Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Indulgences

We're fairly low key holiday people, for various reasons. Adulthood brings with it multiple changes, adjustments, and occasional disappointments, and it's up to us to negotiate this time of year that is both the brightest (for some) and the loneliest (for many). C and I both come from families where the holidays--Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially, are pretty much a BFD. My mother always went to great lengths to make these days special, introducing lots of tiny rituals and letting me (even as a kid) be responsible for planning and making things that everyone would eat. I think, but I'm not sure, that at least some of these early efforts included things like vienna sausages and cheeze whiz. Cuz, you know, I was a kid. Even when I got older--high school and undergraduate college--my mom insisted on reading aloud from Twas the Night Before Christmas. Though I don't follow most of these traditions as an adult with my own household, sort of--it's the economy, yo--she did successfully instill in me an appreciation for tradition and a certain amount of modified ceremony. As a result, I can get a bit persnickety about making things special around the holidays. Mostly, because C and I are such vigorously confirmed fatty pantses, this means special things to eat.

C has some similar holiday issues. I wouldn't call it baggage, exactly, but even after a few years of not spending the holidays with his family, he continuously regales me with tales of his mom's fabulous Christmas traditions. And I've gotta say, that shit does sound good. But again, what he have together is mostly food. For Christmas breakfast this year, I made the much-lauded cinnamon rolls. I've blogged about them before, but I usually make a slight modification of Isa's recipe from Vegan Brunch. I've posted the recipe before, so you could either flip back through the recipes (a feat made much easier by the new blog format), or just buy her book. She's awesome and she lives in Omaha. That is easily one of my favorite cookbooks. And the cinnamon roll recipe is both minimally fussy, very flexible, and consistently awesome. I used half white spelt flour and half whole wheat pastry flour. Our beloved roomie has issues with wheat, so we do our best to accommodate her gastronomical requirements. I also added orange zest to the dough and chocolate chips to the filling, which took these rolls a tick over the limit of what is truly reasonable. Isn't that what the holidays are really about? Violating the bounds of decency through rampant consumption? We're just doing our part. We also had tempeh bacon (by C) and a beet and citrus salad (by D).

After a day of lounging about, reading and chattering at each other, we had a festive dinner. D was up north, so C and I had to content ourselves with one another's company. Not particularly difficult since we like each other. When you have all day to cook something and aren't in any kind of hurry, definitely try this seitan brisket from the seemingly (and sadly) defunct Veganize It...Don't Criticize It! (Who am I to be talking about defunct, though, amiright?) We ate this moist, flavorful brisket heaped with red wine reduction gravy and stewed vegetables. On the side, we had some perfectly cooked brussels sprouts and these pull-apart pumpkin rolls. The rolls were good but not as fluffy and moist as one might hope. This, however, was entirely my fault for using a whole grain flour. After the near-diabetes-inducing cinnamon rolls from the morning, C and I wanted to give our systems a little break. They were still tasty and soaked up the juice from the brisket with great panache.

Happy holidays, everyone! Or, alternatively, happy holidays are over! 

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