I got home from Canberra on Saturday afternoon, just a few hours after Cyclone Ellie formed off the coast (she had previously just been a tropical low). It started raining on Sunday and they were predicting that Ellie would cross the coast at Cardwell, about 90 minutes north of Townsville, at midday on Monday. There were lots of warnings on the radio to "ready yourselves for the cyclone", so Andy and I took stock of what we had--a camp stove we bought last cyclone season and have yet to use; batteries; two little battery powered radios that tune into the ABC with ease; lots of tinned tomatoes and spaghetti; and a few packs of gnocchi, which are quick to cook if the power goes out. We don't have much in the way of veggies, because the markets have been cancelled for weeks, and the grocery stores are unable to get new orders because the highway is flooded north, south and west of Townsville. What we did have was about three kilos of carrots.
A rainy day and cool weather (it's all relative--29 degrees feels cool in summer), plus the threat of power failure sounds, to me, like an invitation to bake. It was the perfect time, in fact, to try a few recipes from my newest cookbook, The Joy of Vegan Baking.
I made banana muffins, with crystallised ginger instead of chocolate chips. We threw a loaf of multi-grain bread into the bread maker in case of future power failure. And, to use some of the many carrots, I made a carrot cake. In place of the oil in this recipe I used mango puree, which made for a really moist, sweet carrot cake. We froze half the cake and the muffins, because 90+% humidity means things go mouldy fairly quickly here.
We haven't been eating only sweets, though, as good as that may be. We've been filling up on lots of cold weather comfort foods. This lentil loaf from Wild Morsels was the best bean-loaf recipe I've made. It was very tasty, and it actually held together in loaf shape. Instead of grated sweet potato, we used carrot and it worked just fine.
The only silly thing I did was to put a layer of tomato paste on the top, like my mum used to do with meatloaf. The baking paper I used to line the pan got soggy, so we had to flip the loaf over to slice it--and the tomato ended up on the bottom, instead of the top.
One night for dinner we had gnocchi, tossed with a hearty tomato-aniseed-roasted garlic sauce. A quick salad of our meagre vegetables filled the plate and added some variety to our diets.
This stick-to-your-ribs meal is cannellini beans, peas and carrots in a vegemite gravy, served with brown rice, cucumber and tomato.
And most recently, Andy requested that I make Urban Vegan's chickpea paprikash again. This time I put in grated carrot instead of capsicum, and served it over spaghetti instead of spaetze. The homemade noodles are definitely better, but this was still tasty and filling and just what we needed. On the side, we had leftover lentil loaf, some sourdough baguette, and a bit of fresh tomato.
Although the rain has slowed up a bit, and the wind has died down, there are still lots of flooded roads and, more importantly, flooded bike paths. We've had to drive to uni every day, which is leaving us both feeling a bit antsy. And there are two lows in the Coral Sea that are predicted to turn into cyclones in the near future, so it looks like we'll be eating too much and exercising too little for at least a bit longer...