Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Catch-Up

So....I trust you all had a Merry Christmas, or if you don't celebrate, at least enjoyed a break of routine. We celebrate Christmas & this year was especially nice. I was incredibly busy with work. Any of you who work in retail know that the "holiday season" can try your patience. Luckily, I didn't have to serve many grumpy customers. Most were very cheery, appreciative of help & suggestions and generally pleasant.
My favorite part of Christmas Day is spending time with family and having a delicious meal with them. This year, we were all invited to Jim's cousin Karen's for dinner. She & her husband Mike were great hosts. Mike did the cooking and put out a fantastic spread. His sister is vegan, so he was "in the know" about what I would and would not eat. He had called a few weeks beforehand to see if I had any ideas of what I would like for my dinner (such a sweetheart). Jim & I had been cross-border shopping in November and I found this that I bought specifically for Christmas dinner.

So I packed up this along with some "chick'n" gravy. I was really excited to try these.

What a fun, relaxing day we had. Here's Jim's uncle John. He immigrated to Canada from Scotland years ago, shortly after Jim's dad did. He is a very, very nice man.

Uncle John's wife, Aunt Esther, also from Glasgow, helped to set the table. Jade's boyfriend, Mike, joined our family for dinner this year.

It looks like he's enjoying himself. He brought his guitar & amp and jammed with Ryan, Karen & Mike's son, who plays the drums. They were great entertainment! Jade is hidden behind Mike, beside her is Karen & Mike's daughter, Kelsey, who also entertained us with some flute, and beside her, Jim's cousin, Derek. Derek likes taking pics as much as I do.

On the other side of the table we have Derek - again taking pictures. Told you so. His partner, Josh, is being shy and hiding. Then, Ryan, the drummer and Jim. (These photos look like ads for Pepsi! I didn't realize that everyone was having pop with dinner. Yikes! I still find that an odd beverage choice unless I'm out & having a veggie burger)

Our hosts! Mike - chef extraordinaire and Karen.

Here's a blurry picture of my plate. Starting at 12:00 I have my Smart Stuffer, which was actually pretty good, green beans, stuffing cooked seperate from the turkey (thanks Mike!), potatoes with "chick'n" gravy, turnip (or rutabaga depending on where you're from, pickles, a bun and carrots in the middle that were cooked in brown sugar. Yummy!! I was starved and ate all of this. Then we had coffee with Bailey's & some Christmas goodies for dessert.

Mama Rita made a new friend. Here she is with the family dog, Coda. He was named by Ryan who is a huge Led Zepplin fan. That was a bulk of our entertainment - Led Zepplin songs - which was great! Mike was kind enough to throw in a few Pink Floyd numbers just for me.

My big present from Jim still has me excited. Lookie! Lookie!

I've wanted one of these for years. I still wander into the kitchen just to look at it. It's amazing! So, what does one do when one gets a gift like this? Mix things! I started cooking - on Boxing Day.

First, I tried it out for mixing muffin batter. I chose VWAV Carrot-Raisin Muffins.

They turned out lovely, don't you think?

These are light for a muffin and very moist. Of course they taste delicious. Would we expect anything less from Isa? Lots of raisins too. I hate getting a muffin that has 3 raisins it. Be generous! Raisins are high in potassium & antioxidants. They're tasty and good for you.

The mixer comes with a dough hook, so if I can get the machine to do the kneading, all the better for me. Working in a bakery has made me privy to some tips which I put to use and voila!

Herb Pull-Apart Rolls that came out perfect and golden. I got the recipe from the instruction & recipe booklet that came with the mixer. These were soooo delicious! Definitely a keeper.

For dinner, I made a "meat"loaf using a recipe from
Robin Robertson's Meat & Potatoes Cookbook. I threw all of the ingredients into the bowl, added a few extras to suit our tastes, flipped the switch and watched as everything was mixed up nicely in a matter of seconds.

Here's a shot of the finished product. This was a big hit with Jim & with me. It's by far one of the best loaf recipes I've tried.

I even put the potatoes into the mixer and mashed them that way. Everything is such a breeze now. My potato masher might just end up pushed to the back of the drawer. Sorry masher, there's a new kid in town. Notice I've also got brussels sprouts on the plate. I tried these a couple of times years ago, and didn't like them at all. But, tastes change and Jennifer McCann developed a recipe that she posted on Vegan Lunch Box called Best Brussels Sprouts. Well, I was bored for a new side veg, so decided to try it. They were really good! I think I like brussels sprouts now. Well, at least I like these brussels sprouts.

Now, I'm trying to decide what to make next in my new KitchenAid Stand Mixer. The possibilities seem endless!

Simon was also very excited about his Christmas gifts and wanted me to tell you about them. First off, he got these fun treats.

Pegetables! It's a chewy treat made with vegetables and they come in fun shapes. Low-fat, full of nutrients and good for the teeth. I wasn't sure if he'd go for the celery one because he doesn't like real celery, but he loved it. The corn and carrot were also big hits.

He also got another gift from "Santa" - his own Dog Companion DVD's!

These "movies" are made for pets to watch when they are left alone. Simon doesn't usually go more than 4 or 5 hours home by himself because most days, Jim and I have a only short overlap of our schedules. Some days were both gone for the day and so Simon doesn't get bored by himself, these seemed perfect. I stumbled onto them purely by accident on the internet, ordered them and they were here within a week. He seems to enjoy them - at least he shows some interest anyway, especially when I put on Dog Farm Adventure. Part of the proceeds from the sale of these DVD's go to the Ontario SPCA, and that makes everyone happy!


Vegan_Noodle said...

Oh, sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas dinner with lots of good food!! Spending time with family is definitely the best part of the holiday madness...

Oh I am so jealous of your new mixture, so shiny and new! And yay for trying brussels sprouts, I used to hate them but they are now one of my favorites. Antoher way to try eating them... spray with a bit of olive oil then roast for about 20 minutes at 400 (can add some garlic toward the end too). Yum!

Shawn Powers said...

Yum! That dinner looks awesome!

Michelle Ann said...

Oh! A Kitchen Aide Mixer...soooo much better than jewelry, anyday!

Shananigans said...

Oh, a Kitchen Aide stand mixer! I've got one of those on my registry, I sure hope I get it. I also registered for the ice cream maker attachment so I can make my own soy ice cream and sorbets.

X-mas sounds lovely. Your gifts for Simon are too cute. Hope your new year is a happy one so far :)

Tracy said...

Hey Carrie! Your Christmas looks perfect. And the mixer...ohhhhhh...I'm salivating now! I was just in Sears this PM checking out this baby. Have fun with that!
And guess what? I have two packs of those same Lightlife Stuffers in my freezer from Bangor we haven't gotten around to trying yet! That's such a weird cowinky-dink. I'm happy to hear that they're good. Happy New Year!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Carrie, it definitely looks like you (AND Simon!) had an amazing holiday - such a great family! and wow, those muffins certainly DO look lovely!

Tanya Kristine said...

i would LOVE a kitchenaide and too have wanted one for like ever but i'm running out of room in my kitchen for stuff.