Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pizza night!

It's been a while since our last pizza night, so we felt the need to make it. This time I decided to add on a bit of fake meat for shits and giggles. I made the 'Big Stick Pepperoni' recipe from Vegan on the Cheap. Man, this stuff is great. The secret ingredient is definately fennel seed, and the flavour is very strong in it. Next time I might cut it down just a tad, it's a little overpowering. Now, I never liked salami, it always grossed me out (always knew what it was , especially after working in a deli and slicing it every day ugh), but since I know this stuff isn't wrapped in fat netting, and is actually cooked and NOT moldy, then it tastes delicious. The texture is odd, as disgusting as this sounds, but it's kind of like a (real) salami that hasn't dried to a hard lump quite yet. So it kind of grossed me out, so before I put it on the pizza I fried it up a tad and it's much better. 
Unfried big stick pepperoni

So on the pizza in order was: tomato paste, caramelised onion, potato, olives, jalapeno pepper, pepperoni and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. It was just greasy enough from the onions, without having the atery clogging greasiness of cheese on it. We had it with a much needed salad of baby spinach leaves, red capsicum, red onion, capers, radish and apricot kernels with a lemon juice-olive oil and black pepper dressing.
I got apricot kernels at the farmer's market this morning, and they taste like almonds (same species I think) except sweeter and they are about half the size. An excellent addition to a salad. I love adding crunch like nuts and seeds to my salad. I usually go for sunflower seeds but I had these :)

Yum. I look forward to lunch at work tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday morning pancakes

I think Saturday is my favourite day of the week. I can sleep in and fart ass around all day if I feel like it - it doesn't matter since the next day is Sunday and I still don't have to go to work! I like to make a nice breakfast on Saturdays, because all week I've probabaly eaten the same thing, usually oats, and it's nice to have a fancy cooked brekkie when I'm not awake before sunrise. Sometimes it'll be scrambled tofu with baked beans, or I'll make my own hash browns (maybe I'll do that tomorrow! Nadine isn't working hooray!), a lot of the time it's pancakes, specifically, buckwheat because I've decided I love buckwheat flour, and besides, every time I've attempted vegan pancakes with regular flour it's failed miserably.
I know it's like the exact same picture as all my other pancakes I've posted on this here blog, but it's different because they are giant and have raspberries in them. I also used a different recipe since I don't have any bananas - at a million dollars a kilo, I'm sorry!

The recipe I used is 'Grandma's Buckwheat Pancakes' They are delicious. I also ate the entire lot, I wish I hadn't because now I feel sick! I put a blob of nuttlex and tofutti cream cheese and some lemon juice on mine. I also made them with almond milk, and cut the oil down to 2 tbsp and had no issues. These pancakes also commemorate the first time my smoke detector hasn't gone off while making pancakes! Amazing. Last time it didn't stop. As in, when I took the batteries out it was still beeping.
In other news, I had my first pilates class on Thursday! It was great. My abs STILL hurt (which is kind of annoying but it shows that they did some work!) my legs hurt my arms hurt my butt hurts.

Thursday couldn't possibly have been a better day to do it, either! We had been weeding while standing and bening ALL DAY at work so my back and legs and feet were just killing me. Wedding like that is like a constant lunge, and because I'm uncoordinated on my left side I always use my right leg so that hamstring wants to kill me. Also my right knee always hurts, so I think this class is really going to be helpful. Also I reckon a couple more goes and I might be able to touch my toes without struggle. Ha.

Speaking of exercise, our half marathon walk is next Sunday! Nadine wasn't working at the start of the week so everyday as soon as I got home we went for a quick walk up the street and back, (about 2.5km) which has been good since it stretches out my legs from work and it makes us exercise and thus spend more time together. This weekend we'll have to bust out a much longer walk - at least 10km. Tomorrow we have to pick up our kit from the city so I think we should walk there and back.
My plans for the day include doing the laundry (the homemade detergent really does make it softer!), baking some more bread (I'm seeing how long I can go without buying a loaf from the shop! So far I've made one loaf.) and making some vegan pepperoni from Vegan on the Cheap to put on a pizza for dinner. I should also probabaly practise some of the pilates stuff I learnt - I'll see how sore I am and if I can toughen up and handle it :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Homemade steamed buns!

As with a lot of things I make in my kitchen, I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own steamed buns for ages now. I've had about a cup of dried azuki beans in a jar for months. Everytime we go into an Asian supermarket (rarely) I buy a packet of the frozen red bean buns. They're always good, but you know, have numbers in the ingredient lists and way too much sugar!

Anyway so today I cooked up my cup of azuki beans, and when they were nice and mushy, drained off most of the water, added almost half a cup of dark brown sugar (all I had left - is enough) and mashed them all up into a paste. It was the perfect oppurtunity to make these buns as I had just the right amount of white self raising flour to use up before the weevils arrived. (By the way, I keep my flour unsealed in the original paper bags next to my stove/oven, and I haven't had a weevil infestation yet.)

I used this recipe I found while looking for one on google, and made only half of it. I also ignored the savoury filling recipe.
They were really very easy to make!
They were really tiny when uncooked and just twisted up, but during steaming expanded to at least twice as big (obviously because of the yeast and self raising flour). I was worried they wouldn't hold together but they were just fine. We had them with a cup of tea :)

Half the recipe makes 12, but I only cooked up four, opting to freeze the rest uncooked. I'll get back to you on how they turn out - I should imagine they'll be right. I also had an extra half cup of red bean paste and I froze that too, so I can whip some more up when I run out! I also bet custard buns would be good. I bought one by accident when I was at uni and didn't like it, I think because of the egg, but if I make my own custard they should be delicious!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I made jam!

I took my food nerdiness to the next level this week when I made jam out of the giant chokoes I bought on our holiday at the roadside stall. I've wanted to try my hand at preserving for ages now. It's probably a good thing I have a kitchen the size of a postage stamp with zero cupboard space otherwise I'd be preserving up a storm. I didn't realise it was so easy to pasteurise the jars! I was always like, omg how do I make the button go in instead of pop out 23!#$%3 etc. Of course I kept forgetting to look it up. Nadine's mum gave us a set of preserving jars and a preserve recipe book for Christmas this year I think, and on the first page it has 3 easy steps to doing it. Doh. I only needed a stock pot.

As you can see, the two jams above are completely different colours. The reason for that is I totally burnt my first attempt. Can you guess which one? Haha. However I reckon it tastes like fruit mince, as in christmas mince pies, so I'm going to keep it until I make some this year and use it in the mix. I looked it up, I'm under the impression it's okay to eat burnt jam. They even sell it commercially: burnt fig jam by Maggie Beer. If anyone reckons otherwise please let me know before I poison my family!
They look a bit funny with the material. Maybe it's the width of the lids?

Anyway, I found the orginal recipe in 'The 21st Birthday Cookery Book of the Country Women's Association in Tasmania'. An awesome book, there's chapters dedicated to help make you the perfect housewife! Want to have a good day? Get up early and cook him breakfast! All that aside, it is a very handy book. I want a copy. It has recipes for everything, from lamingtons to endless jams, how to make the perfect ---, etcetera. I especially love the advertisements through it.

I edited the recipe a little bit to suit me, as I burnt the first lot and didn't have enough of everything to make a complete second batch, so here you go:

Choko Jam


580g choko
zest and juice of one lemon (I got 1/2 tbsp zest and 100ml juice I think)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
150mL water
580g raw sugar (white will do - any granulated kind. I tried to make it healthier)
100g crystal ginger, finely chopped

This recipe makes 600mL of jam, I had 3 little 200mL jars.


1. Peel your choko(es). I had one large one. Put it in a bowl of salted water while you prepare the rest.

2. Zest and juice the lemon, and put it into a large saucepan with the water and cinnamon.

3. Either cut your choko up into very small cubes or grate it. I cubed - grating it would make it cook faster, my cubes took forever! Put it with the lemon and water and turn to medium heat. Cook until soft. (This is important, it has to be soft because once you add the sugar it won't soften any further!)

4. While it's cooking you can sterilise your jars - I stuck mine in the oven on low until the jam was ready to go. Also, you can heat up the sugar if you like, to make it dissolve faster. Put it in a baking dish and heat it on low in the oven for 10 minutes. At this point, put a large stock pot deep enough for your jars full of water on low heat.

5. Once your mixture is sufficiently softened, pour in the sugar. Stir until it dissolves, then boil. A few minutes before it's ready, stir in the chopped crystal ginger. Mine took about 30 minutes to be ready, but I started testing at 15 minutes because I was paranoid it would burn again. I also stood there stirring it the whole time. Don't know if that was completely necessary. To test, have a plate in the freezer, and put a tsp of the jam mixture on it. Stick it back in a freezer for a few minutes and take it out - if it's got a skin and isn't drippy it's ready.

6. When it's ready, pour it into your jars. I put mine in a measuring jug to make it easier (the burnt batch went all over the palce. I learned.) Screw the lids on tight but not extremely tight and put into the (now probably simmering) pot of water. stick a lid on and bring to a boil. Turn it off and let stand until the water has cooled down. The buttons in the lids should be in, not out and you're done!

I'm sure there is an even easier way to seal the jars. I recall turning it upside down for a few minutes then right way up andleaving it until cool. I dunno. This way worked for me!


I'm pretty excited about it. We just have to finish the jars of storebought jam in the fridge before I open one of these jars! It tasted good hot, haven't gotten as far as room temp yet.

The most annoying part was chopping up the crystal ginger, gah! I wonder what grated fresh ginger would be like?

My next project - beetroot relish? Yum. I had a brainwave of making my own sugar free applesauce. If only I had space. Guess what you'll be getting for Christmas this year people!

Also, random, but I had to throw out my bunya nuts - I'd sort of forgotten about them and though they were in the fridge I didn't really want to eat them after months of having them :( I'll have to buy some more!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brief holiday post

The both of us were going crazy at work so we decided to take a 2 week holiday :) Luckily I actually had enough holiday hours clocked up so I didn't have to miss out on any pay.

We were going to do an east-west train trip but alas we didn't have enough (any) money so we opted for a Bed n Breakfast a lot closer to home, in Tamborine Mountain (Gold Coast). Basically we spent a week drinking wine and bush walking. It was freezing. It was awesome.
We stayed at a place called Wallaby Ridge retreat - aptly named.

It was a self contained room, so I cooked most of our food. We had a couple of lunches out, but there isn't many options for us. I forgot to look places up before we left.
I made a pasta dish with the delicious mushrooms the BnB owner supplied us with every morning (she gave us mushrooms and tomatoes instead of eggs and bacon). It's just brocolli, mushrooms, chilli and tofu cooked in a white wine and chiken style broth with capers. (I did take our whole kitchen with us). On the side I stewed up one of the street stall chokoes with nuttlex, salt and pepper. Yum.
She also gave us fresh home baked bread nearly everyday! She must have thought we were such greedy gutses. It was so so good though. 
Another dinner I cooked up - a chickpea vege curry type thing with a can of tomatoes and garam masala. I left out the rice because we were eating so much bread - didn't really need any more carbs!
Another pasta - I made this after a bottle of wine so I can't really remember what's in it. Sweet potato, black beans, corn, tin tomatoes and oregano I think. Our room ended up smelling of oregano - it's the only herb I took.
Now this looks revolting but it's the best idea I ever had. We took most of our lunches with us, picnic style on our many walks. This is a take on chicken salad - I sliced up some chickpea cutlets (from Veganomicon), mixed through some capers, grated carrot, red onion and homemade mayonaise. Amazing on a sandwich and with a spoon.
We decided to do a winery tour (be driven around to taste copious amounts of wine? yes please!)* and it included a lunch. We emailed ahead to make sure they could do vegan for us, and they gave us the vegetarian option with the cheese taken out. It was divine. A vegetable stack of grilled eggplant, sundried tomatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, sitting on top of a potato rosti which was on top of a giant lettuce leaf and little cubes of capsicum with balsamic vinegar. Unfortunately they forgot cheesecake and custard wasn't vegan so no dessert :( I can't for the life of me remember which winery we had lunch at, but I'll update later with the name.

It was such a nice trip, and I have a million photos of the wallbies to go through!

*Sadly, almost, if not all of the wine available was not vegan friendly. I won't be reviewing any of those. I think a couple of the wines we got had no mention of egg, fish or milk on their labels, but unfortunately you can't go by that as gelatin is not required to be written on the labels since it isn't considered an allergen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chuck a Choko in!

We've been away for a whole week hooray for holidays! I'll write about that and the yummy food later, but for now here is Bob.
Look how far she bends for a neck scratch!

On our travels we saw a little vege stall on the side of the road with an honesty box - 5 chokoes for $1! They were as big as my head. So I got some. Tonight I made this apple pie for dessert. I've read that chokoes are often used in commercial apple pies (think the maccas apple hand pie thingee) instead of some of the apples so I thought I'd give it a go. I love me a choko so I figured it wouldn't hurt :) It didn't hurt, and it does taste like a storebought thing.

I basically chopped up two large pink lady apples and one small peeled choko and cooked them down to a mushy but still chunky consistency with a little water. I don't usually bother with sugar - they're apples!! Made up a basic wholemeal shortcrust (flour, margarine, water) and made them all up in my little pie press. In that it only takes 10 minutes, but I'm not sure about the oven.

This is a pretty good idea for those who have a choko vine and have a surplus of chokoes and have run out of ideas. :) One day I'll have a choko vine and never go hungry!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Dear Doofus Family in the new ad for Ambi Pur room spray;

If you hate the stench of your rotting dead fish supper cooking so much, why are you eating it? Make this instead:
Cajun Beanballs and Spaghetti from Appetite for Reduction

No need to spray your home with odour-crushing chemicals.


Anyway, I've made 'meatballs' quite often and when I found these ones in Appetite for Reduction I decided to make 'em. The fact that I found tempeh at Coles and am completely obsessed with it lately helped me to make the decision. Black eye peas are also my favourite legume most of the time :)

We loved them, they held together really well (we did end up cooking them for lik 15min longer than it said to) and they were really easy to make. However, I still like the other ones I make better (so does Nadine). So I decided: if I really really want spaghetti and meatballs and I only have half an hour I'll make the beanballs, and if I have all day, I'll make the other ones.