I’ve been reading The Happy Herbivore, and I must say, it’s brilliant. So many recipes I want to try (stupid, stupid broken oven) and lots and lots of inspiration. I’ve always wanted to experiment with vital wheat gluten, so I have followed Lindsay’s method in making these ‘snozzies,’ (my word for sausages). I’ve never been the biggest fan of sausages. Meat ones really gross me out. Viper was a vegetarian for 10 years before we met. His downfall happened to be a cold, greasy lone sausage sitting sadly on the edge of the grill at a friend’s bbq. Many beers had been consumed. That sausage looked far too appealing (beer goggles for a sausage!?) Viper needed the flesh of a beast (really doubt there is much “flesh” in a generic sausage, more like sawdust and bits they scrape off the floor in the butchery).
That was that, Viper was no longer a vego. After the sausage incident, he went on a meat eating rampage- he said he needed and wanted anything with blood. These days, however, Viper is pretty healthy. He makes his own little packed lunches (which he gets teased about by his workmates as they tuck into their rotty meat pies and cans of coke) and happily eats what I serve up in the evenings. I’m trying to bulk up our evening meals with extra protein and carbs, and this meal fits the bill. Viper has a pretty physical job, plus he bikes to and from work (about 20km a day). I guess I’m trying to convince him that vegetarian/vegan meals can be satisfying and delicious – he always says (jokingly I hope, grrrrr) ‘Where’s the meat?’
The recipe in the cookbook was for a chorizo-style spicy sausage, but I’m shaking things up a bit and going for a tomatoey-herby number.
(Adapted from The Happy Herbivore’s Spicy Sausage recipe)
- 1t garlic granules
- 1t onion flakes
- 1/2t dried thyme
- 1/2t oregano
- 1/4t paprika
- 1/4t rosemary
- 1/8t cayenne pepper
- 1/2t sea salt
- Black pepper
- 4 sun dried tomatoes
- 1/2C cooked beans (cannelini, pinto, navy, whatever you have)
- 1/4C TVP
- 1/4C nutritional yeast
- 3/4C vital wheat gluten
- 1T soy
- 1C water
In a medium sized bowl, combine the bean mix with TVP, yeast, vital wheat gluten, soy and water. Mix well.
Divide mix up – I wanted smaller sausages so I ended up cutting these in half getting 8. Just depends how big you like your sausage. Cough.
Wrap up like a little present in aluminium foil. Make sure they are nice and tight (this will help you to get a nice snozzie shape). Twist ends.
- 1/2C cooked millet (I cooked mine in vege stock for a little flavour)
- 1/3 large cauliflower, steamed until tender
- Sea salt, black pepper AND white pepper to taste. I like seasoning.
Breakfast is the best. It’s the most exciting meal of the day. I would eat breakfast for every meal if I could (I do sometimes, but Viper tells me off). Now I have a hungry little monster to feed as well as myself, it’s a lot easier to double up and eat the same. You can use any grain, any dried fruit, any spice for this recipe – you are limited only by your imagination. I’m just on the apricot-coconut train after this. Due to the fact I’m cooking for a littlie; I’m more conscious about what goes into the food I prepare (no added salt, avoiding preservatives etc.) Particularly with dried fruit, look for varieties that are sulphur free and don’t add sugar. You can spot the sulphur free apricots from a mile off- they are brown compared to their fluorescent orange sulphuric cousins. Don’t let this put you off, as their flavour is amazing, almost like caramel. Deep, dark and deliciously sweet.
- 1/2t ground cinnamon
- 1/3C quinoa
- 1 400ml can coconut cream* or milk
- 5 organic sulphur-free turkish dried apricots, chopped finely (you can sub in any dried fruit)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan
*Note* If you use coconut cream, the mix will solidify if you chill it (thus being the nature of coconut oil) Just let it come back to room temperature, zap in microwave or reheat on stovetop.
I add a pinch of salt to mine- just brings out the flavour, similar to salting oats. Top with toasted coconut flakes, nuts, fresh fruit or just eat it as is. Admittedly, not the most attractive looking dish, but I’m not complaining while I’m eating something rich, sweet and really really good for me. If you’re complaining about appearances then I’m not sure we can be friends.
Now, if you want to get a little CRAZY with me, try this:
- Lightly beat 1 egg to 1 cup of your quinoa mix and add 1/4t baking powder. If you or your little one isn’t eating eggs yet, sub in a flax ‘egg’ – 1T ground flaxseed, mix in 3T water and left to ‘gel’ for 10 minutes.
- Spray a pan lightly with oil. I’m a geek and use a little cookie cutter, so they are all the same size. Old habits die hard.
- Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, over a moderate heat. Top with nut butter, jam, syrup, cream cheese, oh so many choices.
This is what happens when toys are left out in Boosty’s domain. Poor old mauled Ted… one eye and half a smile not looking so good. This Ted was a gift from the nurse after Misty’s 6 month vaccinations – I don’t think they give them to every baby, but Misty decided to spew on Ted – he was instantly ours. Boosty also enjoys Misty’s plastic spoons and clothes pegs. I have about 6 pegs left which is definitely not enough considering the amount of washing I do daily.
So I think this is going to end up as a weekly trial until Viper is satisfied – Muesli Bars. He said the first batch I ever made him were the best; I haven’t the foggiest what I put in that batch (hence my need for a blog).
1/3 C raisins, finely chopped
1/3 C coconut
1/3C sesame seeds
1/4C oat bran (or oatmeal)
1/4C rye flakes (rolled or quick oats would be fine)
1/4C cashews, chopped
1/4C almonds, chopped
1/4C pepita butter
1/4C soy milk
1/4t sea salt
- In a dry fry pan, toast (in batches depending on your size of pan) sesame seeds, coconut, oatbran, rye flakes. As I have said, my oven is broken, so to get that nice roasty toasty flavour, particularly from the nuts and seeds; I toast. You can keep them raw; it’s just a flavour thing.
- Mix all of the toasted ingredients with salt, dried fruit and cornflakes. Cornflakes came out of the woodwork today, as we have ridiculous amounts of them (Viper digs, oh he digs the flakes) and I knew he wouldn’t really appreciate a huge oat bran/rye contribution. Just a little added crunch factor (acutally I didn’t want to sacrifice all MY breakfast ingredients)
- Carefully melt together honey and nut butters. Again, I just used what I had on hand (pepita butter lurking in back of fridge). This time, due to the claggy nature of pepita butter, I decided to chuck in some milk for extra lubrication. Stir in 1/4C milk (dairy, rice, almond, it doesn’t matter). Simmer for a few minutes (see this post )
- Stir into dry mix, and working quickly, press into a lined baking tin.
- Leave to set… usually I chill in fridge to speed the process along, but this time it came together really quickly. May be due to the fact that I got distracted by Misty while boiling honey, and possibly cooked it a tad too long.
- Cut into bars and await Viper’s Verdict.
I love broccoli. It’s amazing; such a fresh, almost sweet flavour – and it looks like a little tree to boot. Viper and I used to live in Melbourne, near the Vietnamese precinct – we would get on our bikes and load up our backpacks (geeks) with fresh Chinese broccoli (massive bunches for $1 each). Lightly steamed with oyster sauce, woah daddy, it’s a winner. Oh now I want to go off on a tangent about all the glorious food to be eaten in Melbourne. I don’t miss Melbourne; I miss Melbourne’s FOOD. An example of such would be the Vegie Bar - I took my Mum here for lunch while she was visiting for a weekend. I think we went back twice in 24 hours. My Mum’s not even a vego. Enough said. If you ever go to Melbs, put on the Must Eat list.
Seems like the broccoli season is cranking here; there’s copious amounts of the stuff, and it’s super cheap. I’m loading up on the green goodies, big time. Broccoli usually ends up in Asian style stirfrys or salads in this household. Today, I’m experimenting. Not sure if it’s a good idea, but I’m going with it.
A broccoli pasta dish? A VEGAN broccoli pasta dish? There will be no hiding behind a thick creamy layer of cheese (which covers a multitude of cooking sins).
1 medium head of broccoli, roughly chopped
1 medium brown onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2C vegetable stock (check the ingredients if you are using stock cubes as there are some DODGY brands out there which include fish extract- in the supposed vegetarian versions).
1/4C nutritional yeast
1/4C vegan cream cheese
- Cook off onion and garlic in a fry pan. You just want to soften them here, let the onion go translucent, but don’t brown. It’s all about getting those flavours going. Set aside.
- Bring your stock to the boil, chuck in broccoli and cooked onion and garlic. This will not need much cooking; you want to retain the majority of nutrients from the broccoli and keep that gorgeous green colour. Once tender, take off heat immediately. Strain the vegetables, and keep your stock for thinning of the sauce . You can keep any leftover stock in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays for future dishes. Waste not want not; I’m cheap.
- Pulse veges in a food processor, adding about 3T of your stock liquid to get things moving.
- Add all other ingredients (except pasta!) to food processor, and mix until smooth, adding more stock if necessary
- Transfer back into a saucepan, and reheat when ready to use (you will need to add more stock on reheating as it will thicken a bit)
- Cook pasta according to directions on pack (I used a wholemeal spaghetti)
- Toss together cooked pasta and broccoli sauce. Serve with this little vegan ditty:
- Take the ‘guts’ out of the capsicum, rinse with water just to make sure you get all of the seeds out, and place on a baking tray.
- Whack the grill up high (200 degreesC/395F) with the tray on the 3rd rung down so they don’t burn before they cook. Keep an eye on them-you are looking for the skin to char and bubble, and the capsicum to get fragrant. After about 20 minutes, or when you are satisfied with the charring of your capsicum, turn off the grill and leave peppers in the oven to cool down.
- Peel skin off peppers and cut into strips
- Slice mushrooms. Saute in a fry pan which has been lightly misted with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.
- Slice your zuccinni, and pop under grill as you did the capsicum. Grill for 5minutes on each side.
- Slice zuccinni into ribbons and toss with mushrooms, capsicum and….
- Whisk together ingredients. This makes a tad more than needed, but it keeps well in the fridge. We just a have a bottle ready and waiting as it goes with anything. Viper impressed me during our ‘courtship,’ by whipping up this little number.
I’m kind of getting in the habit of making everything that Misty eats in pattie/bite/ball form. He’s at that stage where he wants to feed himself and gets angry at me trying to shove a spoon in his mouth. Alright then buddy, do it yourself- makes my job easier. Another bonus to serving meals like this is the vegetable-sneaking. Misty pretty much eats most veges at the moment but I’m sure he’ll go through a stage of rejecting some or all of them. Serve ‘em up a tasty meatball, and they’ll have no idea what veges were blended into it. Sucker.
Spag Bol Balls:
100g organic beef mince
1/2C cooked pasta
2t dried mixed Italian herbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
1T tomato paste
1 medjool date, chopped and softened in 1T boiling water
2 carrots, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
2T rolled oats (or breadcrumbs)
1T grated parmesan (optional)
The key to these little balls is actually overcooking your pasta. The extra starch helps them bind together without an egg (Viper ate the last few for breakfast, thanks dude).
Grate your carrots and place in food processor with garlic, herbs, pepper. Pulse to get nice and fine. Add tomato paste, mince, pasta, parmesan (if using) the softened date and water (I know this sounds weird but it’s for a touch of sweetness to offset the tomato; it works- trust me).
Pulse until a meaty paste is formed. Add the rolled oats to dry up the mix a bit.
Wet hands, roll mixture into balls. My oven is broken, so I pan fried these in batches of 8, in a fry pan lightly misted with olive oil spray. I kind of just rolled them round the pan for about 5minutes until they were nicely browned. The mix is quite soft, and the balls only firm up slightly on cooking- baking in a moderate oven for about 10-15 minutes (turning a few times) would be easier.
Viper stole some. Viper approves.
As a kid I used to LOVE lollies. Licorice all sorts, gummy worms, coke bottles, pebbles, jelly beans, jet planes, milk bottles, red frogs, I wasn’t fussy. Give me anything with a whopping sugar content, and I was a happy camper.
Milo wasn’t just a hot drink for me; it was a seasoning. It went on cereal, icecream (so GOOD) into my mouth by the spoonful – when I did actually make a hot Milo to drink; it consisted of 1cup of milk, 6 tablespoons of Milo and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Yeesh.
These days sugar isn’t such a great mate of mine. I try and avoid the refined stuff as it makes me feel like ARSE. I pay the price if I go overboard; stomach issues, huge energy slumps to the point of feeling as if I’m walking through concrete, and skin breakouts. All pretty normal reactions to a white sugar overload. I am totally a sweet tooth – give me the sweeties over savoury ANY DAY… I just try and keep it closer to nature. In cooking and just for general sweetening I use honey, agave, maple syrup, medjool dates, fruit juice and molasses. I eat ridiculous amounts of dried fruit. It seems to work for me; my energy stays pretty stable, and it’s a lot more interesting flavour wise to chop and change rather than just dip into the sugar bowl. In most recipes, I will try and replace refined sugars; especially now I’m cooking for Misty – at least he doesn’t know lollies exist yet. I am so going to pay the price when that day comes.
Sticky but not so sugary Onion Jam:
1kg onion (brown or red doesn’t matter)
2T honey dissolved in 4T of hot water (maple syrup or agave also work well)
1t oil of choice (olive or coconut are my usual suspects)
1t sea salt (or more to taste if you are a salt freak like me)
3T balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Peel onions, slice thinly into little ‘rainbows’ (that’s what they look like) or whatever takes your fancy, it’s pretty fool-proof. Chuck into a large pot with the honey dissolved in water and the oil.
Get the heat as LOW as possible and cook for around 1 hour, keeping an eye on it and stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking and burning. The onion will release all it’s water and sort of stew itself in that. The longer the onion cooks and reduces, the sweeter and jammier it becomes. It is a little time consuming, but definitly worth the effort as the end product is the onion’s natural flavour and sweetness – not just full of added sugar. When the onion has cooked down enough, add in the vinegar and allow to reduce again for around 20 minutes. Finish with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt – taste and adjust seasonings.
Once cool, spoon into jars and store in the fridge. The sky is the limit for this recipe – added herbs, spices, different vinegars – red wine is also a really nice addition (add in 2T and omit 1T of the vinegar). I kinda like it as is – keeping condiments simple is good so whatever you are eating them with is the star. This is awesome on grilled cheese sandwiches, with a barbequed sausage (apparently), on burgers (meat or veg varieties) and just as general food crack (makes food wicked knickers good).
|Made with red onions and a dash of shiraz|
I’m a cheapskate.
I know it, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
I actually do grate soap; Viper thinks I’m a nutter. I grate goat’s milk soap and use it with baking soda, white vinegar and tea tree oil to wash my clothes and Misty’s nappies etc. This little habit is not entirely a money saving one; I have super sensitive skin, and any kind of washing powder causes me to break out in eczema. It’s just a bonus the process is environmentally and budget-conscious.
I love a good bargain; most of my shopping is done at opp shops (thrift stores). I get a buzz off scoring something for a few measly bucks… it’s an addiction (one that is cheaper and healthier than crack). I’m sure my family and friends are sick of me saying, “and it was only $3!!” after they comment on some article of clothing or trinket. That’s why I’m a fridge scraper, I’m cheap. I think it’s part and parcel of my OCD; must get things cheaper, squirrel away savings for a rainy day that never comes.
Complete opposite of Viper. Let’s not go into that. I’ll just get mad.
While I scrimp and save, Viper buys records. The collection is this times 5 and growing.
Really though, I can’t complain too loudly; now we are parents (with no family nearby) we can’t go out to gigs anymore… no babysitters.
These days, it’s all about hanging out at home. Once Misty goes to bed, it’s our own music, our own beverages, at home. It’s actually really good. No crappy music; we are the DJs (with a pretty kick ass collection at our finger tips). No annoying drunk bogans breathing beer fumes and ciggie smoke in my face as they try and strike up a conversation that I do NOT want to be a part of. Best thing (again, I’m cheap) no watered down $8 drinks. I’m the bartender. Yeah.
The only thing I’m not stingy about is food. As Viper says, some girls buy shoes, I buy food. I have no problem spending on good food; as I have said before, Michael Pollan’s theory of buy better, eat less is one I adhere to. Forking out the bucks on a small amount of organic meat, eggs and local (not farmed) seafood is no skin off my nose. It tastes better, is better for my family, and at least the creatures that have been sacrificed to fill our bellies have had some form of decent life beforehand. So maybe I wear out my undies until the elastic snaps (gross; mmm saggy) and some (all) of my cardigans have holes in the elbows but at least we eat well and are healthy.
All in all, becoming parents has been a good kick in the bum to be sensible about spending. Basically we can’t go out and party like we used to, so we have adjusted into our new roles by altering our activities to suit. We can still enjoy a nice drink on a lovely spring evening, listening to cranking tunes in a cosy environment… we just don’t have to leave the house to do it any more, and that’s OK with me.
I’ve always found Mr Whippy creepy. The fact that they stalk through neighbourhoods, sculk around playgrounds and sift along the beachside playing that unnerving little jingle really irks me.
“Follow me children, I have delicious frosty confection inside my truck.”
There is something sordid and pied piperish about the whole things.
Maybe I’m just a twisted cynical woman. Don’t get me started on Christmas mall Santas.
Anyway, Mr Whippy (or the Whipster as I like to call him) does amuse me, as we seem to have a dedicated posse of them that peruse our neighbourhood daily. What makes it excellent entertainment is that Boosty starts howling when that little jingle starts up. You get that Whipster, Boosty. I used to love that cone that was dipped in the psychedelic pink sherbert stuff. mmm sugary sherberty chemicals; my poor parents.
On to the tasks of the day…..
- Misty food making
- Milk making and seed sprouting
- Now, to keep this one OUT of the pantry (fail, and fail once more)
I can’t stand the teething rusks that you get from the supermarket. They are disgusting. Misty doesn’t even like them; he sort of sucks on one, then abandons it (score for Boosty, who is the only one that seems to like them). I’m sure they taste OK; it’s the mess that gets to me – I deal with a lot of mess in my day, so I wouldn’t say I’m precious about mess. The rusks just seem to dissolve into this weird tacky paste that Misty enjoys smearing around (usually on me).
Our home made rusks (wuskies as I like to call them… man, I’m turning into one of those sicko baby-talkers, gross) are awesome as they make less mess, Misty seems to like them and woah are they CHEAP to make. I make the majority of our bread too which cheapens this exercise further, AND I have control over the ingredients that go in – Misty doesn’t need all those additives and weird numbers that seem to pop up everywhere in our food these days.
STEP 1 – Take a piece of bread (whatever you desire or your bub enjoys) Cut off crusts (you can actually make plain rusks with the crusts if you like, just use the same microwave method).
STEP 2 – Spread a teeny tiny bit of something (Vegemite, miso paste, sunflower butter, fruit preserves – or leave plain) on bread
STEP 3 – Roll up, squeezing the bread so it gets a bit doughy and sticks together. If your bread is a bit old and stale, pat with a little water – this should stop it cracking.
STEP4 – Microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Flip rusk and microwave again for a further 30 seconds. Depending on bread (water content) you may have to keep doing this a few more time – basically you want the rusk to go hard. If they unravel in the microwave, just squeeze them back together and maybe pat again with a little water between bouts of firing, careful, these are HOT.
I really don’t like microwaves, but they are useful for rusk making and coffee re- heating. Note to self: Don’t microwave for longer than 1 minute at a time because burnt vegemite smells like an ashtray’s asshole. Now my whole house reeks, it seriously smells like dirty ciggies.
That’s it! Wuskies for Misty. He totally digs these, AND they stay together really well. I don’t leave the house without a little bag of these bad boys. His latest favourite combo is my home made raisin bread with vegemite (just like Mum, mmm salty sweetie). If you don’t want to do the vegemite thing, plain rolls are good or you can just cut bread into soldiers and microwave until hard.
It’s not always a competition. Something I must remember. Why oh why do I have to always go one better? Been there, done that – I hear myself do it all the time, it’s not attractive. I annoy myself. I think it’s my perfectionist tendencies, as somehow in my warped mind, not having experienced something first is a sign of weakness. Go figure.
At least this does not translate through to Misty – I really get that whole ‘don’t compare babies,’ thing – each one is so different, and however much you want to rant on about how yours is the cutest, smartest, can walk/talk/say dodecahedron – there are another gazillion little maggots out there doing very similar things. Extreme parental pride can be a very scary thing – I reckon Misty is awesome but I highly doubt he’s going to be a nobel peace prize winner, or discover the cure to cancer. If he does, that’s great, but the probability of that is slim to none. As long as he turns out to be a good person, and is happy, then I have done an alright job.
Watch out, here he comes.
My thought of the day is to lower expectations. Of myself mainly. I had none for this curry, and it turned out delicious – maybe I just need to turn down the old pressure-on-self valve and cruise a bit more.
Expectation-less Eggplant Curry
2 eggplants cut into 2.5cm rounds, salted and left for 2 hours to draw moisture out.
4 small brown onions chopped
6 dates, chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3T tomato paste
3 garlic cloves finely sliced
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1T sea salt
1T ground ginger
1T ground cumin
1T curry powder
1t garam marsala
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder
1/2t chilli flakes
Toast spice mix in a dry skillet until fragrant and set aside.
Pat eggplant dry with paper towel. Cut into cm squares. Heat coconut oil in large pan, saute onion and garlic, do not brown. Add spice mix and cook for a further few minutes. Add dates, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, salt and bay leaves, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently for 40 minutes, or as long as you can, adding water as the mix reduces. Alternatively make in a slow cooker if you can’t be bothered tending to it – just cook off spices, onions, garlic etc, add eggplant and simmer a few minutes until soft. Then chuck it in slow cooker with liquid.
1C coconut milk
1C vegetable broth
Rinse quinoa, add broth and milk. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until all liquid has been absorbed.
Taste curry before serving – adjust seasonings, grind over black pepper, serve with coconut quinoa and…
1/2C plain thick yoghurt
1/4C fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/4C fresh mint, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/4t sea salt
1/2C peas (frozen is A-OK)
2t sweet chilli sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together, chill in fridge until ready to serve.
While I cook, Misty raids the pantry. Think you could have got something better than a potato, dude.