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Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I’m a first generation American. This means growing up, we never celebrated Thanksgiving. I have a distinct memory from when I was in high school… A friend (who is also a first generation American) and I decided to try to have a proper Thanksgiving. We bought a frozen turkey the night before. No, we didn’t know we needed to thaw it. And I think it was like 16 pounds for 4 people. Anyway, long story short, the turkey took way too long to bake. We finally called it quits at 10pm and ate it, though only the outside bits since the inside was still iffy.

My cooking skills have increased a lot since then. So has my understanding of Thanksgiving meals.

We spent last Thanksgiving with Shanti’s friend and helped her make dinner for almost 30 people, some who needed sugar-alternatives. It was a mostly-vegetarian Thanksgiving. She made really delicious chicken breast for us omnivorous folks. (I’m not a big fan of turkey anyway, so it was totally ok with me.)

So this year, we’re doing Thanksgiving at our house. We’re only serving 6, so it’s much easier.


Our menu items include:

  • Spinach salad – It’s an easy thing for us to do, since we always have spinach in our house.
  • Festive cranberry salad – It’s the cranberry sauce, but better.
  • Nutloaf
  • Salmon
  • Mushroom gravy
  • Ginger sweet potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Stuffing
  • Challah – Last minute edition, because I wanted to make it.
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pecan pie
  • Whipped cream – for the pies

I know I tagged it as vegetarian and salmon isn’t… but you can really easily leave out the salmon and everything else is vegetarian.

We skipped some staples: corn, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and of course, turkey. I don’t like those. They’re annoying to cook. (I guess the corn isn’t so bad.) And we only have 6 people.


Since I was the one who volunteered to do Thanksgiving, and the one who is currently into cooking, I’m doing most of the cooking beforehand. Shanti will help me on the day of, and we will have my sister and the exchange student who is staying with her to help us on the day of.

Here’s what our schedule this year turned out like.


  • Make menu.
  • Make grocery list.
  • Go shopping at Costco (with a bazillion other people).
  • Go shopping at the local grocery store, because Costco doesn’t carry everything.
  • Make schedule of when to cook.


  • Make Nutloaf. We make two trays so we can eat the second tray some other time in winter. One tray is put in the fridge, and one in the freezer. The tray in the fridge will be baked on Thanksgiving day.
  • Make the festive cranberry salad. It’s not difficult, just time consuming. Mostly because I bought 32 oz of fresh cranberries from Costco, and that meant I needed to peel/core 10 oranges.
  • Also, if you’re us, have a friend over and make a proper dinner and dessert for everyone.


  • Make pie crust following Rose Beranbaum’s basic flaky pie crust recipe. Have no idea what I’m doing and I’m hoping it turns out okay.


  • Bake pecan pie. Super easy. (Recipe from Silver Plate.)
  • Bake pumpkin pie. This involves rolling out the pie crust, which is difficult when you don’t have a rolling pin. The pumpkin filling recipe is also more involved than I’m used to.
  • Make challah bread. Because why not? If we don’t eat it for Thanksgiving, we’ll make French toast out of it this weekend.

Thursday (Thanksgiving)

  • 8am – Bake the yams. Have some breakfast. Clean up the house.
  • 10am – Family comes over. Have the girls peel the yams. Make a schedule for everything. (That’s why the rest of the day doesn’t really have a time attached. Maybe I’ll add it afterward.)
  • 12am – Reheat leftover butternut squash and serve it for lunch.
  • Make mushroom gravy (best if made at the perfect time so it doesn’t need to be reheated.)
  • Chill sparkling apple cider. (Nobody really drinks. Which is probably for the best.)
  • Make stuffing. We have Costco stuffing, and it calls for broth. We we’ll just use vegetarian broth. This one can be held or reheated fairly easily.
  • Warm plates in the warming drawer, mostly because we have a warming drawer and I want to use it.
  • Optional: make a “normal” pumpkin pie, because I have an extra frozen pie crust and I have no idea how the one I baked will turn out.
  • Setup the table. We have a folding table for when guests come over. So we have to setup the table, the chairs, put on table cloth, the place setting, etc. etc. It’s not difficult but it’s just one more thing to do.
  • Make salad. This should be easy, just toss some veggies together. We’ll do spinach, tomatoes, and avocados, with a balsamic and olive oil dressing.
  • Make green beans. The green beans from Costco come pre-trimmed. So literally Shanti just has to cook them. He knows the recipe, I don’t.
  • Make salmon. This will be baked and needs to be served right away after it is cooked. We will probably time it so that we put it in a bit beforeĀ dinner starts, and people can enjoy the salad etc before getting to the salmon part.
  • During or after dinner, make the whipped cream so that we can serve it with the pies.
  • Oh, and after dinner, cleanup.

So that’s “it”. It looks like a long list of things but a lot of it are really easy. The trick is to have as few time sensitive things as possible on the day of, and to limit the number of things that need the oven (especially if the recipe needs the oven to be at a precise temperature).


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