Thursday, 27 March 2008

Pancakes, pikelets, hotcakes, griddlecakes, flapjacks…what the hell are they?!!

“And what’s happened to the Earth?”
“Ah. It’s been demolished.”
“Has it,” said Arthur levelly.
“Yes. It just boiled away into space.”
“Look,” said Arthur, “I’m a bit upset about that.”
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide by Douglas Adams

Now, I was going to talk about the brunch I whipped up for J and I the other morning but I encountered a dilemma…here’s where I got:
Ah, there’s nothing better than
Yeah, well, it seems a bit of a confusing thing having so many different names for the same thing. I think in New Zealand we would call them pikelets because pancakes here are traditionally basically crêpes and ‘cause they’re so big and thin flipping them over always freaks me out! I took a little trip to everyone’s favourite encyclopaedia for some answers to my problem. Here I’ve done a couple of searches. One for pancakes and the other for pikelets (hotcakes, girddlecakes and drop-scones all went to the pancake page too...but flapjacks? I’ll get to those).

Now, on the pancake page it mentioned the word flapjack so when I looked that up I was very confused because Wikipedia seemed to be trying to tell me that this was a kind of muesli slice thing (well, that’s what I got from their description...I guess a tray-bake is a slice??).

This whole thing reminds me of the difficulty I’ve run into sometimes when I’ve talk to my sister-in-law in the States. Sometimes she has no idea what I’m talking about so I have to wrack my brain for another word for it. It happens when I’m reading a book and I come across words such as college. College here is what I think the States calls high school. We call college university. I come across it in recipe books. What the hell is powdered sugar? Oh, right, icing sugar etc. I’ve found that us in little old New Zealand have adopted words from everywhere so we are quite good at working out what some unusual word might mean. Chances are we already use it sometimes.

So, onto our brunch. I’m loath to use the word pancake ‘cause that just doesn’t ring true for me and pikelets seem too much like plain jam and cream things you might have with tea a bit like plain scones so I’m going to settle on hotcakes, after all I have seen a recipe by our lovely Alison Holst for hotcakes and because hers and mine have rolled oats in them they have something in common so I feel on safe ground!! J and I were feeling terribly shady and exhausted on Easter Monday and felt like something tastier than our usual muesli (another one of those words that confuses some people) and fruit so it was a toss up between corn fritters and hotcakes (savory or sweet). It was going to be corn fritters…but there was no tinned sweetcorn in the pantry so hotcakes it had to be!

Shady Hotcakes

1 banana, mashed
¾ cup soy milk (I think although you might want a bit more)
2 Tbsp peanut butter
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cocoa
½ cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp brown sugar
5 small feijoas, diced

Mix the mashed banana, soymilk and peanut butter together in a large bowl.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl. Add the rolled oats and sugar then mix together. Add to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Lightly stir through the feijoas.

Heat some oil up in the frypan and drop large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the pan. Turn over when beginning to brown on the other side.

These are best hot and you can put whatever you like on them (we had mixtures of peanut butter, jam and finely chopped dark chocolate) but we had the leftovers cold later in the day and they were still delicious.

Monday, 24 March 2008

I like hokey pokey

And there you lie, Miranda, with a look of indignant, threatened innocence drawn across your face like a veil.
- Caliban’s Hour by Tad Williams

I had a hankering for those damn scones again but decided to try something else from Veganomicon while I have the book from the library. I’d seen a picture of the Lower Fat Banana Bread on Veggiegirl’s blog and decided to make that instead. Obviously it required changes as anyone who’s ever tried to buy apple sauce in New Zealand would know you can only buy it in a little bottle and it ain’t cheap. I cooked up a couple of little apples instead and pureed them. Not smooth and sticky like apple sauce but a damn sight cheaper. I changed some of the flour to wholemeal flour (I love the texture) plus I couldn’t resist throwing in some chopped cashews for some bite (I’d wanted walnuts but didn’t have any). As usual when I bake a vegan cake or a loaf I have trouble stopping the outsides from cooking too fast before the inside is done. The loaf was still a little mushy in the middle but it was delicious and moist.

The other night J and I got pizza at Hells (as usual I got the Sinister (hehehe) vegan pizza with added mushrooms and cashew nuts and without jalapenos 'cause it's always way too hot for me to handle...I'm a weakling when it comes to really hot food). J was studying the menu and eyeing up the dessert pizzas. I had to break his heart and tell him I couldn’t eat any of those but promised I’d make him one the following night instead (we still wanted dessert that night so got Lite Licks soy ice cream from the supermarket…I love hokey pokey ice cream!). So here it is, dessert pizza…delicious. I had leftovers the following night with homemade banana “ice cream” (Mum’s been eating leftovers for breakfast…she must love having me back home at the moment!).

Dessert Pizza

Pizza Base:
1 tsp sugar
½ cup tepid water
1 ½ tsp dried yeast
1 ½ cups bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp molasses

Dissolve the sugar in the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and leave for 10 minutes or until frothy. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil, molasses and yeast mixture. Mix well, adding extra flour if necessary. Knead on a floured board until smooth and elastic.

Chocolate Custard:
2 Tbsp cornflour
1 Tbsp cocoa
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup soy milk

Mix the cornflour, cocoa and brown sugar together in a small saucepan. Whisk in ¼ cup of the soy milk until well combined then whisk in the rest of the soy milk. Heat until thickened (should be quite thick). Cover tightly with gladwrap and let cool.

¾ cup rolled oats
¼ cup wholegrain oats
1 Tbsp brown sugar
½ cup chopped cashews
drizzles of oil (no idea how much I used!)

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add enough oil until the crumble mixture is coated.

2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pear, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup frozen berries
4 squares dark chocolate, chopped

Putting it together:
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the pizza base to the desired size on an oven tray (we always try to roll it out as big as possible…doesn’t matter what shape it ends up being!). Spread the chocolate custard over the top of the base then layer the apple and pear slices evenly over the top. Sprinkle the frozen berries on top. Spoon the crumble topping and chopped chocolate over everything else making sure to get as close to the edge as possible. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. Serve with soy ice cream or plain homemade custard.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Traveling through the madness of Spin

This is a secret: sometimes I am glad when Henry is gone. Sometimes I enjoy being alone. Sometimes I walk through the house late at night and I shiver with the pleasure of not talking, not touching, just walking, or sitting, or taking a bath. Sometimes I lie on the living room floor and listen to Fleetwood Mac, the Bangles, the B-52’s, the Eagles, bands Henry can’t stand. Sometimes I go for long walks with Alba and I don’t leave a note saying where I am.
- Claire from The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I finally finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger late last night. It had me up late desperately clinging to the pages of the book as I moved closer to the inevitable end. It’s been a long time since I’ve managed to get engrossed in a book, and even longer since I’ve been moved so deeply by the words on a page. There is something about the characters in this book which touched me deeply. I felt their pain, their loss, their fear, their loneliness. But I also felt their love, their passion, their hope, their beauty. But I was oddly disturbed this morning to discover that the book is being made into a film...

So I didn’t get much sleep after finishing the book as I had to leave the house just after 5am this morning to get to spin class. I was thinking about the madness of spin (Peloton) class the other day. You have to get there for the gym opening at 5.45am in order to claim a bike in time for the class which starts at 6:05am. So when I’m staying at my parents then, well, I have to leave just after 5am. Madness! Plus the class itself is crazy. Crammed into a tiny, darkened room filled with about 30 of these stationary bikes we gasp for air, sweating like anything despite (or perhaps because of) the tiny open windows and 2 fans going at full throttle. Our instructor sits up the front on his bike barking out orders (his microphone has been broken the last couple of times) and instructing us to “add more dial” (read: increase resistance and therefore pain) and to “pick up that cadence” (read: speed up that peddling). He has to shout to be heard above the thumping music blasting out of the stereo even when he’s got a microphone. All the while we are grabbing at our towels to wipe the sweat away and cursing the discomfort of those bloody bike seats (and I’m trying to work out how many more tracks until it’s over!). We battle our own imaginary hills and sprint race against invisible opponents as if it’s life or death. So why do I keep coming back? It’s bloody addictive, that’s why!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Cooking with Veganomicon

"If you go on flirting with the king with those sickly little smiles, one of us Boleyns is going to scratch your eyes out."
- The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

J and I were both home sick most of last week (well, I was sick ALL week). Finally having a bit more of an appetite by Thursday I made the banana-date scones from Veganomicon (I love that my library has the brilliant forsight to order good books from overseas before I have to hassle them about it) except as we had no dates (and no flaxseed in the flat…the texture was still awesome though) they were more of the banana-walnut variety. They went down so well I had a hankering for them again in the weekend. J wanted savoury scones though so I concocted some corn and sundried tomato scones as well with the leftovers from a tin of creamed sweetcorn.

I also made the famous chickpea cutlets ( I thought I might as well get the most out of the cookbook while I’ve got it out!) for dinner on Sunday. I’m really not sure what all the fuss is about. They were okay but hardly amazing or anything. Perhaps they would have been better pan fried (we baked them) but still…maybe it’s ‘cause I’m not a great fan of seitan or wheat gluten. Hmmmm. Luckily I made some cashew gravey to go with them otherwise it might have been quite a bland meal.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

At the Airport

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

Last week J made me a vegan chocolate cake for my return from Queenstown. It was not only his first vegan cake baking adventure, but actually his first cake so I was very proud of him. We demolished it pretty quickly despite me having come down with some awful viral infection upon my return.

I was terrified I was going to be stranded in Queenstown another night, sick and desperate for real food and a real bed (I’ve decided I’m not a big fan of hotels when you have to go out every night to get food which is made even more difficult with food allergies and eating preferences). It was misty with rain and Qantas wasn’t flying at all. The lady at the Air New Zealand check in counter was not exactly encouraging when she told me that my plane hadn’t managed to land yet and then proceeded to hand me a sheet of paper detailing what happens if a flight is cancelled. Luckily they did manage to fly me out. I can’t tell you how glad I was to finally land back in Auckland (and how awful a flight is if you’re sick). Waiting at the baggage claim was tedious though. It always seems that there is a lot of luggage that no one owns that comes out first and goes round and round and round while everyone stands around, getting increasingly impatient, waiting for theirs to appear.