Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Veganomicon Menu Roundup

As many of you now know, I am incapable of saying no when it comes to menu plans. It's a disease and I can't help myself. I thought today I might post a bunch of pictures of Vcon menus I have made over the past year. For those of you who have the book, flick to page 267 to play along! Most of these were made for weekday dinners, so I haven't made the suggested soups, salads or desserts in conjunction with these meals. I have made most of them at other times though, so that is just more retrospective post fun to be had... tee hee!

So, on with the food.

Mediterranean Comfort Menu - Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas and Soft Poppy-Seed Polenta. Not pictured here is the Roasted Cauliflower.

Chinese Eat-In Menu - Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots and Baked Marinated Asian Tofu. I subbed in some wasabi mashed potato in place of the suggested brown rice.

Lazy Indian Gourmet Menu - Samosa Stuffed Potatoes, Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes, Five Minute Mango Chutney and Jasmine Rice.

Greek To Me And You Menu - Mediterranean-Style Baked Lima Beans and Lemony Roasted Potatoes. Instead of the suggested Easy Stir-Fried Leafy Greens with dandelion and kale, I used the Garlicky Kale with Tahini recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance.

My Own Private India Menu - Tamarind Lentils, Baked Curried Tofu, Cornmeal Masala Brussels Sprouts and Basmati Rice.

Fancy-Shmancy Menu - Chickpea Cutlets, Mustard Sauce and Roasted Asparagus. I also served it with some chive infused mashed potatoes.

The Vegan Ghost of Julia Child Menu - Sauteed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach and Herb-Scalloped Potatoes.

Smash Your TV Dinner Menu - Mac Daddy, Rasted Zucchini and Roasted Butternut Squash with Coriander Seeds.

Down-Home Gourmet Menu - Cheater Baked Beans, Smokey Grilled Tempeh and Sauteed Collards.

Rustic Goddess Menu - Tomato Couscous With Capers and Rustic White Beans with Mushrooms. Also served with roasted asparagus, because you know how I love to have green things on my plate!

I have also made the Roman Goddess Menu, which is Chickpeas Romanesco with Saffron-Garlic Rice and Roasted Green Beans, but I cannot find a picture of that anywhere. Sadness! And, or course, the Picnic Menu I made last week.

Sorry for the lack of deep and meaningful comments about all the different food. This post is designed for quick visual gratification, plain and simple. ;)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Australia Day Lunch

Yesterday was Australia Day for those of us who live Down Under (or Invasion Day, or call it what you will), which meant a day off work for most (hurrah for public holidays) and the firing up of the 'barbie' around the country. My Australia Day plan were not exactly patriotic... I went over to my friend's house to watchthe two new episodes of Battlestar Galactica I'd downloaded (OMG!!!!) and then we watched the WWE Royal Rumble pay per view. So I tried to make up for it with a little lunch spread.

Australia Day is another great chance for vegans to shine and show the world that our diet is fabulous and that you don't need to slaughter a paddock of teeny, tiny baby sheep to celebrate/despair the landing of the First Fleet. Yes, in true 'Australian style', people like to celebrate with a BBQ, and the lamb industry starts a massive ad campaign about how 'Australian' it is to eat lamb. In previous years, these ads have been direct attacks on the vegetarian and vegan movements, housed as 'comedy'. You know, so if you got annoyed with it you were taking it too seriously and being a kill-joy-no-fun-animal-lib-freak, which is very 'un-Australian' (the most overused word of this young millenium). Whatever.

Anyway, enough with my soap boxing and moaning, and on with my food! I only had pretty limited time for this. I working and on call this weekend, so I only had three hours on Saturday afternoon and four hours on Monday morning. Otherwise there would have been so much more!

This is 'Green and Gold' Summer Sunshine Pasta Salad, from Vegan Planet. I added the 'Green and Gold' part to the title. There are two types of pasta in it - farfalle and shells. The recipe calls for the farfalle to be cooked with turmeric added to the water to mae them golden - which it does, very slightly. I had planned on adding some spinach to the water when cooking the shells to try and make them green, but for some reason this didn't happen. The broccoli helped with the green. I also used yellow cherry tomatoes in place of red ones and chopped up some green shallots/scallions in place of golden shallots to keep the theme going. Very refreshing! Makes a bucket load.

And what Australia Day would be complete without some sort of burger? We opted for the very best 'burger' nature has to offer - giant mushrooms! No prep work and so damn tasty! These were, of course, burgers with the lot. The lot includes lettuce, tomato, fried onion, beetroot and pineapple. Delicious!!

These are a variation on the Strawberry Shortcakes from Vegan With A Vengeance. The base is the scone recipe and I once again made the macadamia creme (macadamias, very Australian). However, I replaced the strawberry sauce with a 'Flag Coloured Fruit Salsa' - strawberries, blueberries and lychees. It is a yummy mix, but the lychees do make it very runny!

And finally, my favourite thing... MINI LAMINGTONS! These are quite inauthentic, largely because I didn't have time to mess around trying to find a sponge recipe. But they are soooo easy. I used the coconut cake recipe from Wing It Vegan's Strawberry Santa Hats, which has got to be one of the easiest, quickest, tastiest cake recipes ever and is a great base for so many things! Cut the cake into squares - whatever size you want them to be. Next, take your favourite chocolate icing recipe (not buttercream), I modified one I found on an on-line lamington recipe (1 cup icing sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, 55mL soy milk, 15g Nuttelex all melted down in a double boiler), and dip your lamington into it. Let the excess run off, then roll in coconut. Let them sit for a little bit, and roll in coconut again, then leave to set. Easy peasy! And so tasty!

So I hope all the other Australians reading my blog enjoyed a lovely public holiday, good food and great friend!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Gizmo Is Nekkid

My cats. My loves. The ones I would do anything for. Gizmo. My tabby girl. By furriest of all girls. Alas, in this particular summer Gizmo's fur has been causing her some issues. She sheds throughout the whole year, and has a very thick coat. I have long suspected she had a double coat. When you brush her, you get amazing amounts of fur out but there is still always more to come! She normally gets the odd furball in summer, but this year has been particularly bad... especially regarding what happens at the other end... too much fur. I am currently working on a paper doing a retrospective study of foreign body obstructions in cats, and furballs form quite a number of these. I have no desire for Gizmo to end up in my study and under the surgeon's knife. As such, I made the hard decision to... CLIP HER! Eeeep!

It was not a choice I made lightly. I love her fur. Even if it does end up everywhere. I love it. It is such a part of her. And now I was taking her to work with me to have it all removed. Well, except for her head, her tail and her booties. Of course.

I took Gizmo in to see her aunty Shelley (a nurse at work) to do the clip. I had Siti, another vet, anaesthetise her. I don't work on my cats. What follows below is the outcome...



NEKKID!! Considering she is considered a shorthaired cat, she had an amazingly thick double coat. It took a while for the clippers to get through it all! And it all fell away and went in the bin. *sniffles*

Shelley did an excellent job, but Gizmo and I are both still getting used to it. I'm going to get a brush called a Furminator, which has a reputation as the best brush for getting rid of fur and under coat, for when it starts growing back in.

She's still perfect though :)

Veganomicon 'Picnic' Menu

As previously stated, I have an exreme compulsion to make any menu suggestion that I come across. It's like a sickness. Anyway, seeing as it is summer and apricots are overflowing the stores (mmmm... my favourite stone fruit!), I decided to make the 'Picnic Menu' from Vcon that I had been eyeing off all winter.

The centre piece for the menu - Apricot Baked BBQ Tofu. The sauce is the Apricot BBQ Sauce recipe, which uses fresh apricots in place of tinned tomatoes. It is fabulous. Tangy and smokey, with just a hint of apricot sweetness. The sauce recipe makes WAY more than you need for the tofu, so I have a couple of containers in my freezer awaiting their future fate. The tofu is baked initially, then smothered in the sauce and baked some more. I've made this with the more traditional Backyard BBQ Sauce recipe from Vcon as well, and it is just fabulous everytime.

Its picnic-themed side is the Prospect Park Potato Salad recipe. The recipe claims to make enough for a boatload, and I only used a quarter of the ingredients to make a smaller batch. Which made plenty for a hungry picnic party of four, so unless you want loads of left overs to eat for the next month, definitely look at cutting it down to suit your numbers! It was really delicious.

And here is the final plate:

So, we have obviously our BBQ Baked Tofu and our Prospect Park Potato Salad. We also have the suggested side of corn on the cob. Grilled corn was suggested, but I didn't have time or facilities on this night, so I just did it the regular way. I also added some leafy green salad, because you can never have too much green.

I didn't make the suggested dessert of lower fat banana bread, because I didn't think far enough ahead. I have made it before, but I can't find a photo of it. It's really good though!

A blogging break was had...

So hi, apparently time flies when you are doing things that really were not so important and time consuming as to mean you haven't blogged for nearly three weeks! I'm not quite sure when I fell off the blog-wagon. I suspect it is because my parents went away for two weeks (yes, I am a sad gen-Y who lives at home... but there are circumstances... really... no, really) and I had the house pretty much to myself and was just really enjoying the solitude and quality time hanging out with the cats.

I have taken loads and loads of photos in the past three weeks, so need to spend some time thinking about how I want to blog them all. I have a couple of blog posts that shall post today!

But first, to make up for my unexpected slackness, I offer a Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownie (from Veganomicon)...

So fudgy and wudgy! They really were very soft and moist... especially when left onthe kitchen bench at work on a hot summer day... they practically became gooey awesomeness.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Lazy Sunday Afternoon Snoozles

Sunday afternoon on call. Quite often I just stay in the flat at the clinic all afternoon because it is really hard to relax at home with the on-call phone that can go off at any moment. However as no one was home this Sunday afternoon, I decided to brave it and go home to give the kitties their lunch and hang out with them. Success! I was able to give them both lunch and dinner before heading back to the clinic to give the kitties there their dinner. So what does one do on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Well, if you are a cat, apparently this...

Dim Sim fast asleep on her favourite blankie on the sofa.

Gizmo snoring away on the carpet.

Sahara slumbering around on the foot stool.

This kitty who you see here is Possum. Possum has not had a formal introduction like my girls, but he is our family cat. A year ago I came home and turned his one cat house into a four cat house. He has been very good about it. Isn't he handsome?

I took these photos at the same point in the afternoon. All four of them were just completely bombed out, blissfully snoozing away their Sunday afternoons. How fabulous to be a kitty!

And then I got back to the clinic, went upstairs to the flat, and found this:

It is a very silly looking Shauna! Shauna is a fat Abyssinian who belongs to my boss who is currently on holidays, so she is hanging out in the flat until he comes back. She is a really sweet kitty cat.

Cats do have the life!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

'Taste Of India' Menu

This Monday night was our first family night in a while. Holidays and work and life had gotten in the way the last few weeks. And with the parentals heading off cruising on Saturday for a couple of weeks it will be the last full family night for a while. This particular night was made extra special by the addition of my brother's love girlfriend.

So I decided to flick through all those lovely menu suggestions, and I picked out the 'Taste Of India' menu from Vegan Planet.

Here is the first course, which was actually just served with all the other food. It is 'Curried Cauliflower Pakoras', but I also used some sliced zucchini slices. Pretty tasty, though in my heart or hearts I am not much one for deep fried things and can only tolerate small amounts before being sick. They were quite nice as a bit of a treat though. I served them with this great tamarind chutney my mum gets from the deli. The pakoras can be fried a bit before hand and kept warm in the oven, but you wouldn't want to leave them too long or they will likely get soggy.

'Spicy Jasmine Rice With Carrots And Cashews' was the side dish, though if you are a lover of spice you can definitely add some extra, I have no lasting memory of spiny taste at all! You need cooked, cold rice for this recipe, so really when the time comes to making it, it is ready in a snap.

And the main event, as it was. 'Three Bean Dal', made with black beans (down to 12.5 cups in the freezer now I believe), kidney beans and yellow split peas. It is thick and filling and darn tasty! There were also two other main course recipes suggested - Tofu Vindaloo and Sweet Potato and Red Bean Curry. However as there were only the four of us and there is only so much room on the stove and so much room in our bellies I just picked one. I have made the Tofu Vindaloo before and it is great. The other curry shall have to wait for a different night.

And here it is, all together now! It makes for a very satisfying dinner indeed. The only thing it was maybe missing was something green... battered and fried zucchini aside... but that is probably just my addiction to green vegetables coming out. I have withdrawls if I don't get me some greens.

And, of course... let's not forget dessert! Tee hee! It is Coconut-Cardamom Rice Pudding, with pistachios and rose water. The rose water really didn't come through, even in smell, so next time I might add a bit more. Because it is summer here I served these chilled. It is creamy and sweet and delicious.

Overall a pretty great menu. It's a bit fiddly when it comes to the final count down of preparations. I love my mother, who was kitchen wench extraordinaire on the night, washing and drying up as quickly as I handed her new dirty dishes... what a champion! Then my brother volunteered to wash up as well. It was a great family night. The next few will be myself and my brother all on our own, but I am looking forward to making a few fun menus for the two of us.

On another note, I hope everyone had a fabulous New Year. Hopefully a fantastic 2009 awaits us all!