Merry Christmas! I have enjoyed the festive season as much as ever, and eaten exceptionally well. Today we’re having a second Christmas celebration so it’s not quite over yet, but here’s a little look back at some of the vegan treats I’ve enjoyed so far in December.
This year I was fortunate enough to visit the Christmas markets in Prague, Budapest and Manchester. While they were all exciting and festive, Manchester remains my favourite. First of all, the big Santa presiding over everything warms my heart. And secondly, it has vegan options! For the last two years, my dish of choice has been these garlic potatoes from the King Street section of the market. They’ve got a good kick to them and are obviously extremely filling. For other vegan options, there’s the Italian stand in the main square and the Dutch cookie people’s windmill biscuits.
Back in Prague I was delighted to be able to try some of their traditional Christmas cookies, known as cukrovi. My students started describing them to me at the beginning of December and asking what the English translation was – we don’t really have the equivalent though. Apparently households get a bit competitive about how many different kinds of biscuit they’ve made, the more the merrier. I found this box on my last night in Prague at Plevel, one of my favourite vegan restaurants there. It was quite the exciting array of treats, and most of them were easily divided between two people. The coconut snowballs on the top were pretty good, and the other biscuits contained a nice mix of crunchy cookies and soft gingerbread. Delicious!
This year I’ve also sampled the Belvoir Mulled Winter Punch. Dr HH doesn’t drink booze, so he tends to miss out on festive drinks (and grown-up glasses). This tasted just like mulled wine, so I’m glad he got to try it – the label also suggests warming it up for the full festive experience. It was lovely.
I firmly believe that you are never too old for advent calendars, but this year we didn’t pick any up, despite there being a decent vegan assortment in the shops these days. After a few days of grumbling, Dr HH surprised me on 3rd December by putting together a little homemade advent calendar. Every day after that I received a little festive picture and some kind of little treat. It has been a delight (and of course I have given Dr HH his share in snack tax).
As is traditional at Christmas, I have spent a good amount of time in the kitchen. I made Christmas Eve party tea for two, though the leftovers last for the entire Christmas weekend. My mum was in charge of the Christmas cake this year, and happily followed the same vegan recipe I used last year. I put together the rest of the treats: seasonally spiced nuts; life-affirming nacho dip from Oh She Glows; Texas caviar on grilled rustic bread from Afro Vegan; and buffalo wings from Street Vegan (hot sauce on the side, of course). It was lovely!
On Christmas morning, we treated ourselves to a breakfast of Jusrol Cinnamon Rolls, which is one of my favourite breakfast treats ever.
And for Christmas Dinner, nobly assisted by my mother peeling the veg, I made this feast: the best roasties in the world, maple-roasted carrots and parsnips, chestnut sprouts and rosemary-and-hemp-seed-crusted tofu from Street Vegan. It tastes just like stuffing! It was my mum’s first vegan Christmas meal, and she raved about it. We’ve made the same side dishes for at least five years now, which takes a lot of the stress out of cooking on Christmas Day. And they’re all pretty easy to make, or don’t require much active cooking time, which is perfect. We barely ate again for the rest of the day.
And of course, I got some good vegan presents. These Crazy Rumours lip balms are my favourite, and Gingerbread is the best flavour. It tastes Christmassy, but I use it all year round. I never leave the house without one of these in my bag!
Vegan candles can be hard to come by, so I’d had a look on Etsy before Christmas and suggested that my mum could get me some from Caroline Jane. She came through with two different scents. I haven’t lit them yet, but they smell gorgeous in the tins and I can’t wait to use them when I get back to Prague.
And of course, some chocolate. I first read about Marshmallow Deli over on another vegan blog, Tea and Sympatico. After checking out their vegan page, I couldn’t resist and invited my mum to spend some Christmas money there. She came through with this caramel hot chocolate (it’s beautiful!) and some salted caramel truffles. They are so decadent!
And it’s not Christmas unless you have a new cookbook to pore over. This year I got Vegan Bible, which is a beautifully presented book and will be my cookbook of the month for January. It looks exceptional!
I still have one more week off work, so if anyone needs me, I’ll be in my pyjamas scoffing chocolate truffles. Enjoy the rest of the holidays!