Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Muddy favourites

What is any ocean but a multitude of drops?
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Don't worry people, the maple syrup tofu recipe is coming!!!

Anyway, welcome to my new favourite dinner. It's so good that Keisha stole half of one of my tofu sausages while I was getting a drink and then sat next to me giving me that look that only dogs can do! It is also so good that I'd already started eating it before I remembered to take a picture.

So, we've got steamed broccoli, raw carrot with hummus, fried mushrooms, tofu sausages and awesome Maori potatoes that The Chef got me from work boiled and then lightly tossed in some olive oil and salt. I want it now!

Other cool stuff coming out of my kitchen was this wicked lasagne. The Chef is on a no gluten, no dairy, no raw fruit or veggies diet for a month so instead of pasta we baked large slices of kumara and layered it with slices of courgette and a 'mince' mixture made from Tonzu tofu mince, black beans, a tin of tomatoes, onion, carrot and mushrooms. All topped off with a white/cheesy sauce and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds then chucked in the oven.

We ate the leftover kumara slices with maple syrup while waiting for the lasagne to cook!!

It kind of fell apart when we served it but it still tasted really good. Once it had cooled though it held together quite well and tasted even better for my lunch the next day.

As usual there has been plenty of action going on round here (other than in my kitchen of course). On Saturday I had a mountain bike race out at Riverhead...notorious for being a mudbath when it's been wet. So naturally it was raining that morning! Who could expect anything less?!

It took me an hour to clean the bike once I got home and another half an hour to get the clay off the soles of my bike shoes. Seriously.

I was starving after all that so whipped up a toasted sandwich with hummus, spinach, grated carrot, tofu sausages and melty
Cheezly vegan cheese. Lightly toast the bread, chuck in all your fillings and then brown over the frying pan on each side.

Hit the spot perfectly.

Oh yeah, and I also scored a mammoth bag of feijoas off a mate's tree. Awesome!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

I like beans

'You are a strange young man,' said Juno. 'I can't quote make you out. Sometimes I wonder why I take so much trouble over you, dear. But then of course I know, a moment later, that I have no choice. Now have I? You touch me so, my cruel one. You know it, don't you?'
Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake

It was beans overload day recently as I met my friend L for lunch found the only thing I could eat on the menu was baked beans on toast. Not a problem since I like baked beans but I'd forgotten I'd requested a bean dish for dinner at the parents that same night!

I think she used the usual kidney bean filling she uses for her vegetarian shepherds pie (which I'm pretty sure is from Simon and Alison Holst's
Meals Without Meat) and the scone topping was another Alison Holst recipe made into pinwheels with chutney in the middle. I ate heaps and it was delicious (perfect for the slow descent into winter we're having here) so clearly having beans for 2 meals in one day is not a problem!

Clearly on the beans roll (yeah, it really is lucky I like beans) a couple of nights later The Chef cooked up some beans for tea a couple of nights later served in a sort of nacho-like way.

With the beans (and copious amounts of
corn chips...we polished off the whole bag through the course of the evening) we also had (mostly) crispy potato and kumara chips.

The big black-looking thing in the centre of the photo is actually a purple Maori potato. It's not burnt, just looks like it 'cause of my terrible photography skills! It's actually a beautiful purple colour all the way through. I have never been a big fan of potato (but I love kumara) but I am so in love with Maori potatoes...it's making my mouth water just thinking about them!

This last meal does not involve beans (although, if you think about it, tempeh is fermented soy beans so I guess it does fit the theme!), but going along with the theme of the purple potatoes we had purple carrots the following night which we'd picked up at the Parnell market.

Um, yeah I should have used the flash but I was lazy so imagine beautiful purple carrots instead of almost black, burnt-looking things! They were lightly steamed and tasted really delicious and sweet (and have a thin strip of white inside up the middle). There was also tempeh baked with chutney, and we scored roast veggies, peas and beans off The Chef's parents. Yum!

Friday, 16 April 2010

It's like ground almonds but with oreos

Frankly, I don't think it mattered a damn whether I consented or not.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

It was my cousin K's birthday on Sunday so of course this needed celebrating. Ironically she wasn't able to make it last minute 'cause she was sick but we thought we'd celebrate anyway 'cause everything was all ready to go.

We were greeted with a cool appetiser tray my Aunty had made which was a relief 'cause by the time I'd picked everyone up and driven across to the shore I was starving. Oh, and there were also plain pringles in the mix but they didn't make it onto the tray. I could have quite happily polished this whole thing off by myself but managed to restrain so there was still room for dinner.

For the main course my super sweet Aunty cooked The Chef and I up some plain rice and her famous maple syrup tofu which we had with the stir-fry veggies my Uncle cooked. The tofu was so good and I've got to get the recipe off her so I can recreate it.

We went back for seconds (and I vaguely seem to remember The Chef going back for thirds even!).

As usual I was in charge of the cake. I doubled the recipe for the Cookies and Cream Pound Cake from
My Sweet Vegan and baked it in a regular round cake tin instead of the loaf tin the recipe called for. I also cut down on the sugar 'cause 20 crushed cookies plus sweetened soy yogurt (the only unsweetened one here is not a good consistency for baking) plus 1 1/2 cups sugar seemed just a tad excessive (not sure how much I ended up using but it was less than a cup and I couldn't find any white sugar in my pantry so used soft brown sugar instead).

Surprisingly this wasn't nearly as rich or as sweet as I expected and was actually pretty nice although I reckon it would be better warmed with soy ice cream or something like that. If you didn't like oreos though, well I don't think you'd like this cake (but I'm not a huge fan and still enjoyed it but carrot or chocolate cake would be my preferences)!

I don't think I'd make this cake again but I do like trying out different things and it certainly was something a bit different and interesting. Can't wait for the next birthday to create something new!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Adventuring to favourite places

"So now," he thought, "somebody else will have to do something, and I hope they will do it soon, because if they don't I shall have to swim, which I can't, so I hope they do it soon." And then he gave a very long sigh and said, "I wish Pooh were here. It's so much more friendly with two."
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne


In the past week I got to hang out in 3 of my favourite places ever as well as having some cool adventures. I had last week off work so on the Monday I cruised up to my mate's farm at Slater Road (one of my favourite places) to help out on the farm, rake some mountain bike tracks in their huge private park and get some biking and kayaking coaching. Paddling up through the mangroves was so awesome especially when we had to bash our way through in parts!

Of course, I can't go up there without going running with Jess so we had our own little adventure on the Tuesday afternoon. It was supposed to be a short run but time seems to melt away in the forest.

Here's Jess inside afterwards...the ultimate training companion and boy can she go fast when she wants to!

To prove I am capable of relaxing, the following morning The Chef and I headed off to my beach house at
Waikauri Bay which is quite possibly my favourite place in the whole world. I have many awesome memories of endless summers playing in the waves and exploring the hills. Pretty much all we did was eat, read, wander along the beach and round the rocks and laze about.

Anyway, on the drive up we stopped off at the
Black Dog Cafe in Matakana for lunch. I got this warmed roast vegetable salad which was really nice but not exactly filling.

Dinner more than made up for a light lunch (although we did demolish a packet of pita crisps) with tofu sausages topped with fried onion and mushrooms alongside steamed broccoli and kumara chips. I think I ate my weight in kumara chips that night!

The following morning we ate the leftover kumara chips covered in maple syrup. I had no idea this would be such a good combination but I am definitely going to have it again soon!

I had leftover waffle mixture in my freezer from the dessert party so brought that up with us for breakfast the next day. While I was in charge of the waffles, The Chef cooked up some caramelised apple and feijoas in maple syrup.

Throughout the course of the day we managed to polish off over a kilogram of feijoas. Well, the bag had to be finished so it was up to us to eat them all! I love feijoa season!

Lunch of champions...falafel, fresh bread with hummus and a mega salad.

The Chef thought he'd eat his portion as a sandwich. Um, yeah...watching him try to wrap his mouth around this mammoth monster was hilarious!

But I can never relax for too long and Thursday night I was off to the airport and flying down South to Otago for the National Orienteering Champs. This is my first year running in the elite grade for all races so I was pretty excited...but pretty nervous.

The first race was the sprint event in
Roxburgh. Ah, not my finest moment after a bad route choice ending up in thick scrub down a valley. But I did pull out some good splits for the last few controls which was good since you were visible to all the spectators on the hill for that final section!

The second day was the middle distance event in
Bannockburn which was just out of Cromwell. Heaps of cliffs, some killer climbs and more scrub for me to get caught in!

The long distance event was just out of Alexandra at
Earnscleugh Station and it was bitterly cold, very exposed, quite steep, very rocky, extremely fast terrain and (for us running the elite women's grade) a very long course. Oh, and a nasty barbed wire, outrigger fence. Below is the final stretch to the finish and boy was I glad to make it that far!

I'm not normally a fan of the relay event 'cause it always feels like so much pressure...if you stuff up or manage to mispunch or something then you let your whole team down but I was so looking forward to this one 'cause it was being held in
Naesby which is another very special place to me. Oh, and I was in an awesome relay team with a couple of great mates out to have fun. We decided not to take it too seriously and wore our race numbers sideways just to be a bit different.

Here's the start of the relay which is always chaos. Lucky I was second-leg runner.

So after all that adventuring I was actually quite glad to arrive home to Auckland and it gave me its usual greeting by pouring down with rain! It's good to be home.