Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

I adore Thanksgiving. Despite its questionable historical roots, there are few things I enjoy more than getting together with my zany family and gorging ourselves on a pile of homemade food. 

Sure, they keep wondering aloud when I’m going to provide an heir or con some poor fellow into placing a ring on my finger. Yes, my grandfather still eggs me on with decidedly un-PC barbs that would make even the average right-winger cringe. Absolutely, they all still think I should have gone to law school and question what-it-is-a-“freelance-writer”-actually-does-all-day. Nonetheless, I love them dearly; I love the rituals of my smelling my Aunt Penny’s cabbage rolls, making pies with my Aunt Sally and cuffing my brother and cousins in the ear for not helping with the dishes. 

These are my perennial holiday traditions, and yes, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be this coming Sunday. This year is another tin of beans altogether. No dairy, no meat for this gal. Usually, I would load up on vegetables and bread, and guiltily, try a hunk or two of turkey. As I’ve mentioned previously, ingesting even the slightest bit of animal products on a strict vegan tumtum can yield a whole world of unfortunate gastrointestinal activity.

As you know from reading this blog, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Even before going vegan, I never cast much effort in baking sweets. I’d just as well have a chocolate bar. It is the holiday season however, and bucking up in this regard is in order. 

The only two pies I enjoy are pumpkin and pecan. For a pot luck last year, I decided to make a pecan crust for an apple pie, and it turned out beautifully. Crunchy, full of flavour beautifully lush with the oils from the nuts. Here I’ve added a traditional pumpkin pie filling with the same crust. 

Lindsay’s Pumpkin n' Pecan Vegan Pie

The crust:

3/4 cup pecan pieces

3/4 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup pastry flour 

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

The filling:

1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin puree 

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground clove 

1 (12 ounce) package soft tofu, processed in blender until smooth

  1. Set the rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a 9-inch pie plate and set aside.
  2. Put the pecans in a frying pan and lightly toast on medium for about 4-5 minutes. The pecans should be lightly browned and full of aroma. Be careful – these can burn quickly. 
  3. Combine the oats, flour, remaining pecans, cinnamon and salt in a food processor. Pulse until mixture the becomes a coarse meal. Transfer to a mixing bowl and slowly add the oil and maple syrup and whisk together. Mix into the dry ingredients with a fork until it forms a dough. Press the mixture into prepared pie plate. Crimp edges if desired. Bake for 10 minutes then set aside to cool for at least a half an hour. 
  4. Blend the pumpkin, tofu and sugar in the food processor until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl, and add the salt and spices and mix thoroughly. Pour the filling into baked crust, and smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned and the outside inch of the filling is set. Note that the centre may still be wet – don’t worry – the pie will continue to cook after its been removed from the oven. Cool for at least three hours and serve.