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!

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