Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

The actual date of the first Thanksgiving is not recorded.  However, a law of November 15, 1635 permitted the governor of the Massachusetts Colony to set aside as much as 10 days for fasting and prayer, followed by a Thanksgiving Celebration.

Thanksgiving did not become a legal National Holiday until the 1860s when Abraham Lincoln made it so.

We don't have too much solid or detailed information about those early years, or even whether it was an annual event, or rather sporadic.

There are letters which have been preserved, and in one of them, dated December 11, 1621, Winslow wrote to a friend in England describing the celebration....

    "Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent 4 men on fowling, that we might after a more special manner rejoice together after the fruits of our labours.  The 4 in one day killed as many as 4 fowle, as with little help beside.  Served the company for almost a week.

    At which time among other recreation we exercised our arms.  Many of the Indians coming amongst us had amongs the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for 3 days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed 5 deer which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed upon the governor, the captain, and others."

This source doesn't mention turkey.  When the Plymouth Pilgrims celebrated their first Thanksgiving, they already knew what it was like to be hungry. They had been living on a dwindling supply of beer (yes, beer has been around since ancient Egypt), butter (homemade), meat (when they could kill some), the remaining ship's stores, ground nuts (a peanut-like tuber that they found edible), and whatever clams and shellfish they could find.  It wasn't easy.

Vegetarians have a hard time at Thanksgiving too, but for different reasons. However, we are not of faint heart, and we rise to the challenge of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner WITHOUT turkey.

Artificial Turkey-Flavored Protein Loaf

  • 1 1/2 lb. white beans
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg or egg substitute
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sage
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup artificially flavored turkey gravy

Mix all the ingredients except the gravy.  Spread mixture into an ungreased pan loaf, or shape into a loaf (a turkey-shaped loaf, if you want to) in an ungreased 13x9 inch pan.

Spoon artificially-flavored turkey gravy over the top.  Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until done, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 2 hours

Cream of Peanut Soup

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 3 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 3/4 cups light cream
  • Peanuts, chopped (according to taste)

Sauté the onion and celery in butter or margarine in until soft, but not brown.

Stir in flour until well blended.

Add the vegetable stock stirring constantly, and bring to a boil.

Remove from the heat and remove from heat and puree in a food processor or blender.

Add the peanut butter and cream, stirring to blend thoroughly.

Return to low heat and heat until just hot, but do not boil.

Serve garnished with peanuts.  May be served hot or cold.

  • Yields: 10 - 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 45 minutes

Cranberry and Orange Relish

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1 orange, quartered and seeded
  • 1/2 lemon, seeded
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau

Chop the cranberries, orange, and lemon in a food processor.  Add the sugar, pecans, and Cointreau.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours. Refrigerate over night.

  • Yields: 3 cups
  • Preparation Time: must be prepared a day in advance of serving

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs or egg substitutes
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divides
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease muffin tins that are 2 1/2 " in diameter.

Cream the butter (or margarine) and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and pumpkin. Dredge the onions with a cup of flour. Sift 3 cups of flour and the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately by hand, mixing until just blended.  Do not over mix. Add the raisins.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling each tin 3/4 full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Yields: 2 dozen
  • Preparation Time: about 45 minutes