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Thanksgiving without the turkey? How could it be? The fact is a meat-free Thanksgiving can be a delicious alternative to the stuffed bird and giblet gravy.
- Check out food magazines Browse the October and November issues and of magazines like Vegetarian Times, Country Living, Martha Stewart, Gourmet and Bon Appetit. Even non-vegetarian up-scale magazines usually feature a few vegetarian options for the holidays.
- Choose a featured dish Unlike in a meat meal, the main dish can be anything you choose. Select something dramatic for the wow factor --- a filo encased curry, an Indonesian stew, or a squash strata are just a few, examples of main dishes that make the dinner special.
- Plan the rest of your menu to compliment your main dish Don't try to use traditional mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce with a Moroccan or Mexican main dish. It will just feel like a Thanksgiving dinner that's missing the turkey. Instead, select side dishes that go with the style and theme of the main course.
- Use table decor to go with your food theme Think of your table as a set...decorate it to go with the "play" you're staging...an Indian meal, a Chinese meal, or perhaps a Native American meal. Be creative with color and decorations.
- Try out your recipes Unless the main dish is something you've made before, try making a smaller version of it before the big day. If you've never made a souffle', the day you're expecting 20 for dinner isn't the right time to learn!
- Choose music to go with your theme Background music can make your meal complete. Most public libraries have a good selection of international music. When in doubt, soft jazz or classical can fill in for themed music of any kind.
- Keep the spirit of Thanksgiving Even with a different menu, the holiday is still about thanks and gratitude. Consider having everyone talk about things for which they are grateful. After all, Thanksgiving sans turkey is still Thanksgiving!
- Let your guests know you are serving a different kind of Thanksgiving meal. Invitations with menus can get the word out before the holiday.
- Try all new recipes in advance.
- Shop for unusual ingredients well in advance of the holiday. You don't want to spend Wednesday afternoon searching the grocery stores for rose water or fresh ground cumin (hint -- try an Arabic market!)
- Don't apologize for your turkey-free meal. Celebrate the new experience and enjoy your family and friends!
- Your library will probably have issues of food magazines from previous years. Check them out for even more main dish and side dish ideas. Christmas issues are also a great place to look for festive recipes
- Also check out TOFURKY ROASTS which are herb and rice stuffed "turkey" flavored roasts.
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