Tuesday, December 9, 2008

vegan thanksgiving?

o.k...i lied...did not mean to...but in my last post, i wrote about my canadian thanksgiving experience in october and about my actual thanksgiving dinner on t-day...and promised to write the following day about my vegan thanksgiving party...next day? 7 days later?...here i am.. so, to those of you that checked in daily..and emailed me...i apologize. this has been an absolutely crazy time. (memo to self...if you are going to launch your own small business, don't do it in july...xmas will be here before you know it...and you will be slammed with projects)

anyway, i am officially ending my thanksgiving memories series with a recap of one of my favorite experiences this year...vegan thanksgiving. ..but first...a bit of background...regular readers know that i added a line of handcrafted, organic dog treats to my product offering this past september. what you may not know is that in california, pet food manufacturing has the same requirements as human food. so i make my treats in a rental commercial kitchen here in napa. a massive benefit (in addition to the treats) is that i have met some really cool people who are also in the early stages of new food businesses. i have found everyone to be kind, helpful and generous with advice, tips and feedback. we work together to help all the businesses succeed. how cool is that? two of my favorite people have quickly become good friends...terry bradford and mary wilmer. terry is a brilliant musician (singer... won star search in 1990, sang on the lion king soundtrack, was celine dion's duet partner on tour and sang "beauty and the beast" with her, etc.) if you have not heard him...he is simply amazing..big powerful beautiful voice...check him out... and mary is his very smart business manager. they are close friends and both are longtime vegans so, in addition to the music business, they started a vegan food business called bountiful vegans. their food is delicious. so delicious in fact that even non-vegans love it... i will write an entire post about them soon because their story is really compelling.
one day in november, we were all working in the kitchen and i asked them what they were doing for thanksgiving. they are pretty new to napa, do not know a lot of people here yet and had to complete some work on the actual day of thanksgiving. i could not stand the thought of them forgoing the holiday this year...so we hatched up a plan to create a new tradition,"vegan thanksgiving", to be held the next day.... the three of us love to cook (obviously) so i invited some friends/neighbors who are committed NON-vegans over for a tasting dinner. terry and mary brought over some of their products...and a ton of organic ingredients...and we spent the afternoon/evening making up recipes. we served each dish one at a time to our "guests" and asked for feedback. remember...this meal was 100% vegan...to our surprise and delight everyone loved each dish. you could tell that they were not just being polite because a.) these are the type of friends who tell you what they think...no holding back and b.) the dishes were gobbled up with requests to take the leftovers home! we even had a 14 yr old boy who loved it...he kept referring to the meal as "random food"... as we explained how items like "vegan bacon" were made.looking back, this night was one of my favorites of the year...cooking amazing food with friends (testing, eating, laughing)...feeding friends food that they loved, laughing and answering their questions about how everything was made...and then just hanging out talking and laughing. (you notice how often i have written the word "laughing"..i think that is really what made the evening so magical...it was so much fun!)

so, one more thing that i am grateful for this year...the number of new people i have met...really great, terrific people...and to the ones that are fast becoming good and true friends...thank you!
by now you are probably asking..."what did you make for vegan thanksgiving?" i will be posting a number of the recipes during the next few months...and i am proud to say that i will be adding food from the bountiful vegan to my website...they make two items that i am addicted to..their carrotuna, and their tofeggy. the carrotuna looks a bit like a carrot salad..but it tastes like the lightest, freshest tuna salad you have ever eaten. the tofeggy is their eggless, egg salad...trust me, you do not have to be vegan, or even vegetarian to love their food. (i will post when their items are on my webstore site)my favorite recipe from vegan thanksgiving is the simplest and easiest...carrotuna crostini...

carotuna crostini
1 sourdough or french baguette
extra virgin olive oil
1 cup olive tapenade
1 container carrotuna

slice baguette into 1/2 inch rounds..toast in oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. watch carefully to ensure they do not burn. (or grill. i use a panini press). remove crostini from heat source and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. spread each toast with a thin layer of tapenade. top each piece with 1 tbsp carotuna. serve immediately.

how easy was that? you can make your own tapenade...or purchase a good quality version if pressed for time.... this is my christmas day appetizer this year...and no one in my family is vegan or vegetarian...

i want to take a moment to once again thank all of my thanksgiving memories guest bloggers...you guys rock..and i thoroughly enjoyed the series..now it is time to turn the blog themes to december holidays. i recently found out that my entire family is coming to napa for christmas...first time ever. i originally thought i would be hosting a group of 8...has ballooned to 25 and counting...and i could not be more excited..however, i will be spending the next 15 days planning, prepping and cooking...and will share the experience (along with a ton of recipes) in this blog. so please join in...comment...and share your tips for getting ready for the holidays because...THEY ARE HERE!

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