A Vegan Thanksgiving

I don’t normally post recipes on here, but someone requested my tofu “turkey” instructions via twitter. I originally found this recipe online about 8 years ago and have been adjusting it yearly based on experience. I’ll apologize to all of the non-American readers who inevitably will question the funny measuring units and temperatures.

Tofu Turkey at Thanksgiving 2005

Tofu Turkey

  • 5 pounds firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1-1/3 cup celery, diced (about 4 stalks)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup sage
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoons winter or summer savory
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 cups cubed bread

Basting Mixture

  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon mustard of choice

Directions

If you need a visual guide, I’ve posted photos of the process on flickr.

Mash tofu or mix well with hands. Be sure that all of the lumps are out.  Line a 12″ colander with wet cheesecloth over lapping the sides.  Add the mashed tofu to the cloth covered colander, press down and cover with the overlapping sides. Place the whole thing in a large bowl. Cover the cheesecloth with a plate that fits inside the colander and place a 5 pound weight on the plate. Refrigerate and let sit 4-5 hours or overnight. I have also found that filling a large pot with about 8 cups of water can take the place of the weight.

When time is up, start the stuffing.  Saute’ the onions, celery and mushrooms in the 2 tablespoons sesame oil. When soft, add the garlic and all the rest of the stuffing ingredients, except stuffing, mixing well. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add herb stuffing and mix well.

Remove tofu from fridge and take off weight, plate and top of cheesecloth.  Hollow out tofu to within 1 inch of the sides and bottom (You will have a “shell” of tofu lining the colander at this time, Place the scooped out tofu in a bowl. Place the stuffing inside the shell and pack in firmly.  Next cover with the remaining scooped out tofu you placed in a bowl and pat down firmly. CAREFULLY Turn stuffed tofu onto a greased baking sheet, flat side down.

Mix up the basting mixture and baste tofu “turkey” with half of it. Cover the “turkey” with foil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. Watch carefully after 45 minutes because it’s easy for the edges to burn.

Remove foil, baste with all the remaining mixture except a few tablespoons and return to oven for 1 hour more, or until the “turkey” is golden. Remove from oven and use rest of basting mix. Using at least 2 large spatulas, move to a large plate.

Serve with the gravy of your choice, if you wish, and cranberry sauce. Tastes good leftover (if there is any!) in sandwiches or plain.

Serves: 8-10

Preparation time: 1 day

Vegan Gravy

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or sesame oil)
  • 1 can (16 oz) of vegetarian broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2-4 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • approx 3 tbsp flour

Directions

In a large skillet or pan, sautee the onion and mushroom in vegetable oil just until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the flour, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

Slowly add the flour, one tablespoon at a time and whisk thoroughly to combine. Continue adding flour until the gravy reaches desired thickness. It is often easier to mix the flour with cold water and then slowly at it to the gravy to thicken.

Bike Blender Margaritas

You know it’s a party when someone whips out a bike blender. Actually, if you don’t live in the Bay Area you probably haven’t seen one before (unless you have been to Burning Man, I have a suspicion you may have seen on there). Our annual party was enhanced this year by the addition of frozen margaritas mixed up in the courtyard.

Snowshoeing in the shadow of the Donner Party

On Saturday, Natasha and I drove to Truckee, CA to see the snow and go snowshoeing. I didn’t realize that it was going to be nearly 50 degrees outside, which is approximately the same temperature as our kitchen in the morning. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very “wintery” experience, but was fun nonetheless.

We rented snowshoes at a place called “The Backcountry” and then headed to the other side of the I-80 to Donner Memorial State Park. The park has a small museum, camping, and cross-country ski trails in the winter. It is located at the spot where most of the Donner Party spent the infamous winter of 1846-1847.

The trail takes you to the edge of Donner Lake, along the shore, and then back to the museum. I think it is about a 2.5 mile walk. It is flat, and would have been pretty easy had we not been snowshoeing through heavy slush.

After our expedition in the wilderness, we headed to Truckee where we ate some “food” at a place called “Coffee And.” If you are a vegetarian, you might want to consider other options. It’s a pretty classic small diner-style restaurant where you get eight ounces of Italian dressing on a handful of iceberg lettuce and a cup of coffee in a questionably clean mug. They did have veggie burgers though, so I have to give them some credit.

Blog Action Day: go vegetarian to save the earth!

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Happy Blog Action Day! This is the day when thousands of people around the world are blogging on environmental topics. I’m going to write about a simple way you can reduce your impact on the Earth.

Everyone knows that some people become vegetarian solely because they care about animals, but how about becoming vegetarian to save the environment? While cars, power plants and industrial emissions all contribute to pollution by putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, going vegetarian is one of the single biggest things a person can do to reduce their own impact on the environment.

From PETA.org: In a groundbreaking 2006 report, the United Nations (U.N.) said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld reported that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”

Bear in mind that PETA didn’t write this report, the United Nations did. Hardly a radical animal rights organization, it’s refreshing to see that they have recognized the startlingly effective impact of cutting meat out of our diets. The efficiency of eating lower on the food chain pays off in lower water use, less methane and carbon dioxide emissions, and less water pollution.

turkey farmI’ve been vegetarian since I was 16 and I’ve never regretted it. Start small, possibly by reducing the meat in your diet and eating organic and local foods. Or, go “cold turkey” (well, “no cold turkey”) and immediately cut animals out of your diet. Even Burger King has a veggie burger on the menu, so there isn’t any excuse to put your change to a meat-free diet off any longer.

If you want to get a Vegetarian Starter Kit from PETA, click here and fill out their easy online form.