Sunday, 13 December 2009

Happy birthday Gizmo!

n the 1st of November, the same day I had my Girls Day In... Gizmo had her birthday. She turned 13! I have a teenager. Oh, woes. How do my babies grow so much? Stop it, world! ;) Gizmo thought it was fantastic that all the girls from work came over to celebrate her birthday with her! She sat on her sofa and received guests, accepting pats and snorgles and happy wishes. Here are some photos of her on her special day...

'Good morning world, it's my birthday!'

Sitting on her sofa, receiving her adoring public.

But my, my... what is this fascinating object?

Ooooooh! It is a super duper catnip rainbow! It goes with my super duper rainbow heart from last year! Hurrah!

Birthday dinner. Normally she just gets half a tin but this night she got a whole tin and then got to finish up with some mince that Possum left over.

What an exhausting day!

So happy birthday to my beloved Gizmo. It 2001, when she was 4 years old, I rescued her from a vet clinic where she was a last chance kitty. Abandoned by her owners and unwanted because of her age. But she charmed my heart and when I discovered that her fate was set for three days time, I took her home with me. I have never looked back. I love you Gizmo!

Food Photo of the Post

So normally I have a kitty photo for every post. But this has been a completely kitty post! So here is a photo of...

Behold The Elvis, a variation on the Banana Split Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. A banana cupcake, filled and topped with a massive amount of peanut butter buttercream frosting. Oh my god! Delicious! Though a warning, bu the end this cupcake is about 75% icing, so be prepared to be sugared out. Have a large glass of water at the ready, and take it slow. ;)

Monday, 7 December 2009

Cooking for a Cure

Every year, the Cancer Council hosts a 'Girls Night In' to raise money for women's cancer, and for the past few years I have held an afternoon with the girls to contribute. Last year was my first year holding it in Brisbane, with the girls from work coming over. This year I did it all over again, with many hours of cooking and baking to give them what I hoped would be a fabulous vegan spread!

First up, the dips! This is Baba Ganoush from The Garden of Vegan, which to be honest I was not super impressed with. It didn't have that glorious creamy texture or wow flavour that I like in my eggplant dips. And it was kind of plasticy too! I would suggest giving this one a miss, there are much better ones out there!

This Avocado Salsa, also from The Garden of Vegan, was a total stand out! I had several requests for the recipe. It is delicious - creamy avocado, sweet corn kernels and salty olives all blend together to equal NOM! I left out the icky capsicum, of course. I made a double batch of the recipe and it was eaten all up.

A Hummus Recipe, from Veganomicon was well received. How can you have a party without hummus?!? Again there were requests for the recipe, which I think confirms its status as pretty damn awesome hummus. ;)

And of course, a delicious platter of pita bread and carrot sticks (there were also cornchips in another bowl) to scoop up all that fantastic dip!

Some Tomato Basil Bruschetta from The Garden of Vegan was rather nice. Especially served on my sourdough baguettes from Sol breads!

Onto some sweet stuff, and the Blueberry Coffee Cake from Vegan With A Vengeance was a hit. It makes a huge amount in a 9 x 13 inch cake tin, and was cut up into many more squares than the 16 suggested in the recipe (how big are your cake slices Isa?). It was also quite an expensive cake to make, with the blueberries and a whole cup of maple syrup. Here in Australia, a 250mL (1 cup) bottle is between $8 to $10 a pop! I think it could easily be halved for a cheaper and smaller cake. But it was delicious! Not too sweet but really flavourful. Quite a few people took home chunks of leftover cake with them.

Nice Krispie Squares from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan were a fantastic way to use up a bag of my recently acquired Dandies, though to be fair the whole bag didn't make it in as I had to snack on a few first, of course. ;) It is ridiculously sweet and sugary, which one would expect from such a treat. People were impressed that vegan marshmallows were available - vegans totally rock. ;)

Here those last two are on my cute coloured tier stand. I love this stand! It is kind of leaning though because when I was assembling I got one of the screws in on and angle and was too lazy to go and get a screwdriver at that point to undo it and start again. So it was a leaning tower of noms.

Oh... sorry, were you waiting for cupcakes? Well, I suppose so....

Lemon Macadamia Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I love these babies, they are tangy and delicious! I also added some chopped vegan white chocolate, but not too much. The icing is fantastic - the lemon-ness (is that a word? It is now) of it really counteracts the feeling of ingesting a thousand kilos of sugar that usually freaks me out and gives me a sugar headache with other buttercreams. The icing does make a fairly small amount compared to other icing recipes in the book. Using the amount of icing you see on the cupcake here, it only had enough to top eleven of the twelve cupcakes. So be sparing.

The second cupcakes I made were Chocolate Mint Cupcakes, also from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. These were also awesome, a perfect mix of chocolate and mint. And super cute! A few notes, if I may. I found that the mint icing was really soft, even after I had left it to firm up in the fridge. As a result, even though I used a pretty star tip to pipe it out it really just looked like a tube. Leave out the extra tablespoon of soy milk and see how it goes. Also, when I was colouring it green in my pink bowl it looked like a nice greed colour, but as soon as it hit the dark chocolate of the cupcakes and ganache it got washed out. So make it greener than you think you need it to be so it still stands out. Thirdly, time you ganache cooling carefully. Too hot and it will obviously melt the mint icing, but I let it sit a bit too long so it wouldn't run attractively over the cupcake but more had to be dabbed on. But, despite all these minor issues I still think we had a super delicious and rather cute little cupcake!

I displayed the cupcakes on my newly purchased cupcake tree! Hurrah! It only carries 23 cupcakes, which was good because I could leave off the naked lemon one for me to eat later.

And a random shot of the table, full of food. It was a fun afternoon, and we raised almost $300 for cancer, so win! Now I need to start planning what to make for next year's one... must outdo myself! ;)

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Today's Cute Kitty Photo comes courtesy of Sahara, my favourite little red kitty. I have chosen a photo of her today because at this very moment I am the subject of her intense 'feed me dinner, the time is now' campaign. She's so cute! ;)