Tag Archives: tofu

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Oh Thanksgiving – a day for family, football, and lots of feasting.  I attended typical Thanksgiving dinners with turkey, stuffing, and gravy.  What on earth did I eat then?  Rule #1 if you’re a vegetarian or vegan attending a party – eat before you go or bring a vegetarian dish.  Trust me – people will appreciate a healthy dish in the mix.

The first Thanksgiving meal was at Richmond VA.  I made a pumpkin cheesecake that happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free.  Tastes like the real deal.  This was so easy to make.  I got the recipe from this video.  Give it a try!  You’ll be impressed.  My family absolutely loved it.  They didn’t believe it was a cheesecake without cheese.

pumpkin

I brought over eggplants I had in the fridge.  Forgot to take a photo, but I basically placed them in the oven for about 20 minutes and had it with sauce.  My mother-in-law then turned it into a sweet and sour eggplant salad for me. It was delish!

The next day I had my second Thanksgiving meal at my Uncle Mark’s lovely home.  They had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all of the above except for a vegetable dish.  I had a feeling about this, so I brought over a big dish of roasted vegetables with  beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, and white potatoes.  It’s seasoned with fresh thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sea salt, olive oil, and pepper.  They were soft in the inside but crispy on the outside.  Let’s just say there was nothing left at the end of the night.

veg

I was going to make a lentil loaf with cranberry sauce as another vegan dish, but there was so much food.  I’ll table that for another blog post, maybe for Christmas.

And then there are Chinese dishes.  One of Mama Chiang’s famous appetizers is her pork stuffed vegetables with oyster sauce.  Of course she wouldn’t leave out her plant-eating daughter, so she made me a special dish.  Instead of meat, she stuffed the vegetables with a secret tofu mix.  It’s better than the meat version.  It’s like a light hors d’oeuvre.  The slightly sweet topping was a perfect combo with peppers, tofu, eggplant, and even bitter melon.  I don’t like bitter melon, so my mom didn’t want to torture me.  She also made me yummy green beans, so I didn’t feel left out from the fam digging into the green bean casserole.  Mama Chiang is always so thoughtful.

stuffedtofu

Being aware of what I eat this year made me appreciate the time with my family.  When I was a kid and up until now, my uncle always made an American Thanksgiving dinner.  I always looked forward to it because I pretty much ate Chinese food every day.  I realized it’s more than the American meal.  It’s an American tradition where I can really catch up with my family and be thankful.

Mama Chiang

Meet my mom.  She’s so adorable. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I wanted to dedicate this post and Yum-o section to my mom aka Mama Chiang.  I get my foodie inspiration from her.

Before we get into all the yummy food we had for Mother’s day, here’s a couple things to know about my mom that will make you think of eating and cooking food differently.  Every time I’m home I’m amazed to discover something new in Mama Chiang’s kitchen:

My mom is very intricate about her cooking.  She made me a lotus salad and I had no idea she peeled a lotus root piece by piece with an itty bitty knife.  She taught me that cooking requires patience, which is why her meals are made with lots of love.

She measures by eye and taste.  You will not see any measuring cups or spoons in her kitchen, but she’ll use Chinese bowls and soup spoons to measure.  When she teaches me how to cook she’ll tell me something like, “Cut the ginger as big as your pinky finger.”

Before coming to Mama Chiang’s house, she will ask a million questions on what you like to eat, what you can’t eat, or what you are allergic to.  It brings her joy when people are enjoying her food.  This is such good practice for anyone.  People are always grateful when you ask.  It means they’re thinking of you.

Every time I’m home I see exotic vegetables or fruits on the dining table, like these miniature mangos.  They’re smaller than my palm, but so very sweet.

My mom will make use of every ingredient she has.  Nothing goes to waste.  For instance, she will lay orange peels across the kitchen window to ward off any insects.

There’s a smorgasbord of treats when you come to Mama Chiang’s Household.  I found this Vietnamese dessert known as Che Bau Mau in the fridge the other day waiting for me to nosh.  It consists of mung beans, red azuki beans, tapioca pearls, peanuts, and coconut milk.  A blend of salty and sweet flavors.  I just have a small helping because there’s a lot sugar in this.

Now for Mother’s day – We didn’t want my mom in the kitchen, so we ventured to some cool digs.  For brunch we went to Eden Center, the mecca of Vietnamese cuisine in the DMV area.  We went to Lacay Cholon where I got this veggie spring roll – shiitake mushrooms, vermicelli noodles, lettuce and tofu wrapped in rice paper with a side of peanut sauce.

When we got back from shopping I found another exotic item on the dining table – dried red mangos from Hawaii. They’re very different from regular dried mangos.  First of all they’re a vibrant red color, not yellow, and they are slightly sour.

After some gardening and house chores, my mom and I noshed on Chinese crepes (Chang Fun) from China Boy in DC.  You typically see these on dim sum carts and it could be wrapped with a variety of different ingredients.  I like mine plain.  One of the best Chinese crepes I had growing up – soft and chewy.  I like to cut them up and season it with tamari sauce.

Then we shared a vegetarian bun my mom got from Phuoc Loc Bakery & Deli.  This one had cellophane noodles, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu.  Delish!

For dinner we went to Duangrat’s Thai Restaurant.  It has a funny name, but it’s been there since 1987 and they received several awards.  We had no idea this restaurant existed, but now it tops my Thai food list.  We started with Plantain Tempura (coconut & sesame batter).  I’m not a big fan of tempura or plantain, but loved this one.  It was crispy on the outside centered with a warm and soft plantain.

I ordered the vegetarian drunken noodles.  We all enjoyed it.  By the way, every time I go out with my family we always make it family style.  I love this because we are sharing our entrees with each other so we are getting a little bit of everything.

It was a glorious day with good eats around town.  I’m so lucky to have an amazing mom.   It warms my heart to see her happy on this beautiful Mother’s day.  You’ll see more posts on Mama Chiang.  I’ll even document what’s cooking in Mama Chiang’s Kitchen, so you’ll know her unique cooking techniques.  My mom is also prepping her garden, so I can’t wait show the vegetables, herbs, and fruits she planted.