My First Vegan AND Low-Sodium Thanksgiving!

This morning I awoke from a deep sleep at 5:30 am. Groggy, but not wanting to lose the thoughts tumbling round in my mind, I grabbed the notebook I’ve kept on my nightstand since March, when I started work on The Everything DASH Diet Cookbook. I quietly slid open my nightstand drawer and fumbled for a pen – which I found, and once I’d flipped the notebook to a seemingly empty page (it was pitch dark), began to scribble. This is what greeted me when I woke up an hour and a half later:

Chicken scratch – in Highlighter! I didn’t even know I owned a highlighter, but apparently I do, and for some unknown reason thought it best to stow it in the least logical and most unhelpful place in my home. I can sort of make out the word “vegan” about half way down the page; as for the rest, forget it. So please bear with me today.

I come to you a challenged woman. In many ways, the past several weeks have been a trial by fire and one week from today will be yet another double hurdle to conquer. You’ve likely noticed my conspicuous absence from the internet. This has been in no small part due to the change of seasons. As many of you know, my family and I live in Maine, where winter digs in and holds fast to the land. These long and very cold winters require preparation, and when you live in a pre-revolutionary home heated strictly by wood, these cold winters require quite a bit MORE. If you’ve been wondering where the heck I’ve been, let me introduce you to:

That’s right; I’ve been getting intimately familiar with 6 cords of firewood. In addition, I’ve spent 3 solid weekends canning – Apple Chutney, Applesauce, and Wild Blueberry Jam – and the better part of two weeks specifically holding on to walls, thanks to the weather. Packed in and around all of this like styrofoam peanuts in a shipping box has been my daughters’ new tween and teen school, sporting, and social schedules, our second DIY chimney lining, and – along with all of the routine chores of life – a daily dose of 2+ hours of hand-washing dishes thanks to our (formerly working, now dead and making me want to puke) 2 year old Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher. To be honest, this year’s Thanksgiving holiday has only just appeared on my radar.

SO. In one week exactly, my family and I will be celebrating our very first Thanksgiving as…

SALT FREE VEGANS! Quite a mouthful, wouldn’t you say? As we all well know, living low sodium ain’t for sissies, but throw in the double complexity of veganism and it’s enough to make even the staunchest plant-eater blanch. Last weekend, I put together a list of recipes I thought would do the trick. My husband, thank God, is never an issue; my daughters are the challenge. The older one has embraced veganism – or at least vegetarianism, with gusto; the younger one is an active rebel who declares her love for meat at every opportunity. Knowing the significance of the holiday formerly known as TURKEY DAY, I knew I’d have to win the little one over big time. I did this simply, by buying her off with a sweet potato casserole topped with (oooh la la!) VEGAN MARSHMALLOWS! I’ve never met Sweet & Sara, but I can say I officially love them.

And thus, after gaining support, I proceeded onto side dishes – now known as platefuls. Green beans, check. Not just garlic mashed potatoes, but roasted ones too. Sweet and Savory Kale. Pesto Rice with Portabello Mushrooms. Brussels Sprouts. Homemade Rolls and Cornbread. PUMPKIN PIE. All approved. And since I won’t be cooking a turkey this year, I thought it might be nice to do something sort of “bigger” than just plain “sides.” I mentioned sauteed portabella mushroom caps. A “buttery” vegan quiche with leeks. Phyllo baked tarts filled with roasted vegetables. Well. You’d think I was trying to poison these kids by their PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! responses! SHEESH. (My husband, on the other hand, was drooling all over the floor.)

SO.. that’s where I am right now. T-minus 6 days. I’ve got two pages of highlighter chicken scrawl and a tentative menu. Wish me luck.