Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving thanks

Grandma Mildred in her garden

Things have been quiet at the Haus Sisters Vegan (+JP) lately. School, health, and family things have been keeping us busy. But I wanted to make a quick post, because this Thanksgiving is going to be a little different for us this year.

My grandma, my mom's mom, passed away on October 11th. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August, and a few months later, she was gone. It's been really hard for everyone, but especially my mom, my aunt, and my cousin. They were taking care of Grandma (and my Grandpa), and the rest of us, too. I may have made over 12 dozen cookies for the memorial service, but mom, Joanne, and Michelle were the ones to talk to the doctor, Grandma's pastor, and relatives. The hard parts.

Grandma Mildred was a very special person. She was kind, supportive, funny, loving, strong-willed, and a wonderful cook and baker. More than one speaker at her memorial service mentioned her blackberry pie, myself included. Even though I don't think she really understood it, she was super awesome about me being vegan, and made her signature rolls and berry pies with vegetable-based shortening instead of butter for me. How lucky were we?! She always always made sure there was food we could eat, even driving all the way out to Whole Foods in Petaluma one time for us. Grandma Mildred supported her children and grandchildren unwaveringly, despite our flaws, and I think that's why we all turned out alright. (It may also be the reason why she had so many grey hairs on her head...I'm looking at you mom! ;)

I feel like of all the parts of me, as much as I constantly struggle to define who I am and come up with no answers, the parts of my life that have Grandma in them make sense, and those parts are solid and reassuring, and make the rest of the puzzle pieces fall into place around them.

This will be our first Thanksgiving without Grandma. I haven't felt the loss as hard as I do right now. But out of this loss came the amazing realization of how much my mom's side of the family loves and supports each other through loss and hardship, how awesome it is to have these super-awesome women and men in my life, and no matter what, I can count on them. Especially in contrast to my dad's relatives. I also discovered that I have a really great group of friends in the Bay Area and Oregon (and elsewhere!) who care for me and that I can count on them, too.

I have so much to be thankful for this year, even though it's been one of the hardest of my life. Thank you, readers, for making this blog so fun. Thank you, friends and family, for being there for me. Thank you, Kelly and JP, for hugging me when I come home.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! We're making what is now the traditional vegan dish of Pumpkin & Black Bean Casserole (this year made with butternut squash), and the (vegan) Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Cranberries from last month's issue of Vegetarian Times. We'll report back.

(Grandma didn't like to have pictures taken of her, so I couldn't find any of her in the kitchen, but the one above is of her in just a small portion of her AMAZING beautiful and bountiful garden, and the one below is from Thanksgiving of last year.)

Thanksgiving 2008

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Autumnal Gleegans

Autumn is at our doorstep, and so is our Gluten-free friend Mark! Mark has known longer than we have about the trials of having dietary restrictions around other people, so I learned a lot from him regarding ingredients and substitutions.
However, Vegan cookbooks are increasingly having more and more gluten-free recipes, doing all the work for us. Vegan Brunch was the culprit this time. We made Gluten-free Buckwheat Pancakes and updated Tempeh Bacon. Word of caution to the Gee-Effers - use Tamari or Braggs Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce. I really almost screwed that one up.
Needless to say, the pancakes were gorgeous and poofed up more than any GF baked goods I have ever made (remind me to tell you the sad tale of the GF vanilla cupcakes sometime) and despite all of the different flours and flax, its substantial, nutty taste was not at all 'health-foody'.
Tempeh bacon is definitely a staple in this household, so I already knew that I could depend on it. I was really pleased to be able to make something so quickly and easily that everyone could eat.

Additionally, we had to serve our vegan guest lunch as well, so we broke out some more McDougall soup. Four of the soups I mentioned in my last post are gluten-free, and Mark took on the Lentil soup, which I can only guess that he enjoyed, seeing as how he wolfed it down just an hour or two hours after we had our glorious vegan breakfast. I had Minestrone, which didn't impress me as much as the chunky tomato, but it was good.
I would recommend heating these soups up in a pot on the stove. I think my problem keeping them warm enough while I eat is because they're really thick and hearty, and a Microwave even on 2 minutes or so just don't do the trick, at least not evenly. So if you're close to a stovetop, use it, otherwise give it a stir halfway through nuking.