Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tofu Ricotta

Just a basic staple recipe I like to make every now and then. I actually made it today for use in a recipe I'm making for dinner, but the recipe only uses half a cup, so I had plenty left to eat as a snack!


300g firm tofu (I use Nutrisoy and did not press it)

1.5 tbsp rice bran oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
half tsp dried oregano
Freshly ground salt to taste

Put it all into a blender/food processor. Crumble the tofu up a bit.

Blend until thick and smooth!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week. I doubt it'll last that long, this stuff is just that damn tasty!

I couldn't resist it being in the fridge so I cut up a small carrot, celery stick and a tiny little granny smith apple and used it as a dip. I ate it outside in the nice cool breeze with a cup of coffee :)

I spend my weekends gardening

Purple carrot seedling
I did end up putting chicken wire over my carrot seeds because I caught bob sitting on them. But then Charlee walked over the chicken wire and ended up uprooting some seedlings, so I had to rearrange it. The seedlings have all got their second (and some third!) leaves on. Pretty excited.

Hot chillies
My chilli bush just keeps on giving! I can't use them fast enough.
Basil grown from seed
Almost as soon as I planted it out into a big pot the basil just grew and grew! Unfortunately since I took this picture the stupid grasshoppers have depleted a lot of the leaves. I've put a mesh bag I use for fruit and veg over it, and I intend on buying some mesh material at Spotlight or something to make little teepees to put over my pots. Damn grasshoppers.

At work we have a 'rejects' section, where plants that aren't suitable for sale go to finish their lives. A bunch of different herbs got shoved in there last week so I nabbed some, this bergamot being one of them. Ignore the horrendous weeds, I haven't gotten around to tidying it up yet. 
I also got this tarragon from the same section. I have been warned not to put it any where near basil otherwise the basil will just be...tarragon.

This pineapple was also from rejects! A client had ordered them and no longer needed them or something so they had to go. I took two, and obviously this one has flowered! It's about twice as big since I took the picture. I'm moving it around with the sun in the hopes that I don't get a bitter pineapple when it's finished growing.
I also HAD a fair few beans growing. They were doing wonderfully under the chicken wire, and then I got lazy. I didn't tie them up to a stake in time so they rotted at the base of the stem for being flopped over too long. Dammit. I take this as my karma for calling in sick to work on Tuesday when I probably could have worked. I'm never calling in sick again. Unless I'm dying. I will plant some more in today maybe, and see how it goes.

And yesterday I went and got some more potting mix, along with some turnip seeds. Apparently I can plant this particular variety right now. I might put them in with my carrots. I also might put some radishes in with the carrots - I've planted them at the moment all around a tomato plant, then I read that they are anti-companion plants. That'll be why most of them didn't even germinate! And the ones that did are crap!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Vegan Chilli

Who needs another freakin vegan chilli recipe when there are 2340873259872395715 billion out there on the web already? Every vegan cookbook I own has a chilli recipe in it. But if you're like me, and try a new recipe every time you make it, just in case there is an even better one, then why not post another recipe, I say! Ha. Especially since this one was pretty delicious.
This one makes a huge pot. Halving it would work fine.

Three-Bean Chilli (or, Another Vegan Chilli)
Serves 9


4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 huge onion, sliced
200g carrots, diced
100g celery, diced
1.5 cups cooked kidney beans
1.5 cups cooked white (cannellini) beans
1.5 cups cooked black eye peas (or 1x400g can of each, or any kind of bean you like)
1 cup 'chicken' stock (I use Massel)
1 x 800g can tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp hot chilli powder (more or less to taste)

First, fry (in oil or water) onion and garlic until soft. Add to the pan the carrots and celery and cook them til soft.

Chuck in the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn down the heat and simmer until it's more 'saucy' and not watery. I think I did mine for about half an hour.

Serve on top of something - rice, quinoa, barley, pasta? Whatever you like! Easiest chilli ever. Actually they are all kind of easy.

This makes up for the expensive last post - About 70 cents per serve (not including the grain base if you use one, and there would be less serves if you didn't have a grain base.)

This was really pretty good for me just chucking things in the pot. I couldn't be bothered getting out a recipe book and I'm pretty sure chilli usually has cumin and oregano in it. Well it does now. The 1 tbsp of hot chilli was fine for us, but firey-toothed people may want to add more, (or less if you're chicken).
Charlee likes to sit in awkward places.
This is a very, very rare occurence. In fact they can barely stand being in the same room as each other. We don't mind fitting ourselves around the cat's comfort, especially if they BOTH want to sleep with us haha.

Ah, cats. Endless amusement you are. Except when you dig up my carrot and bean seeds. Gah.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Barley Risotto

Nadine made dinner last night - 'White Bean and Barley Risotto with Kale and Tempeh' from Vegan on the Cheap. (with button mushrooms)

This is one of the most delicious meal I've had from this book. I could eat it all day, for real. I was sad there was only 4 servings :( It was also quite expensive to make, which was annoying. Spinach/salad greens are costing a fortune at the supermarket now and it's driving me nuts. I need my green stuff! No, what I need is to get off my ass every Sunday and go to the freakin market.

Anyway, make this damn meal, it's amazing.

We used spinach instead of kale, black eye peas instead of white beans and dried basil instead of savory.

This could have been made cheaper by using frozen spinach, tofu instead of tempeh, and a cheaper brand (or bulk buy) barley. So in the end it cost around $4 per serve.
Bob loves to sleep on our rainbow doona cover :) I turned the light on and she disagreed so she hid her face!
We got a laundry hamper yesterdayand Charlee couldn't resist it!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vegetable Quiche

Who says you can't have quiche as a vegan?

Well, not many since there are five million recipes for vegan quiche on the net, but whatever :)

I remember my mum's potato flan was a favourite, and this isn't a potato flan but it could be. I might get her recipe and give it a go. I got this recipe from Squirrel's New Vegetarian Cookbook. There used to be a restaurant (connected to the book) just up the road from my house but it apparently closed in 2006, which I am sad to discover. This 'Corn and Vegetable Flan' on page 60 of the book is the best one I've tried so far. It's definitely the closest in flavour and texture to a 'real' quiche thing made with eggs. Since I followed the recipe pretty much exactly I'd better not post the recipe :( However the ingredients are as follows: wholemeal shortcrust pastry, tofu, vegetable oil, soy sauce, onion, tomatoes (for top), 1 grated carrot and grated zucchini, frozen corn kernels. I also put in some garlic because I have trouble cooking without it!

This made a flan in a 9inch tart pan (or whatever is quite small – I couldn't find a ruler! Guessed) and served 4 (and could have served 6 if I cut the slices smaller and served potatoes or something on the side. It cost about $2.20 per serve (4) not including the side salad, which I took home after a barbecue at my dad's house.

It held together beautifully, and tasted even better the next day cold! The pastry was pretty fantastic too. I could get used to shortcrust pastry in my pies and tarts and things. I usually buy supermarket puff pastry because it well, puffs, but the white flour really gives me a belly ache. Perhaps this week I'll try a full pie with this pastry. (It's just your basic wholemeal shortcrust recipe – plain flour, salt, vegan margarine and water. I rolled it out between two sheets of baking paper because I accidentally made it too wet, but it worked fine.) Yum. Very good for summer dinners, lunches, breakfasts...:)

Fruit of the Month - February '11 :)

Who doesn't love a perfectly ripe passionfruit in Summer?

This fruit is one of my fruit plants that I will be growing when the space comes to me (along with limes, lemons, blueberries and mulberries). In the meantime I can buy packs of about 10 small fully ripe passionfruit at the fruit shop for about $2. Awesome.

Lately I've just been enjoying them by themselves, or mixed into the yoghurt I take to work, but maybe I'll try me a passionfruit cheesecake! Or passionfruit ice cream...there's an idea.

Ripe passionfruit are dark purple and wrinkly. If you've bought smooth unripe passionfruit a few days on your countertop should do the trick.

A book I got for Christmas has an entire chapter dedicated to passionfruit. The Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander has a few recipes in it using this fruit. The Passionfruit and Dried Apricot Jam on page 493 sounds pretty darn good to me (except for the 1.5 kg of white sugar!!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pasta with Alfredo Sauce

I've come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to post how much my recipes actually cost to make, per serve, in my entries. Otherwise what's the point of having a food blog that claims to be student-budget friendly! (Most of the time.) So, starting with this entry I am going to start doing that. I'll have to guess the prices of spices and things like pepper and salt.

These recipes may also not cost the exact same for you to make at home. It all depends on what specials are on at the stores, where you get stuff from etc yadda. Just to put it out there, I buy most of my general groceries at Woolworths (pasta, rice, spices, flour, cereal, tofu etc), specialty items at health food stores such as Mrs Flannery's or the Green Edge (gluten flour, dried beans and nuts, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, agar etc) and fruit and veg usually at the fruit shop, or if I'm energetic I'll go to the farmer's market on my bike on a Sunday. The fruit shop is cheaper and better quality than Woolies, and the farmer's market is cheaper and better quality than the fruit shop, depending on what you buy. I also always try to buy in season. The market is good for this. (Though banana's are like $7 or $8 a kilo now and I bought some gah). Also, in any recipe that calls for milk, please remember I make my own for less than 40c a litre. This is a helluva lot less than store bought milk so keep it in mind :)

Anyway, to the food I made the other night!

I made Instant Vegan Alfredo from the Happy Herbivore. Does that look like a cheesy sauce to you?? It does to me!  The flavour reminded me of those Continental 'side dishes' pasta in a packet with cheese powder things I lived off when I went to uni. Only better. I followed Happy Herbivore's recipe pretty much exactly, but I used 2 cloves of fresh garlic instead of powder and a small onion instead of powder. I also added half a small brocolli and a carrot to up the vegetable content.

It made 4 servings and cost about $1.95 per serving.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's day dinner

We aren't really big on the whole goopy lovey dovey crap associated with Valentine's Day, so we usually cook up a particularly special meal and dessert. Sometime we go out or buy presents but we are very broke this month :) Also this year Nadine had a nasty cold so there was no wine :( very sad. But the food was so so so delicious!

Nadine made dinner, a recipe she found in Tal Ronnen's 'The Concious Cook' (Old Bay Tofu Cakes with Pan Roasted Summer Vegetables, Horseradish cream, Apples and Beets) Jeez this guy has long meal titles. However long it takes you to read the title, it was fantastic. We thought the cakes wouldn't work because they were so mushy but they did, we just had to be extra careful, which is fine. I used the 'Horseradish cream' as a salad dressing on today's lunch at work. Yum. It's definately a comfort meal, for some reason it reminded me of when we got to eat fish fingers as kids.
I made dessert :) As soon as I saw the recipe on PPK (Berry Creme Tart with Cocoa Olive Oil Crust) I knew I had to make it. I made it up on Sunday afternoon when Nadine wasn't home and hid it in the fridge. We had one each for dessert then cut the other one in half and ate it with work lunches the next day :) Amazingly good. Make them :) The filling is especially good on it's own. I had to eat the leftover filling in the morning for breakfast so Nadine wouldn't see it and eat it and the delicous surprise would be ruined! Tragic. It's like the best pudding you've ever had.

So even though Nadine was blowing snot out of her nose all night and I had to get up at 5:30am the next morning to go work, it was a very nice relaxing Valentine's day for us :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Yes it does look like a big bowl o' vomit, but I just wanted to post that the trick with using some frozen peas and white beans in place of an avocado in guacmole was a success :) Idea from Robin Robertson's Vegan on the Cheap -

Makes a big soup bowl full

1 large avocado (I used a shepard avo)
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 cup white beans
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 garlic clove, grated/crushed
a generous amount of sweet chilli sauce
black pepper
juice of half a lemon

Roughly mash the avocado in a bowl

In a food processor, blend the beans, peas and garlic clove until very smooth.

Mix it all in a bowl with the other ingredients and eat!

We blobbed ours on top of vegan nachos, that I made up from 1 cans worth of kidney beans and 1 can's worth of white beans, mashed up, 1 onion, garlic, 1 cup of 'chicken' stock and a taco seasoning packet. I figured out that the secret ingredient to the deliciousness of taco seasoning is cumin. I bought the home brand version of it (instead of old el paso, for example) because it was less than half the price and the only difference in ingredients was the lack of cumin. So I juct chucked in some cumin with the packet :) Who doesn't have cumin in their spice rack? I put it on top of corn chips, covered the lot with vegan cheese (that we had left over from pizza night) and baked it in the oven until the cheese melted. The sour cream from the same book was also a success, though not quite as good as tofutti. But probably a lot better for us!

We also drank a carton of beer and watched bad movies til 3am, most of which were quite good. Except one. 'Bitch Slap'. It was so bad. Worst movie I've ever seen. I dare you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cleaning out the Pantry

This week I have been so broke I am cleaning out my cupboards and my fridge and my freezer before I buy any more groceries. (My car was almost a year over due for a service and the bill showed it!!! Oh well, now it isn't going to explode.)

Anyway, the above picture is a salad I made on Sunday to take to work for lunches. I based it on something out of Concious Cooking. It's basically: quinoa, red onion, half a cucumber, 1 grated carrot, spinach leaves, orange and spring onions. The dressing is made from rice bran oil, orange juice and red wine vinegar. It was delicious. All the flavours worked very well together and I enjoyed my lunches immensely.

We are having more leftovers of this one tonight. It's also from Concious Cooking and I was a bit wary of it because I decided a little while ago that I did not like fennel (as in the fresh bulb, not the dried seed or herb). I bought it to juice fresh and it ruined the flavour of everything.  However, to my taste buds surprise, fennel tastes completely different when cooked! Thank god. The recipe is called 'Whole Wheat Penne with san Marzano tomatoes'. I just used a tin of Australian tomatoes, kalamata olives instead of stuffed green, red wine instead of white wine, and skipped the tarragon. It was a delicious meal and I am glad we have more to eat tonight. I'll be throwing in a can's worth of white beans to stretch it out a bit. (I cook dried beans and freeze them in zip lock bags in 1 1/2 cup amounts).

I think this weekend I'll be busting out a lentil and black eyed pea curry that'll feed an army.

Tomorrow we are having friends over so we're making nachos and having beer. Hopefully Nadine buys the beer! Apparently white beans and green peas make a good substitute guacamole (according to Robin Robertson's Vegan on the Cheap) so I'll just buy 1 avo instead of two and try that! I'll let you know how it passes with the friends. There is also a recipe for vegan sour cream in that book, so I'm going to give that a go. I already make my own mayo, why not sour cream!?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pizza night

We decided yesterday that it was about time for another pizza night.

This time the toppngs were: avocado, corn kernels, kidney beans, capers, kalamata olives, jarred jalapeno chillis, and the base sauce was made from cooked cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic and red wine. Mm it was very good haha. The bread was a little doughy because we got impatient while it was cooking, but it wasn't THAT doughy (like the first time I ever made pizza, in grade 8 in Home Ec class. MMMM raw flour.)

We also decided to splurge and put some vegan mozzarella on top. I had to buy Cheezly brand this time as my favourite little vegan store didn't have any teese mozzarella in :( we hadn't had the Cheezly mozz before (I think) and it was pretty much as nasty as we thought. It's ok cooked, but we could just eat the teese stuff! Oh well. It's also supposed to be 'super melting' but the pizza says otherwise. However, I had a toasted sandwich with copious amounts of Cheezly and some hash browns today and it melted all over the place. Maybe the pizza will need to be stuck under the grill for a little bit next time?

And holy crap it's so unbearably hot. Well obviously I'm bearing it because I'm still in the country and alive. But this morning I thought it a good idea to fix up my garden and plant more stuff, and it was a great idea until sweat starting pouring down my legs and into my eyes. I got most of what I wanted done, except sowing my mint seeds, but I can do that this afternoon when the sun goes away.

I bought two 40L bags of organic garden soil at Bunnings for $8.50 each because my soil is crap and so far I've dug one bag in. So as of this moment in my garden I have:

Herbs - basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, lemongrass, garlic chives and regular chives, mint

Vegetables: hot chilli, sweet chilli, eggplant, tomatoes, purple carrots, purple climbing beans, butter beans, radishes, ginger.

I've put chicken wire over my beans to hopefully deter my cats from digging around in the nice new dirt they love. I am reaaallly looking forward to my carrots! I have put them in a nice deep window-box like planter box thing with potting mix with no lumps so in theory they should grow. Unless the cat digs it all up. Maybe I should chicken wire that too.

I'll take some pictures when it all starts sprouting. At the moment it's just a big black expanse of dirt with some wire and some stakes. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I'm posting this just for the buttercream icing. I made the Almond and quinoa muffins I've made once before (I swear I posted them, but apparently not) anyway they are from Veganomicon. They are OK muffins, but this time my chopped dates globbed together and so they were kind of tasteless. BUT the icing, oh, I made it perfect. I'm a shoddy icing putter onnerer but I blame that on my dodgy piping bag. I made the muffins for a tupperware party we were supposed to go to but we didn't end up doing that. So we've had to eat them. Pity :)
This is where I found our cat Charlee the other morning when I got up for work. I don't know how she managed it.
This is the least vomity picture of my yoghurt I could take. I am trying to recreate plain, unsweetened, Greek style yoghurt and I think I got as close as I can be bothered. It's pretty damn good :) I take it to work for morning tea snacks. I mix some frozen berries through it, but the best one was when I mixed fresh passionfruit with it. Maybe I'll get some more at the market tomorrow. The only problem is, it's very time consuming. It's not like the easiyo stuff you just mix with water and let go! I used these instructions, and used arrowroot powder instead of tapioca flour as the arrowroot container says they are interchangeable.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Agave-lime grilled tofu with asian slaw and mashed sweet potatoes

From the conscious cook by Tal Ronnen

I mixed parsnip with the sweet potatoes, used purple cabbage instead of napa, used rice syrup instead of agave and sprinkled the zest of lime on top of it all as I don't know when the next time limes will be $40 a kilo again :)