Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful and Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

For Thanksgiving, Nathan and I usually don't travel far. For the last seven or so years, we've either stayed at home or spent the day with friends in town, which has been wonderful. I love Thanksgiving most of all because it's a low pressure holiday - no gifts to buy, no complicated travel plans, no costumes to create or romantic gestures to orchestrate. It's a holiday about being thankful for what you've got and eating a lot of good food, which just so happens to be two of my favorite past times. 

This year we hosted a small gathering at our house in Wilmington. We invited over a few people we know would be in town and ended up with a party of seven, including ourselves. (Nine if you include the dogs, which I know the dogs did.) It was the perfect number - a manageable group to overfeed, small enough to talk to everyone, and a great crowd for board games. Somehow, between hosting, cooking, and kicking ass at Scattergories, Taboo, Catch Phrase and various drinking games (I was sipping wine and only pretended to chug when necessary - shhh) the only photos I took were the few I managed to snap with my phone. Oh, well. It was worth it.

First up: bread! This week's entry into the (non-competitive) bread challenge comes compliments of Joy the Baker. A week or two ago I came across her recipe for vegan pumpkin walnut bread while looking for Thanksgiving day ideas and immediately added it to my dream menu. While I didn't end up making every dish I fell in love with (six entrees, eight sides, and five desserts might have been overdoing it just a little) this recipe made the cut. And oh, how glad we were!

I made the bread exactly as Joy instructs, except that I didn't have white whole wheat flour on hand and just used all-purpose, which Joy said is fine. I also had a pumpkin pie spice mix and tossed 3.5 teaspoons of that into the mix instead of the individual spices. The recipe came together easily and before I knew it, my house was filled with the most divine scent of pumpkin and bread and spices. It was heavenly and put me directly into the Thanksgiving zone. I highly recommend this recipe!

Also on my all-vegan menu: tons of Tofruky, Daily Garnish's Butternut Squash and Cranberry Maple Millet, roasted Brussels sprouts and baby carrots, garlic roasted mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, Isa's Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding Pie and the bread mentioned above. My friend Mel brought real turkey, stuffing and a corn dish straight outta the mid-West, and Sally supplied a gorgeous gluten-free spice cake. Despite our various dietary restrictions, everyone came away with full plates and fuller stomachs and over the course of twelve (yes, twelve!) hours we sat down to dinner three separate times. Oh, and we had a bonfire in the backyard. We win at Thanksgiving.

I hope it goes without saying that I am thankful for all the usual stuff - family, friends, health, education, a home, a loving partner, two awesome dogs, the opportunity to do exactly what I want right now in my life. So instead, I would like to mention how thankful I am for the community that I've found here in Wilmington. When we left Nacogdoches I was heartbroken - I had made the best friends while I was there and I couldn't imagine living my life, day to day, without them. I didn't think anyone could ever measure up and told myself that chasing your dreams was a lonely pursuit and I should just get used to it now. Well, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. My friends in Nacogdoches are still dear to my heart and I miss them every day, but Wilmington has offered me different friendships with new people who, I hope and believe, will be just as important to my heart and soul in the coming years. That's the thing about friendship - there is no limit to the awesome people that can enter your life, if only you let them. I think this year's Thanksgiving proved that nicely.

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and yours. I hope it was a wonderful day!