Least favorite day of the year

Just for kicks, I googled “vegetarian least favorite day of the year” and the top result was -do I really need to say this?- Thanksgiving really sucks for vegetarians. Yep, it’s the least favorite day of the year, no contest. I think most vegetarians fantasize about having the option of cowering in the closet amid the impending doom and dread of being a social outcast on this most sociable of family centric holidays. Or drink. Heavily.

Me, I’ve become quite fond of mashed potatoes and carrots. I miss green beans but not the bacon that is snuggled in there with them. Or in the case of passive aggressive relatives, it’s smuggled; they think you won’t notice. Really? Sans direct evidence, the tip off is wafting pork flavoring, not subtle that one. Then, invariably over dinner, someone charitably suggests that eating turkey is okay because it’s like chicken, you know, poultry, meaning it’s “not meat” leaving me with the oddest compulsion to stand and deliver a full blown PSA, tapping the lectern as I go through powerpoint slides on the constitution of animal proteins. Like I said, social outcast -even though I do or say no such thing. By default, if you’re a vegetarian, you’re the party pooper -guaranteed. That’s why alcohol can be immensely useful to ingratiate oneself to the hostess except, my family doesn’t drink. They have nothing against it but it’s not a habit so no one thinks to bring any. So I am sure to. I like to bring a variety that always gets a giggle.

In all seriousness my family is good natured about it. They’ve actually enjoyed things I’ve brought, enough to request a repeat performance. Such as my quinoa recipe. Quinoa (keen-wah) is a highly nutritious grain, a so called “super food” with loads of protein. It is also a complete protein with all the amino acids your body needs. It has no gluten either making it ideal for lactose or gluten intolerants alike. It is versatile like rice and similar in texture to couscous. If you need a dietary option for someone at your table, here’s my recipe best as I can recall it:

Quinoa, mexican style.
Ingredients:
2 cups Quinoa
1 chopped onion
Garlic and salt
3-4 mediumish sized tomatoes, chopped
Vegetable bullion or broth
Water
However you break up the proportions of bullion and water is up to you but you need 2 cups of liquid to every cup of quinoa. Some say the ratio is 1:3 but then some say it’s 1:1-1/2. So, I use 1:2 and it works for me. I generally use one or sometimes two cubes of the Knorr vegetable bullion. I use the fat softish cubes that come 6 to a box you keep in the fridge, not the dry hard little ones that come in a small bottle.

Put the quinoa in a pot with an inch or two of water to cover it and let it boil for about five or six minutes. The water will become yellow and you’ll notice some bubbles on the top that look like soap. That’s because it is. Saponins coat the grains which protect the plant from insects. I guess soap tastes nasty to them too.

Drain the quinoa in a fine colander and rinse it several times till the water runs clear.

In a skillet, add a little oil to sautee the garlic and chopped onion. When the onion and garlic is nearly done, add the quinoa, stirring it well to coat all the grains.

Add your liquids, throw the tomatoes in (don’t bother stirring them in, they’ll end up on top anyway) and turn the heat up to bring it to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to its lowest setting and cover it. Cook for 20 minutes. In other words, you cook it exactly like steamed rice. Or at least, that’s the way I cook rice. This makes …oh… let’s say 6 servings. In my family, it serves 3 with enough left over I can have it for lunch the next day. Obviously your mileage may vary.

Well, there you go. A recipe, first ever. Food and Fashion go hand in hand. Be safe, be happy and I hope your holiday is grand!

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25 comments

  1. Brina says:

    I love quinoa and eat it for breakfast like oatmeal, I usually put tahini in mine.
    Quinoa also makes great tabouli for the gluten-free.
    I like how some folks think that the stuff must be okey for vegetarians even if it’s been inside the bird. One of my nephew is allergic to bird–poultry–so we always have to have an alternative meat for him, being that he’s not a vegetarian–;-0.

  2. Becky says:

    My sister and her two daughters are now vegetarians. But not her husband. She is hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the inlaw side of the family. It will be interesting how she figures this one out. This will be her first Thanksgiving since becoming vegetarian.

    I wish everyone a wonderful day despite what you eat. Lots of family, fun, laughs and memories. A fond memory we all have in our family is, later in the day, after being stuffed full of food and lots of beer, we decided to play Pictionary. My brother was quite drunk and proceeded to draw his picture of the word he had chosen. It was really bad, but sort of obscene looking. He couldn’t understand what we were all laughing at and why we couldn’t guess the word. People get so silly when drinking. Enjoy your day.

  3. treva says:

    There is so much about thanksgiving that is not meat inspired, i ‘ve never found it to be a problem. We always have lots of Veggies – corn, grean beans, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, along with Stuffing which does not have meat in it, and cooked with vegetable broth. and Rolls, pies and desserts seem to fill the holes. We have vegans, lacto ova vegetarians, and some get down and eat like a cave man meat eaters at our thanksgiving. One family brings an traditional Indian vegetarian rice dish with curry, peanuts and peas in it. As long as there is bread to fill the holes, we do fine, and alcohol to fill the conversation fuax pas’. Hope you have a great time

  4. Milena says:

    My boyfriend is a vegetarian. One year at thanksgiving, his cousin was serving the food on the plates and passing them down. She snuck outside and got some twigs, leaves, moss and berries that she decoratively put on my boyfriend’s plate and passed it down. He thought it was pretty funny :)
    But seriously, there are too many delicious things about thanksgiving supper, that missing turkey is no big deal. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

  5. Eric H says:

    Ferdinand the duck was partly right when he said, “Christmas means CARNAGE! CHRISTMAS MEANS CARNAGE!” Christmas is the second seasonal carnage.

  6. Dave says:

    When I was living and working in Israel and had a party imagine accomodating folks that observe kosher so no meat and dairy mixed plus a couple vegans, plus me and some other goys. It was a wonderful buffet on disposal plates!

    When I know someone is a vegan I ask at what level and try to have enough items that they can enjoy a meal. Most usually offer to bring a main dish.

    Hope everyone has as safe Thanksgiving …my sister is surviving breast cancer from a year ago so mine is great!

  7. We’ve made what we call Tofu Bomb for Thanksgiving. The recipe calls it tofu turkey, but it’s quite yummy. Tofu drained & pressed into a colander, filled with veggie stuffing and inverted onto a pan to bake. Brush with sesame oil & tamair mix. Make mushroom gravy. Yum!

    I dislike a day of gorging on food while much of the world starves. Seems like a disconnect.

    Marguerite

  8. LizPf says:

    Thanks for the recipe … I have a box of quinoa in my pantry; now I know what to do with it.

    My family is happily omnivorous, but a good friend is almost vegan, for medical reasons. [She can have fish on occasion, but we joke that J is allergic to food.] J does not cook meat, so things were quite awkward when she invited us and some friends for Thanksgiving. For me, it wouldn’t be right without a turkey!

    Since we moved to this state, we’ve been sharing the day with friends who keep kosher. So no bacon in the green beans here! We’re always careful to have enough foods on the table for vegetarian friends though, and cooking kosher definitely helps with this. [No cream sauces or butter … the only things with meat are the bird, gravy, and stuffing.]

  9. Pat says:

    Our vegetarian family traditionally has home-made vegatable pot pie for our Thanksgiving main course. And lots of other vegetable side dishes. What everybody wants is a compilation of all the dishes that are the most work to prepare. While we always have lots of good food to choose from, I long for a way to celebrate that isn’t so much work!

  10. LisaB says:

    Thanks so much for posting the recipe. I’ve been wanting to try this for a while now. I wonder if my local mom and pop grocery store carries quinoa. It’s going on the grocery list now.

    Despite what any of us eat today, we have much to be thankful for.

  11. Robyn says:

    Here’s the thing about bacon: I love it. Except in green beans. That’s disgusting, and a great way to turn something healthy into something greasy and not healthy. My in-laws do that, and my mom and I try to take over the green bean dish so we can have fresh beans and no bacon.

    But the funny thing is, many vegetarians I know don’t have any desire to eat meat … except bacon. They really miss bacon.

  12. Tofurkey! I was almost hostile when testing this at Trader Joe’s and I said to the preparer ” This IS tofu right??” because the flavor and texture was so close. Actually almost too close to enjoy as I don’t particularly like nor crave meat. However my non-veggie finace loved it and we decided we would make it for ourselves and a couple of friends(who are excited to try it) for Thanksgiving.
    As far as my family is concerned they think that my twin sister and I are silly to have stopped eating meat, but they are happy to accommodate. And I must say that the wine is always a help either way!

  13. handsofgold says:

    thanksgiving?
    picture being a vegetarian and kosher…
    everyone is scared to invite you,
    if you’re lucky to get an invitation…
    they don’t know what to feed you!
    oh well!

    17 years and counting
    without eating that poor bird…
    so what am i bring to the festivites?
    bread and wine! (of course)
    walnut sage and cranberry/wheatberry….
    enjoy !
    happy thanksgiving everyone. . .

  14. Kathleen says:

    Milena: hilarious about the twigs and berries. That is the sort of thing I’d do. Oh wait! I just thought of something. I’ve never hosted a meal with my MIL in attendance. I’ll have to figure out a way to work in that joke.

    Dave: thanks for sharing the news. My younger sister also had breast cancer but is faring well.

    Marguerite: my friend Sally says we should fast on T-day. I refused to celebrate it for years (I obviously have a history of being a wet blanket on thanksgiving) in a misguided attempt at solidarity with Native Americans -who around here, are as likely to celebrate as any. I’ve never been fond of tofu. I like seitan very much but the gluten overdose gives me gas (tmi, sorry).

    Julia: garlic is like salt, you add to taste. In my house, two cloves is scarce worth the effort. Even my son won’t eat a baked potato without fresh garlic. I suppose two is a start. I dare not use any less than four or five. My husband would leave me.

    Pat: Vegetarian pot pie sounds grand. I’ll have to try that. The best way to get out of work is to eat at someone else’s house. The side benefit being the absence of the collateral damage of leftovers.

    Robyn: I used to miss bacon but the smell is now a definite turn off. The odor is too cloying and greasy. I miss carnitas sometimes.

  15. Sue T. says:

    Thanks for the quinoa recipe! I will definitely be passing that on to my daughter. She turned me on to a wonderful packaged grain mix at Trader Joe’s called Harvest Grains Blend – Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzos and red quinoa. There’s no Trader Joe’s down where she lives (lower Shenandoah Valley of Virginia), so whenever she comes up to visit, we make a Trader Joe’s run where she stocks up on as many bags of this mix as she can decently get away with.

  16. Emmy Jay says:

    I’m a vegetarian too — but the people we usually spend The Day with are big on both wine and pies, so at least I have something to look forward to. (Quinoa is probably my favorite grain, but I don’t make it often enough. Thanks for reminding me. )

  17. Ioanna says:

    Ha ha ha. “Chicken is not really meat.” I didn’t know families said that outside of Cyprus. My grandmother used to routinely put bacon pieces in rice pilaf/bulgar wheat for me after I told her I stopped eating meat. She didn’t understand my protesting. Here the most dreaded holiday for vegetarians is Easter. No contest. Greek Easter involves so much meat it makes Thanksgiving seem completely harmless by comparison. Think practically the whole of a sheep rotating over coals. Think just a side of salad and some roasted potatoes.

    I’m surprised nobody suggested green bean or broccoli casserole. Those are awesome Thanksgiving staples if you’re not vegan. My sister makes vegetarian shepherds pie (she’s in England) and it’s really really good. Also, I agree with Dawn. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie! And cranberry sauce! What more do you need!

    Thanks for the quinoa recipe Kathleen. I tried making it curried but yours sounds sooo much better. Garlic, yey! Oh and I also don’t care for tofu. Which I guess is insulting to some people’s preconceptions on what a vegetarian should eat. I’ve gotten glares saying that.

  18. Heather says:

    Loved this post! My family used to say things to me like ‘What do you EAT?’. I know it was perplexing to them (my grandfather had a cattle farm-enough said). Luckily, my Mom’s Thanksgiving dinner always has plenty of meatless dishes.

  19. Wacky Hermit says:

    Robyn: try Bacon Salt. There’s no bacon in it, but one taste and you’ll swear there is. It’s even kosher! (For vegetarians, some of the varieties contain milk; read the ingredient list.)

  20. Lisa B. in Portland says:

    Or try liquid smoke flavoring. Isn’t that what it is about missing bacon? Mostly the smoke flavor?

    We had TG at my sister-in-law’s. My other SIL and 2 of her kids are gluten-intolerant and I’m lactose-intolerant (but the pills help) and my DH and I don’t eat pork or shellfish (we’re not Jewish but he doesn’t cuz the Bible says not to and I don’t cuz pork makes me ill and it and shellfish are actually pretty nasty if you look them up). It actually worked out ok and we don’t put bacon in the green beans, we make the casserole with the crispy onions on top. My grandma always used to put bacon in and I agree that it’s gross. And while we’re on the subject, tofu and soy products make me ill, too, so they’re out if I ever became vegetarian.

    I hope everyone had a good time.

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