Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Turkey(?) Day

Hello friends!  Allow me to introduce myself.   I’m Gretchen and I have a blog called Don’t Forget Love which is in the process of moving from the blogger platform to wordpress.  You can now find me there at  http://dontforgetlove.wordpress.com .  I am excited to be writing for Circle of Food.  For several years, I’ve been heading in the direction of vegetarianism.  We all have different reasons for making this choice about our diet; personally I choose to stay away from meat as much as I can because I like to avoid eating animals raised in the traditional “factory farm” method.  I try to navigate the world of vegetarianism with care, engaging others in discussion about why I make the choices I do, all the while being sensitive to alternate view points.  Along this food journey, I’ve gathered quite a few yummy recipes that I share on my blog and will now share here.  Thanks for following along!

If you are anything like me, perhaps you feel that the holidays can test the strength of your convictions.  Perhaps it’s the typical Thanksgiving table’s focus on turkey that gets to you.  Many of us who choose not to eat meat, whether it be for moral, health, or political reasons, experience a little discomfort sitting around a table whose centerpiece is Tom turkey.  Or maybe the holiday is frustrating because some of your relatives don’t understand your beliefs and feelings about meat.

For me, the toughest part about Thanksgiving day is sharing the table with the (formerly favorite) dishes of my meat-eating past.  Luckily, my Grandmother has been a vegetarian since age 14 so my family is in the habit of providing meat-free alternatives to many Thanksgiving treats.  Regardless, the smell of turkey roasting in the oven and gravy bubbling away on the stove often causes me to second guess my decision to abstain.  Family memories are very strongly tied to food and holidays and so happy associations I have with sausage stuffing and homemade gravy can be difficult to break.

Last year, I had a really hard time skipping the gravy; mashed potatoes just aren’t the same without it in my view!  For that reason, I’ve actively sought out vegetarian gravy recipes to prepare come Thursday.  I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that I never knew vegetarian gravy existed before last week!  I was excited to discover these two recipes and I’ll be trying to choose between them….maybe I’ll make them both:

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97137098

Note: The gravy thickens up quite a bit, so keep some warm water or vegetable broth on hand to thin it out before serving, and for leftovers.

Makes 2 cups.

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup chopped onion or shallots

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and soy sauce to form a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the broth.

Season with sage, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.

From Martha Stewart: Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy – Martha Stewart Recipes

Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 portobello mushroom
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms
4 cups organic mushroom or vegetable stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Marsala wine (optional)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon thyme leaves

  1. Remove stems from portobello, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms. Place stems and mushroom stock in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes. Strain; set aside.
  2. Finely chop portobello cap, and set aside. Thinly slice shiitake and cremini. Place 3 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat; add shallots, and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped and sliced mushrooms, and cook until mushrooms are soft and browned, and all liquid has evaporated. Add Marsala, if using, and cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  3. Place the remaining tablespoon butter and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook until browned and fully combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the enriched stock; bring to a boil, whisking until thickened. Add the reserved mushroom mixture and thyme, and stir to combine. Serve hot.

What do you struggle with about vegetarianism at Thanksgiving?  Got any great meat-free recipes to share?  Let us know!  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day.


  1. Gretchen, welcome to COF! Your vegetarian recipes offer tasty and healthy alternatives to the ordinary. I love to explore food and I’ve greatly reduced the amount of meat I eat over the last 5-10 years mainly because I just don’t enjoy eating it anymore. I often feel “weighed down” or have a heavy stomach afterwards — especially if I eat steak.

    Your vegetarian gravies, especially the one with mushrooms, look very appetizing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I’m so glad you like the recipes! I am also happy to hear that others out there taper their meat eating over time–it’s been difficult for me to do all at once but I’ve found success doing so gradually. Hope you get the chance to make one of the gravies, I’m going to enjoy taste testing!

  2. The Tofurky people sent along this recipe – http://www.tofurky.com

    Savory Vegetable Gravy

    1/4 pound (about 2 cups) fresh crimini mushroom slices
    1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons no-trans-fat margarine (with 8 grams fat per tablespoon)
    1 cup strong low-sodium vegetable broth
    1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon parsley flakes)
    1/4 teaspoon celery salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    2 1/2 tablespoons Wondra quick-mixing flour
    1 cup fat-free half-and-half or low-fat milk (or substitute plain soymilk), divided
    • In a medium, nonstick saucepan, brown mushroom slices and onion in margarine over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes). Add broth, parsley, celery salt, and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.
    • In a 4-cup measure, blend flour with 4 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half with small whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining half-and-half or milk, and pour into the vegetable mixture. Bring mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Continue to cook and stir just until thickened.
    Yield: 2 cups of gravy

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