Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Anyone for a sugar rush?

Sometimes, robot, I get the horrible feeling that we live in a big ever-repeating circle where we do things because it is predicted that we will do things - all effect and no cause.
The Dark Side of the Sun by Terry Pratchett

One day I came home from work to discover a bar of raw chocolate lying on my bed! The Chef had been over during the day on dog-sitting duties and left me some as a surprise.

Nature's Gold is a New Zealand company that makes the most divine raw chocolate I've ever tasted. It's so creamy and delicious that I'd polished off the whole bar before taking a photo. Luckily (unluckily?) it's so good I went and bought another (but the empty wrapper is there on the right). If you ever see this chocolate, get it!

Another sweet treat I discovered recently was this
Fabulous Fudge Factory vegan fudge from the Safe shop on K'Rd.

To be honest I wasn't really a fan. It's been a long time since I've had fudge and I'd forgotten just how sweet it is...too sweet for me. The Chef reckoned it didn't taste that great either so I don't think I'd get it again but I am keen to try their coconut ice 'cause it reminds me of childhood school fairs.

I also got a can of soy condensed milk (supposed to be similar to sweetened condensed milk I think)...now wondering what on earth I'm going to do with it. Any ideas?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Long weekends stretching onwards

He tells her frequently he loves her best first thing in the morning when her hair is messed up and her face scrubbed clean. He loves her in old sweats, baseball caps, and his oversized sweatshirts. That's how she looked when he fell in love with her, he tells her, seeing her at meetings looking as if she had just fallen out of bed.
Second Chance by Jane Green

I normally have Fridays off (unless it's chaos at work which has been happening of late) so that leaves me with a 3-day weekend...every week. Oh yeah!! This weekend was fueled by food (shouldn't they always be?)!

It all started on Friday lunchtime when The Chef and I met up with my awesome cousin D at

I got the hotpot of the day (Urid Dahl with Spinach and Tofu "Paneer") and the Bangkok Slaw. Yeah I know, pretty much every time I go to Revive these days I end up getting the slaw but it's so good that I can't resist.

Clearly on an 'eating out' run, we hit up
Blue Bird for dinner that same day. I got the Hing Pie (rice and various veggies I think) with peanut sauce and salad.

Oh man, this was real good (hmmm, peanut sauce...how could I possibly resist!). I was also tempted by their chocolate cake but somehow (I don't know how) managed to resist...crazy!

Then on Saturday we braved the drizzle and grey skies and hit the
Oratia Farmers Market in West Auckland. I love Farmers Markets but I don't go to them as often as I should. Actually, I haven't been to one in ages so it was all rather exciting!

As well as getting a selection of stuff to make lunch and dinner we also got some (sweet) steamed cassava.

I think it is basically just cassava and sugar with coconut on the top but whatever it is, it's delicious! They also had steamed rice which was pretty good (rice, sugar, coconut) but this was the best.

The Chef also bought me some nice New Zealand olive oil from one of the stalls. They had two different flavours...a grassy one and a peppery one. At first I liked the peppery one best but once that flavour hits the back of your throat (a few seconds later) it was a bit much so I went with the grassy flavour. It's amazing drizzled straight onto your salad (as long as you're not super clumsy like me and tip way too much on). The oil is made by a company called
Goose Creek and is super local. They are based up at Huapai which is about 40 minutes drive from my place.

I also picked up some
Really Good Peanut Butter. How is it possible that peanut butters can taste so different from each other when their ingredients are just peanuts and sea salt? This particular one is incredibly strong and rich. Definitely not for the faint hearted!

So by the time we got back from the market we were pretty starving so lunch was a quick salad with tomatoes and snow peas from the market and beetroot, carrot and lettuce from The Chef's garden. Some almonds from my fridge and a drizzle of the new olive oil and it was just perfect.

We also had a 5-grain fruit and nut bread (also from the market and mine was smothered in the new peanut butter of course) on the side. I could have eaten half the loaf in one sitting it was so good. It didn't even need anything on it but peanut butter is addictive.

I forgot to take a picture of dinner but here are some of the leftover Maori potatoes The Chef cooked up.

Boiled, then fried with a dash of oil and some rosemary. I'm not normally a huge potato fan but these were really delicious. I'll have to go back and get some more!

The Chef was working all day and into the night on Sunday so my lovely cousin D and I decided we'd have a girly Valentines Day together instead. After a quick blat round the
bike park (and spinning out on a root, landing in the wet sand) I picked her up and we headed off to lunch at The Library...

...where I had pancakes again and ended up on a major sugar crash (seemed to skip the high and went straight to the crash unfortunately). Not a good idea...but they tasted good!

Then we spent the afternoon curled up on my bed watching 2 girly movies in a row while devouring popcorn and chips (I think our eyes were about to pop out of our heads at this stage)! After all this we were hankering for some real food so I cooked us up some dinner.

I sliced and fried up the leftover maori potatoes from the night before and served them with lemon tofu chunks, salad (where I practiced my oil-drizzling skills) and a ginormous corncob each (unpictured in case you hadn't worked that out). Very tasty. After this we were completely stuffed...but incredibly satisfied. Perfect!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Wafting through the kitchen

Conversely, with the glassy face, it was all than an eye could do to keep from sliding off it.
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

There's nothing like a spot of baking to make the house smell great and there have been some damn good smells coming out of my kitchen lately! First up were some chocolate brownies for a picnic in the bush using the Ultimate Brownie recipe from
The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes.

These were seriously good, deliciously chocolaty and clearly passed the test as The Chef thought they were yummy (he even asked for the recipe so they must have been good!). And seriously, when you've been tramping and exploring the outdoors, what could be better than delicious brownie?! I don't actually think I've ever made brownies before but I certainly will again now!

The following day my lovely cousin D came over to do some baking with me. But first up we hit the supermarket and the health food store to get supplies. By the time we got back to my place we were starving so I whipped us up some lunch.

A tempeh burger pattie (basically just a square of marinated tempeh that I fried up) with avocado, tomato, grated carrot, baby spinach and hummus inside an
essene bread bun. Very delicious and very filling.

We made a batch of muesli bars (recipe here) and then whipped up some energy blast cookies. We were dozing on the couch so they got a little overcooked but still smelt awesome. The recipe is a highly adapted version of the one found in one of the Sri Chinmoy cookbooks we have around the flat (I’ve had them
before from The Lotus Heart restaurant in Christchurch). Below is my version...

Energy Blast Cookies

Makes roughly 20 cookies but it depends how big you make them (the larger they are, the more cooking time they'll need).

1 cup wholegrain oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (heaped) dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup chopped brazil nuts

1/3 cup syrup (golden syrup, agave nectar, brown rice malt syrup, molasses etc...I used a mixture of agave nectar and brown rice malt syrup)
1 mashed banana
70g oil
1 BIG heaped spoonful of nut butter (this isn't an exact size and it doesn't matter too much)

1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Put all the wet ingredients into a saucepan and heat until just boiling then remove (stir while it's heating so everything mixes in together and doesn't stick).

Mix the baking powder and boiling water together and stir to dissolve. Add this to the syrup mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Roll into balls and press flat (but still quite thick) on an oven tray. They don't need to be too far apart as the mixture doesn't seem to spread that much on baking. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown (probably more like 15 minutes since we managed to burn them a little on 20 minutes 'cause I wasn't paying attention).

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Pancakes make life good

No one warns you, in college, that when you date someone you run a good chance of dating his family as well.
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig

Monday was a public holiday round here so after a run in the mud in the
Waitakeres (I'm not sure if it's possible to go there and it not be muddy but I did chose a terribly wet and rainy day), I met my beautiful friend S for lunch at The Library (no, not the kind of library that houses books, but a local cafe! The building was, in fact, the old Onehunga library and, according to sources, has its very own ghost). We chose this place because I know one of the chefs and he promised me vegan pancakes! How could one possibly resist?! I don't think I've had pancakes that I haven't had to make myself in years!

Actually, the pancakes are always vegan (you just get maple syrup instead of honey and yogurt) but he wouldn't let me eat them unless they were fresh so it was my lucky day! They're also gluten-free which is a bonus if you can't have gluten. Oh, and they're very tasty!

We also shared a berry-flavoured smoothie and S had peppermint tea.

Life is good!

So then we went back to S's house and she had baked me a batch of vegan cupcakes!! How awesome! They are pumpkin and apple. Awesome.

Life is even better :)