Doesn’t matter that I no longer eat turkey. Thanksgiving is still a fantastic holiday, perhaps even more so because my approach to it is so new and wonderful and I have more ownership and pride in my feast than ever before.

This was my second plant-based Thanksgiving, so a few things remained the same as last year as I dined with my omnivorous family in Olympia. Mom set aside some potatoes and stuffing for me to load with veggie broth instead of chicken broth and cream. I also brought my own pie, made my own gravy and threw together an appetizer and salad to share.

However, I tried a few new things. Whereas I drew most of my inspiration from Isa last year, this year I turned to the newest Happy Herbivore book, Holidays and Gatherings.

I had been paging through my H&G book for a few weeks now, but this was my first time using it. It is so great! It collects a lot of recipes from books past, so there aren’t tons of surprises for someone like me who has all of Lindsay’s recipe books. However, it organizes the recipes into the perfect holidays and occasions to cook them (even though I took from other chapters to work into my Thanksgiving) and also brings in some new delights.

When all was done, I was so pleased with the results. Check out the highlights:

What were some of your Thanksgiving revelations/highlights this year?

Easter candy

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I can’t believe weeks have passed by since Easter already.

Easter used to be my favorite holiday. I loved dyeing eggs, hunting for them the next morning and gobbling up Cadbury creme eggs and jelly beans.

Pretty much all of that is out for me now. (RIP my longtime love affair with Cadbury creme eggs.)

I didn’t want to go completely candy-less when I went to my parents’ house for Easter, so I whipped up vegan versions of two of my favorites: peanut butter cups and peppermint patties.

(True story: My Christmas list every year used to be headlined with “a peppermint patty.”)

They’re a smidge labor-intensive (but I’m also Miss Can’t I Just Put Everything In A Pot and Let It Go?) and it’s hard for me to make them pretty (follow the links to the recipes for pretty), but what do you know – they worked beautifully! And tasted every bit as good as their commercial counterparts, but with little to no added sweetener. They did have to be kept frozen or refrigerated, but don’t most good things?

My whole family loved them. My boyfriend, well, he preferred the big, fat Reese’s peanut butter egg in my parents’ candy dish because it’s sweeter, he said. I mean, who DOESN’T like the big peanut butter egg, but I was glad to have my yummy peanut butter cups. And they were made out of pantry items!

I think I have to make these for Christmas, too.

Now if only I can find an easy Cadbury creme egg alternative.

How do you substitute traditional holiday sweets?

What vegans eat

I always love vegan food porn where I can peep what other people eat, like what Bianca at Vegan Crunk does now and then.

So I’ll offer up my own food porn. Captured by my crappy cell phone camera. Sexxxxxi.

I made the most delicious vegan cake EVAR

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Though I was big into baking as a kid, in my adult life I’m way more of a cook than a baker. I think I’m too impatient for it. If I have to use a rolling pin or yeast, forget it.

But a recent foray into baking paid off big time.

My mom’s birthday was last week and I went home to Olympia last weekend to celebrate with her. Because I’m strapped for cash right now, Mom told me not to buy her a present, but I insisted on at least baking a cake. (My selfish motivation: I wanted to be able to eat her birthday cake with her, not eat a birthday apple while the rest of my family got to eat treats.)

When I saw a recipe for a raspberry chocolate cake with chocolate ganache-y frosting, it just screamed MOM’S BIRTHDAY CAKE.


When veggie options just aren’t happening

My parents have been so supportive of my new lifestyle decisions. They don’t question my choices, they try to cater to my preferences and even my mom has shown some interest in the new, awesome food I’m fixing.

That doesn’t mean, however, that my lifestyle fits in with what’s going on when I visit home.

This past weekend, I visited my family in Olympia. Downtown Olympia is a hippie haven and there are wonderful indie restaurants that are veggie-friendly. My family, however, lives closer to Lacey, which features much more corporate and less diverse fare.

This was the first weekend where it wasn’t just the vegetarian daughter going home, but the “No seriously I’m gonna be vegan now” daughter. More