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Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

Appetizers Salsa, Guacamole, Corn chips, Raw vegetables, Eggplant Bourrekas, Barbeque Tofu
Soup Garlicky "Cream" of Celery Soup
Main Course Dishes Pinto Beans, Cranberry Relish, Wilted Spinach Salad, Maple Sweet Potatoes
Breads Corn Bread, Pumpkin Biscuits Desserts Rum Balls, Chocolate Mousse, Non-dairy whipped cream, Apple/Strawberry Crumble, Tofutti (soy-based ice-cream substitute)

Appetizers

Guacamole

There are many ways to make guacamole. If you really like the creamy stuff, or guacamole with chunks of tomato in it, you probably won't like the way I make it.

2 or 3 nice ripe avocadoes
Salsa of your choice
Onions, finely diced
Garlic, finely diced

Cut the avocadoes in half and scoop them into a bowl, discarding the pits and skins. Mash them up with a fork or pastry blender. You don't want enormous chunks, but small chunks add character. Add the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend.

The proportions are pretty much a matter of individual taste. For two or three avocadoes, I use about 1/8 to 1/4 cup very finely diced onion and 1 finely diced garlic clove. If the garlic is not very fresh, I might add a little more. Salsa is added to taste. The best part of making guacamole this way is tasting it to make sure you have enough salsa!

Eggplant Bourrekas

Recipes coming soon.

Barbeque Tofu

These are a favorite among many of our friends who can't stand tofu. Cooked properly, they have a chewy texture that is (they tell me) reminiscent of BBQ ribs. I originally got the idea for these from Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler, but have simplified the recipe considerably over the years.

1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu, frozen

Defrost the tofu, cut it into "rib-like" strips, and squeeze the water out by pressing the strips between layers of paper towels. (The favorite method in my house involves a stack of college yearbooks, but the pressing can also be done by hand.)

Brush some oil lightly on a baking sheet and arrange the tofu strips on the sheet. Brush BBQ sauce (your own or a commercial variety) on the tofu, then turn each over and brush the other side.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.
Turn the tofu strips over and baste them with BBQ sauce again.
Bake another 15-20 minutes.

Note: One pound of tofu is rarely enough.

Garlicky Cream of Celery Soup

This is based on a recipe by Nava Atlas, whose book Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons should be required reading for all soup lovers.

One large bunch of celery
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons flour
3 medium potatoes, diced
2 teaspoons or cubes bouillion
Skim milk or soy milk
freshly-ground pepper to taste

Cut off the leaves from the celery stalks and set them aside.
Set aside two stalks of celery and dice the rest of the bunch.
Saute the onions and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of oil until the onions are golden.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir thoroughly.
Add the chopped celery and potatoes and cover with water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, adding the bouillion and the chopped celery leaves.
Simmer about 30 minutes then remove from heat.
Meanwhile, chop the remaining two stalks of celery and saute in 1 teaspoon oil until golden.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, or with a hand blender, until smooth.
Add milk or soy milk to give it a thick-soup consistency.
Add the sauteed chopped celery.
Heat gently when ready to serve.

Main Course Dishes

Pinto Beans

I grew up eating pinto beans and cornbread at least once a week -- it was a cheap and nutritious meal for a large family with a small income. Today I eat them because I really like pinto beans. My mother seasoned her pinto beans with salt pork. I've found other ways.

Before cooking, you must sort through the beans to look for broken and discolored beans. If you have cats, they will be happy to help out with the sorting process. After the beans have been sorted, wash the good beans thoroughly with cold water -- several rinses if necessary -- to get rid of any dirt and other debris that may cling to the beans.

I cook pinto beans in a pressure cooker by bringing them to a boil for 5 minutes, letting them sit for an hour, draining and rinsing them thoroughly, then cooking under pressure for 25-30 minutes with fresh water and seasoning. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can soak the beans in cold water overnight or up to 24 hours, rinse and discard the soaking water, bring them to a boil with fresh water and seasonings, and cook at a fast simmer for 30-45 minutes until tender. Or you can try cooking them in a crock pot at a slow simmer overnight.

For 1 pound of pinto beans, here's the seasoning I use:

2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon oil
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 dried red chili pepper (optional)

Leftover beans can be pureed for dip or taco filling. Add 1 clove of garlic per pound of beans.

Cranberry Relish

My teenage son, who is very fond of pineapple, loves to make this relish every year for Thanksgiving. We found the original recipe in Nava Atlas's book Vegetarian Celebrations.

1 pound fresh cranberries
1 pound can pineapple chunks with liquid
2 medium apples, cut into chunks
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
1/3 cup or more brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Chop the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped (NOT until they are mush!). Scrape them into a mixing bowl.
Drain the pineapple chunks. Put the juice into a bowl and the chunks into the food processor (no need to clean it out) along with the apples and pecans.
Process the pineapple, apples, and nuts until coarsely chopped and then add them to the cranberries.
Mix the pineapple juice with the sugar and cinnamon and then mix thoroughly with the fruit.
Taste and add more sugar if you want a sweeter relish.
Chill for several hours before serving.

Wilted Spinach Salad

Recipe coming soon.

Maple Sweet Potatoes

I am indebted to Nava Atlas for the inspiration for this recipe.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 stick margarine, melted
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Arrange the potato slices in rows in a casserole dish.
Combine the syrup, margarine, juice, and cinnamon.
Pour the syrup mixture over the sweet potatoes.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20 to 30 minutes.

Breads

Corn Bread

Many years ago, I started making cornbread using the recipe on the back of the Aunt Jemima Cornmeal box. Over the years, I have modified that recipe extensively to fit the way I cook. I always use my cast-iron cornstick pans to make cornbread, though it tastes equally good cooked in an 8x8 square dish.

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
wheat germ (optional) about 1/4 cup
soy grits (optional), aboutg 1/4 cup
4 teaspoons baking powder
a dash of salt

Stir dry ingredients together, then add:

1 egg or egg replacer to equal 1 egg
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Note: To make this recipe without milk products, substitute 1 cup soy milk for the milk powder and water.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry just until they are blended. Spoon into greased cornstick pans or an 8x8 baking dish.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Pumpkin Biscuits

1 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons margarine
1/3 cup apple or orange juice
1 cup mashed pumpkin
3 Tablespoons honey
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Place the flours, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly to combine.
Blend the margarine in with a pastry blender, a fork, or your hands until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
Add the juice, pumpkin, honey, and optional nuts and cranberries, and stir with a fork to form a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead 10-15 times, until the dough loses its stickiness.
Shape the dough into about 16 small balls.
Place on an oiled cookie sheet, pressing them down to flatten.

Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of one tests clean.
Serve hot.

Desserts

Rum Balls

1-1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
2 cups (8 ounces) ground walnuts
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup honey
confectioner's sugar

Combine first four ingredients and blend thoroughly.
Shape mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter.
Roll balls in confectioner's sugar.
Makes about 30.
Store in tightly-covered container.

Apple/Strawberry Crumble

I first encountered this recipe as a Girl Scout. We made it in a cardboard box oven heated with charcoal. Since then I've seen the same or similar recipe under a variety of different names. Any way you look at it, this is very good.

1 can strawberry pie filling
1 can apple pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick margarine

Spread the pie fillings in a 9x13 pan, one flavor to each side of the pan.
Cut the margarine into the cake mix with a pastry blender.
Sprinkle the cake mix mixture evenly over the pie filling.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the pie filling is hot and bubbly.