I know, everyone is posting gorgeous Christmas recipes and talking about what to do with Boxing Day leftovers, but let’s not forget our humble friend the UK Vegan Food Swap!Amidst the deliveries of parcels addressed to me but containing goodies that needed to be examined, wrapped, and labelled with someone else’s name, I did get my very own box to tear open greedily – once again, courtesy of Rebecca of the wonderful Rebecca’s Cakes!
You might remember that only a month ago I received a box of 12 assorted vegan cupcakes, and I’m not quite sure why Rebecca would think I would be sick of her by now, getting her for the third time in a row. But I’m not, no way! And I was hoping to meet her cupcakes once again in this month’s edition…
Obviously, super excited to see the cupcakes nestled in there. This time, a couple of festive Christmas Pudding and Brandy cupcakes. The parcel took a week to reach me so I feared the worst for those cupcakes, but you know what, they were almost perfect! I have definitely paid for drier, more stale, and less tasty baked goods purchased from behind fancy glass cases. They were barely dry, still moist from the brandy and the small gatherings of dried fruit hidden in the cake. The frosting was as silky and creamy as ever, and as always with Rebecca’s cakes, just sweet enough and not cloying.
Next up to be devoured were her homemade mince pies – delicate and just the perfect size for an afternoon treat or a late night snack, not quite as sweet and sticky as the few mince pies I have eaten in my life. As somebody who didn’t do much in the way of festivity, it was great to have a little touch of Christmas tradition land on my doorstep.
Ben still hasn’t received his parcel so I shared my Goody Good Stuff sweets with him, they are always a hit. I also donated a packet of the Humdinger Dairy Free White Buttons to him, because I have eaten many of those in my short vegan life.
On Sunday evening, the night before I left for France and the festivities, we had a cosy evening of homemade ravioli followed by a big bowl of Ahmed Foods Halal Strawberry Jelly. I can’t actually remember the last time I ate jelly, and it was awesome. But I found I still “needed” something of substance so I destroyed the Organica Hazelnut Nougat & Dark Chocolate bar, another old favourite of mine.
I am saving the Pulsin protein bar for a healthy snack (maybe an aeroplane snack…?). I have never seen or had the Vanilla Choc Chip version, but it sounds great!
Rebecca also sent us a packet of vegan Hollandaise sauce mix, which I’m looking forward to building a meal around, and a packet of vegan ice cream base which I had never seen or used before! Unfortunately, there was also a huge packet of honey-roasted gammon popcorn which did actually contain honey so isn’t vegan – it would have been quite an inspired find if it had been! – but luckily Ben isn’t vegan and I live with non-vegans so it won’t go to waste I’m sure.
But Christmas is about giving as well as receiving, and I put a lot of thought into the parcel I sent out to Imogen in Edinburgh. I wanted to try and stay fairly festive, but I have no idea what the vegan scene is like in Edinburgh and I didn’t get Imogen’s blog address until after I had sent the parcel, so I was a bit blind. I tried to include some sweet, some savoury, some healthy, some less healthy, some reliable favourites, and some novelties.
I had brought back a packet of Lotus Speculoos from Luxembourg specifically for the food swap. I know it’s not particularly original, but they are always good and perfect for the festive season.
Again, I know chestnuts aren’t overly exciting but I really like it when the cold weather sets in and I remember that chestnuts exist. I always get Merchant Gourmet chestnuts, and it makes sense to share what you love. Obvious inclusions to soups and stews, but I like to cook them into my vegetable messes (especially with leeks and mushrooms) or snack on them on their own. My mum purées them as a Christmas side dish, and the French like to turn them into desserts too.
I threw in a little jar of homemade chicken-style broth mix or seasoning, which I made as part of some recipe testing I’ve been doing. It’s a great blend, slightly salty, almost slightly sweet, and perfect with the aforementioned leek-mushroom-chestnut combination.
De Rit syrup waffles. Need I say more?
They have nothing to do with Christmas or anything festive but I know it took someone else (Ben) to buy them for me, for me to try chia seeds. They are so versatile, and healthy, and fun to experiment with. I hope I have introduced Imogen to something new and exciting!
A new discovery for me that I knew had to go in the December Vegan Food Swap, the Tyrrell’s Smashingly Cinnamony Apple Crisps. A crunch of Christmas. And because sometimes you can overdo it on the greasy salty snacks, some Perry Court Farm Pear Crisps to satisfy the crunch monster when you want something sweet. They’re more local to me than to Imogen, and they are one of my favourite snacks. And pears are kinda seasonal.
Lastly, a Frank bar. They seem to be becoming the new Nakd bars of the UK Vegan Food Swap, but I love them so I am making hay while the sun is shining (i.e. sending Frank bars while people like them). Also, sometimes at this time of year I want something stodgy and/or chocolatey but I’ve actually overdone it on creamy chocolate and sugar, and just want something that has been taken down a notch. I chose the chocolate-orange flavour because it’s as close to festive as I could get in a healthy snack bar.
So that’s that. No swapping for me next month as I will be off in Australia, so I hope Imogen liked her selection. Thanks again to Rebecca for a wonderful box of treats, and as always a big thank you to Sasha and Mitsu for organising the swap! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my fellow swappers!