Saturday, January 30, 2010

Vegan Thanksgiving Celebration 2009

I have heard that many people dislike Durham, NC for one reason or another. I, on the other hand, am enamored with this city. It has 64 parks, awesome local restaurants, a bountiful farmers market, open-minded people, a large diverse population, and one awesome vegetarian society. I did not know before moving to Durham, but it has a very active and committed population of vegetarians. I always thought I had to move to California to find this.

Nope, it is right here in Durham.
I feel like one of the luckiest veggies in the country because Durham is home to the largest vegan Thanksgiving celebration in the country. I would suspect, even the largest in the world. John and I were able to attend the 2009 vegan feast as one of 784 guests from 41 cities. Some of the guests traveled from Florida, Maryland, Illinois, South Carolina, and Virginia. We were fortunate to sit at the "Davis" table with some of our vegetarian friends during the 2009 celebration. As usual, the company and the food were amazing.

(Top row- left to right: Beth, Missy, Jody, John.
Bottom Row- left to right: John, Me, and Christine)

Many people think that one couldn't possibly have a fulfilling Thanksgiving meal that is vegan. They would be wrong. There were so many delicious choices that I had to severely limit myself. I went away feeling full and satisfied. I enjoyed everything on my plate. My favorites included the mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy and the raspberry-cranberry relish. While both of those dishes are traditional North American Thanksgiving fare, these were the best versions I had ever had. The relish was the perfect mix of sweet and tart and was a perfect accompaniment to the savory delights on my plate. The mushroom gravy was nothing short of heavenly. As for the non-traditional dishes, the lime-marinated seitan with a peppercorn fig glaze kept me wanting, and going back for more.

If all of that was not enough, we were also presented with sweets. There were pies, cookies, truffles, cobblers, and mini bite-sized heavenly desserts. There was no way for me to pick a favorite. I delighted in every bit of sweetness that my taste buds experienced.

Overall, the menu included dishes high in protein, vegetables, vitamins, and TASTE!

The menu included:


  • Lentil-brown/wild rice cakes with lemon tahini
  • Quinoa salad with olives, shallots, pine nuts, sundried tomatoes, and garlic
  • Breads, crustinis & pita with Egyptian red lentil and artichoke-spinach hummu, baba ganouj, and Brussels sprout "pâté"
  • Marinated olives, spiced pecans, roasted chestnuts
Main Courses
  • Lime-marinated seared seitan with peppercorns and fig glaze
  • Roasted garlic olive oil mashed potatoes with chives, mushroom gravy, apple-pecan stuffing, and fresh raspberry-cranberry relish
  • Dilip's macadamia nut blackened Cajun tempeh
  • Wild mushroom and French green lentil risotto with seared tempeh
  • Pesto-drizzled polenta layered with crispy seitan, eggplant, wild mushroom, and spinach
  • Turkish rice pilaf with almonds
  • Braised green beans with ginger curry and coconut milk au gratin
  • Porcini-lentil cannelloni
  • Fall squashes cubed and roasted with yellow beet chunks, cranberry, chestnuts, and dill weed
  • Braised garlicky greens
  • Organic Conchiglie pasta with vegan Bolognese sauce (Merlot wine, sauteed peppers and onions, olive chunks, sliced garlic, and oregano)
  • Mixed mushroom-Napa Valley Cabbage with Greek olive oil, lemon, and garlic (raw dish)
  • Oyster mushroom tempura
  • Steamed Heirloom fall vegetables
  • Carpaccio vegetale - very thinly sliced vegetables as a raw "pasta" (raw dish)
  • Corn and mild green chili bisque
  • Sweet and savory pumpkin leek velouté (thickened soup)
  • Fresh seasonal fruits
  • Phyllo cookies
  • Pumpkin pie with pomegranate glaze
  • Ginger-apple pie with frozen coconut cream
  • Pear crisp
I am certain when I say that nothing was missing from this meal. I recommend it to anyone- meat-eater or vegetarian. I loved everything on my plate.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

It is 2010, a new year, and new decade. I feel like I should set a major, life changing resolution for the coming year and decade. John has two resolutions. The first is to get more exercise and the second is to watch less TV. I can live with the more exercise. John is in good shape, but he realizes the importance of weekly, if not daily, exercise. I tend to agree.

I do not wish to set my resolution as either of those things. I feel passionate about neither. (Although, I will go and exercise with him. It will be good for me). After my 1994/1995 resolution of going vegetarian, there is really nothing that I can resolve to do that will top going vegetarian. It was the best resolution I ever made and I have stuck with it for all these years. It was a major life change and I will never go back. The resolution helped my health, my body, my mental health, the planet, the environment, and animals. Nothing else can compare.

Do I really need to top that resolution? Probably not. I just do not feel motivated enough to make a huge resolution and announce it to the blogosphere. I have several small resolutions in mind. One is of a personal nature that I do not want to announce. If I can accomplish my resolution, which might not be possible in one year, the end result will be overall better health mentally and physically.

The second is that I want to take more trips. Weekend trips, day trips, week trips, etc. My 2009 was lacking in vacations and getaways and by December, I severely needed a mental break. In 2010 I want to go places with John, with friends, and with family. I want to visit Ashville again, the beach, wineries, etc. Anyone want to plan a short trip with me?

I guess that is good enough. Happy 2010!