Tag Archives: Tofurky

♥ Giving Thanks For Leftovers

I hear a lot of supposedly good-natured ribbing that our Thanksgiving holiday is somehow lacking because we don’t cook a turkey. And I just do a mental eye roll and silently count to ten. Since when does the giving of thanks for the blessings in one’s life and gathering with family and friends only have meaning and significance when done over the mutilated carcass of a gentle and sentient being? Personally, I think the holiday has more value and significance when it is thoughtful and compassionate.

Peace on earth for ALL creatures.

Every year I swear that I won’t do it: that I won’t spend the entire Thanksgiving day (and the night before) in the kitchen cooking . And then, every year, I do it anyway. So much for resolutions. But, on the plus side, we always stretch the leftovers through the weekend. One marathon cooking day equals several days of feasting for us.

A good looking plate of leftovers.

Our Thanksgiving feast wasn’t lacking for anything. We enjoyed a Tofurky Roast baked with turnips, parsnips, fennel root and mushrooms. I made a simple baste for the Tofurky using the recipe on the box, but I added dried thyme and rosemary leaves, in addition to the sage, along with a tablespoon of pomegranate concentrate. Add a generous dollop of homemade cranberry sauce, Momma’s special holiday stuffing and savory red wine mushroom gravy over all. So good!

Sausage chestnut stuffing with mushroom gravy.

No self-respecting holiday meal would be complete without homemade rolls. I adapted this recipe for the bread machine for what is now our favorite dinner roll recipe (and it makes good doughnuts, too). I substitute plain soy milk and Earth Balance for the milk and butter and EnerG Egg Replacer for the egg. I also increase the amount of yeast called for in the recipe. Best of all, the bread machine does the work while the Tofurky and the side dishes are roasting in the oven.

These rolls are so light and fluffy; they practically melt in your mouth.

I like to try a new recipe every year, and this year I chose this recipe, from Urban Vegan. Fig-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash will surely make repeat appearances at future holiday dinners. The figs and pecans with the squash are such a delightful combination and perfect for Thanksgiving. I generally followed the recipe (as much as I ever do), but I increased the pecans to 3/4 cup and decreased the agave to 1/4 cup. I also stirred in a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt into the filling before baking.

A side dish so good it should be served on a dessert plate.

As a kid (and still to this day), I detested the standard Thanksgiving side dish of candied yams with marshmallows baked on top. In fact, it is because of this childhood trauma that years elapsed before I willingly made a yam side dish for my own family at Thanksgiving. Now, it’s glazed yams (from fresh and not canned in heavy syrup) with candied nuts in place of the marshmallows, or it’s nothing.

Forget the marshmallows, walnut toffee is where it's at.

The Chinese five spice powder in the glaze makes this exotic side dish something special, and it has become a holiday staple for us. Of course, I don’t follow the recipe exactly. I substitute Earth Balance for the butter and I add a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper to the glaze. I replace the corn syrup in the toffee with maple syrup and I increase the amount of walnuts to 1-1/2 cups. A word of warning, though: it’s a good idea to halve the recipe if you aren’t cooking for a crowd.

Past Thanksgivings, I made both a cranberry apple pie and a pumpkin pie (yeah, I spent a lot of time rolling pie crusts). Then I discovered this recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake With Candied Cranberries and now I make just one dessert. The combination of pumpkin and cheesecake with the candied cranberry topping provides the best of our favorite desserts and it is a perfect end to a Thanksgiving dinner.

A perfectly fitting Thanksgiving dessert.

I make my cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and I have found that you can easily halve the amount of sugar and water for the candied cranberries (like the recipe says, though, the leftover syrup is wonderful on pancakes and waffles). I recommend placing the cranberry topping on each slice of cheesecake just before serving (I learned this the hard way this year). Otherwise, the cheesecake gets a little sloppy. Still yummy, but not so pretty.

So, what are your favorite holiday side dishes?

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving holiday. And that life’s blessings, big and small, are bountiful throughout the year.

And may we have the strength to survive the remaining weeks of the holiday madness. ♥

♥ A Month Of Oktoberfesting

Yet another great thing about Tahoe is that the Oktoberfest activities kick off early in September, in an effort to beat the cold and the snow, and continue throughout most of October.

Hey, whatever prolongs the outdoor beer drinking and oompah music is just fine with us.

Do we have great neighbors or what?!

J and I weren’t properly dressed for the neighborhood Oktoberfest party (buckskin isn’t our thing, obviously), but we did bring a sauerkraut casserole and plenty of Paulaner and Spaten to the party. All was forgiven.

The sauerkraut casserole is a vegan take on my grandfather’s favorite casserole side dish (he was born in Deutschland). We never make it the same way twice, it seems. Sometimes we use Smart Bacon; sometimes we use Tofurky beer brats (preferred). If we want to make it a meal, we add a layer of shredded potatoes at the bottom of the casserole.

As far as I know, only the party hosts knew that J and I are vegan. Although there were a half-dozen casserole dishes lined up on the food table with every variation of sauerkraut one could imagine, ours was the only empty dish at the end of the evening. Another vegan success!

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Sauerkraut Casserole

Ingredients:

2 pounds red potatoes (optional), shredded and drained in a colander and squeezed dry

1 25-ounce jar Bubbies sauerkraut (or a 32-ounce jar of Eden organic sauerkraut), drained

1 large granny smith apple, peeled and diced

1 750-ML bottle of white wine

1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 juniper berries

2 Tablespoons oil

1 red onion, diced

1 14-ounce package Tofurky Beer Brats, sliced (or 1 5-ounce package Smart Bacon, chopped)

4 Tablespoons whole wheat flour whisked with enough water (or leftover wine) to make a thin paste

Directions:

If making a potato layer, place the shredded potatoes on a baking sheet liberally sprayed with oil. Broil for about 20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. Flip the potatoes (it’s easier to divide the potatoes into sections before flipping) and return the baking sheet to the oven. Broil an extra 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, then place the potatoes in the bottom of a 2.5 quart casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Lower the oven temperature to 375F.

Meanwhile, drain the sauerkraut in a colander and then place it in a large saucepan with the diced apple. Add the wine, covering the kraut and the apple, and cook over medium heat until the sauerkraut is soft and the liquid is slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the caraway seeds, black pepper and juniper berries.

While the kraut is cooking, heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sausage/bacon and sauté until the onions are golden brown.

Add the onion/sausage mixture to the cooked sauerkraut. Add the flour paste mixture to the sauerkraut mixture and stir well. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and place in the oven. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until a lovely golden brown.

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Oktoberfesting at the Squaw Valley village.

The usual entertainment.

Beer and pretzels: the best of Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfesting at historic Camp Richardson.

Everybody loves the greyt boy.

Gettin' his Oktoberfest on.

The oompah version of "Baby Got Back".

The fest comes to a close.

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♥ Memorial Day . . . In Snow Boots

Memorial Day weekend once marked the beginning of summer for us . . . then we moved to Lake Tahoe. We had ambitious plans for working in the yard over the long weekend, but Saturday morning greeted us in what has become the usual manner:

And it snowed off and on all weekend (and throughout the week afterward, too). Since yard work was out of the question with the frigid cold and frequent snow flurries, J busied himself building deck planter boxes, which I figure that I will be able to use by the 4th of July!

And he made houses and feeders for the yard critters, too.

He even made a cute A-Frame bird house, just like our A-frame people house!

The new squirrel feeders were well received by the smaller Douglas squirrels.

They moved right in and made themselves at home.

“Fatty”, the larger Western Gray Squirrel, had some trouble getting in the hole!

It’s easier to grab the bird feeder and graze mid-air. Apparently.

The birds are so confused!

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By Monday, the snow let up for a few hours. It still wasn’t picnic weather, but we had plenty of picnic food. I managed to get a few pictures of the food on the deck before we came to our senses and retreated to the warm indoors. No coat and boots necessary!

I almost made J’s favorite chick’n tenders feast, but I decided to go the easy route with Tofurky Beer Brats. When served with sauerkraut on homemade buns, these beer brats are better than any greasy lips-and-ass sausage any old day of the week! The potato salad is a loose adaptation of Better Homes & Gardens’ Classic Potato Salad, veganized of course. The mayonnaise is replaced by (less) Vegenaise and the hard-cooked eggs are replaced with nutritional yeast. The pasta salad is (another) loose adaptation, from The Natural Vegan Kitchen. The barbecue baked beans are an old standby, using homemade barbecue sauce. I like this recipe, but I never add the fake meat.

For dessert, I made a S’Mores Pie from Vegan Desserts. Sorry, I have no picture because J placed the pie under the broiler to “toast” the marshmallow topping and he toasted it a bit too long. It still tasted all s’morey and awesome, because of the charred marshmallows (how we like ’em), but it didn’t look so pretty!

I originally planned to make just one dessert, but then I spotted this amazing recipe last Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake. Seriously, chocolate chip cookie dough AND cheesecake? Together?! How does one resist that combination?!

♥ Christmas Dinner In A Kitchenette

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!