One of the earliest known meat-free Thanksgivings was held in 1895 at the University of Chicago by a group in that city called the Vege tarian Eating Club. According to Karen and Michael Iacobbo in their book Vegetarian America: A History (Praeger, 2004), chestnut soup, pumpkin pie, and an incongruous dish called pasta d'Italia were among the meal's highlights. I liked the idea of a dish that evoked my family's Italian roots, so I put ricotta crostini on my appetizer menu, making the ricotta myself—an easy matter of separating the curds and whey with lemon juice. When I was a kid, soup was something we made with the leftover turkey carcass. A Victorian-style soup course, I thought, would add elegance to the meal. I went for something lighter than chestnuts, using local Granny Smith apples and acorn squash. I saved the nuts for dessert, upgrading the traditional pumpkin pie to a luscious pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap-hazel-nut crust, paired with an apple cider—cinnamon ice cream to gild the lily even more.