Monday, August 30, 2010

A take on Tuscan Beans and Tomatoes

Every single radish seed I planted sprouted! Very exciting. Soon I'll be able to prick them out (I put two in each hole just in case). And then have radishes! I'll have to protect them from birds.
I got some very nice looking rainbow silverbeet (chard) at the Farmer's market this Sunday. Funny how I can drag myself out of bed at 6am on a Sunday but struggle to wake up to go to school? It wasn't on my list, but the bright colours made me buy it! Rainbow silverbeet is very very awkward to carry while riding a bike. I ended up putting it in my front basket on top of potatoes and beetroot and tying it down with the chain lock! It didn't come out nor was it damaged in any way :)

Tonight for dinner I made a sort of beans and tomatoes thing from Vegan Italiano. I was originally going to follow the recipe exactly but this morning we were hung over (lots of gin last night! date day!) so we decided to buy some vegan sausages and have a fry up. So I put the leftover sausage in dinner tonight so they didn't go to waste.

Italian style beans and tomatoes with polenta
Serves 4


About 1 1/2  cups of dried white beans, cannellini beans, cooked
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 vegan sausages of choice, sliced thinly
3 cups cooked tomatoes (about 1 800g can)
1 cup weak chicken stock (I use Massel Chicken Style)
3 large leaves and stems of silverbeet, stems sliced thinly and leaves torn
1 tbsp ground dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup polenta*
1L water/weak stock
1 tsp vegan margarine
pinch nutritional yeast


Fry garlic, silverbeet stem slices and sausage slices in a bit of oil until sausage is browned on both sides.

Add beans, tomatoes, stock and sage. Stir to combine. Let cook for a while.

When it's near to serving time, bring a medium saucepan with 1L of water/stock in it to boil. Slowly whisk in polenta until it's thick and creamy looking. When cooked stir in margarine and nutritional yeast.

Add the silverbeet leaves and cook until wilted.

This was quite delicious. And would have been cheap if I didn't use sausages!

*1 cup of polenta to 4 cups water works better. I just didn't have enough left and tried to make it stretch - it turned out quite thin so it was soupy. Which is OK if that's what you want :) Also it only made enough polenta for 3.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Slowly cooked red cabbage with apple and celery

Huge half red cabbage I got at the farmer's market last Sunday I needed to use so I can fill up my fridge with new stuff tomorrow morning!

I adjusted this recipe to fit me :) I basically halved it and cooked it on stovetop instead of broiling it. It was supposed to serve two, but it ended up being a heap more :)

Slowly cooked red cabbage with apple and celery
Serves 4 with grain base or 6 by itself


500g red cabbage, shredded
2 small apples, cubed (leave the skin on; I used pink lady cuz that was in the fridge)
250g thinly sliced onions
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sticks celery, finely sliced
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
I tsp whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tbsp wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Chunk of vegan margarine
Salt, pepper to taste
Prepare all vegetables and chuck into large stock pot with the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and put a splash of water in. Put stock pot on the smallest element on your stove and turn it on to a low heat. Cover and cook for about 1.5 hours. Stir every now and again to make sure it's not sticking. It shouldn't.

Serve on top of rice, would also be good by itself or on pasta or noodles or something.
A delicious purple mess!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Buckwheat spirals with kale and dandelion greens

At the farmers market last Sunday I also got some Kale and dandelion greens. I thought the dandelion greens were beetroot greens, but the guy told me what they were so I had to buy them anyway. He said people who like flavour use them as a bitter ingredient in salad :) I don't like salad very much so I went online to (awesome website - you type in what you have in your pantry and it comes up with things you can make, it's a good way to stay on budget) and searched. The first thing that came up was this from the Martha Stewart website so I decided to change it (as I do) to make it vegan.
Mmm healthy. Haha no really, I really like kale. Tonight was the first time I ate it cooked - I've only had it in raw juices. It adds a nice flavour to fresh granny smith apple juice. :) Try it.

Buckwheat spirals with kale and dandelion greens
Serves 2


5 cloves garlic, crushed (I grate mine)
1 cup stock (I use Massel Chicken Style)
300g roughly chopped kale and dandelion greens (I had about half an half)
Handful of frozen peas
2 cubes frozen spinach (because more green is always a good thing!)
Tofu 'ricotta' (I made one recipe worth of the one in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch but you can use whatever one you like)
Pasta for 2


1. Bring garlic and stock to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for a little while.

2. Add all the green and cook until it's all wilted down. I can't remember how long it took - kale takes longer so you can put them in separately if you like.

3. Cook the pasta.

4. Meanwhile add tofu ricotta in little bits (couple of tablespoons at a time) until it looks like what you like. I added about 6 tablespoons worth. It won't go creamy though. (Unless maybe if you use silken tofu to make the ricotta...I used extra hard 'I'm a brick' tofu which didn't exactly have the consistency I wanted...)

5. Stir cooked pasta into sauce and serve at once :)
It doesn't look very nice in the picture but it was! We've been eating loads of beans and lentils lately so I thought it'd be a nice lighter change.

I chose buckwheat noodles because I was curious about what they were like. They were pretty good - a little grainy in texture though, but fine.

We washed it down with a hot cocoa made with almond and soy milk :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pumpkin, Potato and Kidney Bean Stew

I got this potato from the farmers markets. It was called a red-something...only $3 a kilo! I was hoping it would be red inside (I've seen purple ones in seed catalogues) but unfortunately it was white. It tasted like a regular potato but with an earthier skin (I never peel mine).

So I decided to put it in a stew - I adapted this recipe, and changed most of it to suit me, I think.

Pumpkin, Potato and Kidney Bean Stew
Serves 8 with grain base or 10 without


4 cups cooked kidney beans (about 2 cups dried)
1 cup stock (I used Massel Chicken Style)
Oil for frying
4 cups roughly diced onion
4 cups mixed diced: pumpkin, sweet potato, regular potato
1 cup chopped carrot (about 2 medium)
1 chopped jalapeno chili*
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 cups cooked tomatoes (about 1 800g can)


1. Put some oil in a large stock pot and add onions, carrot, chilli and pumpkin/potatoes until onion starts to soften - about ten minutes.
2. Add beans to this mixture. Add sage, thyme, and paprika and then tomatoes and some of the stock. Add more later if it starts to dry out a little. Stir well and bring to a boil.
3. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
*It could have done with 2 or more!
I served ours with a mixture of unpearled barley and brown rice. I did 2 parts rice to one part barley.

It also would have a little tastier with just sweet potato or pumpkin - or a few extra herbs. I also forgot to put pepper in.
Unpearled barley is whole barley. It takes a LONG time to cook (about 1.5 hours) but I think it's worth it. I cook in the same way as dried beans: Put barley and water to cover in saucepan, bring to boil. Turn off heat and let stand for a few hours (at least 1). Drain barley and put new water in. Bring to boil again then turn down and simmer until tender (this really does take about 1.5 hours - maybe 2!). I just like making life difficult for myself :) It took a few forkfuls to get used to - just remember to chew it well, and not breathe in the husk. We really like the taste and texture, actually. I love regular pearled barley but this adds a little more.

I'm actually trying to gain some weight (only 4-5kg or so) and I figure I should eat more carbs than I burn. Unpearled barley, brown rice, lots of bread etc. They are cheaper for me to buy than good fats such as avocado, peanut butter, other nuts. 1kg of this unpearled barley only cost me $2.60! I'll still be eating my nuts etc occasionally when I can afford it too though.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vege Patch

I am a very good procrastinator. I have a research project due tomorrow morning and what am I doing? Updating my blog.

I had already planned to plant some beans, peas and radishes yesterday, but not only did I do that, I re did my entire patch!

It doesn't look like much now, but it will soon :) I live in a block of units so I've made do with a tiny little patch of dirt that I've made a little bigger by pulling out some grass. I wonder if I'm allowed to do that? Oh well.

I relocated almost all of my plants that were already there except the cauliflower (center back) it's growing very very slowly because it hasn't had much sun this winter. The sun is moving across now though and in spring/summer it will be full sun. I don't think they'll ever cauli-flower though, but I'll give it until they die :)

I've got lots of little chilli plants that I'm trying to rejuvenate, a few basils (which aren't very nice at the moment :( ) various other herbs in pots and some flowers. I've planted purple king climbing beans at the back on the tall teepee (left) and soy beans on the other side. I'm not sure if they climb. Peas in front of the soy beans and butter beans in front of the purple :) And I planted some radish seeds in the very front. Apparently they are very simple to grow and can be grown all year round - why then are they so expensive to buy in the shop?

Anyway Bob (our cat) decided she would like to dig a hole right in the middle of it just after I took this photo. GARgahghdajfeni. Luckily she didn't dig up any seeds...besides, who could stay mad at this?
Or this?
Or this??
I can't :) I may have to put up some chicken-wire though...I would like some beans peas and radishes, personally :) We also have bush turkey problems too...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eggplant Cacciatore

I decided to get up at the crack of dawn (actually it was still dark) to ride my bicycle to the local organic farmer's market which I only just found out about...yesterday. It was a lovely bike ride (I left once the sun had come up) I saw 2 ducks and their ducklings (no picture cuz I didn't take a Sunday I definately am) it was FREEZING and riding through the slight breeze made my ears ache - next time I'm wrapping a scarf around my head. But it certainly woke me up!

Anyway, I got this nice little eggplant and some other goodies (including dandelion greens - not much of an idea of what to do with them other than salad!) and so decided to make Eggplant Cacciatore tonight for tea.
This is adapted from a recipe in Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein.

Eggplant Cacciatore

1 med eggplant diced (you can peel if you want, I don't)
1 large onion diced
3 or more cloves garlic, chopped
1 green capsicum, chopped (or red, or yellow)
1/2 recipe of this marinara sauce from OrganicallyMe*
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
Handful of kalamata olives
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cooked pasta of choice (I used spaghetti)

Make the marinara sauce (or you could use pre made - I hate when recipe books call for pre packaged ingredients!)

In another pot (large stockpot) lightly fry onion, garlic and capsicum on med-low heat. Add the eggplant and herbs and cook for a few minutes until eggplant starts to soften a little. Stir in sauce and let simmer until eggplant is tender.

Serve over pasta!

It's quite tasty and pretty easy to make. You don't really have to pay much attention to it while it's cooking, unless the water boils out and it burns!

We had ours with Oxford Landing Shiraz - a nice, easy to drink vegan wine that is very, very cheap at $6 a bottle! The company who makes/owns this is in the process of changing most, if not all, their wines to vegan friendly. Very excited :)

 *With the marinara sauce, I used tomatoes that I had cooked a while ago and froze. I just eyeballed the amount - I figured it to look like one can of tomatoes would look like! I also left out the onion because there was already one in the other part of the recipe.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quick, cheap and easy dinner

Quick spaghetti, peas and spinach - Serves 2

1 cup frozen green peas
About 2 cups baby spinach
1/4 red onion
5 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1 tsp hot chilli sauce (or 1 fresh chilli)
Sprinkling of thyme
Rice bran oil/olive brine/water/whatever you like to fry things in

Spaghetti for 2

While Spaghetti is boiling, fry up onion and garlic. Once it's softened a little add in the peas, chilli sauce, and spinach. Cook on low until pasta is ready.

Serve up and eat!

This is good when in a hurry - say if you have a lot of studying to do and can't waste time cooking up gourmet meals. Though usually when I have an assignment to do I find the hardest, most time consuming recipe to cook. Ha.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Macaroni Cheese, Tamale pie, red curry

Recipe from FatFreeVegan kitchen blog. I have tried other nutritional yeast based 'cheese' sauces and been dissapointed. This one, however, was exactly what I wanted :) I added some mushrooms, used fresh onion and garlic, and added some thin slices of vegan sausage. I also baked it in the oven, because that's what grandad used to do. I could eat this all day.
Tamale pie from Easy Vegan Cooking by Leah Leneman. We will be making this if ever we have company :) it's really delicious and easy to eat. Basically your favourite bean chilli recipe in a polenta pie. Mmm polenta. 
I made a thai red curry from the Organically me blog. I made twice the amount so we could have leftovers, used cauliflower instead of eggplant because that's what I had in the fridge. Adding the lime juice and zest was really different (I don't normally do that) and overall it was a very delicious and cheap to make. I had tofu in the freezer so I used that - I've never used it frozen before and the experience was quite odd - in a good way. It was kind of spongy and chewy.

I made a split pea and cauliflower soup for tea tonight but I forgot to take a picture :( It kind of looked like vomit anyway! But tasty :) I've never cooked split peas before.

Riding a bike is terrifying on the road. I took it for a practise run today. Just got to remember to look beore going around parked cars! My bum bones hurt (it has been years since I rode a bike properly! I did a day bike tour in Europe last year but that was different :P) but I'll get used to it. There isn't much suspension in a bike from yesteryear :D

Monday, August 16, 2010

I finally got a push bike!

This means I'll be driving my car about 40km less each week, paying less for petrol, and doing less damage to the environment!

And I get a super awesome bike to do it all in!

I hope my legs hold up.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pumpkin and Spinach Ravioli with tomato sauce

So yesterday I got in the mood to spend hours slaving over hand made pasta (ie: I was procrastinating hardcore). This is another dish that seems to dominate the vegetarian option(s) on restaurant menus. However for some reason it's generally served with a thick heavy cream sauce PLUS truckloads of cheese grated on top and I could never finish the whole thing without feeling as big as a house.

Pumpkin and Spinach Ravioli
Serves 5

For the pasta:
I used Bryanna Clark Grogans homemade pasta recipe. I made one batch. (I couldn't find the actual recipe - printed it yonks ago)

For the stuffing:
About 1/4 medium sized organic pumpkin
1 packet frozen spinach (125g)

Defrost spinach. Steam pumpkin. Squeeze some of the water out of the spinach (I used this as the water in the pasta) and drain pumpkin. Mash together and set aside.

For the sauce:
About 1kg fresh tomatoes
Whole garlic, chopped
Mixed herbs to taste
Splash of red wine

I've started to make my own 'tin' tomatoes to save on packaging. I also know it's just tomatoes - no salt, sugar, acid anything. Just tomatoes. I chop them all up and simmer them down for an hour or so, let cool, and freeze.

Just fry the garlic and chilli then mix everything else in. Leave it to simmer for a good while - at least half an hour but longer is better.
My mum got me a pasta roller and ravioli mold (mould?) for christmas last year so it made it reallllllyy easy to make. That's why they're all exactly the same size, etc. I just made up each batch of ravioli and put them on a floured baking tray to go into the freezer. They keep for a few months in an airtight container, but they never actually last that long in my house. It's a really great meal to have on hand for when there's no time to make dinner. They take minutes to cook, and I've usually got tomato sauce in the freezer too. If not it's not hard to make. They are also good to feed omnivorous friends and family.

I think 12 ravioli is adequate for one person. Mine measure 1.5 inches across.
This is the best ravioli I've made so far :) We think it's because I took my sweet time making them (I had no one coming for dinner, no time limits or anything. If you make them for company, maybe make it the day before or something.) Though my kitchen bench is tiny and I had barely enough room to move, it's still a quite relaxing experience making them. You can fly off with the fairies if you feel like it :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chilli bean (no)quesadillas with salad

Ever since I got my sandwich press I've been trying to think of delicious things to squash in it. I wanted it in the first place because a favourite snack of mine was a baked bean-and-cheese toasted sandwich...of course I don't eat cheese any more so it's been kind of hard to think of things, because melting is the fun part! haha.

Anyway, we have thought of heaps since then, and this is one of them. I did splurge and buy some vegan cheese which I'd read had excellent melting ability (important). I rarely ever buy vegan cheese (tofutti better than cream cheese is an exception because it really is better than cream cheese) one, because of the hideous expensiveness, and two, because before I was vegan, I was a huge cheese eater (I worked in a gourmet Italian delicatessen for over a year before I couldn't stand it any more - we got to eat the cheese and olives [and meat ugh] for free so we could tell the customer what it was like. I just made stuff up about the meat) and imitation cheese just does not cut it. Not here in Australia anyway, our choices are rather limited. (I'm very curious about this wonder daiya from the US - maybe Australia will import a million years).
Cheezly super melting edam style is what I decided on. I've had other cheezly before and it was really quite yuck. I can't remember which one it was. This one was fine - it actually melted, and the taste wasn't offensive. I wouldn't say it tasted anything like real edam cheese, but what can you expect? Haha.

I also bought some sour cream - it's chilli, you gotta have sour cream! ...I knew I should have got the Tofutti brand one. I've had that before and it's divine. This one? Tasted like yoghurt. Sweet sweet yoghurt. It's supposed to be sour! Oh well - plus side, it's relatively cheap, and I read the ingredients and it has probiotic cultures in it so I'm going to try and use it as a starter for the soy yoghurt I want to make myself. Commercial stuff is way too sweet to be healthy. The sugar probabaly kills the cultures. And vegan starter culture is impossible to find here. I was going to ask my favourite vegan store (just opened up the road, hooray!) to order some in, but I'll try this first.

Anyhow, the food.

I made up a bean chilli recipe from the Oxfam cookbook (pretty much the same as any other Mexican bean chili recipe - beans, tomatoes, cumin, chilli peppers, onion, capsicum, garlic).
Yum. ALWAYS a good fallback if I can't think of anything to cook. Or if you feel like you're getting a cold.

The recipe said to mash half the cooked beans and stir them into the chilli mixture, but I kept them seperate and just mixed in the whole beans. The mashed ones I spread (or tried to, they were dry - next time I'll mash with some water) onto some round multigrain wraps (make sure yours are vegan. Many of them use glycerine as a humectant and rarely specifys which kind), grated some of the cheezly edam on top and folded it over and squished in the sandwich press. The cheezly melted, but it would have worked better if the bean mush was hot when I grated it on. (I made this in stages through the day).
I served the (no)quesadillas with some of the chilli on top, with a dollop of yoghurt sour cream and a side salad with: nasturtium, spinach, yellow capsicum, red onion, kalamata olives, green beans, sunflower seeds, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. There was avocado but I forgot to put mine on!

This was a very satisfying meal to make. The cheezly was a treat. I doubt I'll buy anymore until I have a full time well paying job. Hur, hur.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Roast Pumpkin and White Bean Vegetable soup

This is the delicious pumpkin I bought the other day! I've never seen a pumpkin so orange. It smelled really good too. I'm going to be so sick of pumpkin by the end of it. Haha so worth it.

Roast Pumpkin and White Bean Vegetable Soup
4 small serves

¼ medium sized organic pumpkin
1 med-large onion
1 small head garlic
1-2 tbsp rice bran oil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ cup uncooked navy beans (soaked overnight in cold water, or quick boiled and soaked for 1 hour)
½ red capsicum
½ small head brocolli
½ small head cauliflower
2 yellow squash
500ml ‘chicken’ stock (or vegetable broth, or water)
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground sage
freshly ground black pepper


Cook beans. Leave in the water until they are required.
Cut pumpkin into equal sized chunks. Leave the skin on if you want, I did. Put the chunks into a bowl with the oil and oregano. Toss until well coated. Arrange chunks on a baking tray. Put whole garlic (I took some skin off and trimmed the top) and whole peeled and trimmed onion in leftover oil in bowl and coat. Wrap them in tin foil and put on the tray with pumpkin. Roast at 180 degrees C (350 F) for one hour.

Once cooked, let cool for a little while and then put it all in a food processor (minus the skins). Blend until smooth and transfer it to a large saucepan.

Chop the capsicum, brocolli, cauliflower and squash into small chunks. Blend until mostly smooth and add to pumpkin mix in saucepan.

Make 500ml chicken stock out of the bean’s cooking water (no waste!) and put the beans in with the pumpkin. Add spices and turn element to medium heat. Add enough stock to get the consistency you want. I used pretty much all 500ml and it was pasta-sauce thick.

Serve with garlic bread!
This soup was quite sweet but so yummy. I'm thinking next time I make it I may roast all the vegetables. The extra veg was sort of an after thought when I looked in the fridge and saw it was about to go bad. I managed to get the seasoning perfect first time and you can pretty much taste each individual vegetable without it being too much. Tomorrow lunch we are going to have leftovers as a pasta sauce. Very excited :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A few new dishes we have had this week

Sweet potato arancini (modified from a Women's weekly magazine recipe) and side salad of baby spinach, mixed olives, nasturtium flowers and leave with balsamic vinegar. Nasturtium leaves and flowers are my new discovery. I love them. My neighbour's nasturtium is running everywhere...and through my fence. Score. I may steal a few plants from school and put them in my garden and see if they grow. I have not much sun :(

Vegetable Biriyani (South Africa) from the Oxfam Shop Vegetarian Cookbook. Hearty, comforting, delicious, cheap.

I also made some Almond-Quinoa muffins from Veganomicon but the pictures sucked. But they are my new favourite muffins. I used leftover almond meal from making milk, dried a bit in the oven for about half an hour.

I've found a new love in chia seeds.

I bought a whole organic pumpkin and I'm going to cook up a storm with it this week. I am very excited :)