Thankful For Thanksgiving


So it’s here. The big Thanksgiving week!
It really is my favorite Holiday. I love it so much, I just can’t believe we get it twice.

Like so many, I started out getting stressed on what to make, but really, staying seasonal makes it so much easier. Creating a vegan Thanksgiving menu isn’t too tough. The vegetable sides are obviously covered. It’s just the amount of choice out there, but I think if you go by what you like and what you think your guests will enjoy, everything will be a hit.

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As for the main dish, these are usually saved for Christmas, but I couldn’t resist the over-sized monster of a cabbage at the market a few weeks back for this version of my mother’s cabbage rolls.

Golabki is the Polish version of stuffed cabbage. A popular Eastern European dish, it’s the topping of puréed tomatoes that gives it the distinction.

My Mom’s recipe has a good ratio of rice to meat. Keeping that in mind, after adding a good mixture of wild, short and long rices with a package of veggie ground round, I loaded up on the veggies. Since it’s Thanksgiving, I kept it harvesty and of course, I couldn’t have been without one of my pumpkins from my collection. This time it was a little Sweet Dumpling Squash. The size is a perfect amount with one and the flavor is amazing. And according to the sign posted at the patch, “This one might even change a squash hater’s mind forever.”

As for the cabbage, I don’t tend to eat them, unless red and in a salad, or stuffed and rolled, like these. Either way if the cabbage is green and it’s autumn, it goes in a big bag and into the deep freeze until called upon for important occasions like this. Now, I’ve heard all the ways to cook various cabbage rolls, in fact, so has my mother. I’m not sure where she discovered it, but we’ve never looked back on freezing for cabbage roll preparation. Although it’s about overnight to thaw, it’s got to be one of the easiest ways to help you to prepare them. The freezing acts like boiling/steaming and once it’s thawed it’s soft and simple to core. Simply core it and peel off the outer most leaves. Keep the tougher, darker ones for lining your roasting pan, it’ll add flavor and help with clean up time too! Do this while the rice is cooking and it makes this once time consuming recipe a snap.

VEGAN HARVEST CABBAGE ROLLS (Golabki)

Large Green Cabbage, frozen whole then thawed overnight
4 Cups Cooked Mixed Rice, I used 1 1/2 Cups dry long and short grain brown and wild rice
1/3 Cup Orange Bell Pepper, diced – about 1/2 a pepper
1/3 Cup Celery (1 Stalk,leaves included), finely diced
1/3 Cup Onion, diced – about 1 small
1 Lb Package Veggie Ground Round, or about 2 Cups reconstituted TVP or finely chopped seitan
2 Cups Squash, peeled and seeded, diced 1/2″ – I used one whole Sweet Dumpling Squash, acorn would also taste good
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons Tamari
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper

1 – 28 oz Jar of Sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 – 28 oz Jar Tomato Purée

Begin to prepare one day ahead by removing the cabbage from the freezer to thaw. Otherwise, it may be cored fresh then steamed until soft and the leaves are cool and pliable to remove.

Cook the rice to it’s package directions.
While it is cooking, dice the pepper, celery and onion.
Peel and seed the squash. Dice it into 1/2″ cubes and add them to the other vegetables.
Line a large roasting pan with the outer most leaves from the cored cabbage. Once you’ve reached the more tender leaves, begin to carefully set them aside, trimming any tougher areas.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Fluff the cooked rice and add the ground round and prepared vegetables along with the minced garlic, olive oil, tamari, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Taste, if necessary to adjust seasoning.
On a large, flat surface, lay your first cabbage leaf with the “stem” towards you. Place a large spoonful of the stuffing into the natural curl. Begin to roll the leaf away from you once, then tuck in both sides before continuing to roll the stuffing snugly in the cabbage.
Put your roll into the prepared roasting pan and repeat, lining the pan with the cabbage rolls in a even, tight row, tucking them in on the side to create an even layer. Begin a second layer with the smaller rolled leaves, as necessary until all of the stuffing has been used up. Reserve any remaining cabbage leaves.
Pour the tomato purée over the cabbage rolls and top with the sauerkraut, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a layer of any reserved cabbage leaves.
Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the cabbage is tender and the squash is soft.
Best served with sour cream or yogurt and good dollop of mashed potatoes.

Cabbage rolls freeze well.

Red Borscht With Porcini Mushroom Pierogies


From my fractional polish heritage, I was so lucky to have been included in my sister in laws family Christmas Eve tradition.

Once horrified by the memories of beet soup with homogonized milk, that puce nightmare was no comparison to the hard work and detail which had been presented before us to gobble up.

The bright colour and warmth of this simple, smooth broth sets the perfect stage for the celebration ahead. Borscht is may be peasant food, but like it’s counterparts, it is pure comfort. Served as the first course during the Christmas Eve feast with miniature mushroom filled pierogi packages called uszka, this wonderful tradition becomes the delight of the Holiday table.
Continue reading Red Borscht With Porcini Mushroom Pierogies