my favorite holiday movie in the world.
We watched Young Guns 1 and 2 recently, because I loved them when they came out and wanted the kids to see them too. Still good and, I never thought I'd say this, but I am totally intrigued with Billy the Kid! After a ton of wikipedia and www-reading, I started on Pat Garret's book The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid.
I'm still loving my new perfume, and I was so excited to see it featured in InStyle for November 2011.
So, I finally decided to get an e-reader. I bought a kindle, because I wanted it to be exclusively for reading books. I've been putting this off for a long time, since it seemed wrong to give up paper books when I love them so much.
I adjusted really quickly to reading electronically, like, in one day. The very most awesome shocking thing about this kindle is that I can read it in the car for hours, where I'd normally get carsick after reading a book or magazine for just a few minutes. Since we travel so much, this has greatly increased the time I spend reading, especially when new books are just so easy to get now. I love the fact that you can get a free sample, and if at the end of it I don't wish there was more, I know not to buy that book.
The free classics put me over the edge, after spending about $30 for Candide and Crime and Punishment. If you are a lover of classic literature, the kindle can quickly pay for itself. I have about 55 books on it already, and only paid for 6 of them.
There were also a few books that I wanted to read, but knew wouldn't be keepers (Committed, for example). I've read some complaints about the kindle versions of books being the same as paperbacks on amazon, and much more expensive than a used hardback in some cases. This didn't really affect me too much, since I usually wind up picking up books expensively in airport bookstores rather than amazon.com, and I also factor in the book's cost as far as space and clutter.
I opted not to get the 3G version, which has been totally fine. I also didn't get the keyboard, and since I generally search the books on laptop, order the free sample, and click to buy from the kindle if I want it, the lack of keyboard hasn't been an issue at all. I also decided to buy the one with ads, but at the last minute changed my mind because I thought it would bother me too much to have paid for something with ads. What I didn't know is that even after purchasing, you still have the option to pay the difference and have the special offers removed. If I had know that, I don't think I would have been so bothered by the thought of ads.
I did have to go through 3 kindles before I got one that was perfect (first one had a misaligned screen, second severe ghosting), which was a bummer, but amazon customer service was generally pretty helpful.
Here are the 8 kindle books I've read so far, pretty cool considering I got it only 3 weeks ago!
The Ultimate Vegan Guide
The Gospel According to Coco Chanel
It's So Easy
The Princess and Curdie
The Princess and the Goblin
Hurry Down Sunshine
Not Dead and Not for Sale
Out of these I would really only recommend It's So Easy: and other lies by Duff McKagan - fantastic read! - and The Ultimate Vegan Guide: compassionate living without sacrifice by Erik Marcus - quick, informative, and only 99 cents!