Behold my delicious vegan food wizard skillz!

Tonight I turned this:

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Into this:

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Under that delicious pile of roasted tomatoes and zucchini is an equally delicious pile of wholemeal pasta with kale and walnut pesto.

Mix it all up for a hearty meal with plenty of greens and bursts of sweet roasted tomatoes and zucchini chunks, and the taste of garlic bringing it all together.

home grown ingredients:
Kale
Garlic
Zucchini
Mixed tomatoes (tiny red ones, yellow cherry, mini Roma, standard cherry – there’s a green zebra tomato in the picture but I saved that one for another dish)

store brought ingredients:
Wholemeal pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Nutritional yeast

It was quite literally thrown together – no idea about quantities. I can try and guess some if anyone really desperately needs a recipe but I’m confident there’s probably plenty of kale walnut pesto recipes to be googled and the tomatoes/zucchini were just veggies tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and roasted.

You know what else was delicious? These babies:

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I made these cookies and cream cupcakes for a work meeting using a recipe from Vegan cupcakes take over the world . It’s the basic chocolate cake recipe with the variation of adding chopped Oreos to the cake batter and also to the vanilla buttercream. Absolutely superb.

They were a big hit with everybody. I’ve kind of made it my mission to keep feeding my work mates vegan food just to show them how delicious and interesting it is.

I’ve also found that vegan cakes seem to be ridiculously simple. Maybe that’s just because I’ve been practicing but I am really enjoying baking now.

I made this cake for a work mates farewell a few weeks ago.

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It’s a chocolate mud cake I’ve made a couple of times from Not Quite Nigella that I came across a while ago. I’ve found it turns out best when I be a bit liberal with the chocolate in the batter (75grams… 100grams… Close enough). I also take it from the tin while still warm and plate it, pouring the ganache over before it’s cool.

This recipe makes a chocolate syrup – I’ve been adding coconut milk or almond milk to make more of a ganache. Either way will be great.

Moving off the chocolate cake theme, I also tried my hand at a vegan agedashi tofu. I used shiitake for the broth and let plenty of them soak for a long time to get the flavour. I also used some wakame to get that “sea” flavour since I’m unable to buy kombu at the moment.

I kept all the wakame and shiitake in the end so it wasn’t the traditional clear broth but it was delicious and hearty. I used cornflour for the tofu coating and fried it in a mix of peanut and sunflower oils. It was dished up with edamame and plain medium grain rice.

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So there are some of my latest food achievements. I’m pretty proud of my efforts – still learning new recipes and methods of cooking and still keeping it vegan.

And by the way, what do you do with leftover Oreos and extra icing?

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Sushi for dinner.

What do you do when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen with the stove?

Throw on your rice cooker, grab some seaweed and some bits and pieces and make this:

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the only fish involved is on the platter which came all the way from Finland. Thanks Annika!

Technically speaking these are nori rolls, not sushi but…. Sushi seems easier. I’ve been big on these lately. I made some for lunch the other day as well with some edamame and some raw veggies.

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Fun fact: in a metal container and an air conditioned office, frozen edamame in the top compartment works well – it’s defrosted by lunch but it keeps the sushi cool without getting cold. I prefer them at room temperature.

Anyhow, nori rolls are a simple thing.

You will need:
rice. Medium or short grain rice can be used – often it’s labeled as sushi rice. Just don’t use any variety of long grain rice. It won’t work.
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
nori sheetsmmmm seaweed. Tasty tasty seaweed.
optional extras for the rice – I use raw nori flakes and black sesame seeds.
fillings whatever you feel like – I used carrot, cucumber, avocado, and tofu.
condiments- wasabi paste, soy sauce and pickled ginger

Step 1: cook sushi rice. I use my rice cooker now because I can pop it on while I do other things and it will just keep it warm till I’m ready. I generally have about a cup of uncooked rice to 2-3 rolls – but I like a lot of rice in my rolls.

Step 2: make your seasoning by gently heating 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 tsp salt on the stove until it all dissolves together.

Step 3: mix the rice with the seasoning – add it to taste. The amount of seasoning generally does me about 2 cups (uncooked) rice. This is best done in a non metallic bowl. Fold some of the vinegar through the rice and taste – add more if you feel it needs it.

Step 4: extras! I tend to mix some raw nori flakes through the rice and also some black sesame seeds. Just for some extra crunch and nutrients.

Step 5: lay your nori sheet shiny side down. You can use a mat if you wish but I don’t usually bother. Lightly brush some water over the nori
Spread rice in a thin even layer, leaving a gap at one end. Use a spoon or your fingers dipped in water so it doesn’t stick.

Step 6: fillings. Spread a tiny bit of wasabi on your rice, down the middle. It’s hot so if you haven’t tried it before go very easy on it. Top that with your chosen fillings. Avocado, carrot, cucumber and tofu were my choices last night.

Step 7: roll. Take the end you have rice to and roll it tight enough to keep everything in but not so tight that it tears. You’ll get the habit of it the more you do. Wet the free end and seal your roll. Slice gently with a wet knife into whatever size you want.

Dip in soy sauce and enjoy pickled ginger in between rolls.

Enjoy!!

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Challenge accepted week 4.

Whoops. I ended up missing week 3.

There’s no excuses really – work was flat out, I felt unwell and unmotivated and it just didn’t happen.

So back on the horse for week 4. My challenge actually started yesterday so it’s kind of the Monday and Tuesday of week 3 and then all of week 4.

Which works well as my challenge is to grow a sourdough starter and then bake a sourdough loaf. This may take up to a week to develop the starter. Given the forecast heat for the week – high 30s and low 40s it may not take that long.

Meet Tim:

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apparently it’s bad luck not to name your starter

I started with about 100g of plain flour and enough (filtered) water to make it the consistency of thick paint. I let that sit most of yesterday to activate then added 100g fresh flour and water to maintain consistency this morning.

Then it’s a matter of refreshing it daily for up to a week by discarding half and adding fresh water and flour each day until it’s ready. Then I can start baking!

I love the idea of sourdough as it’s making bread with just flour, water, and a touch of salt. The starter ferments and grows the natural yeast in the air and that’s what makes the bread rise. It’s vegan in the sense that there’s no animal products involved and great because there’s no additives unless I put them in. Mind you, the starter is often considered to essentially be alive and people refer to feeding it and looking after it. Kind of like making yourself a little bread friend… And then eating it…

Anyway, creepiness aside, it sounds like a fun challenge! I’ll try and report every few days and let you know how Tim is going.

Challenge accepted week 3.

Week three starts today.

For this week I’m going to eat at least one piece of fruit a day.

Might seem easy, but I’ve never really been a fruit person. Veggies yes, but not fruit. Which I feel means I miss out a little. Fruit is great – full of natural sugars too! Also plenty of different nutrients. A vegan diet should include as much variety as possible so I really should get some more fruit into me.

I’m starting today with an apple. They are always a great place to start. I’ll let you know how things go at the end of the week.

Challenge accepted week 2

Well my first challenge accepted week wasn’t quite as successful as planned. I missed 2 days practicing yoga due to just getting caught up with things and then realizing as I was falling asleep that I hadn’t done anything.

Still, taking the time out to do some asana and breathing exercises was nice. I’m trying to carry this through and practice more at home. My yoga place has reopened after the Christmas break this week so I’ll be back on the mat there Saturday morning. I’m looking forwards to it!

My challenge for the week ahead is to post a photo each day of something that makes me happy.

So here’s today’s offering:

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Food. Specifically cooking food. Playing with recipes, throwing random ingredients together. I love cooking and will on occasion stay up to midnight cooking because the thought comes to me after dinner of baking cookies or making sushi for the next days lunch.

I especially love the challenge of veganising food – for example this photo is essentially a red wine and beef stew, made with mushrooms (and served with mustard chive mash and oh so delicious). I love picking things out of the garden and making a meal out of it (tonight will be zucchini pizza).

There’s something so wholesome about cooking from scratch and seeing my friends and family enjoy my offerings

Cooking makes me happy.

366 marathons back to back

This couple are awesome.

watch the story here

They are an elderly couple. She is a cancer survivor. They have just finished a world record – running around Australia and completing 366 marathons back to back. That’s a marathon a day for just over a year. They’ve had no rest days and have even had to deal with flood, bushfires, and a cyclone.

What makes it even more awesome is that they have done it on a raw vegan diet and with minimalist shoes (looks like vibrams all the way!).

No injuries. No rest days. So much win.

Inspiring!

Their website about what they have done over the past year is here

Zucchini tart recipe

You know summer is in full swing when you start coming back from the garden with armfuls of zucchini.

We planted a single blackjack zucchini and a single yellow zucchini. There’s still going to be heaps of them to go round though. Zucchinis are well known for being prolific fruiters – and the fruit grows so quickly that if you don’t pick them for a day or two you end up with a giant marrow (great for hollowing out, stuffing and cooking).

I decided I wanted a tart for dinner, and Google wasn’t really helping with a “vegan zucchini tart” recipe that seemed good so I made my own! here’s what I did.

I made a crust from this book:

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I’ve found this book to be particularly helpful in working out crusts. Generally with savoury meals I’m pretty good at throwing things together, but when it comes to baking, crusts or pastry I’m not so great. I used the recipe for spelt-crusted quiche on page 117. This calls for a crust made from 1 1/2 cups spelt flour, salt, 1/4 cups tahini, and 1/4 cup veggie broth.

I whizzed that up in the food processor, pressed it into the (oiled) dish, then baked it for 10 or so minutes to avoid ending up with a soggy base.

Then I sliced some green and yellow zucchini, quite thinly. I probably used about maybe 2 normal sized zucchini all up – ours had run away so were a little bigger than optimal.

I also very thinly sliced some onion and potato.

I made up a light sauce using a base of 1-2 tablespoons of melted dairy free margarine, with enough plain flour to make a paste. I added garlic and then gradually added soy milk until I got a creamy sauce. If you’re making this, don’t make a lot because you don’t want a soggy tart – it’s just enough to add a little flavour and moistness without soaking it.

To the sauce I added some salt and pepper, and a little nutritional yeast to taste.

To assemble – put a layer of zucchini, followed by potato and then onion. Sprinkle on some finely chopped rosemary (fresh from the garden if you have it – yum yum!) and some salt and pepper before putting half the sauce on. Repeat another layer of each, top with the sauce and herbs.

If you want to make it look a touch fancier, put a single ring on zucchini slices around the top for decoration.

Cook it in a moderate oven (180 degrees C).

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I ended up cooking it for half an hour at 180 and then another half hour at 160. This is how it came out:

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I dished it up with our new favorite bean salad – 4 bean mix, finely chopped red onion, and parsley with a very simple pumpkin seed oil/lemon juice/salt and pepper dressing.

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For tonight we also threw some corn into the salad.

Mmmm!

fun fact: zucchinis (or summer squash) are high in potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Also they are delicious

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chart found at this site