I just successfully hosted holiday dinner for 25 people ~ it may sound like a bit of insanity ensued, but honestly, I love to entertain.  Picture a T-shaped table with comfortable (read: NOT cramped) seating, complete with crisp linens, classic china, fresh cut flowers, candle light and a variety of wine and cocktails flowing in crystal stemware.  

For the appetizers, I prepared a bountiful cheese and cracker plate, complete with fresh figs and grapes, dried fruit, colorful jordan almonds, some raw nuts, a few types of artisinal chips and crackers and a crudite with ginger dressing to adorn the coffee table, and my sister complimented it all with two types of bruschetta (one was vegan - recipe below!) and a mock-chopped liver. 

Cut a baguette into 36 slices, brush with olive oil, and toast lightly.  Once heated, spread with a thin "schmear" of Tofutti "cream cheese" and top with chopped and sauteed, yellow onion (use one large, sauteed in olive oil and a dash of salt) and diced fresh figs (about 6 to cover them all).  Sweet, savory and beautiful to look at for as long as they last... 

Sinful dairy kugel, chicken soup with kreplach (my grandmother's amazing meat dumplings), brisket and decadent desserts were in full force for the rest of the meal, but it was a rough meal for me. I made every vegan friendly recipe I posted earlier on the "Apples and Honey" page.  The rugelach were a surprisingly big hit (I used whole wheat flour because I'm just that into the healthy route), the sweet potatoes and apple crisp tasted like the real (fattening) deal, and I even made three other dishes: oven roasted string beans (an experiment gone right - just coat in a little olive oil, sprinkle with a dash of kosher salt and roast until they are slightly brown ~ and shriveling), a spinach salad with sauteed leeks and granny smith apples, lightly tossed together with a touch of olive oil and apple cider vinegar, and hearty, warm kasha with sauteed onions, kosher salt and chopped walnuts.  No real recipe for that one...cook kasha according to the directions on the box, sautee onions to your hearts delight, combine with the kasha, add salt and walnuts to taste...it's just that easy (and that's how I usually do it ~ find ingredients you like and find a way to make them work. Post your requests here or on the facebook fan page and I'll tell you how!)

BUT ~ I have to admit that while I had a great night, I felt out of place in my own home, and at my own table.  The alternative dishes I made (and the one my sister made) were really good ~ and I was by far not the only one enjoying them ~ but there was nothing "holiday" about them.  I admit it ~ I wanted kugel.  I wanted brisket.  I wanted honey cake. For someone usually overly concerned with what and how much I am eating, I wanted it all and I couldn't and didn't eat any of it.  And trust me, there were plenty of the usual jokes about whether or not I was enjoying my "greens" or "roughage" ~ that's par for the course.  They are funny (or intended that way), and people were just trying to make a tough situation better with a little humor, but it's just harder to be vegan for me on some days than others!  At least I had fewe "guilty holiday" pounds to worry about working off today!

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Veg and the City