A Vegetarian Feast Lets You Talk to Your Turkeys

by Margaretta Finn
Following is a portion of the sensational article that appeared in the Mount Airy Gazette on November 22nd about United Poultry Concerns' 4th Annual Thanksgiving Celebration, held this year on Saturday, November 11th at the home of Lynn Halpern and Dave Welch in Frederick, MD.

Can you have a warm, wonderful Thanksgiving without the turkey? Absolutely. Last Saturday Lynn Halpern's house in Frederick was a haven of good smells and relaxed, convivial guests. The dining room table groaned under the weight of dozens of pot-luck platters, and the hallway outside was packed with people waiting to get to the food ...

No animal products of any kind, which meant those luscious brownies had WonderSlim fat substitute instead of eggs and milk, and the melted marshmallows on top were made with agar, a seaweed product, rather than gelatin, a slaughterhouse by-product.

Turkeys did make an appearance though, but they got to mingle with the guests rather than be eaten by them. Abigail in particular seemed to enjoy walking right up to folks to be petted; she seemed to know she was among friends, and that people would still be petting her a week hence.

And how was the food? Well if you could make your way past the hundred or so people who were stuffed into Lynn's house, it was great.

It was easy to get lost in all of it, but there was a black beans and rice casserole, all sorts of stuffings and vegetable side dishes, vegetarian chili, every permutation of pasta you can imagine, as well as pumpkin pie, dessert breads, including a wonderful saffron bread stuffed with raisins, and cookies.

And for those who wanted something a bit more traditional, Lynn made some dishes that were pretty satisfying.

One recipe from "Now and Zen" produced an incredibly realistic "turkey." Lynn mixed wheat gluten flour with water and a savory spice mixture to produce a dough that she flattened, rolled, and wrapped in cheesecloth and simmered for a couple of hours. Then she fished it out, unrolled it, and stuffed the dough with a bread, apple, walnut and sage stuffing before wrapping it up again. Then she draped the dough with tofu skin, sometimes called yuba, that you can find in oriental food stores. It was this skin that produced an incredibly realistic-looking product and after being baked and basted with a white wine mixture, it tasted as good as it looked ...

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
From 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

Lynn also made a stuffed tofu dish much like the one in the accompanying recipe [from UPC's cookbook Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey], but with a cornbread "soysage" stuffing using Green Giant brand sausage substitute.

But for a dish with incredible flavor, nothing beat Pat Rogers' recipe that was based on one from the `Simply Heavenly' cookbook.

Pat, who came up from Funkstown for the party, made her own seitan, boiling wheat gluten dough for four hours in a flavoring broth made from McCormick poultry seasoning, sage, Kitchen Bouquet, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and water. The seitan marinated overnight in the fridge in the broth, and the next day was sliced and layered with a stuffing that featured bread, mushrooms, walnuts, raisins, imitation sausage, and more flavoring broth. She served the dish in a casserole covered with gravy, and I promise you, it was some of the best comfort food I've ever had ...

The party Saturday was officially sponsored by United Poultry Concerns, founded by Karen Davis. Karen, who brought a carrot salad to the dinner, is working for the day when no one will have turkey for Thanksgiving, citing the horrific conditions endured by birds as a result of poultry mass production. She describes the society as promoting "the respectful and compassionate treatment of fowl," and all the chickens and turkeys finding sanctuary in the Halpern's yard were rescued in some fashion and brought to them through the society ...