Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First Vegan Christmas

Let me start out by saying that Christmas did not "die" for me as it did for Thanksgiving (thank god!!!).  For me, there is a significant difference between those two holidays (as there always has been), Thanksgiving was clearly ALL about the food, and I was not in control of any of it. So THAT was indeed a recipe for disaster.  Christmas for me has never been so much about the food, and I (we) was in total control of the food. Therefore, I had high hopes that Christmas would emerge the victor in these battles.  It did indeed.  I would have to say that our Christmas Eve and Day feasts were the best we or I have ever made.

This was indeed my first Vegan Christmas, but I felt I was well prepared for this adventure. Having some significant vacation time also helped, as we were not rushed at the last minute to try and shop or prepare.  We had loads of time to shop, sort through recipes, and really plan this out.  More thought was given to this meal, than any other meal I was part of preparing.

In my family, Christmas Eve was all over the map, but when I was an adult, we used to go out and make fools of ourselves in a restaurant, and our father would not complain about us ordering expensive items. It was fun, and I have no idea how much the bills ever were, but I know they were steep.  Thank Dad for cutting us slack on that day. :)  Our Christmas Day was a carbon copy of Thanksgiving, which none of us ever complained about, because it was always our favorite meal.  However, as I got older, married, etc.  Christmas traditions had fallen by the wayside.

Just to clarify, the only "fools" I may have been referring to were myself, my brother and sister.  My dad cut us slack for years on end. We would probably not be so well adjusted if it wasn't for him.  I'll let my dad decide if I just complimented him or not. :-D

Christmas Eve traditions with us now are pretty young anyways, last year we decided that we were going to make 7 fishes.  This was probably going to start a new tradition, but little did we know we would be heading to the hospital early Christmas morning (530am) to have our beloved Sam.  That was a tradition we really did not plan on keeping.  Also, we had no idea that 4 months later, we would both be vegan.  Hence, 7 fishes was short lived.

This years Christmas Eve started out with a nice French wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, where my grandfather was from. This wine was from Costières de Nimes which is near the town he was born.  I dont propose to think that there is any real link there, but it was just fun to drink.  Maybe my grandchild will get a Hudepohl or Great Lakes beer someday in my honor.

This was a modest meal, so it incorporated a "Cashew White Cheddar Cheese with Belgian Ale and Caramelized Shallots" from my friend Jenn of Cookin' Vegan

This was amazingly good, but I will admit I overdid it a bit on the fresh garlic.  I added the avocado slice to give it a little color, but it was quite nice on the baguettes

The second appetizer was "Fig and Olive Tapenade" that we had made several times, even as non vegans.  This was one we found on "All recipes" a few years back, and it is amazingly flavorful.

This is served on some Tufutti Better than Cream Cheese, and makes a wonderful combination.  I could truly eat this as a meal.  Albeit a weird meal of Olives and Figs.

Finally we made our main course, which was a Lobster Mushroom Bisque, but I admittedly could not locate any Lobster mushrooms, so this was made from a variety of wild mushrooms. Shitake, Porcini, to name a few.  This was a wonderfully rich and creamy bisque. Who knew cashews were so versitile?

Of course we had some color, with a nice salad with heirloom cherry tomatoes.  These tasted even better than they looked.  I admit, I got these at WF specifically because they looked cool.

A simple quiet Christmas Eve dinner for 2.  The big kids were at their moms, and Sammy was in bed at this point.  Had to ask for this last photo op, before we could eat.

So now dinner is over and the we are all cleaned up, and the house is quiet.  I picked up a bottle of 12 year old Kentucky Bourbon (is there any other kind?) to just relax and enjoy after dinner.  This is a very nice sipping whiskey, that I enjoyed straight up.  I'm not overly learned in bourbon, but I usually don't mess around, and go straight for the good stuff.  Not too good mind you. While I was shopping I noticed a few that would set you back a few hundred for a bottle.  I'm not in that tax bracket.

So off to bed, Christmas comes early.

Moving into Christmas day, we started out the day by sleeping in, as my big kids were not with us yet.  Rumor has it, they were up at 4:30am, which would not have worked at all in this house.  We were making brunch at 11am.  And what a fine one it was.  I would go so far as to asy this was the best brunch ever!!!

This was a "Sunday Brunch Fritata" which came out awesome.  I wish I would have picked up the black salt before making this, but the recipe didn't call for it anyway.  This was delish

I also picked up a jar of Marmite, as I could have sworn we had a recipe that called for it.  Regardless, this stuff is strong, salty,.. and I dont know what else.  I'm debating on whether I like it, or it makes me want to retch.  I guess its one of those things that after you get past the feelings of wanting to hurl, you slowly start to like it.  Why anyone would want to put themselves through this is anyones guess.  However as I write this, I've had it two more times :)

By mid afternoon the kids come over, and we are still preparing for dinner.  They are engrossed in their electronic toys they got from their mom.  My daughter (8) now has a cell phone, which she probably didnt need for about 5 more years, but nevertheless she now has one, and is proceeding to text me relentlessly.  I get a barrage of "hi", "hi dad", "its me", "helllloooo",.. and a number of other variations.  She assures me that its ok, because mom got the unlimited plan.  Oh joy.

Let us not forget our nugget, who is also turning one.  He has actually been vegan for longer than us.

Presents open, and for the adults, a new bottle of wine.  This time from my wifes homeland.  A Sangiovese from Italy.  Much different than the french wine, but equally enjoyable.  This will go well with our feast tonight, which is highlighted around a store bought product.  Originally, I wanted to make everything, but I have heard enough reviews of the Field Roast Hazeletnut En Croute, we had to pick one up and give it a try.  It was worth it!

We also included a "Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Bake" from my wonderful vegan Noelle from SingersKitchen.  This remind me of a Brocolli/Rice Cheese dish I always referred to as "Green Rice".  I have therefore dubbed this as such.

And her Whole Wheat stuffing that she made on Thanksgiving as well.

The Mashed Potatoes were our creation.  Rather simple, New Potatoes, boiled, run through ricer, mixed in with Earth Balance, and some Tofutti Sour Cream.  The mushroom gravy was also a a simple sautee of wild mushrooms, shallots, garlic, veg broth, seasoning, flour,... simple and yummy.

Pictures never do it justice.  Most food pictures look pretty blah, but this was a feast that I have been waiting for since going vegan, and it was the best Christmas present I could have hoped for.

Ok, well maybe not the BEST present :)

My first Vegan Christmas was a great occasion, and as my son declared (as they do after the Olympics), the "best" ever.  This coming from the only real meat eater of all of us.  I guess that means we did OK.

Merry Christmas to my family, and all my friends


  1. Sounds and looks like you had a wonderful holiday Brian! I am glad you liked the recipes and that they went well and combined well with your meal. That tree with all those gifts and your baby are amazing! Have a wonderful New Year!!

  2. Brian, you ROCKED your first vegan Christmas! Everything looks delicious! (and your holiday table and tree decorations .... lovely!)

    Question: is your wife vegan, too?

  3. that's an awesome tree!!!!

  4. Wow! Can I come to your place for Xmas next year ;) Looks delicious and festive - your nugget is a cutie pie!

  5. thanks for the comments, but first i must admit that the tree was the creation of my FIL, and was not our tree. ours was much more modest, and with much fewer presents :)

  6. Wow, what an awesome Christmas. Your meal looked amazing.