Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Lunch

Hi again. Hope those of you who celebrate holidays are having a wonderful time and all who don't have had some great time off.

We are a blend of lapsed Catholics, vaguely proto-Catholics and atheists in our little household of 5. Despite this, we celebrate Christmas in a rather secular way with gifts, special food and family visits during the week. This year, we stayed home and the 5 of us celebrated a quiet Christmas day. (We saw extended family before and after the 25th.) It was a great day, with lovely family time and time to relax.

Here's our Christmas lunch. I went all out and did 5 courses.

First up was Pumpkin and Lentil Soup. This was Z's request for the meal. He loves this soup. We had Nuttelex or hommous for the rolls.

Then we had Mock Prawn Cocktail. I saw a simple cocktail sauce recipe (mayo, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce) in a Margaret Fulton Christmas cookbook. I decided to do a retro entree (appetiser for the US readers). The sauce is served with some mock prawns from the White Jade Garden vegetarian supermarket, lettuce and avocado. Z did not like the prawns, but everyone else liked this. Z still ate all the lettuce and avocado (and some of his sister's).

Main meal. This was cold sanitarium roast with cranberry sauce (cooked the day before), tsueh yu tofu, a roll, Margaret Fulton's beetroot and orange salad, Chang's noodle cabbage salad, mixed tomato salad and a simple pasta salad with italian dressing and olives (Z's favourite). This was all very nice. I loved the beetroot salad, which was both sweet and earthy.

Christmas cake and So Good vanilla ice cream for my small dessert. Others had various icecream/rum ball/biscotti/custard combos. It was a help-yourself thing. The kids enjoyed lashings of icecream, as you can imagine.

Finally, coffee with rumballs and a bite of rocky road.

It was a delightfully quiet day, with a delicious lunch. I'll post some recipes in the next few days.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate at this time of the year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Homemade sausages

Sorry about the dark picture, it was another phone picture. Fortunately, we have our camera back now, so new photos should look better.

These are the Italian Feast Sausages from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I am clearly still obsessed with my newest cookbook.

I love these sausages, which are based around wheat gluten, with some mashed beans, stock and flavourings. If you have never made your own seitan, this is an excellent place to start. The use of beans and steaming to cook the sausages give them an excellent texture, which avoids the rubberiness which afflicts some home made seitan. The flavour is also very good. Z said that they were the best gluten product I had ever made. M was not so keen, but from her comments, I think that she had decided that she wouldn't like it before she even tasted a tiny bite.

The recipe says that it will make 4 sausages. I think that they would be more salami sized. I made a double batch and made 18 smaller links, of the size pictured above, about the size of a short fat sausage. I also wrapped them in baking (parchment) paper, rather than aluminium, as I try to avoid aluminium. The baking paper worked well.

Most of the family loved them, when I served them fried with vegetables and onion gravy. The next night I sliced 3 and fried the pieces to use in a pasta sauce (no picture, but it was just 1 fried chopped onion, couple cloves of garlic, large tin of crushed tomato, sausage, oregano and thyme simmered together). The last 5 are going to be used like hot dogs. I think that you could also serve these sausages to open-minded omnis, especially if they were cooked in a sauce.

Try these. You won't regret it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Xmas Cookies

I am not particularly religious, but I do enjoy the family closeness and celebrations of the silly season. We went to a large party with Mr BrisVegan's extended family yesterday. We don't really give gifts to adults in that family (no-one does), but I wanted to give a little something. So, like many a food-obsessed vegan, I baked for the holidays. Here are the cookies that I made into little gifts for the family:

(Clockwise from back left: Ginger Sparkle from Vegan with a Vengeance, Snickerdoodles from La Dolce Vegan, Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance and Cranberry Walnut Biscotti from Veganomnicon.)

And here is one of the gifts:

They are all delicious, so I hope that everyone enjoys them. I will be taking some of each of them to various other Xmas parties with my family. I am also making rocky road, fudge, rumballs and mini-fruitcakes. Conversion by sweets for Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pear and walnut salad with stinky tofu dressing

The other day I made this quick salad for lunch. It was very good, if you like sweet and bitter things together. It's another tasty way to use stinky tofu. As you can see, I had it with some pita bread, corn, potato salad and tinned cucumber.

Pear and Walnut Salad with Stinky Tofu Dressing

Serves 1


1 pear
Handful walnuts
3 large leaves lettuce of choice
1/2 teaspoon stinky tofu
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  1. Make a bed of torn lettuce leaves.
  2. Remove the seeds from the pear and slice it lengthways.
  3. Toss pear and walnuts on bed of lettuce.
  4. Whisk tofu oil and vinegar and pour over salad.

Here is Switch with one of her favourite things, her toy dog. When we adopted her, her foster family brought it with her. She had had it for most of her 11 months, so they did not want to deprive her of her favourite toy. She is very fond of it and will carry it all around the house, lick it and play fight with it. She can even hold it in her mouth and jump onto furniture with it. We will sometimes find it left on our bed, when she takes it up there, as she did this time. We suspect that she sometimes leaves it to share with someone who is sad or who she is feeling close to. However, she usually will not let Berry have it, which is no real problem, as Berry does not show much interest in it.

Who says animals can't love toys?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Curry and Lentils

Last night we had curry, tamarind lentils and sambals. My camera is still dead, but fortunately we had the same thing a couple of weeks ago and I took a photo. I know it was the same, because I froze half of the lentils and curry. We microwaved the left overs last night. Obviously, they freeze well.

The lentils are the tamarind lentils from Veganomnicon. I love them, but then I am a big lentil fan. The rest of the family are not so keen.

The curry was some store bought curry paste (can't remember which one) with coconut milk and a mix of veges. I fried some onion, added the curry paste and fried it for a few minutes and then added the rest of the vegetables and coconut milk. It was served with rice, lime pickles, chutney, Sri Lankan coconut sambal (from a jar) and microwaved papadums.

Everyone over 10 loved it. The smaller two had rice, spring rolls, papadums and steamed vegetables, because they are chilli averse.

Now I am going to have the last bit of the lentils and rice for lunch. Mmmmhh, lentils...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review: Cream Cheezely Garlic and Herb

Cheezly has a new range of cream cheese products. I bought a log of the garlic and herb cream Cheezly from Mrs Flannery's supermarket.

(Wrong flavour, but you get the idea!)

Though I am not a big fan of vegan cheese, I like the cheezely options and will sometimes use tofutti slices in a grilled cheese sandwich. I usually only like vegan cheese melted with other things (eg in toasted sandwiches, nachos and on pizza). The only one that I would consider eating alone is Cheezly Herb and Garlic. That's why I tried this option for the cream cheese.

What was it like? Good. Very good. Not exactly like cheese, but then no vegan cheese actually is. The non-cheese overtone is very mild and not bad. It was tasty and creamy on crackers. Everyone in the family ate it, including all the cheese eaters. M asked to have crackers and "cheese cream" for school lunches. She is ready this and says "It was very yummy!"

There was no way that we would finish a whole log in one go, so I cut it into chunks and froze it. It has defrosted beautifully, with no loss of flavour or texture.

While I wouldn't serve it unadorned to the sort of omni who talks about "fake food", it would be fine with other toppings. It would probably be fine for more open minded omnis.

I recommend this one!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Picnic eats

No pics today due to lack of camera and forgetting to take the phone with the camera in it. We went to a picnic yesterday with a bunch of friends and everyone's kids. We went to Sherwood Forest Park at Sherwood here in Brisbane. It is a good park for groups, with a big covered table area, BBQ's and clean facilities. There are well shaded play areas within 10 metres of the covered tables on each side. There is a creek with ducks, but it is probably 150-200 metres from the play area, so it is easy to keep young children away from it.

We had a great time. The children had a ball climbing trees and playing on the playground. Though J feels he is getting a bit old for all of that, he was in the middle of it all, helping the younger children to climb and stay safe. It was a beautiful day.

I said yesterday that I would come back with an omni-friendliness review for the east coast coffee cake. I took it to the picnic yesterday, cut into small slice-like pieces. It went really well. Everyone had some and liked it. Many people had seconds.

I also took vegan snickerdoodles (from either How It All Vegan or La Dolce Vegan from memory), babaganouj with pita bread and spinach/Cheezely pastry. All were a hit with the omnis. In fact, my food was all gone, though there were still cake and shop bought biscuits left. The kids really loved the babaganouj and the spinach pastry. I have previously posted the babaganouj recipe. Here is the recipe for the spinach pastry:

Spinach and Cheese Picnic Pastry


3 squares frozen vegan puff pastry (I used Borgs)
1 packet frozen spinach (250g from memory)
1/2 log of Cheezely mozzarella (100g) or altenative vegan cheese
2 spring onions, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.
  2. Defrost puff pastry on a flat surface while making filling.
  3. Defrost spinach in microwave or over low heat on your stove top. Drain very well.
  4. Grate Cheezely.
  5. Mix spinach, cheese and chopped spring onion.
  6. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper. Put 1 and 1/2 pieces pastry on bottom of tray. Join any seams with a little water and press together well.
  7. Spread spinach mixture over pastry, leaving a 1 cm edge. It should give you a thin layer of filling.
  8. Cover with remaining pastry. Seal edges with a little water.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
  10. You can serve this hot now or allow to cool.
  11. Cut into squares/triangles of desired size.
I served this cold the next day. It was very popular, especially with the children, who mostly wanted seconds.

I use the same filling for pie, with only 2 pieces of pastry and a thiner filling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

VB Coffee Cake and Caturday

I am addicted to Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It's a great recipe book. My latest creation is the East Coast Coffee Cake:

(Sorry for the poor photo, my camera is being repaired and this was a dodgy phone pic.)

This is a piece made using the raspberry chocolate variation. It is both sweet and rich. The overall cake is very more-ish. The white base is a little softer and sweeter than a lot of Australian cakes, but a fruit layer and the crumb topping are an unusual and interesting addition. By the way, for other Aussies, there is no coffee in a coffee cake. It's a bit like a very light tea cake (in which there is no tea, for the non-Aussies) with a light crumble topping.

I have also made an apple and blueberry version. It wasn't in the book, but I just winged it. Here is the apple and blueberry layer recipe:

Apple and Blueberry option for VB Coffee Cake


Coffee cake and topping as per Vegan Brunch. If you prepare the apples first, they can simmer while you make the cake.

2 very large apples (3-4 smaller ones)
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (more if you like lots) left in freezer until ready to use

  • Peel and core apples. Chop apples by making thin slices and then cutting into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Place apple, water and sugar into saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to gentle simmer.
  • Simmer uncovered gently for 10-15 minutes until the apples are just tender. Add water if it gets dry. The aim is to end up with cooked apples and almost no liquid.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Make cake batter as per Vegan Brunch recipe. Spread apples over batter. Sprinkle frozen blueberries over apples.
  • Add crumble topping.
  • Bake cake as directed in Vegan Brunch.
Zach declared the raspberry chocolate coffee cake, "The best cake I have had." Mr BrisVegan and J both liked it. Morgan was not so keen. She found the top "sandy", though she had liked the crumble on the previous apple blueberry option. She has asked for me to make the apple blueberry again. I am taking some to a picnic today, cut into slice squares, so I will be able to give you an omni-friendliness review soon.

(Late) Caturday

Miss Switch in the great outdoors:

Here Switch is perched on my potted lemon tree. I think she was just about to jump on Berry.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Protein and 4 vege with gravy

This was a simple dinner from a few weeks ago. It's a very anglo-style protein and vege meal. As you can see, we had asparagus, corn, peas and mashed potato. The protein can from a "Black pepper steak" cutlet from White Jade Garden vegetarian supermarket at Inala. The gravy is Gravox Supreme Grave, which I have been told is vegan.

The mashed potatoes were simply mashed with Nuttelex, soy milk, salt, pepper and a dash of onion powder.

It was very satisfying and simple. The kids like the "steaks". Various family members like different vegetables, but everyone ate at least some greens and corn.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Simple Sweet and Sour and Asian Vegan Kitchen Chow Mein

I mentioned last post that I served the vegetables in black bean sauce with sweet and sour. I realised that I had not mentioned the sweet and sour recipe. Here is a picture of it (left) with the Shanghai Style Chow Mein from The Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parek. The chow mein recipe was nice, but I found it a bit bland, as I often do with chow mein. The kids liked it, but they usually like bland noodles.

The sweet and sour is my own recipe, based in part on various easy anglo-style recipes I had read over the years. The whole family adore this one.

Simple Sweet and Sour Faux Chicken


1 -2 tablespoons neutral oil
500g vegan "chicken" pieces
1/2 large red capsicum chopped
1 small onion sliced
440g tin pineapple pieces in natural juice
1/4 cup tomato sauce (ketchup for the Americans)
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
pinch Chinese 5 spice

  1. Heat wok until hot. Add oil and heat briefly.
  2. Add vegan "chicken". Brown. Remove from wok.
  3. Add more oil if necessary. Add onion. Stir fry one minute.
  4. Add capsicum. Stir fry for another minute.
  5. Add pineapple pieces and their juice, and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil.
  6. Add "chicken". Simmer until sauce is reduced to an appealing amount.
  7. Taste. If it's too sweet, add a little more vinegar. If too acidic, add a little more sugar.
  8. Serve with rice and some stir fried vegetables.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce

I stir fry all the time. It's quick, easy, packed with vegetables, tasty and reasonably child-friendly. This one was inspired by a tin of salted black beans that I bought at the Asian grocery store. I served it with rice and sweet and sour faux chicken, which I had previously frozen. If you wanted to add some protein to this dish, to make it a more complete meal, tofu, plain tempeh or mushroom sticks would all be good. Just fry the protein first and then add the onion etc as below.

Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce

Serves 4 -6 if it is the only dish, or more with other dishes


1 tablespoon rice bran or other neutral vegetable oil
1 small onion
1/2 small red capsicum
1 zucchini
1 small bunch baby bok choy
2 carrots
1/4 cup dried slied shiitake mushrooms
glove garlic crushed
1 - 2 tablespoons undrained salted tinned black beans (include liquid scooped up with the beans) (use only 1 if you don't like salt. I used 2)
1/3 teaspoon ground dried ginger (could replace with 1 teaspoon fresh chopped which would also be good)
2 teaspoons sugar
hot water (approx 1/2 cup)

  1. In a bowl, pour the hot water over the dried mushrooms. Set aside for 10-15 minutes while you chop the other vegetables. Don't drain. you want the water.
  2. Slice all vegetables into preferred slice size. Take the stems from the baby bok choy and reserve the leaves.
  3. Heat wok or skillet until hot. Add oil
  4. Add onion, stir fry for one minute.
  5. Add garlic and stir fry for one minute.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, other than bock choy leaves, and stir fry for a few minutes, until vegetables are very slightly tender. Don't forget the mushrooms and their water.
  7. Once the stir fry is basically ready, add the bock choy leaves and heat for about 30 seconds or until the leaves wilt.
  8. Serve with noodles or rice.
The smaller children ate some, but are not vegetable fans. The rest of us loved this one.

You will find that you have lots of black beans left in the tin. I have put mine in the freezer for future use.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bazu's Fesenjan and Caturday

A little while ago, one of my favourite bloggers, Bazu of Where's the Revolution, posted her grandmother's Fesenjan recipe. Apparently fesenjan is a delicious Iranian dish of protein (originally chicken, here tofu) in a walnut and pomegranate sauce. The traditional recipe uses pomegranate paste, but Bazu suggests that you could replace it with pomegranate juice and lemon juice, plus a reduction in other liquids. I used that option, along with her suggestion of adding eggplant (for more vegetables, always my preferred option).

I loved this dish. It was rich, tangy and delicious. As you can see, I served it with tabbouleh, pita bread, beetroot dip and olives. The tabbouleh was an especially good match, as its freshness offset the rich fesenjan well. Unfortunately, the rest of my family was not as impressed as me. I think that the flavour was too far outside their usual range of flavours. It may also be that I am the only eggplant lover in the house. Well, it was their loss, because it meant more leftovers for my work lunches. It froze and reheated beautifully, by the way.


Tiger cat on the prowl:

Here is Berry in our backyard, checking out our pelargoniums. Our cats are mostly indoor cats. They grew up as indoor cats and don't have any road sense, so they can't safely roam. There are also a lot of aggressive cats and dogs in our area, that I would prefer to protect them from. However, they do come outside when we are in the backyard. Switch usually only comes out for a few minutes, but Berry enjoys keeping us company while we garden or hang out the washing. Ideally, I would like them to have a large cat enclosure, but that is not an option at the moment, so they just have to hang with us.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


That's right, I said quiche. How does that belong on a vegan blog? Well, the second thing that I made from Vegan Brunch was a broccoli quiche. It was really, really good. Seriously good. Serve to omnis on Xmas good. Isa is a genius.

I cheated and used some puff pastry from the fridge, rather than make pastry from scratch. In the next few weeks, I plan to make the recommended pastry and try the caramalised onion quiche from the same cookbook.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm back!

Where have I been? Well, we have been a bit caught up with family, work and social stuff this last week.

Family update: Thanks to everyone who left their kind wishes after the last post. My brother in law is much better. By the time we visited him, he was largely recovered, though he still had some weakness in his right foot. He is much better now, though he got a scare.

Other family stuff (with bonus food): It was Z's birthday last weekend. Instead of a part, he asked if we could go camping. This was our first time to go camping as a family. M has a small tent that the children sometimes use in the back yard. In the past, I thought that I was not a camping kind of girl. However, at Z's urging, we borrowed another brother in law's 8 person tent and went to a Sunshine Coast camping and caravan park.

We had a ball. The camp-ground had lots of mod-cons and facilities, including a camper's kitchen, pool, games room, jumping pillow (20 m long!), mini golf and playground. The kids loved the leisure activities. I liked the fun, the price and the kitchen!

What did I cook? We had nachos and not-burgers for dinner. (Sorry, I didn't get a shot of them.) We had lovely mint-choc cupcakes instead of a birthday cake (the birthday boy's pick). They were from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I made the basic chocolate cupcakes, the mint frosting (1/3 of the recommended amount, no colouring, but with 2x the mint essence) and the quick melty ganache. They got a little knocked around on the way, but they still tasted great.

The next morning, we had apple muffins with a crumble topping, veganised and made by Z from one of his recipe books. Unfortunately, I did not get a shot of that either.

Z said that he had the best birthday ever, so mission achieved!

Bonus cat:

Berry does not approve of people who fail to meet their Caturday obligations.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Health and veganism

We are about to go to the coast to visit my brother in law, who suffered a TIA (like a mini-stroke) last week. After seeing this Clinical Nutrition review of the latest research in nutrition last night I am especially sad. Being vegan would have reduced his risk enormously, but he, like so many others sees me as the vegan weirdo.

So many, many serious diseases can be avoided, slowed, reduced or ameliorated by a vegan diet. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia etc etc ...

If you read this and have health as a high priority, please consider a vegan diet if you aren't vegan already. Look at the research. The top peer reviewed information shows so many health benefits for a vegan diet.

As a massive bonus, you will also be saving lives and the planet.

Food pics next time, I promise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vegan Nutrition and Caturday

One more quick ad for the Vegan Clinical Nutrition Seminar this afternoon. There will be a showing of the "Clinical Nutrition" DVDs by Michael Greger, followed by a panel discussion. There will also be snacks during the session and dinner for $10 by the Loving Hut.

It starts at 1.00pm and runs until after dinner, which starts at 6.00pm. It is $5 per head, which is extraordinary value for over 5 hours of entertainment and education. Funds raised are used for the Green Earth Festival which is a cruelty-free, green festival which is planned to run for the first time in 2010. This fund raising is vital to allow Brisbane to have its own cruelty free festival.

Please come so that I am not talking to myself and the other panellists only!

The full details are here: Vegan Nutrition Event.


Whose chair is this?

Why Berry's of course! (But she will graciously allow you to perch on the front half and use the computer.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taco Salad and Cheat's Chilli

American recipe books and blogs often mention taco salad. I decided to give it a go. Here it is with some Cheat's Chilli that I pulled from the freezer and served with mashed avocado and salsa.

Taco Salad


Several torn lettuce leaves
2 chopped tomatoes
1/4 chopped capsicum
handful olives
1/3 packet Woolworth's rainbow salad (julienned carrot, beetroot and broccoli)
few jalapenos
3 tacos baked and broken up (you could use corn chips, but I had some tacos sitting around)

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. You could dress it if you wish, with salsa or your preferred vinagrette. As we were eating it with chilli, we didn't bother.
Very more-ish! I can see why it is so popular. It would be great to feed to omnis at a BBQ.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vegan Omelettes, Yay!

Above is a tomato and herb omelette, served with salad and toast.

I have a new copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch. What an amazing book! There are sweet options, like pancakes, muffins, cinnamon scrolls, crepes and waffles. There are savoury options, like quiche, sausages, hashbrown and Ethiopian dishes.

Even better, there are omelettes! I made them first. They are light and savoury, with a texture like egg omelettes and a savoury vaguely eggy flavour. The secret is black salt, which is actually pink and tastes of sulfur, like an egg yolk. I got black salt at an Indian grocery store at Mt Gravatt, but it is also available at other Indian stores and online.

The recipe is simple. It is based around tofu, chickpea flour and nutritional (savoury) yeast. The omelettes are tasty. They fill the omelette void, which I didn't even know was part of my vegan life. Everyone enjoyed them, when served as an entree to our French dinner the other night. Even Mr BrisVegan, who still eats eggs, liked it and asked for a repeat the next day for lunch. The mixture also keeps well overnight in the fridge for an omelette the next day.

Get this recipe book! If you buy it from the Vegan and Vegetarian Society of Queensland, here, the profit goes to a worthy veg*n society.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

French food dinner & Julie and Julia

A few weeks ago, I saw Julie and Julia, the moving about a blogger, Julie Powell, who decided to blog her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French of French Cooking. Julie made all 500+ recipes in the cookbook in one year, while blogging her progress. Her very successful blog was published as a book, which was the basis of her story in the movie. The movie also told Julia Child's story from her first cooking lessons in France through to her cookbook publication and eventual successful TV career. The Julia story was based on her autobiography.

The movie was a fairly light romp. Meryl Streep was excellent as Julia Child. I don't know how they made her look so tall, but she embodied Child well, awkward tallness, irritating voice, joie de vivre and all. The other actors were appealing and did well in their roles. The stories appealed to the feminist in me, showing two women engaging in what could have been seen as trivial women's occupations (cooking plus blogging for Julie) and turning it into wild successes. The story telling was kind to the protaganists, while avoiding the hyperbolic conventions of many success stories.

The down side of the movie was the amount of dead animal food discussed and handled. I don't find corpses fun, but realise that most of the rest of the cinema would have seen the very real dead bodies as no more than another prop or meal. I handled it by closing my eyes in a couple of spots.

The concentration of the moving on Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French of French Cooking, led to me checking it out from the library. In the movie, Julie raved about her mother making Boeuf Bouguignon. As a result I decided to give it a veganised try.

To go with my version, I decided to make a 3 course french meal.

First course, not pictured, was an omelette aux fines herbs, using the omelette recipe from Vegan Brunch, filled with fresh chopped herbs, rolled, sliced and served with a small green salad. I also served sliced french stick with it. This is an amazing omelette. I will blog it further soon.

It was followed by mushroom stick bourguignon, which was better than it looks in this photo. I substituted Lamyong vegan ham for the bacon in the original recipe, nuttelex for butter, Massel beef style stock for the stock and mushroom sticks for the beef. I made a 2/3 sized recipe, with only 300g of mushroom sticks in place of 1kg meat, as it appeared to be around that volume, though it was lighter. I frequently use mushroom sticks in the place of beef in any recipe where it calls for small chunks. Mr Brisvegan loves them, as do the children.

It worked really well. As you can see, I served it with baked potato, cauliflower gratin and baked asparagus. Everyone other than Z liked it. Z likes his mushroom sticks with a more subtle sauce apparently.

To follow, I made my first tarte tatin. It was as easy as it looks on TV cooking shows.

Apple Tarte Tatin


1 tablespoon Nuttelex
2 Tablespoons white sugar
pinch each cloves and cinnamon
3 - 4 apples, cored and sliced
1 sheet vegan puff pasty

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Line a pie dish with non-stick baking paper. In the dish, melt the nuttelex. You can do this by popping it in the oven for a few minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the sugar and spices over the sugar.
  4. Add apples. Return to oven for 20 minutes or until apples are just tender.
  5. Remove dish from oven. You can leave it to cool if you wish to serve the pie hot later in the day.
  6. 30 minutes before you want to serve a hot tarte tatin, cover the apples with the puff pastry. Trim and tuck the edges around the apples.
  7. Return to oven. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.
  8. Once the pasty is cooked, invert the tart onto a serving dish. Viola!
Everyone loved the tart. It was so simple and easy, I will be using this method again.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Quick Microwave Baba Ganouj and Caturday

I have taken a week away from blogger after the intensity of VeganMofo. But now I'm back!

The other day we were having Middle Eastern food. I wanted to increase the amount of vegetables on the children's plates. So, at the last minute, I decided to use some eggplant that I had in the fridge to produce baba ganouj. I find that my children will eat many things in dips that they would never eat alone. Baba ganouj and hommous are big favourites in our house, even though the children aren't fond of either eggplant or chickpeas.

I only used half an eggplant, but I have scaled the recipe up to feed a bigger group. I also threw it together, so the amounts of some items are estimated from dashes. Feel free to adjust them to taste. Also, if you like a darker baba ganouj, don't peel the eggplant and cook it a little longer.

Quick Microwave Baba Ganouj

Makes one medium bowl of dip.


1 large eggplant (around 400-500g when whole)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt for eggplant and to taste at the end

  1. Peel eggplant and cut into large (3-4 cm) cubes. Salt eggplant and leave to drain for 15 minutes.
  2. Rinse eggplant
  3. Put eggplant in a microwave proof dish with a cover.
  4. Microwave until eggplant is very tender, about 5 - 7 minutes (longer if needed).
  5. Add all ingredients in a blender, food processor or large container, if you only have a stab blender.
  6. Blend or process until smooth
  7. Taste. Add salt if desired. Add small additional amount of other ingredients (eg if you think it needs more of any particular flavour).
  8. Refrigerate until cold (10 minutes in the freezer was good for a small serve, but an hour in the fridge would be ideal).
  9. Serve with pita bread, other bread or crackers.

How do two cats deal with cold weather? Snuggle under a blanket, of course:

This photo was taken at the end of winter. I think we put the blanket over them, but they often squirm in under loose blankets all by themselves. Berry in particular is good at getting almost entirely under a blanket, with only a nose sticking out.

Quick Ad!

Next weekend, on 14 November 2009, there will be a vegan nutrition DVD viewing, panel and discussion at the Albion Peace Centre, 102 McDonald Rd, Windsor. It will kick off at 1.00pm and run for most of the afternoon. There will be dinner for $10 from the Loving Hut, served from 6.00pm. There will also be food for sale, during the day.

It is $5 per head for a half day session.

The panel will include Amanda Benham (a nutritionist), Tracey-Lynne Greyson (animal lawyer), Cameron Blewett (Sea Shepherd) and me. I think that I got asked, because I had previously volunteered to be a contact for a survey process for the Vegan and Vegetarian Society Queensland and have a healthy, mostly veg*n family. I am certainly not up to the expertise of the other panellists. However, I do have a big mouth and like to talk about veganism, so maybe that was why I got the call.

For more details, please see:

Maybe I'll see you there :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Veganmofo Final Salad and Caturday

So here it is: The last post of VeganMoFo III. I have enjoyed the blogathon, but feel that I wasn't able to keep up with everyone else's posts. I promise to stop by your blogs in the near future and read through any posts I missed.

Here is my final food post:

This is a salad that we had a little while ago. There is falafel, vege seafood sticks, Changs noodle salad, home grown radishes, pasta salad with home-made pesto dressing, pita bread, hommous and waldorf salad. All of it was good and fit with my ongoing salad obsession.

Caturday: Berry on the rolltop desk

Last week I showed you a picture of Switch asleep on the top of our rolltop desk. This is her sister Berry, showing how she approaches napping on a desk. As you can see, she is a sprawler!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin and Lentil Soup

A little while ago, I decided to make pumpkin soup for dinner again. However, I wanted to make sure that we had a bit of protein to make it more filling. What to do? Add red lentils!

Pumpkin and Lentil Soup


1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped into 5 cm pieces (butternut is very good)
1 large onion chopped
1 tablespoon vegan margarine
1 cup dry red lentils
water sufficient to cover (over 1 litre)
2 vegan stock cubes (I used Massel Chicken Style cubes)
1/4 teaspoon dry ground ginger

  1. Heat margarine in a soup pot. Add onion and sweat until translucent.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Cook 30 minutes or until pumpkin and lentils are tender.
  4. Blend until smooth. I used a stab blender in the pot for convenience.
  5. Serve with bread and enjoy.
Happily, everyone loved it, including the normally lentil averse children. The dominant flavour is the pumpkin, with a hint of creamy lentil savouriness. It hit the spot on a cold night. I would happily serve it to omnivorous guests.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Way too much gravy...

This picture shows my crazy love of Isa's Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy, from Vegan With a Vengeance. It shows roast vegetables, cauliflower gratin and Sanitarium Roast, all smothered with the amazing gravy. There is also a bit of cranberry sauce on the roast.

Try this gravy if you dare. It is seriously addictive.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quick Lower Fat Garlic Bread

Who doesn't love garlic bread? Buttery, garlicky, savoury carbs. Mmmmhhh (Homer Simpson drool).

As a vegan, there are very few options for pre-packaged garlic bread. I also think that most contain a bit too much fat (including trans fat) to be a good food choice. So, I make my own all the time.

Basically, I split a roll, spread it with Nuttelex and crushed garlic and sprinkle it with herbs. I then pop it under the grill until it is lightly browned.

Everyone in the family loves it. Omnivores love it. It is a universal favourite. It's great as a side dish with pasta, salad or BBQ food.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quick and Easy Red Thai Curry

This is a very simple curry. I used a Maesri curry paste, coconut cream and vegan fish paste to create the sauce. In the curry is tofu, mushroom, zucchini, carrot, bamboo shoots, tomato and capsicum. I used a whole tin of the curry paste. It was a bit hot, even though I like hot food, and not creamy enough for me. Next time I would use half a tin and freeze half.

We served it with rice for an easy spicy dinner.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Saturday was hot, so I decided to make an easy Vietnamese style noodle salad. This is so simple and easy to make. It is fresh, easy and doesn't need the stove to be turned on. With all the herbs, it is bursting with flavour.

Unfortunately, all my boring children picked out the herbs, but liked the noodles and tofu.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad

Serves 6 generous or 8 small serves


1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon Thai sweet chilli sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped coriander (from a jar is fine)
100g bean or rice noodles
300-500g recooked tofu puffs (or fry off some tofu)
100g bean sprouts
1 carrot
10 green beans
several sprigs each vietnamese mint, mint, basil and coriander. (You can skip one or more of these, but it is good with all of these) Reserve a couple for garnishing.
1 medium green chilli, finely sliced (optional)
1/4 deep fried shallots
1/4 cup crushed peanuts

  1. Reconstitute noodles according to packet directions.
  2. Heat lime juice and sugar. It is convenient to do this in a microwave, for 30-60 seconds. Mix to dissolve sugar. Heat and mix again until necessary.
  3. Add chilli sauce, soy sauce and minced coriander to lime mixture. Put in fridge to cool.
  4. Once noodles are soft, cool in cold water and drain.
  5. Take a bowl for each person. Put some noodles in the base of each bowl.
  6. On top arrange grated carrots, sliced beans, bean sprouts and herb leaves. Pile tofu in centre.
  7. Drizzle each salad with some dressing.
  8. Top salad with fried shallots, peanuts and garnishing herbs.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tofu Scramble

This morning I decided to make tofu scramble. This is a vegan standard. Every cookbook author has a version. I usually just make my own mediterranean-style version. However, this time I decided to use Isa Chandra Moskowitz' recipe. I replaced the mushrooms and carrots with zucchini and tomato, because that's how I roll today.

It make 4 serves. No-one else wanted any, so I will have delicious leftovers for work lunches. Tofu scramble is usually great reheated or in sandwiches.

I liked it. I used the Healtheries Brand Nutritional yeast. I should have used another brand, as the Healtheries is a bit strong for this recipe. However, I happily ate the scramble and will enjoy the leftovers.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tapas night and Caturday

As you may have noticed, around once a week our meal involve little snacks, placed in the centre of the table. Each person can help themselves. I find that the younger two children try new items more easily this way. There is less pressure to like it. They also eat more vegetables when it is their own idea to try them.

Of course, Mr BrisVegan, J and I all love to try new foods and enjoy variety, so we love it too.

This meal was tapas influenced. Clockwise from the top, you will see pita bread with hommous and baba ganouj, store bought polenta, baked plain and with a sweet chilli sauce glaze, eggplant baked with tomato pasta sauce and a slice of herb and garlic Cheezely, potato gems (tots for the US audience), mixed baked olives, dates baked in a Redwood Cheatin' ham strip, strawberries with balsamic vinegar and non-alcoholic red lambrusco (yeah, grape juice, basically).

Based on Susan's wonderful example, I have decided to try to put a cat photo up once a week. I will aim for one each Caturday, oops, Saturday. So here we go:

Caturday Photo: Sleeping Switch

Here is our adorable Switch, fast asleep on top of our roll top desk (a favourite perch). As you can see, she has an extremely cute habit of resting the top of her head on her sleeping spot, with her nose tucked under.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another salad night

Here's another salad from last week. On the plate are Changs Noodle salad, simple pasta salad, skillet asparagus salad and Vegetation's White Bean Cutlets.

The pasta salad is a favourite of Z's. It is simple cooked cooled pasta, bottled salad dressing and olives.

Skillet Asparagus Salad

Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 bunches of asparagus (I used 1, but it had around 12 thin stalks)
10 grape tomatos, halved
1/2 zucchini cut into 2 cm dice
2 tablespoons pine nuts
12 pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  1. Snap woody section from bottom of asparagus. Wash the stalks.
  2. Heat olive oil. Add remaining ingredients, except balsamic vinegar.
  3. Heat for 3-5 minutes until tomato collapses slights and pine nuts brown slightly.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  5. Cluster asparagus on a plate. Pile remaining mixture accross the asparagus.
  6. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
This was very Mediterranean. I love asparagus, so I loved it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Veganomicon Portobello Salad

Another Veganomicon recipe today.

In the heat last week, we had salad several nights. One night I made the Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard dressing from Veganomicon. This salad has marinated baked portobello mushrooms, with a lovely sweet tangy mustard dressing. For my salad, I kept the portobellos, dressing and greens, but skipped the remaining ingredients. I added tomatoes and sliced zucchini. It was delicious.

The mushrooms are baked in a lovely wine, soy, garlic, balsamic and olive oil marinade (recipe is in the book). I have found that the marinade makes more mushrooms that the 2-4 suggested. I have also frozen and reused the marinade after baking. The mushrooms also freeze well, so you can make a lot and have some for later.

I have made the actual recipe before and found it was very good. The dressing is wonderful on almost any green salad. If you have Veganomicon, try this one.