Saturday, December 21, 2013

What my Christmas might look like.

The old adage you can't please everybody so you may as well please yourself? I did actually have a Christmas once all to myself. It was the best Christmas ever, the family rang up and tried to pretend they were having a jolly holly time. I wasn't buying it for one minute.

Despite what my mother thinks, there is nothing remotly awful about having Christmas on your own. To bust out another quote - Poor is the man who depends on another for his happiness. See? We're back to pleasing yourself basically.

And being a grown up, is about living your life, and making your own traditions, so I've been rapidly trying to shape some of my own. And possibly misquoting my History lecturer, traditions are only ever one generation old. I think it's one anyway. It was an incredibly small number.

I think we've established two clear facts to help us navigate Christmas.
1. Whatever you choose to do, someone will be unhappy, there are 364 other days to make other people happy, make this day yours.
2. Tradition is only one generation old, so basically "it's tradition" is a nonsensical statement and really only applies to that one generation. Therefore you in your own generation can have your own tradition, acknowledge other people's traditions like you would their religions.

This year is a bit weird, both my maternal grandparents have passed away so there is no gathering of my mother's family. In previous years all her siblings came home and it was hell on earth. We had to be at my grandparents house by 9am to open presents, so we can be at the uncle's by 12 noon, we're expected at noon, lunch won't actually be served for another 2 hours at least, or round about the time your ready to eat their furniture.
By 2pm the only thing I've eaten is a piece of toast at 8am, if I was lucky, depending on how cantankerous I was about getting dressed and hoping the immediate family would just leave without me - no such luck ever. I may not have had breakfast at all, and your not allowed to eat anything pre-lunch because were "going for lunch soon". Soon applies even if it's 9:30am.

The one saving grace is you might have got chocolates for Xmas, which you stash in your handbag, and find an opportune hiding place and eat them.
Tip #3: Be prepared by your own chocolate/snack in advance to be sure you will have something to stash in your bag.
Tip #4: Something I read about in Nigella Christmas and wish I had thought of myself years before. In the notes for her recipe for Lychee Martini, Nigella talks about taking some of the lychee liqueur in a small water bottle to tide you over during the school Christmas concert. I don't have to attend school Christmas concerts, but I can imagine a hip flask of something (not necessarily lychee liqueur, pick your favourite) would have been a boon to the chocolates.

Back to the problem at hand, new "traditions" or what to do with your immediate family. My mother has been telling people how weird it'll be this year, there won't be anybody to have Christmas with and since she won't see the family she won't get presents. She saw them last year and they didn't give her presents then either. And having Christmas with us the immediate family? Suppose it is a bit of a come down.

And then there's my Dad, initial plan is my sister and I were going to do a special breakfast, sit around eating, unwrapping presents, eating some more, breakfast rolls onto lunch. More like morning grazing than any meals. My Mum was talking about making the turkey roll the day before, and then just having it cold with salad and people help themselves when their ready. What's Susan going to eat asks my Dad? So I tell him all about what I'm making and my Dad's complaining about the room in the kitchen for everyone to make things. I was oh no, I'm having dinner, I won't be cooking till the evening.

My Dad got in a huff because "surely we can all eat lunch together on Christmas", I was regaling my sister with this tale. She scoffed at this, doesn't he realise were spending all day together?

The current incarnation of the Christmas day menu looks like this:
Breakfast (A long breakfast that kind of heads into lunch territory):
Bagels from Isa's Vegan Brunch - my sister's special request.
Individual Panettones from Hannah Kaminsky's Vegan Desserts
Banana Eggnog Pancakes (No cranberries, but it is raspberry season here so probably fresh berries!)

Skipping lunch, no time to prep that as it will be all eating a long breakfast and opening presents and staying in my pajamas.

Stuffed Thanksgiving Burgers
Whiskey Sweet Potato Mash - 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman
Green Bean Almondine (with a Twist) - Also from 500 Vegan Recipes or Roasted Broccoli
and Gravy, most likely made from good ole' Massel Supreme Gravy Powder. Actually this is my parents new favourite for making gravy, apparetnly it's not as salty as some of the other ones they've tried.

And I may yet make a fruitcake, will post an update later if it gets off the ground.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Isa Does It and now so do I!

Isa Does It has been the most anticipated cook book I think ever for me.I've made a couple of things since it's arrived but I have made a couple of things from Isa's blog the PPK which have made their way into the book. I've included links were they are available.

Chai Spice Snickerdoodles

Marbled Banana Bread #1

Marbled Banana Bread #2

Puffy Pillow Pancakes #1

Puffy Pillow Pancakes #2
(Everyone's a fan of pancakes.)

Tempeh Orzilla

New England Glam Chowder
Make this! A wonderfully creamy soup. So good!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wait it's that time of year already?

Apparently it is and it started in September. I know what we're all thinking surely we can have Halloween before you break out the Christmas stock giant retailers!
That's another story for another day.

Today's story is indeed about Christmas, last year I talked my sister into doing an Asian Christmas this year. Especially now we've discovered she likes firm tofu.
Now we've acquired my parents home for this year, so we've shifted the Asian inspired menu to New Year. Which I might add looks currently like this:- Marinated Baked Asian Tofu (Veganomicon), Crispy Stir-Fry Greens with Veggie Oyster Sauce & Steamed Long-Grain White Rice (both from Vegan Eats World).

My sister's plan for Christmas is we should do a special breakfast, which tentatively stands as Bagels (Vegan Brunch), Chocolate Croissants (Nigella Express) and my Mum's all time favourite Gingerbread Muffins (Feast by Nigella). Currently I'm dissatisfied with this line up, it needs something.

Mum was all like we should just do cold things on the day, cook the turkey roll the day before and serve it cold with salad.
I don't eat turkey and I'm allergic to that S word. That idea is getting no enthusiasm from me whatsoever.
As for my Dad, he's just excited he doesn't have to drive anywhere and gets to stay home.

I was perusing the Habitat Christmas catalog, not a lot of actual Christmas stuff this year and what there is seems to mainly consist of unattractive super expensive decorations. A tad disappointing.
But, they were advertising a creme brulee set, 4 ramekins, the blow torch and the butane gas. The sale runs till the 24th December, so if I save my pennies between now and then I may just be able to treat myself to a set for Christmas.

Since Christmas is shaping up to be a bit anti climatic food and cooking wise, I've devised my own menu for dinner. Have breakfast with the family, then I've go the rest of the day while there eating cold stuff ot faff about the kitchen making something awesome for myself.
The line up is:- Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger (minus the roll), Sweet Potato Mac n' Cheese, and some yet to be decided upon vegetables. Although I was thinking I'd really like gravy with those burgers and I thought I might make this gravy again, I really liked it the first time. And for dessert possibly, inspired by the Habitat catalog, Holiday Spiced Creme Brulee.

I love creme brulee, one of those kits has been on my birthday and Christmas lists for years. Sadly no one ever has gotten me one.
Of course the current alternative is a frozen dessert called a Winter Wonderland Peppermint Pie, white chocolate and peppermint. Sounds delicious. Or possibly in homage to the fact it's summer, another frozen dessert known as a Watermelon Bombe, a bit tricky to put together maybe but it would be a spectacular dessert to look at. And hopefully eat.