Red and I, along with my parents, flew down to Charlotte (remember when I went there?) to spend the holiday o’ gluttony with my sister at her new house. Yay, new house! All that lovely space. I am so jealous. She and her boyfriend have done an admirable job of filling it, though, with the aid of this handsome fellow:
This enormous beast is Sampson, and he is still a puppy. When he finishes growing, I am going to laugh and laugh because he will almost certainly outweigh my sister. He is the sweetest, mellowest dog I’ve ever met—and not even a year old! Lucy is that calm when she’s waking up from anesthesia. We had many snuggles and even let him get up on the couch, which, strictly speaking, he is not allowed to do. He is a beautiful boy.
The day before Thanksgiving, Red and I learned of a new vegetarian restaurant in town. We absolutely had to try it! It’s called Fern, Flavors from the Garden, and you’ll just have to Google it because they’re too new to have an actual website. It is really lovely:
Such a great use for Mason jars.
Felt pockets on the wall! With living plants in them!
They poured us glasses of cucumber water, which is totally delicious and I don’t know why I’ve never made it myself. We started with jalapeño hush puppies (with Daiya, for those of you who worship the stuff), which I loved and I am no great lover of jalapeños, believe me.
Look at my pretty First Chakra Juice:
I know it’s ultra-hippie to have a juice menu named after the chakras, but we just covered them in my recent yoga training weekend, and I have a chakra poster (this one, actually) on my wall at work, and I have a chakra ring that I bought in Salem with my friend Jess, so I guess I am a little ultra-hippie, no? And yes, I brought my yoga mat with me to North Carolina.
My entrée was already vegan, and they veganized Red’s easily. Feast your eyes:
Green Goddess Soup
Warm Kale Salad
It was good we fueled up, because we headed downtown to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Red and I can be very snobby East Coasters, but we’ve decided we can visit any city with a modern art museum. Well played, Charlotte. It’s right next to the Mint Museum (which, no, is not about currency), which I visited last time, so there was a nice sense of familiarity. I did not see the sign banning photographs, so I took some.
Me and Marilyn.
The rest of our visit was very domestic, as befits a family holiday. On Thanksgiving, my sister, Red, and I cooked up a storm—no, a goddamn tornado, and I had to stay sober the entire time because it was a very small kitchen for three people and I didn’t want to injure anyone (or, worse, spill my drink). But the day started off right, with these yummy vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls (made the night before, because can you imagine? you’d have to be up at 4 to have them ready for breakfast):
The recipe is here, and aside from its being a pain in the ass in the way that all cinnamon roll recipes are (knead! rise! roll! slice! roll! rise! KILL ME), I can’t say enough good things about it. The rolls were perfect. The icing recipe looked like it made a vatful, so we halved all the ingredients except for the spices and rum, because my family likes to party.
Release the Kraken!
Most of the day was pretty chill, and we played a very satisfying game of Monopoly. My sister has the set we used as kids, and man, it has survived some craziness. I’m pleased to report that I won, although Red did remarkably well for his first time playing Monopoly ever. We’ll civilize him yet.
Before we started cooking in earnest, we needed appetizers. The omnis had their own stuff, and Red and I made Tami Noyes’ Seitan Veggie Crowns. There’s a reason they were named Vegan.com’s Appetizer of the Year! Go, Tami! BTW, leftover filling mixed with a little extra vegan mayo makes for a delicious sandwich.
Once we started making dinner, it was on like Donkey Kong. We made garlic mashed potatoes (vegan and omni), green bean casserole, bourbon mashed sweet potatoes with pecans, Appetite for Reduction’s Sweet Potato Biscuits, stuffing from a bag (you know you love it too), and Sage and Pumpkin Seed Encrusted Gardein with Cranberry Cabernet Sauce (Gardein’s Thanksgiving menu is off the hook). We used malbec instead of cabernet, and it was a delicious substitution. Even my dad loved the Gardein!
We carved a V in our mashed potatoes so there’d be no confusion.
I was too stuffed to eat dessert, but the day before I’d made the Gingerbread Apple Pie from Vegan with a Vengeance. I made it last year, too, because it is easy and fantastic. Shout-out to Red for his peeling/slicing assistance. Actually, I made two pies—it turns out that the recipe makes one pie when you have a big-ass ceramic pie dish, but two when you’re using disposable grocery-store pie tins. So, a bonus pie! Who could complain? My sister didn’t have maple syrup, so I improvised and used a combination of molasses and rum. Again: Problem? Where? (I forgot to take a picture, so if you want one, it’s in here.) I ate plenty of it the next day, don’t you worry.
No trip to Charlotte is complete without a visit to Lebowski’s, so we made a family pilgrimage there on Black Friday. Vegan White Russians and french fries, you have my heart. I was committed to not buying anything that day, so I guess I failed, but it’s not like I got up at 3am to stand in line with hostile strangers jonesing for a discounted Xbox or something. That shit scares me.
Bar lighting is so flattering.
On Saturday, it was home again, home again. I am so thankful to have been able to spend Thanksgiving with people I love, in a city that cares about its vegans at least a little, remembering what really matters.