This blog is a celebration of the wonderful world of vegan cooking. Enjoy!

* The title of this blog refutes the dangerous idea that veganism is a weight-loss diet and that all vegans are skinny. Conversely, being a-not-so-skinny-vegan is also not the same as being overweight or unhealthy. All food intake must be part of a balanced lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Vegan Christmas: Part Three

Well, the dinner was a success. If you count success to be that they were already full before the main course after eating my nibblies and soup. The Sweet Potato Flan wasn't exactly great tasting and both Geoff's brothers seem to dislike lentils and chickpeas a lot but everyone found something they liked. Apparently Geoff's mum said she didn't miss meat at all. Then she added that Geoff's older brother might not have shared the same sentiment.

The Sienna Cake was beautiful, the gingerbread cookies turned out great, the chocolate dipped fruit was a winner (especially the white chocolate! Thank you Sweet William) and then everyone exchanged gifts and it was really nice.

So now we are off to Yamba tomorrow after I give my final MATH2000 tutorial for the year. I love my MATH2000 class. They are so sweet.

I'm definitely taking the gingerbread recipe, the rum ball recipe (although using less rum this time!) and the Sienna Cake recipe. The lentil bobotie was quite nice but I think a little too lentily for my family. But my brother loves the kofta balls at the Hare Krishna stand and I found a recipe in Cooking with Kurma for them although it was made with cheese. The Hare Krishna ones are vegan so I'm sure I can find a recipe somewhere.

I'm sure once we get there Mum will put me in charge of food so I will keep my anxious readers updated with what I'm going to cook.

Recipes to come.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Vegan Christmas: Part Two

I've been making rum balls (the recipe has way too much rum) and gingerbread dough while waiting for Geoff to get home. He's seeing Avatar. It looks pretty lame but the fact that it goes for 161 mins makes me hate it. We get it, James Cameron, you can make long movies. Well done. Pat on the back. Can I have my boyfriend back now so I can go to bed?

I have decided on the Sunday meal for Geoff's family. I don't like it when people complain they never feel full after eating vegetarian/vegan meals so I have a meal and a half to combat that.

Elise's Dinner for 6
A Vegan Christmas for Geoff's family

seasonally spiced nuts
carrot, celery and crackers with beetroot and olive dip

spicy Moroccan chickpea and lentil soup

sweet potato flan
lentil bobotie
potato salad
roast vegies
Chang's Fried Noodle salad

sienna cake
chocolate dipped fruit
gingerbread cookies

If they think I'm just a cuckoo lunatic extremist hippy after dinner they'll at least think I'm a cuckoo lunatic extremist hippy who can cook.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Vegan Christmas: Part One

Geoff is spending Christmas with us this year so we've invited his family over to my house for dinner this Sunday. Of course, the meal is going to have to be vegan since it is my house and I'm cooking. Except there are a few catches that Geoff informed me of after he invited them:

1. they like meat,
2. they like milk and eggs,
3. they don't like anything out of the ordinary (so anything but meat and 3 veg),
4. they don't like mushrooms,
5. they don't drink alcohol.

What the hell am I going to cook?!?!?!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bare Naked Beauty

This is a great Australian website that sells natural and organic beauty brands. And there are vegan products galore! Check it out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

EcoFashion Magazine

Peppermint Mag

Excellent magazine surprisingly based in Brisbane. Check it out and support them.

They have great vegan recipes in the magazine!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Koko Specialty Cakes and Desserts

If you've ever been to the West End markets of a Saturday or had a delicious dessert at The Forest then you will already know how delicious and well-presented the cakes from Koko are. They are vegan and gluten-free and made in Brisbane!

Watch this (but not while you are eating)

I got to the end of Paul McCartney's introduction and had to turn it off because I felt physically ill.

This is a short film presented by Alec Baldwin. Apparently. I didn't get that far into it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Viva La Vegan

I ate at The Forest the other night and picked up a business card for this website.

There are lots of recipes although some of them look a little out there.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheat's (Maree's) Paella

I've mentioned paella before only I don't really like my recipe. It's messy and tricky and involves a ridiculous amount of ingredients. And I was almost turned off paella for good until I went to my darling friend's house for one of my traditional Monday nights with Maree.

I remember when I walked in the door and saw her pouring about a litre of red wine into the pan and smelling the herbs and thinking she'd had a little brain collapse and was cooking mince for her vegan pal. But I think even if her brain collapsed she'd still look after (ie feed) everyone around her.

This is the recipe. She calls it Cheat's Paella. I call it Maree's Paella.

Cheat's (Maree's) Paella

Medium grain rice
Moroccan seasoning
Cayenne pepper
Fresh chopped chilli
Diced onion
Diced carrot
Diced sweet potato
Diced capsicum
Lots, lots, lots of red wine
Vegetable stock
Black olives
Plain soy yoghurt

Basically the idea is to fry off your onion with your spices until nice and fragrant in a large fry pan. Then, add a little more olive oil and the rice and ensure the rice is well coated, until the rice goes translucent. Add your vegetables and fresh chopped herbs to this mix with a little red wine to get the spices off the bottom of the fry pan.
Then add enough red wine and vegie stock to cover the mix. Put the lid on. Keep adding red wine / vegie stock until the rice and vegetables are cooked through – make sure you don’t drink all the wine while you are waiting for this to happen.

Serve in the fry pan with chopped black olives and soy yoghurt.

She also hosted a lovely Christmas party on the weekend and made these really tasty nuts. I'll track down the recipe to share with you guys.

In other news Geoff has gone to Newcastle for a Combinatorics (no, I didn't make it up, it's a type of maths) conference so I'm home alone. Geoff normally walks the dog since I'm still recovering from the broken ankle. However, today I got a little tipsy drinking some Pinot Grigio (Brown Brothers. Vegan. I checked here. Handy website.) and decided I'd play with the dog. Only she likes to make me chase her and the backyard is full of holes (thanks to the dog) and I didn't want to trip and fall down one so I took her for a walk instead. Except, in my drunken stupor, I thought running around the oval would be a good idea. Yeah. It wasn't. My foot hurts. My ankle seems fine it's just my foot. So I have the brace back on. Stupid, stupid Not-So-Skinny-Vegan.

I also overspent at Dogstar last week so am putting 1/8th of my wardrobe up on eBay. Maybe 1/10th. I pulled out about 70 items and it barely made a dint in my wardrobe. I own a lot of clothes.

And, I hope you all noticed, I now have a whole 7 subscribed readers. 7! I'm famous!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An easy choice?

If you had the choice to either be vegetarian or not have children which would you choose?

I understand that overpopulation is a global problem and that in Australia the population boom wouldn't just have to do with birth but being vegetarian is really easy!

Listen to Andrew Bartlett. He's a little more patient in explaining things than I am.

A Vegan in Israel

In July this year I went on a bit of an around the world trip for 9 weeks. My first stop was Israel. Interesting country. I spent 2 weeks there. By the end of the first week I was ready to get the hell out of there but I'm glad I stayed because I saw some amazing things.

But this is a food blog, not a holiday blog. So let's talk about the food because Israel is the Mecca for vegans. (Gosh, I hope that metaphor doesn't step on anyone's toes.) Falafel falafel falafel!

I think the first night we were there Ben took me to Hippo. And I had falafel! It was so delicious. I can't describe how much I miss the falafel and hummus in the Middle East.

I think the next best food memory was at the Farmer's Markets on the Tel Aviv wharf. They have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and there is the Abagil stand where they sell Dancing Camel beer and freshly made hummus warm out of the pot topped with olive oil and herbs and served with warm pita. It was so delicious. Ben took me to the restaurant near the end of my trip where I ate more hummus and more pita. The pita over there is so fluffy and delicious. When we weren't eating out I was taking pita and hummus and fresh dates in my bag for lunch. Yum yum!

If you are worried about how pale I look I got very tanned after bathing in the Mediterranean Sea, Dead Sea and Red Sea. I left Israel rather tanned. This photo was from only my second or third day and I'd come out of winter in Brisbane and spending whole months locked in my office writing my thesis.

Another great place I ate at (twice, once in each of their two locations) was Buddha Burgers. They made delicious burgers and I would highly recommend anyone going. I think they have English menus. It's a shame I don't have any photos of me eating there (I conceived the idea for the blog at the end of my trip) but they were delicious!

My final, and rather fondest, memory of food in Israel was the watermelon icypoles! I found them first when we were waiting for the taxi at Rosh Hanikra and then after I raved about them to Ben's mum she went out and bought me a couple to have at home. She was such a sweetheart. Below is a picture of all three of us eating at Badolina; one of the "dairy" restaurants (dairy and meat can't be served in the same restaurant in most places in Israel due to Jewish law which is why veganism is quite common and why vegetarians find it so easy to find good restaurants in Israel). I missed my hair appointment the day before I left. I travelled around Europe with that haircut. Poor Europe.


I'm not the world's biggest fan of processed, ready-made vegetarian foods but I keep some in the freezer in case I'm feeling lazy. However, this time I was feeling adventurous and made spicy kebabs on a bed of cous cous and spiced mashed potatoes.

After I ate them I realised I had accidentally glazed over the "egg whites" in the contents list. So these were not vegan. So this is only for the vegetarians out there. They were, nonetheless, yummy.

There should be a vegan sticker on things. When I'm tired after work I can barely remember where I parked my car in the shopping centre let alone the numbers of the animal derived preservatives in pretty much everything. A big sticker that said: "Eat me! I'm vegan!" would be most helpful.

Soya Whipped Cream

People often think they are being clever when they inform me that vegan-friendly replacements taste nothing like the original. I have taste buds; I'm aware of this. However, once you have made the moral decision not to rely on other animals to feed you you make sacrifices. This is the same as most things in life. If you really like driving but are trying to reduce your 'carbon footprint' you might catch the bus to work every day but drive on weekends. Or vice versa.

Anyhow, I like the soya whipped cream. I can't remember what real whipped cream tastes like. I just remember the texture and this has the same texture. I also am not much of a fan of whipped cream but like the novelty of being able to have it. So I've been making iced chocolates.

Geoff is quite a fan (he can't really have much dairy).

I bought the cream from Mrs Flannery's in Taringa. I also bought some sour cream and normal cream to try out but both had their seals broken and were already off. I did get replacements but never picked them up. I'm a busy vegan. But I did get vegan parmesan and savoury yeast. So I'm looking forward to perhaps making a potato bake or creamy guacamole.

This time we had our very own black beans...

... and we made them into Black Bean Sauce.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

There are two types of people in this world...

... vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

I was filling out my registration form today for a conference I am attending in Idaho next April and came across this disturbing sentence:

"Dietary options are LIMITED to Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian. No other dietary requirements will be accommodated by conference organizers."

I'm confused. Technically I'm a non-vegetarian. So I don't tick the vegetarian box?

In other news I've been too busy with the PhD and cleaning the house for my Tupperware party to update the blog. But I have lots of photos to share so will be more dedicated to my blog when my PhD productivity takes a dive. This happens every couple of weeks so don't fret my dear devoted readers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pear Puddings

Me: The pear puddings I made last night were a disaster.
Dave: At least they were alliterative.

Recipe to come when they are both alliterative and well-made.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sometimes being vegan is a little too much effort...

Seriously. Condoms?!?!

I've known for years that my pill has animal derived products in it. I take it anyway. Just like I get immunised anyway. I do my best but if a vegan had cervical cancer they wouldn't be asking if the medicine was animal derived; they'd just be getting the medicine. Unless they were a really good vegan. I'm doing my part but I'm not perfect and I'm okay with that.

As a maths PhD student most my friends are also maths PhD students or at least have a maths/physics degree so I'm constantly surrounded by these highly intelligent specimens who all happen to fall somewhere relevant on the autism spectrum. In plain speak, they are a bunch of socially retarded dorks who get a little too excited when Terry Tao is in town. So when I step away from the group and interact with non-maths people (yes, ladies and gentlemen, the world is filled with three types of people: those that are good at maths and those that are not) I sometimes find it very vexing to try to understand the world from their point of view.

I think this is similar to the vegetarian/vegan movement or any movement. We form little groups and are so concerned about being the best little vegan we can be (or sometimes just better than everyone else) we lose sight of the bigger picture and how to spread our message. Vegans make up only 0.1% (or something equally ridiculously small; it's hard to get a good figure) of the world's population. We shouldn't be grouping ourselves on forums and making fun of each other because we didn't know that this really obscure additive was animal derived or that that company may provide a vegan option but did you know what they did last summer to this sheep... you get the picture. I mean, these are all very important issues and it is important that we are aware of them but it's also important that we don't just educate each other but that we also encourage each other.

I saw a post by someone on a vegetarian society forum today where the person asked if condoms were vegan (hence my link). It's a perfectly valid question and maybe the person didn't do as much research as they possibly could but they still came to the right circle of people to ask the question of. The only reply the person got was that normal people would know how to use the search function and have found previous posts on the same topic. Again, this isn't untrue, but it isn't exactly helpful either.

So this is one of the reasons I started this blog. As much as I want to interact with other vegans (I actually have zero vegan friends) and would love to swap recipes etc I would much prefer, any day, to have my vegetarian and omnivore friends over for a great vegan meal so I can share with them how rewarding it is to be vegan.

Was this a big long rant so that I can feel better about using animal products in the medication I take? Probably. But I'd like to think it's more about encouraging ideas than stamping over someone's little indiscretions. I have a friend who is a strict vegetarian except for salmon. She doesn't eat any other fish just salmon. But it doesn't make what she does, excluding the salmon, any less important. I would much rather an entire world that only ate salmon and no other meat than what we have today.

So being vegan (or even vegetarian) is sometimes a little too much effort so let's encourage little changes in everyone instead of picking flaws in an already very small group.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Next time I'm in Oregon I'm getting a Voodoo Doughnut!

I don't even really like donuts! I'm just obsessed with the concept of a vegan donut after having that delicious donut in Seattle. And so, while searching for vegan donuts in Australia (fruitlessly), I found this fantastic store.

Say what you will about America, as a vegan, I miss the options.

Geoff & Black Bean Sauce

Geoff really likes stir fry noodles with black bean sauce. One day we'll find real black soy beans and make our own sauce but for now we are happy with the bottle from the supermarket. This was what Geoff made last night. It was really yummy.

P.S. Check out my new bowls and chopsticks Mum gave me for my birthday!

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

I don't think I can describe just how much I love this book. And from it comes this most delicious recipe. These muffins come out beautifully every time. You can use frozen berries to make it a bit cheaper but if you use fresh berries you'll be rewarded with the taste!

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
from The Joy of Vegan Baking

2 cups flour
11/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup sugar
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup canola (or whatever you have) oil
1 tsp lemon extract (I just use a bit of lemon juice)
1 tbs white vinegar
11/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly grease muffin tray.
In a bowl mix flour, bs, salt and lemon zest. In another bowl mix sugar, milk, oil, lemon extract and vinegar. Mix well. Add flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in blueberries with rubber spatula. (If you are using frozen berries do this carefully and in minimum time to avoid bleeding.)
Fill muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes. If you have Elise's oven, however, bake for exactly 2 episodes of Sex & The City (while drinking a vegan friendly glass of Brown Brother's Crouchen & Riesling) but only if you fast forwarded through the title music at x8 and checked on them during a particularly nonsense, whiny part of the show.

Suzi's Birthday

Suzi's birthday is close to mine. That makes us both in the same star sign. Which means absolutely nothing. Although, we do both like Atlas Shrugged. Coincidence? I think not!

Suzi and Mezz came over (Geoff is now a permanent fixture around here since I can't do much for myself) and I made dinner. Mezz requested a paella I had previously cooked on another of my dinner nights and I also wanted to use the mushrooms in the fridge that were looking a little on the dead side so I found a very simple and quick recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms that was delicious.

Stuffed Mushrooms
from Vegan
2 large flat field mushrooms
2 tbs olive oil + extra for oiling
2 spring onions, chopped
1/2 red capsicum, deseeded & chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
4 olives, pitted and chopped
2 tbs rolled oats
1 tbs chopped basil
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs lime juice

Preheat oven to 180C. Wipe mushrooms clean with damp paper towel. Don't wash them! Remove stalks and chop them up and put with other chopped vegies. Put the mushrooms aside.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry together the stalks, spring onions, zucchini, olives, capsicum and oats until the oats are golden. Then stir in basil, soy sauce and lime juice.
Oil the mushroom caps with a brush and the extra oil and place them on a baking sheet. Spoon oat mixture into caps and season with s&p. Bake for 15-20 minutes until caps start to soften.
Great with salad for lunch or another side for dinner. Would be great for a special Sunday brunch.

As much as I like the paella it's an awfully complicated recipe for such a simple dish and is also a little on the expensive side to make so I'm not going to share the recipe but you can find it in this great book. What I am going to share is the recipe for the delicious Chocolate Orange Cake that I made for dessert.

Chocolate Orange Cake
from Lynda Stoner's Now Vegan!
11/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup soy milk
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbs vinegar
zest 1 orange

Preheat oven to 190C. Combine dry ingredients. In another bowl mix together all liquids excl. vinegar. Add this to dry ingredients. Mix until smooth then add vinegar. Instantly put into 20x20cm square cake tin (stops gas from vinegar and soda escaping). Bake for 25-30 minutes.

I'm sure you could serve this with a glazing or icing but the cake itself has such a delicate flavour that it's delicious by itself. I served it with a scoop of soy icecream while the cake was still warm and it was very yummy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Broken vegan

If any one of my four readers is wondering why I haven't posted many recipes lately it is because I fell down some stairs in my garden and fractured a bone in my ankle. I also tore a bunch of stuff around my ankle that should generally stay untorn. As a result I've been working from home and when one works from home one tends to spend a lot of what would normally be "home time" doing work. I also can't walk so can only get around on crutches. Of course when I'm at home I spin around the place on my computer chair but have so far ended up with more food on the floor while trying to cook than in my tummy so the cooking has slowed down. I did try to make a Chai and berry muffin that failed terribly. I will adjust and try again soon.

On a brighter note I did get four cookbooks from my parents for my birthday yesterday (this, this, this and this) and another off some lovely friends (thanks Stevo, Gypsy and Kate!). Also, Chris bought me Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel. Apparently the main character is a vegan. Foer himself is vegetarian. So I look forward to some new vegan adventures and recipes!

A very happy vegan Pie-Tart to you!

Yesterday was my birthday and, as always, I celebrated at A Night in India in Toowong. But this time there was a little surprise! My very good friends Suzi and Mezz decided to make me a vegan cake. Only it was a pie. Tart. Pie-tart. Whatever it was it was very thoughtful and actually quite tasty! I will ask for the recipe and try to bake it myself and share with you all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


A reader recently pointed out the error of my silk-wearing ways and I wanted to post some links to the reasons why vegans choose not to wear most silks and some options that still allow silk.

Reasons why we should not wear standard silk:
PETA's information
True Up
The Vegalitarian Society

Some nice guys who make cruelty-free (peace) silk (although I'm still a bit fuzzy as to whether it is strictly vegan or not):
Aurora Silk



I love Aveda's products. They smell absolutely wonderful and are mostly made of plant materials. Here's a list of the non-vegan products; so you know what to avoid.

lip gloss MINUS LANOLIN / discontinued
Brilliant Lip Shine
Lip Saver SPF15
Pure-Fume Candles
onecolor PLUS TWO
lip sheer PLUS FRESH ESSENCE / discontinued
lip liner PLUS URUKU / discontinued
mascara PLUS ROSE
lip satin PLUS URUKU / discontinued
lip sheer PLUS URUKU / discontinued
Uruku Lip Pigment
Lip Color Concentrate
Lip Color Sheer
Fulfillment Chakra IV Solid Pure-Fume / discontinued
Lip Tints
Plant Wax Soft Wax Hair Removal Formula
Plant Wax Hard Wax Hair Removal Formula

pressed powder PLUS ANTIOXIDANTS
lip satin PLUS FRESH ESSENCE / discontinued
lip satin PLUS URUKU / discontinued
lip sheer PLUS URUKU / discontinued

Sap Moss Nourishing Concentrate
Light Elements Mist Wax

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How Not To Be a Smelly Vegan

Want to know "how not to be a smelly vegan"?

Finding non-food vegan products can be hard. Here are three of my favourite stores for finding vegan cosmetics:

L'Occitane: This company is great. They don't use any animal products or animal by-products in their processing or in their products (except for honey, royal jelly and other bee-related things) and they mostly use local products from Provence, France from local farmers. And their products are really lovely. If you are in west Brisbane there is a store in Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.

Perfect Potion: This is a local Brisbane company and have some great smelling products! Just ask them which products are vegan and which are not. They normally have a list under the counter. Most of the non-vegan products are labelled so because of bee's wax contents. If you are in Brisbane there is a store in the city and one in the Valley.

Lush: These guys are very anti-animal testing. None of their products are tested on animals and they make sure none of their raw materials they use in their products are tested on animals. Not all products are vegan but the ones that are are clearly marked with the sunflower vegan symbol. If you are in Brisbane a new store in Indooroopilly Shopping Centre just opened up and there is also a store in the Queen Street Mall.

Friday, October 2, 2009

When Tim Comes to Dinner

Geoff and I had Tim for dinner on Saturday night. We decided to make pizza for dinner and Sticky Date Pudding for dessert. It was the first time I'd made the pudding and also the first time I've made my own dough from scratch and both turned out quite well so I was quite proud of myself. The pizza toppings were a little on the odd side (canned corn not such a good idea after all but I liked the turnips which I fried a little in olive oil before putting them in the oven). The recipes are as follows. The pizza dough recipe is based on a recipe from (but it since seems to have disappeared) and the Sticky Date Pudding recipe is one I found somewhere on the internet but, again, altered a little.

Pizza Dough
7g sachet dry yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil

Combine 3/4 cup warm water, yeast, sugar and salt (what salt?) in jug. Whisk to dissolve. Cover with cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for 5 mins or until you see bubbles on the surface.

Sift flour into a bowl. Add yeast & oil mixture to it. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes until elastic. Place in lightly greased bowl & cover with plastic wrap. Stand in warm place for 25-30 minutes or until dough has doubled size.

Use fist to punch dough down. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Top with whatever you like and bake for 5-15 minutes.

Sticky Date Pudding
250mls soy milk
100mls water
200g dates (chopped in half)
1 tsp bicarb soda
115g margarine
115g brown sugar
200g white SR flour
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
100g golden syrup
200g brown sugar
150g margarine
1 tsp vanilla essence

Cake: Preheat oven to 190C. Put dates in saucepan & cover with milk & water & simmer until dates are soft. Make sure they are soft! Take off heat & stir in bicarb soda. This will froth. Leave to cool.

Beat together the margarine & sugar until pale & creamy. Add date mixture & stir. Mix spices with flour. Sieve & fold into date mixture. Put in 20x20 tin and bake for approx. 30 mins. When done prick the pudding all over and pour half the hot toffee sauce over the pudding and serve the rest with the pudding.

Topping: Melt all ingredients in saucepan & simmer for 5 mins without stirring.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Weekend's Cooking... an ode to Timothy

So this is not what we had for dinner on Friday night. This is what my brother, very much a non-vegan, ate. And this is all he ate. So when someone asks me why I am vegan I could quite correctly conjecture that it is the universe's way of balancing out my brother's diet.

We had a Dhal Saag that I tried to make in light of the fact that I can't eat at A Night In India every night. I got the consistency right this time but not the flavour. I can't seem to get the spices right. I stupidly used chopped ginger instead of grated ginger and put ground cardamon in which taste a little funny. So hopefully I can get it right eventually and put the recipe on here.

I also tried to make nicer rice by putting in some saffron threads. Next time I should probably put the threads in some boiling water first and then stir it through the rice with some oil.

Geoff and I trawled through some of my recipe books for a quick and simple dessert idea. Geoff suggested Mango Rice Pudding from Linda Stoner's Now Vegan.

My mum gave me the book for my birthday last year. I really like it because it's Australian and so the ingredients are most likely found at your local supermarket.

Mango Rice Pudding
1 cup aborio rice
2 x 425g sliced mangos, drained with juice reserved
(I used a 800g tin because it was cheaper)
1 dessertspoon of cinnamon sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup water

Put raw rice, mango juice, cinnamon sugar, coconut milk, maple syrup and water on low heat for about 15 minutes. Make sure you are stirring constantly to avoid sticking and that the mixture comes to the boil (but don't let it boil for more than a few seconds). Take off heat, keep covered but stir every now and again until all liquid is absorbed, the rice is soft and it looks like rice pudding. You can re-heat if you want. I place the mango slices on top or you can mix them in as you re-heat. Suggested to be served with soy ice-cream but I did not.

So this was yummy and easy to prepare. It would have been easy to cook had I taken into account that my stove's low heat was too low and that I should have brought the rice to the boil. So I sat in front of Superbad with Geoff and my brother and Dad for a while stirring and waiting for the rice to absorb. It didn't until I put it back on the heat again and brought it to the boil. So make sure you heat it enough!

The Sunday was baking day. Last week I made Ahmad a Chocolate Cake for his birthday and then he informed me it was Ramadan and couldn't eat it so I cooked another one for him for Monday. And I also cooked a Carrot Cake (Geoff likes carrot cake) and some Mint Choc Cookies.

They tasted okay but I want to perfect the recipes before I share.

P.S. I have no idea why this post was an ode to Timothy. I just know that it was. And why wouldn't it be? Tim's awesome. Just check out his blog!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Would you eat meat if I...

I am often a little annoyed by the scenarios people give me to somehow pick a flaw in my moral belief structure. Such classic questions as "If I was going to kill a live chicken unless you ate an already dead chicken, you wouldn't let me kill the chicken, would you?" annoy the crap out of me.

I'm not killing the chicken. You are.

I was telling a vegetarian friend of mine today about the fact that I accidentally ate a piece of cheese that had been accidentally dropped onto my plate on the weekend at a fabulous little vegetarian diner we found in Burleigh Heads called The Magic Apple. I was joking around about how good it tasted and he didn't quite understand why I didn't eat cheese. We had a rather heated, at times misguided, debate about it but it was kind of fun.

I rather strongly adhere to the philosophy that anything we can do to eat less products from animals is better morally and for the environment. So I'm just as proud of someone giving up meat just one night a week in order to consume less meat than I am of my vegetarian friends. The more people that think about the question, the better it will be.

As a bit of an afterthought from our discussion I realised that I use silk and honey. We discussed the moral and environmental implications of my actions. I think I'm going to continue to use silk and honey.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maree & Spiced Apple Cake

I didn't keep many friends from high school on account of being unforgiving and having attended school with a bunch of tarty little cows. Maree was one friend I did keep and I'm not too sure where I'd be without her for a few reasons. The first reason is that she always tells me the truth regardless of my feelings (that I don't have so it works out well). The second reason is that she listens to my outrageous love life stories with patience and good humour (and a lot of giggling). The third reason is that she bakes me vegan food that is delicious and I go to her house for yummy things like Spiced Apple Cake with Turkish Apple Tea (as I did tonight).

This recipe is for a Spiced Apple Cake that Maree baked for me tonight. It has a crumbling texture on the outside but is deliciously moist inside. It would be delightful served hot with ice cream or it was yummy by itself with some tea.

Spiced Apple Cake
450g cooking apples, peeled and sliced
115g vegan margarine
115 raw cane sugar
170g sultanas
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp boiling water
225g wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Preheat to 180. Cook apples in some water and mash to puree when soft. Drain well. Cream margarine and sugar and then add apple puree. Stir in dried fruit. Mix, separately, the baking soda and water and add to creamed mixture. In separate bowl sift together the flour and spices and blend with the apple mixture. Pour into well-greased cake tin, smooth the top and bake bake bake. 45min-1hour. Maybe. Who knows? Who is John Galt?

Maree and I also discussed my blog and the movie that inspired it and she has given me a book to read called I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. It's a memoir of love and cooking all mixed in. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Sour cream, Chai lemon ginger muffins and camping.

Hmm. Camping. Not my favourite thing. But more of that later.

I tried my sour cream idea. It went a little something like this:
300g silken tofu
too many teaspoons of vinegar
a couple of teaspoons of lemon
(blend blend blend)
Crap, I'll have to add some flour because this is really sloppy. Let's chuck in a few fingerfuls.
(blend blend blend)
Oh God it's still sloppy.
(forget about it for a while)
Hmm. It's got some solidness. Let's serve it.

I'm serious, Ladies and Gentlemen; don't try this at home. It tastes nothing like sour cream, a little like bland mayonnaise, and needs much perfecting.

The spicy "Mexican" beans, on the other hand, turned out great. I used:
2 cans of red kidney beans with half the water drained off
1 red capsicum
1 red chili
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
some oil
chili powder, ground cumin, turmeric
pepper and salt

Fry the onions, garlic and chili. Add spices. Add capsicum and beans (with half water in the can in order to make the sauce). Make hot. May need to boil off some of the liquid depending on how you like your spicy "Mexican" beans. I served with tortillas, vegan sour cream, vegan guacamole, cut lettuce, tomato and grated carrot.

I tried something different this time for the guacamole. I just mashed up some avocado, added some lemon juice and about 2 tablespoons of soft tofu and some salt and pepper to taste. It wasn't my best guacamole. I'm getting there, though.

After dinner I went to the task of baking for the weekend. I baked the good, ol' trusty banana cake (which didn't die a slow painful death this time in my less than spectacular oven) and Ginger Muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking which is the most fantastic cookbook in the entire world.
Ginger (and Lemon) Muffins
2 tsp No-Egg
4 tbsp water
1/4 fresh minced ginger
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 cup soy milk
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 190 (or try to, in my case). Grease muffin tins (God bless oil in a spray can). Mix No-Egg and water. Supposed to use an electric hand mixer. I use a tea cup and a spoon. It's supposed to be thick and creamy. I just get white and liquidy. Combine ginger and 1/2 cup of sugar in saucepan over stove and stir constantly while the sugar melts. Set aside and add lemon zest when it cools but don't let it cool so much that it goes hard because this is a pain in the butt to get into the bowl. In another bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda. Then yet again in another bowl (God bless my Mix Master) beat butter then add to it the remaining sugar and beat until blended. Add No-Egg mixture and mix. Add milk and lemon juice and mix. Add dry ingredients from other bowl and the ginger/sugar until just blended. Put in muffin tins. Bake bake bake. 30 mins?

These muffins are delicious. But don't use dry ginger or ginger in a tube. Not good. And if you have the Texas Muffin tins use that instead because the muffins seem to come out better even though they are bigger so you make less. And if you, like me, run out of soy milk because your boyfriend eats more than all of Africa then you can use, if you have it, cold Chai in a carton that has been sitting in your fridge for over a week that should have been thrown out. This will make the muffins darker and taste a little like Chai but it'll still be good enough for your camping trip.

And so we've made it to the part in the blog post where I talk about camping. Well, the scenery was spectacular. We went on two 4km walks on Saturday and a 4km walk on Sunday. The falls are great. Spurling Brook falls are spectacular.

We camped at Springbrook in the camping area and it had a nice little BBQ area where we cooked up a nice vegan BBQ of vegie sausages, mushrooms, tomato, onion and sweet potato.

As soon as the sun went down, however, we noticed a ridiculous change in the temperature. And as soon as we stepped away from the warm BBQ area I felt my organs start to shut down with the cold.

I've never been so cold in my entire life and I never want to be that cold again. It's my birthday next month and all I want is a very, very good sleeping bag so I never have to be cold while camping again. And a good camping mattress so that my poor broken back can survive.

I think my complaining about the cold really tested poor Geoff's patience. Luckily I had Ginger Muffins and Banana Cake the next morning. I believe strongly in the old saying (that I made up just then):

You can be as annoying and mean as you like just be prepared to bake a lot to compensate for it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Google ads are great!

Because they led me to this great Australian website for vegan goods.

Vegan Sour Cream

I really like the "sour cream" that My Heart Garden in St Lucia uses on their Mexican Wrap. It's vegan and I always wondered how they made it. So I Googled a bit and think I have some idea.

The idea involves tofu and lemon.

All my ideas seem to involve tofu and lemon.

Lucky I have a lemon tree that grows all by itself and provides buckets of lemons.

In other news I cooked Geoff more banana cake and his oven also sucks and almost burned it.

Also, Geoff and I are going camping this weekend in the Gold Coast Hinterland. I cannot describe how much I hate camping but I'm excited about the prospect of cooking a picnic basket for the weekend and seeing waterfalls.

We are having Mexican tonight (because all I think about all day is food) and I will try out my sour cream idea.

I shared one of my delicious MarketSpice teabags from Seattle with a friend from work today. I think I have her addicted as well. I may start a tea distribution company.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Banana cake tells me I need new oven.

We ate dinner at Geoff's house last night. I know cooking for your vegan girlfriend is a bit trying but Geoff made a really yummy Thai green curry. I'm not sure if his recipe was vegan before he met me but it sure is now!

He asked me to bake a banana cake for dessert. Geoff likes his banana cake. So I started to prepare to cook. I like to get all the ingredients out first with the right utensils. So I asked for two mixing bowls, which I was given, and a cake tin. Geoff presented me with a flan dish. Ah, no, Geoff. Not what I wanted. Cake tin. Loaf tin. No cake tin? Not even a little loaf tin? Oh dear.

I ended up breaking into my friend's house who lives nearby. She was at a Hen's night but gave me permission to sneak in and steal a loaf tin. I couldn't find the light switches so it really could have been accompanied by the Mission Impossible theme song. But the loaf tin was found and the cake was baked.

The cake was great. Very yummy. I found the recipe here.

I told work I'd bake them something for my return tomorrow. So I thought I'd bake the same banana cake and some lemon and ginger muffins which I've always had great success with.

Well, the banana cake didn't turn out as great. My oven sucks. Seriously sucks. It doesn't cook evenly and can't maintain a constant temperature to save its life. Which is about to end. I also over preheated my oven and so it was too hot for the muffins, which I stuck in first, so they ended up hard on the outside and tasted like bread. I wasn't happy. That recipe has never failed me. I did, however, change it a bit by using that ginger you squeeze out of a tube instead of real ginger (I wasn't being lazy, Bi Lo Middle Park sucks donkey balls and didn't have ginger) and used less sugar. I also used less sugar in the banana cake recipe. Maybe I should just leave the sugar alone.

Anyway, now I'm depressed so am going to watch Pride and Prejudice and drink my new love: orange and cinnamon tea from the Spice Market in Pike Place Market in Seattle. I miss Seattle. I want a new oven. :(

Vegan Haggis and a Not-So-Cheesy Cheesecake

It was not until I had the haggis fully prepared as per recipe instructions that I realised that perhaps the recipe required prior knowledge of what exactly haggis was and how exactly it is normally prepared that went beyond what was described in the book. And it turns out that no one, including those who scoffed at my claim that I was cooking Vegan Haggis, actually knew what haggis was let alone what utensils it required to be prepared. All I could really get from anyone was that it involved some part of an animal. As my haggis was to be completely animal free this was not so helpful.

This is the recipe from Henderson's Wholefood Cookbook.

Vegan Haggis
75 g mushrooms (finely chopped)
75g brown lentils (soaked for two to three hours)
50g pinhead oatmeal (soaked for one hour)
50g red kidney beans (soaked, cooked and chopped)
25g vegan margarine
150g carrots (grated) [approx. one carrot]
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
1 tspn garam masala
freshly ground sea salt
150g onions (chopped) [approx. one onion]
1 tbspn soy sauce
1 tpsn vegetable oil
1/2 level tspn freshly ground black pepper

Saute garlic, onion and seasoning with a little oil until soft.

Add brown lentils and carrot and simmer on a low heat until lentils are soft, stirring to prevent sticking. The moisture content of the soaked lentils and carrot should be sufficient but if not add a little water. Add mushrooms and allow to soften. Add kidney beans. Stir in margarine and more black pepper to taste. Finally add oatmeal after (draining and rinsing) and mix well. The oatmeal should retain its texture.

Serve with clapshot - approx. 4 potatoes and one medium turnip boiled and mashed with a little margarine and seasoned to taste. Serves 4.

So I cheated a bit and used canned lentils and beans simply because I hadn't the foresight or time to soak them. Geoff and I were also walking around Woolworths trying to figure out what the hell oatmeal was. We ended up calling Grandma and asking her. She suggested Uncle Toby's Oats. We got Homebrand Quick Oats. I figured it would require less soaking time. And it was cheaper.

So after I finished following these directions I kind of had this brown mushy lump in a saucepan. I wasn't sure what to do with it. So I divided it up into three, wrapped it in baking paper and stuck it in the oven for a little while. I also served it with the red wine gravy recipe I linked to in the previous post.

It turned out well. It was certainly yummy. We only made half the gravy and didn't strain it although I would recommend making all of it and straining off the onion. At any rate it was a tasty dinner and not something I've ever cooked before.

Dessert was also from the same recipe book. It was supposed to be a Banana Tofu Cheesecake but didn't taste at all like cheesecake. It still had some very nice, subtle flavours and wasn't too sweet. The description of the ingredients was a little confusing, though. It called for one and a half blocks of tofu. Exactly how big a block is I don't know. So here is my suggested take on the recipe.

Banana Tofu Cheesecake
1 200g block of soft tofu
1 orange
175g coconut cream (it asks for creamed coconut but I don't know what that is so I just got a can of coconut cream and tried not to shake it and took the thick separated part off the top)
4 bananas + one extra for topping
1 flan case
1 small lemon

Mash tofu and bananas in a bowl with finely grated orange and lemon rind and their juice. Add all other ingredients and mix well and pour in flan case. Bake for approx. 30 minutes (I had it in there for 90 minutes, though) at 150 C until golden brown. Leave to cool. Slice extra banana into some orange juice and arrange over flan. Sprinkle with some coconut. You top it however you like, really.

I didn't even bother trying to find a flan case. I just grounded up some Digestives and mixed it with some melted vegan margarine and baked it for 15 mins in the flan case. I cooled it and then added the filling.

I used a 2006 Shiraz Viognier in the red wine gravy. I think a redder Merlot would have been better. Geoff drank the rest of it with the dinner so not a drop went to waste. Very economical of him.

All in all, despite my shortcuts and shortcomings, I think it was a lovely dinner.

Friday, September 4, 2009

And tonight's dinner will be...

When I was in Scotland my lovely friends Karen and Lindsay (alphabetically, Lindsay, don't panic) took me to Henderson's vegetarian restaurant in Edinburgh. Three times. The first time we went I ordered the vegetarian haggis (which is actually vegan) and it was one of the tastiest things I've had in a long time. The spices in among the lentils and oats of the haggis were delightful and the red wine gravy it was served with tasted delicious among the clapshot (which is Scottish for mashed potatoes and turnip). I ate it all, despite my rather full stomach, because it was just so damn delicious.

On our third visit I noticed that they sold a rather small little cookbook with the recipes in it. So I purchased it with my meal (a delicious vegetable pastry with ratatouille) and planned to make good use of it despite the fact that most of the recipes were vegetarian and not vegan. The haggis, however, is vegan.

So when Geoff and I were discussing what we should cook for tonight's dinner and I casually picked up the little cookbook and suggested haggis Geoff seemed to think it would be a hilariously good idea. So, tonight's dinner, from Henderson's Wholefood Cookbook, will be:

Henderson's Vegetarian Haggis with Clapshot
followed by
Banana and Tofu Cheesecake

The haggis in Henderson's was served with a red wine gravy which really made the dish. However, the cookbook doesn't seem to have a recipe for it so I am going to following a recipe I found here.

I also have no idea how to get my hands on a vegan flan case as the recipe for the cheesecake asks for so I'll have to improvise. The internet seemed a little varied in its definition of a vegan flan case.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vegan Donuts!

I kind of miss Seattle. It's funny how some cities don't really have anything interesting but you still enjoy them more than anywhere else. And when you leave they pull you back with small memories twinged with tastes, smells and sounds.

I stayed at the Green Tortoise Hostel on Pike Street which I would highly recommend to anyone. They have free breakfast (and this isn't just one bagel... cough... HI Fort Mason... cough) you can make pancakes and eggs... or if you are vegan eat toast and fruit. They have great organised tours and free dinners on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights. And the tacos were vegan friendly! Yum! And the chef was more than happy to answer any questions about what was in them right down to the oil they used.

Directly underneath the hostel is a cosy coffee shop called Seattle Coffee Works. They roast their coffee on site (I can't vouch for the coffee since I was on a caffeine-free binge in the world's coffee capital; ironic, I know.), had soy milk readily available and serve their hot drinks up in bowl like cups. But the most important part is... the vegan donuts!

The are supplied my Mighty O Donuts ( and are delicious. I was never a donut person. The melt in your mouth taste of hot cinnamon donuts was always ruined by the foreseeable cold, greasy lump of dough they'd be the next day. But these donuts are fantastic. I had the lemon and poppy seed as recommended by the fellow vegan barista behind the counter. It was excellent cold.

The United States became a lot more vegan friendly in the last four years since I was last here. And the result is that I'll be coming back to Australia heavier once again. And thank goodness! Otherwise I'd have to think of a new blog title.


I am in San Fransisco and ate at Alive! today.

I don't think I understand raw foods. Henry Thoreau, in Walden, challenges the concept of using fuel for the preparation of food, and I'm not that opposed to the idea, but raw restaurants blend and refrigerate. They aren't subtracting the fuel. They are just subtracting the heat. And the result?

I ordered a Green Smoothie that tasted like celery and parsley and had the consistency of sloppy mashed potatoes. I had already eaten lunch so I went straight to dessert and asked the waiter what he would recommend. He recommended the Strawberry Chocolate Torte.

The strawberries were nice (but I could have picked up a punnet at Safeway for 3.99) and the chocolate biscuit base wasn't without it's merit but the 6 inches of cold coconut cream that layered the top of the torte and increased my risk of a heart attack ended up on the side of my plate in a whitish-pink mess.

I don't get raw foods. And I'm not sure I want to understand. I think I'm a baker.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Babycakes in Soho in Manhattan is a vegan bakery. And gluten free. And white sugar free. In fact, they are basically a guiltless bakery. Which explains why I ate too much and why my head and tummy now hurts.

A tastier vegan cupcake I've not had. And the staff were brilliant.

The owner and baker has a cookbook which is far too heavy to buy and carry to the west coast so I will endeavour to pick up a copy in San Francisco or back home. And then I will bake, bake, bake!

From the girl who brought you a Jane Austen book club after seeing The Jane Austen Book Club I present to you... a vegan's Julie & Julia.

It's my last day in New York. I'm not sure if it's Manhattan's acoustics or the temper of the God's but the storms here are orchestrally terrifying. The thunder left me with an interrupted sleep so I didn't exactly perform an enthusiastic start to the day. And it was raining on and off and after a trek and a half to get to Moby's Teany only to find it closed (although I did find Babycakes open which was a pleasant surprise) I decided to waste the last of my last day on the east coast with a movie.

3.05pm Inglorious Basterds was sold out so I bought a 4pm ticket to see Julie & Julia and wasted an hour in nearby Pottery Barn and Barnes & Noble.

The film was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Meryl Streep is such an excellent actress. Two things somewhat hindered my enjoyment of the story:

1. The fact that I had earlier enjoyed a banana cupcake with blueberry frosting from Babycakes and then followed it with a cookie sandwich from the same store. I'm in such vegan heaven here in New York that I frequently forget that two huge American sweets, no matter how vegan they are, will leave you with a throbbing headache and nausea.

2. I watched four lobsters being thrown into boiling water while alive and then the dead carcass of a duck be deboned.

I did, however, come up with a solution for this:

1. Make your own blog.

2. Make it vegan.

3. Share the goods with your friends so you avoid the headache and nausea.

4. Share the recipes and experiences with the whole three people who will read your blog out of voyeuristic tendencies.

So that is my plan. When I return home I will embark on a vegan cooking expedition.

How long will it last?

Well, to be fair to my fickleness, we did read all of Jane Austen's works in the book club. Although, to be fair to the truth, we only discussed the finished works. But I had a full discussion about Sandition and The Watsons and the other one with myself. I feel this counts. And I have now read all of Jane Austen's works. So let's see how many vegan cakes I can bake, vegan soups I can stir, vegan dinners I can hold and how much No Egg one vegan can use in a year.