Friday, August 31, 2007

Three New Cookbooks

Unfortunately, I don't own three new cookbooks, but I got them from the library. In the past few days I've tried a recipe from each.

From the Kundalini Yoga Cookbook, I made 'Yogic Apple Crumble Pie', which was really more of a cake. This cookbook is all about working with your hands, so the measurements are in pinches and handfulls. I had Andy pour the stuff into my hands, since they got pretty sticky after I measured the brown sugar.
The cake is 5 apples, grated. Then mix in 4 handfulls of oats, a handful of brown sugar, a handful of soy milk, a handful of grated coconut, a handful of vegetable oil, and a handful of chopped nuts. Then press it into a pan (springform would work best) and bake at 180/350 for a half hour. Here's ours, served with some frozen mango.

From the Vegetarian Society's Health and Vitality cookbook, it was breakfast for dinner. 'Healthy hashbrowns with rashers and grilled tomatoes'. The hashbrowns are parboiled, grated potatoes that are baked. Maybe it's my oven, but they didn't brown up at all. (That's why they are practically glowing in the photo.) Next time I'll fry them, and erase the word healthy. The tofu rashers were super yummy, though! I marinated them for two days in a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, vinegar, and paprika. They baked with the hashbrowns, as did the tomatoes.

And finally, from the Accidental Vegan, Kedgeree, or Middle Eastern lentils and rice. I used slightly different veggies than she did, and rather than using cumin powder I used seeds which I 'popped' a la Alternative Vegan. At the end, it seemed to dry, so I mixed in some diced tomatoes.

Now, some of you have asked for Andy's recipes. I'll be honest: he doesn't use them. It's a little frustrating, actually, that he can just wing it and get damn tasty food. But anyways, the polenta pie was basically the recipe from the new Vegan Voice with the addition of gravy. For the gravy, he soaked some dried mushrooms in water, then drained them and kept the water. He made a roux with some nuttlex and flour, then mixed in the mushroom liquid, and a scoop of vegemite mixed into a cup or so of water. Then he stirred and let it thicken. That was poured over some minced sauteed veggies and layered between polenta. Voila!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Some delicious misses...

The last two dinners have been made by Andy, though I helped out with the first one. They've been delicious, and attractive (in the pan) but they haven't held their shape. All this means is they make for ugly photos, but great dinners...

Originally a recipe for 'eggplant casserole with olives and herbed tomato sauce' from The Gourmet Vegan, Andy's version had more vegetables, and silken tofu + spinach instead of firm tofu slices. The original also called for a layer of bread in the middle, and he thought that was weird, so we didn't have any bread.
Basically layers of eggplant, zucchini, carrots, capsicum, and tomato sauce with a spinachy tofu layer in the middle. I think the bread was meant to soak up the liquid while it was baking, however, because our version was almost soupy.

Perfectly seasoned, tender vegetables mean that even an ugly mess makes a great dinner.

Take two. While I was at a meeting last night, Andy prepared a polenta pie. He was inspired by a recipe from the new Vegan Voice, though he didn't look at a recipe during the cooking process at all. He made polenta, having never done so before. He made a delicious mushroom and vegemite gravy. He sauteed some minced veggies, and he turned them all into this:
Again, it just didn't quite come out of the pan. I think because the polenta was soft. But really, hard polenta kinda freaks me out a little. It's too much. This dinner was delicious!

Afterwards, we went for a walk to see the lunar eclipse. The timing was perfect; immediately after dark in eastern Australia, the Earth's shadow started to cover the moon. By 8 pm it was glowing red. The photos didn't really come out, but here's one anyways. That red blur in the middle of the black is the moon.

On our walk we got to see not only the eclipse, but gigantic flying foxes, and a few little dogs. A family was out with their three dogs watching the eclipse, and they came up and jumped on us as we walked by. One was a black cattle dog, one looked like Benji, and the other was a white, fluffy ankle biter named Nippy--such a good name for a dog like that! I wish I'd gotten a photo of those three....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More spring

I can't believe I forgot to post these on my earlier post. Anyways, Andy and I took a long walk along the river last week, and found a few more indications that spring is upon us...

mango flowers

the river... in summer, the green field will be covered in water

some sort of fruit... a guava, maybe?
puffy flower


cool hot pink flower


I'm not much of an expert, but I do know they were pretty.


I think I posted about my patio garden a little too early. Since this post, we've gotten some mint, a few mini-figs (future bonsai, hopefully), a 'Scarborough Fair' herb box with parsely, sage, rosemary and thyme, and a Stevia plant.

So far we've thrown a few stevia leaves in cups of tea. I've also dried some out and made a powder. Does anyone have any good stevia recipes? I've searched on vegweb, and most recipes that include stevia seem to call for "1 c. of sugar or stevia"--but there is no way you would use a whole cup of stevia!! Plus, sugar has some unique properties and it does certain things to baked goods and I don't know how it would go to just take it out.

So if you know of any good conversions, or any recipes specifically meant for stevia, or any good resources where I can find out about this very sweet plant, let me know!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Spring has sprung

Although spring doesn't officially begin here until Saturday, it's in the air up here in North Queensland. In addition to a few sneezes, there are a few other clues. Sweet, juicy watermelon. Noisy flying foxes in the trees outside (and it sounds like they may have babies with them!). These two tree frogs in my back patio.

And springy food. For this risotto, stock plus lemon juice and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc made for a light and zesty base, which matched perfectly with broccoli florets, green peas, and fresh rocket for a meal that tasted like spring.

For lunch, some tofu 'egg' salad. In lieu of soy mayo, I used avocado.

Pizza. A thin, crispy crust topped with fresh zucchini, mushrooms, capsicum and pineapple.

And this one had avocado and tomato.

And rice pudding. Maybe not a spring flavour, but something I've never tried before. And since spring is a time for new things, I'm including it.

Happy spring to all the southern hemisphere people!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Now they're making boycotting illegal?!

Read this article.

The Australian government is trying to push through legislation that would allow companies who are adversly affected by consumer boycotts to sue those who promote said boycott.

For example, if the Human Battery Cage persuades enough people to buy free range eggs, and factory farms that utilise battery cages lose profits, the activists can be taken to court.

The only other examples I can think of are vegan, fair-trade, or environmentally-based. Many of these movements rely on consumer-based activism. I thought that was sort of the point of capitalism--suppliers need to produce products that are high in demand, even if that means they are ethically produced.

Shane, from the Human Battery Cage crew, sent me this:

Please write to the Senate Economics Committee (SEC) registering your
concerns about the Bill before this Friday - 24th of August 2007.

The committee is to report to the Senate on 5 September 2007.

The Committee requests that where possible, submissions should also be
provided by email to , preferably as MS Word or RTF
format documents. Notes to assist in preparing submissions are available
from the website or
telephone the Secretariat on 02 6277 3540, fax: 02 6277 5719, or e-mail at
the above address.
Aussie vegans, I know it's short notice, but if you can whip together something, anything, send it on to the Senate Ethics Committee. I think legislation like this is just ridiculous.

Crystal Creek, and Frosty Mango

As a late celebration of my successful confirmation seminar, Andy took me on a little adventure yesterday. We went an hour north of Townsville, to Paluma National Park, a world heritage area. We've been up there before, but we went up the high road, so this time we stayed at sea level and checked out Big Crystal Creek.

It's the dry season, so it wasn't as spectacular as it can be, but I thought it was beautiful. It was actually more of a water hole than a creek, because it didn't flow to anywhere--but it does when it rains. The water was bluish-green, and you could see fish swimming around.
We took a little walk down the dry creek bed, and saw this tree. It looks like it started growing here a while ago (it's big!), and then flood waters washed away the dirt from under its roots. It's still alive, so it must have some pretty powerful tap root underneath here, but I thought it looked super cool.On the walk back to the car, we came upon this goanna. Whenever I see them, I can't help but think of the Rescuers Down Under, because there is a villainous goanna in that movie. Hopefully this one hasn't kidnapped any children or rare eagles lately...

On our way out of Paluma, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand, complete with an "honesty box" where you put your money. They had jackfruits ($10), mandarins ($2/kilo), and star apples. At the market last week they cost $1.50 each. At this roadside stall they were 50 cents each! I feel so ripped off! Anways, we bought three.

About 5 minutes from Paluma is the real reason we went north:

A popular tourist destination, Frosty Mango grows much of their own fruit, and turns it into ice cream, baked deliciousness, and the occasional curry or salad plate. Many of their frozen goodness is dairy free (and the other stuff is made with low-fat milk, so it's not so unhealthy). We opted for a 5-scoop boat, filled with Mulberry, Cashew Apple, Jackfruit, Jaboticaba, and of course Mango. The perfect amount for two of us to share! And, made with fresh fruit, it's healthy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Some old favourites, and a few new recipes.

Sesame-Lemon Tofu, based on a recipe I found in the newspaper for a chicken dish. It's tahini, lemon juice, and garlic mixed together and poured over pan-fried tofu, then baked. Next time I'll probably marinate the tofu in a lemon-soy mix before pan-frying it, to get the flavour all the way through. Still, it was very good. I just ate the leftovers for lunch!

After a long walk yesterday, we ended up at the grocery store, where we found so many deals! Organic apples, $1.50/kilo, sliced mushrooms, $2/kilo, lebanese flatbreads reduced to $1, veggie sausages for $2.50 (half price!), Tequila flavoured salsa for $2, and a few other goodies. We also got this soup mix for $1.50, which had 5 or 6 carrots, a swede (turnip), a parsnip, a potato, and an onion.
I turned the soup mix into dinner. Green and yellow split peas made the veggies into a hearty stew, topped with super-herby dumplings. My mom used to cook chicken with dumplings, and I haven't had that meal since I was a kid. I'd sort of forgotten about it, until I saw a recipe in the newspaper. I veganised the dumplings, and they were so light and fluffy but yet gooey on the outside. They're cool to watch, too, when you've got a glass lid for your pan. They start out as small blobs, but quickly expand in the hot liquid.

Scooped into dishes and topped with some sauteed mushrooms and some perennial coriander....

Dinner was served.

Andy's dhal, based loosely on Peter Singer's dhal recipe.

Last week I made cornbread, but it turned out... not so great. It was too dense, thick, and just unpleasant. I crumbled it up, added some chickpeas, mixed through some spinach pesto, and baked it. The result was much nicer than the original. We served it along with some cannellini beans in tomato sauce.

Snacktime... Vitabrits (our preferred brand of Weet-bix), topped with Nuttelex and vegemite. And some with tomato sauce.
Look how unhealthy Andy made this relatively healthy snack!

A few days ago, Emmie of Veg Bitch posted about Swedish Jam Drop Cookies, with only 5 ingredients. I made them, and they were awesome. I used a variety of jams (and some marmalade!), and cut the recipe in half, and we're already done with these!

Make her cookies! They are maybe not so great for you, but really simple and good! I would recommend them as a good activity if you have children to entertain.

Thanks for all your comments on my last post, and hugs all around!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

100th Post!

First, some food. Super sweet, sticky baked beans. Served with cornbread and roasted pumpkin. The cornbread wasn't great. Anyone have a good recipe?

Roasted pumpkin again, this time in soup form. The soup was made super creamy and rich with the addition of coconut cream, and chunky thanks to some capsicum and carrots. A little garlic flair was added at the end by stirring in some chopped garlic chives.

Some cool tropical fruit, a star apple. The inside was creamy and sweet, with a mild flavour. Although this was quite good, at $1.50 for one, I don't think I'll be eating these very often!
Basic baked broccoli from The Alternative Vegan, tater tots, and eggplant 'steaks', coated in paprika/herb/salt/pepper rub.

A peanut butter and jam roll-up. Perfect hand-held vegan snack food!

Now, to commemorate the big 100th post event, some things I love about blogging:
  • Feeling like part of a little online, vegan community. I don't know many vegans in real life, so I love being surrounded by other ethical consumers, even if it is only on the internet.
  • Getting to know some cool people. More so than just a general community feel, I've made some friends and connections with some really amazing individuals.
  • Avoiding food 'ruts' so that I have interesting new photos to post. That's right, keeping a vegan blog inspires me to experiment with new recipes, flavours, and ingredients.
  • Receiving inspiration from other bloggers about new foods, flavours, etc. to try out.
  • Sharing ideas and hearing feedback about issues big and small.
And of course, blogging is a great way to procrastinate!

Friday, August 17, 2007

I've been Confirmed!

Yesterday was my Confirmation Seminar. Not the kooky Catholic thing where you eat Jesus and pledge your undying love to the pope. At JCU, post-grad students aren't considered 'candidates' until they go through the confirmation process. It involves a 2000 word proposal, a "substantive piece of scholarly writing", and a 30 minute presentation.

Needless to say, I was calm, cool and collected about the whole thing. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. I was so nervous, and I mostly vented my tension by yelling at Andy all morning before my seminar! Sorry 'bout that, Andy.

Nerves or no nerves, I got through the presentation with no major mishaps, answered a few questions, and that was that. They decided I'm good enough, and I am officially a PhD candidate. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


One of the bumpier parts of my relationship with a non-vegan was trying to explain to him my opposition to 'pets'. Buying and selling animals is wrong; one should not be making a profit based on lives. I think it's arrogant of humans to do so, and too many people don't recognise that these animals are, in fact, lives. Especially when it comes to small animals like rodents and fish.

Andy is a marine biologist. He loves aquariums, scuba diving, and all things oceanic. Unlike some marine biologists, he is very uncomfortable with killing the things he's studying. He is especially opposed to killing fish for 'sport'. But he really, really wanted a fishtank. Just after we moved into our old house (probably in February) we found a 3 foot fishtank at a garage sale for $30. He got it.

I'm still very uncomfortable taking part in the buying and selling of live things. I don't like that our consumer dollar goes towards an industry like that. But, that being said, I freakin' love our fish. They aren't merely ornamental in our house--they all have names and personalities. Maybe it's because we don't have a tv, so we spend most evenings sitting on a beanbag in front of the fishtank watching the interactions. I like to think that we've given them as good a home as they'll get anywhere: lots of live plants and wood to swim around in, some friends to socialise with, that sort of thing.

So, that was a big intro. Now, fish move around a lot. They are really hard to take pictures of. But that doesn't stop Andy from trying...

This is Sam (with the pink belly) and Alex. They are blue rams. They were spawning that night, and they were the focus of Andy's photographic attempts. When we got them, they were too small to distinguish their sex, so we gave them uni-sex names. Turns out we had a pair.

Here's Alex again.
Sam's pink belly shows up quite well in this picture. So does their blue undertones. And the reflection of the camera and Andy's fingers.
This is Yang, our female guppy. We got her when we were watching a lot of Grey's Anatomy. She and Shark, one of the male guppies, are having babies soon.
So what are your opinions on living with animals like this? I think it's a different conversation altogether when referring to adoption of cats and dogs. But I know there are other vegans with fishtanks, and surely some with rodents. Have you ever thought about it before?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Random Food

Last night's dinner, caramelised tofu served with brown rice. I first made this tofu when I lived with my parents, but then I sort of forgot about it until I saw it on someone's blog last week. I am not ripping you off, but I really can't remember which blog posted about sticky tofu! But anyways, it was good!
Pasta bake. Elbows and spirals mixed with sauce that was full of eggplants, olives, capers, and tomato. Topped with breadcrumbs, and then some fresh basil and parsley sprinkled on top right before serving.
Oatmeal raisin pancakes. Not super great. If I make this again, I'll try soaking the raisins before hand. And maybe using quick oats, instead of rolled.
Veggie burgers! A joint effort, Andy made the mix and I formed them into patties. The burger itself is mashed potato, spinach, spices, and peas. We had them on mulit-grain bread with soy mayo, hummus, tomato, cucumber, beet root, mustard, and caramelized onions. Really yummy, but buns would have been better--the bread fell apart! That's half a burger on the side, and you can see how green the burgers were--that's the spinach.
Some flowers Andy picked for me. They came from the shrub in front of our house.
With a belly full of veggie burgers, Andy had nothing to do but Sudoku!