A (Vegan) Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
This weekend Canadians from coast to coast to coast are celebrating Thanksgiving. Here’s a little excerpt from our friends at Wikipedia regarding the Canadian roots of Thanksgiving:
“The origins of the first Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher’s Thanksgiving celebration was not for harvest, but for homecoming. He had safely returned from an unsuccessful search for the Northwest Passage, avoiding the later fate of Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin. In the year 1578, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Newfoundland to give thanks for surviving the long journey. Years later, the tradition of a feast would continue as more settlers began to arrive to the Canadian colonies.”
Well, I’m a Londoner now, so technically this week is a homecoming for me, right? Time for a feast?!
The answer was no. We had originally decided to nix the idea of cooking Thanksgiving din in the shitty little kitchenette in our apartment hotel as the “oven” is terrifying and about 75% broken and also because we have no spices and only two pots.
That decision didn’t stick long. There’s something about waking up on the morning of Thanksgiving, whether you’re in the right country or not. You feel warm and cozy and all lovey towards your family and thankful for what you have in your life and you want to celebrate by stuffing your face with gravy and pumpkin pie.
We slept in quite late this morning, but when we finally roused ourselves we felt all of the feelings above and decided to throw excuses and broken kitchen appliances out the window and make Thanksgiving dinner anyway!
It was very much like the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special in that we didn’t have many resources at our fingertips. But did that stop the Peanuts gang?! NO! They served buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, and jelly beans on a ping-pong table in the backyard. If they could soldier on, we could too!
First and foremost, we needed dessert. A bit backwards, I know, but that’s how the priorities were ordered this morning. We took a jaunt down to Brixton to visit the vegan bakery of Ms. Cupcake. She herself hails from Canada and I thought, surely, she would have pumpkin pie flavoured cupcakes and apple spice and all other autumn/harvest-related flavours on offer. She didn’t. But I fretted not! I just bought the most Canadian cupcake available (maple syrup). But you will get more on that tomorrow.
We hit up a Marks & Spencer on the way home and grabbed the most vegan Thanksgiving-y things available. Here’s what we came up with, using what few utensils we had on hand in the kitchenette.
I am a sucker for stuffing (or as a lot of people down home call it, “dressing”). Bread, drenched with deliciousness? Sign me up! Boxed stuffing (vegan or non) was not on any shelf we checked, so we grabbed a bag of old bread (reduced to 50P). When it comes to bread for stuffing, the staler the better. We piled the loaf on a plate and stuck it in what we believe to be an oven to dry it out a bit more.
The problem is, the knob on this mystery appliance is broken and only kind of works. Plus we don’t understand it at all. It’s basically a metal microwave, inside and out. But it’s NOT a microwave, because we have one of those and this isn’t it. Whatever. We jiggled the knob and it gave 30 seconds of heat to the bread before shutting off. We turned it again and it started giving heat in 72 minute intervals. I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
We fussed around with the “oven” and in the end it didn’t do too much. We chopped the bread up into cubes (with a butter knife, before discovering the block of chef’s knives on the counter)…
…and put it in the only large bowl available: some sort of decorative thing from our tea set.
In my large frying pan (who’s laughing that I packed it in my suitcase now, bitches?!?) I heated some vegan margarine and onions.
I added chicken-flavoured vegetable broth (also from my suitcase) and salt and pepper that I bought from the convenience store across the road for far too much money.
We brought the broth mixture to a simmer, removed from heat, dumped in bread cubes, stirred to moisten, covered and sweated for about 10 minutes or so, then fluffed with a fork before serving.
What I like about food here is how proud everyone is when it’s British. British wheat in British bread. A British farmer grew our British potatoes. I love this place.
We peeled them with a knife because we’re hard like that (and because there was no vegetable peeler in our kitchen–SHOCKING!).
Boil and mash…with forks. Oy vey.
Put in microwave and zap. Easy peasy. And carrotsy.
What vessel was available to house the gravy? The teapot. We added boiling water to this gravy mix that looked frighteningly like rabbit food.
THANKSGIVING DINNER, LONDON-HOTEL-ROOM STYLE
Here’s the finished product!
Let’s pretend to be healthy by having veggies on the plate.
Jimmy Jam’s famous mashed potatoes, veganised.
Served with champagne…in mismatched water glasses. Classy.
This meal was surprisingly delicious! And the off-the-cuff stuffing (Off-the-Cuffing?) was actually aaaamazing! Gosh, we were happy! There were saluts and cheers and pats on the back all around. Yes, we know there was no main protein in this meal, but wasn’t the best part of Thanksgiving always the sides anyway? I know that’s why I showed up at the table.
Happy long weekend, my Canadian pals! xx