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 :)