Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thanksgiving wrap-up

Kitty-chan leads the parade down Central Park West!
Kudos to me -- I'm getting my Thanksgiving post done before Christmas.

As I posted before I went to NY, I have an amazing family.  My omnivore mom and aunt planned a totally  vegan Thanksgiving dinner, even though my girlfriend and I were going to be the only vegans there.  And everything was so delicious, I photographed it all and collected the recipes.  (My aunt said afterwards, "I hope you got some pictures of the family, too."  Um, oops.)

We tend not to have "traditional" Thanksgiving foods at our Thanksgiving dinners.  Before I went vegan, I was vegetarian for many years, and my mom didn't see the point in cooking a turkey I wasn't going to eat.  For a while we had a mini-tradition of eating spinach lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner.   But we've had all kinds of different things.  Last year Thanksgiving was just my mom, my girlfriend, and me, and I cooked all Indian dishes except for the desserts.  The one constant has always been cranberry sauce, but this year we didn't even do that.  We did have cranberry desserts though, so I guess cranberries are the constant.

I tried to take pictures of all the delicious food, but when I got home and started to upload the photos, I couldn't find my picture of the main courses!  So you'll have to live without that, but But then I found it a month later and edited the post, so yay! I do have recipes, or information about how to get the recipes, for everything I ate.

For the first course, my mom made this easy Chipotle Pumpkin Soup from the December, 2006 McDougall Newsletter.

Doesn't my aunt have pretty dishes?  The recipe calls for canned black beans, but even if you start with dry beans, as my mom did, it's ridiculously easy.

If you're looking for healthy vegan recipes,you might want to subscribe to the McDougall email newsletter.  It has lots of articles on health topics, too, but I have to admit I usually just skip to the recipes.

I come from a long line of knish-makers, and knishes at Thanksgiving have recently become something of a tradition.  I don't eat them any more, but I couldn't resist taking a picture:

That's cabbage, potato, and kasha, from left to right.  If you ask me, the cabbage ones are the best.  My cousin S and his daughter R made these.

My mom and another of my cousins were recently featured in an article about knishes.  The article includes the recipe, but I have to tell you, unless you have an expert physically show you how to roll out the dough, and then practice many, many times, they are unlikely to be any good.  This recipe is all about technique. The best advice I can give you is to go to San Francisco and look up my cousin.

Like an idiot, I managed to lose my picture of the main courses.  I have pictures of both main courses.  We had two dishes that kind of shared equal billing.  I made aloo gobi from my favorite recipe -- the Bolly Cauli in 660 Curries.  If you care about Indian food, you must have this book.  It's not a vegan book, but there are enough vegan recipes to fill a bigger-than-average cookbook, and it's worth the cover price for the chapter on spice blends alone.  I can't recommend this enough.

My aunt made super-yummy roasted veggies, which seem to be becoming something of a Thanksgiving tradition themselves.  I asked for the recipe, and she sent me this jpeg:

It looks like it was cut out of some newspaper -- I have no idea which one, or when.  It is really, really tasty, though.  We had it with a little bit of brown rice mixed in.

The entrees.  That's aloo gobi on the left, and my aunt's curried veggies on the right.

There were three desserts, but I only ate two, so those are the ones I have pictures of.

That's cranberry sorbet, made by my aunt.  Isn't it beautiful?  This picture captures the color really well.  It's from the book Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet, another not-vegan book that has some nice vegan recipes.  It appears to be out of print, so here's the recipe:

Fresh Cranberry Sorbet

2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups (one 12 ounce package) cranberries
2 ripe pears, peeled and cored
2 T kirsch
1/4 cup minced orange rind.

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar.  Heat the mixture, stirring it, until the sugar dissolves.  Remove the pan from the heat just before the syrup boils.  Transfer the syrup to a bowl, and set the syrup aside to cool.  Then cover the bowl, and put the syrup in the refrigerator to chill.
  2. Puree the cranberries and pears in a food processor or food mill.  Combine the puree with the chilled syrup, kirsch, and orange rind.
  3. Process the mixture in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions, or pour the mixture into a shallow metal pan and freeze it.  If a food processor is available, let the sorbet thaw somewhat, and process it until it becomes smooth and fluffy.  Then refreeze the sorbet, removing it from the freezer 15 minutes before serving it.
My aunt used the freezer-and-food-processor method, and the taste and texture were great.  Really powerful cranberry flavor, but not too sour.  I stopped eating sugar on December 1 -- I'm glad I ate this first!

My mom made these delicious poached pears:

Om nom nom.  This recipe is from another out-of-print book, Jane Brody's Good Food Book:

Spicy Poached Pears

4 ripe pears, peeled, halved, and cored
2 cups cranberry juice
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in saucepan.  Bring to boil, then simmer 15 minutes or until pears are just tender.

I absolutely love this recipe.  We had it for dessert, but it would be great for breakfast, or to accompany any meal, really.  I think I would try leaving out the sugar, and using a juice like cranberry-raspberry or something else that had some sweetness to it.  Is that cheating?  I'm going to say it isn't cheating.

The other dessert was some kind of pie or cobbler, which looked delicious.  I think it was cranberry-apple or cranberry-something else.  Sorry!  I didn't eat any, so I forgot to take a picture.

If you try any of these recipes, let me know what you think!


  1. That sounds like such a nice, low-key Thanksgiving!

    1. It was! I posted prematurely, so here it is again, with recipes.

  2. That poached pear recipe sounds fantastic for a dinner we are having next week! Simple, cost-effective, and not as horrible for you as many other "seasonal desserts." Thanks, Abby!

    1. You're welcome! All part of the service.