Grateful for Wellingtons

DSCN3187

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.   We had a wonderful holiday.   We hosted a gathering of family, old friends, new friends and one family we had never met before–18 in all.   At our dinner there were vegans and non-vegans, and while we talked some about veganism, we ate, drank and connected around all sorts of topics.   All of our guests contributed to the Thanksgiving meal, and it was a real feast.  I am most grateful for the spirit of openness that each person brought to our home.  It was very special.

So what’s with the Wellingtons?  I wasn’t actually going to write a blog post about the Wellingtons because most people in my inner circle are probably sick to death of hearing about them.  But I decided to share about them as sort of a public service announcement to vegan Thanksgiving hosts everywhere.

Here’s the thing–when David and I decided to host a vegan Thanksgiving this year I knew that while I would certainly not miss having a dead bird on my table, I still wanted a “centerpiece” dish that would elicit the oohs and aahs usually reserved for the bird.  I like to think that I could fully enjoy the spirit of the holiday while eating just about anything, but I really wanted a dish would conjure pre-vegan Thanksgiving meals.  I don’t usually get too caught up in that kind of thing but this time I did .  Maybe it was because not everyone at the gathering was vegan. I wanted the meal to be full of traditional Thanksgiving flavors rather than “nouvelle vegan” (is that even a thing?).

As I thought about this, I remembered that my friends, Sylvia and Myo at Main Street Vegan Academy had shown me photos of their 2014 Thanksgiving and they told me about the Wellingtons–sliced seitan, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, stuffing and kale all tucked inside  beautiful puff-pastry.  A centerpiece dish for sure!  I remembered that they bought their Wellingtons frozen from Native Foods Cafe, a vegan chain located mostly on the west coast.  Unfortunately there’s no Native Foods Cafe in Arizona and they don’t ship to individuals.  Undaunted, we looked at our options.  Luckily there is a Native Foods Cafe in Palm Springs where my in-laws live so we decided to pay them a visit and pick up our Wellingtons there.  We hauled our four frozen Wellingtons and four containers of mushroom shallot gravy back to Arizona in an ice-packed cooler.

While procuring the Wellingtons took some doing, preparing them did not.  One hour in the oven and voila, the golden brown Wellingtons you see above were done. This freed me up to focus on side dishes–some I made, some I bought and some I asked others to bring.  Here’s the spread…

Cornbread stuffing from Whole Foods.  Surprisingly authentic (you know, too much salt) and delicious:

DSCN3189

Mac N Cheese from The Simple Veganista (always a hit):

DSCN3191

Freshly baked dinner rolls from Minimalist Baker (thanks Denise and George):

DSCN3190

Shaved brussels sprouts with nuts and cranberries and green bean/artichoke/mushroom casserole with vegan parmigiana.  A very tasty new find.  (Thanks Julia and Jeff)DSCN3192

DSCN3193

Mixed green salad with lemon tahini dressing (thanks Denise and George)and chopped kale salad from Oh She Glows:

DSCN3194

DSCN3195

We also had mashed potatoes (think there was enough starch?) and a lovely quinoa and veggie salad (thanks Bob and Lana) but I didn’t get pictures of them.  I had completely forgotten to take pictures and found myself clicking away last minute as hungry guests were lining up at the buffet.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of dessert either–pumpkin pie, cranberry pumpkin oatmeal cookies, peanut butter chocolate cups and apple crisp.  YUM.

We  had a real Thanksgiving feast.  And the Wellingtons?  Divine.  They did not disappoint.  Maybe most people wouldn’t drive out of state to pick up their main dish but I’m so glad we did.  We had a nice visit with David’s folks in Palm Springs and we got to treat our guests to something special.

I believe a new tradition has begun.

 

 

Advertisements

What I Want For My Birthday

Unknown-1

Tomorrow is my birthday, and the thought of that makes me smile.

 I’ve always loved my birthday.  There was always something about it being the one day that was “mine”.  When I was younger, I enjoyed being showered with attention and presents.  When I was raising my three children I celebrated my birthday by shifting attention to myself and doing exactly what I wanted to do.  Sometimes that meant celebrating with my family, and sometimes it didn’t.  The freedom was the real gift.  As I’ve gotten older, I still have some of that feeling that November 5 is qualitatively different for me than every other day of the year, however, what I enjoy most is getting birthday wishes from my kids, friends and family.  It warms my heart to know I am remembered.  I don’t need gifts although I am touched when someone chooses to give me one.  Bottom line?  I have enough stuff.

This morning, when David asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I realized that things feel a little different this year.  Just about a year ago (the actual date was October 24) we went vegan, and this past year was different than any of the previous 55 in ways I could never have expected.  I have had many “momentous” years in my life.  Getting married (twice) and the births of my three amazing children created shifts that I could not have anticipated, in terms of both struggle and pain and intense love and joy.

At this point though, I am passionate about something outside of myself.  I learned about the suffering and violence inflicted on billions of animals used for food, clothing and entertainment.  I learned about the relationship between animal agriculture and the destruction of the earth and oceans.  I learned that eating animals is related to the nightmarish state of our collective health.  I vowed to stop eating and using animals for all of these reasons, and I decided to dedicate myself to educating others about these issues and provide support to those who want to also make changes in their own lives.

As any animal activist will tell you, this is quite an uphill battle, one that can feel isolating and discouraging.  For me, the most difficult part of this activist journey is that the vast majority of people simply do not want to learn or be challenged to look at themselves in any way and this makes healthy, substantive discussion very difficult.  I feel like I know so very little about how other people see this issue because it seems that only the vegans are willing to talk about it!  I understand the psychological goings-on better than most, but I never get used to how little people “wonder” about their motivations and their behavior.  And what I know is that “wondering” is the precursor to change.  Wondering if something is true.  Wondering if we are culpable or hypocritical or doing the best we can.  Wondering if there’s another way.  Going vegan doesn’t mean I stop wondering.  What is my role in the defensiveness?  How can I say things better?  How can I be more compassionate?  Am I being realistic?  Am I being true to myself and is that always the most important thing?  I don’t have answers to all these questions but I’m working on it.

So what I want for my birthday is for people to start wondering.  I believe that most people are kind, decent and compassionate, and there are defensive walls and blind spots that get in the way of people acting in a way that is truly in line with their values.  It’s all about connecting the dots.  Here are some questions that might get your “wondering” juices going:

–  If I believe that it is wrong to torture and kill animals for pleasure can I be true to this belief while continuing to eat animals?

-Can I be an environmentalist while ignoring the issue of animal agriculture?

-Do I believe that I need to take responsibility for my own health and wellness?

If you’re wondering up a storm and want to talk about it, please leave a message and let’s get a discussion going.  If you don’t want to engage with these questions, I can accept that too.  After all, even in grown-up birthday world, we can’t always get what we want 🙂