Being Vegan for the Cholidays
When you’re staying in, ordering in, and enjoying the holidays at home.
Remember that amazing vegan Thanksgiving celebration I told you about in November? If you don’t recall, you can jog your memory here. There was a lot of fun, joy, and hard work put into that delicious and thank-filled meal. However, not every person wants to go through all that cleaning and chopping and cooking and serving. Not every holiday warrants it, and not all guests want it, either.
When my family came together to celebrate Christmas and Chanukah on New Year’s Eve, we went with simple and tradition with a twist. If your Jewish family goes to Chinese food for dinner every Christmas, you’ll know what I mean. Except, our holiday was a week late and a different cuisine!
My family had Japanese food brought in from Koo in Marlboro, NJ.
P.S. Don’t misspell the name and type “Ku” into your Google search. The NSA will judge you and your pastime hobbies.
‘Twas the night after Chanukah, and all through the abode Not a pot was stirring, not even for sufganiyot; The candles were lit and blessed with care, Hoping that God would forgive all the treif food there.
With two new babies in the family, lots of gossip, wining, and dining, I actually forgot to take photos of the dinner table once it was filled with food and beverage! But here’s a plate of latkes, instead.
First lessons of new years:
1- Latkes: not just for omnivores! My father fried some up for everyone and we dug in. We all liked the potato pureed rather than grated, but both are acceptable. With potatoes, flour, oil, and love, anything is possible. These latkes had the latkeys to my heart.
Fun fact: This was our first Christmukah with my two nephews celebrating their first Christmas and Chanukah! In honour of that, here’s a bad joke…
It was Chanukah and a tiny village was in fear of not having any latkes because they had run out of flour. Rudi the Rabbi was called upon to help solve the problem. He said, “Don’t worry. You can substitute matzo meal for the flour and the latkes will be just as delicious!”
Sheila looks to her husband and says, “Morty… you think it’ll work?”
“Of course! As everybody knows… Rudolph, the Reb, knows grain, dear!””
Usually I don’t like anything on my latkes, but my parents put out some delicious strawberry applesauce and cranberry fig sauce. Both were served room temperature, so as to not overpower the warmth of the pancakes. Trying something different really modernized the whole shindig and ensured that everyone felt welcome!
2- Even the most boring salad can be brought to life with the right ingredients. With the two options of balsamic vinaigrette on the table, I was conflicted. Both were so unique! They were risky options, but the chocolate raspberry and currant dressings were so yummy and made the salad really fun to eat. There were also olives in the mix, but you can go with cranberries, nuts, or even mandarin oranges, if you prefer.
Now, how does a Jewish family take a beloved tradition like Chinese food for the holidays and make it Japanese and vegan? The secret is chili eggplant. Also seaweed salad, spring rolls, pad Thai, edamame, and veggie sushi…. Those will do. Throw in some rice and chopsticks, and you have a vegan Japanese holiday that even the Pope would bless! You’ll have the goyim saying, “Hey, ma, forget the ham! Can you make ma po tofu for Christmas next year?”
I just want to throw out another reminder that not all wines are created equally. If you haven’t read my past mentions, such as this quick one: Eating Fancy, you may not know that not all wine is vegan!
But don’t worry, if you don’t know if your host will provide vegan wine, you can just bring one as a gift and be all like, “Ooh, I’ve heard great things about this wine! Open it up!”
Because no one should have to go through the holidays without a slight buzz.
Or, just make things easy and skip the wine! Besides, vodka, whiskey, and rum are always vegan!
If you really want to do the wine thing, there’s always Barnivore where you can look up any type of alcohol and see if it’s listed as vegan or non-vegan.
Also, at Trader Joe’s you can request a list of vegan wines and they’ll hook you up.
After getting all that “real” food out of the way, it’s time to forget everything you just ate, readjust your belt, and prepare for dessert. People like making, buying, bringing, and eating dessert, so usually there are plenty of options. For this combo holiday, however, we didn’t go overboard. My parents bought a beautiful chocolate cake from Whole Foods, my middle brother and his family brought (non-vegan) tahini cookies, and I made some red and blue cookies, myself. The red ones are coconut Mexican chocolate and the blue ones are berry rosemary with a splash of peppermint.
For the first time in a long time, I bought a cookie mix, so I was nervous. Their proportions were confusing and the ingredients were wacky. So, I added toasted coconut, tempered dark chocolate, and cayenne peppers with red food colouring to one batch and I added blueberries, dried cranberries, rosemary, and peppermint to the other batch. The result was pretty psychedelic!
I don’t know what kind of drugs my cookies were on, but I will take two, please!
This was just the right amount of dessert for everyone to bite, nibble, and gorge on everything they wanted!
After handing out gifts, laughing at embarrassing baby noises, and even playing a board game without anyone flipping the board, we took a breather.
To end the evening, my brother and I took out voice and video recordings of two beloved family members who passed in 2016. We cried and remembered them on this very special holiday. Christmukah ended and we all went home with full bellies and an entire treasure trove of memories.
Last new year’s eve we all got on a rollercoaster together, not knowing what to expect. Would we slowly work our way up, or hastily speed our way down? Would we flip and bounce and twist until we were sick? Over the past 365 days we lost so much and so many people, yet we healed and new opportunities came into our lives. Jobs were lost, jobs were gained. Money was spent, and it was also received. Health declined rapidly for some, but most of us made it through. There were days that felt unbearable, and then there were others full of immense joy and pride. It wasn’t a perfect year, but we got through it with the perfect people. Whether your journey involved tears of laughter or pain, here we are starting all over again. Let’s make this year even better. Full of hope, laughter, health, and positivity. If that isn’t the perfect way to celebrate the vegan cholidays, then I don’t know what is!
Happy New Years, my friends!
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