Sunday, 28 December 2008

Almost vegan Christmas in a nutshell

Its hard to encapsulate the last week or so except to say its very lovely and how you hope this time of year to be, so I am feeling lucky. We spent Christmas back in Seaford, with family, and also seeing some treasured old friends on Christmas Eve, day and boxing day. Then family on Mit's side this weekend. Now the boys are three, you could really see them entering into the spirit and understanding of Christmas. And accordingly I am getting into the rituals.... however I didn't get around to leaving any food or drink for Santa.. that will come next Christmas... when the aforesaid understanding and spirit is enhanced by yet another year!

Going to sum things up in terms of the vegan highlights:

I wish I'd taken a photo of it but my lovely sister-in-law gave us a basket of mostly vegan goodies. A feast for our eyes and taste buds! It had some gorgeous chocolate from montezumas and some very nice soy cheese- Vegerella (among other things). The contents have rapidy been consumed! I think she got the things mostly in the independent health shop in Seaford which is a brilliant one.

For Christmas day eating we had chestnut and red wine pate en croute (Vegan Feasts) with all the usual roasted vegetables.

My parents and brothers eat meat so their lunch was the traditional turkey.There was enough of the chestnut dish for everyone to have a taste. Near veganism is my own choice and it is so important to me; I can't deny that the presence of turkey makes me struggle. However, hopefully I don't get judged for my decision and I don't judge anyone else either, obviously there are so many reasons for different diet and lifestyle choices. On days like Christmas day, it felt so important to show that the vegan option is tasty and nutritious and not a poor second. Thanks Rose Elliot!

Vegan shopping

New running shoes. After a few trips out already trying to minimise damage of much chocolate munching. New Balance trainers are mentioned in the Animal Free Shopper. (From what I understand most trainers are made from synthetic materials but the glues often contain animal derived substances). Mit said these were a bargain from When a new design comes out, they sell off the previous style for half price, so these were around £40 instead of £80.

I love my new coat from Nomads! If I could sew I would try and make clothes like this. I wish! This company does lots of vegan-friendly clothing; gorgeous colours and designs and fair trade too. Mit needed a coat so my present to him was a gorgeous one I saw in M&S, vegan friendly; got it last month when they had a 10% off day, can't see it on the website now.


Truly fabulous trio

a spider catcher from my brother!

It has bristles which trap the spider before you release it outside. Happy to have this, however, NOT looking forward to having to use it!)

Now very much looking forward to New Year : )

Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas wishes

A belated very merry Christmas! Warmest wishes to anyone who stops by.Got plenty to drone on about, but got to get in some sleep before we have family over for lunch tomorrow. Just a quick note about the vegan lebkuchen... I left the dough for while for the flavours to mix (about a week) then got biscuit cutting, baking then dusting with icing sugar. The very best thing about making these was the heavenly smell of melting blackstrap molassess and sugar in the saucepan. That aroma should so be bottled and kept for special occasions and for when you want to impress someone or sell your house.

The dough didn't stay in one piece, so just rolled lots of biscuit sized pieces and did it that way. The end result its hard for me to comment on, except to say that they were lovely if you are into something light and not overly sweet as your sugar fix, and maybe something very slightly exotic. (You could taste the rosewater). Wrapped them up as gifts with ribbons on christmassy plates... so if the recipients aren't sure, they end up with a little plate!

Will post more pictures and stuff in the hopeful lull between Christmas and New Year.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

A rare Saturday in imposed by the rain as well as retreating viruses. We had a present wrapping extravaganza- wrapped all the gifts up with the boys, which was fun and used up lots of sellotape! Thing is, the boys predictabley got attached to one or two gifts destined for others... well that was the risk! It seemed like a good idea to gift wrap altogether, the alternative is to do it all when they are in bed and we are bleary- eyed and it becomes more of a chore. The boys had fun making some gift tags.

Lunchtime snuck up on us and needed to whisk something up quickly and easily so made tomato spaghetti; a white (bechamel) sauce just with black pepper, basil and tomato puree added then mixed in with half a packet of wholewheat spaghetti, topped with 'cheezly'. Should have taken a picture of the boys devouring the spaghetti, that was quite a sight, always fun to eat. Boys had it with broccoli and peas, we had salad. I bought ingredients for the lebkuchen but on going to make a start just now, found the weighing scale batteries are completely flat! So that plan's on hold. A nice discovery today was ginger wine truffles, utterly delicious! They were being offered to taste in our local health store along with the others in the range. Very velvety chocolaty with a gingery boozy sort of after taste. In a good way. I have bought a little box for Mit's oncoming birthday.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

So much for cutting out the sweet stuff...!

When in Germany a couple of years ago, I bought a very cute set of cookie cutters in a supermarket and haven't used them.... as yet.... But on getting it out I've been tempted by all the gorgeous looking pictures of Christmas biscuits so have vowed to have a go and making some. All the recipes in the instruction booklet contain eggs and honey but happy to have found a vegan lebkuchen recipe. I'm also going to check for recipes from my sister-in-law who is german and does great baking. She might have a recipe I can veganise. Hopefully will report with lebkuchen progress in time for Christmas!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Christmas tree and the uncanny

Our first real Christmas tree! It's little but it's just right. We had fun putting some decorations on, though the boys needed some help as the needles were a bit sharp! On getting it home last Sunday in the dark, it was lopsided which took me straight back- our tree at home was also at an angle most years! Which somehow felt as if it typified our distance from perfectionism! This tree probably is still at an angle but isn't there always something more imminent to do than get get fraught about a less than vertical fir that's been whisked away from its naturally supportive foundations!

Rohan and Luca have coughs and colds so their appetite only seems to amount to breakfast at the moment. They hardly touched dinner apart from corn-on-the-cob, even with the promise of chocolate pudding to follow. The colds are clearing though, so won't be too long hopefully until they enjoy their food again.

Vegan Quiche: The base was readymade-have found 'Jusrol' do a ready made base. (Even though shortrcust pastry is not difficult to make, it's just when I do make it sods law usually operates and one of the boys needs help with the potty when I have flour and pastry sticking to my hands!) For the filling, I used 2 blocks of silken tofu, mashed with a fork and mixed with a little soya milk and turmeric. Separately sauted 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 3 large mushrooms. Then hand blended the mixtures together (boys wouldn't eat pieces of mushoom) adding some basil leaves. The mushroom flavour was nice and strong. Sweetcorn and cherry tomato works really well in this kind of quiche. (Vegan Quiche with onion gravy, cous cous, sweetcorn and salad.)

Mit and I had a really lovely few hours in London on Sunday. An amazing friend offered to have the boys for the afternoon to play with her twin boys and actively encouraged us to do something more exciting than go out for coffee! So we went to the National Portrait Gallery and had a good look around, and lunch at the crypt at St Martins in the Field church. A new entrance has been put in, and its very grand. There was a good vegan option on the food front- ratatouille and roasted spuds and sweet potatoes- with a nice glass of red! (We got the train). Standing in the queue I saw two women who looked really familiar and realised I had stayed at their gorgeous retreat in Wales four years ago! I love those uncanny incidences in life! We chatted and it really was uncanny because they are rarely in London and so are we. They are remarkable women and their retreat and location helped me get perspective back at a painfully difficult time. They are now looking at selling the houses due to ill health; some buyer is going to be in for something incredibly special.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

three steps back, one step forward...

I think I posted before about finding my take on the vegan diet not necessarily lean- well I am by no means a calorie counter, but the bathroom scales revealed I've gained about 4lbs in the last few weeks. Thing is, I am really enjoying food now its almost vegan! It can really be guilt-free food heaven. That, coupled with the fact, my appetite goes crazy in Autumn, don't know if I'm alone there but I can't see it's happened to anyone else..
Mit was working in town today and got to have lunch at the lovely Planet Organic, and very thoughtfully brought back some yummy food items... have had some plamil chocolate before, its really good. There is definitely masses of scope to be completely vegan out there. Just need to get rid of a childhood originating attachment to Cadburys. Looking forward to sharing this cheesecake (tofu mixed with agave and maple syrup with strawberry spread)...

So, some damage minimisation is in order- should be able to get going with this in the new year since have audaciously requested my christmas present from Mit as new trainers for running. I emailed 'vegan runners' who very helpfully replied, advising 'New Balance' to be a good brand. My current running shoes are in a very bad way and can't be put on in the rain!

Went to an 'Usbourne' childrens book party yesterday eve, this is a lovely book range, and much more extensive than I realised. Got a couple of christmas gifts, and a book for the boys- 'There's a dragon at my school'- its a sweet and funny little story, I'm certain its going to become a favourite.