Monday, December 28, 2009

A merry vegan Christmas

Greetings, and merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!

I hope the holiday season is treating you all well and that you are untouched and/or unharmed by the hustle and bustle that sometimes plagues certain people's lives during the holidays.

Now, this may be anti-climactic of me but I'm going to let this picture show you just what I've been up to these days (and I am grateful that my mother has now become accustomed to my hours spent messing up cooking in her kitchen).

So for the past few weeks since I finished school and handed in my very last assignment, I've been cooking and baking, and I thank goodness that I have workout equipment at home because, otherwise, my clothing--or should I say my hips?--might not have fared well. It has been my most recent mission to use up as much of my active dry yeast as possible before it expires in January, so I made cinnamon buns and English muffins (both à la Isa Chandra) two days ago and may attempt vegan croissants, but the amount of butter they require freaks me out. Of course I forgot to upload photos, but I will sneak them in after my next cooking extravaganza, that is, New Year's Eve.

Without futher ado, here are the photos.

Below we have apple butterscotch cookies that were absolutely to die for. No, really. The recipe is here, thanks to Seitan Is My Motor. I modified the recipe slightly, and I do mean slightly: I didn't peel the apples, because sometimes I'm lazy, and I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

Look how cute they are when they're all prettied up! I put a bunch of them in red plates and gave them to my bosses for Christmas. I'm not a suck-up; I just like to spread the (vegan) love! There was lots of leftover butterscotch icing, so I left it in the fridge, consciously forgot about its existence, and loved how thick it became. It's great for spreading, which I did just once on muffins that I made that were not sweet enough because I reduced the sugar way too much.

Below we have egg nog cheesecake, by the lovely lady behind Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen. I'm not a huge fan of egg nog, but Matt is, so I knew I had to make this for him for after Christmas dinner. (The things we do for love!) I didn't have any graham crackers on hand so I made the fat-free oatmeal cookie crust which was actually quite good. When I told Matt it was a fat-free crust, he said, "I could tell," but he devoured his slice, as did my uncles who were in awe. I mean, egg nog cheesecake? That's friggin genius! Thank you, SusanV!

Now, this below might not be the most fetching of desserts (mostly due to my old brownie pan), but may I tell you just how decadent and scrumptious it is? This is sucre à la crème, a traditional Québecois type of fudge that is creamy, beyond sweet, and completely nutrient-deficient. That's how desserts are (secretly) meant to be, right? I hadn't had this since before I went vegan over six years ago, so when I came upon the recipe on the blog Live It Up Vegan by the fabulous lady behind Viva Granola Vegan Store, I nearly fell over with joy. I didn't cook it long enough, but as per Lady Gaia's suggestion, I cut these into squares and stuck them in the freezer. They are absolutely fabulous straight out of the freezer and melt between your fingers. Mmmm...

As per tradition in my family, fish is served for Christmas Eve dinner. This is very sad for me, of course, but it offers an opportunity to bake and cook like a madwoman (how do madwomen cook?) and let my family taste my kitchen creations. I've made a bit of a reputation for myself amongst my relatives: my aunt routinely requests that I make vegan spanakopita for family gatherings at her place. Yay!

So, for an appetizer to my vegan Christmas dinner, I made the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon, served drenched in tomato sauce (below, they are naked).

Here are the somewhat famous spanakopita from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Spanakopita are phyllo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta, traditionally, but these guys are made with silken tofu. I made two batches: one with sun-dried tomatoes (my favourite) and one without (specially for my cousin).

Here they are served covered in home-made vegan tzatziki sauce (mine is made without mint).

Vegan eggplant parmesan never ceases to please, so I made it for Christmas. I flirted with the idea of baking the eggplant slices instead of frying them, you know, to make the dish more healthy. I figured I'd might as well go all out, so I fried them. What a naughty vegan!

I've been thoroughly enjoying my holidays for the first time in many years, and it is such a relief to be happy. I worked retail every year up until three years ago, so I was a veritable Scrooge for Christmas because it always involved being super busy, working on Boxing Day, and dealing with cranky, stressed out people. Then, two years ago, in December, my father passed away, and Christmas has been the most difficult time of year. But I am blessed to have such a wonderful, tight-knit family, and we all support each other. I do venture to say, as well, that cooking and baking around the holidays, and in general, has lifted my spirits, though I do wish I could share these baked goods with my father. I believe it is from him that I inherited such a passion for food and for cooking. Thank you, Papa! I dedicate this post to you!

I guess that's it for now. I look forward to New Year's when I'll be having just a small group of friends over for dinner. I'll be poring over my cookbooks and recipes saved to my e-mail account over the next two days in order to decide upon the perfect menu. Until my next post, have a wonderful week and a safe and pleasant new year's eve.

Lots of love,

Vegan in Suburbia.


Cassie said...

A very merry vegan xmas to you too! Thanks so much for the kind comments about my site. You are quite the cook. I just indulged in left over tofurkey and made myself a faux club with faux-bacon and the works (with avocado instead of nayonaise). Love your site!

Mihl said...

Lokks like you have been enjoying your free time a lot. I am really glad you liked those cookies and you reminded me how awesome that butterscotch sauce is.

njosnavelin said...

That all looks super yummy! (though, of course, I am not surprised :P)

I'm glad this Christmas was better for you and I hope the trend continues for the ones to come :D

Babette said...

Your food looks amazing, especially the spanakopita. I've made some once, but since I own Vegan Planet, I should try them again. I've of course made the chickpea cutlets before (isn't it Veganomicon's most popular recipe?), and I've had the same problem with the sucre à la crème, but it is amazing anyway. I wanted to try it again and cook it longer so that it hold better, but I think I should rather wait a good couple of months considering how fattening it is!

Happy New Year!