Tuesday 14 December 2010

Carols, Camels and Pate

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. We have been to carol services the last two weekends, got the bulk of our Christmas gift shopping done and I have two Christmas lunches coming up this week. The plum pudding is resting in the fridge and I have plans for more Christmas baking. After a terrible carol service two weeks ago, we went to a fantastic carols by candlelight on the weekend.

Australia doesn’t have the same wonderful wintery landscapes and Christmas lights as our Northern hemisphere cousins. At this time of year, we celebrate the summer solstice when the nights are light and warm. But if you are willing to wait long enough, the dark summer nights are perfect for sitting outside with candles and singing carols. Health and safety has made itself felt: the flame of the candle has been replaced by battery operated light in a plastic casing. Though, with lots of small children about and having once had my hair on fire at a carols by candlelight, I can see the wisdom in this.

A carols service is also a good excuse for a picnic. We met up with my family at the Werribee Park carols by candlelight on the weekend. It was no balmy summer evening. We were just glad the raindrops on our arrival came to nothing. It had been a busy day for us with swimming lessons, the selling of our old car and lunch with friends Chris, Yavanna and baby Florence, so we were late. By the time we arrived, everyone else had been there a while and were heading off to buy jam donuts.

I'd like to think this is why few of them were interested in the veggie pate I took along, although my mum loved it. We sat down and ate our pate and guacamole with vegetable crudites, crackers and falafel. Sylvia was delighted to have as many biscuits as she liked and wouldn't eat any vegies. Fortunately when dessert of grubs, gingerbread and chopped pineapple came out, she couldn't get enough of the fruit. The sweet food went down well with the rest of my family too. Unfortunately we were there a bit late to share much of the others' food but I did hear that my mum's chocolate and hazelnut cakes were splendid.

Werribee Park mansion was a beautiful setting for the carols. (Thanks dad for letting me use your head as a tripod for this photo!) The coloured lights were spectacular. The carols were traditional ones that we could sing along to, but not so loud that I couldn't catch up with some of the family.

The moment that all the children were waiting for with breathless excitement was the arrival of the camels from the local zoo. The camels were carrying the wise men as part of the nativity scene. I sat by the aisle with the small children to see them pass by. Sylvia was with me but was far more interested in the moon. She usually is in bed or indoors when the moon comes out so this was a great novelty for her to see it. After the nativity, the Police Pipe Band played some Scots classics such as "Highland Cathedral" that pleased E. I was surprised that Sylvia was still awake when we left at 10pm but she fell asleep in the car within minutes once we left.

The Vegan Pate with sweet potato recipe came from Open Ended Question. It is quite similar to the Voracious Vegan Pate that I made a couple of months ago. The voracious pate had a few more spices which I enjoyed and different vegetables including potato which had added some interesting texture. I also thought it was cooked too thinly and crispy to spread it well. However what I liked about this sweet potato pate recipe below is that it is gluten free. In future I would be interested to combine the two recipes into one. Perhaps this one would be more flavoursome if I had more thyme but when I pick it from the garden, by the time I pick the leaves off the woody stems there is not heaps.

We still have some pate left but it is great to have in the fridge for sandwiches or to eat on rice crackers. On the day after the carols we ate leftover crudites and dips for dinner. It was a more satisfying meal. It was excellent with guacamole and chutney in a sandwich. While this pate requires baking, it lasts quite a while so it is worth making for summer meals if you get a day when you can tutn on the oven. Unfortunately, so far this summer, that is not a problem!

I am sending this to Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything Once for Weekend Herb Blogging #264 which she coordinates after taking over the reigns from the founder Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year:
Christmas Nut Roast in Scotland
This time two years ago:
Tree, Tarts and Punch
This time three years ago:
SHF #38 Christmas Pudding

Vegan Pate with Sweet Potato
Adapted from Open Ended Question
  • 1 large sweet potato, coarsely grated (mine was about 350g - more would have been better)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (I used reduced salt tamari)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ cup linseeds (flaxseeds), ground (I used a little LSA because I wanted to use it up)
  • small handful fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 350 F; Line a (9″ x 13″) lamington tin.

The recipe suggested blending the wet ingredients in the food processor and then adding the dry ingredients. My food processor is small so I went easy on it. I ground the sunflower seeds in the food processor. Then I put these in a mixing bowl with the nutritional yeast, ground linseeds and thyme. Puree sweet potato, onion, garlic, tamari and olive oil in the food processor and mix into the dry ingredients.

Spread mixture into prepared tin and smooth with a back of a spoon. Bake about 40-50 minutes – mine was baked for 50 minutes and it was just a little too long. The pate is done when it the top looks dry and then edges are brown and crispy. Cool in tin. Keep in the fridge. (I’ve had ours for 5 days but I suspect it will last at least a week)

On the Stereo:
The Original Christmas Album: 20 Party Christmas Crackers: Various Artists


  1. Hurrah for having a happy, lovely Carols! I haven't been to one of those in longer than I can remember - nor have I had a vegetarian pate like this in living memory! Don't talk about the Christmas present thing, though... I'm freaking out because I'm going to bake a lot of mine, but if they don't work out I'll be in trouble!

  2. I'm interested in the vegan pate! Sound good, Johanna.

  3. This sounds healthful and delicious!

  4. What a beautiful post! I have never been to carols by candlelight, nut it is a lovely idea. Isn't the mansion gorgeous, all lit up? Your pate looks and sounds very good - I'd definitely have some.

  5. That sounds really interesting! I was wondering how a vegan pate would work! :)

  6. LOvely post..first time here, you have a beautiful space here.

  7. a picnic AND carols = sounds like a wonderful evening!
    And that vegan pate - BRILLIANT!!!

  8. Nothing makes the holiday season feel more like the holiday season than some caroling! Good stuff.

    I love the sound of that pate. The sweet potatoes intrigue me...

  9. Thanks Hannah and good luck with the baking - am glad that I don't have such lofty aims as I just feel I would struggle.

    Thanks Anh - it is a great idea for pate

    Thanks Kalyn - yes it is full of good ingredients

    Thanks Cakelaw - I watched a lot of carols by candlelight on tv before I ever went to any so it seems like a childhood dream to be there - and Werribee Park is such a beautiful location - shame it is such a drive to get home

    Thanks Lorraine - I love this idea for vegan pate and the voracious pate I recently made - they are some of the best pate recipes I have tried because they have the dark intensity about them that I remember from meat ones

    Thanks Vandana - welcome here - hope you enjoy your visit and come back

    Thanks Lisa - good food and good music always makes for a great evening

    Thanks Joanne - I think sweet potatoes definitely add to the flavour.

  10. This is so much like a nutroast recipe I've been playing with--I bet it would work well that way, too. And your hair on fire?? Can't imagine how traumatic that must have been! I'd stick with the plastic-coated "candles."

  11. I hope we might hear more about your nut roast - as for hair on fire - it stinks and is hard to get away from the smell - not pleasant

  12. Thanks for the shout-out Johanna! Glad you liked the recipe! I bet the fresh herbs were a lovely addition!

  13. Yum this looks really good! I keep on thinking about making veggie pate but have yet to try. I love the idea of using it in sandwiches.


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