It’s Christmas evening, and our last night in South Lake Tahoe for a few more months…unless the approaching storm strands us here – which would totally suck. Not. 🙂
The vegan-friendly restaurants that we have enjoyed here (a future post, I think) are closed for the holiday (as they should be for the sake of their employees) so we have had to get a little creative about our holiday dinner. Did I say “a little creative”? I mean a LOT creative, considering what we have to work with here in the motel: a very basic kitchenette with 2 electric burners (1 small and one medium), 2 saucepans (1 small and 1 medium), a medium-sized griddle pan, a teeny-tiny microwave (which I try not to use if I can help it, anyway) and a table setting/silverware for only 2 people. No mixing bowls, measuring cups, cooking utensils…well, you get the idea.
South Lake Tahoe has better vegan grocery shopping than I had hoped for, actually: a wonderful natural foods store, albeit small, called Grass Roots Natural Foods and a “regular” grocery store, Raley’s, that I have enjoyed becoming familiar with.
Raley’s natural foods section is very well stocked (it reminds me of the Fred Meyer stores in Washington State). We managed to find a Tofurky roast there (but no Tofurky Giblet Gravy, dang it) as well as organic fingerling potatoes and petite baby peas (must have baby peas with my smashed potatoes), and a Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing mix , the only one that did not contain any animal products (what I refer to as “accidentally vegan”), along with vegetable broth, non-dairy butter, celery and green onions for the stuffing. We had to settle for canned, rather than homemade, cranberry sauce (shudder), too.
At Grass Roots, we found our dinner rolls–their own product–as well as a packet of Road’s End Quick Gravy. We also purchased two slices of pie by Earth Cafe for our dessert: Pumpkin Spice Life Cheesecake/Pie and Who’s Your Daddy? Carob Mousse Cheesecake/Pie. But, what’s pumpkin pie without the whipped topping? Grass Roots also carries Soyatoo! whipped topping in a can, which also tastes great with hot Starbucks Mocha Powder mix and peppermint schnapps, too.
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The Tofurky package includes directions for either baking the roast whole or microwaving slices of the roast. Since we don’t have an oven here and we don’t like to cook in a microwave, J came up with the great idea of slicing the roast and frying it on the griddle pan. We basted the roast slices with the olive oil/soy sauce/rubbed sage marinade recipe that is found on the Tofurky package; we mixed it all together in a coffee cup with a fork.
We alternated the two sauce pans to make the rest of the dinner: the gravy in the small sauce pan and the stuffing in the medium sauce pan in two separate batches. We kept the stuffing warm in a foil roasting pan with a lid, that we found at Raley’s, while we steamed the fingerling potatoes and the baby peas.
Luckily, I had the foresight to bring a bottle of Snoqualmie Chardonnay with us that we were able to enjoy with our holiday feast. The meal was surprisingly good.
And, of course, we didn’t exclude our boy: he enjoyed his own Christmas doggie plate feast. We spread some peanut butter on a dog biscuit shaped like a turkey leg from Dog.Dog.Cat. and placed it on a plate with small pieces of Tofurky roast, potatoes and peas. He snarfed it down in record time.
Last, but not least, the dessert: I usually like my own creations better than any store-bought variety, and we typically don’t eat raw food desserts, but these two cheesecake/pies were both very good (and quite rich, too, one slice can easily be shared) and they definitely hit our sweet spot. I was skeptical about the carob mousse pie, at first, because my childhood memories of carob (the last time I remember touching the stuff) are so not good. But, I am happy to report that I am open to carob again; but since dark chocolate is vegan, why?!
A warning about the Soyatoo! topping: I usually buy Soyatoo! in a carton and whip it like regular dairy whipping cream (minus the powdered sugar). One would think that the canned topping would be easier, but it’s not. The nitrous oxide crapped out after topping just one slice of pie and then it became real work (with not very pretty results) to top the second piece of pie. The can is still mostly full, but nothing comes out. I would like to report that this is a fluke, but we have experienced this the two previous times that we have purchased Soyatoo! in a can. My advice is to stick to the carton version because it always whips up well.
Yes, okay, I admit it: I am a food snob. I do not like convenience foods, not at all. My opinion has always been that it only takes slightly more time to prepare the same foods from scratch that not only taste WAY better, but you can actually pronounce the ingredients of the food that you are eating, too.
All that being said, however, our kitchenette Christmas dinner was very, very good – even though it was mostly convenience food. But, hey, we didn’t spend all day in the kitchen(ette), either. Instead, we were out playing in the snow with our sweet boy. Life is good!