Saturday, May 31, 2008

May Vegan Meet Up

Our Veg*n Facebook group organised a picnic for our meet up in May. We chose Manly Dam as our venue and we were very lucky to have a gorgeous day! Perfect in fact, sunny w/ plenty of blue sky.

I baked some cupcakes last night, gluten-free vanil and choc and this morning I iced them w/ vanil and choc velvet icing. I also made some avocado and tempeh sushi using a recipe from Tempting Tempeh.
We had six of us there and we had some v.nice food to choose from including salad, rice paper rolls, pasta, a tart, my sushi, cupcakes and some coconut bread.

We took a walk around part of the Dam after eating lots of food and had a sit down by the water. It was a good way to have a meet up, more relaxed than meeting at a restaurant, so they will deffo be a regular occurance

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was a few weekends ago now. Mum said she didn't want a present, she just wanted to go to breakfast with me as we don't catch up as often as we used to.

We went down to Manly and I let her choose where she wanted to eat, she's been to Pure with me before but I don't think it was really her cup of tea. Mum picked Blue Water, a place we used to love. It used to be my fave restaurant back in the day but the last few times I went there (over 2 years ago now) the food was awful, like it had been cooked but then left to sit and go cold.

Anyways, we got a table out the front and it was v.v.busy. We ordered and I specified that I couldn't have lactose so could I have my brekky of mushies, hash browns, tomatoes cooked in oil not butter and some avocado on the side. I thought I would try the lactose reason for a change, thinking it might get a better reaction. The waitress said she thought they cooked the mushrooms in butter. I asked her to see if they could do them in oil but if not, leave them off.
My plate arrived, no mushies. Mum had some, they were small button mushrooms and were obviously canned. They were in a little bowl on her plate in a pool of liquid and rest of her brekky was a bit average too. I have doubts about whether or not my food was cooked in oil, but it was still a nice morning, spending time with Mum. Needless to say, I'll never go back there and neither will Mum! Next year, Mother's Day brunch at home me thinks!

I took some rice milk for my tea:

My brekky

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Backtracking: Marmalade Tofu

One of my absolutely favourite blogs is VeganYumYum. The author's name is Lolo and her food always looks amazing, delicious and inspiring. When I vistied the blog in April the front page featured a gorgeous photo of her Marmalade Tofu w/ Kale and Lemon Pearl Couscous. The photo alone was enough to make me want to try this recipe but I had also never baked tofu so I decided I had to try it, that night.

I went to the shops after work to get tofu and marmalade as I had the rest of the ingredients at home. I decided to omit the kale and instead served it w/ a salad and some red capsicum and corn that I threw into the baking dish. I also chose doongara rice over pearl couscous.
It really was delicous. The tofu had such a different texture compared to when it's fried. Once before I had tried frying tofu after it had been marinated in tamari & sweet chilli and I think the sweet chilli burnt and I didn't like it at all, so I was surprised to find that I liked the sweet marinade.

Here's the tofu on a bed of rice, topped with some corn

And here it is served w/ salad and the red capsicum

Friday, May 9, 2008

Backtracking: Me Want Cookie!

I went through a phase of wanting to bake some nice biscuits. I had a look online and one of the best recipes I found was on Dreena Burton's blog, Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I chose the Double Chocolate Mint Melties but I omitted the minty-ness. I also made them w/ spelt flour and I thought they turned out well (they didn't last long!).

The only thing with biscuits is I get worried about them not being cooked, so I leave them in the oven a bit longer. They can be a bit deceptive, looking all soft and non-cooked, but I've learnt if you leave them to cool on the tray for a bit they firm up!

Early this year I bought some kitteh shaped cookie cutters and wanted a recipe that I could roll and cut out. I googled 'vegan biscuit recipe' and the first blog to pop up was the Millenium Hippies blog, I realised it hasn't been updated since '06 but I thought I would try out her chocolate biscuit recipe anyway. I think I again used spelt or maybe rice flour, I'm not sure. These turned out really hard and dry :( I think perhaps I left them in too long (oops!) and they might have needed more liquid.
Post-baking, you can see how dark they went:

Backtracking: Tofu, Tempeh, Peanut Sauce

I'd never tried tofu until I went vegan. A good friend had talked about it, so finally I bought some, fried it, had it with vegies and really enjoyed it. I like tofu plain or with tamari but recently I tried marinating and baking it (more on that in another post). For a while my fave dinner was a few pieces of fried tofu, tomato, mushies, baby spinach & tamari.

I also really like making a green curry with tofu and plenty of vegies. I use Blue Kitchen's Green Curry Paste because it gives a lot of flavour for a small amount (I also recommend their delicious Sweet Chilli sauce, it's the best I've ever tried!). I cook the curry paste w/ some coconut milk, I usually lightly fry the tofu and then throw that in with some small button mushies. I add the rest of the veggies after cooking so that I am still having a good serve of raw veggies. I usually add in red capsicum, broccoli, sugar snap peas, corn, grated carrot. I serve it with quinoa because I enjoy it more than I do rice.

I only very recently tried tempeh. Some friends off our Vegan Facebook group recommended going to a cafe in Bondi called Laurie's Vegetarian. The first time I went I got the tempeh burger with their home-made tomato sauce, which was really good but then I was told to try the burger with satay sauce. OMG! It's delicious and now I got maybe once a week/fortnight and grab a burger for my Dad and I. They're served on a brown bread roll w/ coleslaw and I always ask for the satay sauce.

I saw NutriSoy Tempeh Burgers in Macro and decided to buy some to recreate the Laurie burger at home. I bought a brand of satay sauce from my local health food store but it wasn't that good and I don't think it went well with the tempeh. So I tried the burgers w/ Plamil mayo and sweet chilli sauce but wasn't quite happy with those combinations.

I have a fantastic lil cookbook called Vegan Cooking: Recipes for Health and Happiness. I haven't actually made much from it, but I looked in there and they have a recipe for Spicy Peanut Sauce. I omitted the spicy factor and ended up making a really nice peanut sauce from natural crunchy peanut butter, water and tamari. I served it with tempeh on Naturis Rice bread (toasted) last week and it was delicious, I really liked it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Backtracking: Kitteh tries Raw!

In about Dec last year I started researching the Raw diet. I'd seen it mentioned a lot online in forums, articles and in the magazine, Vegan Voice (subscribe now!).

I joined a forum, Raw Pleasure, and read a lot about what foods to eat and the difference between just eating raw fruit and veg or raw gourmet meals. There was also a lot of info on food combining and the best foods to eat earlier in the day and later in the day.

Some books I really enjoyed are The Raw Transformation by Wendy Rudell and The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. Both were v.imformative and had some great recipes too.

I decided to try eating more a raw food in my diet. I found it was a lot easier to be raw over summer, I was buying a tray of mangoes a week and eating 2-3 a day, I always eat a lot of narnas so they were a good food to have around, I would eat about 3-4 a day plus two in a green smoothie.

What's a green smoothie? A smoothie based on water and greens of your choice plus some fruit to sweeten it, all blended together. I like a combination of baby spinach, 2 narnas and one other type of fruit, usually I choose a kiwi fruit, a papaya or some mixed berries. I make mine every morning and drink it mid arvo when I used to get sugar cravings. It's so much easier than trying to eat all those greens on their own and they taste fantastic too!
Here's a book on getting more greens in your diet.
But as you can see from all my photos/blog I've been doing a lot of baking and cooking which is not raw, at all! Lately I've been wanting warmer/more filling foods. I also felt a bit light headed on high raw, from about January I went back to including cooked food in my diet. I've kept up the fruit for breakfast and snacks, salad for lunch and the green smoothie daily but I have been having a cooked dinner most nights. I do try and have a salad with dinner too and I eat it before I eat the cooked food I am having. I have also increased the amount of baking I'm doing at the moment, I really do love my vegan cupcakes and muffins! Maybe one day I could cut out all cooked food again, but at the moment I'm happy with this balance.
For lunch I like a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and greated carrot. I often add a dressing of olive oil and balsmic vinegar (neither are raw), some Plamil mayonaise (not raw) or some Syndian Capsicum Hommus (not raw). Sometimes I add a Sydnian Pumpkin Pattie or mini Felafel too (not raw).
Chris got me this great Decor container with separate compartments for all my salad ingredients.

Backtracking: Pancakes and Palmiers

I love pancakes, I used to love going for brekky with friends and having pancakes. Since going vegan I am yet to perfect making vegan, gluten free pancakes at home. I can get killer buckwheat pancakes at Pure in Manly, but sadly mine are never as good.

I've forgotten what recipe these are, but they were g-free. I covered them in fruit and maple syrup, they look like crazy pancakes, imo!

I saw a recipe for Palmiers in a non-vegan cookbook and decided to try veganising them. I decided to use pre-made vegan puff pastry (not gluten free). I sprinkled the pastry sheet with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and folded in each side three times until they met and then folded them together. I cut the long strip into peices and placed them on a flat side and sprinkled some more of the cinnamon sugar on top. I can't remember how long I baked them for (d'oh!) but I left them in until they were golden and crispy. I would like to try these again, esp. if I can make my own gluten free pastry.

Backtracking: Autumn, Coconut Lime, Gingerbread & Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

Only a few more older baking sessions I have to share before I can start writing about more recent foodie adventures.

I made quite a big batch of cupcakes recently, I had a day off and spent it in the kitch! I wanted to try some of the different recipes in VCTOTW and decided on the Coconut Lime and the Gingerbread with Lemony Icing.

I made mine as the g-free versions and just subbed in the ingredients to give their particular flavours. The coconut cupcakes were realllllly nice, the coconut milk made them lovely and fluffy. The limey icing was nice, but I'm not sure I would make it again, unless I made Mojiot cupcakes, as the lime reminds me of drinking vodka lime n sodas! I decorated the top with shredded coconut and a slice of lime.

Maya trying to get close to the cupcakes!

I made the gingerbread ones by adding the ground and crystallised ginger to the g-free vanilla cake batter. I iced them lemony buttercream frosting and topped them with a piece of crystallised ginger and a slice of lemon. I think these were deffo a fave of mine, the gingery cake was delish and the lemony icing balanced it nicely. I've included a picture of them on the cupcake stand we found at the Easter Show too, I haven't used it very often, yet!

It was the 86th birthday of a lady who lives next door to my parents, so I put some in a little box for her as a birthday gift, she's known me since I was about 2 years old! Mum said she really enjoyed them :)

I also made some plain g-free choc and vanilla cupcakes, but I added some coconut milk to them because the texture in the coconut c'cakes was so nice. I made some as mini cupcakes too (these were much nicer than my first batch of minis) and Chris thought the choc-coconut c'cakes were ace! I iced them with vanilla and choc buttercream and topped them with autumny and spring sprinkles.

Evidence of my baking spreeeee! I took some to work and gave some to my parents.

A few months back Chris found a recipe for Apple Cinnamon cupcakes. I veganised and gluten free'd it and the results were questionable. He didn't quite like them but I did, the apple gave them a different texture and an odd appearance but once iced with vanilla buttercream they were quite nice.

Backtracking: When Kittehs attack cupcakes!!!

Let me introduce my girls, Myena (short haired tortie on the left) and Maya (long haired tabby on the right). They're my babies and are totes cute and fun to be around.

We got Maya first, in Dec '06. She was tiny and was a stray along with her brother (who now lives at the vet clinic I work at). In March '07 we got Myena and at first they hated each other. We had to have them apart for about a week with supervised meetings and then finally they realised they were long lost sisters. Now they love to clean each other and to race around my aparment, climbing over their scratching posts and creating a mess. <3

They're 95% vegan (Chris sometimes gives them cheese or chicken) but they eat VeganPet Cat Food daily and they also enjoy my cupcakes (visual proof in a minute). Myena also loves fresh fruit and veg. She adores cat grass, so one morning while making my green smoothie, I offered her some baby spinach and she gobbled it up. Now each morning she mews and patiently sits at my feet with her big owl-like eyes until I give her a few leaves. Over summer she also enjoyed mangoes, watermelon, rockmelon and papaya. Now that it's autumn I don't have too many fruits to offer her, unless I buy a papaya. She also likes grated carrot when I have it in a stir fry.

I made some mini cupcakes this year, it was my first go at making them in a smaller size, I think I over did them. Anyway, I was in a rush, we must have been off somewhere, so I decided to put the cooling rack with the cupcakes on a chair in front of the fan to cool. I headed back to the kitchen to make the icing thinking I would keep an eye out for the cats. Next thing you know, they've pinched a cupcake and are happily munching away.

Here are the cupcakes and the girls with their mini sized ones

Backtracking: Chris' B'day

For Chris' b'day this year I made him some cupcakes. I iced them with chocolate and vanilla buttercream and topped them with some Biona Chocolate Drops I got from the Cruelty Free Shop.

And this was his present, a Creative Zen Vision W 60gb mp3player

Backtracking: Australia Day Mini Pavlova Cupcakes!

On Australia Day, we were invited to a mate's for a bbq. I wanted to think of something Australian to make, so I decided to make some cupcakes that looked like mini pavlovas.

I made the g-free vanilla cupcakes from VCTOTW and iced them w/ vanilla buttercream frosting. I then added two blueberries, a slice of kiwi fruit and half a strawberry. I think these are one of my fave cupcakes, the fruit on top was so nice with the creamy, vanilla icing :)

And this is me with the my ne cupcake carrier, filled with Mini Pavlova and Cookie n Cream cupcakes. I got it when we were meant to be Christmas shopping and instead I ended up spending money on this!

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Sydney, NSW, Australia
I went vegan in 2006 and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love baking cupcakes and reading books and often wish I could combine both activities without disastrous results. If I’m not in the kitchen you’ll find me photographing food, cuddling my three kittehs or re-watching my favourite tv shows over and over again with my boyfriend. Due to food sensitivities I don't eat gluten or soy and yes, vegan, gluten free and soy free food is still delicious! Twitter: CupcakeKitteh
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