Thursday, November 25, 2010

School's over!

As the title implies, I finished my last class at tafe today! Hooray! Now I have a Certificate 3 in Horticulture (assuming it gets sent to me in the mail) which is very exciting. It means I'm qualified...for stuff. Hmm. It was quite an anti climactic end to the semester. We don't get a 'graduation' or anything. Oh well - I passed and that is all that matters. What am I supposed to do now? There's nothing to procrastinate for! Relax, I suppose.
I do have a job - I've left the fruit shop and got a job at a large production nursery up north a little ways. It's not particularly exciting (I'm a nursery hand on the maintenance team - weeding, pruning, you name it) but I really like it. It's hard labourious work usually in the full sun, but I enjoy a challenge. Never drunk so much water in my life. At the moment I'm doing 2 days per week but I'm almost 100% sure I'll be full time after the little holiday we are going to take. I should find out the major details of that tomorrow :)

Anyway enough of the boring stuff.
My sage is starting to look lovely! Almost as soon as I potted it when I bought it it pretty much died. It just shrivelled away and now it's just suddenly exploded with lovely leaves which smell and taste amazing.

My tomatoes have all got little tomatoes hanging off them now. Some even have 2 or 3! I'm very excited for a tomato. It's been windy lately but none have toppled over yet. Though today I will stake them I think, just in case the wind gets worse. I don't want to lose them before I get to eat them!
Nadine cooked the other night and made this amazing 'Peanutty Pumpkin Stew' from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson. This book wins the prize for being the most used recently! This stew was so good. So so good. She made it with black quinoa as a base but we had leftovers another night and I cooked up some millet grain as the base instead for something different. Both went equally as well with it. It's basically this very spicy satay-y delicious mess of vegetables and chickpeas. Yum. 

I also made a yummy dessert recently but I'll put it in a separate post because otherwise there will be too much on this one. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nadine's birthday food :)

I decided to make a recipe from The Complete Vegetarian Barbecue Book by Susan Geiskopf-Hadler. However, I forgot to buy mushrooms! So I used eggplant instead. And regular white potatoes because there weren't any red potatoes at the farmer's market on Sunday. (The recipe was 'Red Potato and Mushroom Skewers' by the way.)

So I cooked up some pasta (I was hungover and bought like 6 packets of different kinds of pasta for $1 each!) with some homemade basil pesto . This time I used my own homegrown basil and parsley as they are going nuts in this heat right now, and I also used pine nuts as we had some from a recipe we made ages ago. Then I mixed the pesto through the pasta with a little bit of the cooking water and topped with skewers that had the potato, eggplant and some kohl rabi on it. I had marinated the eggplant in some red wine vinegar and soy sauce for about 10 minutes before I made them. The eggplant soaked it up straight away.

The whole combination was rather delicious :)

And of course I had to make a birthday cake! This is a red velvet cake dyed with beetroot pulp and juice, with vegan cream cheese icing. I made a red velvet cake because the last time I attempted one (also Nadine's birthday) I didn't own an electric blender and it turned out an utter failure (I made 4 cakes stirred with a fork! Long story.). And tasted of food colouring. People at the party demolished it though! Ah, alcohol.

The picture came out way darker than it actually is! The cake was really a deep red/purple colour. Our cocoa powder also seems really dark so I used half the amount the recipe called for but it didn't seem to make a difference.

Anyhow it was still a rather good cake (and I really hate chocolate cake). I was going to cut the cake in half and put icing in the middle but the whole thing deflated to about half it's size! I am not sure why. Maybe because the recipe was for muffins. I just doubled it and stuck in a cake tin and baked it for ages. :)

I used this recipe from BitterSweet blog. The icing is just a basic cream cheese icing (¼ cup vegan cream cheese, ¼ cup vegan margarine, 2 cups icing sugar). Delicious but so sweet. I apologise to my teeth. I made double that because I thought I was going to ice the middle, so now we have leftover icing in the fridge. We almost managed a whole piece! Nadine liked it which is the main thing! Don't get me wrong I liked it too, but I'm not going to rush to make another one :)
 We ate it with this coffee substitute my step mum Margaret got us on to. Well she has Caro at home but this stuff was half the price for twice as much and had the same ingredients. It tastes a bit like coffee to me. I really like it, it's something a little bit different.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Custard tarts!!

Oh my god these are amazing. We ate them all in about 2 days flat.
OM NOM NOM. They held together fantabulously.

I happened across the recipe at Heathen Vegan. Oh yum.

I accidentally made twice the amount of custard (I measured up a pint of each milk rather than 1/2!) so I got a couple of extra tarts, and ate a crap load of custard. Mmm. I'll be making these again and again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Vegan on the Cheap'

Bought myself a new cookbook because I felt like it! Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson. It's a great book! It's full of heaps of awesome tips about living cheaply but well. It's very handy :)

Tonight was Nadine's turn to cook so she decided to make 'Dan Dan-Style Linguine' on page 124. Basically a spicy peanut and tahini sauce with mixed veg and crumbled tofu on pasta. Delicious :) Very simple and very filling.

Last night was my turn and I chose something with chickpeas because I'd just cooked up a whole heap. I picked Moroccan Chickpeas and Couscous. I had every ingredient I needed except a can of tomatoes and raisins, but they only set me back about $2. I'm pretty sure I'll be making this, often. Very yummy :)

So the book was a good investment I reckon.

I also splurged on a soy milk maker! I am honestly sick of buying carton after carton at the supermarket (we buy at least 4 a week) and then just chucking the damn thing out. As much as we love our Sanitarium So Good Lite, I love the trees the cartons are made from more.

So today I trialled a batch :) I bought 2 glass bottles from the supermarker to store it all in, in the fridge. was OK. It smelled good, which is a good start. It tastes just fine which is also great. It's a little bit watery but that is easily fixed in the next batch.  However it had a bit of pulp in it, which we could get used to but I'd rather just not have it there.

Trial and error! I am very excited to try to make rice milk. I used to buy it when I went off soy milk for a while, but the commercial brand all have SO MUCH sugar in it (and some even seem to have corn syrup) so I refuse to buy it. But if I make my own plain rice milk, it'll be just fine.

The only thing is, our Santiarium stuff was fortified with B12 and calcium - so we're going to have to up the ante on other aspects of our diet to incorporate it. Lots of brocolli, I think. We haven't eaten that for a while. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I made a couple of recipes from the PPK :)

I stumbled upon this recipe for 'Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes' on the Post Punk Kitchen blog and had to try it. I'm always on the look out for ways to eat tempeh that isn't disgusting. This is definately one of them.
Look how disgusting tempeh looks! It's like congealed set vomit with lumpy bits, and not cooked properly that's kinda what it tastes like. This one was actually the cheapest one in the store - I got it at $4.75 for 125g. I chose it because it had chilli bits in it as you can see, and I thought that'd probably make it taste better again. Another thing wrong with tempeh is that it's so damn expensive. Last time I used a tofu-tempeh mixed block which was a good stepping stone (and cheaper at about the same price for twice as much), this time we were ready for the real stuff.

Man these cake things were good. As you can see from the top picture I served it with steamed mixed veges (carrot, home grown beans, farmer's market white radish, a very sweet yellow squash and some asparagus) and some steamed-then-grilled potatoes. Oh, and a chunk of extremely delicious organic avocado I couldn't resist picking up at the same store I got the tempeh from.
The little patties were very easy to form (I think they would make a good burger pattie or sausage if rolled into the right shape). I made mine smaller than the recipe did because I made 14 instead of 10. We had enough to eat for lunch today :) I also made heaps of the veges and reheated them today as well.

Yum. Pretty sure that I'll be using this recipe quite a bit as I start to be able to afford tempeh a little more often :)
This is another thing I made from the Post Punk Kitchen blog - Chickpea Picatta. It's a very simple dish of chickpeas (duh), garlic, onion, capers and white wine. I was so excited at finding a recipe with chickpeas that WASN'T a curry that I couldn't wait to make it and it didn't dissapoint. Though the greens I chose to serve it on (I bought some chicory at the farmer's market as I'd never had it before) were a little too bitter for the dish it was still really delicious overall. Nadine didn't mind the bitter though. I also decided to serve it on mashed potatoes as the recipe suggests - but since I don't like mashed potatoes I mashed in a parsnip with it, and it worked.

Unless you can find a really cheap vegan white wine to use in this recipe, it's not THAT cheap to make (well, compared to other recipes I make) but we just drank the rest of the bottle with dinner so there was no wastage! Well I had beer, someone else finished all the wine ;)

I cooked up a massive batch of chickpeas (they take so damn LONG) and have frozen the rest to use later. I'm using some tonight as a matter of fact, in a recipe from a cookbook I just bought myself, I am very excited about trying a recipe.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I baked some muffins today! these Carrot Spice Muffins from FatFreeVegan blog. They turned out perfectly! I had heaps of carrots in the fridge to use before they went bad (I bought a 2kg bag at the farmer's markets because we usually use carrots in everything! Haven't used them once. I resorted to taking carrot sticks to work.) Anyway really yummy muffins. Make them. They are tasty AND healthy.

I made this DELICIOUS loaf for dinner tonight. There aint nothing like a good vege loaf. I think I've found my Christmas dinner :) It is Beetloaf by The Stripey Cat. It held together really really well even though I cut it almost as soon as I got it out of the oven. We had it with steamed corn, brocolli, carrots and beans from the garden.

It's a little blurry but the loaf is bright pink and yummy.

And Bob looked too cute today, dozing (literally all day) on the spare bed. :)


Excuse me while I take a break from cleaning my disgusting unit and drink my coffee and tell you how much I love bicarb soda!

It made the top of my stove white again. You know, you spill red sauce on it once and are too lazy to wipe it straight away then weeks later you have an orange baked on mess around every single gas element? Yum!

I tried using un diluted eucalyptus oil first because I didn't really want to scratch off the top of my stove with the bicarb (I don't feel like paying for a replacement when we decide to rent elsewhere) and it worked to an extent. It got most of the actual stains off but it was still a mess so I sprayed the hell out of it with a white vinegar/water/eucalyptus/tea tree oil mix (we use this for general surface cleaning) and sprinkled on liberal amounts of the magical white powder, left it there for about half an hour while I scrubbed the grime off the sink and then came at it with a dish cloth.

Shiny! And not scratched. Good selling point. Not scratched that I can see.

Disclaimer: our house isn't THAT disgusting. Well it's not 'how clean is your house?' feral...but it's getting there (joking! ha). We clean once a week, but within seconds our cats tuft bits of fur all over the place and we are back where we started. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Carribean Curry - Black eyed peas and sweet potato

I have been so broke this week because I spent all my money on Christmas presents (I got in early this year) and a few...quite a lot rather, new things for me! I shouldn't be allowed to spend money. But I now have enough vintage dresses to last me my whole life! Almost.

Anyway very very cheap meals have been on the menu. I don't really ever make expensive meals, this IS a cheap food blog for students such as myself after all, but you really can't get any cheaper than lentils and rice.  Last night I made a dal type thing which was quite yummy, though looked like vomit so I won't post the picture. Only thing is I keep forgetting to put carrot in my cooking, which is annoying because I have almost 2kg in the fridge going soft. I might just make a carrot cake.

Tonight I made this Carribean Curry with black eyed peas and plaintains from Post Punk Kitchen.

Black eyed peas are pretty much my new favourite legume. I don't know what a plaintain is, and I've never seen one so I used sweet potato which I think was suggested as an option. Though if I do see one I'll probably buy it - it does look rather intriguing.

Anyway! This recipe was pretty damn good - fluro yellow, from the curry powder I bought - but very delicious.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fruit of the Month - Tamarillo

Tamarillo! I have had one of these before, ages ago, probably in New Zealand, but I couldn't remember what it tasted like. Though I did remember that I liked it, which was the main thing. (Then again, I remember liking corned beef but I doubt I'll ever pick some up in the supermarket just to recap ;)).
I wasn't sure how to eat it. Do I just bite into it like an apple? Hmm. I eventually decided to just cut it in half and eat it like a kiwifruit.
Yuuuuuuuummmm. I just scopped out the inside bits with a teaspoon and ate it. You just sort of swallow it (lots of seeds) rather than chew. It's a lot like a passionfruit. It even tastes a bit like a passionfruit. The one I bought was still a little bitter, but I don't mind. It's part of the Solanacae family, ie, the same family as tomatoes so it does have a little bit of characteristic tartness.
First I started just eating the seeds then decided to just eat the whole lot. Not sure if the skin is edible but I think it is gathering from just the introduction on this website. If only I could afford more of them! I'd love to try it in muffins. Unfortunately they cost $1.94 each at the moment, and I'm pretty sure I can't justify buying a whole heap. Damn.