Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tom Yum Soup, Fresh Rice Paper Rolls, and Vegan Panna Cotta!

I was home alone today since Nadine had to work (sadface) but it gave me the opportunity to spend all day pottering about in the kitchen!

I found a stalk of lemongrass in the fridge that I harvested last week sometime and I can't remember why, so I decided another Tom Yum Soup would be on the menu. This time I used some of that Vegetarian Oyster Sauce instead of soy sauce, to give it a 'fishy' taste. I couldn't taste any notable difference! (That oyster sauce, by the way, has over 1000mg of sodium per 15mL serve. I don't think I'll rush to buy it again!What it lacks in sugar it makes up with salt.)

In the morning I made up a couple of fresh rice paper rolls to go with it. Inside are: bean thread noodles, fried tofu, shredded purple cabbage and finely sliced carrot. Served with a mix of peanut butter and soy suace. I meant to put sesame oil in the sauce but I forgot about it :(
I was flicking through the Concious Cook to find something for dessert and the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Orange Sauce jumped out at me and screamed 'MAKE ME MAKE ME'. So I did.
Before the sauce. Do you like my pretty plate? It's part of a vintage tea set from Czechoslovakia. I rescued it from Nadine's mum's giant chest of antiques she was getting rid of. I was going to sell it to the Antique center because I really don't have room...but it's so pretty I'm going to keep it.
Oh man. So delicious. The recipe made 6 serves so there's more for the next couple of days! The sauce is amazing - a plain caramel would be better with the vanilla, but I just made what was in the book. It's orange juice and zest, brown sugar and a bit of whiskey. Yum. I was supposed to strain it but I like chunky sauces (and soups, and gravies). The panna cotta itself is basically a cashew cream set with agar agar. It's a little tiem consuming to make (like most of the recipes I've tried in this book) but is completely worth it.
This is how we celebrated the Royal Wedding (which I totally watched. Shame!) Classy, no? Hello Kitty jammies, a hideous Marilyn Manson shirt and two bottles of red wine. I actually enjoyed the wedding very much, I thought it was lovely and romantic. Hahaha. I couldn't make it to the famous balcony pash because before that the stupid announcers started doing the 'fashion judging' which I can't freakin stand. And I thought they were very mean to Beatrice and Eugenie Ferguson.
We ended up taking poor Bob to the vet :( She had a very high temperature and hadn't eaten anything for days. The vet said she probably got into a fight with another cat (no surprise there!) and had an infection, so she gave her an antibiotic shot. We opted for the shot even though it cost more, because we value our arms and faces, and it lasts for two weeks and is less painful for everybody involved! Anyway, she perked right up within hours and has been running around and chowing down on her food and even went visiting with the neighbours! Hooray :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Enchiladas + Lentil Loaf

We have been very busy doing nothing. On Sunday I made a big pot of chili (black bean and kidney bean and quinoa) and we've been eating that. Last night we turned it into a sort of enchilada thing:
We wrapped the chili mix up in flat bread things, topped it with tomato sauce/salsa (tin tomatoes, garlic, olives, onion, sliced fresh jalapeno) and grated a little bit of Cheezly cheddar on top with a heaping of nutritional yeast.

It tasted like pizza. Mmm. Cheezly white cheddar style is quite good.
Tonight Nadine made dinner: a Lentil and tofu loaf from Easy Vegan Cooking by Leah Leneman, with roasted potatoes and chunky mushroom gravy from Vegan on the Cheap. I steamed up some edamame to put on the side for something green on the plate. The loaf was pretty damn good (ingredients: red lentils, onion, tahini, miso paste).

(I've been slack in adding up serving prices! I really haven't bought much.)

Mum got me a new digital camera for my birthday! I've been playing with it. It's a sony Cybershot 14.1 mega pixel. I went and bought it myself - Myer had them really, really cheap. Really cheap.
Blurry Bob. Bob wasn't feeling well for a few days and enjoyed lots of scracthes. :) She usually stalks off or glares at the mention of a cuddle!
And grumpy Charlee doesn't like being picked up. Heh heh.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Fettucine with tomato-garlic-olive sauce, Cheezly white cheddar and a basil leaf fresh from the garden.
Just a simple olive and tomato sauce on pasta for dinner these past few nights. I was going to make up some pumpkin gnocchi today to have with it instead of fettucine again but I couldn't be bothered! It shall have to wait until tomorrow - but this was the last of the sauce so I'll make and freeze it for another time!

Anyway, it turns out dad may be able to fix my poor little overheating car tomorrow evening, and today rang around Super Cheap Autos and the like to see if they were open and had any thermostats suitable for my car. And strangely enough the one up the road from my house was open and had what I needed so I jumped on a bike (Nadine's, because my tires were flat) and raced to the store before they closed! A bit of an unexpected cardio workout. It's only a 6 km round trip but the speed coupled with the fact that Nadine is short and her bike seat is very low, the fronts of my thighs burned!

I didn't die though. :)

I had already gone for a walk this morning (up and down our nice little hilly area) to test out my new shoes, and they are lovely! I say it's worth spending a little extra to get good shoes. I wore my last pair twice before they stretched and became too loose for me to even walk in comfortably. These ones are bouncy and hug my feet. Yay! (By the way, I got them at a marked-down price at A Mart All Sports. They are an Adidas womens running shoe - all synthetic materials!)

Tomorrow Nadine and I start training together. This is a terrifying thought. I am a very solitary person and while I love Nadine very much I hate exercising with other people! Ugh. Last time we attempted it I got so cranky we ended up having a silly fight! Oh well - time to toughen up I reckon, considering we'll be stuck exercising together for 21.1km!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Simple but tasty

The last week or so we've been subsiding on leftovers, and reruns.
Last week we went to the Brisbane Queer Film Festival which is in New Farm, and on the way back we got off the bus in Chinatown, where there are about 5 Asian markets, so I went exploring! I got some noodles for super-cheap, the above vegetarian oyster sauce (of which they had a million options, we just chose the one with the least sugar), some edamame, and some frozen red bean buns!

(We've already eaten all the buns!)

I made a stir fry with the vege oyster sauce tonight. I remember my mum used to make a yummy stir fry (chicken) with vegetables and (fish) oyster sauce, so it's kind of a comfort taste. The sauce I bought tastes pretty good (I can't actually remember what actual oyster sauce tastes like) and it made a nice, simple, homey stir fry.

In other news, my car is trapped at my mums house on the Gold Coast (keeps overheating!) so it'll be getting fixed on Wednesday. Of course it had to happen on the longest weekend in history. Oh well. At least it'll be done, and I won't have to pull over and fill the radiator up with water every ten minutes!

It's times like these I really wish I COULD just rely on my bicycle to get me around. But everything is so damn far away from each other.

Anyway speaking of the Gold Coast, this year we are doing the GC Half Marathon! Pretty excited. It's given me a reason to get up early in the morning and go for a good walk. I know the benefits of this early morning exercise - my legs cramp up much much less at work and I have more energy. But I'm lazy, so at least this is sort of forcing me out of bed in the dark.

Wish me luck. I am determined to love cardio.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Homemade Tofu Failure :(

I bought myself a few kitchen goodies for my birthday (asking mum to get me a tofu press would be just weird!!) I'm all about using less packaging in our household, so homemade tofu is a great idea! (And in theory would save money, and trips to the shop...which is only across the road, but I'm very lazy.)

This is the second time I tried to make it. For some reason there's hardly anything! I don't know what I did wrong. I followed the directions on the coagulator packet to the letter! Oh well, trial and error. It's not as bad as the first one. I managed somehow to pour my entire mixture down the sink before I could even begin to press! Duh. Good thing I bought two lots of the coagulator!

This one tastes like tofu, it's a little crumbly, but solid.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

And again.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hot Cross Buns recipe and a little catchup on some mending

So I took another sick day at work. Hopefully I have enough hours to get paid for it! Anyway, I ended up making a lovely spicy chickpea dish from Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion called 'Chickpea and Tomato Curry' for dinner last night. I won't post the recipe because I followed it pretty much exactly, but it was basically chickpeas, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger and a delicious spice mix made from whole peppercorns, cardamom, garam masala, cinnamon, chilli powder and tumeric. So good, yet simple and fairly quick to make (if you don't count the hours it takes to cook dried chickpeas!)
I had just a small bit which took me ages to eat, with some brown rice. For some reason 2/3 cup uncooked rice made enough for 3! I usually do 1/2 cup each. Odd. We figured out I had a light fever so I opted then to stay home from work today whether I felt fine or not.
So in order not to waste my day, I randomly decided to start my mending! (I have a huge list). The first thing I picked up was my favourite winter hat (I don't know what it's made from; I got it years ago from a friend). As you can see it has a tear? what would you call that? that needs fixing. It's been like that since I got it, pretty sure.
So I got out a crochet hook and fixed it! You can hardly tell, no? Since it's getting cooler now I should really start crocheting things again. I haven't done any for ages and I do enjoy it. I still have a half finished bolero I was making for Nadine about 3 years ago!
On to the Hot Cross Buns! As you can see, the crosses melted into the bread. Oh well. But anyway they turned out really soft! I was quite surprised.  I made a half batch so only 8, but I've been sitting around all day in my fat pants (so comfy) eating toast and these buns with heaps of margarine, so for next week I'll make at least double.

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 8


1 sachet of instant dried yeast
1/6 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup warm soy milk
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups plain wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
heaping tbsp vegan margarine
1/2 cup currants
1 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 1/4 cup of water

1 tbsp caster sugar and 1/4 cup water for the glaze


Mix together all dry ingredients. Add margarine and rub in with fingers. Stir through chia goo and slowly add in warm milk/water until a soft dough is formed.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until dough comes back when pressed.

Put into an oiled bowl in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.*

knoack back dough gently and divide into 8 even balls, and set out on a baking tray. (I used my pizza pan.) Let stand in a warm place until double again (doesn't matter if they touch). Turn oven to 200 degrees Celcius.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until buns sound hollow when tapped.

Make a glaze by boiling the sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Brush onto warm/hot buns.

Eat when cooled down a little!
I, of course, had a few when they were fresh from the oven, but today I toasted them under the grill.

They were sweet and a little sticky from the glaze, just like they should be. I didn't bother with buying any fruit peel because I never use it all. I only just through out the rest of the bag from last year! I won't bother with the crosses next time, maybe. They worked last year (I did it differently) but maybe I just can't be bothered. Ha.

*I turn on my oven for a few seconds then turn it off. Perfect breeding ground for yeast!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brown 'Rice' Sushi and Zucchini Noodles with Almond-Coconut Sauce - Raw

On my birthday, I dragged Nadine to Mrs Flannery's and bought piles and piles of grains and dried beans. Yes, that is my idea of fun. One of the grains I got is whole oat groats - I've been wanting to make oat milk to see what it's like, and I just assume you make it the same way you do brown rice milk.

Anyway I got lots (I love bulk - so cheap!), and I always look at this recipe from Addicted to Veggies, just waiting for a time when I could be bothered making it. (I often keep recipes bookmarked for aaaggges before I finally get around to it). And, I took so long to make it because the idea of eating grains that weren't actually cooked seemed odd to me.

I had a day off work Monday (present to myself haha) so I decided to make it then!
Oooh and it turned out so so good. I put the oat groats in to soak on Sunday night so I could prep it all during the day. I really hate being rushed when sushi rolling is involved! I made half the recipe, in case I didn't like it and because I didn't have quite enough oats to make a full recipe and milk later on.
I had to make a few substitutions:

In the brown 'rice' seasoning - I used sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds, and I used my mortar and pestle to grind everything. It took a little while but it's worth it.

And in the making of sushi rice I used soy sauce instead of coconut aminos or nama shoyu.

I could have just eaten the oats as they were then! Yum. They turn out quite chewy. It's very different, but also very good.

In my sushi filling I had avocado, carrot, red capsicum and garlic chives from my garden.
I had to make something to go on the side, so I had a look around and found this recipe for Spicy Thai Almond-Coconut Sauce. (Scroll down, I think it's the second recipe). So I made some zucchini noodles by peeling and peeling a zucchini until I couldn't peel any more (I want a spiraliser), tossed them with the sauce and some baby spinach, the rest of the zucchini cubed, and the leftover bits of red capsicum that didn't fit in the sushi. I also used lemon juice instead because I didn't want to buy a lime, but I sprinkled some lime zest I had frozen on top to make it limey. Yum. (Good thrifty tip I learned from Vegan on the Cheap).

Extremely good, except for one thing - I used coconut oil instead of coconut butter, not wanting to go and buy butter just for one recipe. I should have, well, not. Next time I make it, if I do, I'm going to skip the oil and used some dessicated coconut instead. It made me feel so sick! I woke up nauseous, went to work and had to come home because I still felt nauseous (I couldn't eat even half my breakfast and the mere thought of eating my morning tea at work made me want to be ill).

But on the motorway on my way home, when I saw one of those 'cage' trucks carrying cows off to whereever they go and burst into tears, I realised the nausea was probably a little more to do with certain lady troubles than just too much coconut oil!

Anyway, I'm glad I've finally had a go at raw 'cooking', especially since eating more raw foods was one of my resolutions! I've done pretty well this year so far. Why make a boring salad when you can make raw sushi out of oats!?

Anyway, I've just finished baking a trial batch of hot cross buns and, wow, they smell amazing. I made some last year which turned out kind of brick-like, so I hope these are nicer. If they worked I'll post my recipe, and make another batch for actual Easter that's coming up soon! I'm not religious, but I do enjoy making holiday food. Mince pies are on my list for Christmas this year, in lieu of my usual trifle! Actually that trifle is so delicious I may have to make both.

Tonight I'm cooking up a big pot of something spicy, and chickpea-y and oil-free to try and make the nausea go away. I've tried sleeping it off, drinking ginger tea and eating marmite toast but it's still there. Ah well. Hopefully I make it to work tomorrow, I don't have that many sick hours clocked up, and getting paid is kind of important to be able to eat.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lentil and Chestnut Soup

When I saw a packet of fresh chestnuts at a fruit shop last week for half the price as usual, I had to buy some. I have never ever eaten a chestnut before! I have always wanted to. I looked up instructions on the web for how to roast chestnuts, and most instructions were pretty much the same - cut an x in the top of the nuts, spread them in a single layer with the x facing up on a baking tray, and cook at 190 degrees C for about 30 minutes or until they look a bit like this:
Oh, they smelled good. (I tried one raw and it was strange, but quite tasty, however apparently if you eat a lot of raw chestnuts they can give you a stomach ache).
Then comes the difficult and time consuming part, the part that makes me not to want to buy them ever again...the peeling. As you can see in the above picture, a couple of nuts came out whole but most of it is a mushy mess. That's because I didn't actually roast them long enough, and they were too hard to peel and therefore we had to squeeze out the flesh! My thumbs were bleeding.

But the soup I chose to make with them was completely worth it. I knew I had come across a few recipes on Allotment 2 Kitchen using chestnuts before so I went there first to see what I felt like.
I chose the Lentil and Chestnut Soup. I made a couple of substitutions - I used fresh chestnuts instead of tinned (I ended up with 200g of pulp from 500g nuts) and I had no fennel seeds so I chucked in some dried marjoram (it was the first thing I saw!) I also used a few sprigs of fresh thyme from my garden istead of dried. And I had a 1/4 green cabbage going brown in the fridge so I chucked that in too.

We served it alongside toasted sourdough, which was unecessary as this soup is very hearty and filling! I suppose I COULD have used smaller bowls...

It was really unlike anything we have ever tasted before. The chestnuts added a sweet, almost meaty taste to the soup, and I enjoyed every mouthful! It was a pretty good birthday dinner. :)

I probably will end up buying chestnuts again, as they come more into season. I'll just be prepared for hurt thumbs, or just cook them longer and cut bigger x's. Are there such thing as Australian grown chestnuts? I forgot to read the label at the fruit shop, I was too excited, haha.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Picnic food :)

A friend of ours made fairy bread1 She was in the photo but I wasn't sure how she'd feel about being on the net.
The weather turned out lovely for my birthday picnic yesterday. We thought it was going to rain a few times but the clouds passed and the sun came out. We sat under some bamboo.
I made mini quiches on Friday night to eat cold. I used the same recipe as I used last time. My family gave me this thing called a pie maker for my birthday - it's basically a sandwich press, but with a pie's awesome. As you can see, it makes quiches as well! I plan on making various small pies to freeze and take to work, to heat up like a regular 'four n twenties' type dealy.
They turned out brilliantly. This time I put a few blocks of frozen spinach in instead of zucchini.
We were terrorised by a water dragon...he liked Nadine best.

I made the Energising Protein Power Salad from Oh She Glows. So so good. I used pearl barley and black quinoa as my grains. I also added some baby spinach leaves for a bit of green, and some cherry tomatoes because I felt like it.

A friend brought some fairy bread and some egg mini quiches, which she and other friend ate, and other friend brought some tomato bruschetta with toasted olive bread and a green salad. We were too busy eating for me to take photos! I took these ones in the morning before we went.

It was a lovely lunch :) We walked around a bit of the gardens later, and ate cake once the rest of our meal went down.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Birthday CAKE

Nadine made me a birthday cake!

My birthday isn't til Sunday, but we are having a picnic tomorrow with friends (hopefully - it's miserable weather at the moment) so of course we had to taste test it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cake from the Concious Cook by Tal Ronnen.

Make it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wholemeal Carrot and Currant Muffins

I'm a muffin person, not a cake person. Though I do like the odd bit of cake sometimes :)

Anyway I fully intended on making these delicious sounding carrot muffins from Wayfaring Chocolate, but I found all this other stuff in my cupboard, and grated too much carrot, even for a doubled recipe which is what I intended...So it's practically a whole new muffin!

These aren't very sweet (trying to cut back on sugar) so you may wish to add a little more.

Wholemeal Carrot and Currant Muffins
Makes 12 regular and 9 mini muffins

2 cups wholemeal flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 cups coarsely grated carrot

1 ½ tbsp chia seeds
5 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
300ml soy milk
2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil

¼ - ½ cup currants

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Grease a regular muffin tin and half a mini muffin tin. Or, it will probably make 15 regular sized muffins.
Mix together chia seeds and water. Set aside to thicken.

In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients and grated carrot.
In another bowl whisk together the vanilla, soy milk, coconut oil and the chia egg. (The more energetic you are with whisking, the more your muffins will rise, apparently. I can't remember where I read that. PPK?)
Mix wet into dry until just combined. Fold through currants. Divide mix evenly among muffin holes and bake for 20-25 minutes (yes, even the little ones!) I cooked mine for 20 minutes and they came out very moist. You may want to leave them in a bit longer.
I love taking muffins to work to eat on my morning tea break. I'm usually starving by then so a good wholemeal muffin really fills the hole. I usually take two, and have them with a cup of tea and a muesli bar.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Caprese bites/appetisers

Very simple: a thin sliver of Teese Mozzarella (I buy mine at the Green Edge, when I buy it. It costs about $11 for 10 ounces, which is very expensive. But sometimes I want it.) , a slice of fresh tomato (mine are tiny), a sprinkle of black pepper and a fresh basil leaf. Eat!

So simple and so yummy. It needs a rice craker or piece of toaste underneath it, but I was lazy and just wanted a little snack.
Todays harvest: teeny yellow capsicum, even teenier tomato (supposed to be a regular sized one not cherry!) and a tiny strawberry.

The capsicum had gotten eaten a little bit. The tomato was divine (and the last one off all my tomato plants - I only ended up with about 6 tomatoes from 5 plants haha), and the strawberry was so sweet and delicious. I wish my plant would grow more than 1 every so often!