Vegan Christmas 2010

This year was different than Christmases past, I was not with my family in Edmonton like I normally am this time of year. The trip home was too expensive, sadly a trip from Toronto to England was cheaper than a trip home, so I’m delaying my visit to Edmonton until sometime in January.

I spent this Xmas with friends and their family. I spent the greater part of Xmas Eve and Xmas Eve Eve running around the city looking for ingredients for my contribution to the Christmas Dinner as well as one of my gifts (a few freezable meals that are easy to prepare).

This also marked the first time I’ve ever been in Panacea, and it was one of those weird moments where I realized that I actually *like* reading labels now. I didn’t know what to do, it’s a reflex to read what is in everything so even though Panacea is Toronto’s Vegan Supermarket, there I was, standing in the aisles reading jars of sauces. It was a bigger version of Portland’s Food Fight, and really well stocked (and friendly people!) It had everything I was looking for, from mozzarella style Daiya (which is what I was on the hunt for) to delicious little locally made vegan chocolates from Boardwalk Chocolate to lip balm without beeswax (which is pretty hard to find these days). So I walked out of there with a bag full of stuff and ready to cook up a storm.

right after a grocery shopping frenzy

Every year my mom and I make a vegetable salad (sałatka jarzynowa) and every year it’s a little different, but always fun to make. Hours of cooking, chopping, arranging, mixing, and chatting. I made due with the magic of technology with a phone call across the country while I was cooking and chopping everything.

love this apron

In our version of sałatka jarzynowa, and believe me, there are many different versions, celery root is probably the most important. The funny thing is, that in Edmonton there were periods of time where it was difficult to find in the stores. But while I was house-sitting in Roncesvalles (a very Polish area of Toronto), the selection was great. Organic or not, local or not, whatever I wanted, the veggies were there.

So this year, I put in:

  • 1 celery root, halved, boiled and finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled, boiled and finely chopped
  • 3 potatoes, boiled and finely chopped
  • 1 can of peas
  • 1 can of white beans
  • a few sprigs of parsley, chopped.
  • mustard (as much as you want) – any kind is fine, I used regular yellow mustard, but dijon is also great.
  • soynaise/veganaise/nayonaise (optional)

I threw the two halves of celery root, the carrots, and (unpeeled) potatoes into a giant pot, brought it to a boil and waited until they were tender when I violently stabbed the poor veggies with a fork.

veggies in pot

I boil the potatoes with the skin, because it’s easier to peel them after they are cooked, and not lose any delicious potato goodness.

All veggies out of the pot and onto my cutting board. Finely chopped, so that it’s as small as it can be without being mashed. A couple of pulses with the food processor would work great for that.
Finely chop the parsley.
Empty can of peas and a can of white beans into a big bowl, toss in chopped veggies and parsley, and voila you have this:

the making of vegetable salad

Add the mustard (I put in about 8 tbsps, but it really depends on how you feel about mustard) and a few table spoons of the vegan mayo (if you want to). I put a layer of vegan mayo on top, because it mixes in well when people dig in. a few parsley trees in the middle, and other decoration if you feel like it. And you’re done.

vegetable salad

I was thrilled with how well received it was. People kept going back for more, and even asked if they could take some home. The best compliment is an empty plate. There is a lot of satisfaction in that.

My friend made Roasted squash, cranberry, walnut and mango puff pastry parcels, (recipe here) which were FANTASTIC. I really need to play around with puff pastry a bit more, but I have some phylo dough sitting around in the freezer that I should do something with first.

puff pastry

This was a great side dish with various root veggies, like squash, baby potatoes and carrots. I love how simple it is, just drizzled with some olive oil, some salt and baked and it adds such great colour to the table.

root veggies

Now the apple pie was so yummy, but the recipe is still a secret at the moment. But I can tell you the inside was mushy delicious apples with cinnamon and just a hint of sugar.

Apple Pie

I hope everyone had a great December, whatever holiday you celebrate (if any)!

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