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.

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!