When I told my students last week that I was vegetarian (we were talking about the film Super Size Me) they were horrified about what type of Thanksgiving we could possibly have at our wacky vegetarian house.
No oyster stuffing!
As I pointed out last year, Thanksgiving is a strange, slightly surreal time of the year for vegetarians—at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Some of my colleagues and friends, who know we're a vegetarian family, speak in hushed tones when referring to Thanksgiving dinner, as if the turkey itself is the be-all-end-all of the entire holiday, and with out it...well, we just won't speak of this. One year a parent at the walk-up line even asked me if we still celebrated Thanksgiving.
It's difficult to think about Thanksgiving without seeing the turkey front and center of it all. Even poor T. has been indoctrinated to associate Thanksgiving with turkeys. Last year, on her preschool placemat she made, she drew a picture of a turkey and the teacher filled in her “I am thankful for…” sentence with the word turkey.
This year she told us again she was thankful for turkeys.
Really? I asked her. We don’t eat turkey, though.
Mama! She said impatiently. I know THAT. I’m thankful for turkeys that are still ALIVE.
And the turkeys, I am sure, are thankful for us.
I love cooking for Thanksgiving. Even growing up, my favorite foods were always the side dishes. I love the excuse to go a little crazy making delicious fall sides—like this corn pudding recipe, one of my favorites. For two years in a row I made this butternut squash and goat cheese gratin and it’s a huge winner (this dish is amazingly good--I usually substitute some feta for the goat cheese). I’m also planning on making my favorite Steamed Brown Bread (if you want a holiday bread recipe that screams "fall" and "Thanksgiving" this is the one for you), served with lots of pumpkin butter on the side, and I’m still frantically searching for an appealing, easy, vegetarian stuffing recipe (send one my way if you have a good one!). For dessert we’ll have a pumpkin pie, of course, and an apple one (I’ve been dying to use the ceramic pie dish I scored with a gift card this past summer), and I’m planning on making eggnog ice cream—one of Scott’s favorites.
If you're looking for a delicious meat substitute to serve at dinner, try this or this. I'm cooking both this year, because I like the Tofurky roast the best, and Scott prefers the Quorn roast (and no, no one paid me to say this). Still, they're both perfectly delicious when topped with a spoon of ruby-colored cranberries, and a generous splash of mushroom gravy.
I'm hungry already thinking about all the good food we'll enjoy on Thursday. But what warms me even more, what I can't wait for more than anything in the world, is that moment when we'll all sit down together at the table, the feast in front of us, and look around at what we really do have: family, and love, and good health--the best bounty of all.
Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!