Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Or Kwanzaa...Hannukah...Festivus...Happy Whatever You Celebrate!

My Beloved and I, although secular in disposition, do enjoy a good celebration - especially when it entails a couple of days off work, alone with each other and our Little Ones, and the chance to sit by the fire, drink wine and open presents that we really do not deserve.

So yesterday - Christmas Day - was just a delight.

We started the day comparatively early by making some vegan yummy french toast (from Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan) with local maple syrup and a pot of steaming coffee. The sun was out, the sky a gorgeous shade of blue and the snow had receded just a touch, so we planned the hearty brunch to sustain us through the later walk with the boys. With temperatures actually above freezing, we figured Sir Humphrey wouldn't mind a little ambulation around the neighbourhood - to sniff his p-mail, shout at passing dogs and greet random folks on the street with his customery nose to the groin.

So this was the breakfast:

The boys were unsure were unsure as to whether they'd been naughty or nice all year and were worried that Santa Paws may have skipped them altogether. Sir Humphrey (aka 'Captain Piddles') was particularly concerned.....

However, the scene that greeted us was one of plenty:

How thoughtful of Santa Paws to put all of the gifts out of doggie-reach!

The boys had a great time:

And My Beloved was thrilled with his vegan cordials....

The rest of the day was spent lounging by the fire, Skyping with our relatives in New Zealand (Hi Kiwis!!) and playing with our own toys. I was totally spoiled by My Beloved this year and received an iPod Touch! Oh man, I love that little gadget! The first app I downloaded was from VeganYumYum and it's a recipe database, complete with step-by-step photo instructions for each dish. Magic! I was like having a tiny laptop in the kitchen and meant I no longer have to run between kitchen and study to check a recipe, or wastefully print out the recipe. The app's available free through iTunes and I am in love with it already!

So much so that we made VYY's stuffed seitan roulade for Xmas dinner. OK, it didn't come out as fancy as the original, but we enjoyed it with lemon roasted potatoes, herb roasted roots (carrots, parsnips, garlic cloves, celery and onions), and a garlic-mustard gravy. The stuffing was forbidden rice-pistchio-pear-cranberry, based on a recipe over at Nava Atlas' site here and slightly adapted.

And this was the end result:

We had a chocolate bundt cake sitting in the sidelines but were waaaaaaay too stuffed to contemplate even a slice-let, so that survived the day!

Darwin was exhausted by all the gift opening and the strain started to tell:

Snooze well, little guy!

Oh, and stay vegan, Friends! :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What to do with the leftovers?

One of the final baking tasks I had to complete before the Christmas break was to create a gift-tin for my mother's companion, we'll call him 'D'. Now 'D' is remarkably difficult to buy for at Christmas, so I decided this year to bake him some good vegan treats, ship 'em over to Blighty and pray that they arrive within a reasonable timeframe and in a respectable state.

So, in case they don't, and in the full knowledge that 'D' will never read this blog post, here is the finished tin, just awaiting mailing tomorrow:

Oh, and these are the titular 'leftovers'....

My Beloved is suddenly all in favour of leftovers.....hmmm...strange that!


Oh, and in case anyone out there is concerned about the apparent neglect of my own little cookie monsters - Darwin Dog and Humphrey Hound - rest assured that I did not forget them in this baking extravaganza. Indeedy no. See here, just fresh out of the oven and still too hot to put their paws on:

Carrot and pea biscotti!

Frozen peas are caught in an intimate embrace with freshly diced carrot and bound together by wholewheat pastry flour, a silky ribbon of canola oil and a sprinkle of baking powder. The dough is baked, sliced into squares, baked again, removed from oven and squished tentatively before being baked one more time. To achieve the preferred level of crunchiness beloved by beagles and their little brothers everywhere. Well, here in Westfield, anyhow!

And if you are still reading this and wondering why oh why is she baking up a storm on the final Sunday (and therefore shopping day) before Christmas???? Well, these views from various windows will show you why:


Stay warm, and vegan, friends!

'Tis the season....

...for folks to play 'Surprise the Vegan'. Or so it seems to me.

On Friday, my department (a small one of 6 people) held our pre-Christmas party. Like plenty of companies out there, our employer has scaled back the official festivities - 'given the economy' - and so it fell to us to amuse ourselves. Which we did by way of a potluck.

Now, of course, I am the only vegan in the group and, as such expect, to be overlooked and disregarded. I have learned that it's vital to bring waaaaaaaay more food to such events because inevitably everyone will **love** the vegan food, won't be able to believe that it's vegan, will nonetheless scarf it all up PDQ and your plate - and hence tummy - will be left woefully empty. And so it was simply astonishing to me when I was faced with the following:

- My boss brought in a massive crockpot of vegan 3-bean chilli.
- His boss brought in some homemade hummus, pita bread and red onions.
- One coworker's husband had made a massive tray - a veritable fieldful - of roasted root vegetables with rosemary.
- Another coworker got up super-early (we start work at 8am) to bake stuffed mushrooms.
- And there was also plenty of homemade salsa, chutney and sundries.

All vegan.
All wicked delicious.

Now I know that I said of the last group of people that I worked with that they were fantastic and I couldn't have found a better crowd, but I think my current coworkers - and friends - are just about the most accommodating people I have ever had the privilege to work with.

So C'pak people - you know who you are - I think you guys are awesome!


Oh, and if you are wondering what I brought to the event:

Chocolate-Stout cupcakes with peppermint 'buttercream' frosting (from VCTOW)
Super-fudgy brownies (from JVB)
Almond cake topped mincepies (from my own special recipe)

I also baked up some of Isa's Rumnog Pecan Ball Cookies and some Snickerdoodles, from VeganYumYum, as presents for the gang.

Despite the snow storm which initially dumped about 12 inches of snow on us and is **still** snowing even today (almost 2 days later) a good time was had by all!

Am starting to feel all kinds of festive. Bring on Christmas Eve!


Oh, and stay vegan, Friends!