December 31, 2009

Anatomy of a veggie Christmas

I've been vegetarian for a little over a year now. This is my second veggie Christmas. Last year I was visiting my folks in Tasmania and we all went to a Turkish restaurant for lunch. It was lovely, but not a silly-hat-and-crackers kind of affair. Which is usually how we roll. This year, the folks came up to Canberra.

So I said, no sweat, we'll have lunch at home. You guys can cook the traditional roast chicken and I'll supply a veg dish. Hell, two veg dishes. And I'll even make them vegan so that Dad, who's lactose-intolerant, can try them.

And so it was that Christmas Eve rolled around and I realised that if a roast was cooking I'd be hard pressed to have my two main courses ready at the same time. So I'd have to pre-cook them. No worries, I thought. I'll get right on to it. I planned out my two dishes - lentil bobotie (from Linda Stoner's book "Now Vegan!") & veg lasagna (based on the mediterranean lasagne from Delia's vegetarian collection using vegan cheese sauce and vegan white sauce).

So I got right onto... sewing a zebra bag. 6pm rolls around. No sweat, I think. I still have time. I search for vegan lasagna recipes online. I dig out my recipe book for the lasagna I made last time. The first line reads "Prepare the aubergine and courgettes ahead of time". Oh...

I get the zucchini and eggplant sweating, cube up the rest of the veg and put them in a roasting tray. When they're all in the oven I turn my attention to the bobotie. The bobotie is ready to go in when the roast veg come out. I'm on a roll! Next I tackle the cheese sauce and the white sauce.

The kitchen timer goes off as I'm stirring the white sauce. I find myself in a bit of a pickle. I need to take the bobotie out but I can't stop stirring the white sauce or it'll go lumpy and/or burn to the bottom.

I compromise, and turn off the oven with one hand, and open the door slightly so it can cool. So there I was, sweating away as I stirred the white sauce, now with the oven air streaming up to heat my already-sweating face. Plus I burned my finger when my curiosity as to what vegan white sauce tastes like got the better of me.

At this point, I pause and wonder just why I'm bringing two such un-Christmassy and unrelated dishes... I decorate the bobotie with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves in the form of holly in an attempt to cheer myself up.

As the lasagna baked, I set to work making yummy orange and date cookies (from Nicola Graime's book "Vegan cooking"). I have made these so many times... they're easy to make and delicious to boot! As the lasagna came out of the oven, the cookies went in.

In the end, everything went down well with different members of my family and there were plenty of leftovers.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all!

To finish off, here's a shot of the lovely dish & choccies that Mum - whoops, I mean Santa - left me. Mmmmmm!

December 24, 2009

A zebra and some boats

At a crafty session a friend's house recently, I was sorting through her fabric basket when I came across this fabric. She had been screenpainting onto it before moving on to t-shirts.

What was I planning to do with it? Why make a Morsbag of course!

I love the colours, the print and the fabric. I'm planning to gift it back to her soon.

It folds down neatly into a little bundle which can be stashed in a bag or vehicle for easy access when you need it.

I've also started experimenting with different types of handles - the blue and white handles pictured were for my sister's boyfriend's Christmas Morsbag. It was a stripy pillowcase in its previous life. I didn't crack out the iron once for his bag, which was satisfying!

Related posts: Morsbags, Recycling old pillowcases into Morsbags

December 23, 2009

Vegan truffles

I made these truffles following Dreena's recipe. The only reasonably-priced vegan dark chocolate I could find at Coles (after all, I needed to get 3 x 100g blocks) was 70% cocoa. I'm not much of a dark chocolate girl - I prefer around the 50-60% mark personally.

Still, they're part of a Christmas gift for my housemate, who is vegan, so that's what I went for. Also, I stuck with almond essence rather than almond extract (again, based on availability). For the liqueur, I used Cointreau. Mmm.

Her main present is a darling purple & white round casserole dish with a matching lid which I picked up from my local Op-Shop. My family and friends follow the tradition whereby you put a coin in a wallet when it is a gift, so I decided to extend that, and place some food in the baking dish. (The fact that living with her gives me immediate access to copious quantities of truffles post-Christmas may also have contributed to this decision...)

I just traced the bottom of the casserole onto freezer paper (of which I have a roll of for stencilling) and then layered the truffles up with freezer paper between each layer.

From left to right: Coconut, cocoa, crushed walnuts, icing sugar and hundreds&thousands.

December 21, 2009

Christmas Dotees

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope you all enjoy it, however you choose to celebrate this occasion.

Who could that handsome fellow be?

The countdown to Christmas has transformed crafting from a relaxing pastime to a frantic race against the clock for me. This is compounded by sending to people in other states and having to rely on the postal system.... a postal system that is experiencing strikes at the moment.

Having little choice, I bought an overnight satchel. So there I was at 5:55pm (the deadline is 6pm), trying to stuff my satchel in the special yellow post bin, unable to get it in. A man sitting on a bench nearby watched on with wry amusement. He mentioned that there were a few workers still in the office. I pleaded with them through the glass, but they shook their head and ignored me. Seeing me re-emerge with the parcel, the man from the bench helped me somehow squeeze the parcel through the slot. I love helpful strangers!

Back to the dotees...

Santa's body is about 6.5cm (~2.75") and the angel's is about 8cm (~3.25"). It took a long time to settle on the Angel's body colour, and her wings were quite labour intensive. The charms are from last year's post-Christmas sales.

I always like to compare my final creations to their sketch-form. Let's take a peek...

  • Santa's head got much larger, so the gloves had to go. Otherwise, he's pretty similar!
  • The angel was originally going to have gold ringlets (see my previous itty bitty dotee to see what that looks like), but I went for a different look in the end. The blue body and black hair contrast more in real life. I probably should have stuck with stitching the star design on her body, but I'm having a bit of a love affair with felt!
Just for laughs, I left in little bits of other sketches of dotees... these were done by a friend who decided I was doing too many cutesy designs and should include some gore in the next batch. There's also the bottom of a snowman dotee which didn't end up being made... maybe next year!

To finish off, I'd like to take this chance to thank whoever invented the purple disappearing ink pens... it has made stitching faces so much easier!

December 16, 2009

The Cunning Cupcake Caper

I've had a lot going on this last month, including (but not limited to) impending deadlines for my honours-thesis-of-doom. Luckily, I have two sisters who are intent on cheering me up, no matter how many colourful cupcakes and edible glittery gel such a feat might require.

The sheer quantity of cupcakes allowed for plenty of sharing amongst friends. These were by far the most popular ones: a double-choc base, with a chocolate mousse filling and cream on top. Comfort food, anybody?
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