“What I” Wednesday: Epic Holiday Post

December 28th, 2011 - filed under: The Food » Food Styles

Merry Merry! Last week my little family road-tripped up to Damian’s parent’s house in Bremerton, a quiet city that sits on Puget Sound, right across the way from Seattle. We stayed with them for four nights, and celebrated a different holiday every single day that we were there. As a big fan of celebrations, I was a very happy lady!

We arrived quite late on Thursday night – the Winter Solstice. Too late for dinner or even a snack, we were just in time to write out a wish on a scrap of paper and throw it into the dying fire. Then, with Pagan rituals out of the way, we were off to bed.

The next few days were overflowing with festive foods and lots of fun, like this:

Lots of coffee in Christmas mugs . . .

. . . and also sometimes some, er, not-coffee in Christmas mugs as well . . .

There were lots of simple breakfasts:

Fresh-baked bread, raw granola, clementines. Almond milk for Waits, coffee for me.

Damian’s stepfather, Lee, is a master goldsmith. And although he no longer makes jewelry professionally, he still keeps a workshop. Coolest computer case EVER? Methinks yes . . .

Lee is also an accomplished bread-baker, so there were plenty of homemade loafs:

His sourdough starter, which “went vegan” a few months after we did. It hasn’t had any milk in years, which means it makes the most amazing vegan artisan breads. Lee gave me a jar of this to take home, and I plan on delving into the world of bread baking this winter, yipee!

Potato caraway sourdough, on the rise . . .

. . . and rising . . .

. . . and baked! This was for Christmas dinner, so good!

Just a few sweet slices of the soured multigrain loaf we were snacking on all week.

Speaking of snacking, there was plenty of that as well:

Hummus for writing time.

Tea for two.

Coffee and good ol’ apple pie

Nuts from our stockings on Christmas morning.

And this gorgeous spread on Christmas afternoon.

Which featured my homemade cultured cashew cheese dip with chives, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach. HELLO! (recipe to come soon!)


Damian’s family always celebrates Lillejuleaften, which means “Little Yule Eve”, which is basically Christmas Eve Eve. We lit a candle and set it in the window, built up a big roaring fire, and feasted. I cooked!

Giant salad with romaine, bell pepper, carrots, and homemade noochy vinaigrette.

Giant bowl of pasta! Rice pasta, extra virgin olive oil, peppers and onions sautéed with a little liquid smoke, Field Roast apple smoked sage sausages, and a liberal sprinkling of pepper jack Daiya. Mmmhmm.

We’d picked up this salted caramel apple pie on our way out of town, from our favorite bakery.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we made another delicious vegan feast, but this one was a joint endeavor. Pizza! With veggie sausage, fresh tomatoes, black olives, Daiya cheddar, and all laid out on a homemade sourdough crust. Damian’s grandmother declared this [vegan!] pizza “the best pizza she’s ever had”. Spectacular, right? Oh, and I agreed!

Another enormous salad with all the fixin’s.

♥ A family of jewelers, can you tell? ♥


♥ Opening gifts on Christmas Eve ♥


Christmas was wonderful, the morning so full of joy and love! Christmas with a child is a whole different experience, and I’m happy to say that I think I’m officially retiring my Grinch hat. This shit is just too much fun! Waits was adorable and gleeful and sort of loved the bags more than the toys, except he’s pretty super stoked on his brand new baby guitar. Thank you Grandma!!!

Christmas dinner was so lovely, and I used it to break in my favorite gift: my very first cast iron! I actually teared up with excitement when I unwrapped this, because I am that much of a geek.

Caramelizing leeks to break in the skillet.

And searing the sprouts.

Christmas dinner: mashed potatoes with gravy, homemade bread, braised brussels sprouts with caramelized leeks, and Field Roast’s “Celebration Roast”. PERFECT HOLIDAY MEAL!

For dessert I made a raw Chai Cheesecake (recipe by the wonderful Natalia KW). It was the perfect rich, spicy topper to a perfect winter meal.

Off camera outtake, haha



So I seriously spent the four days away almost entirely in my pajamas. Yeah! But, we did venture out to the market on Christmas day, and I did wear my special Christmas socks:

Waits was super stylin’ in his Christmas moose onesie, padded vest, and red fleece earflap cap:

I hope that you all had an amazing weekend, whether you were celebrating or not. Much love to you all, from all of us!

  • http://twitter.com/Rebecca_Hawkes Rebecca Hawkes

    Oh my! Lusting after that Chai pie! This was my first holiday season as a vegan and even though my entire family felt I was deprived of all the chocolate boxes and helpings of meat, I had a joyful time not lusting after these foods one bit, munching on food that tasted so good, eating without me swelling up to double in size and more importantly did not harm any other living being! I also made a great Vegan “egg-nog” cheesecake which helped the merriment… :D X

  • http://brokencookiesdontcount.wordpress.com/ Fran@BCEC

    It’s so great when everyone eats the same way. I still have to deal with meat eaters. They’re very considerate, but I’d cook more of my veggie-centric meals if everyone would eat the same way. Looks like you had a wonderful time…Merry Christmas!! I like celebrating Christmas Eve Eve. What culture does that come from??

  • http://callofthe-wild.blogspot.com/ Francine

    Looks like a lot of great food. I’ve always wanted to try Brussels sprouts but I’ve shied away from them because of the stigma against them. Maybe I’ll have to give them a try.

  • Erin Katterhenry

    What amazing vegan holidays! Can your family adopt me!?

  • Erin Katterhenry

    I agree! I would love to see the recipe you used, they look delicious.

  • Steph

    I love all of this. So much love and food!

  • http://shesgotaknife.blogspot.com/ ~L~

    Looks like you guys had an awesome holiday! And congrats on your cast iron, I have a blog post on how to properly season and maintain it if you’re interested! It was my second post ever, lol!

  • http://shortycanburn.blogspot.com/ Stacy

    Please do post the cashew cheese recipe (in time for NY’s eve, or am I being pushy:))! Also, just curious–do you actually travel with your juicer?

  • tara

    Everything looks amazing! So glad your family had fabulous holidays!!

  • Rachel C

    Awesome post! The food looks fabulous. I’m especially drooling over the chai cheesecake. Is the recipe in Natalia’s book Pure Pleasures?

    It looks like you guys had a great time! I love the Waits pictures.

  • http://www.lauraliveslife.com/ Laura @ LauraLivesLife

    OH my goodness – I’m so glad I like from Peas@Crayons to your blog – I love the design and name! Your eats and holiday look amazing!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, sounds like a wonderful (and delicious!) Christmas!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    We totally didn’t plan on eating vegan meals (for everyone, that is) the entire time, but it just worked out easier to cook all together. I was very grateful! (they did have ham on Christmas though – I just didn’t photograph it!)

    The Eve Eve is a Scandinavian thing, I had never heard of it either, but I’m all for more nights of celebration. ;-D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Brussels are delish! They taste like mini cabbages, but a bit sweeter. They are Damian’s favorite veggie! I think most people make the mistake of boiling them though, which is blah. Roasting them is super easy and soooo good – just toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400º until slightly singed, haha.

    I’ll work on getting that recipe up since it’s D’s favorite!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    It’s our go-to Brussels recipe, at Damian’s insistence. I’ll make sure I photograph it next time I make it, so that I can do a proper post!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Ha! I do wish everyone could have an awesome vegan holiday though. =)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Exactly – love and food and love and food. =)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh thanks, I’m so paranoid about taking proper care of it. It’s my kitchen baby!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I know I won’t be able to post in time for NYE, sorry! But early next year for sure (I realize that probably doesn’t help you, sorry again!)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal


  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    It is in Pure Pleasures, yup!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, thanks Laura! Welcome. =)

  • Charlotte

    My landlord is a retired goldsmith who still makes the most amazing pieces for pleasure. He dabbles in sculpture too. It’s wonderful to have his pieces around the apartment building bit I live in fear of the kids knocking one over and damaging a unique piece of art. Anyway, belated Christmas greetings and have a happy New Year.

  • Erin Katterhenry

    :) This was my first round of holidays as a vegan. My family is really sweet but it was tough. Lessons learned for next year!

  • Kathryn B.

    I L.O.V.E. that you celebrate different holidays and expose Waits to different culture like that. Good for you guys! Your amazing parents!!!

  • http://eerosa.com erosan

    I love the little devils! you have to try them… and about the stigma… its just bad cooking. I refer to one of my heroes for words of wisdom:

    “…when purchasing, look for firm, compact heads with bright dark green leaves, as you would with any cabbage. Avoid soft or pudgy sprouts or anything with yellow leaves. Yellow is a sure sign of age, because it means that the more time-sensitive green chlorophyll has given up the ghost, leaving the long-lasting yellow behind. It’s like a marker for old sprouts. That’s bad.
    Now if and when you find good-looking sprouts still on the stalk, you definitely want to buy them. Not only are the stalks, well, really cool-looking, they are what they seem – life-support units. That’s good.

    Cooking Brussels sprouts, like cooking any cabbage, is a balancing act. You’re hoping to maximize three primary characteristics all at the same time: flavor, texture and aroma. Okay, now texture is, of course, a matter of doneness, and doneness is all about breaking down cell walls. Now when you get it just right, they’re not hard, they’re not mushy, they’re just slightly chewy. The problem is that the breaking down of the cell walls releases some, well, unfriendly chemical compounds. You see, sprouts contain sinigrin, which is a type of glucose cyanate [sic, glucosinolate]. Now glucose cyanates are a class of organic compounds, which also contain sulfur and nitrogen. Now as the sprouts cook, the sinigrin begins to degrade into allyl-isothiocyanate, or mustard oil, which explains the nasty-tasting compounds and the less than appealing aroma. Somewhere between rotten eggs and, well, sweaty Army socks, I would say.
    Now we could dilute these by cooking the sprouts in a large amount of water. But here’s the thing: a lot of the nasty-tasting compounds are powerful nutrients. Cancer-fighters, in fact. And they’re mostly water-soluble. So the more water you use, the more you wash away. So reaching optimum conditions on all of these fronts at one time is pretty much impossible. Sorry. But your best bet is to cook sprouts as quickly as possible in as little water as possible.

    Begin with one pound of rinsed sprouts. If you notice that any of the outer leaves are beginning to wilt or yellow, go ahead and remove those before proceeding. Now you may have seen some recipes that call for cutting an “x” into the bottom of the stem, as if that’s going to speed up the cooking. I certainly don’t believe it. We do want to speed cooking. So do this: just trim off the bottom of the stem and then split in half, longitudinally. This will also keep them from rolling off the plate when they’re done. A lot easier to eat that way.
    Now into a three to four quart saucier, add a mere half cup of water, and a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover, crank the heat to high, and cook for exactly five minutes. About halfway through, give them a little bit of a shake just to move that water around. There.”

    Extra points for anyone who knew who I was talking about.

    Anyways, go watch episode 12 of season 12 of good eats for more ways of consuming this delicacy. Even if you were vegan, I bet you can learn a lot from this show.

    happy eating.

  • http://eerosa.com erosan

    Just in time! I’ve been trying to use my cast iron skillets more, only to discover one of them rusted! you post is a life saver!

  • http://kabochavore.com/ Mandiee

    WOW! your holiday sounds fantastic! Green smoothies started off my christmas holiday off right, too. Your salad looks super fresh and yummy. Do you have a recipe for the nooch dressing you used?

  • Joselle Palacios

    What an awesome, inspiring and positive post. You’re all such a gorgeous, happy family. And I also can’t wait for the cashew cheese dip. Looks delicious.

  • http://shesgotaknife.blogspot.com/ ~L~

    Well, my favorite one was my great-grandmother’s, so I’m just as paranoid and researched for weeks before I even cooked with it, and I take care of it as in my blog post and have no problems! ^.^

  • Wizardess9

    Psyched to hear about your bread baking. I just added rye flour to my sourdough starter I’m making from the Wild Vegan book. It won’t be ready for a few days yet. And I was lucky enough to inherit seasoned cast iron skillets & they are the best! Lately I’ve been putting them on low on the stove to dry the last water after a wash, just like I do with my wok. Seems to be good for them.

  • Jessica @ Whatwouldjessicaeat?

    Everything looks tasty, especially the homemade bread!

  • http://www.thevegetablecentrickitchen.com/ Rande McDaniel

    Gorgeous pictures! Salted caramel apple pie, oh how I freaking LOVE salted desserts.

  • http://healthifulbalance.blogspot.com/ Shannon (Healthiful Balance)

    Looks like an awesome Christmas! :) Love the Christmas tree!

  • http://keepingitrealfood.com/ Jess

    Looks like you guys had a cozy holiday. Waits’ Christmas PJs are so freaking cute too!

  • Stacy

    No problem, I look forward to trying it whenever you get around to it!

  • Meghan

    I think I can get down with Christmas Eve’s Eve (or, as we now call it, Christmas Adam) celebration!

  • Meghan

    I loooooove roasted Brussels sprouts! (and roasted broccoli, kale, collards, cauliflower… anything in that family!) My husband likes them raw (???) but I could eat roasted brussels sprouts every day!

  • Meghan

    Your visits with Damian’s family always look so awesome! I think you won the in-law-lottery!

  • http://bittsblog.blogspot.com bitt

    I love Waits’ moose PJs! epic post indeed! So awesome your family is so vegan friendly. Would love all the recipes in due time of course if you so choose to share.

    Merry Christmas and Solstice and Happy New Year as well!

  • Sonja

    those pics really look cosy and beautifully christmasy :-) Thanks for writing this fantastic blog! All the best for 2012 fot you and your lovely family! Lots of love, Sonja

  • https://raceready.wordpress.com/ Kristabel@RaceReady

    That apple pie looks sooooo good. What a wonderful holiday post!

  • http://www.tiedyefiles.com/ Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    Such beautiful vegan holiday feasts! And awesome that you got a cast iron, I love mine!

  • Savannah

    Brussels sprouts for life! Happy holidays (all of them!!)