Thanksgiving :: Feeling All the Feels

It’s amazing to me how grief and gratitude can both occupy so much space – at the very same time – in my heart. This day has been full in the best possible way and also hard – I have wanted so many times to call my mother, to ask the most basic questions (how long do you heat a spiral-sliced ham? I don’t want to know what the Internet says, I want to know the way my mom does it), and give her the full report (I finally did everything right to get the Bundt cake to pop out of the pan perfectly and intact! I did a buffet line this time instead of putting all the food on the table, and it worked so much better! Charlie was so happy we had ham in addition to turkey – just like you, he likes ham much better than turkey.), and also let her know how wonderful it was to have my dad and brother at the table for the first time in 15 years even though it just emphasized for all of us all over again how she is gone and everything has changed.

There’s been a lot of missing her today (which is true every day) but also so much gratitude – for her; for all she taught me (about cooking and hosting and mothering and so much more); for my entire family; for the amazing honor of feeding 13 people.

And I’m so grateful for you, too. My virtual community is more than virtual – it is a real support for me, a net of kindness and care during this difficult time, and I am grateful.

I tried to make you a little video of me saying thank you, but I looked far too earnest and also a little bit teary (which I honestly wasn’t). So instead, you get this goofy time lapse video, of me feeling all the feels and trying to show my love.

Thank you for being my people. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Happy Thanksgiving! (and a trifle) (and a sweater)

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear readers. I’m grateful for you!

I’m also grateful to report that, after blocking, my sweater fits perfectly! Full modeled shots soon, but here’s a peek:

Reis + Trifle

Reis + Trifle

I’m beyond thrilled with it!

And I’m super-excited to be digging into this trifle later today. This is the second year I’ve made it. It’s the Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle from the Browneyed Baker. Trust me: it is very, very worth it to make everything from scratch. The gingerbread is so dark and rich and molasses-y. And of course real whipped cream is the only thing that should ever go into a trifle, in my ever-so-humble opinion. (This isn’t Paleo, obviously!)

To my American friends, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving! To my friends elsewhere, I hope you have a great Thursday!

baked :: Vegan Cranberry-Orange Bread


If you’re looking for a way to use up cranberries left over from Thanksgiving, I can’t recommend this quick bread highly enough. I made a loaf for company on Thanksgiving morning and it was gone in a flash. I still had enough cranberries in the fridge to make another loaf this morning.

This is my adaptation of a recipe from Veganomicon, which was most likely adapted from an old Fannie Farmer recipe. I used to make muffins quite similar to this, and this recipe could easily be made as muffins (with a much shorter baking time at a higher temp – 18-20 minutes at 400; I always dusted mine with powdered sugar once they were cool). I replaced the soy milk from the Veganomicon recipe with more orange juice, primarily because we had a guest with a nut allergy who also stays away from soy products (often made on equipment also used for nuts). I don’t eat soy either, except occasionally in tempeh form. Ordinarily I substitute almond milk for soy in all recipes, but this time I didn’t because of the nut allergy. I liked the extra orange-y flavor of using more oj instead, so I am going to make it this way from now on.

Vegan Cranberry-Orange Bread
3/4 C orange juice
1/4 C canola oil
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground allspice
1 T grated orange zest
1 1/2 C fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325. Lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the orange juice, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice. Mix until smooth – batter will be quite thick.

Fold in orange zest and cranberries, and pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Let bread cool in loaf pan for about 15 minutes. Release onto cooling rack, turn right side up, let cool a bit more, then slice and eat.

(The original recipe calls for 1/2 C chopped walnuts, which I omitted because of the nut allergy. My kids also don’t care for nuts, but on today’s batch I added a few to one half of the loaf after I had poured the batter in.)

This is such an easy and delicious recipe – the only hard part is waiting for it to bake and cool!

More things I want to remember :: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. I hope it has been full of goodness, gratitude, and all things yummy.

Last year on Thanksgiving, I made a little list of things I wanted to remember about the day. I am so glad for that list, y’all! I have referred to it so many times in preparing for today’s meal (especially to find my turkey recipe). So without further ado, here are some of the things I want to remember for next year (and beyond).

roast turkey

roast turkey

1 – TURKEY. I am so so happy to have started using this recipe last year. It’s Ina Garten’s perfect roast turkey, and I would definitely say that it is perfect. After years of experimenting with wet brining and dry brining, I’ve decided that simple is actually superior. This is so moist and flavorful that I find myself thinking I might want turkey at other times of year (which I say as someone who has never been a big fan of turkey).

2. Another same thing as last year – Gravy I went with what I came up with last year. LOVE it.

– pour drippings from turkey into saucepan

– add 3 cups turkey stock, bring to boil

– dissolve 4 tablespoons cornstarch into 1 cup turkey stock, whisk into boiling stock

– add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper

– simmer 8-10 minutes, or until thick

3. Sides – all my usual, some of which are vegan, for the vegan in our bunch:

  • my MIL’s unbelievably good cornbread dressing
  • Bourbon Cranberry Sauce – been making this for years and it’s such a winner (vegan)
  • canned cranberry sauce, for the kiddos, and also in memory of my grandmother, who always insisted on canned (vegan)
  • sweet potato souffle – a family recipe, which I love SO MUCH – it’s not really a soufflé, it’s more of a casserole – it has pecans in it and marshmallows on top
  • Pillsbury crescent rolls (vegan)
  • vegan green bean casserole – I ask my stepson to bring this
  • Trader Joe’s frozen sweet potatoes nuked in the microwave (vegan)
  • Trader Joe’s Turkey-less roast (vegan) – note for next year: ask my stepson to bring this, already cooked – one less thing to worry about in that final crush of getting everything to the table
  • new this year: I made roasted Brussels sprouts. Because I’m obsessed. (And now I have lots of outer leaves to make chips with!)

4. Dessert – I like to break out my trifle bowl whenever possible, and this year I went with a new trifle.

Nine layers of YUM

Nine layers of YUM

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle. I had originally marked a recipe for this from Epicurious, but in the end I went with the Brown Eyed Baker’s version. It was a win, win, win, y’all. I was super-happy with how this turned out, and I will definitely be making it again. You should all make it, too. It is almost entirely from scratch (except one little box of pudding mix) and it is really not hard to make. I would highly recommend this recipe.

My other dessert (I usually have at least three for Thanksgiving – did four last year – but in a rare stroke of sanity, I narrowed it down to two this year) was vegan – a dark chocolate cake with a dark chocolate mocha ganache (vegan).

There are some other things I want to remember, y’all, but I’ll have to write them down later, because I am totally pooped. I hope you have had a great day, wherever you are, and whatever you’ve eaten!

[from the archives] – homemade :: Oreo Cookie Butter Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Hey! Happy NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month)! Let’s see if I can make it the whole month again, posting every day. Here goes!

It’s Saturday, which means it’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffin morning here. I somehow left out the molasses this time, so the flavor wasn’t as deep and the color wasn’t as dark, but they were still pretty darn tasty (as evidenced by the fact that 15 minutes after they came out of the oven there are hardly any left). As I baked this morning, I began pondering my Thanksgiving menu for this year, specifically the desserts. That got me thinking about this simple ice cream pie I came up with last year.

Here is that post, from the archives:

Oreo Cookie Butter Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Cookie Butter Oreo Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie, originally uploaded by earthchick.

It’s no secret that I love Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter. I’m also a big fan of ice cream pies, regardless of time of year.

As I was waking up earlier this week, an ice cream pie idea slid into my brain from out of nowhere. I don’t think I was dreaming about desserts, but who knows? All I know is that the liminal early morning mind is a wondrous thing. As I lay in bed pondering the pie idea, I realized it was probably a good one. It at least merited a taste-test.

I love pumpkin and chocolate together, and the idea of Cookie Butter and pumpkin ice cream seemed a natural, so why not try them all together?

Oreo Cookie Butter Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Despite the fact that the photos aren’t great, the recipe is a winner, at least as far as my taste buds are concerned. Obviously, my taste buds are favorably inclined towards ridiculously sweet things.

This is also a ridiculously easy recipe – and not too late to throw together for Thanksgiving dinner!

Oreo Cookie Butter Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie – serves 8

1 Oreo cookie crust

3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter
3/4 cup Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream, softened

1/2 cup Cool Whip

1/4 cup chopped pecans

(all amounts are “ish” – I just eyeball it to make sure I don’t have the pie overflowing with goodness, which, while yummy, can make a mess of your freezer)

1 – Cover the pie crust with Cookie Butter (you can go up the side if you want; I didn’t).

2 – Spread softened ice cream over the cookie butter.

3 – Spread Cool Whip over ice cream.

4 – Sprinkle pecans over top.

5 – Cover and put in freezer, at least 3 hours or until firm.

6 – Let sit out 5-10 minutes to soften before slicing.

It couldn’t be easier. If you don’t love traditional pumpkin pie, or if you’re just looking for something a little different this year, pumpkin ice cream pie could be your answer. If you try it, let me know what you think!

It would be very simple to veganize this recipe by subbing a non-dairy pumpkin ice cream (I’m not aware of any particular brands that offer that, but surely with the current trend of pumpkin-everything, someone out there does) and a vegan whipped cream.