Wednesday 31 October 2012

Pumpkin damper and vegan mofo reflections

As All Hallows Eve approaches, I am pleased to present you with a spooky pumpkin damper.  Actually I am more delighted that it tastes like the damper that my mum used to make than I am impressed with the scary visage.  Halloween is not a tradition that I grew up with but damper is.  This is also the last Vegan MoFo post for 2012 so I will round up the month of vegan food with some reflections and photos of recipes that I never got to post.

Broccoli bean cheeze burgers.  Adapted from Healthy Happy Life - Not bad but not sure it was the finest moment with my Chickpea and Hemp Seed Cheeze
In some ways, Vegan MoFo 2012 was easier than last year.  I knew the drill.  I prepared.  I was even able to finally return to ideas from last year's mofo.  This year we regularly buy soy milk and Nuttalex margarine rather than cow milk and butter, so it was easy to make dairy-free recipes.  I have had more success with vegan cheese that was also fun to experiment with.  Baking without eggs is still a challenge (especially in pancakes), but it is becoming easier.  A few friends doing Vegan MoFo also made it easier.

Broccoli and Tofu Cannaloni from Veganise This!  I liked the better the second night but still was a little unsure about the uncooked broccoli in the filling.
In other ways, this year was harder.  I seem to be busier than ever.  Work is hectic as we prepare for a big event.  My computer started to play up on me.  Sylvia and I have been poorly.  Spammers have been getting worse.  I have struggled to keep up with reading and commenting on other blogs.

So it is an achievement that I managed to upload 26 Vegan MoFo posts in October.  Not as impressive as last year's 31 posts but far above the minimum 20 posts that I had been aiming fot.  As you will see by some of the photos in this post, I had more recipes and ideas than I had time and energy to write up.
 Cheezy crackers - I combined Don't Fear the Vegan's Cheesey Crackers and my Polenta Parmesan Crackers.  I liked them but these were a little crumbly. 
Other highlights included:

Salad of  cucumber, roast beetroot, avocado, spinach, capsicum and corn, dressed with chocolate vinaigrette and some vegie fingers from St Kilda Farmers Market.  Delicious.
Now that Vegan MoFo is over, I anticipate that my blog will quieten down.  We have a big event coming up at work soon and then we are heading to Scotland for 3 weeks starting the last week of November.  That means we will get home just in time to panic about Christmas in Australia.  It all seems a little overwhelming right now but I can't wait for our Scottish holiday.

Given that I will be busy, I have decided to turn on the captcha code for comments.  Apologies to those who do comment regularly.  I hate trying to decipher Google's captcha code myself.  But I am getting so much spam that it is making it harder to moderate comments.

More salad with  chocolate vinaigrette.  This time black beans, cucumber, avocado, baby spinach and red capsicum.  Great with pizza. 
And finally I return to the recipe. For those who aren't familiar with damper (see below picture), this is traditional Australian bush food.  The sort of thing a swagman would cook over his campfire to eat with billy tea.  I found the recipe in a cookbook I picked up at a school fete on the weekend.  It appealed because it was simple and it was a great way to use up the rest of my huge tin of pumpkin puree.

I have only made damper once before in the early days of my blog. The buttermilk and lemon myrtle damper was too fancy and more interesting than authentic.  (Many damper recipes that I see seem to more scone or bread than proper plain old damper.)  Adding pumpkin is not at all authentic.  Yet it filled me with nostalgia.  Ripping chunks of damper from the loaf was exactly what we used to do with my mum's damper.  And though there was a slight taste of pumpkin, the damper tasted plain enough to remind me of my mum's.

Sylvia proved that she is an Aussie kid and wanted it spread with some vegemite. E was just glad to have some fresh bread of any sort.  I loved some damper with my vegie soup for dinner.

More pumpkin recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe

Pumpkin Damper
Adapted from Australian Women's Weekly BBQ Cookbook via Recipes from the Childish Plot (Spensley Street Primary School, 2011)

350g white self raising flour
scant 1/4 tsp salt
20g butter or margarine
1 cup mashed pumpkin
4-5 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 220 C and lightly grease an oven tray.  Rub butter into flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add pumpkin and slowly add water until you have a soft sticky dough.  Lightly knead on a floured surface.  Shape into a circle about 5cm high and place on greased tray.  Score with a knife a few times. Bake at 220 C for 10 minutes and then bake for another 20-30 minutes at 180 C (See note).

NOTE: the recipe didn't say how to tell it was ready.  I found that I could see where the crack was that it wasn't quite cooked inside.  I returned it to the oven for 20 minutes.  Next time I might baked it at a higher temperature for longer before turning down the oven (but my oven is quite slow at the best of times).  Apart from looking at and tapping the damper, I suggest being alert to when it smells cooked.

On the Stereo:

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo p

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Vegan Mofo Quicklinks 2012

Vegan MoFo produces a wealth of brilliant ideas for cooking vegan food.  Last year I produced two round-ups of inspirational recipes.  I have returned to those posts when I need ideas.  This year I haven't had as much time to visit other blogs but I have been inspired by what I have seen.  Here is just a taste of the posts I have loved reading and a few of the blogs I have been delighted to discover (as well as a few old friends).

Orange and Red Dinners
Pumpkin marinated tofu or tempeh - Vegan Fazoo
Roasted ratatouille pizza with chickpea cheeze sauce - Keepin' it Kind
Roasted red pepper cheese in mac and cheese - Olives for Dinner
Savoury tomato protein pancakes - Spabettie
Vegan lentil loaf - {almost} Vegan

Kale and Greens for Dinner
Caramelised onion, sweet potato and kale on socca pizza - Vegan Lisa
Drunken broccoli cheeze soup - Fo' Reals Mom
Fried sweet pea ravioli with macadamia cream sauce - Big Mike's Eats
Hoecakes florentine with hollandaise sauce - Snarky Vegan
Kale, cashew ricotta and olive tart with buckwheat pastry - From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours
Zeljanica (Spinach and tofu in filo) - Veganise This!
Spinach Fatayer (aka Lebanese Spinach Pies) - Louise by Degrees

Savoury Snacks
Garlic herb bannocks - Cookbook Afficianado
Herbed popcorn - Veg-Am
Khatchapuri (Yeasted pies with tofu farmer cheez) - An Unrefined Vegan
Piccadilly chickpeas - Snacking on Sunshine
Sunflower seed, pepita and hemp seed bread spread - An Unrefined Vegan

Something Fun
Halloween ghost pizzas - Vegan Richa
Hungry Caterpillar fruit snacks - Fried Dandelions
Peppermint stars for hot chocolate - Vegan Lisa

Sweet Tooth's Delight
Almond coconut fudge balls - Bite Sized Thoughts
Applesauce muffins - Hell Yeah It's Vegan
Cinnamon salted caramel brownies - Baker Bettie
Chocolate quinoa crackers - Fridge Scrapings
Coco-nut quinoa bites - Vegan Yack Attack
Pumpkin bread - via Short Silly Vegan
Pumpkin choc chip pancakes - La Vida Vegga

Great idea
Home made tofu - Veganise This
Herb substitution chart - Don't Fear the Vegan
First Attempt (and failure) at Homemade Food Coloring - From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.

Monday 29 October 2012

Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers

After buying hemp seeds, I had my eye on Kari's recipe for Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers for some time.  I finally made them after a busy day of shoe shopping, dancing around the kitchen, answering important questions like where was Sylvia before she was born, and letting the cat in and out of the back door.

I had a yen to eat them in a sandwich.  I had home made bread, made some coconut bacon and chopped spinach and tomato.  I wish I could tell you the burgers were a roaring success.  Unfortunately it was a charcoal feast.  I made them rather thin and got distracted while they cooked under the grill.

The next night I had a yen for chips on the way home from work.  We needed a few things at the supermarket.  I came away with a bag of potato gems (I think they call them tater tots in America) and other junk food that I don't usually buy.  Just goes to show that I shouldn't go grocery shopping when tired after work.  The potato gems were very nice with the burgers, salad and corn on the cob.

I made a few changes to Kari's recipe.  One was to use spring onions rather than raw brown onions in the mixture and I wonder if the brown onions might have given more bite.  I used less water and added in some mustard.

I often cook my burgers under the grill but in this case I found that they really were better when baked.  The oven baked ones were nicely cooked and tasted lovely.  In fact, they reminded me a bit of vegie burgers that I might buy.  By that I don't mean they were overly processed.  Rather I mean they were substantial and held together well.  A recipe to try again and maybe try with mashed pumpkin.

I am sending these to Ricki for Wellness Weekends, an event celebrating healthy vegan food.

Other vegan burgers on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sweet potato, chickpea and hemp seed burgers
Adapted from Bite Sized Thoughts
serves 4

2 cups mashed sweet potato
400g tin (1 1/2 cups) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup LSA (ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tsp chia seeds
2 tbsp hemp seeds (or sesame seeds, if you don't have hemp)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp seeded mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp lavendar salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
oil spray, for grilling

Roughly mash chickpeas and mix with all ingredients until you have a smooth and fairly thick mixture. Check and adjust seasoning.   If you have time, rest mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Using damp hands, grab handfuls of mixture and flatten into burgers.  Place on a tray lined with baking paper.  Spray with oil.  Bake at 180 C for 30 minutes one side and (respraying) 15 minutes the other side or until golden brown.  Just as good reheated in the oven the next night.

On the Stereo:
Music to Watch Girls Go By: Various Artists

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Nut free vegan sausage rolls

I had odd dreams last night about visiting a cafe that looked great but when I learned to look at it the right way it was a bit like the emperor's new clothes - the decorations were all a sham and just a trick of the eyes.  I was given a bunch of brochures to hand out.  They too were not as they at first seemed.  Once I knew how to look, I found they were promoting some crazy extreme political party.

Perhaps the dream was due to my voting in the council elections yesterday.  Or maybe it was my subconscious reflecting on an odd experience of finding my Rennie Mackintosh pendant that I tossed into a drawer after the chain broke recently.  I've worn this pendant almost every day for years.  Yet I couldn't find it.  Perhaps I own too many Rennie Mackintosh pendants.  I just couldn't recognise it among the other pendants.  In fact I thought it was lost.  I chose another.  I found it was actually the pendant I have been wearing daily.

Fortunately for vegetarians and vegans, things not being what they seem is not always a bad thing.  Yes, I am talking about faux meat.  It does make me nervous at times.  I can be more likely to believe my eyes or my tastebuds than my ears.  But when it comes to sausage rolls, I am happy to find that it is possible to make vegetarian sausage rolls that might even fool hardened carnivores.  Take my favourite Vegetarian Sausage Roll recipe (courtesy of Liz O'Brien via Cindy and Michael).

It is a brilliant recipe.  The only problem is that it has nuts in it.  Sylvia's child care centre has a ban on nuts.  As do, or so I have heard, many schools.  Given that Sylvia has a peanut allergy herself, I understand.  Yet it makes it hard to share.  As sausage rolls are such great kids finger food, I am seeking a nut free recipe.  When Cindy and Michael mentioned that a new cookbook by Leigh Drew, Wrapped in Pastry, had a recipe for sausage rolls, I was interested.  Especially when I saw it was nut free as well as vegan.

My first opportunity to try the recipe was for my niece Ashton's party.  I made some minor tweaks to the recipe.  It looked meaty, though not as red as Leigh's, but it was not quite right for me.  My main complaint was that the the texture was wrong.  Too pasty.  Not enough structure.  These were far more seasoned than my regular recipe.  In fact I had used less pepper but worried it was too much.  It settled once cooked but I am not sure so much was needed.  The spices seem more meat pie than sausage roll.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoyed them.  Just not as much as my regular sausage rolls.  And I am being quite critical because I went on to experiment.  The sausage rolls below are from my nephew, Cooper's birthday party.  I think they might be the Cranks recipe but it is months ago and my memory is failing me.  Let me explain.  Around the time that I was trying these sausage rolls, I asked if anyone had the recipe for Cranks sausage rolls.

While no one had the recipe for the ones I loved to buy at Cranks restaurant in Covent Garden, a kind reader (thanks Shelagh) sent me a recipe for Cranks Savoury Mix that could be used to stuff sausage rolls.  I was interested to try them.  The recipe was far plainer and stodgier than Leigh's.  I quite enjoyed it, even though I got the seasoning a bit confused when I used nutritional yeast flakes instead of yeast extract.  The below photos is definitely one of the Cranks recipe.  Maybe I will try it again with different seasoning.

I still had dreams of trying Leigh's sausage rolls again.  The recipe appealed because it was gluten free - and I often take sausage rolls to family get-togethers where there are people with gf diets.  Leigh's recipe had instructed to blend the filling.  I wanted to try it unblended.  It had cooked quinoa which seemed more likely to imitate the texture of meat when whole rather than blended.

I made Leigh's sausage rolls - part II for my sister Fran's birthday.  As you might have guessed about the above photo, I tried making some gf pastry (using this hot water pastry recipe but with a commercial GF flour) and it was a disaster.  The filling was far more pleasing.  I added less water and more besan, and didn't blend the mixture.  I thought the texture was much improved.

These recipes make a lot of sausage rolls.  I usually end up with leftovers to put in the freezer.  At one stage I had two different sorts, which is why I have a photo at the top of the post of both recipes.  We sometimes take out a few for weekend lunches.  Even better, is having some sausage rolls in the freezer when there is another get-together on.

This last photo is of the last occasion where I have taken sausage rolls over the last few months.  It was when we watched the AFL Grand Final at my mum and dad's place.  The match was a nailbiter (and I was glad that Sydney won).  I didn't get to see much of it because I was too busy herding small children.  At half time, the kids made fish out of paper plates and decorated them.  Great craft fun.  And I was pleased to have some sausage rolls for nibbles.  It is great to keep up with tradition, or at least to look like I do.

Other sausage roll recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Liz O'Brien's vegetarian sausage rolls
GF vegetarian sausage rolls (Liz O'Brien's)
Vegan sausage rolls (Liz O'Brien's)
Vegetarian sausage rolls (my pre-Liz O'Brien's recipe)

Leigh's vegan sausage ro
Adapted from Wrapped in Pastry by Leigh Drew (2012) - original recipe here
Makes about 4 dozen

1/2 cup quinoa (red or white)
1 1/2 cups water + 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped - food processor
3 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped (about 1 bulb)
2 cups brown lentils (cooked or canned)
3 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon pepper (I used a bush pepper mix) - maybe less
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup water
about 10-15 sage leaves, finely chopped
handful chopped parsley
2/3 cup besan flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt maybe less
To assemble
4 sheets vegan puff pastry
soy milk
sesame seeds
To make the filling:

In a medium saucepan (with lid on) simmer quinoa in the water and stock powder for about 20 minutes or until (most) water is absorbed.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, fry onions in oil over medium heat for at least 5 minutes until translucent.  I cooked mine gently over medium low heat while I pottered and prepared the garlic.  Add garlic and stir for about 1 minute.

Stir in the cooked quinoa,  brown lentils, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, pepper, nutmeg, tomato paste and water.  Simmer gently, stirring occasionally until liquid has been absorbed.  This should take about 15-20 minutes.  Stir in besan and nutritional yeast flakes.  Check seasoning and adjust to taste.  Cool.

To assemble sausage rolls:

Place the first sheet of puff pastry on a flat surface and cut it in half, into two rectangles. Spoon the non-sausage mix down the centre third of each rectangle. Brush one long edge with milk and fold in the long edges so the one with milk overlaps the other edge.

Repeat with other pieces of puff pastry. When all pastry is filled, place sausage rolls seam down on a greased or baking-paper lined baking tray.  Brush pastry with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Use a sharp knife to slash deep marks across the pastry to mark out about 6 sausage rolls. The knife slashes indicate where to cut them after cooking (they can be bigger if you desire).

Bake sausage rolls at 220C for 20 minutes. I cut up the sausage rolls after they are cooked so the ends don’t dry out too much and because they are easier to cut wen partly cooked (esp if you have time to cool a bit first) than when raw.

The sausage rolls that you want to eat now should be returned to the oven for an additional 10 minutes or til golden brown.  Completely cool any rolls that you don’t want to eat straight away. These can be kept in the fridge or freezer for later. The leftovers can go straight from the freezer into a 220 C oven to cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with tomato sauce.

Cranks Savoury Mix
adapted from The Cranks Recipe Book by David Canter, Kay Canter and Daphne Swann (1985)
Makes about 2lb or 1 kg of mixture

100g or 4oz yellow split peas
1 medium carrot
1 medium onion
450ml or 3/4 pint water
175g or 6 oz coarse oatmeal - I used rolled oats
1 tbsp or 15ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp or 10ml yeast extract - I used nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp or 15ml tomato paste
1 tsp or 5ml thyme - I used mixed herbs
1 tsp or 5ml sage - I used mixed herbs here too
2 tbsp or 30ml parsley - I assume this means fresh
100g or 4oz fresh breadcrumbs 4oz (100g) - I used wholemeal
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
2 tsp salt, or to taste (less if using yeast extract rather than yeast flakes)

Soak the peas in water (ideally this should be overnight but I poured boiling water on mine in the morning and they were ready by early afternoon). Grate the carrot and onion. Drain peas and add to 450ml or 3/4 pint of water, carrot and onion in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the oatmeal and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. By the time I was ready to stir in breadcrumbs and parsley it was cool and easiest way to mix was by hand because it was quite a stiff mixture. Adjust seasoning to taste.

To make into sausage rolls, follow recipe instructions above on how to assemble.

On the Stereo:
Bruder des Schattens - Sohne des Lichts: Popul Vuh

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.

Friday 26 October 2012

Pumpkin sauce and a healthy dinner bowl

That tin of pumpkin puree that I used for pumpkin scrolls and chocolate pumpkin digestives was huge.  I love pumpkin in savoury food so I made a simple sauce with some of the puree.  I still have leftover pumpkin puree in my fridge.  Here is what I did for the sauce.  It is worth remembering.

The pumpkin sauce was inspired by another pumpkin sauce.  I made it on a night when I didn't have a clue what to make for dinner.  I made the sauce, cooked up some quinoa and prepared some vegies.  To serve I just mixed them all up.  It was delicious - very savoury but lightened by the basil.  A healthy dinner.  I should make this sort of meal more often.

PS E says it is great on toast with mustard!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Nut Roast Lasagna
Three years ago: The joy of mouldy soy cheese and other quirky notes

Pumpkin sauce

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
pinch pepper
1 tbsp miso
half bunch of basil, roughly chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Roughly blend with a hand held blender so the basil is blended. Heat sauce in microwave.  Suggest serving with quinoa and vegies.

On the stereo:
Tigetmilk: Belle and Sebastian

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Raspberry Oat Slice and Craft Show and Tell

The raspberry oat slice was born out of a promise.  There was no bread or muffins or crumpets in the house and I had told E I would make something.  I meant a loaf of bread.  But when I still hadn't made it the next morning, I remembered this recipe in Color Me Vegan.  It was much faster than waiting for yeast to rise.  It gave Sylvia and I more time for craft.  So I will tell you about both today but first a whinge.

As I wrote last night, I have having computer problems - it seems to happen every now and again on this blog.  I still haven't solved it (but thanks to those who have responded) but have a few ideas.  It means that it is taking time from my blog and making it harder to comment, so apologies to those whose blogs I am commenting on less than I would like.

And while I am being down in the mouth, let me tell you that it is not just my computer.  We had a leak with our washing machine last week and I've had to replace my favourite big frypan which is just too scratched.  Why don't these things last?  And why is J. K. Rowling's new novel so grim.  I could really have done with a Harry Potter character who was light and warm in a dark world this week.  Instead when I finished the novel, the world seemed very bleak.

Rant over.  I'll put my happy face back on!  You see, raspberries make me very happy.  Sylvia too.  We made this raspberry oat slice one Saturday morning recently and it was amazing.  I tweaked the recipe slightly to reduce sugar and add a few favourite things.  But as Sylvia is so helpfully demonstrating in the photo above, it held together beautifully.  As well as tasting amazingly delicious.  Not too sweet.  Full of fruit and healthy stuff.  Even E said it was nice for a slice with so much fruit in it.  (Though I think he was relieved that I then made a loaf of bread that day too.)

It was one of those lovely lazy weekends when I had time to bake and sit on the verandah in the sunshine chatting with our neighbour, take Sylvia on her tike to the park, walking with Sylvia and E to a local cafe for lunch.  Browse op shops.  And do craft.

Sylvia and I love doing craft but I get so busy that it hard to find time sometimes.  So it is nice to look back at a few things we have made lately.  Above is our Three Little Pigs project.  It was inspired by drinking straws.  A straw house.  And a wooden house of coloured icypole sticks.  And a brick house of foam squares.  We made three little pigs and then the big bad wolf.  It was fun telling the story with the characters.  And later I found the three little pigs snuggled up with the wolf under a blanket.

This monster bookmark is a grown-up craft project.  I made a few as presents lately.  They were based on the ones on Tally's Treasury.  Sylvia wanted them all for herself.

Above is some little girls that Sylvia and I made using some Magic Fabric kits that my sister in law Erica gave me.  I'd never heard of it before but it is quite fun to stick on all the bits and pieces.  Great for a quick craft session.  Can you spot the ukelele that has been very popular?

Lastly this owl below was really my project, though Sylvia sort of danced around the edges.  I have a photo on pinterest of some owls made out of toilet paper rolls.  It is one of my most popular pins and yet the link is broken.  I finally had a go at making some.  They don't look as cute but the card I used for the feathers was too stiff and each row had to be held on to dry with a rubber band, so finally I just glued on some googly eyes and a beak and feet and it was close enough for jazz!

I was bemoaning to a colleague today that Sylvia would never learn to clean up because I much prefer craft to housework.  She replied that Sylvia would be happier to remember a childhood or craft than housework.  (Which is true, though when I was talking to my mum about how much I enjoy craft, I mentioned that I didn't do much as a kid and she told me that actually I was always making something.  So there are no promises about what Sylvia will remember.  But I digress).  Makes me wonder if this post will be around when Sylvia is a grown up to remind her of all the craft and yumminess of her childhood.  And will she need reminding?

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Cauliflower alfredo pasta sauce
Three years ago: Snags, coleslaw and Julie/Julia

Raspberry Oat Slice
Adapted from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Color Me Vegan
makes 16 squares

1 cup rolled oats - ground to quick
1 cup wholemeal flour
3 tbsp ground linseed (flaxseed)
2 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g margarine (I used nuttalex)
1 tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1 cup raspberries (I used frozen)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice

Make the raspberry sauce first. Simmer raspberries, maple syrup and lemon juice for about 8 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken. Set aside. As it cools it will thicken more.

Mix remaining ingredients (except the coconut sugar) together until you have a clumpy mixture. Press half of it into a lined 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin. I started doing this with the back of a spoon and then found it easier to do it with my hands. Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 20 minutes.

Pour raspberry mixture onto cooked base and scatter with remaining half. Sprinkle with coconut sugar. Bake for another 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool in the tin. Cut into 16 squares.  Eat warm or at room temperature. Keeps for at least three days in an airtight container.

On the Stereo:

The Singles: Suede

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Technical question: commenting in Blogger on Safari (Mac users)

This is a cry for help because my Mac laptop is doing my head in tonight!  Have any readers had a problem with posting comments on Blogger blogs in Safari?  (Ignore this post if it doesn't apply.)

I have used Mozilla Firefox for years on both my old PC and my current Mac but today have a message that as Apple is no longer supporting my operating system (Mac OS X version 10.5.8) so Mozilla has decided not to send any security updates.  Hurrumph!   That is just so cheeky when this version is working perfectly well.

I decided that maybe I need to switch to Safari as an internet browser.  It is giving me all sorts of problems but the main one is that it wont show any profile options to choose to make comments on any Blogger blogs (including my own).

I have searched Bloggers and Google for some answers but the only suggestion was to enable third party cookies which I have done and it hasn't helped.

Has anyone had any similar problems?  Has anyone got any suggestions?

Argh!  I am busy enough (and having a hard enough time keeping up with comments) without this.

Update: seemed there was nothing for it but to buy a new computer with all updated software and to be more vigilant about updates.

A corny picnic with mint

After a busy day at work and riding my bike home, I was tired.  E was out.  I was going to make bangers and mash that he usually makes each week.  Yet the thought of making mashed potato was too much effort.  On impulse I made some microwave popcorn.  Then I checked my bookmarks and found a recipe for Caramelised Corn with Mint.

A warm spring day, a break from routine, and the holiday smell of popcorn made us giddy and light.  Sylvia and I danced and ran out to the backyard to pick mint.  I spoke to the neighbour about flat tyres on her bike.  We threw a rug on the loungeroom floor and had a picnic dinner on the floor.  We made lizards and caterpillars out of our food.  We fed Sylvia's dollies (new dolly and her new companion, Peppa Pig) and played with the rabbit in a carrot.

All this merriment was topped off by watching Billy Bragg on Q and A.  I would have loved to see him while he has been in Melbourne, but am just not organised enough.  Instead, I was very pleased to see him singing Ideology live on the telly.  (The same sort of pleasure as standing around a colleague's computer at work cheering at our Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Misogyny speech.)

The corn with mint was wonderful.  So simple, so quick and so delicious.  I ate it with vegie sausages and chopped salad vegies.  It was all I needed for dinner.  I am sure I will make this side dish again.  Yet I am not sure it will ever again be as much fun.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: VT Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese
Two years ago: Potato and Kale Enchiladas
Three years ago: Spring vegetable and lentil chowder
Four years ago: Green Spring Salads

Caramelised corn with mint
serves 1 as a side dish

knob of margarine or butter (between 1 tsp and 1 tbsp)
kernels of 1 cob of corn
handful of mint leaves, chopped
pinch of French lavendar salt (or sea salt)

Melt butter on frypan over medium heat.  Fry corn for about 10 minutes or until starting to brown and popping.  Add mint and salt.  Stir briefly and remove from heat.  Eat hot.  (Probably would be yummy at room temperature too.)

On the Stereo:
LoveBUZZ: Hummingbirds

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.

Monday 22 October 2012

WSC Chocolate Pumpkin Digestives

When I first tasted digestives in my 20s I recognised their similarity to Westons Chocolate Wheatens that I loved as a child.  During my travels around the UK and Europe, I often had a packet of McVities chocolate digestives in my bag.  Eating them straight out the packet, backpacker-style was one of the pleasures of life on the road.  Now I love them both for the taste and for the memories of that time.  I am happy to say that I found my homemade version just as pleasing!

The idea of trying to make my own digestive biscuits came from Kari of Bite Sized Thoughts who posted a recipe for fruit digestives last week.  Then I saw a recipe for pumpkin graham crackers on What Smells So Good while idly searching for pumpkin and chocolate recipes for We Should Cocoa (the event founded by Choclette and Chele but currently hosted by Hungry Hinny).  I recently read that graham crackers are America's answer to Britain's digestives. So it seemed easy to adapt the pumpkin idea to digestives.

We baked the biscuits yesterday before heading out to lunch.  I had been slightly concerned that the dough was not oiled enough but it wasn't too difficult to handle.  (Wee rascally fingers that were prodding and poking were more of a problem.)  When we got home, we drizzled chocolate over them.  Kari had not thought her texture was quite right.  I added some wheatgerm and loved the rough texture.  And though some were slightly soft in the middle, most were pleasingly crisp. 

I also found a Daily Mail recipe for Chocolate Digestives.  The photo showe biscuits that were drizzled ever so prettily with chocolate.  I initially set out to do that.  My attempts were just too clumsy.  Finally I found it easier to spread the chocolate on one side, just like the McVities biscuits that I love so much.  Sylvia decided she wanted sprinkles on hers.  I melted 120g of chocolate (72% cocoa) and it was far too much.  So we made square freckles by spreading the remainder of the chocolate on baking paper and sprinkling with hundreds and thousands.

My main problem with the recipe is that it uses so little pumpkin puree.  It was fine when I still have the remains of a tin of pumpkin the fridge but I usually do my pumpkin mash from fresh pumpkin.  I think other purees might work here like applesauce or prune puree.  The pumpkin taste isn't very prominent but it gave some colour and a little added flavour.  I think the recipe would work just as well without the chocolate.

I can't speak highly enough of these biscuits.  They are just sweet enough, taste a wee bit healthy and the dark chocolate stops them being too moreish.  I didn't get a proper count of the batch because at least one disappeared under the table before I got a chance to spread with chocolate.  (It wasn't me.  I swear!)  Tonight as I rode home, it made me happy to think of the biscuit tin of chocolate pumpkin digestives in the kitchen.  It is what every home needs.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Vegan pad see ew - with tofu omelette
Two years ago: Pea pate - sandwiches
Three years ago: Pumpkin bread pudding for interesting times
Four years ago: WTSIM: of cats, ukeleles and enchiladas

Chocolate Pumpkin Digestives
Adapted from Bite Sized Thoughts, The Daily Mail and What Smells So Good
Made about 20

3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 cup wheatgerm
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp golden syrup (or other sweetener)
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
100g dark chocolate, chopped

Mix wholemeal flour, wheatgerm, baking powder, bicarb and brown sugar in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in oil, golden syrup and pumpkin puree until the mixture comes together into a dough.  Briefly knead with a little flour.

Roll out on baking paper until about 0.5cm thick.  Cut into circles (or squares or other shapes if you prefer).  Transfer to two lined baking trays with about 1-2cm between each biscuit (they don't spread much). Bake at 190 C for about 14-16 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on the tray.

When biscuits are cooled, leave on the baking paper for covering in chocolate (to make it easier to clear up).  Melt chocolate (I did this in the microwave).  Use a teaspoon to either drizzle chocolate artistically or just use the back of the spoon to spread chocolate over one side.  (I found the latter easier.)  Let set for an hour or two.  Keep in an airtight container.

On the Stereo:
The Very Best of Peter Allen: 18 superb original tracks.

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts. 

Sunday 21 October 2012

Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes and my weekend

Pancakes are an excellent way to start a busy weekend.  This weekend has been full with markets, the pub, craft, baking and a birthday lunch.  It is the second weekend in a row that old bananas - that didn't make it into smoothies - went into banana oat pancakes.  After I made a batch last weekend, Vegan MoFo made me wonder how could these be veganised.  This weekend I had a go, using applesauce and chia seeds.

The pancakes were good but had a quirk I have noticed when I have tried making vegan pancakes before.  Pancakes with egg are almost cakey inside but I find vegan pancakes quite soft (almost gooey) inside.  It is something I will continue to investigate.  If anyone has any suggestions, they are most welcome.  Nevertheless, the pancakes were gobbled up readily by all of us.

We ate the pancakes with maple syrup at first.  But as a child I never had maple syrup.  It wasn't a common sweetener back then.  We usually had either butter and sugar or lemon and sugar.  So I revisited that childhood delight of watching the lemon juice melt the sugar crystals on the pancake.

On Saturday, we met up with a few people at the Fitzroy Market.  We have become regulars there, because E plays ukelele there.  It is a great car book sale market.  The focus is not on food.  Yet there is enough food to please.  We usually buy a barbecued vegetarian sausage wrapped in bread and smothered in sauce.

Yesterday we gave the cake stall a miss in favour of the icy poles, made with real fruit.  I had a blackberry lemonade one, Sylvia had a strawberry one, and Yav and Florence had a mango and coconut one.  They were predominately fruit and wonderfully refreshing.

When I could drag Sylvia away from playing hide and seek with a new-found friend, we browsed the stalls.  I bought Sylvia a necklace for $2 and Yav bought a handful of necklace for Florence for $1. Heather bough apricot jam.  Mum and dad bought coconut ice.  E found a few interesting books, including a wee 1977 recipe book for me called A Vegetarian in the Family: Meatless recipes for the odd one out by Janet Hunt.  (No stigmatising vegetarians then!)

After the market, we all got paranoid about parking inspectors (they are mean in the Fitzroy streets) and decided to move our cars before setting off to the pub for drinks and nibbles.   We had a fantastic time at the Rainbow Hotel.  The food was delicious and the beer garden was the perfect place to relax.  I'll write about it more later so today I will just share a photo of nearby graffiti.

This morning Sylvia and I did some craft with egg cartons.  We made monsters that were inspired by Red Ted Art's Blog.  Having watched a lot of Mr Maker lately, we mixed paint and gloopy glue, and then we had stuck on wool, beads, glitter, fabric hearts, jewelled stickers and googly eyes.  When we had made enough monsters, we put a lot of our craft stuff onto a piece of paper.  Great fun!

After craft, we baked some yummy biscuits before heading off to Hellenic Republic for my sister's birthday.  It is such a fantastic place to eat, especially with a large group with various dietary requirements.  I wish I had taken more foodie photos but that was not that easy with a small child on my lap and a hungry family.  You can glimpse a small hand with one of the delicious chippies below.

You will not be surprised to hear that it has not been a weekend for fancy dinners.  We have arrived home in the evening without a lot of energy or appetite.  Last night I made one of my favourite salads of last summer, smoky potato, bean and corn salad.  Not only was it just what I needed, but we also had leftovers for tonight.  Hope everyone else has enjoyed their weekend.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Amazing gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes
Two years ago: Potluck, Salad and Car Trouble
Three years ago: Vegan feta crackers for sleepless nights
Four years ago: My Personal Vegetarian 100 List

Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes
Adapted from my previous version
Makes about 16

1 tbsp margarine, melted
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup soy milk
2 tsp golden syrup (or other sweetener)
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp hemp seeds
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 banana, mashed
margarine, for frying

Mix melted margarine, applesauce, milk, golden syrup, oats, chia seeds and hemp seeds.  Leave 5 minutes.  Add flour, baking powder and banana.  Mix til you have a thickish batter.  It should be a thick pouring consistency - add a little extra milk if it is so thick that it comes off the spoon like cookie dough.

Heat a frypan over medium heat.  Melt a little margarine in the frypan - the pan should be liberally greased rather than awash with butter.

Drop dessertspoons of batter into the frypan.  Fry a few minutes until bubbles appear and the mixture dries out a little to look cooked.  Flip over and fry another minute or two until the other side is golden brown.

Serve warm with maple syrup or lemon and sugar.

UPDATE: February 2015 - I have revisited these pancakes and am much happier with this vegan version of the Banana Oat Pancakes.

On the Stereo:
Back to Basics: Billy Bragg

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2012.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my Vegan MoFo posts.