Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Slipping under the water

Sometimes you just don't know what you are supposed to do
or who you are meant to be
or where you are
and the day seems to end the way it began.
The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

Ooo, last day of OZ & NZ VeganMoFo...and I survived! It was fun but to be honest it's a relief we've reached the end! I haven't exactly had the best month and I certainly haven't made anything particularly interesting. I had all these good intentions but it just never worked out!

A lot is going on round here that isn't food related. I've got a few events coming up that I'm training for which leaves me feeling pretty exhausted and my arms feel dead from an epic climbing session last night. Today is also rather stressful at work after the news of the tsunami in Samoa as we've got a film crew heading over there in a couple of weeks. We're trying to work out what locations are still usable and what isn't and what on earth we're going to do.

Anyway, here's my lunch for today...couscous salad with roasted vegetables from Revel.

It wasn't one of their most exciting salads but it filled the spot and was still pretty tasty.

A few days ago I was having a really bad night and I couldn't think of what to eat. I didn't want toast or cereal and I had hardly any veges in my fridge. I didn't feel up to cooking anything and it also had to be something comforting. What to do?

I ended up settling on cooking up some kumara chips (thank god for our convection oven), carrot chips and peanut butter. Not balanced in any way but if homemade kumara chips can't cheer me up then I don't know what will!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Saving the daylight

If, as many of the Deep Voices believe, the darkness is just as much a something as is the light, then which came first after Nothing – the darkness or the light?
Shadowplay by Tad Williams

Daylight savings began on Sunday over here in New Zealand which means I'm back to getting up in total darkness again but at least it's light for longer in the evenings. It also means we're on track for summer but you'd never know it if you looked out the window about now...

Anyway, below is a fairly typical dinner for me of late. Actually cooking something has been feeling like rather too much of a chore lately so there have been lots of lazy meals. I need to start being more creative again.

A giant salad (salad leaves, grated carrot, capsicum, avocado, chopped dates, baked potato cubes and chopped
Bean Supreme tofu sausages) with steamed broccoli on the side (covered in a mix of tahini and Tofutti cream cheese).

Another of my favourite meals that seems to crop up a lot on this blog is nachos. I like that I can make them from things normally found in my pantry (a tin of kidney beans and a tin of chopped tomatoes) and any veges rolling round in the bottom of the fridge. Plus I have a small addiction to corn chips! It also makes plenty for leftovers in the freezer which is always a bonus.

This was my lunch today (because I was so hungry by the time I finished cooking last night that I forgot to take a photo of it at dinner was much more exciting because I put it under the grill and everything...okay, maybe not
much more exciting but at least a little bit). This batch was made with the usual kidney beans and tinned tomato (normally I use a mexican-flavoured one but I only had italian), onion, grated carrot, mushrooms, broccoli, courgette, capsicum, various herbs, chilli and curry powders, smoked paprika and some chopped up Veaty Bites chicken style chunks which had been in my freezer for, like, forever.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Grainy morning fuel

She did not think she would sleep tonight. But if there was no sleep, at least there could be no dreams.
Our Lady of the Snow by Louise Cooper

When I used to live at home I was in charge of making the muesli for our household. Basically I'd clear out everything I could find from the pantry and fridge that could go into muesli and make the biggest batch ever. Then when I first moved out I would come home every couple of weeks to make another giant batch with the deal being that Mum would let me take half away with me. But that was a while ago now...

This weekend, while I had the oven on baking another batch of Zucchini Spelt Muffins from
Vegan Brunch (you should seriously make these...they are delicious), I decided it was high time I started making my own muesli again. It's always so much better than anything I can buy because I can make it exactly how I like it!

This batch has a mixture of rolled oats, wholegrain oats, rye flakes, walnuts, almonds, black and white sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds mixed with a little bit of oil and and a fairly large drizzle of molasses then baked in the oven on 180℃ for about 30 or 40 minutes (stirring every so often). Once it cooled I added some ground flaxseed and a mixture of dried fruits. Easy.

Friday, 25 September 2009

An exhibition of revels

I pray that at last, as my long days draw to a close, I will have the chance to put right what once I did ill, that I will at last learn the truth. The truth will set me free.
Labyrinth by Kate Mose

I am SO tired! Yesterday we had a fun 3 hour night
rogaine event round some of the local streets and I didn't get back from that until pretty late and then I got up for spin this morning. I'm very much in need of a nap right about now.

Here's my epic breakfast...a super thick banana smoothie (frozen banana, frozen berries, ground flaxseed, tahini, cocoa and oat milk) topped with muesli and chopped almonds and walnuts. SO good.

Anyway, after my superpowered breakfast I had to race into town to meet Mum to go check out the
Rita Angus (a well-known New Zealand artist) exhibition at the Auckland City Art Gallery. After wandering round the display for about 2 hours (and debating which were our favourites and where we would hang them if we owned them!) we were famished and in need of lunch.

Revel delivered with both of us ordering the Vegan Reveller.

How can you possibly go wrong with a huge plate of giant falafels with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, hummus, sundried tomato and basil pestos all served with lightly toasted bread?

Despite being so full after all this food that we could hardly move, dessert had to be ordered so we grabbed a couple of slices of the Peanut Butter Cake/Pie/whatever to take away and managed to wander down to Albert Park to indulge.

This is what all Fridays should be made of (in case you were wondering, that's two slices of cake/pie and no, unfortunately I didn't get to eat them both as I had to share with Mum!).

Thursday, 24 September 2009

It's raining tools

Madness slunk in through a chink in History. It only took a moment.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The spring rains have definitely been making an appearance over the last few days. Unfortunately they haven't been strong enough to get all the mud off my car so I guess I'm going to have to give it a real wash shortly!

Anyway, yesterday was an exciting mail day. Since I moved out of my old flat I have been without any tools for my bike and have been borrowing gear off my flatmate's Dad. Well, I finally got around to getting some of my own. We picked out a toolbox that has most of the stuff I need and ordered it off the web (good old
Torpedo7...and it arrived yesterday!

I also ordered a pump and a chain stay guard 'cause my other one went walking when I last took my bike in for a service but these things aren't quite exciting enough to warrant a photo so you'll just have to imagine them!

Also, to make yesterday even more exciting, last night I met up with my darling cousin D for our (almost) weekly dinner at Food Alley. We are creatures of habit and always head straight for the Claypot place and always order the same dishes. Mine is the Tofu and Vegetable Claypot and it is truly awesome. Quite possibly my favourite meal EVER!

Yes, I've blogged about the claypot here before but it really is good! We also always get a freshly made juice each's like this little routine we've got going. This time I picked a carrot, pineapple and apple juice. Divine.

So all in all, yesterday was a pretty good day...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A case of the leftovers

I still remember how the room seemed to light up, though the sun had gone now, and its warmth with it.
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

So, yesterday was breakfast and today is lunch. But not just any lunch...leftovers for lunch!! I know I've mentioned this many times before but leftovers are quite possibly my favourite kind of lunches of all time!

Soup is always good 'cause you can whip up a big batch and then freeze it in single-sized portions ready for lunches during the week. It's also good because you can add leftovers from other meals like veges and tofu making it a double-whammy of leftovers! Oh yeah!

The dish below is satay tofu and veges with wholemeal pasta (although we keep being told to eat wholemeal pasta over white pasta it is notoriously difficult to find). After quite a while of cooking for 2 I'm still getting used to how much I need to make a meal just for me so I usually get a little bit carried away when chopping up veges...not that it's a problem 'cause it simply means I end up with, well, leftovers.

This dish is stir-fried veges and tempeh with quinoa. It made enough for 2 days of leftovers. Yay...especially because I absolutely love tempeh! I've had quinoa a few times before but this was actually the first time I got around to cooking it myself (sad I know because it's really delicious and I love the texture). I'm thinking it will be used a lot now.

And finally...below is the leftovers from the
day I went to Golden Age made into a salad with added grated carrot, dried dates, almonds, sweet chilli sauce, toasted sesame oil and tamari. Not a work lunch but eaten out at the forest...perfect.

Naturally I even have leftovers in store for lunch today...
Hell Pizza from last night after climbing and I can't wait!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

How to take on the morning and other stories

Slowly the moon went by. Shadows fell down from the hills, and all grew dark before them. The stars grew thick and bright in the sky above. No one stirred.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day hands down. I can have it at any time of the day, doesn't really matter as long as it's breakfast food!

When I'm at home for breakfast (which seems to be only about 2 or 3 times a week at the moment) I normally have cereal and fruit. It's regular comfort food (I've been known to have the odd day where I've had this for lunch and/or dinner as well!).

My regular at the moment is a couple of weetbix, a handful of muesli (what ever I've got in the pantry at the time), a golden kiwifruit and a spoonful of peanut butter doused in heaps of rice milk. This will keep me going until lunchtime no problem.

Sometimes on a Saturday morning I might have a smoothie before yoga if I haven't been out running beforehand (I'm normally way behind schedule if I've gone running so it's cereal or a muesli bar as I'm racing out the door).

Sometimes it's a green smoothie, sometimes it's just your regular as above (frozen banana, frozen mixed berries, peanut butter, ground flaxseed, rice milk). I like it thick enough to eat with a spoon!

This morning I didn't feel like my usual weetbix so I made a super thick smoothie so it was a bit more like ice cream and I ate it out of a bowl topped with muesli and chopped almonds and walnuts. SO delicious!

If I'm having breakfast at work (the mornings I'm training before work) I'll have a homemade texas muffin and fruit (my favourites are the
Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins and the Zucchini Spelt Muffins both from Vegan Brunch) or toast (homemade bread...I love my breadmaker!) with almond butter and jam.

There are times though when I'll put on my apron (metaphorically speaking since my apron normally hangs forlornly in my bedroom and my clothes bear the brunt of my messiness) and make something more exciting. Unfortunately I've had a fair amount on lately so haven't had time in the morning to make something exciting like waffles or pancakes...hopefully this weekend? Can't wait to make those
Peanut Butter Waffles or some girdle scones again though...

Sometimes though I might even go out for breakfast/brunch/a meal before midday.
Kokako is just up the road from my gym so sometimes I might head there on a Saturday or Sunday morning for some fueling up.

This is their tofu scramble and it is really good...tofu chunks, tomato, mushrooms, potato and super grainy bread. Guaranteed to make your morning.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Happy happy lemon day

But even the longest and darkest of nights passes sooner or later.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

It was Mum's birthday on Saturday so, naturally, cake was required. But first up, dinner. Because everyone had been out all day the meal was real quick. Mum had got me
Fry's vegetarian sausage rolls which were real delicious and I had that with a basic salad...because one must save room for cake!

Mum always wants chocolate when asked so this time I thought, well, why don't I not ask her and make something else that I know she will love just as much but wouldn't think of to ask for because chocolate always gets in the way!!! You see, whilst browsing the recipes on Have Cake, Will Travel I stumbled across a recipe for
Lemony French Cake which immediately made me think of Mum 'cause she loves lemon-flavoured cakes and puddings. I knew instantly this would be perfect for her.

I iced the cake with the cream cheese lemon icing and topped it with vegan lemon-flavoured turkish delight (another real favourite of Mum's). After an awesome day out at the forest for the Auckland Orienteering Champs (yep, my parents are orienteers too), cake was the perfect way to finish the day.

It didn't rise as much as I would have liked which might be because I cooked it in a larger pan than the recipe called for but it was deliciously light and not too sweet. I'll definitely be making this cake again. Most importantly though, the birthday girl liked it too!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tofu in Mum's kitchen

His teeth tried to tell him something, but he never listened to them. A man could go mad, listening to his teeth.
Making Money by Terry Pratchett

Most thursday nights are 'dinner at the parents' nights. Some previous dinners can be found
here and here. Mum is always looking for different dishes to use tofu in and one night she made us all Italian Tofu Meatballs.

They totally rocked so I guess I'll have to give the recipe a go myself now!

Another tofu dish she made was this...a baked tortilla stack. I think it's from one of the Simon and Alison Holst Meals Without Meat cookbooks. The tofu is crumbled up into little pieces and if you didn't know that it had tofu in it you could be fooled.

Light, spicy and delicious. Wonder what she will whip up for us next...

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The sun through the clouds

One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of accidentally becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem involved in becoming your own father or mother that a broadminded and well adjusted family can't cope with. There is also no problem about changing the course of history - the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

A few things that help to brighten up bad days...

Scoring free bittersweet
Whittakers chocolate from the boys at the coffee shop across the road from work. They definitely know how to brighten a bad day.

Running especially as it becomes lighter in the mornings and I can run round the local parks instead of having to stick to the streets. It's even better when I have new running shoes (and having them contain some of my favourite colours). This morning it was light enough not long after 6am to run through the bush tracks in the
Auckland Domain. Yay!

Finding Vanilla Tofutti Cuties at the
Safe store on K'Rd. This is the kind of thing I never thought we'd get here. I seriously could not believe how awesome these tasted. Hopefully we will get a few more flavours.

Being out in the forest even on drizzly, wet days. Clears your head and frees your mind. My favourite thing to do out at the forest is orienteering...can't wait for the events this weekend.

My sweet flatmate's bliss balls. She made them super peanut buttery! What's not to love?!

Today will be a good day ☺

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Rummaging around

A night bird trilled. The world was so big, and the night sky was so full of glimmering light!
Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams

If I haven't thought in advance (which is pretty much all the time...and if I have planned in advance I'll have forgotten what I planned), I never know what I'm going to have for dinner until I actually get into the kitchen and have a rummage around for what I've got and what I feel up to doing. This particular dinner was a case of opening the pantry and going, umm, what shall I eat tonight? I saw a can of creamed corn and thought, 'hmmm, corn fritters sound good.' But I thought I'd add some chickpeas to the mix for some protein (and 'cause chickpeas are delicious).

I served the fritters with mango chutney, sliced capsicum and avocado, steamed broccoli with tahini ('cause I can never be bothered making a proper sauce), hummus and the last raw flaxseed cracker from a pack I bought at
Huckleberry Farms out of curiosity. Quick and delicious.

In case you were interested, here's a really rough recipe for the fritters. Bear in mind I didn't actually measure anything but it's pretty forgiving so you can pretty much do what ever you like.

Corn and Chickpea Fritters

half a can of chickpeas (drained)
half a can of creamed corn
½ tsp baking powder
approx ¹⁄₈ cup polenta
approx ³⁄₈ cup wholemeal flour
1 Tbsp yeast flakes
1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
½ Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 1 Tbsp rice milk
a sprinkling of chilli and lime seasoning

Mash the chickpeas up with a fork then mix in the rest of the ingredients (super easy!). Heat up your fry pan and spoon heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan once it's heated. Flatten slightly. Cook on both sides until golden brown (or just brown...I put the golden part in there 'cause it sounded fancy!). Makes enough for 2 people (and it keeps in the fridge for a couple of days as might keep longer but my mixture never lasts that long!).

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dining in the golden age

He'll never get past them crawling, especially crawling down stairs. He has a faint recollection that he tried crawling down some stairs in the recent past, but remembers only that it was definitely a mistake.
Z Is For... from Rite by Tad Williams

A new vegan restaurant,
Golden Age, opened in Auckland a few weeks ago which is a pretty big deal because it's actually the first purely vegan restaurant to open in New Zealand. Naturally as soon as I heard about it (thanks Auckland Vegan for the heads up) I had to go check it out and my friend E decided to join me. We ordered heaps 'cause, well, it was all terribly exciting (for me anyway). I've never been to a restaurant or cafe where I can have absolutely anything on offer.

First up E picked the Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup.

I actually only had a spoonful of this 'cause I'm not a big fan of this kind of soup but I can vouch for the fact it was more ways than one! But E seemed to enjoy it and was determined to polish off the whole bowl (which was bigger than it first appeared).

Next we had two main courses between us with rice (not pictured 'cause you all know what a plate of rice looks like!). E picked the Combination Tofu.

Your standard fare...but good all the same especially the veges for some reason, maybe because they weren't overcooked and still had a little bit of crunch to them.

I um-ed and ah-ed for ages but eventually picked the Lemon Veggie Chicken.

This was SO delicious...I was quite taken by surprise really. How do you describe it? good that it HAD to be bad for you! No idea if it tasted anything like chicken but I do know I will order it again.

Of course dessert was a requirement so we got an almond cookie (I'm just guessing the flavour here but that's what it tasted like).

Crunchy and not too sweet. Very delicious.

Lastly we had to get a Red Bean Pancake to share...naturally.

I adored this which wasn't really surprising as ever since I had my first one a couple of months back I've fallen in love although it could have done with a little bit more red bean mixture inside. Now I've just got to work out how to make them myself!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Crunch crunch?

'The images jump out of the creative space into the created space. The figures are shaken out of the magician's sleeve and appear out of thin air bursting with life. The fantasies are beautiful in appearance, but all except one have lost their minds. Only a lonesome Joker sees through the delusion.'
The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

I'd never had a protein bar before but I saw these at the health food store and thought I'd try some since none of the usual ones I get in race packs and that I've seen people have are vegan.

Peanut Butter Crunch

I don't know what I expected it to be like but it tasted very strongly of peanut butter...kind of like eating it straight out of the jar mixed with sugar. It also felt like it was sticking to the roof of my mouth which wasn't that pleasant (yes, I was drinking plenty of water too). I think I'd rather just eat the peanut butter (natural peanut butter though 'cause this tastes a bit more processed). I will admit that it took the shakiness out of my legs after the race but hey, I suspect anything would have considering I hadn't eaten for about 4 hours and I'd just run solid for 3. Perhaps I should have had some out there on the course to see what it was like but my stomach is not big on eating whilst racing.

Chocolate Brownie

This flavour was much better for me. This time I tried it before heading out for a run after work. It wasn't too sweet and had a bit of crunch to it and more than held me over till I got around to making dinner (actually, I wasn't hungry at all when I got back which was good as I didn't end up eating until about 8:30pm). I wonder if it feels left out being the only one without
Crunch in its name...?!

Berry Almond Crunch

Again I had this bar before heading out for a run after work that evening. I didn't have high expectations of it but it turned out to be pretty least for the first half until it got a bit sweet. The berry taste wasn't too sickly and the almonds gave it a nice crunch and subtle nutty taste. It definitely held me over until dinner which was pretty late and it didn't sit in my stomach the way some bars do while I run but I still preferred the Chocolate Brownie flavour.

Almond Crunch

Maybe it was because I didn't drink enough water but I found this bar a little hard to stomach. It was quite sticky like the peanut butter flavour and had a fairly strong taste of almond essence. Now I love almonds and I adore almond butter but I'm not a fan of almond essence so I was kind of disappointed. I tried this bar midway through biking out at the
Woodhill Bike Park and it held me over till I got home again but I was starving not long after walking in the door.

It was so gorgeous out at the bike park I had to include this picture...loving spring!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Crumbly birds of brightness

It was the most commonplace question in the world. It was the question which, sooner or later, every child in the kingdom asks his governess or his schoolmaster or his parent. Yet the learned members of the York society did not at all like hearing it asked and the reason was this: they were no more able to answer it than any one else.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I've posted about
The Blue Bird several times before but it always deserves more mention as it is probably our flat's favourite place to eat out.When you walk in there is a cabinet filled with food (all helpfully labelled). It's always a surprise to see what they have (my flatmates and I have our favourite items that we're always on the lookout for and will bring back for each other if we see them).

This is a Potato and Pea Rissole with chutney and salad. Pretty simple but real good.

I think this is a Pumpkin and Red Lentil Pie topped with strips of raw carrot and beetroot.

Whatever it was, it tasted damn good. I really like their pastry. We actually have a couple of Sri Chinmoy recipe books sitting around at the flat and I keep meaning to pull them out and cook up a storm but I've been a bit lazy. I ought to change this!

You can also order off their bowl menu...pick a size (small, medium, large...anything over a small is actually pretty large) a topping and then pick a base from brown rice, baked or mashed potato or baked kumara. It's served with a slice of grain bread and olivani (you have to ask for it instead of butter) on the side.

This is their African Beans on kumara. It would be better with a few veges but it's pretty good (and an awesome protein powerhouse).

They've recently started serving what they call superfood smoothies.

This is the Maca Cacao smoothie in all its chocolaty goodness. Can't remember what was in it but it was delicious and super filling.

Sometimes I get takeaways. This may just look like a container of mixed vegetables but let me tell you, this is their Roast Vegetable Tart and it is divine. I tried to take it out of the container and plate it to make it look prettier but the base was falling apart.

The base (which you can't see) tastes oaty and crumbly (and is apparently gluten-free for those of you needing that sort of thing) and then is topped with, actually, I don't know but it was brown and yummy. Then it's loaded up with roast veges like carrots, pumpkin, capsicum and zucchini...very delicious. Plus their chutney they serve with it is fabulous. Don't know what kind it is but I want!

And one can't go to
The Blue Bird without partaking in some crumble with soy ice cream.

Seriously, this crumble can completely brighten my I said yesterday, it's the simple things ☺

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The delight of food in cardboard cartons

You see, it's so frightfully difficult when you've nobody. You're so at the mercy of things. You can't just be rude. And you've always this horror of seeming inexperienced and stuffy like the other ninnies at the Bay. And - and it's fascinating to know you've power over people. yes, that is fascinating...
- The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield

I normally bring lunch to work (usually favourite) but sometimes I've forgotten or there isn't anything to take so then I have to head further afield to find food. There aren't a great deal of good lunch options near my work unless I feel like trekking down to the foodcourt (which normally, embarrassingly enough, I normally feel too lazy).

Probably my favourite place to go is
Renkon. I pretty much always order the same thing...

Teriyaki Tofu on rice (you can't see the rice 'cause it's hidden under so much goodness). So good.

If you get it takeaway you get it in one of those really cool cardboard cartons.

It's the little things that make your day!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

'Can't be arsed' evenings

"You run the risk of a few tears when you allow yourself to be tamed..."
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

You know those get home from work feeling super tired and super lazy and all you really want to do is curl up in bed or in front of the television and have dinner materialise in front of you. I'm sorry, but that ain't gonna happen so you'll have to go into the kitchen and whip something up pronto.

This is one of those meals:

Fry's Vegetarian Chicken-Style Nuggets (I love our convection oven - cooks things like this in no time at all) with cheap and nasty sweet and sour sauce (okay, so it's not nasty but it's, well, bright, toxic orange so it's kind of freaky), steamed veges drizzled with tahini and salad.