Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Inspiration, taking it where you find it.

gnocchi with spinach, roasted zucchini and basil pesto (vegetarian)   

I ate this out and what can I say? The roasted zucchini was a winner, I've been thinking about it ever since. I've also been thinking about gnocchi ever since as well, just before this I had a vegan gnocchi dish out that has made me totally rethink my stance on gnocchi. I love gnocchi! Now.

There was this recipe on the PPK for Pesto Soup with Gnocchi, Beans and Greens, which I thought I'd try at home and add in some roasted zucchini of my own to the mix.

Friday, December 23, 2011

After Christmas...

Here it is! Terry has posted her recipe for the black cake, I shall have to make it after Christmas at this stage along with her Coquito Bonito.

And Xmas dinner, well, debate has raged and now the tofu and noodle salad is cancelled. So it's a peanut butter sandwich after all. I have my blender, but I will have a poke in the supermarket later to see if I can find a ready meal that is vegan and I can simply heat and eat. Baked beans maybe???

And the family wonder why I object to Xmas with them, probably hinges on the fact I'm bored stiff and hungry!
Cue the same conversation 1001 times, endless cups of teas, and a distinct lack of alcohol. Christmas should be illegal without the insulating intake of alcohol.

I think of Nigella talking about in her Christmas book, in reference to her lychee martini putting it into a water bottle and taking it the the children's school concert with her.
This sounds like a plan, nothing as exotic as a lychee martini, and just Xmas with the family as opposed to a school concert, I don't have that joy. Yet.

Maybe a Salted Caramel Martini? I know I have a bottle of Butterscotch Schnapps in the back of the cupboard. Do these things ever go off?? Ah well one way to find out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Christmas Weekend Menu revised...

Christmas Eve Lunch with Family - A BBQ. Oh really now?
What I'll be making for myself Orange Ginger Baked Tofu with  Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmmm Sauce

Christmas Day Lunch(?) with the same Family. Again. - Lunch? Or maybe not, it's now all up in the air.

How it orginally looked what I was making:
- Pull-Apart Rolls from Vegan Brunch
- Seitan Roast from the PPK
- Scalloped Potatoes from the PPK
- Steamed asparagus and sweet potato

Only now on Xmas day, were taking a cold lunch to see my grandmother in the nursing home, only who and what exactly were doing for this lunch is a mystery. As were meant to be going back home to have our hot lunch. My mother making the arrangements with the extended family is very vague on the what/when.

The potatoes take an hour to bake, so since I don't have a time frame, and I have no idea if were all eating or not at the cold lunch. Since I don't know when were having the hot lunch I have a new plan.

- Peanut butter sandwich to take to the cold nibbly/lunch.
- Probably make a smoothie after we get home, or eat leftovers from the X-Eve lunch.
- On Boxing day when not seeing anyone or doing anything else, then make the full cooked lunch I was planning for X-Day. Or not, see how enthused I feel.

Lines of communication run like this in my family, my mother is getting the turkey roll and cooking it ready to serve and eat cold on the day. Right, simple you'd think? Especially seeing the extended family have been told of this. My mum has bought two turkey rolls and is thawing them to cook in advance, the extended family have also bought a turkey roll and are thawing it ready to cook and serve cold on the day.
Yes, that's 3 turkey rolls. Cauliflower cheese and whatever salads the macrobiotic vegetarian/ pescertarian is bringing to the lunch. The other pescertarian in the family will "eat meat if it's there".
Lines are very blured in our family!

That PB sandwich and smoothie is suddenly looking mighty tempting. At least it'll be vegan. And quickly prepared.

What I've cooked lately...

Seitan roast pre-baking...

Seitan roast after baking

Mama Pea's Gravy

Seitan roast, Mama Pea's Mash and Gravy and steamed broccolini
Almond Shake from

My first attempt at pastsy, single crust from Veganomicon

Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumb Pie unbaked

Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumb Pie baked

And it was delicious!
Pea and Lemon Risotto from the Veganomicon

French Puff Muffins from ........

Shitake Risotto from Potluck Mania #2

Mushroom filling from Chef Chloe's Oyster Mushroom Tacos

Garlic White Wine Mushrooms

Soaking the fruit for Black Cake

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coming soon...

I'm in the process of uploading another huge photo update, I'll finishing naming everything and publish it later.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like.....

Four things I plan to do with dark rum:-
1. Wine Drenched Fruit for Caribbean Black Cake from
2. Rumnog Pecan Cookies from the Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
3. Eggnog Spiced Nuts from
4. Drink it!

Guess what I bought today huh??? (Edit to Add: Dark rum!)
And since apparently some campaign got started at some point about coming to the Darkside because we have cookies...well it's a campaign I am certainly willing to get behind. Our houses are made of gingerbread too you know, with candy stain glass windows. Come on over and chow down!
Cookies I'm hoping to squeeze into the baking rotation before that day arrives:-
No Bake Snowball Cookies - I love the accompanying description with these "
These have nearly half the sugar of the traditional version and just a fraction of the fat." - Mama Pea

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cups
- I'd also really like this is someone else made me these. Hint family! Big hint! Apparently the big hint I dropped about Eggnog Spiced Nuts has been picked up, maybe I'll be lucky?
Christmas Cookie Dough Balls - Probably with candy canes.
Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies - I have a gingerbread man wearing a santa hat cutter.
Pie Plate Shortbread from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar - Since it's moulded into a tart tin and turned out to bake, I thought I might try this in my shortbread mould.

Sugar Cookie Smoothie
- Alright so this last one is not actually a cookie per se, can you blame a girl?
I'd also like to try the vanilla fudge from Hannah Kaminsky's Wicked Treats e-book, but probably cut out with Xmas shaped cutters as opposed to ghost ones. Although I'd totally appreciate ghost shaped fudge at Xmas. If I'd been more organised I'd have ordered a set of Gingerdead Men and made them. Maybe one year I'll make the gingerbread house but make it a haunted one.
Christmas lunch looks like this for me - Seitan Roast Stuffed with ah...mushroom and maybe onion?, scalloped potatoes  (minus eggplant bacon, one less step on the morning) and vegan gravy - either made from scratch (Mama Pea's was good) or Massel instant, I've had their Supreme Gravy but I have seen a Turkey one as well. All Massel's stocks and gravies are vegan so yeah!

And the Raw Strawberry Cheesecake, I'm wavering on logisitics now of this, it needs the cashews soaked at the very least 3 hours. It might be late Xmas Eve before it gets into the fridge to start chilling.

Something else I'm wavering about is I had a sudden thought about how much fun it would be to make fresh bread or more likely rolls on X-Day. It was this Olive Oil Bread niggling at the back of my mind that did it, then I thought about the Poppyseed Pullapart in Vegan Brunch only without poppy seeds as I really don't like them, maybe sesame instead? I could make it the night before and pop it in the fridge overnight ready to get out and bake in the morning.

Breakfast on the day. French Toast? Strata? Muffins? Pancakes? Cocktails? Oh yes, cocktails for sure.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Are you in or are you out?

I've been trying to come up with answers to both my own questions and other people's, are you vegan or vegetarian?

And to which the obvious answer is vegetarian, but I am disappointed in this answer. I've come to see it as a failing on my part; I was always happy with vegetarianism and always expected vegans to be a "bit weird".

Vegans are far from weird; my brief experience has shown me they are intelligent, funny, rational and extremely passionate.
I really envy them their passion, I sort of fell into veganism. I didn't come to it through the moral high ground; I came to it from the food perspective.  Come for the food, stay for the saving of the animals!

Which brings me to that very infamous quote from that even more infamous movie:
"Do or do not... there is no try." - Yoda, Star Wars

I'd eat 90% vegan (everything I cook myself) and probably about still 10% vegetarian (when I'm out). Cruelty free/environmentally friendly products have always been a huge deal for me, ah you found me out, and I’m secretly a tree hugger!

The big word here is TRY, I'm trying to live a more compassionate lifestyle. Food has become a lot easier, but I will admit to being still quite a noob when it comes to cruelty free non-food products.

Something that once again came home to me when I attended an info session for the local roller derby league. I had reiterated what I'd already learned, a leather boot is the best kind of skate boot. There are loads of synthetic versions available, usually cheaper than the leather versions and there are starting to come on the market 100% vegan skates.

When I first became interested in derby the whole leather v non-leather skates wouldn't have been an issue, now, I couldn't comfortably buy leather skates, no matter how much better they might be.

While there may be no try, I feel I may be doing in a fashion, I think I may be "doing" for some time to come before I'm actually happy with the result.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What I've Cooked Lately (Massive Photo Update!)

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie from the Veganomicon

Roasted Broccoli from the PPK

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie with Roasted Broccoli

Scrambled Tofu from the PPK

Garlic Sesame Soba Noodles from Chef Chloe

Coconut Curry Caramel Corn by Mama Pea

Tempeh Orzilla from PPK
(And somehow I managed to pick the dodgy photo I took of it).

Marbled Banana Bread from the PPK

Slices of the Marbled Banana Bread

All-Purpose Apple Sauce from Get It Ripe by Jae Steel

Brown Sugar Peach Muffins from the PPK
(More adventures cooking with spelt flour!)

Lower-Fat Banana Bread from the Veganomicon

Slices of the Lower-Fat Banana Bread

Friday, November 04, 2011

Update on Christmas

We've had some discussion with the extended family today about the menu for Christmas. I came home and discussed with my mother what we would (or should I say I would) do for lunch.

It's been sorted to the following: -
Scalloped Potatoes (minus the Eggplant Bacon)
Leaving out the eggplant bacon elimantes an extra step on the morning and requires less time hogging the oven.

Roasted Broccoli
I've just tested this and I love broccoli I really do, but like brussel sprouts once you've roasted it you'll be reluctant to going back to cooking it any other way by itself.

Raw Strawberry Cheesecake
This hasn't been tested and won't be tested before hand, I'm just going to wing it on Christmas Eve and see how it goes. I just got a new 9-inch springform (it's like kismet!). Sadly I have no where to take a cheesecake that feeds 16 prior to Christmas lunch with the extended family so they all have to be guinea pigs.

Which leaves some sort of main protien, since they all be tucking into turkey. Probably some sort of seitan cutlet since I can pan fry that. And I really want an orange vegetable in the mix. I'm tempted to do a modified version of the Buttered Swede and Carrot Mash out of the latest Family Circle Christmas issue.

And something I am a little bit behind on, Kittens Gone Lentil nominated my blog for the Liebster award.
I am completly unfamiliar with this so I have borrowed KGL's description:-
"The word “Liebster” is German for ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’. The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

So the rules are as follows:
Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
Reveal 5 of your top picks and them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
Post the award on your blog.
Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www"

Here are my 5 blogs:
Darkside of the Mushroom
Confessions of a Gothic Homemaker
Hot Vegan Chick....Peas!
Body by Chickpeas

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Timeline of gaining health...

June 2010 - My doctor told me I'd never lose the excess weight I was carrying unless I had lap band surgery and promptly wrote off a referral to the surgeon.
The day after this appointment I went out on a mission and revamped my pantry, changing how I shopped and what I ate. There was this thing called the Low GI diet and I jumped on that band wagon with gusto.

November 2010 - I saw a dietician and stepped on a set of scales for the first time in forever. A very, very daunting experience. We set a mini goal of 10kgs to start as my dietician told me the fastest way I could lose weight safely was a 1kg (2 pounds) a month.
This is the month when I went vegetarian again and started looking into veganisim.

October 2011 - 11kgs (22 pounds for the non-metric) down and I finally see the surgeon about the lap band surgery. We discussed, I say discussed, basically he talked and I listened. The surgeon packs me off with a bunch of "home work" to read up on, come back and see him in Feb 2012 with any questions I have from all my "home work".

Come Feb 2012 if I decided I want to have the operation are we good to go? No, I will need to see the hospital dietician and psychartrist and get the OK from both of them and I can go on the waiting list.
It's already been 16 months, add on another 4 months before I go back, about 20 months in total? Plus how ever long it'll take for the two other appointments + on the waiting list time.

Is it an understatement to say I am underwhelmed?

November 2011 - Where I stand now, well 19kgs (or 38 pounds) to go, my dietician thinks the fact I can consistently lose a kilo a month means I have got a fix on the food and its time to up the 30mins a day exercise. I need to increase it a tiny bit each day to bring it up to an hour and we'll (hopefully) see results of about 2kgs (4 pounds) a month.

What I've learned on the last 16 months trek up the mountain?
- When throughly fed up with myself and feel like I am never going to get to the top I think about Roller Derby. I have never wanted to play a sport ever, till I discovered derby. Maybe if other sports let you have ridiculous names and tacky outfits I'd have moved a lot sooner.
Next month my local league is holding a Fresh Meat session in prep for their intake in Feb 2012. I need to get myself along, nothing ventured nothing gained.

- I like parsnips/eggplants/shitake mushrooms/savoury yeast (aka nutritional yeast)/tempeh/tofu/oyster mushrooms. These things are all cool now.

- A whole new world of culinary adventures has been opened to me, along with the opportunity to shop for new gadgets and gizmos for the kitchen. Basically I'm still obsessed with the kitchen/food/eating but in a new way since I started eating more vegan food.

- Portion control! I can not talk about what an absolute must this is, it wasn't when I converted to a Low GI diet just changing what I ate but how much of it I ate. I'll admit it took me from June 2010 to November 2010 to wake up to just how important that really was.
I've never been one of life's fast learners, unfortunatly I need to spectacularly crash and burn at something, well anything, to learn from it. I lurch on to the bloody end, the world burning down arounrd my ears just about. What? That didn't work? Oh well, we'll start again.

Isn't it a Chinese saying, there are many paths to the top of the mountain but the view is always the same.
I'll see you at the top. Eventually.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bananas for Baking

Mocha Chip Muffins - without the baking powder :(

Mocha Chip "Muffins" are perhaps better described as "Brownies"

Banana Bread - Perfect!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Armchair Traveling (And Non-Flight Eating!)

Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero
I suffer from chronic and uncurable I am sure wanderlust, I also have an unashamed passion for food, cooking and eating in general.

These things go hand in hand with arm chair travel, as much as I want to see what these other countries are like my main interest is in their food.

Cookbooks of other countrys cusines are my escape, since investigating vegananisim I've learned a bit more about some I was familiar with such as most of the Asian cusine. We have quite a strong influnce in Australian cooking from Asia, probably as their our next door neighbour. It must be like America having Mexico as a next door neighbour. Or so I imagine!

One of the first world cuisines I got a real interest in was Latin food, it's something I knew pretty much nothing about. My forays into Mexican food have been limited to the Old El Paso range of products from my local supermarket.

I've long been fascinated by Mexico, without really knowing anything about it. I'm further intrigued about the Día de los Muertos celebrations, much to my excitement was the day I was watching the SBS show Food Safari and Maeve went to the Mexican embassy here in Australia to talk about the celebration and see what food they were making. We also saw the decorated sugar skulls and the shrine. I must admit it's not just other people's cuisines I'm intrigued by, but also by their celebrations.
Hence I'd like to know more about this Cinco de Mayo the Americans always talk about, is it just an American holiday to eat Mexican food? Is it actually Mexican in origin? Will their be a party? Because if their is there will be food surely. 

Enter into my life Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, I have read it with endless fascination. It has made me want to know more about Latin food. It has not however prompted me to really cook anything from it yet. I'm hoping to have a bit of a homage to Día de los Muertos myself and cook up some of the recipes from this book.
Probably not authenic, but I feel I am being authentic to my British ancestry, those mighty empire builders who appropiated a fair portion of the world and adopted the bits they liked in each country and just overlaid their own methods down for everything else. Ghandi after all was a British trained and educated lawyer.

Now this zine below, actually first a word about zines. I never knew they existed until veganisim came into my life and I am hugely grateful for them. I love the quite often very personal nature of them. Sometimes handwritten, with little ancedotes from the author and even little hand drawn pictures. Some are typed with clip art done in a cut-and-paste style. And some, like Sunny Days are neatly typed and well laid out.

I'm also curious how you actually pronounce zine, having never heard it said I alwys thought of it zine rhymes with sign so it would have that sound to it. But then I heard an American actually say the word zine, and it rhymed with seen and came out sounding like "zeen".

Sunny Days in Texas
Enough about that, on to the Sunny Days In Texas! It is a fund raising zine, with all the profits going to the Sunny Day Farm Animal Sanctuary. It's like a double goody, your helping a good cause and getting a yummy little zine crammed with good things to make.

I had a laugh at a recipe for Popcorn Tofu donated from the Wheatsville Co-Op. It sounds delicious, but I'm not sure I'll ever need to fry up 40 pounds of tofu in a session!

Some of the things I think will be first onto the must make list are:-
- Texas Chili
- Jackfruit Brisket (I'm really intrigued about this, a fruit that you cook up and eat as a savoury dish).
- King Ranch Casserole (It looks delicious, something you'd make with a can of soup in a previous incarnation, suitably trashy!)

Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food
Thirdly, Papa Tofu loves Ethiopian Food. My knowledge about any kind of African food is non-existant. When I first started looking into vegan food it was hard to miss all the talk about Ethiopian food.

And I can understand why it is so popular, it seems to be a quite spicy cuisine. And I am fascinated by the injera bread, once again SBS Food Safari to the rescue and seemingly Teff flour is not available in Australia. But I shall be keeping my eye out anyway.

I thought I might tackle the Crepes from Vegan Brunch, as Isa uses them in her recipe for Ethiopian Crepes.

You can find much more coherent description about this great zine here on Kittee's blog.

And not pictured, because I can not find which bag I have put it in is a zine called Veganistan: Vegan food from the Middle East & Maghrebi
Maghrebi you ask?? I certainly did, according to good ole Wikipedia it is:-
"The Maghreb (also Maghrib; Arabic مغرب) is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara."

Now if I could place my copy I could tell you more about it, but I can't for the moment. So look for an update in the near future. The Veganistan zine, has introduced me to yet another new to me world cusine.

Broadening the horizons of my mind and also my taste buds! Does anyone else have a favourite cusine? A new one they are just delving into?