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For you new readers, the MSV kitchen hosts a real, live Thanksgiving every year. Now that that's out of the way, this is the post that needs no introduction.

But we will add two notes. Recipes below call for both nondairy milk and nondairy butter. This year, for the first time, we used Miyoko Schinner's homemade butter recipe (from the October 2013 VegNews). Our doughs this year were both the fussiest raw and the loveliest finished products we've ever had. Because our kitchen is a home kitchen and not a controlled test kitchen, we can't guarantee either of those were due to the change in butter, but it's the only thing we altered from previous years. But we think it's the combination of that with the cold weather. So you know. As ever, our nondairy milk of choice is our homemade almond-oat.

The recipes for biscuits, cranberry relish, and roasted apples with balsamic drizzle are unchanged from last year.

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For our main dish this year, we made a shepherd's pie filled with earthy, meaty Puy lentils, tender eggplant, and rich toasted pecans further flavored by a pile of garlic and given a touch of sweetness and a bit of color from grated carrots.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

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serves 8

For the potatoes:

1 1/2 lb white or gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

2 TBSP olive oil

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

2 TBSP nutritional yeast

1/2-1 cup nondairy milk, warmed

For the lentils:

8 oz eggplant (half of a medium), peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2-inch dice

1/2 cup unsalted pecan halves

1 cup dried Puy lentils

2 1/2 cups water

2 TBSP olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots (about 2 oz total weight), minced

6 oz carrot (2 large or 3 medium), peeled and grated

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried marjoram

2 TBSP low-sodium tamari

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/4-1/2 cup vegetable broth, divided

1 TBSP chickpea flour

To prepare the potatoes, boil them in enough water to cover by a couple of inches until very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well and quickly transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the beater to mash the potatoes thoroughly on low speed, a minute or two. Add the salt, oil, pepper, and nutritional yeast, and beat another half-minute to incorporate, adding nondairy milk to reach your desired consistency. Switch to the whisk attachment and whip for five minutes, until fluffy. (Alternately, use any method you like to mash to the potatoes.)

To prepare the lentil mixture, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the eggplant in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast 20 minutes, until browned on the edges, tossing halfway through. After tossing, add the pecans to the oven and toast them for the remaining 10 minutes, checking occasionally to avoid burning. Let cool, then process into crumbs in a food processor.

Reduce oven to 350.

Meanwhile, place the lentils in a medium pot with 2 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, 20-25 minutes. Set aside in a mesh sieve to allow to drain thoroughly.

Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the onion, garlic, and grated carrot until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the basil, parsley, marjoram, tamari, and liquid smoke. Stir thoroughly and cook for another couple of minutes.

Whisk together 1/4 cup vegetable stock and chickpea flour to make a slurry. Add the lentils to the skillet, stir to combine, and add the slurry. Stir well and cook until warmed through. The mixture should be very moist, but not saucy. Add more stock, if needed, or continue cooking to let excess moisture cook off, if needed.

Remove skillet from heat, stir in eggplant and pecans, and adjust seasoning. Transfer the lentil mixture to a deep 9-inch-round pan. Scoop the mashed potatoes on top in large dollops all over the surface and gently smooth out to cover. Bake 20 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned.

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This is pretty much the same old beloved dressing we've made each year, but we streamlined the process and went with a chunkier, looser assembly. If you prefer a tighter, more sliceable dressing, simply skip the oven-drying of the cornbread, crumble it rather than cube it, and press the final mixture tightly into the dish before baking.

And finally, we left it out of the recipe this year, but you can add 1/2 tsp of fennel seed along with the walnuts, if desired.

Spiced Walnut-Fig Cornbread Dressing

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serves 8-10

1 loaf (generous 1 lb) cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2/3 cup dried mission figs, quartered

2 TBSP oil

1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped

2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

8 oz walnut halves, finely chopped / crumbled in a food processor

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rubbed sage

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 TBSP low-sodium tamari

fine sea or kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup nondairy milk

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2-1 cup vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 400. Spread the cornbread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook until dry and barely toasted, 10-12 minutes. Set aside to let cool, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Reduce oven heat to 350.

Meanwhile, place the figs in a heatproof bowl and pour in hot water to cover. Let stand 20 minutes, drain, and add them to the cornbread.

Heat 2 TBSP oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion and rosemary until the onion turns translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the walnut crumbles and all spices, including tamari. Stir and cook until warm, fragrant, and no liquid remains in the bottom of the skillet, about 3 minutes.

Add the contents of the skillet to the mixing bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate, breaking up any large cornbread pieces, but being careful not to reduce it to crumbs.

Whisk together the milk, 1/4 cup oil, and 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock. Pour over the mixture and stir well. The mixture should be very moist, but not wet. Add more stock, if needed, and transfer to a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake 45-60 minutes, until golden on top.

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So, those are biscuits, because we failed to get a shot of the spaghetti squash. But it tastes way better than it looks, anyway, so don't skip this one (and do feel free to reduce the oil to make it friendly for any weeknight meal). In fact, go ahead and double the Savory Nut Crumble recipe when you go to make it for this dish, because you're going to want to have some on hand to sprinkle on other meals throughout the week. In fact, even if you never make this squash, take five minutes to make a batch of the Savory Nut Crumble. It's a green salad's best friend.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with a Savory Nut Crumble

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serves 6-8, adapted from The Cheesy Vegan

1 small-medium spaghetti squash (about 2 1/2 lbs total weight)

1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional 2 tsp, for roasting

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Savory Nut Crumble, recipe follows, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Split the spaghetti squash lengthwise, discard the seeds, rub the cut sides with 2 tsp oil, and roast, cut-side down, until tender, 45-60 minutes. Let cool.

Add the thyme, basil, rosemary, and paprika to a skillet with 1/4 cup oil and warm gently. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh into a serving dish. Remove the oil from heat, grate in 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and toss thoroughly with the squash. Top generously with the Savory Nut Crumble and serve.

Savory Nut Crumble

1/4 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup raw walnut halves

2 TBSP nutritional yeast

zest of 1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

Process the almonds in a food processor until broken up into small pieces. Add all other ingredients and process into crumbs. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Oh, hi, pie. We never use anything but Gesine's pie dough. It just works. (Unless we're making a cookie crust, of course. Because those are just dead simple.)

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Sorghum-Maple Pecan Pie. We used Isa's recipe, replacing half of the maple syrup with sorghum syrup. We also whipped up a batch of vanilla salt (made by stirring the contents of 1 vanilla bean into 1 TBSP fleur de sel) to sprinkle on individual slices, as desired. Ridiculously good with the vanilla salt. Expensive, but good.

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Pear-Cranberry Pie. To our tongues, this pie tastes exactly like the season. To fill our pie, we stirred together the following:

2 pears, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

zest of 1/2 lemon

1 TBSP lemon juice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

6 TBSP natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)

2 TBSP quick-cooking tapioca

To finish it off, we suggest milking the top and sprinkling with a cinnamon-sugar mix (we use 1 part cinnamon to 2 parts sugar). Then bake until golden and bubbly.