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?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is it that time already?

I've seen out in the shops since early this month the begining of Christmas stock. Too early surely? Maybe not, the family are already talking about Christmas plans.

Since it's obviously hurtling towards that time of year I decided to start testing some vegan things in advance.

On my hit list:
Matrioshka Eggnog - Eggless nog? I'm quite partial to the nog myself so I'm keen to see what this version will be like. Nobody else in the family is really keen on eggnog so I don't know how they will take to this version. Oh well, all the more for me.

Gingered Champagne Cocktail I lurrrve ginger! It must run in the family because so does my mother and her father. I highly suspect the extended family would try this on the day.

Christmas Tamales - All I know of tamales is that Americans rave over them on the internet, and I have Latin cook book in which I keep looking at the tamales thinking they look like they'd be delicious. I know people complain were all becoming too Amercanised, but this is one American tradition I like the sound of adopting.

Greenbean Mushroom Casserole - I love mushrooms and anything with mushrooms in it. I've not been a fan of green beans however. That said certain family members make faces at mushrooms. Combining too evils could equal something fabulous. Personally I think all that mushroom will elevate this to fabulousness!
However I know from past experience sourcing prepared vegan mushroom soup is a challenge. All but one of the mushroom soups I have seen are made with beef stock. And the one that didn't? Was a cream of, so contained dairy. That said I have seen a mushroom soup recipe in a zine I recently purchased (Sunny Days in Texas), so I'm adding that to my to try list.

Thanksgiving in an Hour - Quick and also looks very simple apart from the Chickpea Cutlets which require more work. Since I'll probably be jostling for space in the kitchen, minimum effort or make ahead are going to be key. I broccoli and mashed potato, the mushroom gravy sounds good and the chickpea cutlets get rave reviews. I've never eaten cranberry sauce so it's the only thing I'm unsure about.
If I go with the Greenbean Mushroom Casserole above, I don't think I'll do mushroom gravy. Too much 'shroom I fear for the family, don't think it would be for me. Massel who make wonderful veg friendly stocks also make veg friendly gravy powders. I've not tried the gravy but a fellow Aussie vegan highly reccomends them.

Looking for something to do with pumpkin/sweet potato/carrots, I feel like I'd like something orange going on my plate amongest all this.

Things I've already made and have on the reserve list:
Harvest Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms - Back to the mushrooms again, can you tell the mushrooms and I have torrid love affair? These were wonderful, although I had filling left over, but I suspect my portobello's wern't quite as big or perhaps as deep. Basically I had to mound the filling in, rather than stuff the mushrooms.
These have omni approval, my father polished off two them, after having alreadyfinished  eating his dinner. And I will admit I found them very filling.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts - I lurrve brussel sprouts, equal to mushrooms. And as much as I love them, roasting them takes them to a whole new level. Absolutly worth a try, even if your a bit ambivilent about them try this!

Scalloped Potatoes and Eggplant Bacon - I just made this the other day, and it also gets omni approval. Well my Dad had two serves, my sister ate the potato and picked the eggplant out. Mostly approved. But I really liked it.

My line up is basically picking a bunch of stuff I like the idea of, picking my favourite things. At least I know I'll have something interesting/tasty/vegan to eat at Christmas dinner instead of my usual vegetarian pickings of past which involves bread. potatoes and salad (lettuce/tomato/cucumber/possibly avocado concoction).
Has anybody else succombed to the impending madness and started making Christmas plans???

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Photo Bonanza Part 2

Banana Rabanada (Brazilian French Toast) with banana, strawberry and kiwifruit.
 And new books!
Quick and Easy Vegan Bakesale

Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions

Photo bonanza Part 1

Eggplant Bacon from
Scalloped Potatoes and Eggplant Bacon from the
Asparagus & Lemongrass Risotto from Veganomicon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eight to ease.

Teddies, Trees and Peas (my make do adaptation of Mac & Trees from Appetite For Reduction).
No, no small children in my life, the teddies are all for my benefit! Just puts the finishing touch on comfort food.

Verdict? Delicious! And just what I needed, it has been a very long day and I don't seem to have got very far despite spending forever working through a bunch of tasks.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Scrumptious 7!

Todays baking effort, the Raspberry Blondie Bars from Vegan with a Vengeance. There really didn't look like enough topping when I set aside the specifed 1 cup of dough, and looking at how much the base puffed up I think next time I will reserve a bit more dough for the topping.

The raw dough was quite sweet to taste, but the raspberry layer was quite tart so I am presuming now that they are cooked together they will counter balance each other nicely.

At the time of writing this it is still in pan cooling down, when is is cool I shall cut it into bars and test it out. It certainly smells fabulous, if it does look a little dodgy. Live and learn!
Maybe I could make it work if I rolled the dough out for the top? I shall make myself notes for next time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Successful sixth!

Steamer has got another turn out tonight and here are the broccoli and carrots that I prepped to add to the Unfried Fried Rice.

Here is the finished product! I was ready for it, it didn't take that long to cook. It was just all the prep and lining everything up that took a bit of juggling, especially in a shared kitchen where your also fighting for space.

Unfried Fried Rice and Hoisin-Mustard Tofu from Appetite From Reduction - the sauce for the tofu got slightly "caramilised" due to cook's error but it still come up delicious and the fried rice was tasty without leaving you with that after oily mouth feel some take-away ones do. This was quite an experience, here I made Homemade Sorta Soy Yogurt from the Complete Guide to Vegan Substituions. It tastes delicious, I have to restrain myself from simply eating it as I want to use it in a batch of blondies. I think I will have to make a second batch for sure, it would be good with my porridge and fruit of a morning.

There's also an option for making it with coconut milk as opposed to soy milk, which sounds like it could be very delicious.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fifth's a Fail?

Tonight made the Curried Split Pea Soup from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance. I went with the suggestion of serving it over rice to make it more of an "entree". I love how Americans call mains "entree", I often wonder what they think when they come to Australia and see our menus.

Step 1 - Artfully shaped mound of rice in bowl...

Step 2 - Drown rice with split pea soup!
Initially I was going to use the recently purchsed stash of yellow split peas I picked up, but upon discovering I had an almost at their best before date split green peas I gave way to good housekeeping and used those. Probably being a dried legume they would keep and still be alright past their best before. First in, first out!

Final verdict? Next time I'll either increase the spice/curry powder or decrease the water, the final result was lovely and quite delicately flavoured it just left me waiting a bit more. Not a write off, just room for experimenting.

And here soaking (overnight!) are some black eyed peas ready to be cooked up in the morning so they are ready to be used later in the day in some recipes.
Tomorrow I hope to turn these black-eyes peas into Black-Eyed Pea & Tempeh Beanballs from Appetite for Reduction and Black-Eyed Pea & Quinoa Croquettes from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flying Fourth Vegan Mofo

In an effort to post something else for Vegan Mofo, after tomorrow when life settles a bit I hope to be able to get cooking up a storm. Here is the end of the Red Lentil and Root Veg Dal from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Vegan Mofo Third's a Charm!

I did some research on Happy Cow before going over on the weekend to seek out places in Hobart to check out. The plan was to do dome eating and photo taking that would make a mofo post.

Best laid plans? It should be altered to involve not men and mice but omni family members.

What I did find was the vegetarian Organic Summer Kitchen Bakery at the Salamanca Market, located down at the silo end. There they were, in a no frills plain white food fan. The food in the fan looked delicious! It was all tempting. To fit my time constraints I opted for a pie that was listed on the menu as vegan. Madras  

Vegetable Curry Pie with Chutney 

Filling included sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and possibly some regular potato as well. I'll admit to being dubious about how much I would like it as the pastry was made with wholemeal flour. It was the nicest pastry I have eaten in forever, quite crisp not soggy or greasy.Wholemeal flour certinaly gives it a distinct flavour but it managed to be tasty rather than too healthy tasting.

The only other pie listed as vegan was a lentil shepherd's pie, which included in it's filling brown rice. I'll admit I was all no to brown rice and wholemeal flour pastry. As I really don't like brown rice, no I do not Sam. Next time I get to Hobart I think I will certainly have to try their lentil pie, brown rice and all. If I liked their wholemeal pastry maybe Sam, just maybe I might like brown rice too.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Here's one we prepared earlier....

This week has been a bit of a wash for vegan mofo, next week when I have had time to rally myself should be more productive.

Today I'm going to do a rehash of my adventures with Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. Isa's Vegan with a Vengenance was my first vegan cookbook from the library and where I became both a fan of Isa and vegan food. And the rest as they say is history!

Speaking from past experience, in my previous omni life trying to be inspired by the healthy cook books was a bit of a challenge. Nothing was ever quite as nice as the things you would make from regular cookbooks. Finding the motivation to keep eating things that I really didn't like was a challenge.

Enter Isa....

Previously blogged about Tempeh Helper

Arabian Lentil and Rice Soup

Bistro Broccoli Chowder

Manhattan Glam Chowder

Moroccan Chickpeas and Zucchini

Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas

Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal with Basmati Rice

These have all been immensely successful and very tasty, it's all too easy to forget your chowing down on low fat meals. Huge win! 
What else can I say? Changing my eating habits in an effort to go vegan has totally changed me, it's not just the obvious weight loss and masses of energy. But I've become a lot happier and quite a bit more tolerant, I feel like a hippy for saying this and the me of a year go would have rolled her eyes and snarked if someone had said it to me. 

I think the process of cutting out various animal products I used to eat has actually made me happier. I have no real proof of this, just this feeling that at the same time I stopped eating animals, I also started to become a lot happier. Coincidence? Eh, maybe. However I have no plans to return to an omni diet any time in my future, that also makes me really happy. :)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Vegan Mofo First Post

Apologies in advance, my photos are taken with an iPod touch and probably I'll learn from these and attempt to do my blogging cooking during the day to get better lit photos. Here we have Tempeh Helper with Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce both from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

This is my first attempt at cooking with tempeh and certainly won't be my last, so delicious! Tempeh apparently has a bitter taste, Isa likens it to the bitter taste of aragula aka rocket. I do not like rocket. No Sam I do not.

I steamed it as per the instructions for avoiding the bitter flavour. Wish I'd taken pictures of that now as well, because I was excited because I got to use my steamer for the first time.
Tempeh is a soy product similar to tofu for those of you not familiar with what it is, I've only just learned it even existed.

Compared to tofu, stir fried tofu isn't bad, I prefer it if it's been cooked up quite crispy and a bit chewey as opposed to some times when it's left in large pieces and still remains quite soft in the centre.
Tempeh has a certainly more meaty texture and flavour, eating this very much reminded me of eating a savoury mince dish my mother used to cook.

The Cheezy sauce? Less cheesy and more like a very addictive savoury white sauce. I'm hooked on the nutritional yeast now, apparetnly here in Australia we recently struck a shortage of it. I'm not quite sure how it came about, but I can understand the panic at the thought of a shortage.
I'll do a post before the month is over on nutritional yeast, this was something else I've only just recently discovered.

Will I make this recipe again? A resounding yes! Actually I can't stop thinking about the left overs in the fridge. Will I cook more with tempeh? I think October is dangerously close to becoming tempeh month.

Alright that's my first post for Vegan Mofo, just a little taste to start off. This post was a bit of a rush so hopefully the future ones will be more planned and contain better photos.