My Vegan Christmas.....

.....hasn't really gotten off the ground yet. Still on tour and still not cooking and creating the way I'd normally do around this time of year, which is, to be perfectly frank, making me miserable. It is right about now that I want to be in the comfort of my beautiful Cornish kitchen and not freezing my butt off in some cottage in Scotland. As idyllic as a cottage in rural Scotland may sound, it is not all it is cracked up to be - believe me. So I keep myself buoyant with thoughts of all the things I will be cooking, drinking and eating over the Christmas period. I've been slowly gathering in things like vegan fudge, vegan chocolate caramels and after dinner mints. I'm determined this is going to be one heck of a vegan Christmas  - no holds barred, I'm going all out and then some. Sure, it won't be perfect and I'm prepared for that but I'm going to give it a damn good try. After all this is our first Vegan Christmas and I'm still learning but that's the exciting part- if nothing else I do relish a challenge!

For the big day itself I'm planning on a huge feast with all the usual trimmings, combining British and Stateside dishes because we thought this time last year we'd be spending this upcoming Yule in Chicago. It wasn't meant to be, as they say, and here I am in Scotland and our new home in Cornwall is where we'll be  spending Christmas. I could let the fact this is the third year in a row I haven't decorated my Christmas tree get me down but that's the least of my worries at this stage - we'll be lucky to make it home in time for Christmas Eve judging by the chaotic weather right now. I had so very many plans for this year, the first year I might add, my Husband and I will be celebrating the holidays together. I will miss my family, of course, but we felt it was an important thing to do.

Enough of my sombre musings. This is supposed to be a time of joy, happiness and peace. In reality I should be counting my blessings because I am a very lucky girl with a wonderful Husband and a fantastic family. Let me then cheer the mood by quickly telling you what I have lined up for my Christmas dinner. Whilst I had wanted to make a chestnut pie for the main I've now resigned myself, mainly due to time constraints, to sampling Redwoods celebration roast. What I'll be serving alongside is sure to excite any true foodie, omni, veggie, vegan or otherwise. Of course there'll be roast potatoes but also a sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, spiced brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds, braised cabbage and apple, sage and onion stuffing balls, maple glazed parsnips and gravy. I still haven't decided on afters but it's a toss up between a Mont Blanc, an ice-cream bombe or cinnamon poached pears with ice-cream and brandy snaps. Maybe you could kindly help me choose? It would be much appreciated.

Drinks are very important at this time of year and aside from the usual mulled wine, on Christmas Eve we'll be sipping on divinely festive glasses of Nigella's Poinsettia Cocktail. Christmas Day itself will see us drinking Candy Cane Martini's (I'm pretty excited about these!!), which is a recipe I discovered in this months free Sainsbury's mag. You could grab a free mag yourself or save yourself the trouble and follow the recipe below - yes, I have been kind enough to type it out for you, you can thank me all later!

candy cane martini

Pour 50ml chilled vodka into a cocktail shaker. Add 3 drops peppermint essence and ice cubes and shake well, until the shaker frosts. Strain into a martini glass, top with *lemonade and decorate with a sprig of mint and candy cane on the side.

*US readers please note Lemonade in the UK is akin to Sprite - a sugary fizzy drink with a mere hint of lemon. Do not use traditional Lemonade.

Also, for those of you interested in spicing up your day and doing something a little different with your brussels then see the recipe below. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

spiced brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds

1 onion

10 brussel sprouts

1/2 pomegranate

1 teaspoon cumin

sea salt and pepper

Finely slice an onion. Heat a little oil and soya butter in a pan and lightly fry the onion until it softens - about 8-10minutes. Remember to season your onion with sea salt to ensure they don't colour.

Slice the brussel sprouts - fairly thinly, you should get about four slices out of each sprout. Add to pan and fry for about 10minutes until they soften but don't loose shape - we don't want any mushy sprouts here;)

Sprinkle over the cumin and thoroughly mix allowing to infuse for a few minutes. Season. Before serving stir through the seeds from the pomegranate - you may have to encourage them out with a knife or just give the back of the fruit a hard tap with a wooden spoon.

And finally. I did make these odd little sweet treats one day when I was bored and desperately wanted to bake but had none of the relevant ingredients to do so. They are strangely moreish even though they are like a cross between chocolate covered cookie dough and a cake ball - neither one nor the other and kinda difficult to describe. Confused? I am. Hopefully, someone out there will appreciate it - they sure did comfort me when I needed cheering on a horribly cold and lonely day.

chocolate covered cookie cake balls

1 cup plain flour

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup soya milk

3 tbsp agave nectar

1 banana

1/2 bar vegan dark chocolate

handful of vegan white chocolate buttons

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.

In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Mash the banana and combine with the soya milk and agave nectar. Stir into dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. If it is too dry add a little more milk and likewise if it is too wet add more flour.

You should make a rough dough. Pull off small pieces and rolls between hands to make a ball shape. Place on a baking sheet and repeat. Bake in oven for 15-20minutes.

Allow to cool. Melt chocolate in a saucepan with a splash of soya milk. Roll the balls in the chocolate and top with each with a white chocolate button. Allow to cool and the chocolate to harden before eating. Keep in freezer and let them thaw for at least 20minutes before eating.

Okay, that's all my news for now. I'm leaving you with an image of my advent calendar because I think it's mega cute. It was a gift from my Husband - he got himself one too so together we could count down the days to our reunion (pass the sick bucket?).

It's been great to catch up. I'm so looking forward to posting about some more magnificently seasonal delights very very soon. Just in case I don't have an opportunity to update before the 25th let me take this opportunity to thank you all for being such wonderfully loyal readers and to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas x

miscellaneousAine Carlin