Christmas Eve Dinner on Denman Island

We spent the first three weeks of December grading stacks and stacks of essays and exams, so we didn’t arrive on the island until Christmas Eve. Fortunately, we were able get a reservation on the first ferry of the day (5:15AM!!), so I was building a fire in the wood stove while J unloaded the truck by 10:30AM. In fact, if we hadn’t stopped for groceries in Nanaimo, we would have been here by 9:30! The weather was crisp and the sky was clear, so we had a lovely walk with the pups to the lake, and when we arrived back at the cabin, we started our preparations for our Christmas Eve feast: vegetarian tortiere with mushroom gravy, roasted potatoes with prunes, cole slaw, and lots of champagne! I made the pie and gravy, and J made the potatoes and slaw. It was all delicious, and we finished the evening off with a game of Scrabble….won by J (grrrrrrr….). He’s a much more gracious winner than I: he merely smirks and reminds me of his triumph a few times the next day. When I win, I have a tendency to jump up, screaming I RULE!!!!, after which I dance around the table chanting LOSERLOSERLOSER while rhymically pointing at my opponent, a practice I repeat over several days until I forget about my win. A relic of my Darwinian childhood, I suppose. Anyway, the recipe for the tortiere is one I’ve been meaning to post for a little while. It’s adapted from a recipe in Canadian Living:


Vegetarian Tortiere


1-1/2 cups (375 mL) cubed peeled potatoes

2 packages Yves Meatless Ground Round

2 cups (500 mL) sliced mushrooms

3/4 cup (175 mL) finely chopped celery

2 cups vegetable stock

2 onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper

1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried savory

1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme

1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves

1/4 tsp (1 mL) cinnamon

1 pie crust

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook potato until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and mash; set aside.

Meanwhile, brown onions, garlic, and celery in a non-stick pan for a few minutes.

Add mushrooms and Yves Meatless Ground Round, and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add stock, salt, pepper, savory, thyme, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until almost no liquid remains, about 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Mix in potatoes. Let cool.

Spoon into pastry. Brush pie rim with water; cover with top pastry and press edge to seal.

Cut steam vents in top. Bake at 400 F (200 C) until golden brown, about 45 – 50 minutes.

Serve with chutney and mushroom gravy. I use the Post-Punk Kitchen recipe for mushroom gravy and it’s always delicious.


And then there’s the Scrabble…. 10698562_10202258186456513_7856808651524746283_n

And, of course, our favourite Christmas song….The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York”:

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