Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Eating is good

"You cannot hide me, or hide from me," she is said to have told her accusers, "because you cannot find me. I was lost when I first drew breath."
Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

So while I'm off galivanting the countryside I thought I'd leave you to see a couple of cafe meals that M and I devoured the weekend before Christmas (then next time you can see my awesome tofukey I made for our family Christmas party also that's become quite the party tradition!).

First up, Saturday lunch at
Cosset after a bit of ridiculously hot rock climbing. Cosset is an all vegan cafe in Mt Albert and since I was last there the food as definitely improved. First up we went for their berry smoothies in an attempt to cool down a little...I would recommend these smoothies. The best thing is that they are thick enough to eat with a spoon.

Their menu is apparently always changing...M picked the filo spiral which was filled with curried vegetables and chickpeas. I stole a bit and it was definitely delicious.

I decided on a piece of the filo pie...and managed to snag the last piece. Definitely a good choice. It was nice and light (filled with veggies) but filling at the same time. Pretty much perfect for a hot day.

We were so taken with our filo meals we have decided we have to try recreating our own.

The cakes on the counter looked way too amazing to pass up on despite the fact we were going to be eating our weight in food that evening so we shared a piece of the cricket cake which was served with caramel sauce and vegan cream.

Oh man, this cake was amazing...a cricket cake is, apparently, a chocolate, orange and caramel cake and I think what really took it from just being another piece of cake to being something amazing was the caramel sauce as well as the soy cream.

Next up was Sunday lunch at Revel on K'Rd. This cafe is definitely up there on my top cafes for their unfailingly awesome food and their super range of vegan baked goods. Anyway, I thought I'd try something new on the menu (or at least something I'd never tried before), the Tofu Satay Salad.

Lots of veggies and spicy, peanuty tofu on top of a bed of salad leaves is a pretty much an ideal summer meal. I hope this stays on the menu for a while yet.

Of course, we couldn't pass up on their mint slice for dessert...

...but you could always make your own as per my
previous post!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Minty Christmas!

The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel.
Neuromancer by William Gibson

The dessert place at our Christmas lunch...

I have a thing for peppermint chocolate so it wasn't surprising that
I fell instantly in love with Revel's mint slice. So what better way to spend Christmas Eve than trying to concoct my own version!!

Mint Slice

125g margarine, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup coconut thread

Mint Filling
3 Tbsp margarine, room temperature
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4-1/2 tsp peppermint essence
1-2 Tbsp milk (oat, soy, rice etc)

Chocolate topping
250g (1 block) Whittaker's Ghana Peppermint Chocolate (or any block of chocolate really but I only had this one on hand...)
1 Tbsp margarine

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20 x 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Cream together the margarine and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the rest of the ingredients until just combined and then press into the prepared baking tin. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

Mint Filling
Beat the margarine until light and fluffy and then slowly add the icing sugar whilst beating. Add the peppermint essence and milk until you reach your desired consistency. Spread the filling over the top of the cooled base.

Melt the chocolate and the margarine together and then spread gently over the mint filling. Chill until firm enough to cut into slices (about 20 pieces...).


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Magical summer

"...we choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome."
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Summer has well and truly arrived and it is glorious.

What better way to finish a stressful day at work than to come home to the smell of the fire going outside in the garden. Finding your flatmates preparing the most amazing kebabs ever and cooking them over the mini outdoor BBQ. Sitting outside in the sun whilst the rabbit frolics around at your feet and you have one of your flatmates cut your hair. Eating the kebabs (which tasted like the most amazing pizza on a stick!!) and enjoying awesome company.

Then washing the kebabs down with homemade lemon cordial mixed with crushed strawberries and mint (followed by
Rochdale Ginger Lime Cider...SO good). Watching hilarious juggling attempts and sharing stories of summers gone by.

And what better way to spend a beautiful summer night than lying on the grass listening to music, the sounds of the birds in the bush and the animals in the zoo down in the valley below while watching the sky slowly change colour and the stars come out one by one.

Summer is amazing...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The satay of greatness

"A few weeks ago I'm sitting on a three-ply tea chest which some enemy had left at my place for kindling"
Half Gallon Jar by Hori

So, umm, I did a
race a little while ago, hence my travels down south (and before you know it I'll be heading south again...yay!). It was quite a long race (24 hours anyone?). So long in fact that I even took some satay tofu (and rice) with me!

No, not
that much! But I did cook a rather epic amount so was eating it for days...literally (well, 3 days). We even made some of it up into a pasta dish for the night before with some added veggies...

I would give you a recipe but really it just consists of cooking up some veggies and then throwing in a disturbing amount of peanut butter (okay, slightly simplified but I'm sure you can imagine it...right?). I did actually once try to write it out for my lovely cousin D but I got a bit thrown when it came to amounts of stuff. So basically, I'll just tell you what I normally put in it and you can do the rest...

This particular one was a lot plainer than normal since I was going to be eating it on the go but normally I'd cook up a whole heap of veggies like onion, red capsicum, grated carrot, broccoli etc. Drizzle in a little soy sauce/tamari and sweet chilli sauce. Then start scooping in big spoonfuls of peanut butter (and I mean BIG). I normally add one spoonful at a time with a little bit of water. You can also add a big handful of raisins or sultanas (or even chopped dates) at this stage. Crumble in your tofu. Add some more peanut butter and water. I'll be totally honest here and say I can easily use over two thirds of a 300g jar of peanut butter for a whole block of tofu. That's why it tastes so good! Then chuck in a big handful of cashews and voila!

It's awesome on rice, pasta, toast, quinoa...anything really. I've eaten it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, middle of the night, snacks...oh, and it's also great unheated later on. I've even made it with cashew butter instead!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Late night mumbling

"Bring me apples, Danby, and chestnuts too. Run, Danby, run. Bring me crab apples and horse chestnuts before it's too late, and get some for yourself."
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Well here I am, up far too late cooking black beans because I, well, didn't get on to it earlier! I also just pulled a loaf of banana bread (the one from Veganomicon if you were interested) out of the oven and am now procrastinating writing this post while I gchat with M. You see, life has been a little crazy lately. Oh fine, my life is always crazy...but I love it!!

So basically, it's been a couple of weeks since I got back from Christchurch but I still haven't told you about our awesome dinner at
The Lotus Heart...because you can't really go down there and not have a fine dining experience!

We got a starter to share which, because I am a bit bossy, I chose...cashew cheese and crackers. The menu describes it as house cured cashew cheese served with grapes and rosemary almond flax crackers and it's raw!

SO good. I just wish you got more. I loved the cashew cheese. It was so creamy and awesome! Of course, I had to get their ginger beer because it is truly awesome as well...I need some new words to describe all the awesomeness!!!

For our mains we got a couple of dishes to share. I've pretty much tried everything on the vegan menu so they weren't anything new but that doesn't make them any more delicious. First up, the Portobello Magic which is portobello mushrooms served on golden brown potato rosti with wilted greens and grilled vegetables (I stole that description from the menu too!).

It is so ridiculously filling and delicious although perhaps a little overboard on the orange sauce. And then we had to get pizza...the veganio pizza in fact with its delicious cashew nut aioli. They clearly work magic with cashews here.

Anyway, I almost wished we'd got the large size so we could have taken the leftovers home. I love pizza! But you can't come all the way to The Lotus Heart and not have dessert. I mean, there is more than one vegan option on the menu! In fact, there are, like, 3 (out of 4) vegan options!!! First up, (raw) banana-nut pie with raw vegan ice cream.

I remember ordering something of the same name here a couple of years ago and it being okay but this time it was incredible. And there is no words to describe how good this raw ice cream was. We also got a slice of vegan chocolate cake, also served with the rather incredible ice cream.

I love cake! Anyway, basically The Lotus Heart makes the most awesomest of food and I can't wait for my summer holiday and the next trip there.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Beautiful world

'One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that, would tell one anything.'
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

I'm now back in Auckland and the weather is as unpredicitable as ever. Earlier today it was super sunny as I wandered down the street but it's gone all grey now! I am looking forward to a summer down south.

Anyway, here is just a little snapshot of food from the first few days down south. More to come. My flight down to Christchurch arrived just in time for me to be really starving and in need of dinner so M whipped up a mean green curry...the first of many (perhaps too many?) in a row!

I supplied the dessert...2 pieces of mint slice from Revel up in Auckland after we discovered the magic the previous weekend.

I now have to work out how to make my own version. This might even top the ginger crunch from Soul Food but I think I need to do a few more taste tests before I reach a final conclusion! Plus I need to do some more "sampling" research before making it myself!

The next day it was a long car trip north to Nelson. We decided to go via Kaikoura where we stopped for lunch. M's sister used to work up there and suggested we try
Hislops Cafe.

I got the lentil burger which was pretty tasty but I was really hungry so it could have done with two slices of bread instead of just the one on the bottom.

After making it to Nelson just in time for our races we needed dinner so M and I ventured into town in search of
Poppy Thai after a recommendation from a local.

We started off with spring rolls. I love spring rolls!

I couldn't decide what I wanted for my main course until M pointed out the pineapple curry and I was sold. I added tofu to the vegetarian option and it was really delicious. Leftovers were eaten cold for lunch the next day.

Nelson is pretty...

Lake Rotoiti the following day was even more amazing.

I live in a most beautiful country.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

And it was all ginger

'I fear, to thy peril, my good Annette,' said Emily; 'for it seems his verses have stolen thy heart. But let me advise you; if it is so, keep the secret; never let him know it.'
The Msyteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

So you want to make your own ginger crunch? So you want it to be awesome? So you want it to be so gingery that it knocks your socks off?

We went to a potluck round the road last night and poor M had to carry steaming hot vegan lasagna fresh out of the oven. It was delicious so therefore worth his hard work.

Anyway, back to talking about ginger, being the awesome person that I am, I had made a super gingery ginger crunch, braving the use of the oven despite ridiculously hot temperatures (what was with that? It's back to being grey and cool today). I still think I can make a better ginger crunch (I've mainly been focused on the icing and not the base which needs some work since it's mostly just the Edmonds version) but here we go since
some people have been getting impatient!

Ginger Crunch*

125g vegan margarine, softened (
olivani is good)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger

Ginger Icing
150g vegan margarine
2 Tbsp ground ginger**
7 Tbsp golden syrup
3 cups icing sugar
crystalised ginger, chopped

Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy (or as long as you can be bothered especially if you only have egg beaters which are tedious). Sift the flour, baking powder and ground ginger together and mix into the creamed mixture. You might want to use your hands to get it all mixed in nicely. Press the mixture into a greased 20 x 20cm cake tin or something similar. Bake at 190C for about 20 minutes or until light brown. Just try not to overcook the edges as I did. Top with ginger icing as per below...

Ginger Icing
Melt the margarine, ground ginger, golden syrup and icing sugar together in a saucepan and mix well. Then pour over the base and sprinkle the crystalised ginger over the top (it will sort of sink into the icing). Chill until firm before cutting into pieces (a hot knife works best). I cut mine into about 20 pieces*** but then again I was trying to feed the masses at the potluck.


*It's pretty hard to get this recipe wrong...let's just say I was baking in a kitchen where I couldn't find any measuring cups or scales so I improvised. It worked out fine.
**Just as a note, New Zealand tablespoons (Tbsp) are 15ml whereas I think Australian ones are 20ml.
***This way you can eat several pieces without feeling bad! Not that you should feel bad anyway...ginger is good for the stomach.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Hot and gingery

Where a battering ram cannot work, really good short-crust pastry can often break through.
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Oh my gosh!! Look what we have here...

...ginger crunch from Soul Food. It's SO exciting! So yes, I'm hanging out in Christchurch and eating good food (among other things).

More to come soon...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Am I ever home?

"The world is lighter," he said, "because of you."
Winter Of Fire by Sherryl Jordan

I am off to Christchurch tonight. Exciting!! Anyway, while I was starting to pack the other night I thought it was ridiculous just how many pairs of shoes I had to pack for this trip (umm, 6 pairs of sports shoes including climbing and cycling shoes, a pair of jandals and some sneakers - it's a busy trip). I'd only just unpacked from going to Rotorua last weekend...some days I think I should just live out of a bag. Oh wait, I've done that before too. If you are getting the idea that I am pretty much never home then you might be right!

Anyway, like I said, I was in Rotorua over the weekend for a
race. M flew up on Thursday night and, after feeling too lazy to make our own breakfast we headed off to find food. I heard via the grapevine (well, you know, through an auckland vegan's blog) that the Vegan Revellers was back on the menu at Revel and since I remember it being delicious and I hadn't been to Revel in ages anyway I thought I'd drag M along there for breakfast.

It is slightly different to the old version in that it has fried tofu in place of the falafel but otherwise I can't think of anything different about it. Still delicious. Still awesome. Still super filling. Yay!

But we still needed dessert (yes, even at breakfast time). I sent M up to the counter to get me a slice of their peanut butter pie...

...but he also came back with something else, vegan mint slice. Oh man, this was so amazing we debated going up and getting a few more pieces but since the guy serving us already thought we were crazy for eating so much sugar we decided against it but I really wish we had!

Unfortunately the ginger crunch at Revel (pictured in the background) isn't vegan so that was for M but I will definitely be stocking up on it when I get to Christchurch!

The drive to Rotorua takes several hours so we had to stop along the way for a picnic lunch. I'd made big Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins from
Vegan Brunch but with extra crystalised ginger 'cause we both love ginger.

I'd also made some sweetcorn and bean fritter things roughly adapted from the Edmonds sweetcorn fritter recipe (using cornflour instead of normal flour, a mixture of ground flaxseed and water instead of the normal egg, added sweet chilli sauce and a tin of cannellini beans, mashed up). I served this with a random chutney we'd bought at the supermarket and a whole lot of grapes. Much healthier than our car food!

I had no idea what we were going to have for dinner so we just wandered round the supermarket in Rotorua hoping stuff would jump out at us.

In the end I cooked up some pasta with a box of
Fry's Vegetarian Chicken Style Strips ('cause it seemed amusing at the time) with some veggies and a bought pasta sauce. It was surprisingly good.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Chocolate karaoke

'Well, yes, but it's not about the football.'
'You're saying that football is not about football?'
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

A few weeks ago (because I'm so organised like that) I went out to dinner with my awesome NZ brother (as opposed to the American brother 'cause going out to dinner with him might be a bit hard). I don't know that many people who are into Indian which is pretty sad so this was the perfect opportunity to hit up
Satya on K'Road again 'cause I hadn't been in ages.

We ordered an entree to share and I'm really trying to remember what it was called but I have no idea, even after trying to decipher it from the online menu. No idea how to describe it. It was okay but a bit weird., I have no words that fit.

Anyway, onto my main which I think was the Vegetable Koorma but don't quote me on that. It was really nice though. You do need to ask the waiter which items on the vegetarian menu are vegan though because only one is labelled.

Along with rice, I had my koorma with a good old roti. Nothing special but really good for dipping (and making a mess everywhere).

When we went up to pay my brother was a bit embarrassed as the guy at the desk said to us, "you're the vegan table right?"

We were pretty full but I was craving chocolate sorbet despite already eating a fair bit of chocolate that afternoon (I blame the cravings on having recently gotten (got?) concussion) so we walked down into town to

This stuff is like paradise on a spoon. Although you do have to put up with the crazy karaoke coming from inside while you eat!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

It was all so green

"Because you killed him and put him in the cold, cold ground?" Actually, it hadn't been all that cold but I felt I was due a little artistic license. My mind soared and swooped, way above everything. I could see so much! I felt like God. This was fun.
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

How come it feels so good to get home again and yet it sucks at the same time? Why do some of my most favourite people have to be so far away? And why does my backlog of photos never stop growing?! Oh well! We'll get there...eventually.

Anyway, you might be pleased to know that I am still in one piece. I did not fall down a 12 metre cliff and neither did I get a stick through my front wheel and come off breaking my sternum or ribs. I left those adventures to others in the team!

I did, however, ride for 25 hours (that's 9 days in a row of racing and training), get some wicked cuts and bruises from crashing into rocks, fell off my bike in a bog and got completely submerged and spent more than 2 hours cleaning the mud off my bike and shoes only to find NZ customs in a relaxed mood.

I laughed so hard that I thought I might explode, got attacked by a magpie ( can see where the beak of the bird wedged into my helmet!), lazed in the spa pool and learnt more about bikes in 9 days than I ever had in the last 3 years of riding. When I finally get a chance, there'll be more info about the trip up
here if anyone is interested.

Oh, and I also managed to eat some pretty good food. I didn't photograph most of it (like the awesome vegan lasagnas that got whipped up for us non-meat eaters one night) because I am a bit slack but rest assured, you will not go hungry even in small towns in Australia (I found tofu, both plain and marinated, veggie burgers, oat milk and all sorts of other staples in every supermarket I went to).

This is the only photo of food that we actually cooked. This was our second night in Mt Gambia and there were three of us girls cooking together in our little unit. We were lazy and bought pre-prepared stir-fry veggies since we were traveling the next day.

Next stop was a farmstay not far out of Carisbrook. It had the most awesome kitchen where we would cook up communal meals each night. Down the road in Marybourgh there was a cafe (Legendz) that could make soy milkshakes. After a hot day out in the forest I couldn't think of anything better!

It was thick, cold and delicious...and I drunk it so fast that I got a headache!

Food-wise, Daylseford was when it got exciting. We'd just arrived and were mulling around town whist some people were sussing out somewhere good for coffee when one of my team mates spotted a sign outside one of the cafes saying it was vegetarian and vegan.

My first trip (we went twice) to the
Himalaya Bakery I got a mini chocolate cake and organic cola.

I also got an apple and cinnimon scroll to take away with me too (oh, and later on I got one to eat on the plane home too...they were big and deliciously filling).

Our first night we all went out to dinner at the
Old Hepburn Hotel. I got a veganised version of the vegetable and kidney bean nachos which was pretty good but I could have done with more bean mix and less corn chips. It didn't last all that long though (riding every day makes you hungry...and incredibly tipsy on one bottle of alcoholic ginger beer and therefore your table's entertainment for the evening)!

Saturday night was the social function at a pub down the road. Food was catered but I'd organised in advance for a meal to be provided for me. They ended up changing their vegetarian dish to make it vegan which I thought was pretty curry with tofu and tempeh. Not anything flash or amazing but it filled me up and, quite frankly, I was hungry so as long as it was edible I wasn't really fussed.

And for dessert they served me a big bowl filled with grapes and strawberries. Everyone else at my table was jealous and I had to fight them off!

After our final race we went into town again for lunch and boy did I need food by then...desperately (after nearly 3 hours of mountain biking I was pretty desperate)! I managed to convince over half the team to join me at the Himalaya Bakery again! Everyone had to agree the food was really good.

I got the open veggie burger (I think it was made from lentils). It was good. So basically, if you find yourself near
Daylesford, go here. I really recommend it.

For our final night we went out to the
Jasmine Thai Restaurant in Hepburn Springs. Items on the menu that could be veganised were clearly labelled which was super cool and my meal was delicious. Of course I was pretty forgetful that evening and forgot my camera again. Typical...

...but after over 2 hours of cleaning my bike and bike shoes (I don't think either have ever been this clean since they were brand new - look how sparkly it is!) I was completely exhausted.

So all in all it was an awesome trip (and this is a ridiculously long post). Plans are already underway for next year...