Friday, December 28, 2007

Not all vegans are weird

I have only just come to that conclusion. I've been vegan for 5 years and I've only started to make some vegan friends. It's not that I haven't tried. When I first turned vegan I attended various veg*n social things and was put off and almost embarrassed by the vegans that I come across. I found quite a few that gave vegans a bad name and apart from meeting Mr T I stopped trying. Maybe it is because social groups tend to bring some of the strangest types of people together, people perhaps who are isolated for other reasons. Maybe it's also because annoying vegans tend to be louder and drown out the quieter nicer vegans. I'm also perfectly happy with my friends who are quite open minded and are so thoughful to cater for Mr T and I for different events. They don't try to get into arguments or question my lifestyle and I don't question theirs. So I didn't particularly feel the need to associate with other vegans.

However, it has been nice to have have that myth gone in my head and to come across vegans like Mr T and I who don't like to shove veganism down peoples throats and who aren't rude to others and are not angry against the world and have other non-vegan, non-animal rights interests. I just wish I come across more of them and I guess I'm not including people out there in the blogworld who are lovely because I haven't actually met you except for cristy who is just as lovely in real life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You win, you lose some

My biscuits were a big hit. All 35 were gobbled up really quickly in fact before lunch several of my family members decide to sample them secretly and the teenagers didn't stop despite having several other desserts to choose from.

Unfortunately my cake was not so popular and I understand why. I decided to bake a cake just so I use my Santa tin. I almost made the trusty vanilla cake from how it all vegan with the maple icing but instead stupidly opted to make the maple cupcake recipe from vegan cupcakes take over the world. I saw the nutmeg in it and decided to add a little less but it didn't matter. The cake just tasted like nutmeg which is great if you love nutmeg but I don't and neither do my family. It's also a waste because there was quite a lot of maple syrup that went into the recipe. It was edible but far from great.

Here is a pic of the vegan cheesy cauliflower and broccoli. My mum marked it with a V with paprika so she could tell them apart. My brother has finally excepted that dairy makes his asthma worse and so decided to eat it this year instead of the dairy based one that he normally eats and even he thought it was great. My mum is the greatest!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Mrs Fields eat your heart out

These cookies are incredibly chewy and almost brownie like just as Isa promises. They are quite rich and have filled our tiny apartment with the best smell ever. I have eaten about half dozen just to test each batch to make sure they are ok and Mr T just got home and has tested a few too just to be on the safe side and we have about 35 left.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Poor Man's Paella

With Claire commenting about making paella for Christmas and her recently making it for us, it was fresh in my mind when we menu planned this weekend and Mr T decided to give it a go. Unlike other paella recipes though it doesn't have saffron because we are too poor to buy it. We also decided to use brown rice because it more filling and better for you. I'm sure it is not traditional at all but it was yummy and very simple to make. The only problem was there wasn't enough for leftovers tomorrow.

4-5 tablespoons of Olive oil (we like our olive oil and our pan is not Non-Stick)
2 cups brown rice
1 large Onion; chopped
2 large Garlic cloves; crushed
6 cups Vegetable Stock (we use Swiss Nature because it is worth the extra price)
1 Lemon; cut into wedges and rind grated
1 large green capsicum, chopped
1 can of artichokes; drained and quartered
1 can of kidney beans; drained
1 can of butter beans; drained
Freshly ground black pepper
Paprika-adjust to your liking (we actually forgot to add it and it was still yummy)

Heat the oil. Add the brown rice, capsicum and onion and stir until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, stock and rind. Bring to boil. Add beans. Bring to a boil again. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30-40 minutes minutes. Add artichokes and paprika and then turn off and let it sit covered for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 2 and a half (Mr T eats a lot)

Do you like our fancy use of the newspaper?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Vegan Lazy Xmas Thoughts

Normally my amazing mother makes plenty of roasted vegetables with gravy and broccoli and cauliflower with this cheezy sauce. She makes a special batch for Mr T and I which is made with soy milk and is amazing.

And then I bring a long extra things. This year I really can't decide though. In the past I have made lots of things and found myself the day before or on the day quite stressed or upset when things don't go to plan for example last year Mr T accidentally dropped my 50-60 mini cupcakes and peanut butter cups on the floor and they all landed face down. So this year I plan to try to take the easy way out as much as possible and trying to bring along purchased food where possible and just make a couple of easy things.

In the past I have brought along a nut roast like the Cashew Nut Roast with Sage and onion stuffing and I was toying with the idea of bringing the Sanitarium veggie roast or some other type of mock meat from Vincents vegetarian food. But then I realised that the oven is going to be so full that there won't much room for extra things.

Mum always tries to encourage Mr T to bring along something Chinese to try and so we thought about bringing dumplings either the normal ones we get from the Asian supermarket or ones they sell frozen at Camy's dumpling house. That would be easy and wouldn't take up any more oven space but just seems so out of line with everything else. Dumplings with gravy anyone?

I also thought about bringing along some type of salad since there will be no salads there. Possibly a rocket (arugula) salad with pear and nuts.

For drinks, I was thinking of making sangria especially since I now have Claire's tried and tested delicious recipe. But I have since heard that my brother's girlfriend is making mulled wine and I figure it will be too much wine so I'm now having second thoughts. For an easy option option I might bring mango tango for the kids since I'm sure that most of my cousins wouldn't have tried it.

For desserts, I was originally thinking of making cupcakes. Possibly chocolate or cookies and cream ones for the kids/teenagers and coconut and lime ones for the adults. But since someone else is bringing two cakes I'm now thinking of bringing biscuits instead. Possibly Maple Syrup Drop Cookies and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Any suggestions?

For dinner there will probably be lots of leftovers or we may go to one of the many Chinese veg restaurants that are open on xmas day. Breakfast I can't think of anything special. Everyone else normally has ham on toast. I guess we could have our very weird but very yummy avocado and Vegemite on toast.

What are you planning on making or buying?

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Gossip rock!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Food Co-Op

I found a organic food co-op in Brunswick, yay! The way it works is several households all put their money together to buy bulk organic fruit and veg. It cuts out the middle person, saves money as a result and travel time. On Fri I picked up my first box. I decided to try a $20 box to see how it goes. If it is not enough I can get a $40 box next time.

To give you some idea of what types of things you get, I took this pic inside my fridge:

I also got about half a dozen potatoes and there are more kiwi fruit and apricots in the egg section of the fridge. What you get changes all the time depending on cost and what's in season. I was impressed that there are about 4-5 zucchinis in the box but wish there was more greens and more variety when it comes to fruit. Mr T and I are thinking that we might get fruit and veg from the food co-op once a fortnight and the other week go the market where we can also get grains and legumes and other items.

It is going to have to change the way we do things though. Generally Mr T and I sit down on the weekend and plan a weeks worth of meals. We generally find a couple of new recipes to try each week in either our cookbooks or online and then go and buy the ingredients to make those and other tried and tested meals. This time we need to do the opposite and plan the meals based on the ingredients we have. I have to admit it freaks me out a little. I know that most people reading this probably think the opposite as almost every blogger I know tends to just make recipes up out of thin air but I like to at least have some sort of recipe to start with. Thankfully, Mr T does most of the cooking and is more creative than me. But on the two nights that I am going to cook I am clueless as to what I will make. I am also unsure how I will go spreading out the veg over the week. Any one have any easy recipes using zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, apricots and/or carrots?

Some anniversaries that I missed

Sometime around October was my 5 year anniversary of being vegan and to think people thought it was a just a stage I was going through. 5 years is a pretty long stage! Veganism just gets easier and easier, I'm not sure if that is because vegan food is popping up everywhere or because I am just more familiar with vegan options.

Dec 13th marked 2 years since Mr T moved here to live. It was such a huge gamble but I think he has settled into Melbourne life pretty well. I was scared that he would hate Melbourne or miss his friends and his very different lifestyle in Hong Kong and just end up resenting me as a result but he hasn't! He has stayed in the same job for about 18 months, has made some very cool and sweet friends, sussed out all the good places to get coffee, and has gone to lots and lots of gigs. He even got asked for directions the other day in the city and could give them quite easily. Actually I think he is more familiar with Melbourne CBD than me. Thanks for taking the leap babe!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

They don't look as good as the ones in the book, but they tasted pretty yummy. I love the texture thanks to Oreo (yes the ones here are vegan) pieces mixed into the chocolate batter. My only issue is that I can't seem to find American style shortening and replacing it with margarine just doesn't seem to cut it.

What are other Aussies using for shortening?

And which ones should I make next?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

PT is not that bad

One good thing has come out of my car incident. I've realised that travelling to work by Public Transport is not so bad after all. I grew up relatively close to the city but in the burbs and a suburb that didn't have a train station or trams and only relied on buses. Horrible buses that ran every 20-30 minutes so if you missed one you were in trouble.

I learnt really quickly to be car dependent.

I have since moved to Brunswick and and rely on my car much less. I can walk to the shops, I can ride everywhere. 2 trams and a train station are all within walking distance. On the weekend I rarely drive except for winter which is another story. Mr T doesn't drive at all and exists very easily but he works in the city. I work in the outer suburbs and a suburb which nearest train station doesn't line up with my closest train station so I looked into once a while ago and discovered that I need to catch a bus (ahhh how I hated buses) and a tram to get to work so I figured it was too much work and would take way too much time.

But with me being forced to use it while my car was getting fixed I discovered it only take an extra 10 minutes and the pros outweigh the one cons. On the pros list, it:

* saves me money
* is better for the environment
* I can read, half sleep and just gaze at the window and daydream on PT
* no having to deal with road rage or drivers cutting me off
* I feel more relaxed as the result of the above two
* I also have a great bus driver who not only waits when I am running from the tram but also tells me 'you don't have to run, I saw you' and has started calling me 'mate'.

So it's PT for me from now on.

While we are on the topic, I should probably mention a great experience with a tram driver I had recently. I was on a tram and quietly complaining to Mr T about how my left side really really really hurt over and over again. I was seated a few rows back from the tram driver and he poked out his head looked at me and said 'you don't look too good, this tram is going to the hospital and I will get there as soon as I can, it will take about 5 minutes'. I thanked him and as we neared the hospital we stood up ready to get off and he asked Mr T where he is from. Mr T replied Hong Kong and then he said that his wife is Chinese and he told Mr T to look after me because I am pretty. The pretty part he said in Cantonese. He also said his wife is 'chi sin' which means crazy. I turned out to be fine, but it was nice that he was so concerned and cute that this Anglo-Saxon tram driver was trying to talk to Mr T in his language. I wish I could put in a compliment about him but I don't know his name, the tram number or even the exact time we got on the tram.