Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Feasting

I've been hanging out in Burbank, California for the last week for the holidays. Sharing a home with my sister, her husband and four children ranging from 2 to 14 years old is a complete turn around from the independent, child-free, cooking for one lifestyle I lead at home. Juxtaposition like this is exactly what makes life interesting. And cooking for a family is exactly what makes me happy.

We have a few traditions that we follow when I visit. The first is the making of a homemade gingerbread house. A few years back we got the idea of making one from scratch starting with a log-cabin style. One year I even went as far as making a replica of the family house (not recommended). I've scaled back the effort, and this year managed a lovely vegan house with a chimney and porch, nicely decorated by all.
*A lot of candy is non-vegan on this house, but I was surprised to find out that Sour Patch Kids are. Kind of wish I didn't know this.

 Representing my mother's Polish roots, for Christmas Eve we always do a mild variation of the typical multi-course meal. Here we have potato-onion filled perogies ready to be boiled and fried. I made them from scratch this year to ensure they were vegan and they turned out to be pretty easy and so delicious. I don't think I'll go back to store-bought.

Below we have the final product, with fried onions and a cashew-tofu 'sour cream'.  I also made borscht- beat soup, which was far better than any other borscht I've had. The meal as a whole was a winner with the whole family.

For Christmas dinner, which in our family traditionally follows no tradition, we had a Tofurkey- a first time try for me. Roasted and basted, with a great vegan gravy on top, this was a non-homemade treat. It was a little salty but for special occasions I'd definitely get it again. Who knew?! A salad and roasted, maple-glazed sweet potato, onions and brussel sprouts finished off this some-what simple but very warming meal.

Along the way, I decided to test out some new ideas. Below you see the results of a spreadable cashew 'cheez' which went over very well. I'll be doing a separate blog post about this soon as I made it again last night with the same great results, this time writing down the recipe.

I'm a sucker for feeding people- it's a wonder I'm still single and childless. After letting the 'cheez' sit overnight to harden a bit, I made up a Christmas day snack tray including the cashew cheez, guacamole, chickpea and white bean hummus, olive tapenade, toasted baguettes, nuts, carrots and crackers. We nibbled on snacks while enjoying the sun and testing our teatherball skills (a gift left from Santa) in the backyard.

Our traditional Christmas morning meal is eggs benedict, which became the veganized version newly named Tofu Bennys. I found a great recipe online for hollendaise sauce which tasted exactly like the cholesterol rich butter and egg yolk recipe- delicious! On english muffins I added steamed spinach, marinated baked tofu and then our sauce. It's always fun to veganize meals and this one was extra important to get right. Thumbs up from all on this one.

We enjoyed all of our food, festivities and new vegan traditions. It was a delicious holiday that still continues with 8 more days out here of LA sunshine. It's been sunny every day and looks like that's to continue! Not exactly a traditional white Christmas, but it's what I've come to expect and love. Happy Holidays!

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