Journal of Writing & Environment

Web Rove: Holiday Cooking

by Kristen Daily

Thanksgiving has come and gone leaving me longing for stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and warm apple pie. Thankfully with the December holidays fast approaching, we have more opportunities for all sorts of roasts and sweets. But I know that holiday cooking and eating, while wonderfully gluttonous, can also be a source of tension as a guest and host if you have vegans, vegetarians, and other diets to worry about at the table. So today I want to offer some of those stories as well as possible solutions and recipes for your holiday dining predicaments.

Recipes for a Fun-filled Thanksgiving” by Molly Schoemann (from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency)
These snarky, but sadly relatable stories include three recipes: Tell Me Again Why We are Driving Nine Hours to See People We Both Hate Spiced Pumpkin Pie, You Didn’t Tell Me Your New Girlfriend was a Fucking Vegan Quick ‘N’ Easy Green Bean Casserole, and Everyone Get the Hell Out of the Kitchen Right Now Before I Kill All of You Cranberry-Orange Dressing. As I’m sure you can tell from the preceding titles, she captures the headaches and agonies of Thanksgiving with relatives and new significant others with dietary restrictions.

Gluten-free? Vegan? Thanksgiving Recipes for Alternative Diets” by NPR staff (from NPR’s The Salt)

While Schoemann’s narratives are too often true, NPR’s staff has put together a list of classic dishes with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free alternatives with the help of America’s Test Kitchen host, Chris Kimball. I have also turned to the New York Times also publishes a wealth of vegetarian recipes submitted by readers in Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving. This is a great resource for inventive dishes for the holidays. For example, last week I made Jeff Mauro’s recipe for Cranberry Brie Arepas, small Venezuelan corn flatbread sandwiches with creamy brie, tart cranberry sauce, and peppery arugula greens dipped in spicy mustard. Delicious!

Inside Story” by Colman Andrews (from Saveur)
My two personal favorites at the holiday table include stuffing and gravy. When people hear that I’m a vegetarian around Thanksgiving they often ask what I do without turkey, stuffing, and gravy. The truth is, I don’t miss the turkey (I always avoided it as a kid by hiding it under my leftover mashed potatoes), and I don’t go without stuffing or gravy. In “Inside Story” Colman Andrews argues that real point of the holiday feast is not the bird, but the stuffing inside it, which I completely agree with. My favorite stuffing recipe, which is cooked outside of the bird, comes from one of my favorite food bloggers, Deb Perelman, of Smitten Kitchen. This savory stuffing complete with caramelized onions and tart granny smith apples is perfect for your holiday feast. I’ve never looked back at Stovetop again!
Finally, I want to offer you my favorite new addition to the table—garlicky mushroom gravy with a red wine sauce. I created this recipe for a cooking class I’m teaching at Ames’ local co-op, Wheatsfield, offering recipes to welcome vegans and vegetarians to your holiday table.

Garlicky Mushroom Gravy

by Kristen Daily


Roux– 4 tablespoons butter and 6 tablespoons flour (Earth Balance non-hydrogentated margarine can be substituted for butter to make this vegan)
¾ cup full bodied, dry or semi-dry red wine (merlot or cabernet sauvignon works well)
1 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon rosemary
8 oz mushrooms, chopped (I used cremini, but I’m sure other mushrooms would work too!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil for sauteing mushrooms

Directions: (This can be made the day before the meal and be refrigerated and reheated.)

To make the roux, heat butter in small saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add flour all at once and whisk vigorously and continuously until the mixture is smooth. When mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and continue cooking until you smell a toasty aroma. Set aside and allow to roux to cool to room temperature before adding it to the gravy.

Saute mushrooms in a large skillet over medium-high heat until they are nicely browned. Add in salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Next, pour vegetable broth, soy sauce, and wine over the mushrooms and allow mixture to simmer for several minutes (approx. 3-5 minutes). Take off heat and whisk in roux. Blend with immersion blender until smooth. Serve warm over a vegan celebration roast (or meat, potatoes, or stuffing) and enjoy!