My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, November 26, 2010


I think I've finally come out of my gluttony-induced coma enough to post something about our Thanksgiving. :-)

Our neighbors Dave and Vistara invited us and our other neighbor Jenny (Octavio's mom) to join them for a vegan Thanksgiving feast. (Jenny's husband Steve had to be in California, or we'd have numbered a half dozen. Who'd guess that many vegans would be living in close proximity on a Wyoming mountainside? Just goes to show!) :-)

We brought the pumpkin pie (recipe below), cranberry sauce, and a bottle of Girasole Cabernet Sauvignon while Jenny brought organic salad and a bottle of organic Bordeaux wine whose long French name escapes me. Dave and Vistara provided the rest of the banquet: the vegan roast ~ a delicacy Dave created years ago and calls "Turkey Liberation Loaf" ~ mashed potatoes, delicious dressing, yams, and rich, savory gravy that Vistara makes from toasted sunflower seeds.

Vistara's delectable Harvest Stuffing 

Everything was delicious (and we ate waaaay too much of it all), and the table was beautiful, set out in their new sunroom with fresh pine boughs and candlelight. Too bad my camera froze up before I could photograph everything! (When I got home and consulted the trouble-shooting guide I was able to get it working again, but was unable to capture most of our evening on film!)

But at least I'd managed to get the photo of the dressing as well as this adorable one of Dave and Vistara!

Dave's looking suspiciously impish!

And just as critically, I also got Dave's recipe for the main entrée...

Dave's Turkey Liberation Loaf


2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
2 TBSP oil, veg broth or water (for sautéing)
1 TBSP sea salt
1 tsp oregano
2 1/2 cups finely chopped nuts (1/2 sunflower seeds and 1/2 walnuts or almonds)
2 quarts water
6 stalks organic celery, minced
1 tsp thyme
2 cups rolled oats, toasted


Bring water to boil. Add washed lentils and simmer till tender, about 40 minutes. Fry celery and seasonings in oil, broth or water over low heat 15-30 minutes, being careful not to scorch. Mix all ingredients together and pat into 2 oiled loaf pans.

Bake at 375ºF for at least 1 hour.

Mom's Boo-Boo Dressing

We were still so full from yesterday's overindulgence that we scrapped our plans to make our own full-blown vegan Thanksgiving dinner today (what were we thinking?!) But I did make one component of it ~ my mom's boo-boo dressing.

Cooking, especially for company, has always unnerved my mother. The first time she cooked Thanksgiving dinner for guests, in her high-strung state she completely misread the recipe and instead of adding a teaspoon each of sage, thyme and marjoram OR a tablespoon of poultry seasoning, she added a tablespoon of all of them! The result was the best dressing ever, and it's how she (and now I) made it thereafter, but on purpose! :-)

Mom's recipe called for a cup of melted margarine (yikes), which I substitute with this homemade vegan "chicken" broth to which I add 3/4 cup of nutritional yeast flakes and about 2 TBSP of onion powder. (Mix 1 rounded teaspoon of the mix per cup of hot water for broth).


12 cups (3 quarts) dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 - 2 cups vegetarian "chicken" broth
3/4 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 TBSP dried sage
1 TBSP dried thyme
1 TBSP dried marjoram
1 TBSP prairie seasoning (my name for poultry seasoning)


Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.

Put the bread crumbs in a very large bowl (or two large bowls).

Heat broth in a non-stick skillet over low-medium heat, then add minced onion and chopped celery and cook till onion is soft/translucent, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in the seasonings. Add a few bread crumbs and stir again, then pour the seasoned broth mixture over the bowl of bread crumbs and mix well. Add additional broth or enough hot water to moisten.
Bake in a covered baking dish at 350º for 1 hour.

Laloofah's Pumpkin Pie
(Inspired by a recipe from the original edition of Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler)

This is the pie I brought to Dave and Vistara's. It's always a hit at autumn parties and potlucks, and is best when you make it the day before and chill it overnight. The blackstrap molasses gives it a deep color and rich flavor, and the graham-cracker crust really sets it apart...

Preheat oven to 350ºF.


One unbaked 9-inch graham cracker crust*
3/4 lb firm organic tofu (I use Nasoya)
2 cups pumpkin
1 rounded cup of sucanat
2 TBSP organic unsweetened applesauce
2 TBSP blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice


Have the unbaked pie crust ready.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy, and spoon the mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until small cracks start to appear in the filling.

Cool, chill until set (at least two hours, overnight is best) and serve.

* I use FatFree Vegan's Oatmeal Cookie Crust recipe, subbing sucanat for the brown sugar and adding 1/2 TBSP agave nectar.


  1. I'm sure you have more vegan neighbors than I do! That is wonderful!

    Oh, the food sounds and looks really delicious, and Dave does look a bit impish; they look like a seriously delightful couple.

    Thanks for the recipes! I used your maple-cranberry recipe for our holiday dinner...and now I wish I had had your pumpkin pie recipe! Looks so yummy. I make pumpkin pie only once a year, but I'm bookmarking this for next year!

    Dave's loaf is awesome, as is the boo-boo stuffing! Both have such wonderful names too!

    Are you having your second meal tomorrow?

    Happy weekend Laurie! :)

  2. Rose ~ It is wonderful that there are that many vegans - 3 households out of 18 - in this small area (especially in WY). We had some other wonderful vegetarian neighbors but they moved to Montana a few years ago. Dave and Vistara's two sons are vegan also, but they live elsewhere so we can't legally count them. ;-)

    Speaking of vegan neighbors, I hope you and Andrea get to meet up one day soon! It's so funny that you live so close to one another, yet know each other only through the internet!

    You'd love Dave and Vistara, they're interesting people who have been through a lot and done a lot of wonderful things. Vistara was given her name by a yogi in India decades ago, by the way (you'd commented on how neat her name was once). It's Sanskrit for "expansive."

    You're very welcome for the recipes! I'm beyond tickled that you made the cranberry sauce recipe for your holiday meal! But what is this spartan self-denial with pumpkin pie? My motto is "Pumpkin pie - it isn't just for breakfast anymore!" LOL

    I'm not sure which components of our originally planned feast we'll have today. Leftover Boo-boo Stuffing for sure, and maybe kale and butternut squash. I was thinking I'd do our cutlets tomorrow, since it's supposed to be colder and snowy. I haven't had a chance to read through your post-Thanksgiving post yet, but I'm eager to see what you enjoyed at your mom's!

    Happy weekend to you too, Rose! I'll try to email you before it's over! :-)


  3. You're so lucky to have vegan neighbors! It sounds like a great time and everything sounds super delicious. Thank you so much for posting the stuffing recipe. I have yet to eat a vegan stuffing that I like, but this one sounds like one I'd love. Yum yum!

  4. Molly ~ We are lucky indeed to have vegan neighbors, especially these vegan neighbors. Vistara was the one who taught me how to cook tofu back in 1996 when we stopped eating cows and pigs. She started me out with blackened cajun tofu and I never looked back! :-) At about the same time she also gave me a copy of her book What's Wrong with Eating Meat?, the first book on the subject I ever read. And she introduced us to Howard Lyman (they're very old friends), who is one of the people chiefly responsible for our becoming vegan. So she's made a big difference in our lives! Plus, she's a lot of fun. :-)

    This dressing is so savory and flavorful, with a nice little crunch from the celery - if savory is the taste you enjoy in your dressing (it is for me), you'll love this. I even like it cold the next day. Every year, as soon as I've taken my first bite, I always wonder why I only make it at Thanksgiving! :-)

    I hope you all enjoyed a festive, cozy holiday with lots of delicious goodies!

  5. Wow, did you ever have a great vegan mentor! Very cool, Laurie, and again, very lucky!

    We did enjoy our Thanksgiving, which I've debated blogging about because it really was quite boring, as far as a blog post goes. We didn't have anywhere to go, so we just stayed at home with the girls and feasted. It was a perfect day. :)

  6. Vistara has written a book? I'm so impressed! You do have special was meant to happen that way probably. What a beautiful name she has too. I almost want to have kids just to pick lovely names for them!

    It's shameful (on my part) that I haven't gotten in touch with Andrea...I have to do that soon!

    Pumpkin pie isn't just for breakfast anymore...LOL :)

    Truth be told, my favorite non-summery pie is walnut-raisin, so if I had my druthers, that would be the "not just for breakfast"pie for me. I do want to try your recipe though!

    Those red lentil/quinoa cutlets sound good, and are so nutritious. I like Susan's site, and should really go there more often, so I can eat super healthy like you!

    Have a great rest of the weekend Laurie!


  7. Molly ~ Vistara was a fantastic mentor! I had a few other awesome ones too, but she was my only local one. She and Dave had been vegetarian for something like 32 years by the time of the Great Blackened Cajun Tofu Lesson (they went vegan since then), and though she and Dave had already been our neighbors for a few years, we bonded over the tofu. :-)

    Your Thanksgiving does indeed sound perfect, and I think a perfect day deserves to be blogged about, don't you? :-)

  8. Rose ~ Vistara not only wrote a book, she does beautiful paintings, teaches permaculture classes, and about 10 years ago she taught herself how to write music and play guitar so she could write and play the songs that were bubbling up inside her head! And she then went on to produce and record a CD of her music, called Rising Wolf.

    We've had some exceptionally wonderful neighbors here, and some real horror shows. We could have our own reality TV show called, "Extreme Neighborhood." ;-)

    Hey, you do have kids! They just happen to be furry ones. :-) You can always give them those lovely names you're wanting to bestow!

    I admit, my favorite pie of any season is pecan pie (pumpkin comes in 2nd). I haven't made one since moving here, though, since our former neighbor Annie - a very adept baker - made one only to have all the filling boil up out of the crust while it baked! Apparently baking pecan pies at our altitude doesn't work well. (I had a somewhat similar FAIL! making a previously foolproof recipe for almond roca after moving here too). At any rate, pecan pie is probably too rich for me to be eating now! But once upon a time...

    My cousin Valerie and I were visiting my paternal grandparents at their Maine farm. We were both teenagers at the time, and we were mad at our grandmother (who was not a very nice person), because she made us do so much work and showed no appreciation, despite the fact we were the only ones of her 9 grandchildren who visited her regularly. In fact, she'd spend all her time always going on about how wonderful her eldest granddaughter was, reading us her letters, putting her photos all over the house (we were lucky to have one photo of us on display), yet this Exalted Grandchild hadn't visited in years. So Valerie and I were kvetching about the injustice of it all when we spied a freshly baked pecan pie cooling on the kitchen counter while my grandmother was napping. We gave each other a look, snatched the pie, ran off to the woodshed with it and ate the entire thing with our fingers, while continuing our kvetchfest. We showed up back in the kitchen with our hands and faces smeared with incriminating evidence just as my grandmother discovered her pie was missing. It wasn't pretty. (But it was soooo worth it! LOL)

    Susan V.'s got such wonderful recipes on her site, I've never tried one that wasn't a hit and I've barely scratched the surface of all the recipes she's posted. She's coming out with a cookbook in the future (hopefully near future) and I will definitely be in line for it.

    Enjoy a lovely day, Rose! (We have another winter storm predicted, we'll see if it materializes this time!) xoxo

  9. Great story about pecan pie capers!!! Not to suggest pairing pecan pie with capers...

    I never think about how altitude effects baking and cooking...interesting. I'd have a steep learning curve on that one!

    Oh, Vistara sounds like an amazing person! I'm inspired just reading about her!

    Your neighbors really do run the gamut: 4-wheeling hunters to gentle, creative vegans. I like the Extreme Neighborhood idea...maybe you should pitch it to some TV exec, or even "This American Life", I know I'd tune in!

  10. Rose ~ LOL - I'm glad you weren't suggesting pairing pecan pie with capers! Because if you were, then I would absolutely insist you try the peanut butter & Vegenaise sandwich! ;-)

    I don't often have to make any adjustments for our altitude, except to cook some things longer. Back in my bad old days when I'd bake things from box mixes, I'd have to follow the high altitude baking directions but rarely need to do anything special to from-scratch recipes. But when it comes to almond roca and pecan pie, all bets are off!

    We watched "Wife Swap" a few times a hundred years ago, and the way they'd pair up families from opposite ends of some spectrum does make me think of our neighborhood. We are lucky to have neighbors like Steve and Jenny and Dave and Vistara, especially since we peaceful earth-loving, wildlife-nurturing types are rare out here in one of the "Kill It or Drill It" states.

  11. I'm glad I didn't miss this post and I'm glad I didn't try to read it during my 7 mins lunch period on Tuesday! There was a lot there.

    Thanks for sharing the photo of Dave and Vistara - I think I had seen a photo of Vistara before but not Dave.
    Poo to your camera for freezing up. I would have loved to see the photo of the lentil loaf he made - sounds yummy but I can't think what it would look like. Vistara's dressing looks absolutely scrumptious. I like things to be cooked crusty and toasty and that looked wonderful!
    As did your pumpkin pie - love the dark rich color. I took the time to go check out the oatmeal crumb crust link but actually was even more fascinated with the filling with those tiny fruit whose name I've already forgotten but anyway - both the crust and filling sound great!
    I didn't realize that you passed on your idea to have a second feast on Friday. Can't say I blame you - except that when you go to someone else's house you don't have leftovers. I went back to Kathleen's Friday expressly for the leftovers - the best part! So I'm glad you at least made your mom's dressing.
    Thankfully, I'm reading this after a filling breakfast of your amazing gingerbread waffles or I'd be drooling. Thanks for the "delicious" post.

  12. Jo ~ I'm glad you were able to visit this post when you had more leisurely time than a 7-minute lunch break (okay, that's just crazy, that is!) and that you enjoyed it!

    Poo on my camera freezing up indeed! I mostly regret not getting a photo of the pretty table with everyone's plates of food, glasses of wine, and happy faces! The loaf was delicious, but wasn't terribly photogenic since Vistara had cut it up into pieces to serve it. But if it had still been whole in the pan, it would have looked crusty and toasty the way you'd like it (me too!)! :-)

    If I can wrangle that dressing recipe from Vistara, I'll share it with you (those two are awful about checking their email!) It was soooo good, and so pretty!

    And luckily for us, Dave and Vistara DID share leftovers! We left them with a sizable portion of pie and most of the cranberry sauce, and they sent us home with loaf, dressing, and mashed potatoes and gravy! YUM! (That gravy of Vistara's is awesome, too!)

    Anyway, it was a great time and I'm glad I got to share it with you here!

    And those gingerbread waffles you love so much really are filling, aren't they? (Wish I could remember where that recipe came from...)

  13. I'm thrilled that you went home with leftovers - that sounded like a win-win solution with you leaving some of yours and taking some of theirs. If she shares the dressing, great - but I know how that can be so no sweat if you don't get it.

    Those waffles ARE very filling and besides my breakfast, I froze two bags of them. I love it that no one else eats them - MORE FOR ME!!!

    As you can see, I got a whole half hour today and caught up on your posts. I'm ready for more - that never happens!! :-) Have a great week.

  14. Jo ~ Whoo-hoo! A whole half hour to fritter away at lunch! :-D I'm sorry you ran out of current posts to read, but am glad you were able to catch up on the latest ones, enter the drawing, and even reply to my comments to you! Your visits and comments are always a real treat for me, and I appreciate your spending your break on my blog! :-)

    I hope you'll have some more lunch breaks and spare time this month, because I have lots of fun (well, at least I think so! lol) posts in the hopper. I just need a bit more spare time myself to get them finished! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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