8

A Merry Christmas Newtonmas Family Lunch

A very happy December 25th to you all! I hope your weather was better than Melbourne’s– we had a top temperature (in the Melbourne metro area) of 35.5C (95.9F). Adelaide was worse with a top temp of 40C (104F). That’s Adelaide’s hottest Christmas since 1945. We’ve had some ridiculous Christmas weather over the years, about four or so years ago it was in the 30s at lunch time then the temperature dropped rapidly and we ended up with a massive hail storm that smashed many windows and damaged many cars across Melbourne.

We spent a quiet Christmas Day at my sister and her partner’s house, about an hour drive outside Melbourne. Just us plus mum and dad. It was too hot to go for a walk after lunch like last year (we had jackets on in 2015 because it was cold!) so we chilled out in the nice cool house.

So, Christmassy food! On Christmas Eve I try to honour the food requests in the house. The kids asked for home made pizza followed by lemon self saucing pudding. My absolute favourite recipe for the pudding is from Veganissimo! by Leigh Drew. It’s a never fail recipe. This time I doubled the sauce so it would go all lovely with the So Good vegan ice cream:

For Christmas Day I made Leigh’s Cashew Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Smoked Paprika, also from Veganissimo! This is my new favourite baked nut cheese:

We always have roasted vegetables at family gatherings:

I made a simple green salad with cranberries, avocado and cherries using the lime tahini dressing from Green Gourmet Giraffe. I would have added toasted pistachios but I forgot them on the stove this morning and burnt them all:

A couple more salads including mum’s usual garden salad and some simple coleslaw in the back. My sister also made a separate coleslaw with a sesame oil dressing:

And because we clearly didn’t have enough salad for the five salad eating eating adults, my sister made this delicious quinoa watermelon salad:

My main meal contribution was a loaf, using the Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen as the filling. The filling was great but assembling the loaf with the pastry braid in a hot kitchen on a hot day was close to impossible. The pastry all stuck together and was a nightmare to work with. So I did what most fancy chefs do and cut out pastry shapes to cover up all the hideousness. I also made the Silky Chickpea Gravy from Appetite For Reduction to go with it:

We also had this vegan Greek pita by Irene’s. It’s sold in a blue packet as ‘vegan nistisimi pita’. Remember folks, we’re Greek here and six adults and two kids means you cook for fifty times that amount:

We agreed we wouldn’t be making dessert this year. Clearly this means something in cake like form because mum made a batch of amazing veganised kourabiethes, also known as Greek shortbread. They’re actually made with oil instead of a vegan butter. When I find out where she got the recipe I will link it here:

I suppose one good thing about summer is summer fruit. We had this platter with some banana peanut butter nice cream we whipped up:

It was great to have such a nice quiet Christmas just hanging out. My sister put up some Christmas decorations including some little retro-vintage decorations from when we were little:

   

And here’s Punky doing something totally ridiculous with his fang. I don’t understand it. Maybe he did that thing where you bite your lip which is why his face is all screwed up looking?

I hope you all had a fantastic day, full of good cheer and great food (and hey, we don’t need Christmas-Newtonmas for that!)

 

14

Christmas Family Lunch In Central Victoria

christmas2015decorating2

Another year almost over, another Christmas-Newtonmas behind us! December appeared out of nowhere and with a family holiday to Warrnambool in the middle of the month, I ran out of time (and a little steam) to get the house remotely Christmassy. I’m happy to pass on the decorating but the kids wanted something. I don’t want a plastic Christmas tree and I don’t want a real one either (have you read The Little Fir Tree? SO SAD) and so this year we had this (and what’s in the top pic. Christmas-Newtonmas!). Ho ho ho:

christmas2015decorating1

Our relatives all had plans, so this year we did nothing whatsoever on Christmas day and I loved it. The kids got to do whatever they wanted but as it was a stinking hot day (I think it reached 37C/98.6F) that mostly involved all of us hanging out in the cooler part of the house reading or playing computer games. In the evening we watched The Santa Claus and the sequel. We’ve actually watched the first movie the previous two years but the kids forgot. Anyway, I asked Arthur and DeeW what food they wanted me to make (sausage rolls, apple pies). Our Christmas Day lunch and dinner were nothing special. The kids wanted toasted vegan cheese sandwiches for dinner and I was happy with their no-fuss request. So breakfast was when I gave them something healthy to eat (well, there is an unnecessary application of icing sugar on the strawberries but it’s SNOW, which makes it okay):

christmas2015breakfast

Christmas Day for me involved a lot of meal prep and having the oven on (blergh). Boxing Day (today) was to be at my sister and her partner’s home in sortof-central Victoria, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Fortunately the temperature dropped way down to a beautiful 22C/35.6F this time. There were to be eleven people for lunch so naturally we made enough food to feed sixty million.

I decided to take some cashew cheese and crackers. One of my favourite recipes is by Cate from A Traveling Cook. I attended her cooking classes and a great recipe was included in her class notes. I made one batch but created two flavours from it. The first is Cate’s recipe for extra sharp cheddar style. The second is the same but I added sundried tomatoes and truffle oil:

christmas2015cashewcheese

My sister made awesome roast potatoes tossed in semolina and rosemary:

christmas2015roastpotatoes

My contribution was a salad made with freekeh, broccolini and smoked almonds. I loved the similar dish we had at the Maha vegan degustation and I’ve been experimenting with my own version but mehhh, something is missing. Gotta work on it some more but it was still okay:

christmas2015freekehsalad

My blurry lunch plate! I made a Tofurky roast which I really liked. Unfortunately I had misplaced my oven timer when it was cooking, and then got distracted talking to a neighbour so the poor Tofurky was a little bit of burnt. I made some gravy using the Silky Chickpea Gravy recipe from Appetite For Reduction by Isa Chandra M. My sister made tabouleh and the roast sweet potatoes and we threw in some garlic bread:christmas2015lunch

Dessert! I made the gingerbread cheezecake from Where’s The Beef? I had tried this cheezecake when Cindy from Where’s The Beef? brought it to a vegan potluck and I loved it. I’m very greedy when it comes to cheesecake crust so I doubled the crust ingredients. If you use a gluten free ginger biscuit, the whole cake can be gluten free:

christmas2015rgingerbreadcheezecake

Mine!
christmas2015rgingerbreadcheezecake2

More over zealous food preparation by me in the form of Black Forest Cherry Ripe Ripple Cake. I’ll be posting the recipe very soon. I made a few of these in trifle cups (Aldi had a packet of six for a few bucks recently) but figured that because we had so much food and other sweets, people could just spoon out a portion for themselves. Good call:

christmas2015cherryblackforestripplecake

My mum and sister made Saraili, though this time with more orange flavour to the syrup. Soooo good!

christmas2015saraili

We really need to walk all that food right off. My sister lives in such a great location. They currently have a neighbour’s horses on their land and some magpies that adore my sister’s partner because he feeds them. They come right up to the door looking for him. There are also lots of noisy cockatoos and other beautiful birds and kangaroos too, though they weren’t around today.

christmas2015day1

It’s a great area for post-food blowout walks:

christmas2015day2 christmas2015day3

Many hours later and I’m still so full! We had that nice rainbow up there on the drive home to cap off a wonderful day.

And pssst! I’ve started a Veganopoulous page on Facebook too if you’d like to follow me there.

Best wishes to you all for all for a great holiday season, and may whatever you’re doing be full of awesome!

16

Our Family’s Christmas And Some Easy Food Gift Ideas

veganchristmasgoodies1

And just like that, it’s over for another year (and I can have a good sleep in tomorrow before tackling the latest Mario Karts)! veganchristmasgoodies2

I had planned on putting up quite a few Christmas themed blog posts this year with gift guides, recipes and so on but time just got away from me and then we had our holiday smack bang in the middle of December. I even forgot to take out the Christmas tea towels and table decorations. I decided there would be no more real Christmas tree and that we would come up with cool alternatives. No pesky constant cleaning of pine needles for me and let’s face it, our cats would have demolished it in sixty seconds and peed in the pot. We were going to get an old branch from outside and bring it in to decorate but we ended up using some of the spring time decorations DeeW and I had made (crepe paper blossoms stuck on to small branches) and hang ornaments on them. DeeW insisted our mini Christmas tree table centrepiece made for a suitable ‘real’ Christmas tree, though we ended up having to keep the doors closed as the cats have a nasty habit of trying to pull down tinsel to eat it:

christmasmantle2

christmasmantle1

A few months ago DeeW and I made these decorations using pages from some of her old activity books and paper mache paste. It was a good idea until I realised the final product dried to a crappy grey colour:

christmasdecs1

christmasdecs2

We had a quiet Christmas lunch with my family today, ten people all up. I got to see my relatives from interstate which is always good as we only see eachother once a year or so. I’m the only vegan but my sister and mum always make great vegan dishes for everyone to share, or there are plenty of things my mum makes that have always been vegan by default!

My sister made this delicious platter of couscous with pumpkin, red capsicum, salad greens, red onion, cranberries, avocado, pine nuts and coriander. I took some for leftovers but wish now I had taken more:

couscoussaladplatter

My sister also made this tray of roast vegetables:

mixedroastveg

Mum always makes roast potatoes:

greekroastpotatoes

My contribution was the Festive Chickpea Tart (without the crust) from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan! I love this recipe: chickpeas, walnut, cranberries, onion, garlic, celery, tamari, sage, thyme, parsley. I made the accompanying Rosemary Gravy recipe to go with it:

festivechickpeatart

My plate!

christmaslunchplate

This year I cooked up quite a few different sweet recipes to give out as gifts. Fortunately our weather has been great for baking, none of the stinking hot summer days where there’s no way I’d use the oven! I also wanted to make some fridge recipes, so first up I made this Chocolate Salami log recipe from The Travelling Cook. It turned out great and was super easy:

chocolatesalami

I also made the Lemon Slice recipe from Veganise This! though I left off the icing and sprinkled on coconut instead. Another super easy fridge recipe!

veganlemonslice

I had some culinary lavender and what better than lavender shortbread! I used the recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, using one of the many tubs of Nutellex Husband bought recently. Truthfully I don’t think it turned out very well, though I liked the lavender and that the whole thing wasn’t too sweet. Next time I’ll use the new Sunburst butter which is palm oil free. Yay!

veganlavendershortbread1

Also from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar are the Peanut Butter Crisscrosses:

peanutbuttercrisscrosses

For a third recipe from VCIYCJ I made the Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti. They tasted good but I wasn’t really happy with how they turned out. They held together when I sliced them up at least!

whitechoccranberrybiscotti

I had to get a baked chocolate recipe so I made the Chocolate Almond Brownies from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, though I used the non-gluten free version as I didn’t have any brown rice flour and I couldn’t go out to get some. These were good but I much prefer the gluten free version:

veganchocbrownies

From the Oh She Glows website are these vegan Florentines:

veganflorentines

I baked over the course of a week so a few of the goodies were in the freezer until I gave them out. Having two fridge recipes was a wise move as I was getting sick of looking at the oven towards the end there!

veganlavendershortbread2

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday season, wherever you are and whatever you are doing this time of year!

christmasmantle3

18

A Very Veganopoulous Christmas

However you celebrate December 25th, or whatever you chose to do today, I hope it was a great day! In Melbourne we had a hot sunny day though fortunately not horrendously hot (though we were sitting in shade at Mum and Dad’s house so it was all nice).  The only downside to Christmas this year was none of the tv stations screening ‘A Very Brady Christmas’.  WHAT IS GOING ON???

Anyway, true to Family Veganopoulous form, we cooked enough food for twenty people even though there were only six adults and two children. We have many days worth of leftovers so it’s all good, as I don’t particularly want to see the stove again for another few months.  Just plop me down on the edge of my sofa waiting for Mike Brady to get out of the collapsed building and life is good.

What I loved most about Christmas lunch this year was how everything on the kitchen table buffet was vegan. The bbq stuff for the meat eaters was outside. It really struck me just how much vegan food a lot of omnis eat without actually realising it, so when people do the “ewww vegan food!” thing, they don’t see they’re probably already eating it– they just have meat on the plate too and getting rid of the meat isn’t really that much of a big deal after all.

But let’s start with breakfast.  This year I said no special breakfast, because last year the kids only ate the unhealthy part, then we stuffed ourselves at lunch.  So this year’s offering was fruit:

Fruity breakfast

Here’s the table at lunch.  You can see the Island Black Bean Burgers and Bistro Beet Burgers from Isa Does It, but I forgot to take a closeup:

vegan Christmas table

I made the Lemon Dijon Green Beans from Dreena Burton’s ‘Let Them Eat Vegan!”:

Lemon Dijon Green Beans

My sister made a delicious roast eggplant dip:

eggplant dip

Sis also made the Quinoa Olive Tabouleh from Let Them Eat Vegan!:

Olive Quinoa tabbouleh

I made the Kale Salad with Butternut Squash & Lentils from Isa Does It, minus the lentils:

kale pumpkin salad

My sister always roasts up potatoes, sweet potato and pumpkin:

roast veggies

From ‘Appetite For Reduction’ by Isa Chandra M, I made the Masala Baked Tofu:

masala baked tofu

My mum made a coleslaw with a simple dressing:

slaw

There was a Jamie Oliver Christmas show on the other day and he made a celeriac dish. We’ve never eaten celeriac before so my mum made the recipe. I think it’s just the celeriac in olive oil plus thyme. It was nice though I don’t think I’d buy celeriac myself:

Jamie Oliver thyme celeriac

Mum made some plain pilafi rice:

Greek pilafi rice

Mushrooms and onions, yum:

mushrooms and onions

I was totally stuffed from THIS.  Check out the herbi goodness!

my vegan plate

Being stuffed from lunch didn’t stop me from eating a big fat piece of Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries from Leigh Drew’s ‘Veganissimo!’:

chocolate raspberry tart from Veganissimo

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I did heaps of baking. Here is what I made and gave out to people.  We have the Rosemary Choc Chip Cookies and Norah’s Lemon Lemon Cookies (which didn’t turn out flat) from Isa Does It; some coconut macaroons I put together randomly; Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Woman in Real Life plus a hazelnut version and a peanut version; some raw balls I made up from nuts, dates and chia:

assorted baked vegan treats

I’ll try to blog about the recipes individually, but everything was pretty much great. Even if things didn’t turn out texture/consistency-wise great, it still tasted fab.
Despite all that food, today was fairly low key. Usually I have some relatives visiting from interstate on Christmas day but they won’t be here for a few days. I’m sure my parents will enjoy the quiet time until then.

Before I go, I’d like to share this awesome book Arthur received. Oh man you guys, I am so SO tempted to claim it for myself. It’s called ‘Archi-Doodle: An Architect’s Activity Book” by Steve Bowkett. You can fill stuff in and make up your own designs, with prompts like “complete the panorama with your vision of the future:

Archi-Doodle book
***
And now, all I want for Christmas is a good night’s sleep! All the hustle-bustle is over, Arthur and DeeW have new books to read and games to play. I’ve realised that even though the baking can get on my nerves in summer, I have enjoyed giving home made treats as gifts (and freezing biscuits/cookies really is helpful, as long as you don’t keep eating them and having to bake more…) Quite a few of the presents I bought for others were second hand: a box of 48 unused Prismacolour pencils for DeeW bought cheap on eBay because the seller got the description wrong and had zero bids mwahaha; the tea cup-saucer set for my brother in law was from a collectables store. I bought copies of ‘Isa Does It’ for some relatives then purchased some of the ingredients to go with it (a kind of baketivism I guess!). Through purchasing vegan cookbooks as gifts in the past, my family have changed their eating habits to include more vegan meals and my sister has now stopped eating fish and meat completely. By default, my mum now mostly cooks vegan and is quite happy to be meat free herself (my dad, not so much!)

Best wishes for a super holiday season!

Brady Christmas

Brady Christmas

4

A What-I-Ate-And-Forgot-To-Blog-About-Again post

I’ve been crazy busy baking lately.  I decided to give out tasty vegan treats for Christmas this year.  The grand plan was to bake things I could freeze before hot weather kicked in, so I wouldn’t have to bake closer to Christmas if the weather was foul (as in hot).  Now the big problem with this grand plan, in case you can’t see it (though I think it’s big enough to fit the orbit of a small planet) is this.  TREATS.  FREEZER.  Now what do you get when you walk to the freezer to remove said treats?  You get TREATS FOR OTHER PEOPLE EATEN. So I have to keep baking.

This year I’d planned to decorate the house more Christmassy, do crafts with Arthur and DeeW and make a fabric wreath for the front door.  None of that happened because our short getaway got in the way of all that.  The kids decorated the tree.  Yes, that is a small patch of paint that has come off thanks to blu tack.  Toad is this year’s Christmas star ornament and there’s also an angel (that purple thingy) DeeW made:

Our Christmas tree

Decorations from when I was little:

vintage Christmas decorations

DeeW likes to decorate with her toys:

our Christmas tree

Our mantel in the lounge room:

Christmas mantel

…and what you see when you zoom out a little:

Christmas mantel

With our family holiday this month, I’ve been forgetting to blog about what I’ve eaten.  I did manage some photos here and there.

First up: VEGAN POUTINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some may remember my rather pissweak attempt at poutine on Canada Day.  Welllll as it turns out, Lord of the Fries serve vegan poutine.  It’s not my fault they only call it ‘French Canadian” on the sauces menu.  I would have noticed poutine and pounced otherwise.  Anyway, LOTF’s poutine was deeeelish.  I know where I’m going next Canada Day.  Gosh I hope they didn’t give me dairy cheese, I did specifically ask for vegan but you never know.  Disgusting looking photo:

Lord of the Fries French Canadian Poutine

 Speaking of fries, the Philips Air Fryer has been faithfully churning out chips.  I use a teaspoon of oil, even though the instructions say use a tablespoon.  Still tastes fine to me and the less oil the better I say.  We call these air fries:

air fries

I went to Divine Realm Veggie Delight and got a serving of their tofu and veg curry, a mock meat with green beans and I asked for a few pieces of the mock duck with sauce.  I went well after the lunch rush was over, nobody was around, so I think they pretty much gave me what was left.  Which meant a massive serve.  I’m confused though, did they change their name from Chan House?  Or was it always like this with two names?  Anyway, food is yum:

divinerealmmeal

I made some chickpea patties that weren’t popular with anyone but me. At least DeeW ate all the veggies on her plate:

chickpea patties with veg

I can’t even remember what this is… I think it was based on the Cambodian Noodle Salad from The Kind Cook:

 Noodle Salad

The Classic Baked Tofu from Isa Does It plus some garlicky cashew topped noodles:

basked tofu cashew noodles

I think this may have been the Sizzling Mongolian Kantong packet mix, with veggies and mock duck on brown rice:

Kantong Mongolian with veg and mock duck

Vegan pizza time with Notzarella, which I really like using:

vegan pizza with Notzarella

I think I just roasted some veg and tofu here and mixed it all up.  Nothing flash:

mixed veg tofu

Husband and I went to Zaatar and I got my usual.  This costs about $4:

zaatar pizza

I’ve been making lots of juice in my new juicer.  I’m so happy that Arthur and Husband will drink a juice made with greens.  I add some sweet fruit to theirs, like orange and apple:

Fruit and greens juice

familyjuice2

juice1

green juice

A berry smoothie with hemp oil:

berrysmoothie

Green smoothies of some sort, with a bit of chlorella.  Which makes it sound like a diseased drink:
chlorellasmoothie

chlorellasmoothie2

DeeW loves a Planet Box with fruit:

Fruit Planet Box

Some time ago I bought this sweet coconut spread.  It’s okay but I don’t know why I bought it.  It was on sale and I must have been in a “buy something on a whim” mood:

coconutspread
I picked up this Wot No Dairy? dessert, to use in a cake that called for vegan yoghurt.  Must admit I tried really hard to like it, but failed:

wot no dairy
This was the cake, but ah, I don’t even remember what recipe I used:

some kind of cake

My mum had made an apple rhubarb compote and I plopped some on the plate with my cake:

some kind of cake

Last night we thought we’d be clever and drive in to the city to see the Myer Christmas windows.  We thought surely it won’t be busy on a Sunday evening.  The queue was looong and when we lined up an attendant told us this was the middle of the queue.  The end of the queue was waaaaaay down there.  Over an hour long to wait.  So we decided to go and get dinner instead.

DeeW liked this big door:

big red door in the city

These are the Melbourne Bike Share hire bikes:

Melbourne bikeshare

The Christmas tree in the city square.  It was raining and I didn’t want to jaywalk to get a better photo:

Christmas in Melbourne 2013

Bourke Street Mall all dressed up:

Bourke Street Mall

Bourke Street Mall

Melbourne Town Hall:

Melbourne Town Hall

And this was the sky when we got home:

sunset

Hope you’re all having a peaceful lead up to the holidays  😀