While housesitting over Thanksgiving week, we had a professional-style kitchen to play in (not just a tiny travel kitchen). Needless to say, I was pretty excited to make plant-based and gluten-free Thanksgiving food all week.
After shopping for all the Thanksgiving ingredients, we were exhausted and hungry, so we made a quick and easy pre-Thanksgiving meal.
We tossed together:
Herb salad greens
Oil-free vinaigrette dressing
Then we roasted (oil-free):
Blue fingerling potatoes
Not only did this taste scrumptious, but it was fun to pile high, like a mountain, on our plates (if only I’d taken a photo). And it filled us up.
Later, after testing tofu as a pie ingredient, we:
steamed greens, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts
We’ve eaten tofu scrambled “eggs” before, but we’ve never cooked it ourselves (and I can’t say I’ve ever really sought it out as a favorite). But by some miracle, we accidentally figured out the correct seasoning and now, looking at this photo, it makes me salivate.
Always longing for my grandma's and my mom's amazing Thanksgiving food—especially their stuffing—I made their stuffing without the animal ingredients and without the gluten bread that it normally calls for.
Because I’m so aware of the fact that no stuffing tastes like theirs, I could tell that:
The animal ingredients were missing
I’d accidentally chosen gluten-free bread that was too dry for this recipe
I’d added too much veggie broth (in an attempt to compensate for the dry bread)
Thankfully, it was still delicious. I also added Pacific Vegan Mushroom Gravy (slurp) because I don’t yet know how to make my own. And now I know what to keep practicing. Because nobody makes stuffing (or gravy) like theirs, so I really must learn how to do this.
Then, on Thanksgiving day, we were so lucky to be invited to a meal that provided hearty veggie and gluten-free dishes—what a feast!
Roasted root veggies
Homemade cranberry sauce (no white sugar)
Kite Hill "cream cheese" stuffed celery
Baby snack carrots
Organic sparkling cider
Gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie
In addition—for those who could eat gluten, but did not want to eat meat—there was:
A vegan holiday "turkey," with stuffing in its center
While I have no idea what the actual ingredients were, what a nice way, once a year, to allow people to taste animal-free food options. And they did. The meat eaters were curious to taste it—and they loved the taste of it.
In the Quest to Make a Gluten-Free Vegan Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie, I Made Six Different Pies
They all looked great (and a certain someone happily taste-tested, then consumed them), but not one of my pies tasted similar enough to Libby's original recipe for me to feel confident in bringing them to Thanksgiving dinner.
However, I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to learn more about cooking with ingredient substitutions:
The flax eggs worked perfectly
My (healthier) homemade plant-based condensed milk did not behave like animal condensed milk
Sweetened condensed coconut milk created a candied flavor
Agave and date sugar (ground dates) have different textures and flavors than what I was seeking
Even my vegan version of Libby's Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie recipe had a consistency more like pudding (note: it appears they have since changed their recipe, plus the comment section offers great cooking tips to get it right)
As a Foolproof Backup
I also purchased a gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie as a foolproof backup to take to Thanksgiving dinner. Because what could go wrong with that?
If you can believe it, it was also missing the sweet pumpkin taste that I was seeking (tasted more like cardboard). Thankfully, one person at Thanksgiving dinner had not been imprinted on the Libby's original recipe, and he thought it was just great.