28

A Very Veganopoulous Year In The Kitchen

I like to think my food photography and cooking skills have improved this past year. Being a non-profit hobby blog, I don’t set the shots up to make everything magazine quality, with diffusers and reflectors and such. My reflectors are often tissue boxes. Instead, my process goes like this: 1) find the cleanest spot with natural light. 2) Get rid of the cat hair. 3) Get the cats out of the room. 4) Work out the best way to carry a heap of stuff to the natural light spot without tripping over the cats. 5) Try and barricade the door because the cats have worked out how to bust through it at a fast run. 6) Try and keep the cats away from the food. 7) Hurry up and take the damn photos cos the family is waiting to eat.

I don’t always succeed at keeping the cats away.

cat photo bomb

And then there are those times when no styling or faffing around is necessary. You just grab the camera and take a food photo with flash.

Onwards!

THE TOFU CHEVRE ‘LOG’

Ah, logs. I followed the directions for this tofu chevre log. It was a nice log shape until about ten seconds after it entered the oven. And then when I took it out my son came in and said EWWW WOT IS THAT and I’m like eh, a tofu LOG. And he was like DIDN’T I TELL YOU LOG IS ANOTHER WORD FOR POO.tofuchevrelog

 

THE ‘HEALTHY’ JUICE PULP CAKE

When I make juices, I like to re-use the pulp wherever I can. This was my first experiment with juice pulp cake. I used pulp from apple, pears, carrots and beetroot here. I also completely screwed up and doubled the liquid ingredients by mistake.

I even made a little bridge from an icy pole stick. I wanted the bridge to span the Hollow Sea, the Abyss of Broken Dreams.sloppycake1

A cross section of this geological marvel.sloppycake2

 

SESAME ‘CRUSTED’ TOFU

Don’t you just love foods with a crumb? Or a crust? I love sesame crusted tofu. Everything is made better with a crumb of some kind. Right?!

I think that only applies when your crumbs are on the actual food.sesametofu

 

THE PLUM CUSTARD CAKE

So one time I had this smart idea for using up a heap of plums. Why not use the semolina custard from my vegan galaktoboureko recipe in a pie! And make a healthy oil/fat free crust? The end result was plums on the bottom, goopy custard and a dry shitty crust. plumcustardtart

 

PINEAPPLE INSIDE OUT DOWN CAKE

Because we all need a poorly risen pineapple upside down cake that sticks to the tin right when you’re about to serve it to visitors. That’s when you improvise and call it pineapple pudding, but you don’t really fool anyone. Completely salvageable with ice cream, so all is not lost.

pineappleupsidedowndisaster

 

BERRY BROKEN HEART CAKES

Baked moosh was a recurring theme this year. I followed a recipe for these berry heart shaped cakes. They didn’t rise and after half an hour they were just hot dough destined for the bin. What a waste of berries. Fortunately they were frozen berries, not the fresh berries that cost a million bucks a punnet.mooshyhearts

 

GEOLOGIST’S DREAM ‘HEALTHY’ BANANA CAKE

You know those times when you secretly dream of being a geologist? And your secret dreaming comes out in your banana cake that you’ve tried to healthify? Look at the tell tale bottom layer of compacted moosh that somehow extends halfway up the cake. I can’t remember what the hell I did here. But that’s okay, because I don’t want to.

mooshbananamaltcake

 

THE PUMPKIN PIE FRENCH TOAST THAT COULDN’T

Look at me! I’m oil free! No vegan butters either for frying but I REALLY want to try that pumpkin French toast recipe. I know! Let’s be all healthy and smug and use the PANINI PRESS!

frenchtoastdisaster

 

TRUFFLES A LA POOP

What do you make your sibling when it’s their birthday? How about the chocolate truffle balls you both enjoyed as a kid? A packet of plain biscuits, dessicated coconut, cocoa powder and coconut condensed milk. Sounds good! Eeeexcept in this case you start mixing the stuff before realising you’re way waaay low on the coconut. So you try to be clever and add some coconut flakes before realising that’s a most rubbish move because the chewiness is awful. And the truffles lose their shape fast and flop when you take them out of the fridge.truffles

 

THE PAPADUM CREPE

You know those times where you’re like, I really want a crepe with the crunchiness of a papadum! I’ll go and watch Prancercise videos on YouTube and forget all about my crepe in the pan! Works every time.

crackercrepe

 

HEALTH HAZARD COCONUT FLOUR PANCAKES

Ah, coconut flour. I hate coconut flour. It’s one of those things that always makes my food turn out rubbish. Even though I love coconut. Here I am trying to create a gluten free coconut pancake recipe. These pancakes just fell everywhere and were burnt on the outside, mooshy wet on the inside. And I couldn’t swallow them so I had a coughing fit.

coconutflourpancakes

 

SPACE ALIEN MUFFIN

Could this be intelligent life that formed after the Big Bang (which was me dropping the tray of muffins when I took them out of the oven, scattering baked treats and lounging cats everywhere)? The intelligent life that spent its first two weeks wedged between the side of the oven wall and the bottom rack and treated us all to a game of What’s That Smell? every time we used the oven? It was only when I decided to actually bend my butt down Attenborough style and check what the hell was going on inside the oven that I made this discovery.

 

Let’s wrap this up with dessert. Because everyone loves baked apple guts.

explodeyapples

May you all have a wonderful end to 2016 and an even better start to 2017!  I’m sure I’ll see you back here same time next year with round 2 of my kitchen failures…

8

A Merry Christmas Newtonmas Family Lunch

A very happy December 25th to you all! I hope your weather was better than Melbourne’s– we had a top temperature (in the Melbourne metro area) of 35.5C (95.9F). Adelaide was worse with a top temp of 40C (104F). That’s Adelaide’s hottest Christmas since 1945. We’ve had some ridiculous Christmas weather over the years, about four or so years ago it was in the 30s at lunch time then the temperature dropped rapidly and we ended up with a massive hail storm that smashed many windows and damaged many cars across Melbourne.

We spent a quiet Christmas Day at my sister and her partner’s house, about an hour drive outside Melbourne. Just us plus mum and dad. It was too hot to go for a walk after lunch like last year (we had jackets on in 2015 because it was cold!) so we chilled out in the nice cool house.

So, Christmassy food! On Christmas Eve I try to honour the food requests in the house. The kids asked for home made pizza followed by lemon self saucing pudding. My absolute favourite recipe for the pudding is from Veganissimo! by Leigh Drew. It’s a never fail recipe. This time I doubled the sauce so it would go all lovely with the So Good vegan ice cream:

For Christmas Day I made Leigh’s Cashew Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Smoked Paprika, also from Veganissimo! This is my new favourite baked nut cheese:

We always have roasted vegetables at family gatherings:

I made a simple green salad with cranberries, avocado and cherries using the lime tahini dressing from Green Gourmet Giraffe. I would have added toasted pistachios but I forgot them on the stove this morning and burnt them all:

A couple more salads including mum’s usual garden salad and some simple coleslaw in the back. My sister also made a separate coleslaw with a sesame oil dressing:

And because we clearly didn’t have enough salad for the five salad eating eating adults, my sister made this delicious quinoa watermelon salad:

My main meal contribution was a loaf, using the Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen as the filling. The filling was great but assembling the loaf with the pastry braid in a hot kitchen on a hot day was close to impossible. The pastry all stuck together and was a nightmare to work with. So I did what most fancy chefs do and cut out pastry shapes to cover up all the hideousness. I also made the Silky Chickpea Gravy from Appetite For Reduction to go with it:

We also had this vegan Greek pita by Irene’s. It’s sold in a blue packet as ‘vegan nistisimi pita’. Remember folks, we’re Greek here and six adults and two kids means you cook for fifty times that amount:

We agreed we wouldn’t be making dessert this year. Clearly this means something in cake like form because mum made a batch of amazing veganised kourabiethes, also known as Greek shortbread. They’re actually made with oil instead of a vegan butter. When I find out where she got the recipe I will link it here:

I suppose one good thing about summer is summer fruit. We had this platter with some banana peanut butter nice cream we whipped up:

It was great to have such a nice quiet Christmas just hanging out. My sister put up some Christmas decorations including some little retro-vintage decorations from when we were little:

   

And here’s Punky doing something totally ridiculous with his fang. I don’t understand it. Maybe he did that thing where you bite your lip which is why his face is all screwed up looking?

I hope you all had a fantastic day, full of good cheer and great food (and hey, we don’t need Christmas-Newtonmas for that!)

 

10

Melbourne Vegan Eats Brew And Food Fest

half pint dairy line

This time of year is ace if you’re vegan/plant based in Melbourne (even if you’re not, of course!) because of all the awesome events going on that include vegan food. I’m sitting out quite a few this year but when I heard that Melbourne Vegan Eats were holding their first Brew & Food Fest in Brunswick, there was no way I was going to miss it, not when it’s just down the road (by public transport)!

The line up included (copied from the official event page)

Tramway Hotel
Baking Bad
Young Henrys
Six Parallels South
Ray
St.Gerry’s
Hop Nation
Hawthorn Brewing Company
Cavalier Brewing
Stone & Wood Brewing
Brown Brothers Winery
Remedy Kombucha
Wide Open Road
The Cornish Arms
Tahina
Halfpint Vegan Dairy
Lord of the Fries
KAIJU Beer
Golden Axe Cider

We got there just before the opening time of 11am and started off at the Half Pint Vegan Dairy stall. My son and I decided on a sausage roll and the cheesy mac, swapping halfway through. A few people were already sitting down along a fence with their Half Pint purchases:

half pint dairy stall

I’ve been wanting to check out Baking Bad for a while now and finally got to try a little of a chocolate cupcake with a vegan honeycomb topping. Only a little, because my son was making those sounds like when you give a dog their food and they can get growly at you if you’re too close:Baking Bad stall

I was really pleased to hear that St. Gerry’s make vegan Greek donuts (loukoumathes). Loukoumathes are traditionally made with a honey coating once the donuts are removed from the cooking oil. St. Gerry’s provided three vegan alternatives: cinnamon sugar, rasbperry jam and maple with walnuts:stgerrysstall

We didn’t have a lot of time so it was pretty much eat and run unfortunately. There were so many tempting options at the food stalls (I don’t drink much but water so I can’t comment on the stalls selling drinks) and by the time we left, which wasn’t long after the event started, more people were arriving.

Even though our visit was really short (and so is this blog post as a result) because we had plans, we enjoyed our food and the selection of stalls. We considered going back later in the day and looking now at photos of what other people had, I’m kinda regretting that we didn’t return! If there’s another event, and I sure hope there is, we’ll be back 🙂

You can find Melbourne Vegan Eats on Facebook and on Instagram.

melbourne vegan eats brew food fest2016

 

14

Christmas Family Lunch In Central Victoria

christmas2015decorating2

Another year almost over, another Christmas-Newtonmas behind us! December appeared out of nowhere and with a family holiday to Warrnambool in the middle of the month, I ran out of time (and a little steam) to get the house remotely Christmassy. I’m happy to pass on the decorating but the kids wanted something. I don’t want a plastic Christmas tree and I don’t want a real one either (have you read The Little Fir Tree? SO SAD) and so this year we had this (and what’s in the top pic. Christmas-Newtonmas!). Ho ho ho:

christmas2015decorating1

Our relatives all had plans, so this year we did nothing whatsoever on Christmas day and I loved it. The kids got to do whatever they wanted but as it was a stinking hot day (I think it reached 37C/98.6F) that mostly involved all of us hanging out in the cooler part of the house reading or playing computer games. In the evening we watched The Santa Claus and the sequel. We’ve actually watched the first movie the previous two years but the kids forgot. Anyway, I asked Arthur and DeeW what food they wanted me to make (sausage rolls, apple pies). Our Christmas Day lunch and dinner were nothing special. The kids wanted toasted vegan cheese sandwiches for dinner and I was happy with their no-fuss request. So breakfast was when I gave them something healthy to eat (well, there is an unnecessary application of icing sugar on the strawberries but it’s SNOW, which makes it okay):

christmas2015breakfast

Christmas Day for me involved a lot of meal prep and having the oven on (blergh). Boxing Day (today) was to be at my sister and her partner’s home in sortof-central Victoria, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Fortunately the temperature dropped way down to a beautiful 22C/35.6F this time. There were to be eleven people for lunch so naturally we made enough food to feed sixty million.

I decided to take some cashew cheese and crackers. One of my favourite recipes is by Cate from A Traveling Cook. I attended her cooking classes and a great recipe was included in her class notes. I made one batch but created two flavours from it. The first is Cate’s recipe for extra sharp cheddar style. The second is the same but I added sundried tomatoes and truffle oil:

christmas2015cashewcheese

My sister made awesome roast potatoes tossed in semolina and rosemary:

christmas2015roastpotatoes

My contribution was a salad made with freekeh, broccolini and smoked almonds. I loved the similar dish we had at the Maha vegan degustation and I’ve been experimenting with my own version but mehhh, something is missing. Gotta work on it some more but it was still okay:

christmas2015freekehsalad

My blurry lunch plate! I made a Tofurky roast which I really liked. Unfortunately I had misplaced my oven timer when it was cooking, and then got distracted talking to a neighbour so the poor Tofurky was a little bit of burnt. I made some gravy using the Silky Chickpea Gravy recipe from Appetite For Reduction by Isa Chandra M. My sister made tabouleh and the roast sweet potatoes and we threw in some garlic bread:christmas2015lunch

Dessert! I made the gingerbread cheezecake from Where’s The Beef? I had tried this cheezecake when Cindy from Where’s The Beef? brought it to a vegan potluck and I loved it. I’m very greedy when it comes to cheesecake crust so I doubled the crust ingredients. If you use a gluten free ginger biscuit, the whole cake can be gluten free:

christmas2015rgingerbreadcheezecake

Mine!
christmas2015rgingerbreadcheezecake2

More over zealous food preparation by me in the form of Black Forest Cherry Ripe Ripple Cake. I’ll be posting the recipe very soon. I made a few of these in trifle cups (Aldi had a packet of six for a few bucks recently) but figured that because we had so much food and other sweets, people could just spoon out a portion for themselves. Good call:

christmas2015cherryblackforestripplecake

My mum and sister made Saraili, though this time with more orange flavour to the syrup. Soooo good!

christmas2015saraili

We really need to walk all that food right off. My sister lives in such a great location. They currently have a neighbour’s horses on their land and some magpies that adore my sister’s partner because he feeds them. They come right up to the door looking for him. There are also lots of noisy cockatoos and other beautiful birds and kangaroos too, though they weren’t around today.

christmas2015day1

It’s a great area for post-food blowout walks:

christmas2015day2 christmas2015day3

Many hours later and I’m still so full! We had that nice rainbow up there on the drive home to cap off a wonderful day.

And pssst! I’ve started a Veganopoulous page on Facebook too if you’d like to follow me there.

Best wishes to you all for all for a great holiday season, and may whatever you’re doing be full of awesome!

14

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck Picnic

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

Vegan potluck picnics with themes!!! On the weekend I went to a potluck with other veg*n bloggers-and-friends where the theme was Celebrity Chef. I dutifully went and borrowed some library books for research (Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, though I forgot to go pick up my reserve of a Margaret Fulton cookbook in time). Nothing really appealed to me. The theme was optional but my mind went straight to Adam Sobel, author of Street Vegan and famed Cinnamon Snail and all round groovy dude. And I thought BINGO because the Cinnamon Snail is known here on the other side of the world and I put Adam’s recipes in rock star category. Plus I always feel better about making recipes for others where I’ve made them before so I know how they’re supposed to turn out.

I’ve made the Maple Mustard Glazed breakfast seitan strips from Street Vegan before but changed it up a little this time to use tofu and make it gluten free. I also LOVE the milk recipes in Street Vegan and went for the Pistachio Clove Rosewater milk (cutting way down on the rosewater, cos I don’t like anything more than a subtle hint of it) and the Chamomile Pine Nut milk.

The food everyone brought along was great. Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe made a sourdough pizza with vegan mozarella, tamari chickpeas and some aquafaba chocolate macaroons (you can read more about her picnic recap here). Michael from Where’s The Beef? braved the ‘terrifying Paula Deen archives’ to bring us mini cheeseburger puffs (you can read Michael’s recap here). Steph from Vegan About Town made a Simple Rainbow Salad by Ian Parmenter. Other delicious foods included some corn (also wheat) tortillas stuffed with spicy goodness (the corn version fell apart but still tasted great), a casserole/stew with mushrooms and veg, rice paper rolls with a home made satay sauce, nori handrolls (a.k.a. vegan sushi rolls) and a pasta bake made by K and Toby from In The Mood For Noodles. There was a little more food when more people arrived but I’d put the camera away by then (and stuffed myself too much):

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

I went a bit silly with desserts though. We had some gluten free folk at the picnic and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make my Mousse Your Own Adventure Cake not only gluten free but also with different flavours. I used a packet mix mud cake, flavoured the mousse slightly with coconut essence and I used coconut cream on top with toasted shredded coconut. This cake is supposed to be made with a lighter cake, and the dense mud cake made it more fudgy. Fine by me though, it still tasted good!

I’ve had a packet of gluten free flour in the fridge for ages and figured I’d do something with it too. The Gooey Salted Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars from Street Vegan were perfect. Of course, I misread the recipe and thought it would make a small batch. Ah, no. It actually makes one bigass tray. I also had the fun of making a caramel that didn’t thicken and was pretty much a milky consistency. You’re supposed to pour the caramel over a cooked biscuit base (which I made gluten free). I had a brainwave and used a can of that new coconut condensed milk to thicken it all up. It was more a brainfart, because the condensed milk just melted and the mixture stayed runny, with the added bonus of a tonne more sugar and fat. So I added a heap of cornflour and fortunately it thickened well and turned out. Really sweet though!

I had told some people on the guest list that I would make a family recipe from my blog so I chose my Saraili. This was another near disaster because after defrosting my filo pastry (which was purchased from the freezer section), all the sheets were stuck together and would tear to bits when I tried separating them. This meant I had to move everything to a smaller pie dish rather than the big round tray it’s supposed to be cooked in, and luckily it all worked out in the end. The edges were a bit too dry though.

In the pic below (of the sweets), we have some awesome lemon curd tarts and blueberry tarts. Across is the pumpkin spice cheesecake made by Cindy from Where’s The Beef? using a Martha Stewart recipe. The tarts and cheesecake were great. Also shown are Johanna’s biscuits (more info on those on her recap!) and I had quite a few of them 🙂

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

I couldn’t face taking my cakes home and tried to palm them off to everyone. I did manage to take some home to give to my sister but I ate so much at the picnic that my mind started turning to juice fasts. Still, I’m looking forward to the next themed potluck!