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!

Three more sleeps…

… until Christmas!

I like Christmas because for us, it’s all about the kids.  They get so much fun out of things like decorating the tree, making decorations and baking (weather permitting, I’m not putting the oven on when it’s a hot day no matter what). I asked what they’d like for Christmas breakfast and the list now includes waffles, pancakes, fairy bread, hot chocolate, ginger beer.   I’ll make cornbread waffles in advance using Isa C.M’s recipe from Vegan Brunch’ and her Perfect Pancakes from the same book as they’ve never let me down.  Fairy bread isn’t exactly what I planned on serving for breakfast.  That’s what you get for asking kids what they’d like, and not adding your disclaimers.  The weather forecast says 22C (71.6F) for Christmas day.  Perfect!  Yes, it’s summer in Australia.  Last year’s Christmas day reached about 37C (98.6F).  Then a cool change came through, followed by a hail storm (golf ball sized in some areas) and heeeaps of rain:


The drive home was a very slow one:


And yes, splashing about in the gutter is more fun when you’re wearing your pyjamas.  This is a fairly typical driveway in suburbia here– concreted by the local council with the large patch of grass (the ‘nature strip’) outside your home.  Which technically you don’t own but you need to maintain it anyway.  I had to throw this driveway information in as I looove seeing photos of what houses and supermarkets and stuff look like around the world.  Even driveways:


Anyway, for Christmas breakfast 2012 I’ll make up some freshly squeezed juice and have some fresh fruit available.  Which probably won’t get touched.  I don’t want to do any cooking in the morning so the weather forecast is a good one because I can reheat stuff in the oven.

This is my first Christmas as a vegan.  We’re going to lunch at my family’s house and they’re all big meat eaters but don’t give me any fuss about my choices.  I’ll be taking something along but not sure yet, maybe a super kale salad and vegan sausage rolls for the kids (and me).

This year I decided to put together little hampers for family that contain some home made vegan goodies.  I’m thinking Christmas stollen, cinnamon sugar, Christmas fruit cake, black bean salsa and some store bought things.

With only a few more days left for Christmas, today’s the day I need to do all the grocery shopping and start cleaning the kitchen before I start cooking.  So, I better get to it.  Happy Christmas preps!

Foody bits and pieces this week

What a week!  Lots of social events, visiting people, catching up.  I have the day at home today and boy do I need it.  House to clean, crumble to cook, my frizzy boofhead to manage before I head off to a vegan ‘do tonight.

This week DeeW turned 5, without my permission I might add.  She chose to have her ‘party’ at the Icehouse, which is an indoor ice skating venue in Melbourne.  We met up with some other homeschooling families.  I don’t skate at all and if I tried you can bet I wouldn’t take my hands off that metal helper thingy:



(I picked this dress up for a few bucks from Savers last week, hand made, looked unworn).

I made practice pineapple-mango upside down cakes as she requested this for her  birthday.  The practice cakes were great.  The actual birthday cake didn’t turn out at all and was quite awful.  Whoops.  Oh well, the kids stuffed themselves on strawberries and some liked the Christmas stollen I bought from Aldi.  And my vegan sausage rolls were a hit with two of the guests who were walking around with their little squirrel cheeks all bulging out with sausage roll.


At my mum’s house, I had her Greek pilafi rice (she makes it vegan now, yay!) and a Greek style peas and potatoes dish.  Hopefully I’ll get the recipe up soon:

pilafi and peas

Here’s a raw smoothie from Brendan Brazier’s “Thrive” book.  It’s made with pomegranate, hemp protein and banana with a pinch of cayenne pepper:


More Not-Butter-Chicken from The Kind Cook.  Yes, this is a dreadful photo:


Cauliflower ‘popcorn’ from Eat Raw, Eat Well.  I think I way over dehydrated this but it’s so delicious.  You toss cauli florets in some olive oil, nooch and a bit of salt then dehydrate:


Pecan Banana Cookies also from Eat Raw, Eat Well:


And we put up the Christmas tree.   It’s rather lopsided.  I prefer to say it’s really chilling out.  This is what a tree looks like when kids decorate it:


Some gorgeous vintage kitchen stuff I picked up for next to nothing.  LOOK AT THE HANDLES YOU GUYS!


I tried a packet mix of a mock meat rendang curry and added some potato.  Yum:



Banana bread-cake for playgroup yesterday, where we discussed the merits of dipping cake in to tea/coffee.  I’m a dipper/dunker:


And speaking of tea, I’m outta here.  I have the house to myself so today’s music selection is Tori Amos and G’n’R.  Yeah!