28 November 2009

The Inevitable Thanksgiving Recap

While so many people I've talked to were grumbling about feeling stuffed to the brim with food after indulging in Thanksgiving festivities, I felt fine.  Really.  Cooking essentially with myself in mind before catering to the lack of dietary restrictions of everyone else at the family dinner--I get to be middle child, black sheep, and the only vegan (probably) within a country mile--I didn't exactly feel up to squeezing into the kitchen crowd Thursday, so I threw together a grand total of four items: protein, veggies, starch, and dessert.  For a holiday meal, one might have thought my plate looked pathetically well-balanced and sensibly portioned, but I try to keep all things in moderation, because I just feel better that way.  Here's what I made:

Savory Leek Quiche
I used this Vegetarian Times recipe once to bring to a barbeque/potluck, and people (myself included) seemed to enjoy it.  I particularly like that it calls for firm tofu rather than the silken tofu whose texture I typically don't relish. To give the tart an autumn-esque spin, I added chopped, roasted, and peeled chestnuts; a few chopped sage leaves; and a touch of poultry seasoning.

Braised Kale and Red Swiss Chard
I love greens, and I figured that my family could use something both healthy and delicious to accompany the fattening and very unhealthy things already on their plates.  The dish was simple, involving eyeballed amounts of chopped onion, roasted garlic, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, shoyu, and a bundle each of kale and red swiss chard.

Whole Wheat Pan de Sal
Pan de sal is a Filipino bread roll often consumed at breakfast.  It's soft and fluffy in the center with a slightly crusty exterior and distinct breadcrumb topping.  I've consulted this recipe from Allrecipes.com many times, and with a few alterations, it never fails to produce excellent bread.  I increased the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup and used mostly whole wheat flour rather than all-purpose for a more wholesome bread, adding a 1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten to ensure that the end results wouldn't be dense.  The original recipe also does not call for the breadcrumb topping, but it's essential for emulating the pan de sal of my heritage, so I brushed the rolled dough with almond milk and sprinkled the tops with whole wheat breadcrumbs before baking.

Pecan Pie with Chocolate Chunks
Using this recipe from Vegweb.com, I managed to bake up a candy-sweet vegan dessert in very little time.  I spotted the recipe months back and saved it to my recipe box online, always intending to replicate a popular, non-vegan pecan pie a friend told me about produced by a specific cafe/bakery back in our little college town; it apparently was full of pecan halves, leaving very little room for a sweet "goo" layer to settle at the bottom (which ruins too many perfectly good pecan pies), and studded with not-quite-melted dark chocolate chunks.  Feeling suddenly inspired, I created a thin whole wheat crust--I'm not much of a pie crust-loving gal--to hold the filling.  I added an extra 1/2 cup of pecan halves to the filling to minimize the chances of that "goo" layer from forming and to maximize nuttiness.  I figured I could get away with using only half of the melted Earth Balance called for, and it worked out fine that way.  Midway through baking, when the recipe calls for a reduction in oven temperature, I buried a few scattered chunks of dark chocolate into the filling and proceeded with the baking.  By the time I cut into the pie a few hours later, the chocolate chunks had resolidified as I intended.  I never did try that pie my friend told me about, but my own might have been decadent enough to rival that other non-vegan (and from what I hear, quite pricey) version.

It may not have been a fancy vegan Thanksgiving meal, but I'm satisfied with it.  There was no pressure to compromise my lifestyle, and with sensible servings of relatively healthy dishes, I didn't feel like a glutton post-meal.  I say that's successful enough.

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