My My My! – the holiday season is upon us, as evidenced in all the TV and Radio ads, bustling salespeople and decorations and music at stores, the owners of which are hoping to sell their wares to one and to all. A plethora of flyers about street festivals and craft fairs come regularly in the mail and there are just too many to consider attending them all.
I do admit to loving Xmas and all the pre-season folderol and sometimes even a corny Christmas movie or two. I remember, with great affection, my childhood Christmases when there was no extra money to go around. My mother, who was a genius at making something out of nothing, would fashion ornaments from tin foil (aluminum wrap, as it is called now) and pipe cleaners. Every stocking every year contained some Silly Putty, a kaleidoscope, some chocolate, a candy cane hooked onto the top and a clementine in the toe.
These were traditions we could count on from year to year and the joy we felt from these small, yet endearing offerings provided entertainment on Xmas morning before the breakfast and the oh so exciting gift opening. We always received something we needed as well as something fun. There were usually pyjamas or nightgowns sewn by Grandma Pardo who lived too far away to spend many Xmases with us, although I do remember traveling to Grandma and Grandpa’s home to visit with all the cousins and aunts and uncles. It was such a magical time for me. I was in love with the silver artificial tree that my grandmother adorned with blue lights and ornaments and to this day, I decorate the outside with blue, to remind me of the love of my grandparents and of days gone by.
When I was old enough to walk into town to do my own Christmas shopping, I would revel in the sound of the snow crunching beneath my boots, Bing Crosby singing Silver Bells over the store loud speakers, all the while marveling at the lights, the bells and baubles and the gifts awaiting my perusal. I would spend so much time picking the perfect thing for those I loved, particularly my mom, who has always held a very special place in my heart.
I carried on these traditions with my own children and now enjoy sharing this love with my grandchildren. We buy less now, but still enjoy the decorations, the music, the baking and the food prep, boozy beverages for the adults and trips to the skating rink for some fun filled exercise. Anticipation fills the air as we count down the days while wishing all the while for snow to bring with it its own kind of magic. Sometimes the white flakes fall and stay and sometimes they don’t – luck of the draw, I guess.
Since becoming vegan, I have worked at finding and developing old favorites into plant based fare for those I love. There have been some flops and some successes. Fruit cake, which is a family favorite for some, fits into the flop category. I have had success with making a pseudo cherry almond cake, even though the cherries sometimes sink to the bottom. Shortbread, a standard in my childhood home, works quite well with coconut oil, even though it can sometimes be a little flaky – better the shortbread than the cook. LOL! Some type of ginger and molasses cookie always spices up the dessert plate, and there are iced sugar cookies for Santa and the little ones.
And what about the main fare, the savory dishes? I challenge myself every year to find the perfect and tasty plant based food for the guests at our annual Xmas Party. One staple is the baked beans that I make in a Crockpot. It is funny to me that people should like them so much because baked beans are just not my favorite. But people raved over them again this year and a Québecois friend who remembers his mother’s baked beans, took home a container as did a little one, who may not have any special memories of the “musical fruit”, but who finds them very tasty indeed.
Here are some of the foods and beverages that graced our table this year. I am a “make ahead and freeze or store kind of gal”, so most of these recipes and offerings will do just that.
Mushroom and Chickpea Tart (I made individual tarts for ease of serving)
Warm Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Tarragon (Delicious served cold)
Molasses Cookies (…my personal favorite. I used oil instead of the plant based butter because of the palm oil issue)
Peanut Butter Coconut Balls (Extra special when drizzled with melted chocolate)
Appletini served in glasses with sugar and cinnamon coated rims (Store and serve in decorative bottles)
We had so much fun. I do think that I like Appletinis far too much, but hey, it is once a year, so I guess that I am safe. It is so good to get together with people we don’t see that often but love all the same, as well as those we do see often and family members who, of course, float my boat on any and every given day.
Annie’s Vegan View
It has been quite the year and I look forward to more Animal Rights Advocacy with my friends and confreres in 2017!
Thank you to you all and see you on the flip-side.
May all beings be happy and free.