Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice…. plus cookies.

 

nom nom nom

Last week I was walking down the aisles of my local supermarket, when I felt a pang of sadness for my now lost childhood favourite, “Tic Tocs” (a sugary biscuit coated with a sugary icing which I now know contains gelatine…and LOTS of sugar). Rather than doing my usual pouty ‘why-can’t-I-always-get-my-way routine,’ which often leads to the boyfriend and I having to troll around every single supermarket for a home brand version which happens to be vegan, I decided to go home and make some of my own. Unfortunately however, I did not have any clock face moulds, but I did have a nifty cookie cutting set I found at IKEA and some sprinkles, so I went about to make amusingly shaped colourful sugar cookies with sprinkles and LOTS of sugar

First, I had to find a recipe that didn’t involve egg replacer (the boyfriend had a rather nasty experience… turns out he’s a little allergic. Oops.) Eventually, I found this one which from family member to family member, then carefully placed on the internet for everyone else to try. How nice of them 🙂 I’ve added the recipe below for the Mr and Mrs Lazy’s out there who don’t want to follow the bazillion links.

Sugar Cookies / “Butterplätzchen”
Ingredients
1 1/2 cup pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbl margarine (I used Nuttalex, it works nicely)
1/2 – 3/4 cup ground almonds
1 tsp Vanilla Extract or 1 tbl vanilla sugar
dash salt

1) Combine all ingredients and knead to a smooth dough. You can do this by hand, but I let my food processor do the work as warm hands can make it hard to work the margarine into the dough.
2) Form dough into a ball, wrap in tinfoil and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
3) Preheat oven to 180° C / 375° F and grease your cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
4) Dust some flour onto your workspace and roll the dough out (I like mine thin). You may need to work some extra flour into the dough if it is too soft to work with. Time to use your cookie cutters!
5) Place cookies on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
6) Let cool and decorate with icing or dust some powdered sugar on them while they’re still warm. Store in an airtight container.”

The cookies looked great! I was scared they would crumble apart as soon as I picked one up but they didn’t, which was very nice of them 🙂

Once they had cooled down, I proceeded to ice the few cookies that survived the waiting process (grandma had strategically boiled the kettle for a cup of tea about thirty seconds before the biscuits were done). I used the icing recipe from this site, substituting corn syrup for glucose syrup purely because I couldn’t be bothered tracking down the corn one. Here’s the recipe Mr and Mrs lazy pants I-don’t-want-to-open-another-link;

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (I used vanilla extract instead)
  • 6-8 teaspoons of soy milk or another non-dairy milk
  • Assorted food coloring
  • 4 teaspoons of light corn syrup (I used agave nectar)

Anywho! Here’s the end result;

There were about 2 more plates like this as well. The recipe makes quite a few

I was pretty pleased that they worked out so well. I wasn’t so pleased when the boyfriend managed to eat half the batch within ten minutes without my realising, and the little cousins found the colours and sugary goodness to be too good to pass up, and ran off with the other half… Oh well, I guess I’ll always have the pictures.

My super duper yummy lasagna recipe

Right! Let’s get into it!

White Sauce;

  • Equal parts corn flour, savoury yeast and water (although you may need more water while it’s cooking so have another cup of it hanging about)
  • Olive oil (vegetable oil is fine too, I’m just mad about my olive oil)
  • Half an onion

Red sauce:

  • Whatever vegan friendly pasta sauce you can find in your cupboard. I used this one  (yeah, I’m lazy, so sue me)

 

ninja vegan tomato paste say what?

You will need about ¾ of a jar or if you are using a tinned product, probably about 1 tin… it all depends on how saucy you like your lasagne to be (tee hee!)

Other ingredients:

  • Lasagna sheets (make sure they are the vegan friendly ones, they should be made of Durum wheat semolina)
  • More olive oil
  • Half a capsicum
  • Two thirds of a medium zucchini
  • Half an eggplant
  • A bit of pumpkin
  • One Portobello mushroom (you can use other mushrooms but I find the flavour of these ones nicer)
  • One third of a sweet potato
  • Any other complimentary vegetables you can find in the cupboard.

 

All of these vegetables are interchangeable depending on the weather/availability. The mushroom isn’t really that necessary but it keeps grandma happy knowing I have mushrooms in every main meal, so I pop it in there.

 How to do it:

(read this before you start because it gets a little complicated… I like to do a few things at once while I’m in the kitchen).

  1. Pre heat the oven on 180c fan bake. The fan bake part is optional, but I find if I don’t use it I end up burning the top of everything.
  2. Grab your chopping board and a trusty knife and slice up your vegetables. You want them all to be about the same thickness… I would suggest about an inch maybe less. Be sure to hum a happy tune while you do this to them to fill your lasagne with love and happiness.
  3. Take out a biscuit tray, or perhaps a roasting tray… any form of tray which can be used in the oven is fine, I’m not picky.
  4. Line it with alfoil or baking paper and place all of your vegetables onto the tray (except the potato. You can cook it in the oven if you like but I find it takes an annoyingly long time).
  5.  They may not fit, the zucchini is happy to sit on top of more hearty vegetables as it’s more delicate. Be sure to liberally apply the olive oil, those eggplants are greedy suckers and will just keep slurping up the oil, so they might need a little more than the other less greedy vegetables.
  6. Pop them into your oven for about 15 minutes or until the kitchen smells delicious and full of roasted vegetables
  7. While that’s happening, if you didn’t already put your sweet potato in the oven, pop it into a microwavable container with a lid, fill the container with water half way up the potatoes, and place it into the microwave for 5 minutes or until they are cooked (you’ll know because you can push a fork through the centre very easily.)

White sauce time!

  1. Chop up the onions and sauté them with some olive oil in a small saucepan (you’ll need to add liquid to it soon so I don’t suggest a frypan). While they are frying (keep an eye on them!! You want them to turn a slightly glassy colour) mix up the savoury yeast flakes, cornflour and water. It should make a very liquidy mixture. If it doesn’t, add more water as the cornflour will soak a lot of water up as soon as it hits the hot pan. I also like to add a couple of pinches of salt to bring out the tastet. Once you have a very runny consistency, pour into the pan with the onions and constantly stir. It should only take about a minute or two. You want the mixture to thicken, but not too much. If it becomes too clumped together, add more water and stir quickly. You want it to be about the same consistency as custard. Once it’s done, take it off the heat and set aside until you’re ready.
  2. Your veggies should be well and truly done by now, turn the oven off and leave them for a tic.
  3. Now, take out a tray with tall sides. I use a cake tin that looks like this

but you can really use anything, just make sure it’s oven safe and that it’s clean.

  1. Add a little red sauce to the bottom of the tray then place a lasagne sheet on top. If that doesn’t cover the whole thing, just keep adding until it does, feel free to break up the sheets and adjust them however you like.
  2. Now place another layer of sauce (fairly thin you have a lot to get in). And add about a third of the vegetables to the tray, be sure to disperse everything evenly. Pour some white sauce on, add another sheet and continue until you can’t pack any more in. Make sure the top contains some slightly watered down red sauce or the top veggies will burn (alternatively you could just put some alfoil on top, but I’m way too lazy for that.
  3. Now stick it all into the oven for about 40 minutes or until you can poke a fork through without hearing the crunch of the sheets.
  4. If you have any veggies left over, you can either mix them up and make a ratatouille or pasta sauce, OR you can whip up a little cous cous, toss in some balsamic vinegar, and enjoy a delicious cous cous salad. It’s all up to you.

 

As the French say, bon appetit, but as the Australian’s say, two four six eight, dig in don’t be late!

Knock knock, who’s there? Donut, Donut who? Donut move! There’s a tiger behind you….

So, it has come to my attention that I have not posted anything for a very long time, and whilst I would love to blame it on the crazed robot monkey who stole my laptop and tried to use fairy floss to take over the world…that just didn’t happen (I know, I was disappointed too).

Any who, back on non-mechanical-sugary-goodness-taking-over-the-world world, I would like to announce that my long and tortuous quest for a vegan donut has come to an end!! *que loud applause and triumphant trumpet playing.*  This is once again thanks to our friends at Bliss Organic Café… is there nothing they can’t find??

The donut is delicious. The inside is soft fluffy and delicate with a slightly crisper outer and a chocolate coating that has just the right amount of sweetness to balance everything in that addictive donuty way.

Whilst I’m on the subject of desserts, let me introduce to you all, the SAGO PUDDING!

 

No, I haven’t altered the colours, yes, it is green, but trust me, this is one of the strangest, most delicious mixtures of flavours I have ever tried in a sweet dish. Imagine tiny balls made of agar agar packed together tightly and kept at room temperature, then covered in a creamy caramel sauce which could only be described further as liquid heaven. I tend to mash the sago into the mixture in an animalistic frenzy to make sure I have equal amounts of syrup and sago on my spoon, as I learned the hard way that if you drink all the syrup first, you’re left with balls which… well they look a little like balls of booger, and without the syrup to cover them in, that’s all I can think when I eat it. This wonderful creation is found at pure vegetarian, which is located in the Central Market food plaza along with the best mock fish you will ever try.

Lucky last! This is the most mind blowingly delicious burger I’ve had in a long long time. It’s called a Vamburger and it’s from the good people at Vego and Lovin’ it. In my incredible smartness, when I first ordered it, I thought it was called a vamburger due to the current obsession with vampires… after my third burger however, I had an appifony and realised how incredibly stupid I was being!

This burger is huge, so unless you are starving (and I mean I-haven’t-eaten-in-a-week-and-would-eat-my-own-arms-if-it-were-possible starving) I would suggest the half burger (plus, if it turns out I’m wrong, you can always grab a chocolate mousse).  

Unfortunately, I cannot describe the flavours of this meal to you because I’m just not sure how to spell the vowel of “drooling onto ones keyboard at the mere thought of a vamburger from” Vego and lovin it,” so instead I drew this picture!

In other completely unrelated news, next month I will be popping into New South Wales for some sightseeing, then doing a bit of shopping in Melbourne… Perhaps I will come back with some more interesting stories to share.

Also, in the heat of a sugar rush, I designed a uni satchel with a multitude of pockets for specific purposes and the ability to be zipped completely in half with a hardened compartment for safe sandwich travel. What do you reckon? Should it be thrown on the “you know, a peanut butter and olive sandwich may actually work” pile, or on the “hey that’s a cool unzipable multi pocket satchel” pile?

Put a spring in your step!

GOOD MORNING ADELAIDE!

 Spring has finally sprung! Which means it’s time for you to push those snugly jackets into the back cupboard and whip out those pasty legs for the entire world to see! Well, if you’re me that’s what you’ll be doing. You see, I have a condition called “omg-why-wont-my-damn-legs-tan-itus” which sadly means (despite my Greek and Hungarian background) my legs shall never tan…no matter how enthusiastic I am about it.

 

 Needless to say, I have tried many different things, soaking in tea bags after a day in the sun, spending long hours hiding in the bathroom with various bottles of fake tanning lotion, sprays and creams, but it seems my legs have not quite grasped the concept of tanning just yet.

So instead of torturing my legs this year, I thought I’d give them a break and do something different.

 First, let me explain my theory;

1. In Australia, you are expected to tan when it is hot

2. An exception from this rule, is red heads, as red heads do not tan regardless

3. I too do not tan regardless

4. I should become a red head So!

I set off and found a happy little place in Rundle Mall called “Underground”  who stocked vegan hair colour. I then proceeded to spend roughly three hours sitting quietly on a chair as I was transformed from dark brown to copper red.

 Here’s what I started with

 And here’s what I finished with

 I’ve got a long fringe because the eye brows don’t match so it looks like I’ve got slept in too long at a friend’s house and they’ve coloured them in with permanent marker… Think I’ll see if that can be fixed up next week.

 I’m currently waiting for an order from The Cruelty Free Shop  to come through so I can gorge myself on fruit filled chocolates and use my new vanilla scented deodorant! While I wait though, I’ve picked up some of these bad boys from Bliss Organics to gobble on while I read… ok I say some but really only two… and I say read but I mean try to read as the next door neighbours play loud music or pretend to read because I don’t want to hang out the washing. Anyway! They are about $10 a box and it takes me about 10 seconds to go through them (but only if I pace myself).

This one’s chocolate covered sultanas, but my favourite has to be the chocolate almonds. I’m pretty sure everything in the box is fair trade and organic but don’t quote me on that… Speaking of which, the machines just yelled at me again. I should really go hang that load up and put another one in. It’s been a while since I’ve done some.

A day in the life of a hungry Vegan

Right! I’ve noticed that as time goes by, my blogs are slowly becoming longer and longer than ever. Because of this, every time I start to think about writing another blog I realise that the last one took forever and just plain give up. But not this time! This time I shall persevere!

Agenda number one:

Yesterday, I ran into Simon Bryant from ‘The Cook and the Chef’ at no other place than Zen Teahouse! I was just enjoying my laksa, deciding on which icecream flavour I would have when he walked in with a lady (who had very nice hair). Naturally I asked for an autograph, and naturally he was a little miffed that I stopped him from eating. Oh well, here’s a peak at my autograph! For those who don’t know, he does eat meat when cooking, but prefers to be vegetarian at all other times. Sadly, you just aren’t taken seriously as a chef if you don’t eat meat 😦

 

Agenda number two:

I also had pancakes for breakfast (it was a big day in the city) from Bliss Organics. Silly me was expecting two medium pancakes with a dribble of maple syrup on top…. not an entire stack of god knows how many sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar with a bowl of maple on the side. I had the fruit ones with apple in them, and for the first time in my life I could not get through a plate of pancakes… which is a big thing for me because I have a VERY large appetite (thank god I’m a vegan or I would be the size of a house!)

Agenda number three:

Earlier this week I made vegan chocolate mousse. It. Was. Delicious!!

I used Coles 75% cocoa Belgium chocolate (about half a block) and about half a container of Soyatoo vegan cream (the one that comes in a UHT container). I whipped up the cream for 2 minutes, and then melted the chocolate in the microwave in 20 second bursts so I didn’t burn it. Then I slowly folded the chocolate into the cream, spooned it into a martini glass and put a strawberry on the side. Then it sat in the fridge while I ate my roasted veggies and fried mushrooms and I had it for dessert. It took me two attempts to eat because it was just so darn rich!… and I’d just had a big bowl of veggies…

Agenda number three point five:

I had the lime and coconut ice-cream in the end (I couldn’t stop singing ‘you put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up’ as I walked away). The man who served me was very friendly and let me try the ice-cream flavour which he called “the king of the fruits”… personally I think “garlic” would have worked better. It’s an incredibly strong flavour which others may love, but my sweet tooth is too western to appreciate.

Agenda number… eerrr, what was I up to again?:

I want to colour my hair red. I’ve been doing a home job for the last 2 years and colouring it rich chocolate brown by “tints of nature” but with summer coming up, my anti-tanning skin and dark hair tend to make me look quite gothic…. which is a bad look for someone who is so big on colour. I’ve tried to find a vegan salon, but yellow pages doesn’t think there is one. Instead, I’m going to ring all of the organic hairsalons and find out if any of them are also vegan by default. Fingers crossed my next blog will be about my amazing new red hair!

This is the colour I want. Doesn't this lady look gorgeous?

and Zen I had some Laksa…

So it seems, my dear followers, that I have stumbled upon something truly amazing. Many people have tried to inform me of such a destination. Yet, for some reason, I had not yet chosen to journey into the unknown depths to find such a mysterious place. This is a cafe so well known that omnivores recommend it to each other. A place in which, some have claimed to see the illusive ‘vegan ice-cream’ and steamed BBQ buns the size of ones hand. A place where Western and Eastern cultures are said to join hands to moisten each and every taste bud, and satisfy any craving known to human being regardless of origin. Yes, I must admit, I had not ventured into this land… until Friday, when I seized my Google enhanced treasure map and voyaged into the unknown to find the ancient land of “Zen Tea house” (not to be confused with the siren vegetarian cafe conveniently placed right next door.)

As I waltzed down Rundle Street, I resisted the temptation of a mango smoothie from ‘Vego N loving it’, denied the thoughts of rich, chocolaty goodness wafting through to me from within ‘The Chocolate Bean,’ and began to charge towards my target at full pace like a gold-digger to an open wallet, then suddenly, I was there.

How was it, that something so conveniently placed, so close to cafes I often dine in, had been so completely transparent to me? Whatever the reason for my past mishaps have been wiped clean and I am now a proud regular to be of the wondrous ‘Zen Tea House.’

Whilst growing up, my mother would always make herself a steaming bowl of Laksa whenever her sinuses were blocked. The sheer heat from the multiple chillies within sent out enough heat to make the people in the street over start to reach for a large glass of soy milk and a loaf of bread. Because of this, every time I get the sniffles, whilst others would turn to chicken soup, I turn to Laksa.

It was for this reason that I (in my state of pre-hay fever sniffles) was delighted beyond belief to find that the Zen do a delicious Laksa which is (thankfully) not as spicy as my dear mothers, but not so weak that it may as well be “noodles and tofu in coconut milk”. I was going to take a picture of my meal before I began, but as you can see, by the time I realised I had greedily slurped up half the bowl.

I also had a steamed barbeque bun thingy which was nice, because I am pretty obsessed with those things.

My friend had a more Western Pallet that day, enjoying a vegetarian chicken burger with chips (most of which I stole) and a mango green tea which looked gorgeous.

I have a strong suspicion that I shall be returning to this place soon for another delicious meal, but for now, I’m off to fight the evil which is…. the hay fever! *dun dun DUUUNNNN*

When life gives you lemons, make a lemon slice.

Today, I played chef.

 I also jumped a major culinary hurdle and used silken tofu for the first time! :O It was very wobbly and smelled awkward, but as it’s animal friendly, it seemed harmless enough. If silken tofu was alive, I would assume it would look a little like this

I made lemon slices, which were quite delicious, and very moist and lemony and gooey and did I mention delicious? In fact I am eating right now and I can hear all of the ninjas hiding in the room trying to take a secret ninja bite… bring it on ninjas…

how excellent are my photo skills??

I would post the recipe I used, but it’s from a book that has copyright written on it and I’m scared that if I violate the sacred copyright code a giant purple hippopotamus will fall from the ceiling and squash my favourite lamp in a fit of tapdancing fury. Instead, I’ll post a link ( http://www.joyofveganbaking.com/) to a website talking about the book .

Oh great, now Ted wants some too…