November 25, 2008

Vegetarian Thanksgiving -- why and how.

Why? Are you kidding?! We just found out that turkeys were once living, breathing creatures and that they must suffer bloody murder if they are to become food.

No, actually, maybe some of us have been vegetarians for a long time. I'm not (though I had a 5-year stint as a vegetarian). But I don't care about any particular meat on any particular day enough to complicate the preparation of dinner when I have guests who are vegetarians.

How? Tofurky? That's insane. Let's not exacerbate abstinence with fakery. It's time for winter vegetables, mushrooms, and grains. Did you notice that this recipe for sweet potato and butternut squash soup has been topping the NYT most-emailed list all week?


junyo said...

If God hadn't wanted us to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them out of meat.

dmfoiemjsof said...

What, no tag for tofurkey?

John Burgess said...

Well, of course winter vegetables are popular for winter holidays!

Maybe the soup recipe is popular because it's tasty--as most squash recipes are, if you leave out marshmallows--not for any reason of higher consciousness...

garage mahal said...


Awesome said...

Ugh. Heretic former vegetarians are the worst of the worst.

AntonK said...

Speaking of mashed potatoes, I'm going to get it on with these tasty taters this Thanksgiving.

nansealinks said...

last year I was alone for Thanksgiving. I don't know if it was white woman guilt or white woman pride that somehow without any sense of direction or google maps I was led to the shrine of Kateri Tekakwitha. Anyway i looked up what she would be thankful for in her time.

Anyway if you are vegetarian and want something with Indian meaning you can find a recipe for "three sisters casserole." Vegetarian for fashion sake is silly to me. When it comes with a purpose and somekind of meaning and relavant science, it's okay. It's okay to add fish, too.

from wikipedia:

The Three Sisters are the three main agricultural crops of some Native American groups in North America: squash, maize, and climbing beans (typically tepary beans or common beans).
In one technique known as companion planting, the three crops are planted close together. Flat-topped mounds of soil are built for each cluster of crops. Each mound is about 30 cm (1 ft) high and 50 cm (20 in) wide, and several maize seeds are planted close together in the center of each mound. In parts of the Atlantic Northeast, rotten fish or eel are buried in the mound with the maize seeds, to act as additional fertilizer where the soil is poor. When the maize is 15 cm (6 inches) tall, beans and squash are planted around the maize, alternating between beans and squash. Milpas are farms or gardens that employ companion planting on a larger scale.[3]
The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize and the squash spreads along the ground, monopolizing the sunlight to prevent weeds. The squash leaves act as a "living mulch," creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests.

downtownlad said...

Looks like a good recipe. I already told my maid to prepare regular butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving and now I'm tempted to switch to this one.

However, I feel kind of bad as she's already gone out and bought all the ingredients for the regular soup, not the sweet potato one.

Man - this is a tough decision!

downtownlad said...

I think I'll stick to the regular one. I'm not sure if they have Sweet Potatoes where I live. They don't even have apple cider. So my hot apple cider is going to be hot apple juice. :(

AllenS said...

I've been thinking about having my butler make me a turkey sandwich.

downtownlad said...

I don't have a butler. I'm thinking of getting a driver. But then I'd have to buy a car. . .

Bissage said...

So remember, folks, just stay calm the next time Islamic terrorists cut the throat of the son of apes and pigs. There’s nothing to get all worked up about because halal slaughter is most humane.

Trooper York said...

I hate turkey. I am making lasagna and meatballs, sausage and Braciole
as well as nice pork roast over fanook, onion, apples and prunes.

But to stay in the Thanksgiving spirit I intend to steal something from an Indian. Maybe some cigarettes.

Jeremy said...

If vegetables had mottos, butternut squash's would be: "Sorry, you were probably thinking of sweet potatoes."

Headless Blogger said...

A vegetarian Thanksgiving is easy. Even as a dedicated carnivore, I find the turkey to be the least enticing of the Thanksgiving dishes. I can easily fill up before I get around to eating any bird.

Is the idea behind a Tofurkey to make something that is unappetizing to meat eaters and revolting to vegetarians? I have a vegetarian friend who is disgusted by attempts to make non-animal proteins look and taste like meat. Beyond the religious and cultural reasons for his diet, he cannot stand the idea of eating meat.

Darcy said...

Well, the veggie Thanksgiving sounds delicious! And thank you for the soup recipe...I will make that!

And Trooper: Your dinner sounds fabulous. The mention of Braciole reminds me of the Everybody Loves Raymond episode. Miss that show.

al said...

Vegetarian - Indian slang for lousy hunter.

Anton - Interesting recipe. I usually just use butter and milk but I think I'll try your link since my wife wants me to do most of the cooking and what she doesn't see can't hurt :)

Any recommendations on a good stuffing recipe?

rhhardin said...

Soy chicken patties are usually pretty good; I can't imagine that turkey is any more difficult with soy.

I usually eat soy pattie stuff just for ease of preparation; it's mostly pretty good these days.

And Morningstar bacon strips are great (if not overnuked!).

Kroger stopped carrying Tyson precooked chicken bits that I liked to snack on, so except for tuna I'm a de facto vegetarian I guess.

I assume soy is still a vegetable.

rhhardin said...

Morningstar makes sure that the soy is killed humanely.

laura said...

HB, I too agree that turkey is the least interesting of the Thanksgiving fare. I will not, though, pass up the fam's sausage stuffing - easily passing on the turkey to have a larger serving of this.

Justin said...

downtownlad said...

They don't even have apple cider. So my hot apple cider is going to be hot apple juice. :(

I like to make wassail. That's probably not the right name, but that's how it was introduced to me. Here's my recipe:

64 oz each of pineapple, apple, and cranberry juice
1 bag of brown sugar
6 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves

Throw it all in a percolator and drink it when it gets hot. Excellent.

And vegan friendly!

Dave TN said...

We've been invited to Thanksgiving by a neighbor this year, so we'll be sticking with the veggie sides and bringing a squash dish. I prefer Field Roast to Tofurkey, although the Tofurkey deli slices are good for sandwiches.

I've never understood vegetarians that strongly shun fake meats. I think they are just miffed that it makes it too easy for new vegetarians who don't have to suffer with all the quinoa and bulgher dishes like they had to back in the day.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Sorry I didn't crawl up the evolutionary ladder to eat like a rabbit.

AllenS said...

Could a beer drinker be considered a liquidarian? I'm making myself thirsty.

Eric Trimmer said...

Two questions for those of you who aren't excited about turkey:

Is your turkey's skin crispy?
Do you eat the skin?

Headless Blogger said...

Eric Trimmer wrote:
Is your turkey's skin crispy?
Do you eat the skin?

Skin status - Cold and clammy at this time. My fowl is currently soaking in a maple-Bourbon brine.

Skin consumption - The skin will be eaten when cooked.

Eric - Why do you ask?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Any recommendations on a good stuffing recipe?

I'm making a stuffing casserole that's a favorite. Sour dough bread cubes, snipped up California style dried apricots, pecans, wild rice, celery, onion, spices moistened with chicken broth.

Hate the stuffing in the bird. It turns out to be a gloppy mess.

Brining the turkey tomorrow.

Eric Trimmer said...


Most Thanksgiving turkey's I've eaten were overcooked and carved long before they were served, so the breast meat was dry and the skin was discarded.

I wasn't much of a turkey guy until I started cooking my own and making sure the skin was nice and crispy.

I usually dry rub the turkey and roast it upside down until the last hour of cooking. The downside of this method is the roasting rack leaves a few indentations on the breast.

I've never brined a bird. Care to share your recipe?

Headless Blogger said...


The brine recipe is here (I am not LarryR).

I am also going to use this dry rub and baste.

I was thinking of doing the breastside down thing, too. Thanks for sharing.

Eric Trimmer said...

Thanks, Headless.

Roasting upside down is great. Keeps the breast moist and the back from getting too greasy.

laura said...

Usually, yes, the turkey skin is crispy and I try to get some, if I can. Yum. It's the meat that's bland, for a hot meal - though I think it makes better sandwiches than what you can find at the store.

blake said...

I have a good stuffing recipe, just not on me....

Not really a turkey fan but I'll take the drumstick. Not a white-meat fan of any bird.

Vegetarian thanksgiving would be pretty much non-veg thanksgiving, just with something(s) to replace the turkey.

Trooper York said...

I am just glad to know that Darcy likes a good Braciole!

TosaGuy said...

In the spirit of combining two posts.....Vegetarian is an old Indian word for bad hunter.

ricpic said...

As a confirmed guest turned host this year my stress level is sky high and I can't believe how casually you other hosts seem to be about the whole business. Luckily I've got a buddy who's going to help me cook, which means he'll do the cooking and I'll hop from foot to foot making asinine suggestions or objections. Maybe I should tell him in re Dust Bunny's comment to make the stuffing separately, not in the bird. That way I'll sound as though I know something.

Strategy for success: make sure everyone reaches the no pain level of mild intoxication as early as possible. What could go wrong after that? he prayed.

Darcy said...

It will all turn out, ricpic. But that was a cute post. Hang in there! And yep, good cocktails go a long way. ;-)

Trooper York said...

Always make the stuffing outside of the bird. I am posting my grandmothers italian sausage stuffing reciepe later in the week.

Also a big salad and some simple side dishes always go over big. I make simple side dishes like potato and stringbean salad drizzled in olive oil and vinegar. Or fresh broiled potato mixed with onions covered in oregano and covered in olive oil and salt and pepper.

Don't sweat it man. Just have some decent wine on hand and some cheeses and stuff to nosh on before hand and everything will be fine.

Trooper York said...

And Dust Bunny Queen's blog is great for reciepes. I have made several of them and they all worked out great. She knows her stuff.

peter hoh said...

Sunday, I bought about 10 pounds of butternut squash. I made the NYT butternut squash recipe yesterday. Tasted a lot better when I added some cream.

I prefer to roast squash, even if it's going to end up in soup. Gotta get that caramelizing action going.

I'm on for some sort of squash dish for Thursday's family gathering. I'll experiment again tomorrow.

Darcy said...

Peter, did you use the ginger in the recipe? It's the only ingredient I'm not fond of. I wonder what I could use as a substitute? Nutmeg? Hmm.

blake said...


Cooking for others is easy and fun, especially if you're reasonably confident.

Just overbuy and then when it looks like maybe you need a new vegetable dish, e.g., page through a recipe book and find something that looks simple and tasty. You'll have all the ingredients, and you'll be in full bore "cook mode".

Most of the traditional stuff (turkey, stuffing, potatoes) is pretty easy after the prep.

Fun, fun, fun.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And Dust Bunny Queen's blog is great for reciepes. I have made several of them and they all worked out great. She knows her stuff

Thank you Trooper. I suggest for those who are intimidated by desserts and pies....try the Carmella Soprano Ricotta Pineapple pie. It's a snap and everyone will be impressed.

Meade said...

Darcy: I would keep adding pinches of Garam Masala until it tastes just right. (That's Garam Masala, not Garage Mahal.)

Darcy said...

LOL, Meade. I have that in the cupboard! Excellent. Thank you!

John Burgess said...

Oh, crap! My turkey just brought me a butler sandwich. Time to get that ax sharpened, I guess.

A French-Canadian stuffing (or dressing, if you cook bake it outside the bird):

1 lb. ground pork
2 lb. mashed potatoes
2 tbs olive oil or butter
1 lb. chopped onion
2 tbs ground allspice
Salt & pepper to taste.

Saute onions in oil or butter until translucent

Add pork with salt, pepper, half of allspice and continue cooking until pork is no longer pink.

Add mixture to mashed potatoes and mix until blended.

Serve as is or put into a casserole pan, dust with bread crumbs, and bake at 350 until crumbs are browned.

peter hoh said...

Darcy, I added ginger, as called for in the recipe. The hints of ginger offer the only clue that you are not eating baby food straight from the jar.

If you don't like ginger, just leave it out. Then experiment by adding a small amount of an alternative spice to a bowlful until you find something you like.

And don't skimp on the salt.

I made a large batch yesterday. Some went into the freezer.

For dinner tonight, I decided to see if I could use the soup as a base for something vaguely Asian. I added peanut butter, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, a splash of rice wine vinegar, and a few drops of sesame oil.

On rice, it tasted pretty good. It would make a good sauce for a tofu dish.

I could also see adding it to some Indian dishes, especially those curries that I want to thicken up. It would certainly be a healthier alternative to coconut milk or cream.

John Burgess said...

Cumin would be a good substitute for ginger in a squash/sweet potato dish.