Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Glaciers of wonderment

"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them,"
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

M and I have just had the most fabulous long weekend in Mt Cook. So it's not food but it does have the word 'cook' in it. That counts for something right?! Mountains, adventure, sunshine, brilliant views...pretty much my perfect holiday! Mt Cook (Aoraki) is New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3754 metres. Although not particularly high as far as tall mountains go, it is supposed to be a difficult climb for its height. My eldest brother has climbed it twice that I know of. He’s pretty awesome! Neither of us are mountaineers so we were certainly weren’t there to climb Mt Cook itself (!!) but I had never been before which definitely needed to be remedied since it is a very special place for much of my family.

I didn't want to come home and I'm looking forward to my next adventure all ready.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Delighting in a food coma

"...silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way. Wickedness is always wickedness, but folly is not always folly. — It depends upon the character of those who handle it."
- Emma by Jane Austen

Hello! We're busy playing the 'guess how big that aftershock was' game after a rather large shake (it knocked a few things out of our pantry so it's got to be at least a 5. Extra points for guessing where it was centred. You might laugh but some people had bets on one at work once!).

M and I have spent most of the day in a food coma after eating up large at the vegetarian expo and then eating lots of cake and bread at his parents' house (his Mum made this vegan orange cake especially for us. I think I'm going to have to get the recipe off her because it was delicious). I have to say though, a food coma is a bit more pleasant than the total exhaustion state we were both in last night after a rogaine based out of Castle Hill (it was crazy - we started in a snowfall and finished in beautiful sunshine a few hours later!).

First up, before we even got inside, we got vegetarian sausages with all the trimmings (mustard, sweet chilli sauce, onions and tomato sauce). I devoured mine in no time because I was starving (only having an apple for breakfast will do that for you...but I was determined to eat far too much at the expo so had to make sure there was going to be room). I think the sausages they used were the Frys ones. Later, inside the expo, I had a good chat to the people from Frys about their new products which are coming soon and I got all excited!

Next up I got all excited by these tiny little cupcakes and the vegan society stall so I had to get one of the lemon ones. It was eaten in no time (you could have eaten the whole thing in one go but I tried to make it last a bit longer).

I then downed a shot glass of vegan beer from the Cassels & Sons Brewery. Now that was quite nice and I might have to pop out there and get some but it was a bit early for me and alcohol to meet (11am). I think I got a whole lot more giggly after that.

Then it was time for some serious browsing of the stalls (while I giggled continuously and got all excited at the smallest of things). This didn't last all that long because I stumbled across another stall selling the most amazing looking vegan baking. Cat Rescue Christchurch had a big table filled with delicious-looking home baking but my eye was instantly caught by the ginger crunch so I had to have some of that.

After the mini sugar coma I was now in we decided something savoury was in order. We'd thought about pies but ended up going for samosas with chutney from, well I can't remember where from but they were delicious and very spicy.

Drink was definitely required after that but when we wandered over to The Lotus Heart stall I got carried away and ended up getting a slice of raw lemon cheesecake instead!! It was divine. They have got this whole raw dessert thing down to a T (or is it a little t? I've never written that phrase down before). Luckily M was a bit more sensible and bought us some sparkling orange and ginger drink to share.

You'd think we'd be full by now but the pies were still calling. We ended up getting a Country Pie to share from the Linda McCartney Foods stall. The pastry was delicious but the filling was slightly too 'meaty' for my taste. M seemed to like it though.

Then just to top it off, I'd come to the realisation I hadn't gotten anything chocolaty yet so I headed back to the lovely ladies at Cat Rescue Christchurch. I don't know who you ladies are but you do amazing work and are incredible bakers. When we have somewhere where I can have a cat I am totally heading your way. Anyway, I picked up a slice of peppermint chocolate cake which I picked at once we got home (it was incredible).

So yeah, basically the vegetarian expo was awesome and I'm most grateful for the lady at work who told me about it. As you can probably guess by this post (and like I said on the feedback form afterwards), I was pretty much just there for the food and it did not disappoint.

By the way, for those who were curious, the official quake magnitude is now up and it was a 5.5. Exciting!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Pie in the sky (with diamonds?)

'This is pretty nice for Hell,' Fi said to me as we paused in the cool stone gap.
- Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

After far too many late nights this past weekend (yes, I am a nana and proud of it) I am so tired that all I really want to do is curl up on the couch while watching episodes of Jonathan Creek. I've only seen 3 episodes so far but along with his lying on The Unbelievable Truth (he talked about tigers AND managed to smuggle all 5 truths past everyone so he earns extreme points for that alone) I am becoming an Alan Davies fan. I get a bit obsessed about things. This might turn out to be one of them.

Random photo of a rock to distract you momentarily. Note how they felt that you required a cone to point the rock out in case you missed it. They've gone a bit cone crazy here I think.

Right, well today I thought I would tell you about pie. Pie in New Zealand would pretty much automatically mean a meat pie of some kind for most people. I remember when I was a kid my Mum would occasionally buy a supermarket 'family' pie and attempt to cut it into 5 pieces. There would be much argument over who got what bit because the pie was, rather unfortunately, a rectangle and if you got one of the end pieces you basically only got pastry (although this wasn't too bad since that was the only real bit I liked on them).

Anyway (that was quite a tangent...got a bit nostalgic there!), fast-forward to today (or, in reality, a few weeks ago) and I thought I might try my hand at making my very own pie. I've never made a pie before and I'd bought myself a pie dish after getting all excited and buying everything in sight back when we were setting up our flat. This pie is nothing like the pie of my childhood. In fact, it's nothing like any pie I'd ever had before but it was darn tasty. It's a bit of an adaption on the Mushroom, Leek and White Bean Pie from Vegan Brunch with my first ever batch of homemade pastry.

I didn't have enough mushrooms (or the kind of mushroom it talks about since I've never heard of cremini mushrooms before but fortunately white button mushrooms worked just fine) so I added heaps of onion. It seemed to all work out. But what couldn't when it was encased in rich, melt-in-your-mouth pastry (I think I might have overdosed on the margarine!)? I know the recipe says to leave it at least 30 minutes before serving and that it's best at room temperature but honestly, I thought it was way better hot out of the oven (or hot after being heated up in the oven again) and with a whole lot of my Mum's feijoa and ginger chutney.

So, I've done the savory pie but it appears that most of the world are used to associating pies with sweet desserts. M's Mum gave us the most ginormous of pumpkins and I was pretty much over eating pumpkin soup and putting it in every meal we had so I thought, since we were heading off to a pot luck, that I'd attempt to make pumpkin pie. I've never had it before (apart from a raw version at The Lotus Heart) and decided I'd use the Pump-Can Pie recipe from Kris' 100 Best Vegan Bak­ing Recipes.

It seemed to work out okay although I should have actually used the amount of sugar the recipe called for rather than naively thinking it would be too much. It sort of tasted a bit weird but then again, the idea of pumpkin pie seems a bit odd to me. I think I'd rather make it with kumara (which my Dad thought was even more of an odd idea). People did seem to enjoy eating it though, even my friend's little girl who hated the pumpkin in the savoury dish. She ate all her pie but didn't even finish her ice cream!

The last pie, however, is definitely awesome. Caramel Cream Pie...with a name like that you can't really go wrong! I have made a variant of it before (using tofu instead of soy cream cheese which is actually probably the best way to go to be honest because then it isn't so mind-blowingly rich) but this time I thought I'd go all the way and see just how many fake dairy products I could use!

This pie lasted ages because you could only eat fairly small slivers at a time before feeling ill and like you might need a lie down after the explosion of sweet, rich, fake dairy goodness. Make it now but be prepared for the coma you might find yourself in afterwards!

Right, sorry about all that rambling. I'm tired and my brain is spinning around and drifting off a bit. But go and make some pie. That will make everything better!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Randomness with creamy fizzy baking

When he awoke in the morning, the first thing he saw was Tigger, sitting in front of the glass and looking at himself.
"Hallo!" said Pooh.
"Hallo!" said Tigger. "I've found somebody just like me. I thought I was the only one of them."
- The House of Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

I've been thinking about this for a while now. I don't tend to blog much about myself here, trying, attempting to keep it all about food and keep my world (mostly) anonymous. Seemed to make sense to start with but as time has gone by most people (that I know of) know who I am or at least a lot more about me than I blog about. Also sometimes I just don't feel like blogging about food or food and life are often so linked together that it is hard to seperate the two. Plus my brain is always a little scattered and all over the place so I thought I might try something different sometimes.

Kinda unrelated, but last week we ran to work in the snow because we couldn't get the car out of the street. It was entertaining, especially when we got interviewed by the newspaper partway there...!

So to start, and because it's kinda scary, I will tell you five things that aren't related to food.
  1. My favourite song is Yellow by Coldplay. It has been for years, probably since the moment I first heard it.
  2. My favourite colour is yellow. I didn't even think about the fact that my favourite song had the same name until people asked me if that was why I liked the song. All I know is that I love the colour yellow.
  3. When I was younger I knew all the words to Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Princess Bride.
  4. I love running or riding up hills. It's the best thing ever. I hate coming back down again with a passion. Bit of a problem when the hill behind our house is massive so the downhill stretches on into eternity.
  5. I can't spell so spell checks, little squiggly lines under words and google are my best friends (I had to use them to work out how on earth to spell squiggly...you don't even want to know my first attempt).

Top of a mountain (holding on for dear life so I didn't blow away...it was that windy)? Check.
Yellow jacket? Check.

Anyway, to make everyone feel at home again (myself included), I will let you into my kitchen for some baking. Imagine you have some soy cream and a can of lemonade (Sprite for those of you who aren't kiwi or Australian). What can you make. Obviously you will need some more ingredients like, um, flour, baking powder and sugar but I'm sure you knew what I meant?

Scones of course!! Lemonade and cream scones to be exact, from the Alison and Simon Holst bread book. Super easy and super delicious. I found I needed more liquid (lemonade) than the recipe called for but I think that's because the cream is thicker. Can't find soy cream (and live in New Zealand)? The Safe shop delivers super fast!

And how does one serve these scones? For a lazy breakfast with more cream and dollops of jam, that's how.

Anyone want to come round for breakfast?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Pumpkiny, gingery snow

Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Golly gosh, it's been an age since I've last posted! That snow I mentioned may not have come on Sunday but it sure was around by Monday. So much so that we couldn't get into work. Snow day!!!

The park on our street

I wish I could tell you that I spent the day cooking and baking up a storm to keep us warm but instead I spent most of it on the couch or in bed horribly sick. Thankfully I managed to redeem myself today as snow blanketed the city yet again (I could get used to these long weekends!).

Look at the magic you encounter when you go running in the snow!

Cooking in my brand new fast slow cooker is a big pot of pumpkin, coconut and lentil soup (to go with five seed loaf from the breadmaker). I hope it works out because the instruction manual did my head in!

M was cutting up part of a huge pumpkin for me to use in the soup but it was too much so I pondered what to do with the extra. In the end I boiled it up and then blended it to make a puree. Half went in the freezer but half went into a ginger and pumpkin loaf which has already been partly devoured. I am trying restrain myself from eating the whole damn thing right now!

Gingery Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from a couple of recipes in Kris' The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes.

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup apple puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup milk (I used oat milk)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a loaf tin (a smaller one is better since it doesn't get all that big).

In a large bowl mix together the flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl whisk the pumpkin puree, oil, apple puree, brown sugar, molasses and milk together until smooth.

Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix gently until just combined. Spoon into the loaf tin and bake for about 45-50 minutes until, well, done. It might take a tiny bit longer but our oven is fan-forced and I can't figure out how to stop it!

Leave in the tin for at least half an hour before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Feasting for winter

“...your kitchen looks like a bear came in search of honey.”
- Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Right now I am buried deep in boxes after the truck came and dropped off all my stuff from Auckland. SO exciting! I am impatiently waiting for M to find something to prop the front of my bookcase up on (the floor is uneven) so I can unpack all my books. Impatient might be an understatement...

Anyway, a couple of weekends ago we invited M’s parents and sister round for dinner which was an awesome excuse to get my hands dirty doing some fun cooking. I really wanted to make bread from scratch which is something I haven’t really done before (apart from making pita bread once which is pretty fun). I had a recipe from my old flatmate which I was keen to try out so on Saturday afternoon I found myself elbow deep in flour! But it was all worth it because the bread came out divine.

I also really wanted to make corn chowder so I had a array of different ingredients I thought might possibly go in it but no real idea of what I was going to do. This seems to be a common theme of my cooking! I had browsed various recipes but nothing was quite what I wanted so I just made it up as I went along. There is onion, pumpkin, potato, celery, corn, coconut cream, veggie stock, sundried tomatoes, various spices among various other ingredients I can’t remember now. It all seemed too chunky for my liking once it was done though so I bizzed it up a tiny bit with the stick blender so there were still plenty of lumps but nothing too ginormous.

It ended up turning out delicious and served with the bread I was quite impressed with myself! We ended up eating way too much and getting super full...always a sign of a successful meal. But of course you have to have dessert. I had a whole lot of rhubarb in our freezer which M’s Mum had given us so I stewed that up with some apples and raisins and made a delicious crumble. So all in all it was the perfect winter feast.

Since then it’s got steadily colder. In fact they reckon there might be snow down to sea level tomorrow...I hope they are wrong! But now I have all my books so I guess it could be worse!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sleepy casseroles of winter

‘The idea is much too big for my little head.’
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

M and I moved house last weekend so now we have somewhere of our own which is terribly exciting. I mean, I have a fancy big fridge all to us and a kitchen that I can arrange any way that I like! And, at last, my cooking inspiration is slowly starting to come back again after what feels like forever (months? Years even?).

But our first meal at the new place was Hell pizza on the only furniture we’d moved at that stage...a table with a couple of chairs! I like to customise the Sinister pizza (which is naturally vegan but mixing the toppings up a little is always fun) and if you get the big one then you have leftovers for the following night when you’re too tired from moving to even contemplate cooking something proper.

The first meal I actually cooked though was pretty boring but still delicious, tofu stir-fry with turkish bread. Always a good safe option especially when getting used to a new kitchen.

I think I spent half the time trying to remember where I'd put everything and getting used to the fridge being in the laundry. Sounds weird but it actually works fine and that means we have more space in the kitchen.

Next up is a rice and veggie casserole which is based on the Cheezy Broccoli and Rice Casserole from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I liked the concept of this and the taste was pretty awesome too but there was far too much rice to veggies even though I had added more veggies than the recipe originally said. Although I didn't have a cup measure and I think the cup I used for the rice was, well, definitely larger than your average! But still, it definitely needs some modification to reach a level of awesomeness!

Yes, it looks quite good in the photo above but the veggies (and beans) are all on the top and the rice is all underneath in a thick mass.

Another night I made a delicious wintery scone-topped casserole (you can tell it's pretty wintery round here by these last two dishes...-3 the other morning when we biked to work!). This has to be one of my favourite winter dishes and you can make it with pretty much anything you have on hand.

The casserole part of this dish has onion, carrot, cauliflower, celery, pumpkin and tinned sweetcorn with a tin of butter beans and a creamy sauce (pretty much just oat milk, flour and sweet chilli sauce). You cook all that up then dollop spoonfuls of scone mixture on top and bake for about 15 minutes at a super hot temperature. Voila, an awesome winter dish that is also brilliant the next day or even frozen.

Anyway, that's enough food for now. I am so tired! It's been so busy since moving and last night we had M's parents over for an awesome feast (which I will blog about shortly) and today we went for a lovely bike ride (route is
here) so I feel about ready to fall asleep on my seat. I wish we had a couch!

Oh, and for anyone interested, our new flat is in the white zone which means it hasn’t been assessed yet but I can’t see any reason for it to be classed as orange or red so I think we’re pretty safe. It’s got the usual cracks that every house in this city now has but it all seems pretty superficial. If you are interested, there is more information about the zones
here. It is about whether the land is safe to live on rather than whether the structures themselves are safe (that’s different again - but appears to have a similar colour scheme as far as I can tell).

Monday, 20 June 2011

I remember

So many thoughts scrambled for the emergency exit in Moist's brain that only one remained.
Making Money by Terry Pratchett

I have tried to write this post so many times but it never comes out right or I think no one would be interested or it just ends up so long and twisty that I give up. But in the end I thought perhaps you might be more interested than I thought or that at least sometimes it is helpful so say what you need to say (even if it bores everyone else to tears)...

Last Monday started out like any other day. It didn't stay that way however. It was just after 1pm when we got the first big earthquake (a 5.6 I think) which had us diving under our desks. It wasn't long after we'd all managed to calm down and get back to work again that the 6.3 struck. The sounds are the most frightening to me. The groaning and grumbling of the earthquake itself, the collective holding of breath (which has a sound presence that is impossible to explain), panicked screaming, the rattling of, well, everything...and then the silence. That small moment of time feels like a lifetime. Then everything else gets broken down into tiny segments of memories.

I remember the terrible smell of chlorine spilling out of the cracks that formed in the spa pool outside. I remember seeing the birds flying manically through the sky in all sorts of directions and in huge flocks. I remember eating handfuls of licorice allsorts that the boss had taken out of his freezer (and wondering why he would keep them in there), not caring they weren't vegan. I just wanted something.

I remember drinking fancy wine out of a fancy glass while sitting outside in my fluro bike jacket and my helmet. I remember needing to use the bathroom but not knowing what I was supposed to do so just waiting and waiting. I remember our company director lifting my bike over the security fence which we couldn't get open because it needed power. I remember biking slowly through the park in an attempt to not to get sprayed by the liquefaction but wishing I could bike faster because I had visions of trees falling on me. I remember the dust and the queues of cars and getting lost on my way home when I found I couldn't take my usual route. I remember the poor lady at the traffic lights who spoke like someone had taken the bottom out of her world but that I just wanted to get away from her and the doom and gloom and get home.

I remember sitting in a doorframe near the front door at home worried about M because I couldn't get hold of him (despite knowing he would be fine) and holding my cellphone really tight in the hope that someone might magically realise I needed some company. And then just as it was becoming unbearable there was a knock on the door and our neighbour, who I'd never met, was there asking me if I was okay and if I wanted to come over to his house until people got home. I remember listening to his windup radio and being unable to sit still while he calmly cleaned up the mess in his kitchen.

I remember the relief to see familiar faces as everyone came home or popped over to make sure we were all okay. I remember the power coming on just after dark and sitting inside, still in my fluro jacket, watching the news on our warped television screen. I remember not wanting to be alone and wanting to keep everyone here I cared about in the room with me. I remember wondering how it was possible to be so tired but so unable to sleep. I remember crying and wondering why. I remember being alive. It was never in doubt that M and I would be okay but the magical feeling of surviving is amazing.

Anyway, in case you have managed to read down this far I do have something for you...on the day before the earthquakes I made myself an oatmeal cake for breakfast before going orienteering. It was super delicious, especially with soy yoghurt and because I am awesome I even have a recipe for you (based on the ones

1/2 cup wholegrain oats
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 a banana, mashed
3 Tbsp oat milk (well, any non-dairy milk)
1/2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp golden syrup
2 Tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 small handful of chopped walnuts
1 small handful raisins (or chopped dates or something similar if you don't like raisins)

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Combine the dry ingredients, then mix in the wet ingredients.

Spoon into a greased ramekin (about 1 cup I think) and cook for about 20-25 minutes until it's firm(ish).

Let sit for about 5 minutes then tip out onto your plate and hope for the best (you may need to run a knife around the side)!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A whirlwind of dark nights

...either too many words to an idea or not enough furniture for the idea itself or somebody else's furniture; always a muddle and clutter of speech.
Towards Another Summer by Janet Frame

I am home alone tonight and it's all dark and cold outside. M is out of town for work and my other flatmate is, well, out somewhere. I don't really like being home alone even when it's light. It's not that I can't entertain myself. More that I just like to know there are other people around. I could do with some chocolate but there is none...very silly I know!!

Since I'm feeling a little down I'll tell you a little about a couple of my favourite meals that I've been having a lot since I got down here. I've always loved nachos (well, at least in the last few years) but the way I've made them has changed over time. I found
this old post from 2008 where you can barely see the bean mix under all the vegan cheese! But here is a plate of nachos from the other week...and I think this is the best version so far.

Everyone else was having sour cream so I got a little jealous and thought I'd try some hummus instead and it worked really well!

Another favourite is, well, a sandwich. Makes a great dinner when you fry up some tofu, spinach and mushrooms. Makes an even better dinner when you've been at the climbing wall for the last few hours, it's gotten super late and you are really hungry.

There is something about toasting the bread that takes it from being lunch food to super awesome dinner food...kind of weird but true.

I have also had a lot of tofu (and veggie burger) sandwiches for lunch lately...well, especially since starting my new job last week. ARGH!!! Can't believe I have a job! But it has made life even more of a whirlwind of madness than it was before...but life is still amazing.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

I like cookies

Chapter 29
- Thou wilt get a brush and a little chalk to my sword - 'Twill be only in your honour's way, replied Trim.
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
(and yes, that is the entirety of chapter 29)

Look! It's me! I'm still alive!

Seriously, I have all these half-finished posts that haven't made it up because, well, I've ended up super super busy. Life can do that to you sometimes.

On my bench at the moment I have a whole lot of lemon shortbread cookies cooling for our work morning tea tomorrow. We are having a British themed morning since it's Queens Birthday this long weekend in New Zealand (it's not actually the Queen's birthday since that's in April sometime I think, but this is when we celebrate it). No photos of them yet but they do taste super delicious even slightly warm and still a bit soft!

But I do have cookies for you today. Even a recipe. This is an adaption of a recipe my old flatmate would make all the time. She would try all these different versions and we'd all get to taste test them. I was feeling a little homesick the day I made these and it cheered me up thinking heaps.

Anyway, I also made them the day before this crazy 24 race (eventually there will be a post for this and many others here when i come up for air again) the weekend after I arrived so I could have something yummy to eat in between legs and to warm my heart when the rest of me was freezing (and grumpy)!

I ate at least 10 on the first day of the race (and a few more on the following day although I was slightly over cookies by then).

HyunJin's Magical Cookies (my chocolate, walnut and sultana version)
I got about 24 quite large cookies out of this recipe...and they are far yummier than they look!

2/3 cup vegan margarine (I used olivani or whatever it's called)
1 scant cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
80g chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sultanas (or raisins or currants or chopped dates etc)
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a couple of trays with baking paper.

Slowly melt the margarine, sugar and golden syrup in a big pot over the stove. Take the pot off the heat and mix in the flour, oats, baking powder and salt. Stir in the walnuts, sultanas and chocolate.

Place spoonfuls of mixture onto the baking trays with a bit of space between each. Lightly flatten (not too much). Bake for, hmmm, about 12 minutes or something like that. Just don't overdo them. That's all!!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Beauty and rocks

I will own a cat and not fear being called a witch, I will dance and not fear being named a whore. I shall ride my horse and go where I please. I shall sore like a gyrfalcon. I shall live my own life and please myself. I shall be a free woman.
It is no small thing, this, for a woman: freedom.
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

So the other day I was out exploring the
Port Hills and I couldn't help but think about what a beautiful city I live in...as if I hadn't already worked that one out! It reminded me of the nice chat I had with the lady serving me at the chemist today.

Looking down over my new city from Summit Road

Down the bottom of the valley there was some pretty impressive rockfall which I briefly considered taking some photos of but my desire not to hang around was stronger! Most of the time I don't feel fazed by earthquakes (I was in the process of joining the library earlier this week when there was a rather large shake and we all just carried on with life as though it wasn't happening - the guy signing me up didn't even bat an eyelid) but every now and then I get a little panicked and this was one of those moments...and I didn't even require the earth to shake!

But since you are normally here to see some food I will oblige with some chocolate.
Whittaker's Ghana Peppermint chocolate to be exact (man, their new website makes me crave chocolate really bad). This was the chocolate I carried with me on the plane here in case I needed that support that only chocolate can give! One of my old flatmates told me that even the Wilderness magazine says you should not leave home without chocolate so it must be as magical as I always thought!

I totally adore this chocolate. In fact, it is dangerous to have around. I gave a block to my parents once. They said never again. It's that, well, "bad" for us peppermint lovers!! Of course, if you are trying to avoid eating it you could just make
mint slice with it right?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Stuffed with stuff

A parcel, taken from one place to another, handed from one owner to another, unwrapped and bundled up at will is all that I am.
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

So many things to talk about!! But because I can't decide where to start we'll just focus on dinner last night...

M went to the fruit and veggie shop after work and came home with a huge bag of capsicums so naturally there was only one thing to do (okay fine, I’m sure there were lots of things we could have done but only one came to mind at that point), stuff them.

It turned out rather delicious so I thought I’d attempt to give you the recipe...but then I realised that my cooking method is very much the “bit of this” and “handful of that” approach so these amounts that I’ve made up below are probably hopelessly incorrect! Oh, and you end up with more mixture than required but then again you can always make more or just eat the mixture by itself. It's quite tasty.

Stuffed Capsicums
Serves 4 (of us...don't know about you guys though)
  • Rice (mixture of brown and white) - about 1 - 1 1/2 rice cooker scoops
  • a large handful of sultanas
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 button mushrooms (?), diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sweet basil
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • a handful of chopped spinach
  • a small handful of pumpkin seeds
  • a dash of sweet chilli sauce
  • a sprinkle of yeast flakes (savoury yeast)
  • 4 capsicums, halved and de-seeded (we had a couple of large red ones and a couple of smaller yellow ones)

Set some rice cooking with the sultanas (I used the rice cooker).

In a frypan, heat some oil and fry the onion. Add the mushroom and cook for about a minute then add the cumin, paprika, coriander and basil and cook for another minute. Add the carrot and tomato and fry until almost cooked then add the chickpeas, spinach, pumpkin seeds and sweet chilli sauce. You can add salt and pepper at this stage too but we tend to add ours individually when dinner is served. Take off the heat.

Add the cooked rice mixture to the chickpea mixture and mix together. Spoon the mixture into the halved capsicums until basically overflowing (you can pile it quite high and press it in). Sprinkle some yeast flakes (savoury yeast) on the top of each one.

Bake in the oven at 200°C for about 25 minutes.


Monday, 9 May 2011


You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

So, I did say there was some big stuff happening and today is the big day! Today I will be on a plane moving to Christchurch. Depending on who you talk this is either exciting, crazy (often rephrased in a more positive light as brave) or scary. Or a combination. I think it's exciting although I have been through the whole range of emotions in the last few weeks (especially in the last few days). Despite the earthquake and everything sometimes you've just got to dive into life no matter what.

Anyway, because I am the most useless blogger ever I have no photos of my awesome leaving meals but I will tell you about them anyway! First up was a lovely evening hanging out with my cousins and watching a bit of the royal wedding. We ordered rather excessive amounts of pizza from
Hell and my aunty made a delicious crumble. Yay!

There was also my last day of work where my boss took me out for lunch at
Landreth & Co on Ponsonby Road. The lady at the counter was super helpful at working out what they could make for me and I ended up with a huge bowl of pasta with bountiful amounts of tomato, spinach and basil. It was so good. We also got through two bowls of fries. Is that bad to admit? It was 3pm by the time we had lunch though...!!

But the most exciting and awesome meal was my farewell dinner at the flat! My flatmates are so awesome and put together the coolest dinner ever. Basically it was make your own rice paper rolls but the spread of things we could put in them was incredible. So many different veggies and fruit as well as rice noodles, tofu and sauces. I ate so many it was a bit ridiculous. Then for dessert I made the Mocha Melt Cake (but gluten-free for the lovely H) from
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too (in the rice cooker!!!) which I served with banana ice cream (frozen bananas, a bit of soy milk and vanilla essence all blended up together...SO good). I am really going to miss all these guys. Best flat and flatmates in the entire world. Ever. Seriously.

And then (because I can't stay away) I ended up back at my flat for my final night in Auckland because, well, I really didn't want to say goodbye! They cooked up this awesome Indian curry along with a beautiful dahl soup which I will have to attempt to recreate at some point. It was perfect. And then I rushed out before any of us could start crying!! From one home to another...

So the next post will be from my new home!! How cool is that?!

Monday, 2 May 2011

V is for vegetables

I wish I had remembered, as she taught me, that it is easier to unleash evil than call it back again. Any fool can blow up a wind, but who can know where it will blow or when it will stop?
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Sometimes all you feel like is a big, hearty dose of vegetables. It is a weird thing. You see, it doesn't feel like all that long ago that the only vegetables I liked were carrot sticks and frozen peas (yes, only if they were frozen!). In reality that was well over a decade ago but sometimes I don't feel very old and wonder where the time has gone. Nowadays though, I adore vegetables. If there is one thing that I crave it is a huge vegetable stirfry or similar.

What about carrot sticks (harking back to my childhood), grilled eggplant, wild rice and barley (care of my flatmate), panfried tofu and a mixture of in season stir-fried veggies to help with those cravings?

I think that photo is making me hungry just looking at it. Tragic and probably also a sign my breakfast just didn't cut it this morning.

Most weeks my veggie box has had some kind of leafy green (various different types of kale, silverbeet, some other random one that I'd never heard of before and promptly forgot the name of but was delicious...) and I discovered my favourite way to cook them up was to chop them up and stirfry them with some onion and, maybe, some other vegetables I might have sitting around and served on a bed of brown rice. My new favourite comfort food.

As you might have noticed from the last two photos, I also have been having a lot of plain (well, salt and pepper) panfried tofu. I think because so much has been going on and I've been a bit stressed plain food has been the kind of thing I've craved the most.

Another way to get a whole heap of veggies is to whip up a curry...although with this one I think we ended up with too much coconut cream so it was super rich. I was eating leftovers for days afterwards though which was awesome.

Oh, and in case you didn't know, leftover curry is also great on toast and you can mop up the extra sauce with bread. Delicious!

How about a sandwich stuffed full of veggies and tofu? Especially good after a long mountain bike ride with some monster hills. Another good way to pack in those vegetables.

A few weeks ago I was on a real sandwich kick and was making these pretty much every day. The thing that makes them even more awesome is chutney and my current favourite is sundried tomato and olive. Mum made a couple of different feijoa chutneys too (feijoa and ginger and feijoa and chilli) but I haven't opened them yet.

Another sneaky, but delicious, way to get some veggies is in these awesome muffins from
The Damn Tasty Guide to Vegan Baking. I use this book so much that it is falling apart and some pages have stuck together from when I've spilt stuff on it!

These are even more delicious slightly warmed with margarine and a salad. Ooo, this is making me want to bake up another batch!!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cake or death

Even in the world of today we can see how mighty powers can come apart at the seams when confronted with simple demands for peace, love, food for the poor, and amnesty for the enemies of the state.
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

I know, I know. Blah blah blah...

Anyway, before I race off to bed (before racing off before dawn tomorrow for the national orienteering champs in Hawkes Bay...scary!!) I thought I'd just quickly tell you something. Kris's new vegan cake book is out and it's called
have your cake and vegan too. It arrived in the mail at my parents the other day which was super exciting!! I was a tester for it so I can tell you that it is awesome. Actually, her cake recipes are pretty much the only ones I ever use.

I whipped up one I hadn't tried for my cousin's birthday last weekend, Bubbie's Chubby Tuxedo Cake. It seemed fitting after how much she adored
last year's cake (the oreos got her very excited).

As usual for Kris's recipes it was simple, reliable and worked out perfectly (well, it took a bit longer to cook in our ancient oven and my baking always seems to turn out a bit more moist...not that anyone would complain about that).

It went down a treat and my flatmates gave the leftovers I brought home 5 stars (5 michelin stars actually!). Awesome :)

Anyway, I promise to post more once life settles down and I also promise to post about my exciting (terrifying) news soon!! Oh, and if you were wondering about the title watch this.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Getting high on tea

The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

So, last weekend (just to clarify, not the one that's just been but the one before that!) I decided to treat Mum to a special afternoon tea at the Heritage Hotel...any excuse to try their vegan high tea!! It was a pretty miserable day which meant our plans for a walk were dashed so we took the bus into town early and spent way too much money on shopping...although Mother and daughter shopping these days is more to the likes of
Macpac (I know some of the ladies on the homepage - just a little shout out to the Macpac Girls On Top!!) and Bivouac!

Anyway, after all that shopping it was time for food especially since I hadn't eaten lunch (I had a late breakfast in preparation!). I had called ahead so when we arrived it only took them a few minutes before we had this placed in front of us...

First up you've got to have sandwiches.

We've got wholemeal sandwichs with avocado, hummus and cucumber and white bread sandwiches with tomato, basil and vegan cashew cheese

Next up, we all need some sweet treats in our life.

We've got brownie bites, fruit tartlets, vanilla macaroons and chocolate dipper apricots.

But for the main event, and probably the thing I was most looking forward to, scones.

Cranberry, orange and ginger scones to be more precise, served with strawberry jam and soy cream!

Oh, and there was tea...because what is High Tea without, well, tea?!! It came in a teapot. No photos. Use your imagination.

Basically I think the photos pretty much speak for themselves. Mum loved it and I thought it was totally awesome although I did leave on a bit of a sugar high. My favourite was definitely the scones with cream and jam. Definitely a combination worth repeating. And it has inspired me to go out and buy some more soy cream and do "stuff" with it...what kind of stuff I don't know yet but I'm sure I'll come up with something!