A Thanksgiving Meal


There’s a lot in my life I am grateful for, but this Thanksgiving I am incredibly happy about one thing: having my irrepressible Freddie around.

Freddie almost died this past week. His health– he will be 18 in December– has been sinking steadily. He was an alert, agile, spry dog when he came to live with us at the age of 12, already a senior dog who thought he was a puppy. Freddie’s heart suffered from a mitral valve prolapse and he was nearly blind with cataracts when his previous family dumped him at the shelter. Desi and I picked him up as a foster, and when no one chose to adopt him, he and we adopted each other.

Freddie’s given us five-plus wonderful years of companionship, but within the past year he has slowed down. He has cancer — a soft-tissue sarcoma that could have only been removed by amputating the limb it’s growing on. But that was not an option given his heart problems and his advanced age and low physical reserves. In the last few months the tumor has grown and– although initially painless– it appears to now have advanced to the joint, making it difficult for him to walk and indicating pain.

When we took Freddie to the vet last Friday, she told us what we feared most: that he’s in a great deal of pain and the next step, the kind one, would be to put him down. “It’s cruel to let him suffer any more,” she said. Hurting like never before but keen to do the right thing by our beloved baby, we numbly agreed to an appointment Tuesday for euthanasia.

Over the miserable weekend all we could talk and think about was Freddie. Were we doing the right thing? Would he forgive us if he knew? Would he know we were doing it for him?

We talked to other people– friends and neighbors– who had put down their sick pets, and everyone agreed, albeit each with tears in their eyes, that they believed they had done the right thing for their animal.

But something didn’t feel right. Because through all this there was one guy who did not seem ready to give up: Freddie himself.

Freddie sleeps a lot and his mental reserves have diminished to the point of senility, just like with humans. But he still loves to eat– always his most favorite thing to do. When Desi sometimes puts him in the kitchen, he’ll smell his way to me and stand next to me, perhaps because it makes him feel safe. When one of us holds him in our arms, he’ll first complain, then snuggle close, happy to be there.

Freddie has a tremendous instinct for life, and the night before he was to be put down he– for one– didn’t seem to be saying he was ready to go. Well, we decided, if he isn’t ready, we aren’t either.

So we canceled the appointment and felt a cloud lift from our hearts. The  vet prescribed some painkillers and although they make him even drowsier, they do seem to help with the pain because he’s moving around more.

I know that one day, perhaps sooner than later, Freddie will pass on. I hope, like every parent of an aging, ailing pet does, that he will choose his own time and go in his sleep, safe and warm at home. But I know that may not be the case, and that things could come to a point where the only kind thing to do will be to let him go. But for now, at least, we feel incredibly lucky and thankful to have our little boy around.

***

On to my Thanksgiving meal, which I am really excited to share with you. I cooked up a super-delicious, silkily creamy Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Lasagna spiked with the smokiness of sage. It was incredibly good, especially when smothered in some of my Cranberry-Tangerine Coulis.

I also made some whipped, mashed potatoes. These are mashed potatoes that are then whipped up with a stand or hand mixer to a fluffy texture. It’s like eating perfect mashed potatoes times ten. And to keep the theme of traditional-but-new, I made some cornbread stuffing alive with red, green and yellow peppers and once again woven through with the magic of perennial herbs.

So here are some of my Thanksgiving recipes. These are by no means limited to great holiday eating. I could have them any time of year!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Lasagna with Sage

Ingredients:

1 15.5 ounce can of pumpkin puree

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/2 cm thin lengthwise

3 tbsp fresh sage (or a mix of sage and rosemary).

12 lasagna noodles, cooked to al dente texture according to package instructions

1 tub of vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti)

1 package of silken firm tofu

1/4 cup almond milk (or soy)

1-2 tsp ground black pepper

Salt to taste

More ground black pepper and dried rosemary for garnish (optional)

Place all the ingredients except the lasagna noodles and sweet potatoes in a food processor and blend until it’s smooth and silky

In a greased, rectangular baking dish, spread a couple of ladlefuls of the pumpkin sauce. Then layer on four lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping.

Spread a third of the remaining pumpkin sauce and add a layer of sweet potatoes on top.

Place another layer of lasagna noodles and repeat.

On the third and final layer of lasagna noodles, layer the sweet potato slice and then pour over and spread the remaining pumpkin sauce.

Sprinkle some pepper and dried rosemary on top, cover with foil, and bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil and let the lasagna bake another 15 minutes until the top is slightly golden-brown.

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

Cranberry Coulis

Ingredients:

Six ounces cranberries, washed and picked over

Juice of three tangerines (1 cup)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp powdered cinnamon

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and allow it to cook about 15-20 minutes until the cranberries have broken down.

Place in a blender when slightly cooled and blend into a smooth puree.
 
Mashed, Whipped Potatoes

6 large Russett potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring it to a boil.

Cover and cook 10 minutes or until the potatoes are folk tender.

Drain the potatoes and place them back in the saucepan for another 10 minutes, covered with a kitchen towel that will absorb any excess moisture rising from the spuds.

Using a ricer or a potato masher, mash the potatoes in a large bowl.

Add:

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup soymilk or almond milk

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried rosemary, powdered

Using a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer, whip the potatoes for about 1 minute until they are cloudy and airy and light.

Cornbread Stuffing with Bell Peppers

Ingredients:

1 recipe Southern Cornbread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 green, 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 cup coriander leaves (or parsley)

1 cup chopped celery stalks

1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp vegan butter like Earth Balance

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 cups vegetable stock

Heat the oil and vegan butter.

Add the onion, celery and bell peppers and saute until they begin to soften, about five minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and add herbs. Turn off heat.

Add the cubed cornbread and mix well. Add the vegetable stock and mix well. The cornbread cubes will break up, or at least some of them, but that’s okay.

Empty the stuffing into an oiled, rectangular baking dish and bake about 45-60 minutes or until the top is brown and crunchy.

Garnish with more fresh herbs, if you like.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

24 thoughts on “A Thanksgiving Meal

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Nupur

    November 27, 2010 at 2:41pm

    What a touching post, Vaishali! My love to Freddie and to both of you. I hope Freddie is pain-free and happy as long as he is here with us.

    The Thanksgiving meal looks wonderful.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Skay

    November 27, 2010 at 3:00pm

    Thank you for the recipes, and though my heart breaks at Freddie’s condition, I for one am happy that he is around!

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Divya Kudua

    November 27, 2010 at 4:42pm

    Such a lovely post Vaishali!!

    From being a scared-of-dogs person I’ve come a far way,thanks to two doggies in my parents’ home.My family went through a very tough time when one of them,a Rottweiler[then a puppy],fell ill.My mother kept telling how much she was touched when Shadow[his name] couldn’t move his body and was so tired but still wagged his tail weakly when my mom patted its back!!

    Of course,now he’s back to being a very healthy doggie,and once even knocked me over!!

    I hope Freddie is feeling better now!!

    Thanksgiving meal is lovely!!

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Priya

    November 27, 2010 at 5:40pm

    Thats really very sad, my hugs to Freddie..Fabulous thanksgiving meal..

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Michelle Smith

    November 27, 2010 at 6:41pm

    How lucky Freddie is that you found him and were so kind as to give him a loving home, even when he was already a senior. Putting a dog down is one of the hardest things to do and I hope you won’t have to, but if the time comes, you’ll know it with certainty.

    Your Thanksgiving meal sounds and looks delicious. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    VegSpinz

    November 27, 2010 at 7:00pm

    I almost can’t read about the fantastic food after reading about Freddie! I’ve been in that position more than once, and it’s always a very hard decision and even harder to go through. My heart goes out to you and your family- give a big kiss on Freddie’s head!

    Btw- love the new look of your blog! :)

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Richa

    November 27, 2010 at 7:26pm

    I hope freddie has all pain free days till eventually he wants to cross the rainbow bridge.

    My mom couldnt let our pomeranian(Candy) go the same way and she had tumors all over her stomach and uterus. When she stopped walking around even for food and pee, mom decided it was time. I wasnt there with mom then, otherwise I would have tried to convince her to to let Candy go earlier, to save her from the last few painful weeks. 10 years back in india, i dont think the vet even gave her painkillers. So she was in a lot of pain. But atleast all her 16 years before those few weeks she had a happy life. RIP Candy.

    It is the hardest decision to make in life and I am sure Freddie will let you know what he wants and when he wants it. Take care.

    Thank you for being such and awesome parent to all your kids and thank you for being Vegan! Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Amrita

    November 27, 2010 at 7:30pm

    Touching thanksgiving post Vaishali! I know how you must feel, this is a very difficult decision. Freddie, it seems is ready to brave the pain to be with you all till the time he can. You took the kindest decision for now. May Divinity guide your path always.

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Ameya

    November 27, 2010 at 9:04pm

    Vaishali, I am very glad to hear the Freddie is still with you, and I hope his health improves very soon. Your recipes all look mouth-watering, especially the sweet potato lasagna and coulis.

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Manasi

    November 27, 2010 at 11:05pm

    Freddie’s condition and his courage are touching and wishing him happiness and pain free days. Big warm hugs to him.
    The thanks giving meal looks great.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Manasi

    November 27, 2010 at 11:05pm

    Freddie’s condition and his courage are touching and wishing him happiness and pain free days. Big warm hugs to him.
    The thanks giving meal looks great.

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Raj

    November 28, 2010 at 4:34am

    I am very sad for Freddie. Yes, when nothing works, euthanasia is not a bad option for anyone in this world. From earth we rise, to earth we return. We just take a new form.

    Thanks for your delicious recipes. The Desi pictures of your dishes are even better than the recipes (smile).

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Raj

    November 28, 2010 at 4:54am

    On second thoughts, euthanasia is not a good idea because Freddie needs to decide that, not us. Unfortunately, he does not know that choice and we cannot choose for him. Please keep giving him the pain-killers whenever he requires it, even if that makes him drowsy. You are one brave family!

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Samarpita

    November 28, 2010 at 4:52pm

    Hey Vaishali,
    I know it will be a tough decision. Having had pets all my life, I know it is never easy to let go. the question has pained me many times, had they been human beings, would they have clung on to life as many people choose to do? Am I depriving them of the right to do so? Am I, who is entrusted with this huge responsibility of deciding if one should live or die, able take the right step, can I play God? I have hesitated many times in taking the right decision of letting go and a few times, my pets have suffered the consequence of a painful death, I am so ashamed to admit to myself. Such memories continue to haunt me even after many years. But Vaishali, I pray to God that you know the time when it finally comes. Listen to your instinct and take the ultimate step only if Freddie’s pain and other suffering get too much to bear.

  15. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anu

    November 29, 2010 at 3:08am

    Great recipes and a touching story. It is always nice to be thankful for our furry friends, but Thanksgiving always reminds us to be even more thankful for them. Glad that Freddie is pain-free and hope he stays that way for long.

  16. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Miri

    November 29, 2010 at 5:39pm

    Love love the new look!! its light and clean :)

    Sorry to hear about Freddie’s poor health :( he must be loving having you to look after him..

    These are nice Thanksgiving recipes – forwarding it to my vegan friend in the US

  17. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Tibik

    November 30, 2010 at 1:39am

    That was a lovely post.My best wishes to all of you and I hope Freddie’s days are happy. I truly believe he feels the love.
    Tibik

  18. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    December 1, 2010 at 11:37pm

    I think you made the right decision. Sounds to me like you judged the situation correctly. Freddie was not ready to go, and he was still enjoying life. I think people let their animals go way too easily. And vets recommend it way too easily. More often than not, it’s to make the human’s life easier. Most times, when dogs or cats are too old, too weak, or terminally ill, people and vets think it’s acceptable to euthanize them. I can accept it only if I am convinced it’s the best thing for my dog. I think you feel the same way. I am so glad you held on. You and Desi will know if and when the time comes. Rely on yourselves and your knowledge of Freddie on this decision, and less on your vet.

    If you are religious (otherwise stop reading here :) , you can incorporate your religious activities for Freddie too. Whatever you do in your religion to give humans a better after life. I definitely would. In Buddhism, Buddha recalled many times how animals (chickens, pigs, and some others that I don’t remember at this moment) heard pirith chanting, dhamma talks etc while just hanging around people and died at the time or soon after, and were reborn in one of the heavens or had other fortunate lives just from what they heard. I am Buddhist, so my house will have pirith playing all day and night long if my baby was nearing the end. I have seen Christians reading from the Bible/praying etc for humans, Hindus chanting and performing rites, if I followed any of those religions, you can bet I’d be doing all those things for my babies.

    May Freddie attain nibbana!

  19. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cham

    December 2, 2010 at 1:31am

    U guys have a brave heart. Hope Freddie have a pain free days ahead.

  20. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind

    December 2, 2010 at 4:48am

    Vaishali,

    I am glad you decided for now to cancel the appointment. I am sure Freddie sure appreciates it. You are amazing, going through a lot with Lucy, then Freddie. My wishes and prayers are with you all.

    Recipes for thanksgiving meals is wonderful, anytime of the year!

  21. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    December 2, 2010 at 5:16am

    Nice post, as usual.

    I have to comment on the classic serving dish of the mashed potatoes! Epic vintage! I hadn’t seen one in many years.

    I remember my mom serving food in that exact dinnerware.

    Cheers, Vaishali…

    Paula

  22. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Peggy

    December 7, 2010 at 9:43pm

    This was such a touching post about your dog! We have two ourselves, and while they’re still young buddies (3 in April!), we know that someday (hopefully in the far far future!) we will have to go through this too! Love your lasagna by the way!

  23. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Rajee

    December 8, 2010 at 12:48am

    Very touching post Vaishali. I am sure Freddie had a great life with you guys the past few years and wishing him pain-free days and hope he stays as healthy as he possibly can.

    And ofcourse as always, wonderful recipes :-)

  24. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Amruta

    February 16, 2011 at 11:22pm

    What a wonderfully written post Vaishali! Very touching.

    I can totally relate to your state of mind. I lost my 13 and 1/2 year dog last year. The only thing we wished for was not being in a position to take a decision to put him down. Hope Freddie has many more pain free years with you guys.

Thank you for visiting Holy Cow! I love hearing from you, so take a moment to say hello or tell me what you thought of this post. Thank you!