Monday, July 30, 2012

Blogger Baking

There are so very many wonderful recipes around the internets that I often see, think would be good, and then forget about as soon as I navigate away from the page. But recently I have discovered Pinterest as a way of organising bookmarks, and I find it much more useful than standard old bookmarking.

I've pinned several recipes from blogs and recently made a few, with varying degrees of success.

First up, I made a Cromwell Tart, a recipe from Joey at Flicking the Vs. When I originally saw the recipe, and clarified one of the ingredients, I thought okara would make a good substitute... but then when I got around to making the recipe I didn't have any okara to use, so I made it with egg replacer powder, instead. I also added a bit more milk than Joey, mainly on accident, but it didn't really seem to affect the recipe. I also used a biscuit base, instead of a shortcrust pastry. After 30 minutes in the oven it was pretty fluffy but seemed baked through - but I wasn't sure, so I left it in the hot oven for a bit longer. The result was pretty yummy - smooth and moist and quite delicate.

The second was Kari's lemon slice, which I had previously eaten in Melbourne, made by Mel. You can tell this is a good recipe, because it's been getting around. In addition to being delicious, it is also super easy to make, and aside from lemons, uses only ingredients that we always have on hand. Still, I made a few alterations, and had a few issues. First of all, I used sunflower oil instead of melted margarine in the base, because I don't have a microwave and melting margarine is just too much work. This wasn't such a problem - the biggest issue was that I needed to oil the baking paper, because when I tried to slice up and put away the slice, it stuck big time. The other adjustment I made was to add a dash of tumeric, because who doesn't want their lemon slice to be bright yellow?!?
You should definitely make this - the lemon topping is yum.

Finally, I made tofu fish fingers by Mel. I followed the marinade recipe pretty well - to the point that I even bought "vegetarian stir fry sauce", which is not something I do often. But I used polenta + desiccated coconut instead of bread crumbs, and I baked my fingers in the oven instead of frying. They were good - a little dry, because of the tofu I used, but with a nice flavour (and the dryness actually did remind me of the fish fingers I used to eat as a child).

So, Pinterest is a winner for me, because it means finally getting around to using these recipes that other bloggers post that make me go 'ooh, yum...'.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Winter warmers

Here are a few of the wintery dishes that we don't often get to eat here in Townsville - but we've become acquainted with them this year!

A stewish mix up of zucchini, carrot, and purple sweet potato, in a tomato & cumin sauce. With some guac, because winter is also avocado season up here.

Hearth veggie & brown lentil soup. This had zucchini and carrot and sweet potato and white potato and capsicum and corn and maybe other things. And I made a quick batch of biscuits (American style) with teff flour to eat with the soup. They were maybe the best part of dinner.

A green curry, full of veggies and some pawpaw - the sweetness of the fruit is a good contrast to the spicy curry.

Mac & Peas! Cheesy, nutritional yeasty sauce poured over macaroni and peas and baked until the top is crunchy, served up with some roasted corn and a garlic bread zucchini.

This is "Chickpea Broccolikash", or a slightly bastardized version of Chickpea Paprikash from Urban Vegan. We didn't have capsicum so we used broccoli instead, but I wouldn't let Andy call it by its rightful name. We also didn't feel like making spatzle, so we served on noodles. It was delicious anyways.

And to wrap it all up, some lime self-saucing pudding. This is another adapted recipe, this time from ZuckerBaby. Her recipe called for lemon, but we had a fridge full of limes. It was so delicious - a light and fluffy cake with a sweet-tart pudding-y glaze all over it. We assumed it would be best warm, so ate it all straight from the oven.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Work Trip

Although travelling for work is not always the most fun ever, there are worse things. Especially when work trips bring opportunities to eat exciting vegan food with exciting vegan (and non-vegan) people. I spent the past week away from Townsville doing a few different things.

On Sunday I arrived in frigid Melbourne, ahead of two days of executive committee meeting for a professional association. Not that fun. But, made bearable by the really lovely dinner I had with Mel, from Veganise This! Mel not only responded to my "please, will someone have dinner with me?" request, she also picked me up from the airport and then dropped me off at my hotel after dinner. Did I mention how lovely she is?! When Mel suggested we visit the Gasometer pub in Collingwood, I did a quick blog search and found both she and Cindy & Michael had posted about the wondrous vegan pastrami burger, so I couldn't say no. And when we arrived at the pub, I looked at the options but just couldn't get past the idea of that pastrami burger. And it was everything it promised. The vegan goat cheese was really incredible, the cole slaw was a good foil to the rich seitan and cheesy toppings, and the chips were just perfect. The whole thing tasted like caraway and dill, which somehow matched the dark and somewhat gloomy (in a good way!) interior. The apple hot toddy, for just $5, was a good way to beat the chill that I always feel when it's below 25 degrees! The pub was pretty dark so this is the best photo I managed.

Mel blogged about dinner here, and you can see the photo of her meal there. You can also see, at the bottom of the post, the really delicious lemon slice she gifted me. It was such a good snack at the end of two long days of meetings! Thanks, Mel!

Tuesday afternoon I flew from Melbourne on to Sydney for a workshop I had co-organised. I had a free half-day in Sydney, so on Wednesday morning I wandered to Glebe and paid a visit to the Cruelty Free Shop. I got a few things to eat immediately, but most of my purchases made it home to share with Andy.
TVP beef slices, vegan gummy bears, sweet & sara coconut marshmallows, a pie, and a choc-mint truffle ball which I ate straight away!

For lunch, I took advantage of the oven in my apartment and cooked up the Funky Pie.

Funky Chunky flavour, with big chunks of something beef-ish and mashed potatoes, inside of the flakiest puff pastry ever.

Dinner that night was at Mother Chu's, with Andy's brother. I didn't take any photos, mainly because I was too busy stuffing my face with really delicious food. The catering at the workshop was pretty ordinary, vegan-wise, and for dinner on Thursday we all went to Thai Pothong in Glebe where the (slightly modified to suit my vegan-ness) vegetarian banquet was way too much food, all of it delicious. Again, no photos, because I was at a work function, across the table from a sociology rock star (making googly eyes at him, probably).

Since I don't have any more food photos, I will finish off with this bag I bought at Salvo's in Glebe, to carry my (borrowed from work) laptop in style.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Long Weekend Pie

A few weekends ago, Andy and I bought this acceptable but scuffy old table & chairs from a garage sale around the corner.

Then, two weekends ago, we had a long weekend. The public holiday on Monday was Townsville Show Day - for American readers, the Show is the equivalent of the County Fair, and I *love* that it gets its own local public holiday. I haven't ever actually been to the Show (though I did once enter the baking competition). But who doesn't love a free day off? We used the long weekend to refresh the table and chairs. Andy had sounded down the top, which was a lovely light coloured wood. But those curvy, turned chair legs were not going to be easy to sand. And I didn't want to restain the nice-looking wood to that bland brown. So, how about bright blue?!

Painting was stupid and not fun. For three days, we primed and painted. My back was sore, my legs were sore, my bum was sore. But, at the end of the three days, we had a beautiful new dining set!

While the paint was drying, I used some of the time to cook. I made some pie filling, so later in the week we just had to put it into pastry and bake and dinner was done.  The filling was mainly eggplant, with a few other veggies and a thick vegemite gravy mixed through. It was thick and wonderful and very tasty.

And when we baked it up, it got all golden and flaky and beautiful.

And, served up with some easy roasted radishes, mushrooms, and corn, it was the perfect meal for two tired people on a cold night.

But we must have been bitten by a painting bug, because this weekend just gone, we used one of our work-free days to turn our bathroom from this...

To this.

It is the first room we've painted in our house, and it feels good! I've got big plans for the rest of the place!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Winter Desserts

I know it is a little ridiculous to complain about the cold, cold winters we have here in Townsville. I know that our winters are similar to Tasmanian summers. I know that Canberra got to -5 in May this year. I know that I grew up in a place that regularly got to -20 in the winters, where our university emailed around "frost bite warnings" on the coldest of days, letting us all know that more than 5 minutes spent outside was detrimental to our health.

However. There is something to be said for acclimatising to the tropics. And the fact that our houses and buildings are not designed to be warm. And the paltry winter wardrobes that Andy and I (and most NQers) own. So although many of my friends are the opposite, revelling in this winter weather and complaining about the heat, I spend far more energy (and social media status-updates) whinging about the cold. 8 degrees last night is not my idea of "beautiful tropical weather". 
The upside of being cold is having plenty of appetite, and being able to satisfy it with hearty, warm meals and desserts that are off-limits for most of the year in this place. So when I saw Kate's recipe for golden syrup dumplings on a cold day, I knew I had to make them. They were easy to do, though when I make them again I will use a bigger pan - they need a bit of space, I think, to get truly puffy-fluffy-delicious.

As I'd never had golden syrup dumplings before, I followed the recipe exactly, with my only flourish the topping of the dumplings with chai vanilla ice cream. But, when I make these again (and I will, since we're not yet halfway through winter), I think some strong boozy flavour in the syrup would add a certain something, cutting through the cloying sauce and adding to the warming sensation - scotch springs to mind, or perhaps some fruity liqueur.