Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food update and my first radishes!

I've just started my new job (it isn't very exciting - i'm just a checkout operator at a big fruit and vege shop) and I now literally have no time to do anything.  So I've just been taking pictures of what we've been making. Nadine works a lot too so it's mostly re-runs or easy stuff.

Today I had the day off (yay!) so I made muffins. These muffins in fact. I thought I wouldn't like them because I'm not a big fan of cooked apples, but they were really delicious! I used rolled spelt instead of oats and whizzed them in the blender to try and make meal. It didn't reaaalllly work, but once cooked it added a chewy texture to the muffins. Pretty good :) I served it on this beautiful Japanese china dinner set my mum gave me (it was nana's) but I had coffee in the little teacup and it seemed wrong.
 Spicy beans and olives on pasta swirls...
 I bought a nice eggplant from work because they were really cheap. We made eggplant cutlets (big thick slices fried lightly til soft) with tomato sauce and olives. I made mashed potato and parsnip - amazing. The parsnip managed to make the potatoes coconutty.
My first radishes! I picked the one on the right way too small but the others are alright. They are so much sweeter and more moist than store bought!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Garden update :)

My radishes are powering on! They are almost ready to pull out and eat! Well this one is anyway. All the others seem to be lagging a tiny bit compared. I'm pretty excited. They have had aphids on them (apparently common) so I've just been checking every day and squishing them. Also had a few caterpillars but they weren't doing too much damage. Radishes are such fast growing crops that control is rarely necessary.

They do not transplant well! Those few that I had doubled up on and moved have pretty much had it. They are waaayyy behind all the others.

I've have sown some more radish seeds in a container, one of which has already sprouted, after 3 days! I'll keep sowing them sucessively until I get sick of them I think.
The capsicum seedlings are all doing well - particularly the ones I planted in the old maragarine container. Noticeably. Hmm, who knows why! They are all doing ok though. I of course have way too many (I don't think anyone needs 30 capsicum plants!) but I'll let them go a fair while longer before I start throwing out the weaker ones.

A few I already have to repot - the ones in the cell-pack punnets. Their roots are coming through the hole in the bottom. I'll wait a little longer (maybe a week or so) until I do it though, because that's when I'll have some money to buy more potting mix.

Downside to the potted garden - buying potting mix all the time.
I resuced these banana chillies from a nursery I was doing work experience at. They were practically dead, elongated from being in the cell-pack for too long. Now look! They have flowers all over them and they are giving me nice yellow chillies. Of course the plants are still small so the chillies are also small but that's ok. There will be many of them! I'll need to stake them soon too. They are leaning back a bit too much for my liking.
Most of my tomato seeds sprouted, but most of them went a little rotten. However 5 seedlings were good quality so I've put them into little tubes I had left over from a trip to the nursery. I'm excited for tomatoes - buying them in the shop is so expensive.
My lonely little pea plant...only ONE pea germinated from 9 that were planted. I read the packet and realised I bought a winter pea variety. Dur. It's just too warm. So this one is slowly plodding along - hopefully I gt a few peas.

All my other beans are doing ok - the purple climbing beans only 4 germinated out of 9 which is a pain, but I think that's because the ones that didn't are under the eave of the house and therefore don't get any sun. Also a pain. But the yellow dwarf butter beans are all growing, though I think my stakes will be too short. We shall see. I can always plant more later, they'll probably do better when it's a lot warmer.

Phew...that was an effort. =D I love my gardening. I'm hoping to buy seeds of different vegetables soon - beetroot, eggplant, zucchini. All of which can grow in pots. I've also dried some cucumber seeds from a cucumber I ate. I'll plant them when it gets a tiny bit warmer and see how they go.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another purple risotto!

Rainbow Risotto
Serves 4


1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup vodka
about 5 cups stock, mixed up with 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon of dried basil left to simmer on stove
1 carrot, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
Almost a whole 1/2 red cabbage
Sprinkle of nutritional yeast
1 tsp vegan margarine
Balsamic vinegar and lemon juice to serve


Fry all vegetables except the cabbage in a little bit of oil until just starting to soften. Put in the arborio rice and stir until slightly translucent. Add the vodka, stirring until it's all absorbed. Then continue to add stock until rice is almost cooked. Stir in the cabbage and some more stock and let cook until cabbage is slightly wilted and stock absorbed. If needed continue adding stock until rice is tender.

When done, stir through the vegan margarine and the nutritional yeast.

Serve on a plate with a squeeze of lemon juice and some balsamic vinegar if you like!

This is a great way to use up the last little bits of vegetables in the fridge, but you don't want to make a stir fry. This tasted really fresh and summery. Make it with whatever you have on hand!

For dessert we had this:
Also made to get rid of excess crap in the fridge/freezer. We had one lonely sheet of puff pastry left that was taking up too much room and a little bit of leftover strawberry sauce I made a while ago. I bought a tin of apricots yesterday - they were discounted to $1.50. I put them in the pastry, folded it over into a triangle and brushed it with melted vegan margarine. I even sprinkled sugar on top! (Well I actually use powdered dextrose instead of sugar but it's essentially the same thing. You buy it in the home brew section for about $3 a kilo. It's packed with carbohydrate glucose energy but doesn't have the bad-for-you part of sugar in it...or something like that. Don't quote me.) Anyway, I baked it and served it with strawberry sauce.

I am never making it again! It was delicious but waaayyyy too sweet for my belly. I feel sick now! I much prefer sweet pastries to be was still good though :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mock tuna salad!

This is what some of my lunches have been this week...Mock Tuna Salad from here. I obviously had it with sliced raw's been hot this week here. In there I had: kohl rabi, carrot, cucumber and celery, all from the farmers market. The Mock Tuna Salad was awesome, I'll definately make it again. Texture-wise it was quite tuna-y, but not too much in taste which is good because I always thought tuna was icky. I could have made it more fishy by using more seaweed (I finely chopped up some nori for sushi), but this was fine for me!

Speaking of sushi, this salad would be really good inside it! 

Kohl rabi is amazing by the way. Every week at the market I buy one thing that looks interesting or that I really like. Kohl rabi has always intrigued me but I could never afford it! But this one was only $2.70. I didn't take a photo of it because I forgot. But it was bright purple. It tasted like radish, but without the spicy! Yum.
Nyah to those people who think I MUST be anaemic and calcium deficient purely because I don't eat animal products. This is what I choose to snack on a fair bit. It's may favourite way to eat kale. Very lightly sautee it in vegan margarine until it turns bright green. Grind some black pepper on top. Then eat! This time I added the greens from the kohl rabi. Pretty good - they tasted a lot like regular spinach. I find a lot of people think kale is bitter or tough, I don't think so...I also try not to cook it to death. But that's just me :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lemon thyme polenta with roasted vegetables and brown rice pudding

So I noticed the other day that I wasn't being diligent with dead-heading my little viola flowers I grew from seed in a window-box...and a fair few of the flowers has gone to seed! I have never seen it before so I took a picture. I then picked this open seed pod and planted the seeds in a new pot...I hope they were ready. Judging by the fact that the pod has split open and the seeds are dry and hard, I guess they are ready :P I might put a little step by step how-to of germinating seeds soon...I think it's handy to know. And growing from seeds is so satisfying!
Nadine cooked last night and she whipped up this delicious recipe from Vegan Italiano (lots of nice warm-weather recipes in it). It's Lemon-thyme polenta with roasted vegetables. Amazing. Though the veges took a million years to roast (I think this is because we have a gas oven - I have always had issues with my gas ovens and roasting) the end result was yummy. It's basically polenta cooked with a squeeze of lemon and a spoon of thyme then spread out and set firm. Grill it on both sides til slightly browned and crispy. Serve the roasted veg on top! The veg were marinated in olive brine and balsamic vinegar. Mmm...
And for dessert tonight I made the Brown Rice Pudding from Organically Me. I thought I should make it before the weather got too hot...It was pretty damn good! The almonds provide a nice crunchy contrast to the chewiness of the brown rice. Mmm. I always forget the rice pudding gives me stomach cramps though! And I didn't have any garam masala so I just used allspice instead.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Minestrone with pesto

Minestrone :)

Serves at least 6


1/2 cup of brown/green lentils, soaked for an hour or so in hot water
2.5 cups 'chicken' stock
1 cup red wine
oil for frying (Can use water)
1 large onion, chopped
1 med eggplant, cubed (I don't peel mine but you can if you want)
1 med carrot, chopped
1 big stalk of celery sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
800mL cooked tomatoes (about 2x400g cans or 1x800g can)
3 med potatoes, skin on, cubed smallish
1 med zucchini, chopped
handful fresh green beans, sliced
1/2 cup sprial pasta, or other small shape
Basil pesto for garnish


Fry onion, eggplant, carrot and celery in oil until starting to soften. Add garlic and stir. Add stock, wine, tomatoes, lentils (without soaking water - you can use this to make the stock) and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Put in potatoes, zucchini, pasta and green beans. (I added an extra cup of water here because the liquid had simmered down a bit). Turn heat back up and gently boil for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes, pasta and lentils are cooked. They should be by now!

Serve in bowls with a spoonful of pesto on top to stir in. Add as much as you like - we had quite large dollops. It was delicious!

The wine seems like a bit much at first, but by the end of the cooking time it had mellowed out quite a bit.

This would be good for omnivourous friends/family :) If I were giving it to my family I'd probably replace the eggplant with extra pasta or lentils, or just leave it out, and chop the celery up really tiny. But everybody has different tastes!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mmmm basil pesto...

I've never made pesto before. When I was vegetarian and just moved out of home, I literally lived off jars of Coles Homebrand basil pesto on angelhair pasta. If I splurged and bought fancy pesto I bought 60c homebrand spaghetti!

I made this specifically for an ingredient in dinner tonight. I got a nice big bunch of basil from the farmers market this morning (I'd have taken a picture but I put it in the coldest part of the fridge, unwrapped - mistake, don't ever do that. A couple of hours later when I got it out of the fridge to make the pesto it had started to turn black and go a bit goopy! Oh well, it's still good...just not photo quality.  I'd have made it out of my own homegrown basil but it really sucks at the moment. One little plant is powering on but the others are giving up on life. No sun! Dammit. I will be moving my pots to a sunny spot soon - hopefully no one moves/steals/knocks them over.

Anyway - to the pesto. I based it off a recipe in Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein. I love this book.

Basic basil pesto
Makes almost 2/3 cup

2 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
3 tbsp almonds
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Few sprigs of parsley (I used curly-leaved, but Italian flat leaved would probably be better)
Few stems of garlic chives (my parsley isn't doing fantastically either)
1/4 cup rice bran oil

Put everything but the oil into a food processor and blend. Add the oil and blend until smooth :)

This was pretty good for a first attempt! I can't afford olive oil - I assume it would be much better to use than rice bran. Next time I might add a cup of spinach to it :) I can afford pine nuts even less. But I thought almonds were nice here :) It's not like you can really taste the nuts anyway.
We decided to have some on spaghetti for lunch. We can't resist pesto when we have it!

I fully intend on growing heaps of basil this summer so I can make big batches of it and freeze it into little individual portions to enjoy through winter :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hand made drawstring bag for storage of various items...

I made this drawstring bag out of a hideous old skirt and scraps of red fabric from a pillowcase I made ages ago. I'm trying to use up lots of my scraps :) Mainly because I don't have enough room to store it all! This bag could be used to store said scraps of fabric, knitting needles (I'm sure I've got hundreds of them laying somewhere...), as a pyjama bag...the list goes on. If I'd made it slightly bigger it could be a handy book bag for when I borrow out millions of textbooks from my school library...well, there's still more of that hideous skirt to use so maybe I just will.

I haven't been posting much new food lately because it hasn't been made...I've just been making old staple recipes over again. We've used up our money this week! Lots of lentil stews and the like. Easy stuff that doesn't require me to buy anything!

Next week Nadine is working lots of mornings so she shall be cooking often! I'm looking forward to whatever interesting things she finds/comes up with.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Recycled newspaper seedling pots!

We get hideous amounts of junk mail (granted, most of it is shiny horrible catalogues which you shouldn't use) but there's always a 'newspaper' or news-like catalouge, which are just fine.

You can make little seedling pots out of sheets of newspapers, and then just plant the whole thing right in the ground! It biodegrades quickly and the plants grows up happily. The same thing can be done with toilet rolls which are plentiful. Everyone uses toilet paper.

With the toilet roll pots, I bent over the edges at the bottom to make it a smaller hole, and put in some kitty litter (we put used stuff under the stairs/in garden. It's compostable) for drianage at the bottom before putting in potting mix. Plant you seedling and away you go!

In there is also an empty (washed) container of nuttelex margarine. We may as well use them too...I pounched about 5 holes in the bottom with scissors for drainage. Drainage is very important.

And to think I was thinking about buying up some plastic seedling tubes! Shocker. Ha.

Anyway, the above picture are my cpasicum seedlings that I've pricked out so far. The toilet rolls are in the tupperware container to help them stay upright. I intend on filling up the window box tray with the newspaper pots (also to help them stand up).

The only disadvantage that matters is that you can't just leave it out in the rain...they'd disintegrate way too quickly. So I've just put them under the eaves where the rain doesn't fall, and then I can control the water that goes on them :)

I'm surprised I got such a good success rate with my capsicum seeds, especially considering it was just a regular conventional supermarket capsicum. Hopefully some of them continue on their merry way.

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Spaghetti Puttanesca
Serves 2 (or 3)


1 tsp dried thyme
1 large red onion, chopped
2 med tomatoes, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
dollop of chili sauce
1 tbsp capers in vinegar
100g low fat semi dried tomatoes (the kind you get in water, not oil)
About 1/2 cup of pitted kalamata olives
Splash of red wine

Cooked spaghetti for 2


Lightly fry onion first. Then add everything else and cook while pasta is cooking.


Pretty simple :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bits and pieces...

Spring has sprung and hs brought with it many many little capsicum seedlings...My radishes are powering on and most of my beans have sprouted! It's all very exciting. I sowed some tomato seeds the other day so I'm waiting for them to pop up too. Yay for fresh home grown produce!
Nadine made dinner the other night - Shepards Pie from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. It's a pretty awesome recipe...
Nadine bought me a tea-sub when I was sick...It's a freaking sub marine tea infuser!!!!
Tonight's dinner was this Millet Garden Medley. Pretty delicious and very cheap! Made about 6 large/ 8 regular sized servings. That's like, a whole week!
I also sewed a skirt! From an actual pattern! (Never done that before.) It's pretty good. Fits just right :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Been very uninspired the last few days as I have somehow got a stupid head cold! It's nearly over though, so I'll be able to make actual food again :) Oh, and go to school.

I decided to make some sushi tonight to use up some of the produce in the fridge (it really didn't end up using much at all!!!)
In the rolls are a mix of: organic cucumber from the market, organic carrot from the supermarket, organic avocado, conventional lettuce and spring onion.

The sauce is a mix of: soy sauce, really hot chilli sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds and the chopped white parts of the spring onions.

It was a bit of effort to go into when sick but I really wanted to make them. Unfortunately the avocado is a bit past it...
Today is father's day here in Australia. I decided to make little chocolate thingees :) I may or may not post the recipe, maybe later :) They are rich and delicious, anyway.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Roasted Beetroot Risotto with Strawberry Cashew Thingee

I made a roasted beetroot risotto for dinner from Vegan Italiano. It was really quite good! You gotta love beetroot though, good thing I do :)
For dessert I made a strawberry cashew thing...I was intending to make a raw cheesecake type thing but I didn't put a base on it so I hesitate to call it that :P

Strawberry Cashew Thingee
Makes 2


1/2 cup raw unsalted cashew nuts, soaked in warm water all day or overnight
About 5 large strawberries, washed trimmed and chopped up
3 tbsp coconut oil


Put it all in a blender and whiz whiz whiz until it's as smooth as it will go! This took a little while in my blender. Pour it into mini tart pans (I bought some little tart pans with removeable bottoms as a present for myself a little while ago to make this delicious looking dessert. Which I did and it was divine!) The ones with removeable bottoms are best as it may stick...It shouldn't though. I lined mine with baking paper but I don't think it was really necessary. Put the pans in the coldest part of your fridge and leave to set - mine didn't take long, but I didnt count...I made them a few hours before dinner.

I served it with a strawberry sauce - just chopped up some strawberries and cooked them down until they were mushy. :)

I used very very overripe strawberries - Nadine brought some home cheap from work. They were a little too ripe to eat plain so I decided this would do them justice. I am going to freeze the leftover strawberry sauce to use another time.

Cashew based desserts are so rich and filling, you feel like you are being quite unhhealthy while eating them :) They are quite fattening so eat in moderation...these will be putting me well on my way to a bit of weight gain haha. It's probabaly a good thing I can't afford nuts too often!

Stop wasting those vegetables you forget you had..

What do you do when there's a 1/4 cauliflower starting to go grey on the edges in your fruit drawer?

Make soup!

Cauliflower Soup
Serves 2


1/4 cauliflower, any yucky bits trimmed off and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
small handful of cashew nuts (optional - I just have some)
2 cups chicken stock (I use Massel Chicken Style)
Spoonful of chilli sauce (to taste(
Pepper (to taste)
About 1 tsp each of ground cumin and turmeric
1/2 red capsicum (or whatever colour you like) diced
Handful of frozen peas

Spring onions for garnish


Fry onion, garlic, cashews and cauliflower in a tiny bit of oil until it starts to soften. Add capsicum, spices and a little bit of stock (about 1 cup). Cook for a little while.

Transfer into a blender. Blend until desired consistency is reached.

Put it back into the saucepan and slowly heat back up. Put peas in around here. Add more stock until it gets to desired thickness.

Serve with garlic bread and garnish with spring onion!
Yum :) That's what we did for lunch today. It would work with any vegetable-on-the-way-out really. You can always cook up the vegetable and freeze it, to use later on. It should keep for a few months.

Anyway, we may soon be able to add another kitty to our little family!
(This is Bob)

I am now employed! Granted I don't start work until my school holidays, but that little bit of extra money I'll be earning will be enough to help care for another cat. We just want our Bob to have a friend :)

(Though I caught her beating up the neighbour's kitten the other day. A KITTEN! Mean bitch. :P we will have to introduce them slowly I think.)