Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Weekly Local Booty 11/23-11/29/08 & A Local Veg*n Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 11/23-11/29/08 & A Local Veg*n Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. I enjoyed seeing my family - and the weather was beautiful and fairly warm, but we're happy to be back home. I will talk a little more in depth about our Thanksgiving (and will include recipes!) at the end of this post.

Brett is loaded down with homework this weekend - the professors didn't give any leniency for the holidays and so, due to our being out of town, he has close to a week's worth of homework to get done by Monday. Needless to say, I want to make sure he is well fed and as comfortable as possible - I've been there, and it is no fun, especially when there are important term papers in the mix. I will likely go to graduate school in a few years, but have really enjoyed not having to do homework all the time, Brett still being in school reminds me why I decided to take a few years off and work full-time before going back.

Anywho, The Root Cellar made it easy for me to plan some tasty meals. We were there earlier in the week to get produce for our Thanksgiving meal and noticed a lot of really good looking options for when we came back to get stuff for our weekly meals, so I already had some ideas in mind.

We didn't get anything from our garden this week. The outdoor container plants are really struggling, and the pepper plants started indoors just aren't big enough to produce yet. The greens are moving along, some better than others. I will discuss this more in the monthly garden update - I should be able to get that up by Tuesday.

Here is this week's haul from The Root Cellar. This ran us $48.

Starting from the bottom right: spinach, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, 2 Herbal Oats granola bars, 5 ripe serranos, small yellow potatoes, leeks (!!!!!), an orange bell pepper, a green bell pepper, 2 pears, a container of firm tofu* (not local), a jar of dairy-free pasta sauce made in St. Louis, 4 tomatoes, fair trade organic chocolate chips (dairy-free and not local), and a spaghetti squash.

* I have mentioned on this blog a few times that I dislike tofu. Both Brett and I do. And we have tried to like it more than we do, but there are things about it that neither of us can get past. But there are at least two things we like tofu in: one is tofu sour cream (only in moderation and not very often), and the other are our Tofu and Potato Burritos. It has been a really long time since we've had the burritos, so I decided to get a block since we had everything else on hand that we needed.

Here is this week's loot from Uprise Bakery:

Of course, a loaf of ciabatta, and this week we also picked up a granola bar.

I have the rest of the cookie posts scheduled to go up later in the week. This week's menu is compromised of many favorites including, of course, the Tofu and Potato Burritos, Smashed Yam, Black Bean, and Spinach Quesadillas, and Leek and Potato Soup (for soup and bread night).

We will be trying spaghetti squash served with the local pasta sauce pictured above, and I have something up my sleeve to use some of the peach jam in. So there won't not be as many non-sweets food posts this week because things fell into place for us to enjoy some of our old favorites!

My Nanny, an excellent canner and cook, sent us home with a nice treat that I plan on putting to use this week:

A jar of peach jam! The peaches came from my mom and aunt's yards, and they are even from within our 200 mile foodshed!

Onto our veg*n Thanksgiving. I am sorry to report that I didn't get many pictures - in fact, only one picture of the food I made for Thanksgiving (the other picture is from the trial run of the soup I made for the dinner). Things were really hectic in the kitchen and my initial prep schedule didn't pan out because my mom - I love her but she is such a clean freak I could scream sometimes - tried to renege on my being able to cook in her kitchen (because I could make a mess, what is a kitchen for anyway?!), I was finally able to convince her that I could make the soup and bread at her house without making too much of a mess, and that I would finish at my Nanny's house the next day.

The menu ended up being as follows:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Uprise Bakery Ciabatta (of course)
Black Bean, Brown Rice, and Local Veggie Stuffed Portobellos
Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Shiitake Mushroom Gravy
Pumpkin-Walnut Bread

I spent a lot of time trying to come up with something at least quasi-traditional, that I thought my family would actually eat. Sadly, I was wrong on those counts, well except perhaps the traditional part. After many hours in the kitchen, a lot of thought and planning, the only things my family ate were the ciabatta from Uprise Bakery, the Pumpkin-Walnut Bread, and I think someone beyond Brett and I had a stuffed mushroom. It all turned out really well, I just don't think I will put in as much effort or make as much food next time.

I also hadn't prepared myself for the disappointment that I wouldn't be eating the other food prepared. Comments like, "It's just chicken broth" and "You can have just a taste can't you?" I don't blame them for not understanding and I don't expect them to accommodate, I mean, my great grandma is 86 years old, but I've been a vegetarian for awhile, they all knew this. They didn't prod or harass me about it too much, but I could tell it was more of an issue than I thought it was going to be.

Anyways, Brett told me he really enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms, and he and I ate a huge bowl of the mashed potatoes and gravy later on while watching a football game. I ended up leaving all the pumpkin bread with my grandparents and mom.

On to the recipes, don't let my family’s aversion to vegetarian food or anything non-traditional deter you from trying these recipes, they really were good.

The mashed potatoes we made were based on our Garlicky Mashed Potatoes recipe, we used red potatoes instead of russet (reds are so much better), hempmilk instead of soy, and I added a little dried basil and oregano to the mixture (the potatoes and garlic were local and the hempmilk was purchased from a local store). The shiitake mushroom gravy was essentially Veganomicon's Mushroom Gravy with shiitakes subbed in and maybe a few other modifications, but to be honest, I made it on the fly, so I can't really remember (I do know that I used local shiitakes, garlic, and onions).

The local booty legend (aka revealing my sources):
no asterisk = grocery store
+ = local produce from The Root Cellar
++ = The Peace Nook (will denote whether product is local or just from the Nook)
* = farmer's market
** = CSA
*** = Container or Community Garden
**** = the non-profit buying club, Blue Planet or Purcell Mountain Farms

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (5-6 cups) ***
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used local Gala apples) +
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thick rounds +
1 yellow onion, chopped +
1 tbsp Earth Balance
5 cups water
1 veggie bouillon cube
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

Melt Earth Balance in a large soup pot. Add the carrot and onion and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the squash, apples, water, and bouillon.

Simmer for 40-45 minutes or until veggies very soft. Let cool for a few minutes.

Blend in a food processor until very smooth, add a little more water if needed to get desired consistency. Add maple syrup and spices to taste.

Serve with warm crusty bread.

Black Bean, Brown Rice and Local Veggie Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Makes 12 stuffed mushrooms

12 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed and cleaned
1/2 cup black beans, cooked ****
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked ****
1 carrot, peeled and chopped +
1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced +
4 cloves of garlic, minced +
1/2 yellow onion, minced +
1-2 tbsp safflower oil
black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat oil in a small skillet. Add the carrot, bell pepper, garlic, and onion. Cook for about 10 minutes or until veggies are soft and starting to caramelize a little bit.

Combine veggies with black beans, brown rice, and seasonings to taste.

Spray a baking sheet with oil.

Stuff a tablespoon or so of the filling in to each prepared mushroom.

Roast for about 30 minutes.

Whole Grain Spelt Pumpkin-Walnut Bread
Recipe adapted from here.

1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup organic raw sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree +
1/2 cup safflower oil
2 eggs (or replacer) ++ (local)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped +

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a bread pan with oil.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, water, and spices in a small bowl.

Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients in the large bowl.

Stir in the walnuts.

Spread batter into a prepared bread pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a knife or toothpick in the center comes out clean.

The Pumpkin-Walnut bread is really, really good. We didn't get to bring any home with us, so I am going to be making a loaf this weekend, sans walnuts (Brett doesn't like nuts), so Brett and I can enjoy some of it.

Well, I'm off to enjoy a relaxing night of reading, soup making, and perhaps some cookie baking. Those Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies were really good and didn't last long around here. I also thought that reading a textbook might not seem as bad if you had a yummy cookie to go along with it.

'Til next time.


VeggieGirl said...

Fabulous fooooood!!

Heather @ SGF said...

Sounds great! I vote for your version of turkey day :)

Catherine said...

I'm sorry your family were sort of pills about Thanksgiving! That's never any fun. My parents ate at my house this year, so they were stuck eating what I made -- and they licked their plates clean! (Funny what happens to people when they are hungry????) :)

Your pumpkin loaf looks deeeeelicious!

T said...

I can't believe no one at least tried the soup, its sounds scrumptious! The whole menu does as a matter of fact! I had the same experience last year when I slaved all day over something no one would even try. UF.

I get the same kind of comments on holidays. "Its just GRAVY!" Whatever. In a few years everyone will be vegetarian!

Alice (in Veganland) said...

I'm scared as hell of family reunions, I hate to admit it... I have to have a serious talk with my grandma before I go this Christmas to avoid misunderstandings...
The pumpkin-walnut bread sounds and looks amazing!
What are you planning to go to graduate school for? I think it's great you took a break in the middle to work. And it's even a good motivation, even though you do enjoy your work.
Oh, and the Japanese meal I made... so easy and fast! you wouldn't believe! It's a shame that I cannot cook it for you and Brett...

Anonymous said...

Poor Brett! I realized that this Thanksgiving was the first in years that I didn't have to do homework or write a paper over the holiday...finally being done with grad school is *such* a good feeling!

I am sorry your family didn't try the food you worked so hard to prepare. But I guess that means there was more for you and Brett?! I have been vegan for long enough now that my family knows what I will and will not eat and is pretty respectful (aside from the ever present "I cooked this steak (or insert any other meat here) just for you!" joke...)

It all looks fabulous, and I am going to have to pull out my copy of V-con for the mushroom gravy recipe--gravy is my favorite and ever since you posted about your plans for your Thanksgiving meal it has been on my mind!


Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Veggie Girl - Haha, thanks!

Heather - Thank you - there are PLENTY of leftovers, my family preferred to stick to the dead bird and the other meat/dairy laden dishes.

Catherine - It's alright. I guess I just expected it to be a little different. My being a vegetarian isn't anything new and I even sent them my meal plan ahead of time.

Hahahaha, see I bet if my family had tried it they would have seen that it wouldn't have hurt them. :-)


T - Eh, that's alright, more for us I suppose. I'll just know that next time I need to come prepared with lots of good "comebacks for old people" and only bring enough food for Brett and myself.

Perhaps you are right, perhaps you are right. It would be nice to only have to worry about there being dairy lurking in a dish, not a whole assortment of random animal bits.

Alice - Me flippin' too, but I also felt that way before I went veg. ;-)

That is a good idea, I didn't think I would need to do that, but it turns out that I really should have. Thank you, it was the one thing people weren't afraid to eat, and it really was good.

I am torn between two very different things, but I will go back to grad school for either environmental science (or sustainability, there are a few good programs) or social psychology. They are both very fascinating subjects that I have a good grasp of and would like to pursue further. I've actually always (closetly) wanted to get a Masters in Library Science and work in research in some big university library somewhere, but the jobs just aren't really there. These other fields are just as interesting and a little more employable. I needed to take a break after the undergrad, I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do and this seemed like the way to go. I think I am pretty firm about wanting to go back, so now I will just wait for Brett to finish his undergrad and decide where to go from there...

I cannot believe that meal was easy and fast, it looked downright gourmet. I think it's a shame too. :-)

Courtney - I know, I remember the feeling too clearly and I am sitting here contemplating graduate school, I must be a sucker for punishment. :-)

What did you study in grad school, if you don't mind my asking?

It's alright, I guess I shouldn't have expected them to be as open as I did. Yeah, more for us, I think there is more than we can possibly eat, but I learned a lesson. I thought it had been long enough for my family, but it had been a few years since I have gone down to see my mom's family for a holiday (and will be another few years before we go again) - I think it may have even been before I went completely veg (it was a gradual change), and some of the family members present weren't at the previous time. They were pretty respectful - they always have been, except my great grandma - she couldn't let it go, but nobody was brave enough to eat the food.

That mushroom gravy is too good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer

I graduated a year ago this month with my Masters in Public Health Nutrition--it was a lot of work (I worked full time while I was in school), but the program was great and I got to study two things that fascinate me and that I love--public health and nutrition, so it was good. But I does feel good to be done!

I don't live anywhere near any of my family, which is hard, but I am lucky in that they are all very into eating local and organic and growing their own food etc. I was a vegetarian for years before I went vegan nearly 9 years ago, so I think they are just used to me being strange by now! Plus, there are two other vegans in my family (my sister and a cousin), so there is always food we can eat at family get togethers.


jessy said...

oh man - sounds like Brett's got a ton of school work to keep him busy! eek! i hope he didn't stress out too much. that's too sweet of you to make sure he was well fed and everything was taken care of, Jennifer! so thoughtful & awesome! you're too good!

my mom's a clean freak, too. sometimes i wish she would relax and understand that a mess can be cleaned up. drives me apeshit sometimes as well. very frustrating! and we didn't get many shots of our food either. my family kept making fun of me (even though they all know i blog about our food) for wanting to take pictures so i just didn't bother to really set things out well to take some photos. that was kinda frustrating, too! sadface! also frustrating: dan's family's close-mindedness towards vegan food (or anything without meat, really). kind of expected - but very irritating to me, especially since i made a huge effort to make traditional type dishes i thought everyone would at least try. boy was i wrong. even his "vegetarian" brother ended up "cheating" (as his brother called it) and ate turkey and gravy and such. gross. i'm sorry that you got harasses, too! man, that's just no fun.
no one touched any of our food. made me sad. but i figured, oh well - more for us, we figured! :D my family enjoyed a lot of our vegan dishes though - oh yeah - and we made your sweet & spicy nuts! i made them with honey for my parents and my sister and everyone said they were awesome! in fact - i printed out the recipe for my mom & she had me take her to the natural food store & she bought some organic bulk nuts there so she could make them at home! thank you soooooooooo much!

i think your thanksgiving menu sounded AMAZING!!!!!!!! i would have eaten a TON of your stuffed mushrooms, a giant bowl full of your butternut squash and apple soup - and the bread?! oh my - it's awesome! yay!

i'm kinda glad thanksgiving's over! whew! :D and thanks again for more of your rock'n recipes, Jennifer! yay!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Courtney - I bet that IS a fascinating topic to study. I too worked full-time during the last year of my BA and that wasn't any fun. If I go back, I will likely only work part-time, if at all, if that is a possibility.

I don't live very close to my family either. You ARE lucky that you have family with similar interests. Some of the older members of my family are into gardening, but the whole organic and vegetarian thing is lost on them. I think that is how my family is starting to view me - as "the strange one", but maybe I'll get less hell that way. You are lucky to have other veg*ns in your family. As far as I know, I am the only one.

Jessy - Yes, he did, and he also had the flu to go with it, but he made it through. He didn't stress, but he sure was busy! I was just trying to help him - he always does whatever he can to accommodate me if I am going through a stressful time, so the least I can do is return the favor. :-)

I know! It is nice to know someone with a similar family member - it doesn't help that my mom is also quite selfish and unaccommodating, but she is the only mom I have. That is why I rarely visit down there, it is just better that way, otherwise, I might not be able to stand any of that side of the family enough to EVER visit.

That is too bad about the pictures, but I can relate, I was getting weird looks when trying to take a picture of the bread.

I'm sorry to hear about Dan's family, it is to be expected of most people, I just wish people could either be open or keep their mouths shut. I didn't say a word about the giant dead bird or anything else, I wish they would be the same towards us.

Wow, a "cheating" vegetarian? That must be interesting. I had been a vegetarian for a year or so when I was in high school and when I went back to eating meat, I got very very ill the first time I ate it. Ick. I'm glad I have NO INTENTION of ever eating flesh again, that was no fun.

It just stinks to go through such effort and nobody at least have a little. I'm glad your family ate some though. I'm so happy they liked the nuts!

I would have probably liked a plate full of your goodies clean too. Perhaps if all our families don't shape up, we'll have to set up an alternative veg*n Thanksgiving!

I'm happy it is over too. Going to see my dad's side of the family and Brett's family is never too bad in terms of food - and they will even try my food!

jessy said...

i agree, Jennifer - if our families don't behave we should totally have a veggie thanksgiving! can you imagine the awesomeness we could create! it would be a spicy & local thanksgiving feast! wahoooooooo!

i too used to be a vegetarian (for about 9 years before i met dan), then after about 3 years of meeting him & dating and such i started eating meat again (i too got pretty ill the first time i ate flesh again). in january we went vegan and i can't see myself going back! :) but yeah, i was kinda put off a bit that his veggie brother just kind of "gave in" for thanksgiving (we had even brought extras knowing there wouldn't be much for him to eat). i felt like he was compromising his beliefs or something - and that really got to me a bit. although - to each his own, i suppose. i think what bothered me was that he said "well, today's an exception to my vegetarianism." okay, okay - i'm letting it go now! ;)

i think it's great that you and Brett really help each other out! it sounds like you two make an excellent team! makes me most happyfaced! i'm also glad i'm not the only one who's kinda happy all the craziness of thanksgiving is over! ahahahaaa! awesome!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Jessy - Haha, with mine, it's not just the food that is the problem, but if they could be more tolerant of my choices, that would sure help. If we got together for a veg*n Thanksgiving, it would be madness! So much tasty, yummy, oh yes, and you are right, spicy food would be made!

That is interesting, it is nice to know that I'm not the only person who tried it before. My problem the first time I went veg was that I didn't understand what I needed to do and tried to subsist off of salads and bean burritos because I didn't know how to cook and my mom sure as hell wasn't going to cook for me. I ended up getting anemic and really wasn't doing it for the right reasons.

Since going veg this time, I have gotten healthier and my meals are so varied! I can't stand the thought of eating flesh again, even though I am not an ethical vegetarian. I was never a huge fan of meat any way, and Brett is so accepting of my choice and willing to eat vegetarian at home.

I think it is really cool that you and Dan went veg together. I'm not upset that Brett isn't a vegetarian, we have discussed our own personal choices and he lives the way he does for the same reason as I do, but for him, he wants to incorporate some local, grass fed or free range meat into his diet. This is something I am completely alright with and he is so respectful to eat meat when I'm at work so I don't have to cook it, and he does the dishes afterward so as to not "contaminate" anything I could be working with. :-)

I've known people who were more "flexible" with their lifestyle choices like your brother-in-law. I don't like to judge people, they can do what they want for whatever reasons, I just think that perhaps he should look at why he is even a vegetarian in the first place. If he is that willing to "cheat", is he really as committed as he needs to be? I have a hard time when people claim to cling to principles that it seems they will quickly shuck at the first sign of inconvenience, but I'm just a cranky old curmudgeon.

It works out for us, it sounds like you and Dan have a similar "team mentality" that Brett and I do. It helps to be on the same page about things, work together for the comfort of the other, and to be willing to face things as a team - otherwise, what is the point of spending your life with someone else? If I just wanted to selfishly pursue my own self-interest, I could easily do that alone, and if I tried to do that while having a partner, well, I think I am beginning to understand why we have such a prevalence of divorce and such in this country - too many people concerned about just themselves.

I am too. I actually am looking forward to Christmas because seeing my dad's family and Brett's family is not only not stressful, it is quite enjoyable. And we are making local baked goodies gift baskets for the family this year too, so I'm excited. Oh yeah, and they will try my food, don't harass me, and are just nice accommodating people. :-)

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