Monday, 20 February 2017

Chocolate blackberry cupcakes with hearts!

Some time before St Valentines Day I discovered some hearts on toothpicks that had been in my kitchen for over a year.  I was determined to use them this year.  So it had to be cupcakes.  And I wanted to make red velvet cupcakes but there was a tub of blackberries from the farmers market to be used.  So it was that on Valentines Day I found myself presenting E with a batch of chocolate blackberry cupcakes.  He was most pleased.

I confess it was a rush job.  Not much time to make the cupcakes, bake them (forgetting I had left them a few minutes more as I wrote emails), cool them by the door so I had time to frost them.  I was so pushed for time that I only iced half of them with a cream cheese frosting that I really liked.  A quick photo and then I rushed out the door.

When I got home from work, I found that Sylvia had invited a friend over to play.  They had found that some cupcakes needed icing and got to work.  In the fridge were a few tubs of leftover icing and Sylvia is very familiar with where I keep my sprinkles.  I was quite impressed with her handy work when I got home.

Apparently the cream cheese frosting was not a hit.  We had a conversation tonight about Sylvia wanting buttercream on cakes but she didn't want it too sweet.  I had to tell her the sad fact that buttercream is full of sugar.  There is no getting around it.  Sugar gives it structure.  I love trying alternatives.  The cream cheese frosting has very little sweetening.  It is like a cheesecake that doesn't have much sugar.

Now that we come to the question of sugar, I have to let you know that I think these cupcakes are not very sweet at all.  I was in such a hurry when I made them that I accidentally added chocolate that was meant for a chocolate ganache frosting.  When they came out of the oven they were not very sweet at all.  So little that I began to wonder if I had forgotten to add the 1/2 cup of sugar.  It is the sort of thing that is easy to do when dividing up sugar and racing the clock.  But I think I put it in. 

The cupcakes were on the verge of bitterness.  They were also quite dense without being stodgy.  I thought that they paired really well with the yoghurt frosting which added a little softness and sweetness, especially when quite fresh before it firmed up.  I also reduced the coffee and vanilla in the original recipe but decided next time I would leave them out altogether and have altered the recipe below accordingly.

These cupcakes were a fun experiment with blackberries, hearts and frosting.  And while we are not big on Valentines Day in our house, it is always nice to have some good food to help us enjoy the day.  I head heaps of blackberry syrup over and will let you know what I did with it soon.

I am sending these cupcakes to Treat Petite and We Should Cocoa.

More Valentine food on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Candy cane brownies
Cheese hearts
Mini Victoria sponges
Orange and rose petal biscuits
Raspberry and white chocolate scones

More Valentine posts elsewhere
Beetroot creme brulee with pomegranate seeds - Allotment to Kitchen
Beetroot soup - Thinly Spread
Loveheart styled shortbread biscuits - Only Crumbs Remain
Mocha chocolate strawberry tarts with dessert platter - Not Quite Nigella
Strawberry milkshake oreo cheesecake - The Baking Explorer
Valentine onigari hearts - The Veg Hog

Chocolate Blackberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Pastry Affair
Makes 12 cupcakes

310g fresh blackberries
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup castor sugar, divided
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Fresh blackberries, for garnish

Heat blackberries with 1/4 cup of sugar over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Strain to make about 1/2 cup blackberries syrup.  Set aside extra syrup for frosting and keep the pulp of the fruit to mix into batter.

Preheat oven to 180 C and line 12 hole cupcake pan.

Mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa, biscarb soda, and salt into a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in soy milk and oil.  Fold in blackberry puree and chocolate pieces.

Spoon into muffin cups (about 3/4 full) and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked. Cool on a wire rack and frost with below frosting or a buttercream frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Adapted from Laws of the Kitchen

200g cream cheese
1/4 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp blackberry syrup
1 tbsp honey

Stir cream cheese until creamy and gradually stir in yoghurt, blackberry syrup and honey.  This frosting is very soft when spread initially but sets firm by 10-12 hours and within less than 24 hours is starting to crack.

On the Stereo:
The Beekeeper: Tori Amos

Friday, 17 February 2017

Vegetarian stuffed picnic loaf

Some things are worth waiting for.  I have wanted to make a stuffed picnic loaf for a long time.  I am glad I waited until I could make my own sourdough loaf to make it with.  I also took great inspiration from Jac's colourfully layered loaf at Tinned Tomatoes.  As usual, I also had some of my own ideas to add.

The idea of stuffing a loaf of bread with cheese and vegies seems convenient for a picnic. I wondered about a vegan version with a layer of cashew cheese but went for the easy dairy option.  I also wasn't sure if this is what is known elsewhere as a muffuletta loaf but Wikipedia says it is made with a focaccia style bread.

I made a favourite sourdough loaf the day before I stuffed it, but I am sure it would have been fine on the same day.  Slicing the top off and pulling out the bread was a nervous moment.  If I got it wrong there was no second loaf to work on.  But it was fine.  Though when I look at photos, I think I could have pulled out a bit more of the innards of the loaf.  I was scared of making a hole but I think I probably could have plugged it if there was a tear.

Planning and layering the fillings was great fun.  I don't have a proper recipe with quantities but have written what I did at the end of the post.  I just used  any of the extra fillings in sandwiches.  There was a bit of preparation work with making the pesto and roasting the pumpkin and eggplant the day before.  The eggplant was roasted until quite well browned and seemed a little crisp when out of the oven but it softened overnight.

It was meant to be pressed in the fridge overnight but there is not much room to pile anything on top in our small fridge.  So I took it out a couple of hours before heading to the picnic and pressed it with a mixing bowl, some tins of beans and some heavy cookbooks.  (In retrospect the mixing bowl was a bit too small on the base to cover all of the loaf.)

Cutting the loaf open made me quite nervous.  I half expected it to fall apart.  But no!  It held together beautifully with gorgeous layers of colour.  I was a proud picnic loaf mama!
I sliced the loaf into wedges but pushed them back together into the loaf shape which I wrapped in roil to take to the picnic dinner before a Grease singalong at Moonlight Cinema.  It felt like very fancy picnic food.  I really loved this though I thought the sundried tomatoes were a bit tough to bit through.  Everything else was lovely and soft.  Maybe semi dried tomatoes might work better. 

E was less impressed.  He told me it was as good as he could expect of soggy bread with eggplant.  When I heated it for dinner the next night he much preferred it.  Though he still tells me it would be better without eggplant.  I was happy with it hot or cold.  Sylvia did not touch it.

The Moonlight Cinema trip was a birthday treat so we bought Golden Grass tickets which meant we had seats near the front on bean bags and could order food from roving waiters.  I had meant to bring cake with us but forgot so we ordered churros.  They were lovely.

We took Sylvia along with us as it wasn't a school night.  She was excited at being up late but fell asleep before the movie ended.  I grew up with a sister who was obsessed with Grease so was very excited at the singalong.  I did cringe a bit at all the sexual innuendo with Sylvia there but had to remember how that sort of stuff went straight over my head when I watched it as a kid.

Seeing the lyrics made me realise that I was singing the wrong words in some songs during all those years of singing along in my youth.  Those were the days before you could look up lyrics online.  I remember the kids dancing on the school oval to "Greased Lightning" at lunchtime and singing it at the school talent quest but never realised that song had so many technical car terms.  The singalong was lots of fun.  It had been too long since I had been at Moonlight cinema and I was glad to be back with my fancy picnic loaf.

I am sending this loaf to Meat Free Mondays.

Some favourite picnic fare on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cashew cheese stuffed dates (gv, v)
Cheese, onion and potato pasties
Dried fruit and coconut balls (gf, v)
Grubs
Pumpkin damper (v)
Sephardic spinach filo cigars
Tofu nut balls (gf, v)
Vegan salmon sushi (gf, v)

Vegetarian Stuffed Picnic Loaf
Serves 6-8
  • One round loaf of bread - I used sourdough
  • Home made pesto with lots of parmesan cheese in it
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Roasted eggplant (aubergine) slices
  • Sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • Pumpkin roasted in thin slices until soft but not crisp
  • More baby spinach
  • Pickled beetroot from a jar
Slice top off bread and keep lid for later.  Make a bread bowl by pulling out the insides to leave the crust around the edge.  (The innards of the loaf can be turned to breadcrumbs.)

Layer the remaining ingredients inside the bread bowl.  The loaf should be full at the end.  You can do more than one layer of ingredients if not enough.  Once it is full, return lid to the top of the loaf.

Leave in the fridge at least a few hours or overnight with something heavy on it.  (Or if like me you don't have much room in the fridge, leave with a few things on it overnight in the fridge and then take out and press with something heavy for an hour or two before cutting.)  This time out of the fridge also brought it back to room temperature.

To serve at the picnic, I cut it into 6-8 wedges at home , then wrapped in foil and in a bag and took it with us to unwrap at the picnic.  We ate the leftover wedges the next day heated in the oven wrapped in foil for 15 minutes at about 180 C.

*NOTES: The sun dried tomatoes were a bit chewy - maybe semi dried tomatoes next time.

On the Stereo:
Once: original soundtrack by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Green ombre chocolate cake revisited (vegan option)

For my birthday this year I revisited a favourite cake.  I loved both the rich chocolate cake and decorating with green icing.  It is like a meeting of my favourite things.  So why revist?  I had a few tweaks I wanted to try.  Firstly I made the chocolate cake vegan.  Secondly I thought it would look really cool to photograph it in front of the mural in my backyard.  And why not make a cake I love!

Another reason to make the cake was because since making that cake, I have a better selection of green food dyes.  They don't get used often.

I started to take step by step photos.  Midway through the decorating, my neighbour visited and I sort of forgot to take the photos.  But you might notice a few things here.

Firstly the cake sunk more than the non vegan cake.  So I turned it upside down.  It looked better when I decorated the cake but when I cut it into wedges, they were so crumbly down the bottom I didn't bother to photograph them.

Then I piped the first row of green dots around the cake.  But when I went to use the back of a spoon to smoodge down each icing dot, I found that I could not get the angle right unless the cake was right at the edge of the cake stand.  It would not work on the larger cake stand and I had to revert to my smaller cake stand so I could have the bowl of the spoon pressing downwards on each dot of icing and the handle straight down.

And finally, I was lazy and didn't clean out the piping bag between each row of colour to make sure they were clean.  So you can really see the marbled effect in the last layer.

Despite all the problems, I was still pleased with the cake.  It looked and tasted lovely.  Though I was happy to wipe off some of the icing which was a bit sweet.  Once the cake was made, E took Sylvia to the library and I stayed home and took photos of my cake.

Sadly, I had to give up my idea of photographing my cake in the backyard.  It was such a sunny day that the light was too bright for any decent photos.  Instead I pruned some of my plants (that needed it) and arranged them in a better lit space.  You might also notice a little green giraffe.  Sylvia and I both made one for a bit of fun in a quiet moment!  As you do!

For dinner, we had booked to go to I Carusi Pizza in East Brunswick.  As we were leaving my dad and three older nieces arrived with a mars bar doughnut from Bistro Morgan.  It looked really impressive with a syringe of caramel stuck into it.

The pizza was lovely.  E had a zucchini, chilli and mint one and I had a potato and rosemary one.  Sylvia had her usual margherita.  The dessert pizza looked so tempting but we had cake and doughnut at home.  I must return to try it.

So instead of dessert pizza, we came home to the cake.  By then Sylvia had decided her bearded green giraffe would be a cake topper.  We also had roses from the garden.  And candles.  She was tired and didn't have much cake before heading to bed.

As my birthday drew to a close, I was very pleased to relax with a slice of cake on the plate.  It was a little crumbly and very sticky.  The sort of cake to eat with a fork.  Great to make a day special.

I am sending this cake to Jibber Jabber's Love Cake event.

More fancy cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Avocado pound cake with cream cheese frosting
Chocolate cake decorated with strawberries and music
Chocolate olive oil cake with flower topping (gf, v)
Malteser and Milo mudcake
Nigella's Nutella Cake (gf)
Vegan chocolate (layer) cake (v)
Zucchini layer cake with cream cheese frosting (gf, v)

Ultimate vegan chocolate cake
Adapted from Drizzle and Drip via Green Gourmet Giraffe

100g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
100g butter or margarine

1/3 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup plain flour (I used wholemeal)
1/3 brown sugar
1/4 caster sugar
2 heaped tbsp cocoa
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 cup aqua faba
2 tbsp vanilla or plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 170 C.  Grease and line a 15cm round cake tin.  (For a 20cm round cake tin, you should double the recipe - as at Drizzle and Drip.)

Melt chocolate and butter in a small mixing bowl (in the microwave or if on stovetop use a small saucepan).  Set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Beat aqua faba for a minute or two until frothy.  Briefly beat in yoghurt and vinegar.

Pour melted chocolate mixture and aqua faba mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Scrape into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until it smells cooked, the side of the cake is pulling away from the side of the tin and the skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly.  Sit 5 minutes.  Turn out and cool on a cake rack.

NOTES: To make this vegan, make sure that margarine and yoghurt are vegan.  I used the same buttercream frosting as I previous used, however it got a bit soft once I reached the lower row - probably from too much colouring and stirring, so next time I need to rethink this.

On the Stereo:
La La Land Soundtrack

Sunday, 12 February 2017

ArtVo - visual illusions in the Docklands

We recently visited a most unusual art gallery.  It describes itself as an immersive art gallery.  However until we found it (in Docklands on Level 1 by the food court opposite the Melbourne Star), I had no idea of what it would be like.  It was lots of fun but also a little frustrating.

The blurb tells us that there are over 100 artworks over the walls and floors by older mostly Korean artists.  Everyone is encouraged to photograph and touch the artwork.  I didn't read much about it beforehand and didn't realise it was really all about taking photos or I would have brought a better camera than my phone.  However at $25 per adult, I am not likely to be back in a hurry.

There were heaps and heaps of photo opportunities.  In fact that is what the gallery is about.  It is not about looking at pictures but at stepping into them and photographing them.  When you looked at pictures through your camera they made sense as they became 3D.  Without the camera they sometimes did not work as a cohesive picture.  Having a camera-shy kids, this brought some challenges.  But even without that aspect, it was so busy on a weekend that often it was a matter of waiting for a moment to jump in, find a pose, take the photo on the spot on the floor where the best angle was recommended and then moving on quickly.

It was fascinating to see how we all came out in the images and we had a great laugh with our friends and their kids at some of the poses.  For a blog that avoids photos with faces, it has been hard to pick out some suitable photos.  Many are best with people in them to show perspective.  However I hope a few photos will give you an idea.  Watch out for a few hands patting animals and the like.  I'd recommend a trip here for a quirky day out, especially if you have ever wanted to be photographed in a snow dome, climbing the walls, in a swimming pool, taming a lion or walking over a chasm.













ArtVo Immersive Gallery
26 Star Crescent
Level 1, Harbour Town (adjacent to the Groove Train)
Docklands, Melbourne
Open 7 days a week, 10am-6pm
ArtVo website

Friday, 10 February 2017

Chickpea, peach and pumpkin curry

Even when I try to meal-plan my plans go astray.  I chanced upon Jack Monroe's Peach and Chickpea Curry.  It used tinned stewed peaches.  But it is stone fruit season here so I thought I would use fresh peaches.  The I realised the flesh on my ripe peaches would dissolve in no time and the skins would float in the curry.  Luckily I remembered some stewed peaches rejected by Sylvia that I could use instead.  Then I tinkered with the recipe to use up vegies in the fridge and my curry was complete.  And delicious!

The curry is slightly sweet but in a savoury and spicy way.  I served it with brown rice.  (For those who read a previous curry post about my brown rice tin being emptied to save a shaver that had gone into the water, yes the shaver survived!  Phew!)  I also used up the last of some rocket just so we could have a bit of greenery.  You can probably see that this is not a traditional Indian curry but more the sort that the Anglo world used to make in the 1970s.  As I am quite fond of some retro food, I really loved this.

I still had the fresh peaches so I stewed these for breakfasts.  I have been doing well this summer in rescuing any stone fruit that is getting a bit soft and neglected by stewing it.  Home stewed fruit is far superior to the bought sort.  Except when it comes to this curry.  As stone fruit season never lasts long enough, I am sure we will soon have more tinned peaches in the house if only just to make this curry again. 

I am sending this curry to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Meat Free Mondays, My Legume Love Affair and No Waste Food Challenge.

More fruit in curried dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana curry (gf, v)
Chickpea and potato curry with mango chutney (gf, v)
Curried apple soup (gf)
Pumpkin samosas with nectarine marmalade and raita (v)
Sausage curry casserole with pineapple (v)
Watermelon curry (gf, v)

Chickpea peach and pumpkin curry
Adapted from Jack Monroe
Serves 4-6

splash of oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp dried cumin
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp seeded mustard
1 tsp chilli paste
400g tin diced tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
250g tinned stewed peaches
1 1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/4 cup water

Fry onion, carrot and celery in oil over medium heat until softening.  Add garlic, cumin, ginger, seeded mustard, chilli paste and continue frying for about a minute.  Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, peaches, stock powder and water.  Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

On the stereo:
Music of the Kabarett: Various Artists

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Queen Victoria Summer Night Market 2017

We often celebrate Burns Night at our place because E is Scottish.  But when I found that Sylvia would be at a sleepover and E at ukulele practice I decided to go the Queen Victoria Night Market for tea.  I find crowds so much easier to negotiate alone.  The vegetarian options were a tyranny of choice.  I looked for some unusual dishes to try but did return to some favourites.

We love the Coburg Night Market 2016 that is held weekly in December.  It is the little sister of the night market at the sprawling Queen Victoria Market which is held from November to March on Wednesday evenings.  Actually only a few sheds are open during the night market.  Yet, there are still so many stalls that it is still overwhelming.  I focused mainly on the food stalls, with barely any energy left for the craft stalls.

It must be about 10 years since I last went to the Queen Vic Night Market with my parents and siblings.  We found a table where we ate our tea all those years ago.  On this visit I did not like my chances of finding a seat.  There are many seats and even more bottoms searching for a place of rest.  I went with the street food vibe and ate on the go.

Firstly I wandered around to see every stall, which is far easier to do when alone.  While some of the stalls were the sort of dishes I am familiar with - such as paella, falafel, noodles, dumplings, cheese toasties and vegan curry - I was curious about some others. 

It was fun just checking out each menu.  (Usually Sylvia or E are keen to move along.)  I really loved the look of the stalls with the Victorian brickwork behind them.  I would have loved to try the following:
  • Raclette fondue's La Traditionelle (sauted potato with herbs, cornichons, salad, melted cheese for $11).
  • Souvas' Vegetarian meal (zucchini rissoles with chips, lettuce, tomato, onion and spicy capsicum sauce for $10).
  • Nunu's mushroom and leek dumplings (I think these were 3 for $12).
  • Three Ethiopian curries with injera bread at the Injera Hut for $10.
  • Boss Man Food's jerk roasted corn on the cob for $6.
  • Most of the dishes at Rice and Dice.

I was too full to try some of the above dishes, forgot about some and couldn't be bothered queuing for others.  I also decided to give Sylvia a call at her sleepover to see how she was going.  It took ages to make my way out of the shed.  It was incredibly busy.  I think I arrived about 6ish and it was already really busy and just got busier. 

The first place I stopped to eat was the wonderfully named Devils and Hoppers.  I had never heard of hoppers before but Faye had been excited about them and she is always on the ball with interesting food.  According to Wikipedia they also go by the name Appam and are Sri Lankan rice pancakes cooked in a bowl shape.  I had a plain hopper with dal ($4).  I spooned it into my hopper and rolled it up.  This was delicious.  I wasn't at all interested in the egg filled hoppers but would have liked to try the string hoppers (which are made with egg but I was told they could be vegan) if the queue was not so long.

The next dish I tried was The Cypriot Kitchen's Haloumi Chips, served with sesame black seeds, fresh herbs and your coice of sweet yoghurt sauce or beetroot tzatziki ($10).  I queued for ages and enjoyed watching the nimble dance of the many busy staff around each other.  They made a great theatre of calling out numbers when dishes were ready. 

Yet I was disappointed with my dish.  I think my expectations were a bit awry.  I had expected beetroot tzatziki that was chunky with lots of grated beetroot piled on the chips.  Instead it was a drizzle of light pink sauce.  The haloumi chips were really good but so salty that I could not eat many.  This was more of a side dish than I expected.  Good but I just couldn't even get through half of it.

My mouth was so salty that I went gasping to the Lemonade stall for a cool refreshing glass.  It was so welcome that I almost went back for a second glass.  I asked where the lemons came from and they said local but when I asked where the staff didn't know.  I was curious as there seem to have been less local lemons and limes about lately.

I loved looking at all the tempting desserts.  The pavolva stall with mini pavlovas and choose your own toppings seemed a great idea, if only I loved pavlova.  The New York waffles looked amazing as did the churros and the above Tim Tam Shake (Creamy chocolate ice cream stuffed with Tim Tam biscuits, topped with fresh cream, more Tim Tams and a Nutella Doughnut.  But why must they always douse these fancy shakes in cream! I was less enthused by the Dutch pancakes, Holy Cannoly and Mercato Gelati.

Instead of trying something new I went with my favourite Queen Vic comfort food; the jam doughnut from the American Doughnut Kitchen van.  I still think they are the bestest doughnuts ever and have such happy childhood memories of these doughnuts.  (Thanks to my dad for passing on that love!) 

I remember in high school being taken by a friend's parents to the Queen Vic Market and having churros.  It was my first experience of churros.  I think until then I had not even realised they existed.  I liked them but they seemed so foreign and odd compared to the jam doughnuts that are one of my first culinary loves1

And then I was still peckish so I went to Rice and Dice.  It was hard to choose what to eat.  They have the amazing Indian nachos that I had at the Coburg Night Market late last year but I remember how filling they were.  Everything looked really good - the masala, the dumplings, the noodles.

I went for the stuffed roti with curry vegetables.  It came with a yoghurt sauce and was delicious.  I had been worried that the curry vegetables would be drippy but they weren't at all.  They were a wee bit spicy but nothing to bother me too much.

I also bought some Bretzel large soft pretzels to take home for the next day.  I think Sylvia and E might have liked a sweet one but I really love the plain salted ones. 

There is lots more to see, especially lots of craft and clothes shops that I didn't get a chance to visit because it was too late by the time I finished checking out all the food,  I did notice that, like the food, there were a few familiar stalls from the Coburg Night Market.

There were lots of rainbow flags for Gay pride, some colourful dragons for Chinese New Year but nothing about Burns Night at the market.  And for that little bit of quirkiness, I passed a guitar paying Dark Vader busker on the way to take the tram home.  I'd love to get back to the Night Market but there are not many weeks left before it closes as the cooler weather comes to Melbourne. 

Summer Night Market
Queen Victoria Market 
Corner Queen Street and Therry Street
Wednesday nights 5-10pm
16 November 2016 to 8 March 2017
http://www.thenightmarket.com.au/

Sunday, 5 February 2017

In my kitchen - February 2017

While January is a start up month, February always signifies that the year really and truly has begun.  Everyone has forgotten new year's resolutions, the kids are back to school and we are all waiting for summer to be over!  While I didn't post a lot of recipes in January, I have made lots of meals and tried to take quick snaps of a lot of these.  As well as a few other bits and bobs.

The top photo is Broccoli and spinach soup from Tinned Tomatoes.  I tweaked it slightly to adjust to what was in the fridge.  It was gloriously green and tasty but a lot thinner than I expected.  So I put in some sushi seasoned rice on the first night.  After that it thickened slightly and I enjoyed drinking it out of a mug.

I bought this Praise 99% fat free coleslaw dressing because it is egg free.  It made me think I really should go to some health food shops and buy a decent vegan mayonnaise.  Meanwhile, it has been great for salads in summer, such as this pasta, bean and tofu bacon salad I made a few weeks back.

We gave Sylvia this pack of Harry Potter playing cards for Christmas.  She just loves it.  I looked up a game that I played as a kid called Follow the Ace.  It is like Uno but with playing cards.  I thanked my uncle for teaching it to me.  He could not remember it.  Now I am not sure who taught me.  It has been a good game for the holidays.

While most of my camembert went onto tarts, I had a little leftover.  It went into this most excellent salad roll with purple coleslaw, spinach, grated carrot.

I served the last of my orange baked tofu with beetroot and lentil salad, coleslaw, cherry tomatoes, and olives.  A most pleasing meal.

It has been a while since I have photographed Sylvia's meals.  I need to make more meals that she can share with us but some days she still has her dinner plain.  She continues to love tofu and is quite taken with the Japanese seasoned tofu we buy at the supermarket.  On this day she also had cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumber (her favourite vegetables of the moment) and the original barbecue shapes.  I can't think why Arnotts changed the barbecue shapes seasoning but it was so unpopular that now they have the silly situation of selling the new version and the original version.

And I want to point out the flowery headband in the photo.  It was bought at Pumpkin Patch.  I am quite sad about their stores closing.  We had one day in the holidays where we managed to go to their closing down sales in both DFO and Highpoint and made quite a few bargain purchases, including the headband.

On the same day we bought the headband, we had quite a shopping spree buying clothes and sandals for Sylvia as well as this pair of Anolon frypans.  I really love my Scanpan frypan but it has got old and tatty on the surface.  Reading about the dangers of non-stick cookware recently has made me less comfortable with the wear and tear on the surface.  This one claims to be PFOA free but it seems there are other chemicals to be aware of too.

Here is another colourful bowl of food.  I have been making a few meals from But I Could Never Go Vegan.  This bowl includes the sunflower sausage from the cookbook.  This sausage is really tasty and the texture is surprisingly meaty and a goo substitute for mince meat.  I have used some in pasta with a tomato sauce and it worked really well.   My bowl dinner  also includes leftover potato salad, leftover pasta, grated carrot, cherry tomatoes and baby spinach. 

I recently posted about my curry made with this chickpea tofu.  It was quite fortuitous finding this packet of tofu in the supermarket.  Having read some of the comments, I am now keen to try making the tofu myself.  But I have been saying that about soy tofu for years.  One day ....

I think it must have been Australia Day bringing out the patriot in me that prompted an orgy of Aussie classic products.  I don't know that I have ever bought a packet of Arnotts Assorted Creams before.  I can sing the song and have eaten plenty of them.  I can confirm that the orange creams are always the last to go.  Though I don't know where the melting moments went!  Also in the purchases are Cheezels, Barbecue Shapes (the Originals), Vegemite Cheeseybite snacks, and a pumpkin, caramelised onion and cashew dip that was nice.

The roses in the front garden are blooming.  Here is one that came indoors.

Finally I tried a vegan chicken nugget recipe last week.  The artichoke and chickpea filling intrigued me.  It was a lot of work for the crumbly nuggets that did not please Sylvia and did not taste much like chicken.  Too much polenta in them I think which made them sandy textured.  The only thing that pleased me was that I decided to use some sourdough starter in the recipe. 

However the leftover nuggets were great when chopped up on a pizza with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, cheese and rocket.  One of the best pizzas I have made in quite some time.


I am sending this post to Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 February .  Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens.