Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas and Holiday Mulled Wine....

I know, you don’t have to tell me, I’ve been a very bad little blogger. I’ve been absent a week, and missed the holiday season! My sincerest apologies, but I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve barely had time to even get online to check my email let alone find the time to post recipes or other musings. I see now that so many of my favorite bloggers spent the month posting deliciously decadent holiday theme food. I would have loved to toss my hat into the ring as well, but it appears as though I’ll have to wait until next year, and hopefully I’ll learn to manage my time better.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice etcetera, etcetera... I know I certainly did. Though it was hectic - which is to be expected - and though I was busy cooking away, I felt this Christmas went a lot smoother than last. I got spoiled rotten by my husband and my family, ate some delicious food, and engaged in some wonderful conversation. Unfortunately despite all the wonderful food I made I neglected to take pictures of it! I know, I was such a bad blogger! However just because there aren’t any pictures doesn’t mean I can’t talk about it right? And I can still give you my recipe for Mulled Wine.

We started the food extravaganza off with a delicious hearty Christmas breakfast. For which I made the Shiitake Mushroom Dill Frittata, and the Cherry Sage Sausages from ‘Vegan Brunch’ both were delicious! I had never made a frittata - vegan or non - before and I had never made my own sausages so that was quite the interesting experience. The frittata was actually super simple, all you do is mix a bunch of stuff together press it into a pie plate and bake for twenty minutes, and even though I’m not a huge fan of Shiitake’s it was sublime! I particularly loved the use of dill. The sausages I was definitely more intimidated by. I really had no idea what I was doing, and would have liked maybe a few pictures to accompany the instructions, but I slogged through it with some common sense and it despite my reservations and uncertainty it actually turned out pretty good. They may not have been the most beautiful sausages ever made, but they were delicious! Once I have more practice I’ll be a pro at wrapping the aluminum foil tight so they don’t explode and become misshapen. In fact despite their appearance, I was so pleased with the overall ease of the technique and their delicious flavor and texture that I can’t believe it took me so long to make my own sausage! I feel kind of silly for being so afraid of making something that I now see is super easy, so if you’re a bit intimidated by the prospect of preparing your own take my word for it - you can totally do it! You just need a little patience and a little faith. Now that I know, I can easily see myself never having to buy another processed vegan sausage again! As long as I plan accordingly I can always make my own, which has the added benefit of me knowing exactly what is going into them, and how they’re being cooked.

Along with breakfast I served coconut milk nog, orange juice and of course the Stollen my Oma makes and sends me each year, spread with a little Earth Balance. For me Christmas Breakfast is all about the Stollen, it’s a tradition on the German side of my family to eat it for breakfast every Christmas Morning, and while we may eat other things alongside it, no Christmas in my opinion could ever be complete without it. For those of you who may not know Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake - seriously do not groan at the word fruitcake this is not your 90 year old great aunts dray as sawdust fruitcake or that horrible store-bought affair that some distant relative always drags along because they don't know how to cook - made with yeast, water and flour. Inside the bread is filled with candied orange peel and citrus peel, dried fruits, and slivered almonds, and sometimes rum is also added. The top is dusted with icing sugar, and while some people may also include a marzipan center in their recipe, my Oma does not, nor would I want her to, i definitely like my Stollen Marzipan free. Seriously if you have not had a Stollen you need to find one ASAP because it’s that good!

Next on the menu were the appetizers. I didn’t go extravagant this year, I just made a couple of dips. The Curried Green Onion Humus from "Appetite for Reduction" which was good, particularly if you like curry however I think I much prefer the my own roasted red pepper humus. I also made a Roasted Red Pepper and Broccoli Dip with Toasted Pine Nuts of my own invention, that didn’t exactly turn out the way I’d envisioned. Served of course with sliced up Pita. With our appetizers we drank the Mulled Wine that I’d made and boy was it delicious. Now I am not a drinker, I have a drink maybe two or three times a year, and I’ve never been a wine person but for whatever reason I got it into my head that I needed to make Mulled Wine this year. Odd since I’d never actually had it before, but I am so glad I made it. I’d seen a few recipes floating around, and knew vaguely what went into it but instead of following a recipe already available I decided to try my hand at making my own. It exceeded all expectations and was so delicious that I ended up drinking three glasses. The pot didn’t last more then an hour and a half before it was drained by the guests! - Recipe to follow.

Then it was time for dinner. My husband’s cousin and my good friend J brought Field Roast’s Cranberry Hazelnut en Crute, which we baked according to the package directions, which was met with mixed reactions. C, My husband, and I all thought it was pretty decent, however my husband and I both agreed that we liked the tofurky roast a little better which came as a surprise considering the Field Roast always comes so highly recommended. Maybe I’m just losing my taste for this kind of stuff all together, or maybe now after my sausage making experience I just think that I could do a better job, haha... J on the other hand was not impressed by the roast and ended up smothering it in gravy, and while I’m not entirely sure of L’s opinion he did seem less than enthused. Oh well, these things are always worth a try right? To go with it I made the Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions, and the Golden Mushroom Gravy from "The Vegan Table" both of which were delicious though I thought the gravy could have used a splash or red wine in it. I also made the Kabocha Squash and Sprouts wtih Pears and Pomegranate from "Clean Start" although I didn’t have a Kabocha Squash so I used Butternut instead. It was phenomenal! There were also sweet potatoes covered in brown sugar and vegan marshmallows contributed by my husband’s aunt. Very kind of her to make a separate dish of it for my husband using the vegan Mallows, he was very appreciative. Marshmallows aren’t really my thing so I can’t attest to the deliciousness of the dish.

When it was time for dessert we dug into the Roasted Banana Maple Rum Cheesecake with Spiced Pecan Crust and Maple Rum Sauce that I made from "The Conscience Cook" it was fantastic and so decadent! I also made the Gingerbread Apple Pie from "Vegan with a Vengeance" which was superb! And J made the Orange Kissed Chocolate Tiramisu from "Party Vegan" which I thought was good though could have used a bit less Grand Marnier in my opinion. After sufficiently stuffing ourselves with so many goodies we enjoyed The Republic of Teas holiday blends - Holiday Spiced Plum is my fave, but Comfort and Joy as well as Dream by the Fire are also pretty good - while sitting around the table engaging in fun conversation.

It was a wonderful Christmas, and I was definitely spoiled by my husband and my family. I received 14 vegan cook books, amongst them "My Sweet Vegan" by Hannah Kaminsky, "Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food" and "Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations" by Alicia C. Simpson, "Vegan Italiano" by Donna Klein, "Quick-Fix Vegan" by Robin Robertson, "World Vegan Feast" by Bryanna Clark Grogan, "The Best Veggie Burgers On The Planet" by Joni Marie Newman, "Blissful Bites" by Christy Morgan, "Vegan Holiday Kitchen" by Nava Atlas, "The Vegan Cook’s Bible" by Pat Crocker, "Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites" by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen, "500 Vegan Recipes" by Joni Marie Newman and Celine Steen, and "Big Vegan" by Robin Asbell. As well as a copy of "Super Immunity" by Joel Fuhrman, and "Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty and Style" by Kim Barnouin. I also have a copy of "The American Vegan Kitchen" coming to me shortly, there was apparently a mishap with that. In addition to the wealth of books I also recieved some fiction books, some dvd’s - Including my new favorite film "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" an extraordinary amount of delicious dark chocolate. Some beautiful organic vegan makeup from Earth Diva cosmetics and Zuzu Luxe. Some eco-friendly bamboo makeup brushes to apply it with. A Tofu press a dumpling press and a really cool shirt from Mercy for Animals. I also got some great essential oil blends from my mother. One for pain relief and one for stress relief both arriving at a pretty poignant time considering my busy schedule of late.

However delicious food and lovely gifts aside the best part of the holiday was getting to spend some quality time with my husband. He makes everyday of my life bright and shiny and worth living. Everyday he encourages me and inspires me to speak my truth and to live my life the way I want to live it. He is my rock.

Now without further adieu I do believe I said I’d give you my Mulled Wine Recipe.

Holiday Mulled Wine

2 Bottles Pinot Noir
6 Whole Cloves
6 Whole Cardamom Pods
2 Whole Cinnamon Sticks
1/3 C Orange Juice
1/4 C Pure Maple Syrup
2/3 C Dark Brown Sugar (or to taste)
The Peel of one entire Orange (I used a Clementine)

- Pour Wine, Juice, Syrup, sugar, orange peel and spices into a crock pot. Stir until combined and sugar has dissolved. Simmer on low for 6-8 hours and serve warm in large wine goblets. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. This was a fun X-Mas & the food was SO good! The mulled wine, however, was AMAZING! I am seriously addicted to that stuff. Is that bad? haha & thank YOU for being such an amazing cook & always keeping my belly, mind, & heart full. You're wonderful & keep on spreading the vegan word! I love your blog updates! - M