Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Very Merry Vegan Christmas

The vast majority of the time I love being vegan. But every once and a while I encounter situations that I'm still not confident in dealing with. I went vegan last year just after Christmas. It was a convenient time because I didn't have to deal with finding a way to eat vegan at 2 Christmas dinners while I was still green. I still did end up having to give up my precious Christmas chocolate though. I digress.

This year was my first vegan dinner and I was a bit anxious about it. Here is how it went.

Spoiler Alert! That's a Tofurky. I eat it.

Christmas Dinner #1:

My family eats a not so vegan traditional Polish/Ukrainian dinner of Borscht soup (made with beef), cabbage rolls (also beefy), kielbasa (more meaty meat meat), fish (fishy fish fish) and (my savior for all my vegetarian years): home made cheese peirogies.  Every year we eat this Christmas dinner on Christmas eve at my Great Aunt's house. This year, when she was calling my family to ask what dish we were making for the dinner,she pointed out that there wouldn't be much for me to eat this year. I nervously giggled and admitted I had been thinking about that as well.

I really hate being an inconvenience. In my family's words my diet is selective and when other people are cooking for me it puts everyone in the potentially awkward position of realizing that serving me can be a bit of a challenge. I wish this wasn't the nature of being vegan, but admittedly most people don't know (or don't realize they know) any vegan dishes other than well...salad.

With a smidget of creative thinking such problems can be overcome. Tons of dishes are brainlessly vegan (pasta, veggie stir-fries, hummus for example) and I'm sure most people know how to make something vegan, without even looking up a recipe, if they take a minute to think about it. It is a bit uncomfortable requesting a specially made dish to be prepared just for you. But if people want to and ask, then the option is there. However, even as my Aunt asked, I knew that she had an enormous task of preparing to entertain 20 people for Christmas dinner and didn't want to add any extra Christmas-stress to her plate. I also felt like it would be rude and feel strange to bring my own plate of food when the rest of my family carried on the same traditional meal they have eaten since before I was born. So I offered to come over and help her make the pierogies, and make enough vegan ones for me to eat on that night. She was happy to have me over and we ended up not only making vegan pierogies but helping her set the table for the big Christmas feast dinner and had a great time catching up too.

She bought an egg replace-r to swap with the egg in the dough. She rolled out the dough and we filled some pockets with sweet potato and cinnamon, some regular potato and the others with pitted cherries! Despite me trying to keep my aunt from unnecessary work she had already made the potato mixtures, pitted the cherries (a very testing job!)and kneaded the vegan dough before I arrived. She's a super-Great-aunt. Hehe.

Anyway, all the varieties of peirogies were delicious! Once again, veganism made me branch out and try new foods that became fast favorites. I will make them all again for sure. I also want to fool around with adding some noot and Daiya to make faux-cheddar ones. I will post a recipe if I come across any level of success.

On Christmas eve there were many fascinated remarks about my special pierogies all but one being very understanding and positive. The exception being "When I was a kid you eat what was given to you." Sigh. I can see how being vegan can make me look very spoiled and picky, but I made my own meal. I did what I could to lessen the inconvenience and still stay true to my beliefs. Also I can't help but add that the person who made that remark had no part in preparing any dish for the dinner. Just a side note.


Christmas Dinner # 2

On Christmas day I eat dinner with my boyfriend's family. It was an incredibly lovely Christmas that contained no uncomfortable dinner feelings. My boyfriend's mom accommodated for me fantastically. She is really too sweet. Next year I want to bring something more so it's not so much work. She made a very yummy Egyptian oil and nut dip with spices (similar to this recipe) for an appetizer and then made all the vegetable sides with Earth Balance so I could have them. The cherry on top was that she made a Tofurky! AND no one even made fun of it. Except maybe me, because I was so giddy to try such a thing. It was really really good and even came with stuffing. So savory and yumbly. Not so exactly like turkey, I found it looked more like a ham and tasted somewhat a bit more like ham I think? Either way it was very meat-y tasting and very yummy. My boyfriend even had some and said it was good! For dessert I made a vegan tart. It looked very pretty, if I may say so myself, but it wasn't as good as the test tarts I made because we put it in the garage to keep it cool when we really shouldn't of. It made the custard firmer and a bit rubbery. The tart was still okay though. I also brought some vegan cranberry oat cookies and chocolate coconut milk truffles. Yum.

Overall my first vegan Christmas was a success. I think I am on my way to learning how to be a manageable dinner guest.

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