Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Feast of Christmas Past

It occurred to me yesterday that I never did post last year's Christmas feast. So here it is, one year later. I took a lot more photos last year compared to this year, so it's a bit of a picture heavy post.

Christmas Eve dinner was Basic Scrambled Tofu from Vegan Brunch with Creamy Coleslaw from 1000 Vegan Recipes and olive and thyme sourdough bread.

Christmas Day breakfast was Perfect Pancakes and Tempeh Bacon Revamped, both from Vegan Brunch.

I made my own cranberry sauce for the first time. It is Traditional Cranberry Sauce from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Delicious! Jarred sauce pales in comparison.

My brother made this delicious and refreshing watermelon, olive and red onion salad.

A festive cucumber and tomato salad. Just right in summer!

A delectable fruit bowl.

Potato and Mushroom Galette. I have made this most years for a long time, it was one of the first recipes my mum started making at Christmas once I went vegan. I didn't make it this year (2010) though.

The Rosemary White Bean Salad from Donna Hay again.

Marinated and baked tofu. I don't remember what I had marinated it in.

Rustic Quinoa and Yam Salad from The Garden of Vegan.

This year the leftovers were nibbled up in a few days. Last year they lasted for a little bit longer, in many tasty variations...


Cute Kitty Photos of the Post

Here's how the kitties celebrated Christmas 2009...

Last year I made Christmas cards with my cats as the stars. Here is a Dim Sim card.

Possum got his reindeer antlers on.

Gizmo visited Santa Claws!

And Sahara dressed up as well. She totally wanted to do this. I promise.

Phew. Those posts were meant to be a series last year I think, so thanks for bearing with me as I just unloaded them all off in the one post.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas goodies.

I hope everyone has been having a wonderful holiday season! I have been having a great time - I have five days off over Christmas this year so I am feeling quite relaxed and happy. It has been good, because initially I seemed to have lost my Christmas spirit this year... I didn't bake any holiday goodies for the kids at work, and I was just not quite feeling merry or bright. But thankfully that has all changed!

Our family eating traditions begin on Christmas eve. While the omni family tradition is prawns (eww and ick) with mayo and white bread, I am in the habit of making something fun and new each year. I was working Christmas eve until 5pm as well, so something that could be made ahead or pulled together quickly was in order.

Here is my plate. I enjoyed Potato Salad with Artichoke Hearts and Grape Tomatoes, basmati rice, grilled portobellos with Lemon-Basil Sauce and leafy greens. The salad and the sauce were both from my trusty tome 1000 Vegan Recipes. The salad was great, and the colours made it quite Christmas appropriate! I made it the day before Christmas eve and it kept really well in the fridge for a couple of days (I just finished off the left overs yesterday). The sauce I was also able to make ahead and reheat that evening. It was delicious! Tangy and sparkly but also very rich thanks to the vegan butter stirred into it. Great over mushrooms and rice, as suggested by the book.

Christmas morning dawned and our breakfast table was spread. For the last few years I have taken to making pancakes and tempeh bacon for my Christmas breakfast. All washed down with fresh orange juice provided by my brother (who miraculously made it home from England - his flight was only delayed 90 minutes out of Heathrow while there were still people who had been waiting days... lucky star!). The pancakes this year were Cranberry Pancakes with Orange-Maple Syrup and they were served with a side of Tempeh Bacon... and yes, both of these recipes were from 1000 Vegan Recipes. The pancakes were wonderful. I had made the batter the day before and stashed it in the fridge overnight. The batter included silken tofu, so maybe that was why these pancakes were so darn filling! With soaked dried cranberries in the pancakes and topped off with a rich orange-maple syrup... yum! I also really enjoyed the tempeh bacon recipe. It didn't require any marinade time, just pan-fry the tempeh and then splash on the flavourings, and for something so quick it was delicious. Definitely a keeper recipes for those times you must have tempeh bacon but don't have the time for a marinade.

After breakfast it was time for presents! A break in tradition, normally we did presents before breakfast but we were all just getting too hungry in previous years, so we swapped it around. I am happy to report that Santa was good to me this year. My main present (combined with my birthday) was a new camera! It is a Canon something or rather Powershot, with a 35x optical zoom... just because. I didn't want an SLR because I am just not that into photography to spend the time to learn to use it, but I needed something better than my poor old little Olympus point and shoot. This is a great compromise, and I have taken some nice photos of the kitties with it thus far. It should make my food photos a lot better too! I also got the DVD of Scott Pilgrim, a beautiful Japanese vegan cookbook, some vegan skincare from London and lots of vegan noms - including some Booja truffles and some Montezumas vegan truffles from London (I loved these at the Brighton Vegan Fayre last year). Apparently there are some other DVDs on the way as well. The kitties got a new water bowl, a Santa string toy, some Christmas meece, a feather ball and some Greenies.

After presents we broke into our traditional parents vs. kids Trivial Pursuit game. This year I am happy to report that kids won! Hurrah! Apparently I sometimes have strange but accurate knowledge. Also sometimes I am good at psychically guessing things. Here is our winning wheel, all full of chips, in the centre after the winning question (the answer to the question, sadly, was cheese). Greg and I are always the pink wheel, which is very nice of him, because pink is my favourite colour.

And finally, Christmas lunch. Mum and I decided to keep it simple this year, and I was glad for that. This tasty vegan plate included (from the top and working clockwise) sauteed mushrooms (they were meant to have peas as well, but I accidentally maybe may have put the peas in to defrost for 20 minutes instead of 20 seconds, thus rendering them shrivelled little nuke balls), cucumber and tomato salad, Soy Glazed Tofu from 1000 Vegan Recipes with tamarind chutney, Rosemary White Bean Salad (from Donna Hay Magazine #44) and roasted vegetables.

I have since then eaten through most of the vegan leftovers, not to mention started nibbling away at my stash of vegan treats!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas, however you celebrate it or whatever it means to you, or at least a fabulous few days off work if nothing else.

I was going to end this post with photos of the kittens dressed up in their Christmas outfits, but they escaped that indignity this year. So just imagine it, or look back to this post to see just how cute my girls are all dressed up!

(% '1000 Vegan Recipes' Blogged: 4.3%)

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Vegan NoFo and 29.

Well, it has been quite a while since I have blogged! I have been quite busy of late with holidays and working and research and having a social life and procrastinating. I think I have been inspired back to the blog by VeganMoFo. I am not participating this year (obviously - it's half done and this is the first post I have made) but I have been enjoying reading all the amazing contributions. I have not imported the entire blog list to my Google Reader like I did last year, because I know I can never keep up with it all! Instead I am following my regulars and also trying to visit a few new-to-me blog each day, maybe I shall find some new regulars to follow!

Not that long ago, on the 7th of this month, I celebrated my birthday and turned 29. I had quite the lovely day, with many lovely eats, which I shall share with you now.

My morning was very dull - I had vegemite and avocado and toast and then I went to the gym! But it was all in preparation for lunch - vegan yum cha at Easy House Vegetarian Restaurant down at the Gold Coast! It was my first time going here, and I was so excited. I went with Shelley and Heather, two friends from work. I wish I had some photos to show you how darn amazing it all was, but I was too busy pointing and eating to remember to take any pictures! So I shall try and describe. There were steamed dumpings - bok choy and chinese parsley, rice paper rolls (with a SUPER chilli sweet chilli sauce!), steamed BBQ 'pork' buns, bean curd skin rolls, sesame spring rolls and my favourite - tofu in black bean sauce. This is amazing, hollowed out fried silken tofu stuffed with glass noodles and vegetables in a black bean sauce. Out of my mind good! Then on to the sweet stuff - lotus paste steamed buns (my favourite!), crispy sesame balls filled with red bean paste and, to finish, a coconut jelly (which also had some sort of lentil in it, which was OK but a bit strange). And I know I am forgetting something that I ate here. And that wasn't even all of the range we sampled! As we were leaving I saw the fried yam cakes come out, and I was sad I missed them! I will definitely be going back here. It is an hours drive away, but that seems worth it for amazing vegan yum cha. The only thing not vegan are the custard tarts - they have egg in them (gross... also, why?), so steer clear of these if you are heading down. I can't wait to go back! I shall take photos next time.

After lunch we headed back to Brisbane and had an impromptu and hilarious game of Catopoly. Considering it was a cat vet and two cat vet nurses playing, we had an extra fun time giggling with our own cat-related jokes. It was a fun game, and I am happy to report that I won! Hee!

During the year, for birthdays or other special events, I will cook a three course meal in a family member's honour. The last two years my mother and brother have taken to doing the same for me, which is lovely. Sadly, my brother is in London now (but did surprise me with a phone call in the morning!), but my mother took control of the situation, and masterminded a surprise three course dinner for me!

First course was this amazing pumpkin dip. I don't know all the ingredients, but it did involve pureed pumpking, curry powder and soy mayo. It was so delicious, I could have just kept eating the whole thing. As it was the following day I demolished the leftovers, which I were closely guarding for my own person eating. Great with pita chips! It was an online recipe, so I will share the link once I find out what it was from my mum.

Main course was spaghetti with a sauce made from tomatoes, basil, capers and olives alongside some marinated garlic eggplant antipasto and a green salad. The marinated eggplant was a little on the oily side, but goes great with some acidic tomato flavours. I used the leftovers on bread and in burgers. The pasta was really nice too, and kept me in lunches for a few days so I didn't have to make food for work on my birthday.

Finally, dessert was a berry compote with a brown sugar crust. After this photo was taken, I applied some vanilla soy ice cream and ate with delight! Thanks mum for a fantastic birthday dinner. :)

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

My Sahara loves being involved with things. Here she is during my birthday dinner, she loves to jump up onto an empty chair at the table and join in. And who wouldn't want such a cute little face joining them at dinner? Just be careful if you have any broccoli on the table - she'll join you ON the table to get her paws into it!
I'd also like to mention that Sahara just had a check up at work, and that her physical exam, blood and urine results were all A-OK. Even with a mini-kidney. Go my bear!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ten years of awesome!

This month I have celebrated a fantastic milestone - ten years of being a vegan! It has been an amazing decade since. I've posted somewhere on here about my journey to vegan, but here is the short version: I became a vegetarian in high school, but after a couple of years the ramifications of supporting dairy and egg industries became too important to ignore. I have to admit I had a couple of false starts. But one day in September 2000 I had to go away for two weeks on prac work, so I packed the soy milk (I was determined to learn to love it) and that was it, I was a vegan. I don't have an exact date or moment, but just sometime this September I went from thinking 'I've been a vegan for almost ten years' to 'I've been a vegan for ten years!'.

It has been a fantastic ten years. When I started I was not the food obsessed girl you find before you today. But going vegan lead to me to start my cookbook collection, and eventually I started to cook from them, and then I started taking photos of the things I cooked, and then I got more cookbooks, and took more photos, and got more cookbooks, and so on. And on the way I started this blog, made some great friends and have been loving the benefits of being a vegan. I could never imagine not being a vegan now!

I didn't have an 'official' celebration or anything. But around the time I did have some friends over for dinner, so I thought I would share that with you - because I did make something exciting! All the recipes below were made from 1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson.

I started with Lemon and Garlic Marinated Mushrooms, which was great as I had to work the morning of the dinner so I could make these on my day off the day before and leave them to marinate in the fridge overnight. It makes a fairly small amount, so I also served them with tomato-stuffed green olives and balsamic and rosemary kalamata olives that I bought from our awesome local deli.

Sicilian Penne with Tomatoes and Eggplant is a great, simple but delicious dish. I had forgotten my serving size brain and actually did use a whole 500g packet of penne (the recipe calls for a pound) and it was enough to serve at least eight people, not the four the recipe claims to make! But it worked out OK because I had lots of leftovers. Next time I would make it with just half the amount of pasta though. I also added a tin of chickpeas for some protein.

Now, here is the exciting part! I made Vegan Tiramisu, which was actually the first tiramisu of any persuasion that I have ever made. First you make the Vegan Pound Cake (which I found needed an extra 15 to 20 minutes of baking to cook through) and then cut it up and make layers of cake, coffee and the cream. The delicious cream! This serves 6 people, however it is very rich!

Here's the inside shot. The longer this sits the better it gets, I was eating leftovers in tiny amounts for a week. The recipe says to make it extra decadent you can top with vegan whipped cream, but to be honest I think this would be overkill. I did take them up on the suggestion of topping it with chocolate curls as well as cocoa, which was just delicious!

I'd also like to send a big thanks to River over at Wing It Vegan, for choosing this blog for her first ever weekly Blog Love column! It was lovely, especially given the timing with my veganniversary. If you haven't already seen River's blog, get there at once! It is full of delicious recipes, adorable themed food (and with Halloween around the corner, I can't wait) and quirky fun.

I'd like to thank everyone who has been part of my vegan journey so far - here's to the next ten years, and the years after that. :)

(1000 Vegan Recipes blogged: 3.8%)

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Behold the amazing sight... Gizmo and Dim Sim are sitting on the same cushion... and they aren't trying to fight each other! Normally these two are at it like cats and other cats who don't like the first cats. Dim Sim has never gotten over the disruption of her only cat existence. Perhaps there was a bird outside the window?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Sydney noms and Joss Whedon!

This past weekend I went down to Sydney to see Joss Whedon speak at the Sydney Opera House and spend some wonderful time with by Browncoats. And, of course, for eating!

Saturday night was Brendan's birthday party, and he was showing off his new Thermomix by whipping up several vegan-friendly dishes (and one not so vegan friendly meaty chili). Combined with two delicious tarts that Leigh brought along, everyone there, vegan or otherwise, was very well fed!

Here is my dinner plate, loaded up with goodness. What you can see here is a slice of Leigh's two quiches - a sun dried tomato and smoke Sheese quiche and a hummus and vegetable quiche, with lemon and pea risotto, brown rice salad and beetroot salad (those last three all from the Thermomix). It was good, and I went back for some seconds as well! For dessert I tucked into a delicious little treat that Leigh had brought me from the vegan bake sale - but more on those in a later post!

Sunday morning came along and this was Joss day! I started my day with an almond croissant and cherry pie, then had a mini cheezecake snack about an hour later. Again, more on these in the bake sale post! We then headed into Newtown for a late brunch at Naked Espresso.

After my super sweet start to the day, I decided to try something different from new usual, and I had the scrambled tofu feast - scrambled tofu, mushrooms, spinach, pumpkin, hashbrowns, toast and homemade baked beans.

Diana had my usual, which is different from her usual (the BLAT). My usual is the buckwheat pancakes with a side of Redwood bacon and hashbrowns. There must always be potatoes at brunch!

Brendan is contemplating his Pie Floater.

After brunch, Brendan and I headed down for a stroll through Newtown (Diana had to go help set up for the Joss Whedon cocktail party her work was involved in), and we ended up at Buppa's Bakehouse - one of Brendan's favourite places in the world. Buppa's is an American style cake and pie shop. They also have New York style bagels, which are vegan! Even though I had just eaten brunch, I could hardly say no.

Mmmmm.... warm bagel with Nuttelex and sour cherry jam. Buppa's has an excellent grasp on what is required to be vegan. Unfortunately they don't offer a vegan option in their regular daily selection, but they can bake a range of vegan cakes and cupcakes to order.

After the bagel, I was just incredibly full. And a power walk from the bus stop the Sydney Opera House was not helping. But no matter, because it was Joss time! Wow, what an incredible 90 minutes! He is an incredible speaker - funny, articulate and honest. I laughed, I cried, I love it. For a great write up of the event, click here. And if you are going 'Joss who?', well then - get thee to a DVD store and stock up on Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse and friends stat!

Afterwards, some people went to the after party, and those of us that didn't went to a nearby pub to wait for them. I was still quite full, which was good because the pub had a very uninspired selection on the menu and certainly nothing vegan! But once we were all joined up again, a large group of us headed out for dinner at Wagamamas. Leigh, my fellow Browncoat vegan, was also there. So what do two hungry vegan ladies eat at Wagamama?

Edamame with salt. Always a classic, though we had to add lots more salt!

Sweet potato chips, without the mayo dipping sauce.

Some sort of stir-fry. I don't remember the exact names. We subbed out the soba noodles (which contained egg) for rice noodles.

Again, I don't remember the name of this. But it was fried tofu, vegetables and chillies on rice.

And, of course, pickles! You cannot have Japanese without pickled vegetables. Nom! All washed down with Japanese tea and water. A tasty feast indeed!

I headed back to Brisbane yesterday, thankful for a wonderful weekend with some of my favourite people, my favourite write/director/producer/etc and some delicious food!

This photo isn't from Sydney. Last night, after I got back, I went to Loving Hut with The Jens. I just wanted to share their new starter - French Onion Pouches. Inside these little crispy packets is hot, melty french onion cream cheeze... which sounds wrong, but is oh-so-right! I could become addicted. ;)

Cute kitty photo of the post

This handsome man is Caleb, one of Brendan and Diana's kitties. Here he is being just utterly adorable - his back legs are still sitting on the top platform of his scratching post, but he has his front legs standing on the lower one. He sat like this for ages, looking rather happy and zoned out. He's a gorgeous big cutie. :)

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sahara turns NINE!

It's so hard when your babies grow up. Saturday the 28th of August is my little Sahara's birthday, and this year she turned NINE! And she's my youngest! I can't believe how quickly time goes by. It seems like just yesterday that an 18 month old Sahara came into my life, and my brain always considers her to be that age, forever. Unfortunately I had a plane to catch the morning of her birthday (more on that later) so I only had a few hours with her, but my parents made the rest of her birthday super special and took lots of photos for me.

We started her birthday with some Greenie's in bed! I keep a packet in my bedside draw, and every time I think about opening it she materialises like magic! So on this particular morning I risked spoiling her appetite for breakfast with a pre-breakfast crunch and snorgle.

Sahara enjoying a birthday sunbake.

With her birthday present - this cat has a lot of toys!

Look how very cute she is!

If there is one thing that makes her very excited, it is steamed broccoli! Here is a picture of her nomming into a special birthday bowl!

Again, looking cute. She is very good at that!

Go away and stop taking photos of me! It's sleepy time!

Happy birthday beautiful red girl. I will love you for eternity.

Food Picture of the Post

It's a flipped around post today, so here is a single food photo to end it on! My friend had her birthday a few weeks ago, and when I asked her what sort of cake she would like she said strawberry shortcake. I made this recipe, from Now Vegan by Lynda Stoner. I had to bake the cake about ten or fifteen minutes longer than she said in the book. Once you bake the shortcake, you cut it in half. The recipe then calls for strawberry jam and fresh strawberries to be layered in the middle. I also added a thick layer of Macadamia Creme from Vegan With A Vengeance, because I always thought strawberry shortcake was meant to have a creamy layer. Anyway, it was an awesome addition. The cake was very cute, and really nice. I wisely chose to take to work in bits and assemble it there, because after sitting for too long it goes a bit smooshy.

Coming up next, my Sydney adventures and my vegan bake sale experience!