Um, yeah, blame Apple that you’re about to see way more photos than you’ve ever wanted to see.
This picture sums up our vacation. EVERYONE in my family on their computer except for me. :( Good thing I had my trusty camera to occupy me.
When my semester ended (well, my semester personally just ended this morning at 3 am when I emailed my English prof my Austen seminar paper that I had to take an incomplete on, but I’m talking about Pomona’s semester), my sister, mom, dad, and I headed off to Philly to visit my dad’s family for a belated Hanukkah.
Our first night there was the giant blizzard (second biggest in Philly history?)
I think we got 23 inches. My uncle even went out to measure it!
Some Hanukkah action:
My wittle cousins, Nir and Tal.
Gorgeous (and incredibly classy) sister!
My mom made Dreena Burton’s Chocolate Banana Pudding Cake because it was my grandma’s birthday too!
My cousin Matt and my dad played some pattycake…
Tal and my uncle Adam made a snow (wo)man complete with a nice rack:
And then, Tal and I took a wee nap.
My aunt Donna made some delicious vegan chipotle chili. It was so spicy, it took me like an hour to eat and my eyes were watering the whole time. ;)
Oh, and this is my dad. Embarrassing.
Fortunately, my family is very supportive of my veganism. Take the following photo as an example. There was a tomato mozzarella salad at our big Hanukkah party, and someone was kind enough to provide me with this alternative:
I’m sorry, I was very touched that they thought of me, but really? Is this a dish that’s really worth veganizing? That was maybe the funniest thing ever.
To be fair, that wasn’t the only vegan option. My grandma ordered a feast from Whole Foods, which included General Tso’s vegan chicken and tons of roasted vegetables.
My mom kept cozy in her socks.
After we were all Hanukkah-ed out, we headed to Long Island, NY to visit my mom’s family for Christmas (yes, my family’s a bit of a cultural hodgepodge).
But first, we stopped in NYC for the day to see a musical–In the Heights–and do some fine (vegan) dining. My mom had made lunch reservations at Candle 79 weeks ago at my request. :)
We shared two appetizers. Polenta Fries…
And the Guacamole Timbale: Chipotle black beans, caramelized onions, cucumber-jicama salsa, tortilla chips, ranchero sauce.
I made my dad get the Seitan Piccata because I’d heard so much praise for it, and it seemed like something he’d love (no, I don’t always order for my dad…)
Creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, lemon-caper sauce.
My mom got the Live Celeriac Ravioli: Spinach-cashew ricotta, pine nut pesto, sundried tomato sauce, citrus marinated broccoli raab, olives & capers, which was super annoying because I had originally wanted to get lunch at One Lucky Duck, a raw restaurant, but my mom had said that she didn’t want raw food in the winter. Then, she orders this–the one raw entrée–at Candle 79. What gives, mom?!
Liv got the Burrito 79: Chili-herb grilled seitan, caramelized onions, sautéed greens, chipotle black beans, brown rice, cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream.
My entrée was obviously the best though. ;) The Wild Mushroom Stuffed Tempeh.
Wild mushrooms, sautéed spinach, brussels sprouts, sweet potato sauce, apple-pomegranate salad. They had me at sweet potato sauce.
Finally, we shared a dessert–Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bliss—Chocolate mousse, peanut butter mousse, chocolate shell, berry coulis.
It was good, but 12 dollars for a dessert the size of a pill canister? Really?
While in the city, my dad and uncles and I also visited High Line Park, a mile-and-a-half long elevated park on the West side that’s built on former freight train tracks. It was pretty deserted given that not many people are crazy enough to take a stroll on an elevated, exposed platform on a blustery NY winter day, but I’m glad that we did.
And no holiday trip to NYC is complete without a stop at the Rockefeller Tree!
After a great day, we left the big city (calling it the big apple would be overkill in this post, wouldn’t it?), and headed to Long Island for a quiet(ish) Christmas.
Our first night in Huntington, we were greeted with hugs and heaping plates of pesto pasta made by our uncle Mickey! Walnut pesto, broccoli, and peas on TJ’s brown rice spaghetti. Heavenly!
It was sad not to be with Rupert for Christmas, but luckily, my two aunts had their dogs there to soften the blow. Tucker:
Despite some minor–but expected–family altercations, Christmas went smoothly.
Can you see me? ;)
We had our traditional Christmas Eve Chinese take-out, but, not so traditionally, my aunt, uncle, and I got ours from a different place: the all-vegan Green Melody! I’m always a little skeptical of the veganness of food at non-vegan ethnic places, even when assured of it, so getting our own separate feast was a huge relief.
My favorite thing was the Rainbow Bowl! Roasted root vegetables in a beautifully carved and steamed kabocha squash! :)
I left PB cookies and soy milk out for Santa, like a good vegan.
And even roasted some chestnuts–though in a closed oven, and not over an open fire…
I got some great gifts this year. Tons of kitchen things–a spoon rest, a spiralizer, a cutting board (my sister got me a personalized one with a picture of us on it!), vintage salt & pepper shakers–and some new cookbooks–The Candle Café Cookbook, Raw Food Real World, and Sweet Freedom (by our own Ricki Heller!). Plus, the cutest Anthropologie dress in the world. Thanks, mommmmm.
My grandma got a Celtics Snuggie to match her pillow. Don’t let her sweet looks fool you–this woman is an avid and competitive sports fan. :)
And a trickster. Every year, she gives my mom the same gift as a gag. A 30+ year old box of petit fours. It’s disgusting and very Miss Havisham-ish, but hilarious.
Chickie got bored watching everyone else opening their gifts…
And then I had wayyy too much fun with my camera, shutter speed, and Christmas lights…
I call this one, “Donnie Darko’s Christmas Tree.”
And then we time warped to next year’s Christmas. ;)
Last, but not least, our decadent Christmas Dinner!
I made Swell Vegan’s Vegan Haggis, and it was a huge hit. Seriously, I knew it would be good, but I had no idea that my family would finish off this baby as fast as they did. :)
Since it was akin to a nut loaf (it also had oats, mushrooms, and root veggies), my mom started calling it a hagloaf. Hahahahaha.
I whipped up some extra-peppery PPK Mushroom Gravy to go with it (though I think a sweet, fruity sauce–like the one A-K made in her post–would be even better).
My sister made some sweet potatoes from Vegan Comfort Food, my mom made some green beans with almonds, and I made Ricki’s Quinoa, Roasted Beet, and Walnut Salad as well (seems random, but with the beets and cilantro, it’s Christmas colors, y’all!)
Mine turned out a lot redder than Ricki’s, but everyone thought it was beautiful and it got gobbled up. My uncle Adam even requested the recipe so he could make it for his New Years party a few days later.
Whew. I’m done. I hope this is the longest post I ever have, and regularly scheduled blogging shall recommence shortly. Book review coming up, too! :)
Thanks for all your kind words on my last post, and for your patience as I got my life back on track! I’m so glad to be back.