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:


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

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:


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



green juice

A berry smoothie with hemp oil:


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


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:

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:


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

A vegan Christmas ‘stollen’

This year I decided to make a vegan Christmas stollen.  According to Wikipedia, a stollen is “a fruit cake containing dried fruit and often marzipan and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar.  The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices.  Stollen is a traditional German cake, usually eaten during the Christmas season”.

I lived in Amsterdam for a few years and my sister in law was living in Berlin.  We went to visit her near Christmas time once, and I think I may have eaten too much of the stollen she had.  Years later I made my own, which involed three 250g blocks of butter and lots of multiple bakes with butter basting.

So this was the year I decided to make a vegan version.  My friend sent me the link to this recipe: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/christmas-stollen/  It looked easy enough so I decided to go ahead with it.

All I had was the half the amount of chocolate chips listed, and white chocolate at that.  I also ran out of sliced almonds so I had to chop some by hand.  Everything else was done following the recipe.

I did run in to some trouble when I was confused about where to add the yeast mixture.  There is a part of the recipe that says to add in the liquids, I took this to mean the yeast mix.  So if you are making this recipe, be sure to read through it a few times, noting where to add the ingredients.

Okay, so I prepared the dough before bedtime then left in the fridge overnight.  It had doubled in size:


The dough gets rolled out then I sprinkled it with the nuts-choc mixture:


Rolled it up:


Then made a circle with it, joining the ends together, and snipped all the way around.  Yes, it’s slightly bigger on one side:


Left it to rise again for a couple of hours.  The ‘slightly bigger on one side’ is more noticeable:


Then the baking is done!


The second coating with icing sugar and it’s ready to serve.   Let’s ignore the fact that it’s bigger on one side:




Next time I will add lots more dried fruit and nuts in the correct fashion.  I don’t think the chocolate chips are necessary.

This is definitely more a sweet bread than a stollen. The stollens I’ve had are all firmer and not ‘light’ and they’re heavier on the dried fruit and nuts.  Still, this was a lovely recipe and the stale leftovers would make a great french toast or bread and vegan-butter pudding.  When I make it again, I will increase the amount of cranberries and add a selection of chopped nuts and fruit.  I’ll also divide the dough in half to make two to give as gifts.

I’ll be making them again tomorrow.  I’ll google marizpan recipes now to see if I can add a strip of marzipan through the centre.


Mulled wine on Happy-25th-of-December

Newton Santa

 The weather was fantastic yesterday (Christmas Day)– sunny but not hot and still ‘cool’ enough for the hot beverages.  I saw a cousin I haven’t seen since she was 12.  She’s now a towering 18 year old and it made me think just how quickly time does fly and how we need to just slow down and smell the roses more often.

I did plan on making pancakes and waffles for Christmas breakfast based on family requests, but instead decided to serve the stollen I made.  I made fairy bread and fresh juice in the blender and we had some shortbread on the table as a special Christmas treat.  Dumb idea.  Do you think they (Husband included) touched any of the healthy fruits or the stollen?


Because we’re geeks:

newtons cradle

Lunch was at my mum and dad’s house.  I’m the only vegan in the family and mum had lots of vegan options.  It’s funny because she always makes these dishes, regardless of a vegan being present.  She made stuffed vine leaves (dolmades), fried eggplant and a marinated fried zucchini.  For my sister, who is cutting out meat, mum made some eggplant rolls which I was told were delicious (they contained egg and feta).  Mum and I will work together to veganise this recipe:


On my plate I added some roast potatoes and sweet potato.  I also brought along some leftover plain basmati rice with a mock meat rendang with green beans and potato.  It’s the first time I’ve had a curry at Christmas as our foods are always Greek or Greek influenced:


I took along strawberries and a chocolate cashew cream for dessert but forgot to take a photo.  I did however photograph the mulled wine!

We used three bottles of a vegan red wine, about 5 oranges juiced, zest of 1 orange, 3 cinnamon sticks, a tablespoon of cloves, half a box of sugar cubes and over proof rum:


First we put the cloves in a bit of vodka and let it sit about an hour.  We forgot to bring the star anise, if we did that would have gone in to the vodka too.  This was the first year Husband decided to add vodka:


In the pot we put the wine, orange juice and zest, cinnamon quills and the vodka-cloves combination.  Turn the heat to low.  [Be careful not to let it boil or even simmer too much]. Then on top of the pot we put a special metal plate (the name escapes me… but it’s a long German name) designed for making gluhwein.  We stacked sugar cubes on the metal plate.  When we lived in Europe we’d buy sugar in a large cone shape but in Australia all I have found are cubes:


You pour rum over the sugar cubes then set the cubes alight.  As the sugar melts and caramelises, it drips down in to the pot.  You can see the flames in the photo below:



We had a great day and it’s always good to see my relatives who come down from Queensland.  The biggest hit in terms of gifts was DeeW’s karaoke CD player.  My uncle was channeling his inner Sinatra meets Johnny Cash.

Next year we are going to set a challenge when it comes to present buying for eachother.  The gift you give must either be handmade, or come from a secondhand store.  Now that’s a challenge I love!

I’m off to stuff myself on leftovers now, mum gave me a big pile of dolmades and they’re calling meee.  See you again soon  🙂

Christmas/Newtonmas Eve snapshots

The thermostat reached 39C (102.2F) yesterday and today I woke to a warm morning, blustery winds and my washing line, with washing, on the ground.  I had to do some baking today and prepare Christmas goodies for family.  Fortunately the weather cooled fairly quickly.

Even on hot days I still start my day with a cup of tea.  Today’s selection was chai flavoured green tea in my 90c Savers cup:


The ‘Arthur’ Christmas special was on this afternoon:


The latest issue of Vegan Health & Fitness arrived:


I had to snip some of our grapevine leaves so my mum can make Greek stuffed vine leaves.  All helpers must wear monster slippers:


Roasting nuts to give out as little gifts but they taste burnt even though they’re not, sigh:


A Christmas lights display at one of the houses in my neighbourhood:


A Christmas Eve supper of vegan sausages (the Linda McCartney ones) and veg (not shown), followed by stollen I made today (recipe up soon).  The plates are part of a bulk lot of vintage dinnerware I picked up cheap.  I have the matching glasses for the old jug (found at Savers, my grandma had one of these) but I decided on the Ikea Christmas glasses instead.  Because, you know, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas:



Treats out for Santa Claus and the reindeer.  DeeW is really in to the whole Santa thing.  Arthur, not at all.  The conversation between them was something like “DeeW, Santa Claus DOES NOT EXIST.  I don’t understand how you could believe that rubbish”.  “Well my brother, that’s because you are stupid and your brain is the size of a pea”.  Noice:


I’m pooped.  It was a very late night last night assembling presents, getting stuff together and watching the last half of ‘Bella Swan and the Huntsman’ on dvd.  Tonight we need to finish off the assembly work and do some tidying up.  It’s a big day tomorrow and I hope to be home before dinner time so we can all unwind and enjoy a quiet evening.

Have a wonderful day/night everyone and a fantastic Christmas/Newtonmas/Bradymas!

Brady Christmas!