Christmas just keeps on giving

Oh, this Christmas post is late! I’m always a bit slow to get back into action after the big day. It also took me a while to get all the pictures from everyone’s devices and cameras. But here they are – finally! And here’s my report on our 2 lovely Christmas celebrations, plus the inevitable leftovers.

A new toy

The most exciting thing is that we bought ourselves a barbecue for Christmas! We’ve never bothered with one before, because they always remind me of sausages and steaks. Theoretically, I knew you could cook corn cobs on them, and I heard about people cooking vegetables, but I didn’t think it was worth shelling out for a barbecue when I could just as easily cook on the stove inside.

Well, our cool new toy has absolutely changed my mind! We did ALL the Christmas day cooking on the barbecue (and most of the cooking since then too) – and, maybe it was beginner’s luck, but it was incredibly good, and easy!

The big Christmas party

Before I get to the actual day, I have to mention the big Christmas party, which was a few days before we bought our new toy, so this one wasn’t cooked on the barbecue.

B’s family’s party was on the Sunday before Christmas, with 19 people. It was a bring-a-plate affair, and there were lots of delicious vegan dishes, because his sisters are/were/are-mostly vegetarian.

Hummus and roast vegetable tart

We contributed a hummus and roast vegetable tart from Leigh Drew’s Wrapped in Pastry. After my last experience of messing with her recipe, I followed this one to the letter. It was really good, and looked very Christmassy with the red roasted beetroot.

Hummus and roast vegetable tart

I invested in a brand new pie dish, which was so non-stick that the pastry shrank down a bit, but it didn’t matter.

This was ideal, because the pastry case, the hummus, the roast vegetables and the dressing are all made separately, so they could be made ahead and just assembled before serving.

A1 Bakery-inspired salad

I also threw together a Middle-Eastern-style salad, inspired by a picture of a salad I saw on the A1 Bakery facebook page, with a simple Middle Eastern dressing I found by Googling.


It was a big, hearty salad and we even had some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Vanilla cream tartlets

For dessert, H made some vanilla cream tartlets, adapted from a recipe in Vegan Finger Foods. (I bought it from the Cruelty Free Shop, but it seems to be missing from their website now, so that’s an Amazon link.)

vanilla cream tartlets_web

We were in a rush, and happened to find some vegan pastry cases in Leo’s supermarket. H tried them as an experiment and they were very good and quick. The vanilla cashew and coconut cream filling was light and sweet enough without being sickly. And they looked so pretty!

It was a lovely day in B’s sister’s new house. The little kids spent most of the day splashing in the enormous pool, and the bigger kids played badminton on the thick, new grass. The rest of us just sat around and ate and drank and talked. 🙂

The little Christmas party

It was just the 4 of us and my mum for Christmas dinner this year, which was a nice change of pace.

Miyoko’s Kitchen cheese

We started off with some nibblies, including the new Miyoko’s Kitchen chive cheese, which I bought from Mad Cowgirls. It was pretty pricey at about $19, but I figured I used to pay a lot for a wheel of fancy, imported dairy cheese – and Christmas is a special occasion! (And, of course, the big plus is that it comes without cruelty!) I can’t wait to find an excuse to buy more.


Sure, I didn’t present it very well, but it tasted FANTASTIC! It’s even better straight out of the fridge when it’s really hard. It has a consistency a bit like I remember White Castello cheese – creamy but solid…if you know what I mean.

Our first barbecue

At lunch time we fired up our brand new barbecue for the FIRST time! We hadn’t even had a practice, so we were a little bit nervous about how it would go, being barbecue novices and all.

I’d spent Christmas Eve mixing marinades and making burgers, so all I had to do was chop vegies and assemble the kebabs.

We read cookbooks, online instructions and watched YouTube videos about how to cook vegies on the barbie, and it was so easy, I was sure something would go wrong – but it didn’t!


I’ve had Fired Up Vegetarian for a while (but didn’t own a BBQ), then I bought Grills Gone Vegan, which has a lot more tempeh, tofu, seitan-type recipes, as well as vegies and salads.

  • We started by heating the barbecue on low for 10 minutes.
  • Whole potatoes went in first. They were wrapped in foil that had been brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Himalyan pink salt. They took about 50 minutes to cook right through and then we took them out and put them aside.
  • Next came all the rest of the vegies, the tofu kebabs and the blackbean burgers.

By the way, this isn’t ALL the food. I was cooking in batches. It just kept on going.


The vegetables were brushed with oil or one of the many marinades. I had prepared, mushrooms, pumpkin slices, bok choy, red capsicum, onion, eggplant, green beans, artichoke hearts and asparagus.

The tofu kebabs had been marinated in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, stock and Gyros seasoning. They were made up of tofu cubes, thinly sliced carrot, green capsicum and onion.

The blackbean burgers were from Isa Does It, and they went straight on the  oiled hotplate.

We couldn’t fit everything on at once (mainly because I made far too much!), but they generally took the same amount of time:

  • 4 minutes, then close the lid (and don’t open it to peek!)
  • turn them over and close for another 4 minutes.

The pumpkin stayed on the open grill a little bit longer while we sorted ourselves out.

Just as we were sitting down to enjoy our feast with some crusty bread, I remembered the tempeh that was still marinating in the fridge! I’d been so looking forward to it. The recipe came from Great British Chefs. We ate it the following day…and the day after that… It was really good, and I’ll make it again sometime and show it the respect it deserves!

Summer pudding

We followed our barbecue with a perfect dessert for a sunny summer Christmas on the back verandah – Summer Pudding. H made it, and had never even seen one before, she says (she has, but she was probably too little to remember). She followed the recipe from BBC Good Food.

summer pudding

She did a great job! It was the best summer pudding I’ve ever seen or eaten, and she decorated it with fresh raspberries, then poured coconut cream over the top of it. Magic!


Picnic by the Yarra River

Of course, there was too much food. I even had leftover summer pudding on my Weetbix for breakfast the following day!

Some of the leftover vegies were eaten in sandwiches and wraps, sitting by the Yarra River, reading our Christmas books.


Boxing Day picnic by the Yarra River.

Sitting by the river reading Bob Brown's new book.

Reading my Christmas copy of Optimism: Reflections on a life of action by Bob Brown after the filling up on leftovers.

I actually got 3 books for Christmas – if you count my TWO copies of Greenilicious!


I must remember not to hint about the same present to everyone! 🙂

I had planned to also post some pictures of the spectacular pizzas we cooked on the barbecue using the leftover roasted vegetables on Boxing Day night. Unfortunately, the picture taken using my son’s phone, on our dark verandah lit only by festoon lights, didn’t work out. I’ll have to save our barbecued pizza for another post.

Zombieland and surprise fruit salad

As I’m writing this, the temperature is 37º Celsius (98.6º Fahrenheit) and after an early morning trip to the Vic Market, we’ve flopped on the couch to watch Zombieland (starring Woody Harrelson, who is a vegan!)… H has just presented us with these bowls of cool yumminess, and I just had to share it!

fruit salad

Fruit salad: watermelon, mango, raspberries, banana, and some frozen blueberries.

Best scene from Zombieland – Bill Murray’s house

12 thoughts on “Christmas just keeps on giving

  1. Wow, Hannah did a lovely job with those pretty pastries! And it looks like you’ve almost got your money’s worth on the barbecue with just one meal. 😀

    • She did, didn’t she? We’ll definitely use those pastry cases again. They saved a lot of effort and mess. I’m in love with the barbie – but I’m giving it a rest today in this heat! (Luckily there are plenty of leftover beetroot burgers from New Year’s Eve, that need to be eaten.)

  2. oh my goodnes… you’ve just reminded me that I bought a little wee BBQ from Bunnings months ago. And forgot about it. Everything looks fab, especially that pudding (and at least you know the non-stick pie plate truly is non-stick!) I haven’t tried the Miyoko cheeses yet, though nearly every review I’ve read all seem to agree the chives one is the best. Happy new year!

  3. What a fantastic christmas! We’ve been barbecuing a bit already this summer, I love outdoor cooking. I love corn and eggplant on the barbie. And omg…Miyoko’s cheeses, I love them! They are a bit cheaper south side at Prahran Convenience – 16.50, but still a pretty penny (especially when you get excited at the sight of them and buy all three…$50 gone in no time! I really want to try culturing my own cashew cheeses now. Also Bill Murray is the besssssssssttttttt 😀

      • $16.50 is a little better than $19. They had them going cheap at the Cruelty Free Shop recently too, but I think someone said that had something to do with the use by dates. (The use-by date on mine looked like it expired last March! I’m sure that can’t be right, because it was fine.) I tried not to be tempted. I almost bought Miyoko Schinner’s new cheese cookbook, but I thought I’d probably eat too much of it and put back all the weight I’ve just lost! At least the price of this will stop me getting it too often.

  4. I’m looking forward to that barbecued pizza post. I think our new barbecue is just like yours and it crossed my mind that pizza might be a possibility so I’ll learn from your experience before I give it a go.

    All the food looks delicious by the way.

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