Thursday, 24 December 2009

One more sleep!!

Adaptation may be the reason why, as we age, we believe that in our youth the sky was bluer, summer days were warmer and food tasted better.
How to Fossilise Your Hamster by Mick O'Hare

For some reason gingerbread always reminds me of Christmas so what perfect way to kick-start the lead up to the festive season than gingerbread waffles.

I used the recipe from Vegan Brunch (but using half and half white and wholemeal flours) and served them with sliced banana and maple syrup. Perfect!

One thing I absolutely love about Christmas time is Christmas cake! This year I found
this recipe on The Hungry Vegan blog and thought I’d give it a go.

I ended up over-cooking mine a bit since it needed quite a lot less time than the recipe said (well, mine did anyway...maybe it was my cake pan?) but it still turned out delicious.

We also always have our family Christmas party the last Saturday before Christmas day. Being the only vegan or vegetarian in the family usually (one of my cousins is a vegetarian but she lives in Aussie) I always bring a main dish and my famous trifle (well, famous in our family anyway). I also bought hummus because, well, hummus rocks.

The evening started with my Aunty’s rather strong (at least on an empty stomach) fruit cocktail. I could feel my head spinning after only a few sips!

The last couple of years I’ve been making a tofukey for the main dish which is really delicious but I was kind of a bit on the busy side and figured it was time for a change. Instead I made a nut loaf adapted from a recipe I found in the Australian Women’s Weekly Great Vegetarian Food cookbook. I also made a tomato sauce to go with it.

It didn’t stay together as well as usual but never mind ‘cause taste is more important! Here’s it messily plated up amongst other good food. Mum made this awesome kumara salad after I specially requested it. I really should get the recipe off her. But she was kind enough to let me take home all the leftovers which I steadily ate through over the following couple of days.

Of course, no family Christmas party is complete without trifle! This year my cousin D requested the chocolate version.

It’s really very simple although takes a bit of time to make everything. First I make a basic chocolate cake which then gets sliced up and spread with jam and laid at the bottom of the serving dish. I then mash up a tin of berries and pour this over the top and then add fresh, chopped fruit (strawberries are great with chocolate). Finally I make a thick chocolate custard which gets cooled before putting on top of the dish and then you top that with chopped dark chocolate. Super rich but super tasty!

Here’s my dessert bowl...

...trifle, fruit salad, my Uncle’s apple crumble and my Mum’s Christmas pudding. And now I’m super full which is, of course, all part of the tradition!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Racing through time

Sometimes you laugh because you've got no more room for crying. Sometimes you laugh because table manners on a beach are funny. And sometimes you laugh because you're alive, when you really shouldn't be.
Nation by Terry Pratchett

Ooo, today is a good day! I've just entered a longish adventure race in mid-January with a friend of mine so am very excited about that (yep, people do say I'm slightly crazy but everyone needs a slice of craziness in their lives). Better start getting my milage up in preparation! This is also my last day of work for the year (scary thought...not back till mid January unless something comes up earlier).

Anyway, back to the food. It was my brother's birthday earlier in the week so naturally that called a celebration and cake.

I made my go-to carrot cake from
The Damn Tasty Vegan Baking Guide (this time I used pear puree instead of apple sauce and dates instead of raisins) and, as usual, it was delicious and perfect. I love this recipe (if you don't have this book, it's almost identical to the one in Kris' other book, 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes).

We had dinner at my parents house and I brought along some
Fry's vegetarian sausage rolls to add to my dinner.

My cousin D decided she wanted to try a bit and reckoned they tasted remarkably like the real thing. I'm never sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing or just a thing but I guess if your average person thinks they taste good (whether it tastes like the real thing or not) then that's gotta be a good thing.

Cake...good for my tummy!

We've got our family Christmas party on Saturday night...ARGH!!! I can't believe how fast this year has gone. It's crazy. Feels like only a few months ago it was Christmas last year! Come back next time for lots of Christmas food...there are going to be a few busy days in the kitchen ahead.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Take a tour of my stomach

It was not that he had lost his will to live. It was that his brain was so exact and cold a thing that when it told him that his life, for this reason, and for that reason, was within a few hours of its end, he had no faculties wherewith to combat its logic.
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

In case you were concerned, I have actually eaten things other than cookies and rum balls (although I must admit a fair amount of indulgence in respect of the rum balls!). So here we go...

My flatmates were away for a couple of weeks not that long ago and left me a package of tempeh in the fridge to use up. I adore tempeh but hadn't bought any in ages so this was the perfect excuse to cook some again. For once I was organised and marinated it in the morning (okay, so I wasn't that organised but I was working from home so was probably trying to procrastinate!) and then baked it in our convection oven along with some kumara chips.

On the side I had some stir-fried veges. I grated some sheese and sprinkled that on top of the veges along with a drizzle of tahini. When such a simple combination tastes so good there's no real need to go making a sauce (in other words, I'm just plain lazy)!

This was dinner the following night. I'd cooked up a double-batch of tempeh and had some leftover kumara chips so I added all of that to one of my usual giant salads.

Yes, there are vegetables under that huge mound of tempeh! Ah, so delicious!

One night I had a girls night with my friend S and her darling daughter and she whipped us up some delicious vegetable wraps.

I filled mine with hummus, asparagus, mushrooms, red onion, lettuce, tomato and cucumber. It was so refreshing that I ate two of them! We finished our night with popcorn, strawberries and a good old chick flick! Oh yeah!

On a recent exploration of the local health food shop I discovered these random tempeh rolls (tempeh and vegetables wrapped in pastry) and, out of the curiosity that sometimes overcomes me in there, I bought a pack to try. I threw the package away before I made a note of the brand but if anyone's interested I can have a look next time I'm there.

They were actually delicious and made a great light lunch with salad but they could have done with more filling and less pastry (or maybe that's just me).

A couple of weeks ago when B was up we decided to invite my lovely cousin D round for dinner. I'd been highly domestic the day before and cooked up a huge saucepan of chickpeas (note to self: I really should cook beans more often) so I decided we were going to have chickpea curry. The only snag was I had no curry paste so I sent B off to the supermarket on a mission to find some vegan curry paste. All he could find were pouches of
Thai Kaffir Lime curry paste.

I used 2 of the pouches but it could probably have done with 3 although D still found it pretty hot. I must increase her tolerance for hot food! It was actually delicious so maybe I'll have to buy those pouches again. Pity none of the other flavours were vegan.

No post of dinners cooked at home is complete without a meal of nachos! What is it about nachos that makes them such a staple and should I be concerned?! Oh well, at least B enjoyed them too.

I keep meaning to try these with different beans (preferably some I've cooked myself) just to shake things up a little but I was lazy and used my usual can of kidney beans.

So I rather regularly have pizza as an after-climbing dinner with the rest of the climbing crew but it had been ages since I'd made it myself. I found myself trying to think of meals to make on a recent trip up to my beach house and decided pizza was an excellent idea. Being a little lazy I bought the bases so they weren't as awesome as usual but still pretty good.

I pretty much used any toppings I had on hand (a base of tomato paste topped with mushrooms, capsicum, onion, tomato, avocado and
sheese as well as cooked, chopped Bean Supreme burger patties which I'd found in my freezer at home). SO good.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Crank up that oven

First came the atom bomb, the stealth bomber and the air-borne laser. Then in 2002 came one of the US military's most fearsome weapons: the indestructible sandwich.
How to Make a Tornado edited by Mick O'Hare

For the first time in what feels like forever I had a real baking fest (probably helps having someone around ready to eat it!).

First up, a modified version of the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Walnut Cookies from
Veganomicon. I didn't want them to be totally chocolate so I replaced the cocoa with more flour. I also had some vegan white chocolate floating around so I used a mixture of both dark and white chocolate.

These were enjoyed with cups of tea and bread with homemade preserves at a friend's place. Loving the crockery!

Next up I made a batch of the ever-popular (at least amongst anyone I've made these for) Chocolate Peanut Butter Shells from
The Damn Tasty Vegan Baking Guide.

I always end up having to add extra flour to get the dough mixture to the right consistency but it's worth it 'cause these are seriously delicious.

Finally, I recently got
Kris's The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes because her previous book is my go-to book pretty much any time I'm baking something so I thought I ought to try something from it. After much debate my friend B and I picked out the Gooey Layered Goodie Bars. I'd run out of dark chocolate but had some white chocolate chips floating around in the pantry so used those instead.

When it came out of the oven I wasn't exactly convinced but after a taste test (this is, of course, very necessary with anything you bake!) we deemed these to be totally delicious and definitely a recipe to make again. Looks can clearly be deceiving.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Rumbling delights

Something was wrong. He could feel it in the air, in the sudden calm, in the way the world felt suddenly as tough something heavy was pressing down on it.
Nation by Terry Pratchett

A few weeks ago my mate B was up for the weekend to compete in an adventure race with me. Anyway, as a treat for after the race we bought these
Leda Chocolate Rum Balls.

They were seriously good and we may have got a little addicted so we decided that next time B was up to visit we'd try and make our own.

Luckily it wasn't too long before he was in my neighbourhood again and bearing rum he'd got from his parent's liquor cabinet. Yay! After searching the internet to find a recipe but not coming up with anything that satisfied me I decided we'd just have to make it up as we went along and they turned out surprisingly well if not a little strong on the rum but hey, they're rum balls after all so I guess it's not really a problem at all!

So, here's the recipe...bearing in mind that I kind of made it up as I went along so the amounts are all rather arbitrary!

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 rum
2 cups toasted, mixed nuts (I used almonds, pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews and coconut)
1 packet (250g) Arnott's Nice biscuits (or similar)
1 Tbsp molasses
200g dark chocolate, melted
desiccated coconut for coating

Soak the raisins in the rum for a few hours or overnight.

In a food processor, blend the nuts until they are finely chopped. Add the biscuits and process again until finely ground. Add the rum and raisin mixture and blend again. Finally, add the molasses and dark chocolate and blend until the mixture is all combined and holds together (you'll need to scrap down the sides several times).

Put the mixture in the fridge for about an hour so that it's easier to work with and then shape into balls (what ever size you fancy but don't make them too big 'cause the mixture is pretty strong!). Roll in coconut to decorate and store in the fridge.