Friday, June 29, 2012

Feeding Tika

Neither Tika nor Nacho are vegetarians - both eat mainstream kibbles (Nacho started out on VeganPet but she abruptly stopped eating it after a few months so we switched over). However, both love various veggies and other "human foods", so we are happy to oblige them. For Nacho, green peas, dried TVP crumbles, oats, mashed pumpkin, nori sea weed, and especially raw corn are just tops. We're still working out what Tika's favourite foods are, but she seems fond of pretty much anything except for capsicum and star fruit so far - she even ate a pear core that our neighbour-baby gave to her.

Though they eat meat-based kibbles, none of the extras we give them will ever be animal based. It is easy and quick to make dog treats that Tika scoffs down, we make chewy dried sweet potato slices for her to clean her teeth on, and we supplement her dinner each night with a bit of extra something. We do this because it looks tastier than the kibbles, to give her a bit of variety, and because it is cheaper - especially once our veggie garden gets growing and we have more sweet potatoes and zucchinis and chokoes and other veggies than we know what to do with (I hope). The only draw back - and sorry if this is TMI - is that all the veggies turn Tika into a serious poop factory. I guess that means she's getting plenty of fibre, but it does mean we have to clean up more around the back yard, and watch where we walk.

(Nacho doesn't like treats, as such. I once tried combining pumpkin and oats - two of her faves - into a biscuity treat and she wouldn't even sniff it. Even mixing peas & corn makes both a little less appealing to her.)

Here is a basic idea of the extras we feed to Tika. She was a skinny girl when she moved in with us, so we were first trying to fatten a little and now we're trying to maintain an ideal weight - so if your dog is on the, ahem, fluffy side, you should probably cut back on the rice.

1 c. rice
2 c. water (or bean cooking juice)
1 tsp. vegemite
1 tsp. chicken or beef stock (vegan, of course)
1 potato, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 ear of corn, cut off the cob
1/2 c. green peas
1/4 c. peanut butter

In a saucepan, bring the water, vegemit, stock powder and rice to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 8 minutes. Then, stir in the potato, sweet potato, and carrot. Replace the lid and continue to simmer for another 8 minutes (check it every now and then to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom). When most of the water has been absorbed, turn off the heat, stir in the corn, green peas, and peanut butter. Combine it really well, then replace the lid and let it cool. This makes enough for at least 2 weeks' worth of dinners, so we freeze half.

When we serve this up to Tika for dinner, mixed with her kibbles, she pushes the kibbles aside to get to this rice mixture. We don't always make this - sometimes it is more like plain rice, or whatever veggies we've chopped for ourselves that night for dinner. But this is her hands down favourite dinner, and it's good enough for us to eat, too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Random Things

The wonderful Mel recently bestowed upon me the Food Stories blog award, which demands that the recipient share a random fact about themselves, before passing the award on to 5 other bloggers. I occasionally "win" awards like these, and I think I most often go "Oh, how lovely, I must get to that." And then I promptly forget about it. So I will certainly feel no ill feelings towards the five of you who I nominate if you forget, or just don't feel like participating in this. But, in the spirit of random facts, I have a few random images to share, with a random fact each.
The place I grew up is about a 2 minutes walk from this small town War Memorial. My dad actually organised the transport of this tank to its final location. Andy and I visited when we were in the US in October. It was not that exciting, really, but hey, a tank!
We got solar panels a few weeks ago, but there is no space to plug the inverter into our meter box so they are just sitting up there doing nothing. We have to wait another month before we will get any sun-powered electricity!

Tika loves going for walks, especially to the beach, but she is too naughty to go off lead. Instead, we bring a really long rope so she can run around and go into the water without making us swim with her.
Nacho makes a point of sitting on every single piece of furniture, box, bag, or other new thing we bring into the house. Like this dining table we bought from a garage sale and are sanding down and refinishing.

Now, to spread the story telling love... I will pass this on to:
All five bloggers tell interesting stories that I love to read, so if you haven't checked them out recently, or ever, you should pop along to their blogs and read some of the tales they tell.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


At the grocery store last week, Andy and I found brussels sprouts for $1.45 a kilo. They're usually at least $6 a kilo, so this was a Very Good Deal. So naturally, we grabbed a 1400 grams. So we've been eating brussels sprouts with every meal. Sadly, we've used them all up, but here are two of the uses we put them to.

 Our favourite, and most common way, of having brussels, is roasted in the oven. These ones were bite-sized, so we left them whole. Tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper. We also sometimes add lemon juice, or garlic, or herbs. Always delicious. On the plate with the brussels - an epic plate, I will admit - is roasted beetroot, roasted corn, and Balsamic Roasted Veggies (recipe from Urban Vegan).

This is a sad, unflattering photo, but the food was very good to eat. This is a caramelised onion & brussels sprout quiche. The quiche filling I used is from VegNews, which involves cooking 1 1/2 cups of besan in 4 cups of water, flavouring with black salt, and letting it thicken and then cool before baking. The result is probably not that eggy, but is pretty delicious. And brussels sprouts were really good in quiche - something I was originally sceptical about.

What is your favourite way to eat brussels sprouts?

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Andy and I were invited to his friends' house for a board game night / potluck extraveganza. I thought about easy-to-bring potluck food - Andy suggested rice & beans, but I didn't want to be too boring so I settled on jambalaya! (I have a hard time saying or typing that word without an exclamation mark.) I used the recipe from Celebrate Vegan by Dynise Balcavage, except that instead of tempeh bacon & veggie chorizo, I used tvp, black beans and chickpeas. To make up for the missing flavours that fake meats would have contributed, I also added some liquid smoke, extra chilli powder, and paprika. The verdict: "It's amazing how vegans & vegetarians can make such tasty food without using meat!" -- success, I think.

For extreme ease, we made this the day before - to give the flavours a chance to meld, you see - and packed it into this really lovely casserole dish Andy's mum has given us.

The best part of dinner, though, was eating cake - Raspberry pound cake with lemon glaze, recipe courtesy of Urban Vegan, also by Dynise Balcavage (we love her recipes!) - and drinking tea while playing a completely original, albeit marine biology-centric, board game. Yes, nerdy, but we are.
Unglazed raspberry lemon pound cake.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In the Ground

You may recall that when Andy and I moved into our house, I announced my desire to grow all the things. I am happy to say that, aside from a weekend spent learning plumbing to fix a leaky shower, almost all of our energy spent making this place ours has been outside. We have pulled a few things out, gotten some big & risky trees lopped, and planted lots.
Andy learns plumbing.

First in the ground were three pineapple tops.

Papaya seedlings out the front have grown quite quickly.
Pawpaws in April. The ugly frog came with the house.
Pawpaws in May. My, how you've grown.

A spiky mandarin tree menaces anyone who dares get close enough, and hopefully will bear fruit in another 2 or 3 years (but realistically may take much longer).

A vanilla orchid, courtesy of Dee and BoaB, greens up our patio.

A small patch of grass near the driveway has become something of a herb garden. Basil, chilli, parsley, and a coffee plant all grow there, and some soy bean seedlings are hopefully fixing nitrogen in the dirt for everyone else to use.
Soy bean sprout-lette.

A funny, skinny strip of yard between the fence and the patio/carport wall was home to a big gum tree. It shaded the roof (which is a problem since we're getting solar panels), and dropped fairly large branches every time a breeze came through.

It has made way for a little banana patch.

Vietnamese mint will hopefully start going a bit crazy before too long.

A butternut pumpkin and a zucchini in the front garden are growing really quickly.

Some dragon fruits provide a very different look from the normal lush greenery that characterises food plants.

Our sweet potatoes are finally starting to sprout.
This is an orange sweet potato, I think.

Peanuts, grown from unroasted locally grown nuts, will hopefully allow me to make my own peanut butter.
Peanuts are also nitrogen fixers!

We've never eaten sweet leaf before, but that didn't stop us buying a plant to put along the front fence!

A star apple out the back is a good tropical shade tree that will also give us nice fruit.

Our patio could do with some greenery growing along the sides, and this passion fruit should do the trick nicely.

We have a few other things scattered around, including tomatoes, spring onions, and eggplants. Everything is small and in the early stages yet, but things grow at a cracking pace here in Townsville, so I hope to post more garden photos in a few months that are barely recognisable, and to smugly mention all the backyard produce I include in meals!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Veggie Crumble

A few weeks ago I saw a blog post on No Meat and Three Veg for lentil shepherd's pie. Given that the weather was cold, this set me off on a shepherd's pie craving. When I started to make it, though, I didn't have any recipe in mind. Instead, I winged it (wung it?) and made a lentil- and veggie-full gravy to cover with mash. My mistake was adding too much liquid - I have discarded the photos of the shepherd's pie, because it was so sloppy and there was really nothing pie-like about it.

However! I made way too much filling and we froze half. On another chilly evening, Andy took this out and re-vamped it a bit. He made a roux to thicken the filling up, added some other veggies, and then requested a savoury crumble for the top. I was a bit sceptical, but quickly came around to the idea, and whipped up a mixture of flour, butter, and oats with a few savoury spices. We crumbled, and baked, and filled up our plates with potatoes and broccoli, and the result was not bad.

Not exactly a recipe I could even begin to write down in its present state, let alone one I could share, but an interesting idea no less. The crumble topping was crunchy, the bottom filling bit was full of flavour and piles of veggies, and it was especially good with some tomato sauce.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Comfort Food

One day a little while ago, Andy had to spend a full day at uni - he had an experiment that took 10 hours to run, and needed things to be done every hour. Knowing he would be exhausted, I thought a slightly junky dinner would be a good way to welcome him home.

I smashed up some corn flakes in the mortal&pestle, mixed them with coconut, polenta, and spices. I coated some seitan strips in flour, then dipped them in soy milk, then coated them in the crumbs.

To go along side the seitan fingers, I whipped up some baked sweet potato fries, and some roasted brussels sprouts.

Perfect end to a long day.