November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 — cranberry compote in the slow cooker

Our Thanksgiving dinner wasn't held at my house this year, so I could spend the whole day before Thanksgiving happily making cranberry sauce and desserts, and not worrying about the rest of the meal. In theory, anyway. In reality, the cranberry sauce making went on without a hitch, while everything else involved one mistake after another.

Instead of a traditional cranberry sauce, I based my cranberries on a recipe called Autumn Fruit Crock from Robin Robertson's cookbook, Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker. I had tested the recipe when Robin was writing her cookbook, and loved it. It reminded me exactly of the fall fruit compotes my grandmother and mother made when I was a child. Their compotes contained mainly fresh apples and pears, plus dried prunes and apricots. I think there also may have been pineapple. I used to make it, too, but had forgotten about it until I saw Robin's recipe. For Thanksgiving this year, I adapted the recipe to make it more cranberry-centric, and cooked it in my Instant Pot using the slow cooker setting. Right up there with the deliciousness was the fact that once I put the ingredients into the cooker and turned it on, it required no input from me until it was done. Although I used an Instant Pot,  any old slow cooker would be perfect. (Recipe guideline at end of post.) I think everyone liked the cranberry compote better than the cranberries-plus-fruit I usually make for holidays.

With the cranberry sauce happily cooking itself, I turned to the pumpkin pie. It seems that every year since I lost my tried-and-true, perfect, easy pumpkin pie recipe, I try a new one, and this year was no different. I chose voluptuous pumpkin pie, which I saw on Isa Chandra — Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new blog. The recipe is from the Voluptuous Vegan. I used butternut squash, and followed the recipe closely. Though I don't know why it required four teaspoons of oil, I grudgingly added three teaspoons, but I've made great pies in the past and have never added oil to the filling. I wanted to follow the recipe as written, but when I make it again, I'm going to try it without the oil. Do you add oil to pumpkin pie? I like to sprinkle a ring of chocolate chips around the edge just after the pie comes from the oven, but whipped coconut cream, as shown in Isa's photo, would be great. Last year I accessorized my pie with vegan marshmallows.

The filling was pretty straight forward to make — it was the crust (my own recipe) that tried to trick me. I was carefully buzzing the crust ingredients in the food processor to get a workable pastry dough, and instead of adding a teaspoon a water at a time, I accidentally added about 1/3 cup! The dough immediately turned to mush, and I should have tossed it and started over, but I tried to save it by adding a lot of almond flour. I was eventually able to roll out a crust, more or less, and hoped for the best. The pie had to bake for 60 to 65 minutes and there was a warning to cover the crust if it started to brown too fast, but I managed to burn the crust in spite of the warning. It's a Thanksgiving miracle the pie was delicious!

The cake was not blurry in person.

One family member doesn't like pumpkin or cinnamon, so I made a banana cake, too. I used a recipe (more or less) from my blog. I say 'more or less' because I'm as likely to change my own recipes as anyone else's. The cake had been in the oven nearly 10 minutes when I glanced at the counter and saw the flax egg still in the measuring cup. I don't usually curse on the blog, but that's not necessarily the case in real life — especially when a crucial ingredient gets left out of a recipe. I grabbed the cake from the oven, and whipped in the flax with a fork, as best I could. Fortunately, it turned out great, in spite of my absent mindedness.

I forgot to bring my camera to the dinner so made due with my phone camera. There were a lot of dishes, and I didn't get photos of all — the photo of the lovely risotto was blurry, as was the photo of the second salad. And I missed the fabulous appetizer platter entirely — it got dismantled and consumed before I even blinked. But here are some of the other dishes:

There was a whole roasted cauliflower with harissa sauce.

And an arugula salad with roasted cauliflower! Roasted cauliflower was on everyone's mind this year.

Of course, no holiday meal would be complete without potato stuffing — or potato kugel. This year my son made the stuffing with extra buckwheat, and it tasted great! The original recipe, which came from Russia with my maternal great grandparents, was made with bread, but we now make it with buckwheat, a variation I picked up years ago when I was dabbling in a macrobiotic diet. It tastes great either way.

Here's my (first) plate. I hope that all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, had a pleasant holiday. We did.

Cranberry compote in the slow cooker (guidelines)
Adapted from Autumn Fruit Crock in Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson, and memories of my mother's and grandmother's kitchens.
The reason I refer to this as 'guidelines' rather than 'recipe' is because I didn't write down exactly what I did, and am relying on memory. However, you can do pretty much what you want, and adjust to your preferences. I like my cranberries tangy, but feel free to make them as sweet as you wish, and to change up the fruit. I recommend keeping the mango as it adds a lot of natural sweetness, requiring less sugar to be added. This is a great dish to serve anytime, any holiday — all fall and winter. You can change up the type and quantity of the fruit except maybe for the cranberries, though I recommend keeping the mango as it adds natural sweetness, and goes so well with the cranberries.
  • one-14oz box of fresh cranberries
  • two medium baking apples
  • one ripe pear
  • handful of dried apricots
  • handful of prunes or raisins
  • one cup of cut frozen mango or fresh mango
  • 1/4 cup (or more or less, to taste) dark sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • two tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  1. Dice all the fruit (except cranberries and raisins, if using, or frozen mango) to approximate size of cranberries. I didn't peel my fruit.
  2. Add all ingredients, except vanilla, to a slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low 5-1/2 to 6 hours, until fruit is soft. (Depending on what variety of apples you choose, the apples may retain some firmness.)
  4. Add the vanilla and taste for sweetness.
  5. Chill before serving. Can be made the day before needed. Thickens more as it cools.
You can add a cinnamon stick to the pot before cooking. I have a cinnamon disliker in the family so I left it out. My compote turned out nice and thick, but if yours doesn't, cook a short while longer without the lid.

postscript: My thoughts and donations, especially at Thanksgiving, go out to the water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline.


  1. So nice to not have to worry about hosting duties and just concentrate on making desserts and eating. The compote looks awesome and so easy, I love food that cooks itself. I would have plopped much bigger servings onto my plate, there would have been no white china showing. :-)

    1. The downside of not hosting is the lack of leftovers! I noticed my skimpy plate when I saw the photos — I was trying not to overstuff myself too quickly, but it would have made for a better photo if I'd taken the picture of my husband's plate!

  2. Happy belated Thanksgiving! It certainly looks like there was plenty of delicious food to be thankful for. What a stunning spread!

    1. There was indeed much beautiful food that my phone camera didn't do justice to. Happy belated Thanksgiving to you, too!

  3. I'm always jealous of thanksgiving dinner posts - I love seeing tables groaning with delicious vegan food and I'd love to adopt the holiday just for the dinner! In the meantime, I'll be borrowing your cranberry sauce recipe for Christmas

    1. I was hoping someone would make the cranberries for Christmas. Everyone needs at least one recipe that practically makes itself while you make other dishes, and, it's delicious!


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