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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

This is the last post of the  year. I have been thinking about what to write to finish the year  and decided that the best thing to do was to share with you the insights I have gained thought the most ordinary activities of my life these last two weeks.

Christmas Eve Dinner

My family has always celebrated Christmas Eve rather than Christmas day just like they did in Belgium.

Each year since I have had children, I have therefore prepared a traditional turkey dinner. Each year, some new addition to the menu has been made or an old favorite replaced by an updated version or by something new entirely just to make things more interesting for me, the cook.

As they grew up, the children’s taste became more sophisticated and they began to make requests such as roast potatoes instead of mashed, mousse cake instead of the traditional Bûche de Nöel I prefer and finally this year my son presented me with a real challenge when he transitioned to  a vegan a few months ago.

My first course is a French Canadian meat pie known as a tourtière which I prepare a couple of weeks in advance and freeze until the day of the meal when I pop it in the oven until it’s bubbling hot.

Then comes the stuffed turkey, spicy maple glazed sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts tossed in butter and nutmeg, leeks and carrots in white sauce, cranberry sauce and salad. The whole followed by a blackcurrant mousse cake.

Now, I was going to have to provide a second meal without any animal product at all, not even butter or eggs.

How was I going  to pull this off without going mad and ending up tired and stressed out at the Christmas Eve dinner which I really wanted to enjoy like everyone else?

Tasks, Sequence, Finish

First, I decided on what I was going to serve as a vegan meal since I already knew what dishes I was going to prepare for the traditional meal. I opted to serve a half avocado on red lettuce leaves with grated beets sprinkled with fresh lemon juice as a first course followed by a vegan spheperd’s pie and dessert was a vegan version of chocolate mousse.

He could also partake of all the vegetable dishes as long as I used coconut oil instead of butter in the sweet potatoes and leek and carrots and I could put aside some Brussels sprouts for him because I really wanted butter on mine!

Second, I drew up a list of all the ingredients I needed to buy for each dish to make sure nothing was forgotten. I decided what wine to serve with dinner and added that to the list.

Third, I decided to prepare the sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sheperd’s pie and chocolate mousse the day before Christmas Eve to give me plenty of time to deal with picking up the blackcurrant mousse from the French bakery, stuffing the turkey, preparing the vegetables, ironing the tablecloth, setting and decorating the table and getting ready for my guests on Dec 24th.

Fourth, I wrote down each menu and put it on the fridge door to make sure I would not forget to serve any dish at the last minute. I have been known to make the cranberry sauce and forget to serve it with the meal.

Conclusion

This could have been a really stressful time for me because of all the added work of preparing a vegan meal in addition to the turkey but instead it turned out to be the most relaxed Christmas Eve dinner we have had in a long time.

Why? Because I had planned every little task, I had spaced the work over a few days so each day was manageable, I had made lists to remind me of what needed to be served and all I had to do was follow the plan as outlined.

This is how I plan to move forward in the New Year when I develop my new product.

It works for planning a big meal, it will work for anything else I do in the future as long as I list the tasks, assign deadlines and progress accordingly.

Happy New Year to all of you!

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