Here in Canada it is Thanksgiving long weekend. For the last few years we have gone to the house of one of my sisters for Thanksgiving and wrestled with the “vegan problem”. Over half of our family is now vegetarian or vegan- mostly the women- and yet we tend to be the ones who end up cooking the feasts, including turkey. Last year the hostess (a vegan) bowed to long-standing family traditions and cooked a free-range cruelty-free turkey for the carnivores but also adopted a turkey (“Velma”) from Farm Sanctuary (farmsanctuary.org-check them out for some smiles, some tears, and great gift ideas too).
This year we had an added complication- since Thanksgiving is freakishly early this year, it also fell on the same weekend as the Victoria Marathon and 8K, which several of us entered. Because the run begins so early in the morning, we booked hotel rooms and went to Victoria on Saturday, to run on Sunday. None of us wanted to then go home after the run and begin preparing a Thanksgiving meal for our last day off. So, we completely broke with tradition (or perhaps started a new tradition?) and instead had a Thanksgiving vegan buffet brunch today. My sister also adopted a second turkey (“Antoinette”) from Farm Sanctuary and both of their portraits sat up at the buffet table. It was done with a sense of humour and we had many laughs as we talked about the weekend’s activities, gave thanks, and ate lots of delicious food.
I have a big family with lots of siblings, so you’ll hear about them a lot. In the last few years some of us have close calls with various health issues, but we’ve been lucky enough to not lose anyone other than our parents. And, due to lifestyle changes, we hope that we will all be around a long time more. Remember the sister I just wrote about, who quit smoking last New Year? Well, she also joined us for the first time in the Victoria 8K race. Each year that we do these various runs, we drag in more and more family to join us, and as the group gets bigger, I believe that it is strengthening our family bond as well as improving our health. At brunch today, she shared a Thanksgiving poem she composed on the way home from yesterday’s run. I thought it was funny and nice and captured so well the new hope in my family, so I asked her if I could share it with my readers. Here it is:
Well, first of all I’m thankful that we’re all alive today,
Though some of us are creaking now, and turning slightly grey.
Now, to hang out with my fam’ly there’s a price I’ve had to pay,
At first I thought, “Oh I can walk for five or seven K”.
But I can see the writing on the wall as clear as day,
I know you’re gonna make me run a marathon one day!
So thank you very much for that. That’s all I’ve got to say!
And all I have to say is- it sounds to me like a challenge, so if my sister J. is getting ready to train for a marathon, I can promise that I (and several others, I’m sure) will be right beside her. I think she may have just upped the ante for us all, what do you think?
OK- enough family stuff, on to the recipe. Because we can’t have a feast without Brussels sprouts in our family, that is what I took to the buffet. But, since we were already breaking with tradition, I decided to try veganizing a recipe I had seen for making them with bacon and horseradish cream. Instead of the fatty cream, I used my old standby, silken tofu, and garnished with the easiest bacon substitute you’ll ever find. It all turned out excellent, if I say so myself, and I can assure you that nobody will know that you didn’t use real cream if you make this sauce.
Vegan Brussels Sprouts and Bacon in Horseradish Cream
Brussels sprouts- 1kg/ 2lb (ish)
firm silken tofu- 1/2 package (175g/ 6 oz)
creamed horseradish- 2 tsp or to taste
plain soymilk or water- a tsp or so to thin the sauce
salt and pepper- to taste
olive oil or grapeseed oil- several tablespoons to drizzle
wasabi powder (optional-for heat lovers)- 1/4 tsp. or to taste
shiitake mushrooms (optional- used for the bacon topping)- 115g/ 4 oz. or more
Clean the sprouts and cut them in half for more even cooking. Spread them on a baking pan and drizzle the olive oil over them. Stir to spread evenly. Put pan in a hot oven- about 425 degrees F. Check the sprouts every few minutes and stir them up. When they turn a beautiful bright green with brown caramelized skin (20 minutes or less), take them out and sprinkle sparingly with salt and pepper. Even if they are not cooked through, they will continue to cook for a few minutes and the caramelization will make them sweet and delicious.
In the meantime, wash and dry the mushrooms, and slice them quite thinly. Put them on a baking sheet and stir them with drizzled olive oil and salt sprinkled lightly over top. Turn down the oven to about 350 F and put them in the oven. Because they have so much liquid in them, I elevate one end of the pan and put the mushrooms at the high end. This lets the liquid run to the other end where I can pour it off, and they dry out faster. Stir a few times so they cook evenly. When the mushrooms are dried and darkened (20 minutes or less) take them out to sprinkle on top of the completed dish. They have a salty taste and texture that is remarkably bacon-like.
While the mushrooms are cooking mix together the tofu, horseradish, and soymilk or water until it is smooth and creamy. Adjust all the ingredients to taste. If you want more heat, add more horseradish or wasabi powder. If it is too thick, add more liquid, and if it is too thin, just add more tofu. Soooo easy. Next time I may try it with a bit of crushed mustard seed for a slightly different flavour. Play around with it yourself, it’s very forgiving.