I will be thankful. No turkey necessary.

We will wake up- slowly, and on different schedules. My mom will get up first and will start the coffee. My dad will wake up second, and start a fire. My brother and I will roll down stairs, eventually, with messy hair and sleepy eyes, and it will be Thanksgiving.

My mom will likely have made some muffins or rolls, because she’s amazing. We will all share a few warm bites of that fresh baked bread over a warm cup of caffeine, and then the day will begin!

The boys will rake leaves, or watch football. My brother will play guitar, sending melodies floating through the house like smells from the kitchen.  And my mom and I will cook. We will cook all day together- side by side, rotating counter tops like a choreographed dance- weaving in and out, in synch, until the meal is prepared.

Then we will then gather around the table, overwhelmed with all that we have to be thankful for, and will likely eat as if we’ve done something that day to really deserve ‘stuffing’ ourselves.


I love Thanksgiving. I am unabashedly nostalgic and tradition oriented, and am happier when I see my family with more regularity than not. However, in the last few years, my opinions about Thanksgiving have shifted.  I have decided that nostalgia is not what was important at Thanksgiving. Traditions do not have to be set in stone for me to be thankful.

And yes, if you could not read between the lines of this vegetarian food blog, I’m talking about turkey- that one piece of the tradition that we seem to struggle to let go of the most. I am talking about the way we, as Americans, have adopted norms and traditions that may taste yummy or are fun, but are harmful, and yet under the heading of comfort or preference or “it just isn’t thanksgiving without…,” we manage to ignore our responsibility for change year after year.

Ignorance is bliss. However ignorance will also be the downfall of us. So, here are the facts:

  • It will take at least 915,200 barrels of oil to produce and ship all the turkeys Americans eat (Cohn and Wheeler, Chicago Tribune). That is a heck lot of oil people!
  • According to research done by the University of Manchester in England, a typical Thanksgiving meal for 8, produces 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions- about 60% of which comes from Turkey alone (Cone and Wheeler, Chicago Tribune).  Those carbon dioxide emissions are what play a huge role in global warming, and the dissolving of our atmosphere. Take note.
  • Every dish on your Thanksgiving table will have a carbon footprint, vegetarian and carnivorous alike! However, your green vegetables are estimated to be responsible for only 0.4 pounds of carbon dioxide (or about 1 mile of driving), while your turkey intake is equivalent to 4.8 pounds of carbon dioxide (about 6 miles of driving) (Palmer, Washington Post). It’s worth thinking about.

In other words, if you want to lower your carbon footprint, if you want to have a green Thanksgiving, or if you want to protect the poor- who will be the first to be hurt by global warming, then you have a responsibility to pay attention to how you eat.  And that responsibility, which is backed up by dozens and dozens of research articles, would say that turkey is not the way to go. Look on the bright side though, if one thing had to go, wouldn’t you rather it be the turkey over the sweet potatoes or the pumpkin pie?!?!

My entire family is now vegetarian, and it hasn’t been easy for all of us.  My parents spent most of their life eating meat, and looking forward to turkey on Thanksgiving day.  We know how frustrating and challenging changing traditions can be, and thus have played around with the idea of buying local, organic, naturally fed meat instead of giving up meat all together.  For some, it feels like a win-win; you can love the environment and eat your meat too! Unfortunately the research would tell you that even sustainable and environmentally conscious meat growers require a lot of resources, so the best way to care for the environment would be to eat significantly less meat all together (Cohn and Wheeler, Chicago Tribune).   However, I’m for baby steps, and if you are not ready to let meat go, organic local meat is so much better than big-agg birds mass produced, and every step you make makes a difference.


Now, honestly, I don’t expect that anyone will read this little post and decide to give up their turkey for Thanksgiving. I know that even if turkey isn’t your favorite part of the meal, there is something special about having that big roasted bird, which takes hours to prepare, on the table.  That feels special- that feels like Thanksgiving. I get that, I know that. I have thought that too.

However, when I think about Thanksgiving in it’s truest sense, I think the purpose of Thanksgiving is to be grateful. I think the purpose of Thanksgiving is not to eat as many calories as you possible can in one meal, or to indulge in a particular menu once a year. I think Thanksgiving is suppose to be a time where we slow down and practice saying “thank you,” to the Earth, to one another, and to the Creator.

So, while I would love for each of you reading this to be inspired and abandon the turkey for one year- and it really would make a difference for the environment, whether you’d like to think it does or not. I do not anticipate that happening.

But I do hope you think a little longer about what you’re really thankful for, because I have a hunch turkey is not the reason we are grateful this time of year. I have a hunch, that if you count your blessings, it will be for the people you love, for warmth and a roof over your head, and for the Earth, which even when under attack, has continued to give us food year after year.

I know for me, we will wake up- slowly, and on different schedules. My mom will get up first and will start the coffee. My dad will wake up second, and start a fire. My brother and I will roll down stairs, eventually, with messy hair and sleepy eyes, and that will be Thanksgiving. We will be together, and I will be thankful. No turkey necessary.

 

Sources 

Cohn, Meredith, and Tim Wheeler. “Thanksgiving Dinner’s Carbon Footprint.” Chicago Tribune. 23 Nov. 2015.

Palmer, Brian. “The Environmental Costs of a Thanksgiving Meal; ‘food Miles’ and Other Damage.” Washington Post. 11 Nov. 2013, accessed 23 Nov. 2015.

Food for the Fourth!

Saturday will be here before we know it, and that means the Fourth of July – fireworks, family, friends, starry nights, jeans, bare feet and food. Lots of food.

For all of you out there brainstorming what to bring to your neighborhood potluck, what to cook for your relatives, or how to celebrate this holiday in a more environmentally friendly way by going vegetarian- look no further.

Below I have compiled a list of scrumptious foods perfect for this summer holiday. Check it out, and let me know what you try!

Happy cooking, and an even happier Fourth of July 🙂

With lots of love, Sarah

Appetizers:

Drinks:

 

Entrees and Sides:

Desserts:

DIY Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

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This time last year: Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

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You know what’s expensive? Dog food.

You know what’s not expensive and really fun?! Making your own dog treats! Cue all the DIY dog lovers out there!

This recipe is so easy- just four ingredients and one very happy pup!

I have never had a dog, but my boyfriend has a very sweet pitbull lab mix whom I have adopted. Her name is Chaos (yes, it’s fitting).

Chaos is just outside of her puppy years, so she still has a lot to learn. Thus, we have found that having dog treats on hand, can greatly help with the training process. Unfortunately, as grad students, neither of us are trying to spend lots of money on dog snacks, and I have a hunch that even when we’re out of grad school we won’t want to spend tons of money on dog snacks!

So, take it from me, this recipe is a winner. You could probably whip together this recipe with things you already have in your kitchen, and if you need a note of reference, Chaos is a big fan. 🙂

Happy baking, happy training, and happy tail wagging!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée, canned or fresh
  • 3 Tablespoons peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix on medium, until the dough forms small dough balls (about one minute). The dough should be soft, and slightly sticky. If it’s too stick, add a little more flour. If you pinch the dough and it crumbles, add a little water.
  3. Place the dough on a clean lightly floured surface, and roll out to a ¼ inch thickness.
  4. Using a cookie cutter, or a paring knife to cut the dough into shapes, squares, or strips. Roll the excess dough up and repeat until all the dough has been used.
  5. Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet. (They can be close together because they will not expand much).
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes for softer treats, or 30 minutes for crispier crunchy treats.

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: Use Real Butter
  • Yield: 100+ 1-inch dog treats
  • Store these treats in a covered container. Soft treat will keep on the counter for a few days, or up to a week in the refrigerator.

Honey-Roasted Pears With Lavender

pears

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So this dish is delicious. Seriously and dangerously delicious.

I know I say that about a lot of things, which I hold to be true, but THIS! This is good.

There is something really special about this dish. The pairing of the zesty lemon juice with the fragrant herb, and the sweet savory mascarpone cheese- yes please. I promise you will love it.

One additional pro, (I could go on, but I will spare you!), is that this dish is very simple to prepare, but is very elegant in presentation and appearance. Bookmark this one for the next time you have company, and come back tomorrow for one more lavender recipe!

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Lavender Week

Day One- Lavender Hot Chocolate with Homemade Whipped Cream

Day Two- Roasted Yukon Potatoes with Lavender

Day Three- Lemon Lavender Loaf

Day Four- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts and Lavender

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Ingredients

  • ½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 large, ripe pears, halved
  • ¼ cup local honey
  • 2 sprigs fresh lavender
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mascarpone cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F, and smooth a thin layer of butter on a 7 x 11 inch baking dish.
  2. Arrange the pears, cut side up, in the baking dish. Drizzle with honey, and then sprinkle the lemon zest and lavender over top.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and spoon the honey from the dish back over the pears. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the pears are soft and golden.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with 1 teaspoon of mascarpone cheese, drizzle the remaining honey in the baking pan, serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Adapted from: Health
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links below):

 

2014 in Review!

2015. That happened fast.

In the last year I graduated college, backpacked through Peru for 6 weeks, hiked Machu Picchu to the top in time for the summer solstice sunrise, moved from Richmond to Atlanta, started graduate school, got my own apartment, started hip hop classes, cut my hair three times, and ate a LOT of really good food.

It was a crazy year, a beautiful year, but a crazy one none the less.

In the midst of all that transition, I did my best to keep this food blog running, and am so grateful to all of you who kept coming back- all 21,000 viewers! I learned a lot, and am already excited for some of the recipes I have planned for 2015. It is going to be quite a delicious year!

In celebration of the last year, I thought I’d recap the most popular 20 recipes posted in 2014. Hopefully you saw these when they were posted, but if not, here’s your second chance!  Huzzah! I hope you enjoy these treats as much as I did. Happy cooking, and a very very happy 2015 to you.

With love, Sarah

Top 20 Recipes from 2014!

1. Mediterranean Tempeh with Apricots and Capers

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2. The World’s Most Delicious (and Easy!) Chocolate Cake

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3. Sweet Potato Crusted Spinach Quiche

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4. Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa

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5. Pumpkin Spice Bread with Streusel Topping

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6. Hawaiian Quesadillas with Caramelized Onion, Roasted Mushrooms, and Spinach

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7. Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Roasted Rosemary

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8. Spiced Pumpkin Pie Dip

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9. Baked Acorn Squash with Walnuts and Cranberries

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10. Black Bean Hawaiian Chili

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11. Easy Eggplant Parmesan

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12. Baked Sesame Tofu Sticks with Peanut Ginger Dipping Sauce

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13. Homemade Ginger Ale & Variations

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14. Gluten- Free Cranberry Apple Crisp

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15. Sweet Potato and Smoked Gouda Grits

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16. Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

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17. White Bean Hummus with Lime, Parsley, and Cilantro

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18. Chocolate Dipped Clementines with Sea Salt

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19. Homemade Chocolate Granola

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20. Healthy Mexican Sweet Potato Skins

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