Sunday 31 March 2013

Lime Cheesecake Easter Eggs, Hot Cross Buns and Craft

This Easter was busy and chaotic.  It was so full of crazy experiments that I forgot to make my usual nut roast for Sunday lunch.  Ah well, we had Easter egg pizza, hot-cross-bun styled dessert pizza, vegan lime cheesecake filled Easter eggs, stodgy orange-infused hot cross buns and pom pom Easter bunny craft!  We had fun.

To start with let me give you a little list of some memorable moments this Easter:
  • Sylvia calling me "Mama N O".  This was because I spent a lot of time saying "N O spells no".  I suspect it came from telling her not to eat all the chocolate and hot cross buns about the kitchen.  (At least I am not a "nasty robber" which is what she reserves for people she really dislikes.)
  • E and Sylvia attending their first Easter vigil mass.  I was pleased to share it with them because I have fond childhood memories of the drama of the fire outside the church bringing light into the darkness.
  • Eating our Easter egg pizza while we watched Pinocchio.
  • Having fun with Sylvia drawing Easter eggs for the blog photos.  After we finished the photo, she blue-takked them to the kitchen cupboard doors.
  • Sylvia lining up her little chairs in the loungeroom to make a train for her dolls.  She was the driver, of course.
  • Watching George Gently on tv with E and my parents after Easter mass.

I am sorry to say that my hot cross buns were not a highlight of this Easter.  The weather had cooled and I didn't read the recipe.  They should have sat in the fridge overnight but I was determined to bake my hot cross buns on Good Friday.  Perhaps a little sweetener might have helped them rise.  I just liked the idea of orange zest and spice infused milk (because Sylvia doesn't like peel) but common sense tells me I should have just applied this idea to last year's hot cross bun recipe.  The end result was very tasty but rather stodgy.  I have written my recipe notes below for future reference.

My other experiment on Good Friday was to make Ricki's vegan GF Chocolate covered cheesecake Easter eggs.  This is an area that is far more challenging than yeast baking.  When Sylvia begged me to buy Easter egg moulds in the supermarket, they seemed a perfect way to make this recipe just a little easier.

I am not sure that it was a good move to decide to make one and a half the quantity of Ricki's recipe.  She said it made 6 to 8 eggs and I thought this might not be enough to take to my family Easter lunch.  I think I used far less filling for each egg (mine were halves after all) and after making 20 we still have three or four times the mixture left.  It also meant that it took me three lots of mixture in my little blender attachment for my hand held blender to blend the whole lot.  And even then it wasn't as creamy as I suspect Ricki intended.  It was creamy with just a slight graininess.

Sylvia loved helping.  It was fun.  I still remember helping my mum make Christmas chocolates as a teenager.  We did get quite messy.  Which is part of the fun.  Well you have to taste.

I used limes instead of lemons.  At first I thought the filling too sweet.  Some years ago I came across the idea of adding nutritional yeast flakes to vegan cream cheese filling.  It makes sense.  This gives that slight savoury tang to the "cream cheese".  Then E thought the filling wasn't sweet enough.  The chocolate we used wasn't as bitter as I intended because the supermarket didn't have the one I wanted.  Once the filling was in chocolate it was soft and sweet enough.

I took the easter eggs out of the moulds in the middle of another activity.  I can't remember what but I do remember that I would have preferred to have more time to trim the edges.  Perhaps banging the chocolate down to avoid air bubbles might help helped too.  Nevertheless they looked pretty and tasted good.

So here is a gratuitous photo of Dolly with the photo background that we decorated with Easter eggs pictures.  The shape for the eggs came from the packaging for the moulds.  But what I really need to tell you is that I used some of the leftover cheesecake filling for an excellent dessert pizza.  I mixed a bit more coconut milk with some cheesecake filling to make it easier to spread over the dough.  Then I sprinkled choc chips, thinly sliced plums and some Viennese Christmas sugar.  It was most excellent.  For fun I left a cross in the middle so it looked like a hot cross bun.  (See top collage for pizza photos.  Pizza made with fast track dough.)

Sylvia and I wrapped some easter eggs for her cousins but rather than make our little [craft kit] pom pom Easter bunnies for each kid, I thought it might be good to do it as a craft activity.  It was rather chaotic.  Getting bunny ears to stick to a pom pom is quite challenging.  (Kudos to Ella who seemed to get it.)  While the kids were doing the craft, my parents hid the Easter eggs so they could do an Easter egg hunt.  More mayhem.  Plus a birthday cake, footy fever, quizes and stories from a Fiji holiday.

My mum made a roast dinner for Easter Sunday lunch.  She made sure the vegetarians were catered for with a delicious roast beetroot and carrot dish with goats cheese.  The highlight of the lunch was Fast Ed's Triple Chocolate Cheesecake (from Better Homes and Gardens) that my mum and my brother's girlfriend made.  It was truly amazing. 

After seeing all the decadence of the weekend, you will understand why I came home tonight and made a stew based on this Tomato Lentil Soup.  However there is plenty of cheesecake mixture left.  I am considering making some extra Easter eggs with it.  After all, it is healthier than the rest of the Easter eggs we brought home with us.

I am sending these Easter eggs back to Ricki for her Wellness Weekends.  Thanks Rick for inspiring me to finally try my hand at some Easter eggs.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WW Skye's tomato and pumpkin curry and copyright issues
Two years ago:  New Kitchen, Old Stuff
Three years ago: Eat Drink Blog Conference - notes and reflections
Five years ago: Easter Nut Roast

Lime cheesecake filled easter eggs
Adapted from Diet Dessert and Dogs
makes about 20 half eggs

1 1/2 heaping cup (250 g) raw natural cashews
1/4 cup (60ml) full-fat coconut milk 
3 tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tbsp (30ml) coconut sugar
1 tbsp (15ml) nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tsp (7ml) whole chia seeds, finely ground 
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract (I didn't use but might in future)
zest of 2 limes
pinch salt
750g dark chocolate

Soak cashews overnight.  Drain and whizz with remaining ingredients (except chocolate) in a powerful food processor.  (Mine doesn't quite make the smooth and creamy it should but is close enough for jazz.)

Melt chocolate in small amounts (about 100g at a time).  Line silicone Easter egg moulds with chocolate.  Leave in fridge for an hour or so and then fill with cheesecake filling.  Cover with chocolate.  Return to the fridge for a few hours.  Pop out of moulds.  (If you don't have these moulds then you could either roll chilled filling into balls or chill in a square tin and cut into blocks, and then dip in melted chocolate.)

I only used 250g chocolate so I have guessed you might need 750g but am not sure this is quite the right proportions.  If you have less chocolate than filling, you can use the filling on a dessert pizza or to swirl in brownies.

Orange-infused Hot Cross Buns (work in progress)
Adapted from Nigella (with a little help from my previous recipe)
makes 20 buns

300 ml milk
50 g butter or margarine
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
zest of 1 orange
1 star anise
5 cloves
2 cardamom pods
[perhaps could add 1 tbsp sweetener]
500 g bread flour
100g soy flour
200g wholemeal flour
3 tbsp chia seeds
14g dried yeast
300g dried fruit (I used sultanas and cranberries)
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

1 to 1 1/2 cups plain flour
at least 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 tsp mixed spice

Heat ingredients through to cardomom pods in a small saucepan until the butter melts.  Cool to lukewarm.  Remove and discard spices.

Add remaining ingredients.  [NOTE: I added heaps of liquid here and it was still quite a stiff dough.  Perhaps more liquid is needed or if it turns out that it is too wet some more flour would be needed.]  Knead for about 10 minutes until soft and smooth.  I did this in two lots because I doubled the original recipe and there was a lot to knead.

[NOTE: in recipe said to lead overnight but I didn't.]  Cover and rise 1 hour.  Knead briefly.  Cover and rise another hour or two (I did two because the room was cold and the dough wasn't rising much.)  Divide dough into 20 pieces and place in roasting dish to rise about 30-45 minutes (I think I did this for an hour or two while Sylvia had bath and I made dinner.  Still no rising.)  Meanwhile preheat oven.

Mix up the dough for the crosses til you have a paste.  Pipe (I used a ziplock bag with corner cut off - too much corner was cut off) the crosses across the buns.  Bake at 220 C for 20 - 40 minutes until browned and hollow when tapped.  (It took me 40 minutes til they were golden brown.)  Heat glaze ingredients in a small saucepan til sugar is dissolved just before buns come out of oven.  Carefully remove hot buns til a teatowel covered wire rack.  Brush buns with glaze over and over til no glaze is left.

On the stereo:
Tigermilk - Belle and Sebastian

Friday 29 March 2013

Easter egg pizza and Easter quicklinks

Good Friday is a day for me to stay home and bake.  Today has been no exception.  It has been lovely.  I have made Easter eggs, hot cross buns and Easter egg pizza.  The idea for Easter egg pizza was planted by Katie some years back.  I finally had a go.  It was a great way to have lots of fun and also combat the sugar overload that comes at this time of year.

If I had been more organised I might have done it differently.  As it was I was pleased with what I did managed to do for decoration.  I made my favourite fast track pizza dough and a tomato sauce that I recently discovered in the freezer.  Most of the decorations were made of capsicum and cheese.  I had a little star cookie cutter that was most useful and I used scissors to cut circles.  I also had thin strips of 3 colours of capsicum.
I would have loved cherry tomatoes, spinach and purple cauliflower or carrot for more decorations.  Most of all I must find myself a small hole cutter.  I asked E for ideas and he suggested a thimble.  Miraculously (given my dislike of sewing) I have one.  It was a most useful idea for cutting cheese dots.  I did find that they had to be well spaced or they ran into one another.

Here is my uncooked pizza.  Sylvia and I were very excited.  In fact after I showed Sylvia, she asked to see it again.   Once it was cooked she ate it without taking bits off.  Usually she will only have cheese on her pizza but today she ate the capsicum too.  I also liked that I could have a piece with less cheese because of the way the decorations were spaced.  Perhaps decorations might be part of our regular pizzas.  Though it did take a lot longer so she was in bed later than usual.

I made a second pizza that was less successful.  I think the zig zag strips of capsicum worked better than the straight ones and the cheese was too close together.  I also made a dessert pizza but I will write about that when I post about my cute Easter eggs and the hot cross bun disaster.

I am sending the pizza to both Catherine of Cates Cates for her Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food event, focusing on Easter Egg Inspirations this month, and to Michelle of Utterly Scrummy Food for Families for her Easy Easter Baking event.

Easter Quicklinks

Below I have listed more ideas for Easter cooking and crafts.  You can also see more Easter baking and cooking ideas that I listed last Easter.

Easter food ideas
Cheese and cracker chicks - Meet the Dubiens
Chocolate almond butter eggs - Aida Mollencamp
Coconut macaroon easter egg nests - Love Swah
Coconut nest cupcakes - Martha Stewart
Easter bunny cupcakes -
Easter egg cupcakes - Elizabeth's Kitchen
Easter egg pizzas - Hungry Happenings and Kathie Cooks
Hazelnut chocolate nests - Karen Martini
Hot cross chocolate muffins - Jeremy and Jane Strode
How to make chocolate butterflies - Everything old
Krispy easter eggs - Pioneer Woman
Simnel bread pudding - Dan Lepard
Spiced buttered honey hot cross buns - Not Quite Nigella

Easter craft ideas

10 egg decorating ideas - Red Ted Art Blog
Easter egg suncatcher and other easter ideas - Craftulate
Easter egg washi tape craft - e-how Mom
Egg carton chicken egg cups - Red Ted Art Blog
Handpring chicks - Meet the Dubiens
Paper plate baby chick - Simple as That
Paper plate chicks - Meet the Dubiens

Wish you a Happy Easter and happy holiday!

Thursday 28 March 2013

Trippy Taco and Melbourne Street Art

Today I bring you street food and street art.  According to their website, Trippy Taco does Mexican style street food.  Cheap, easy and available to everyone.  Unless you want to eat in and the cafe is full.  That was my first experience but since then I have eaten in a few times and enjoyed the food. The photo above is of artwork on the wall of the cafe.  It is the sort of street art I love.  Below are some of the photos that I have been snapping lately when out and about.

The entire menu is vegetarian so I couldn't wait to try some of the dishes.  The first meal I had there last year was an Asada Tofu Buritto.  According to the website it is spicy tofu, mozzerella, goats cheese, salad, avocado, salsa, all wrapped in a tortilla.  It was ok but I wasn't keen on the tofu, which predominated, and everything else seemed to just moosh together.  Perhaps I don't understand burritos.  I suspect I would enjoy the black bean one more.  On this visit Sylvia had tortilla with cheese on it.  I was pleased that the staff were willing to accommodate her tastes.

On my next visit, I chose the Original Trippy Taco.  A corn tortilla with black beans, cheese, salad, salsa and avocado.  This was far better.  The flat tortilla was more like my idea of a tostado than a taco but I am not one to nitpick over names, or even claim any expertise when it comes to Mexican food.  It was delicious and satisfying if not terribly exciting.

I decided to have the snack size Trippy Taco so that I could have a nutella melt.  Simply a tortilla spread with nutella, folder over and grilled.  It looks boring until the warm nutella started oozing out the sides.  This was amazing.  The dessert menu is full of temptations.  The guy behind the counter raved about the dessert tamale served with ice cream, banana and maple syrup.  I went for the smallest and cheapest option.

On my most recent visit I hit Mexican nirvana.  I ordered the Sweet Corn Tamale.  It is a sweet corn tamale, like a dumpling, steamed in a corn husk and served with salsa, guacamole and salad.  This is what I want when I eat out: something that is totally different to anything I have had before.  And so delicious that it has me reliving the flavours every now and again and dreaming of returning.  Dense and slightly sweet but oh so corny (I mean flavour of course).  The sides with it complemented the flavour and the fairly plain salad made sure it wasn't stodgy.  Now I can't wait to try the dessert tamale.

So now that the food is over, I will take you through some of Melbourne's street art.  It is bright, cheerful, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, democratic, ephemeral and fun.  This is art outside the galleries with no entrance fee.  Enjoy it today for it may be gone tomorrow.  The colour and charm brings a humanity to the urban streetscape.  The above art is from an alleyway off Gertrude Street close to Trippy Taco.

I have included this picture with the faded signage on the building as a reminder of a different street art in the past.  This is just up the road from Trippy Taco.  Check out the Finding the Radio Book blog which has lots of pictures of ghost signs (ie old fading signs on buildings)

Many of my street art photos are taken in the inner north of Melbourne.  According to Wikipedia, Melbourne is "home to one of the world's most active and diverse street art cultures and is home to pioneers in the stencil medium."  There is even an  entry on Melbourne street art.  It lists inner north suburbs as many of the places to see street art..  The above art is on Albert Street near the Brunswick train station. 

I had to include this picture with the cyclist in it.  It captures the essence of the freedom in this piece of street art.  The art is in East Brunswick off Lygon Street down the Brunswick Road end.  I love the way the art transforms a very dull building into a landscape of desire.

I photographed this wall just by the Wholefoods store in Lygon Street, East Brunswick (near Albion Street).  I was pleased to get a picture of it.  I have seen other street pictures of little girls that capture my interest but they have disappeared.  The images of children in the street appeal because they are a reminder of times gone by when the streets were a child's playground.  It reminds me of Playing Beattie Bow.

Here is some art in Northcote behind some bins and a dilapidated old sofa (behind the Northcote Social Club).  The dog amuses me with it cheeky chappy persona.

These possums are painted in an alcove in Abbotsford Convent.  A little bit off-street.  It feel less like street art because there is a plaque beside it naming the artist (Wurundjeri community artists Judy Nicholson and James Simons).  I have included it because street art often seems to be about decorating the exterior of buildings.

A reminder that not all street art is 2D.  I love these yarnbombing flowers on the tree in the churchyard opposite the Blyth Street and Sydney Road intersection in Brunswick.  Thanks to Pigs and Bishops for letting me know this tree is a tribute to Jill Meagher.

Another piece of artwork that is a little off-street.  It is inside the Queen Victoria Centre in the city.  I love how it brightens the dull grey wall.  Not a great photo but you get the idea.

I found this photo in my archives.  It is from Centre Place in the city.  I took the photo mid-2012.  I am not sure if the artwork is still there but I doubt it.  The graceful black and white painting of the dancers is a surprise in the grungy corner for the rubbish bins that usually boasts far more colourful artwork.

The final picture is from a wall by Anstey train station in Brunswick.  I love the wisdom in the old face.  Perhaps it is saying, there is so much more interesting street art out there if only you keep your eyes open.

Trippy Taco
234 Gertrude St Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9415 7711

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Walnut and tomato pesto with gnocchi, broccoli and feta

A couple of weeks back I went to visit a nearby Spotlight, a large fabric and craft store, only to find it had closed.  I had decided to take public transport down Sydney Road rather than driving to a large department store.  On the way back to save time, I went to the nearest supermarket rather than walk to our local ones.

Hours later I looked for my shopping bag and found I had left it at the shop.  I ended up driving back to the supermarket, thus neither saving time nor avoiding the car!  It was most displeasing.  Thank goodness for the Mediterranean Wholesalers supermarket for making the initial trip worthwhile.

I never cease to be amazed at the range of pasta at this supermarket.  I always want it all.  On this trip we were restrained and just bought one packet of coloured pasta, one packet of wholemeal pasta and one packet of tricolour gnocchi.  Being a supporter of Jacqueline's Pasta Please event, I decided to make a pesto (this month's theme hosted by Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes) to toss through the gnocchi.

I love a pesto filled with herbs but my lack of success in growing them often means I am faced with the choice of either rushing off to the supermarket to spend a lot on a little bag of greenery or making pesto with other flavourings.  Of course I often choose the latter.  This pesto was perfect for using what was in my cupboards, including some frozen parsley.  And it was vegan too.  It was very walnut-heavy, even with me adding extra seasoning.  However once served with panfried gnocchi, broccoli and feta, it was delicious.

This is the perfect dish for the change of seasons when warm days are fading. I made it while Sylvia played in the sandpit and paddling pool outside.  Unfortunately I think she would have preferred to eat sand than the gnocchi, even without the pesto.  Luckily, E and I were very happy with our dinner.  The remaining pesto was used in crackers and tomato sauce.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Snag Stand - cosmopolitan takeaway
Two years ago:  Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings
Three years ago: Flat pack chocolate chip cookies
Five years ago: Autumnal Bread and Salad

Walnut and tomato pesto
Adapted from Weird Combinations

3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp sundried tomato packed in oil, drained
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp verjuice (or cider vinegar)
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Blend.  Check and adjust seasoning.  Store in the fridge or use straight away.

On the stereo:
The 5000 spirits or the layers of the onion: the Incredible String Band

Sunday 24 March 2013

Great avocado salad dressing, ho-hum "meatloaf", and CERES baking competition

Last week I made an Oatmeal and Tempeh Loaf from the Vegetarian Times.  It wasn't my sort of meal and I didn't know whether to blog it.  A couple of days later I made a great avocado vinaigrette and the salad really lifted the loaf.  So I decided to blog them together.  And as if I didn't have enough to say, I thought I would tell you a little about our visit to the CERES Harvest Festival yesterday.

Beneath this a completely random photo of the birthday cakes that Sylvia made for Dolly yesterday, I have listed just some of the things that have happened this week.  (You might guess rightly that I am having a couple of work-free weeks with regards to paid work but life is still busy!):
  • I attended my first water workout class.
  • We have been chasing up repairs after someone ran into our parked car.
  • Sylvia was very brave when she got 2 jabs at her 4 year old health check!
  • I had minor medical procedure that required local anathestic
  • In national politics, there was a leadership challenge that ended with a whimper not a bang!
  • I worked out how to turn off my new iphone (and have successfully downloaded my first photos from the phone)!
  • Sylvia has done lots of painting and bluetakked it up over our cupboard doors
  • I ordered my first pair of prescription spectacles
  • Two of my favourite glasses were broken
  • I looked into volunteer work.
  • My mum, Sylvia and I had a very nice lunch at a cafe called Two Monks.
  • It was the spring solstice.  Zinc our cat can now go outside without suncream.
  • I found that Sylvia had outgrown all her trousers except one pair of tracky daks and a few pairs of leggings.  At least skirts aren't outgrown so easily!
  • I had to wait out a thunderstorm before picking up Sylvia from childcare one day
  • We got new green bin from the council.  Now we have three bins - rubbish, recycling and green waste.
  • I entered my first baking competition (and didn't win - sob!)
Yes, it has been a busy week.  So I am thankful for recipes that see my through quite a few nights.  I made this loaf on Wednesday night and we finished the last of it today when E had the last slice grilled and crumbled with pasta and tomato sauce.

I found the recipe in an old Vegetarian Times magazine.  It looked good.  I was a bit concerned that the loaf was topped with tomato sauce and yet the instructions ended in taking the loaf out of the oven.  There was no advice on how to get it out of the tin and serve it.  A quick search of the web told of people finding it very ugly to serve.  It looked a mess on the first night.  Yet once it cooled it sliced up quite nicely.

I found the filling a bit bland but the sauce on top had flavour enough for the whole loaf.  My other problem was that the loaf was quite clammy.  A bit like a slice of savoury porridge.  I love nut roasts and adore eating cold slices in a sandwich.  Yet I tried this loaf on cornbread and it just was too wet and unpleasant.  We got around the textural difficulties by grilling slices of loaf until crispy each side.  It tasted even better when served with a really good salad.

Which brings me to the salad!  I came across Ange's Vegan Green Goddess Salad Dressing a while back.  It came to me when I had avocados to use this week.  I made far less than Ange but regretted it later.  The vinaigrette was so tasty that it really lifted the oatmeal and tempeh loaf.  E even dipped his bread into the dressing.  In fact the next night I mixed the dressing with spinach to serve with refried beans and a corn, tomato and avocado salad in a burrito.  I am as excited about this dressing as I am unsure about the loaf.

We were planning to go to the CERES Harvest Festival yesterday.  I decided I should enter the baking festival.  Truth be told, the idea scared me.  I am not used to presenting my food in this way.  It is so much different to setting it up as a photo for the blog.  Yet after seeing the BikeFest baking competition, I decided it would be good to make a contribution to a local community event.

However, I wasn't very organised.  I started baking at 11pm on Friday night and had to make something I could carry on my bike and something that would use what I happened to have in my pantry.  I decided to make chocolate pumpkin digestives.  I had made them before but I didn't have any pumpkin.  Instead I used raspberry.  Halfway through cooking I turned the trays around in the oven and the biscuits were blue and dropped a tray.  (I think it was the shock at the colour.)  But I did have some biscuits for the event.

Only one other person entered biscuits.  I didn't win.  So I comforted myself that the more traditional gingernuts would appeal to the CWA ladies who were judging.  I had a chat to the judges who were very nice.  They said it was a difficult decision and gave me some advice that surprised me.  I had thought a pile of biscuits looked appetising but they said it would have looked better with six biscuits on the plate and doily.  They also questioned me calling them Chocolate Raspberry Digestives because they couldn't taste the raspberry.  Hmm, obviously recipe naming is not my strength either!

Despite not winning, it was a good learning experience and I was glad that I took part.  And they sold all the cakes and biscuits to raise money for CERES.  (I was pleased about that but found it odd that you had to pay $5 to enter!) Is this normal with baking competitions?

After dropping off my baking on my bike, I returned later with E and Sylvia.  We had arranged to meet my friend Heather, and also bumped in Sylvia's best friend.  E and I wandered through the market and sampled a slice of chocolate and raspberry cake from the baking competition while Sylvia played with her friend in the sandpit and we waited for Heather.

We had spring rolls for lunch.  E loved his chicken one but I regretted not tipping some sauce over my veggie one.  When Heather arrived she was more adventurous and ordered deep fried tempeh and black rice pudding (above) for dessert.  Sylvia snacked on apples, a bread roll and caramel popcorn.  Then we wandered about talking to the artist in residence who had a display in an old train carriage, buying a new door stop and talking to the honey man about bees.  We came home and had burritos for dinner, with spinach in avocado salad dressing , as mentioned above.  A very pleasant day.

I am sending the salad dressing to Ricki for her Wellness Weekends event that celebrates healthy eating.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: BC Spiced carrot pancakes and our weekend
Two years ago:  Shanghai Noodle House - dumplings on the run
Three years ago: Sydney - a gaytime and some lessons
Five years ago: Mulligatawny and dubious traditions

Vegan green goddess salad dressing
Adapted from Oh She Glows
makes enough for a salad to serve 3-4 people

1/3 cup of avocado flesh (1/2 an avocado)
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 spring onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tsp maple syrup
3/8 tsp salt
dash of cayenne pepper
(fresh basil and parsley would be good if you have it)

Blend everything together until smooth.  Taste and adjust flavours as desired.  Dollop on fresh vegies to make an amazing salad (I paired mine with spinach, tomato, avocado, cucumber, walnuts.)

Oat and Tempeh Loaf
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
serves 6
2 cups rolled oats, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
400g can diced tomatoes
300g pkg. tempeh, crumbled
¾ tsp. vinegar
¾ tsp. sugar
1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1 and 1/2 cups tomato sauce (see below or use a bought pasta sauce)

Make a thick porridge of 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water, bay leaf and 1 garlic clove.  (I did this in the microwave for 4 minutes, stirred, and then another 3 minutes.)  Set aside.

Fry onion in olive oil until lightly browned.  Add garlic and sage and stir for a minute.  Stir in tomatoes, tempeh, vinegar and sugar.  Remove from heat and add in porridge, breadcrumbs and remaining oats.  Check seasoning and adjust as necessary.  Spoon into greased and lined loaf tin.  Top with tomato sauce (see below) and bake at 200 C for 50 minutes.  The tomato sauce should be bubbling and slightly dried but otherwise I am not sure how to tell it is done.  When freshly cooked mine had to be served with a spoon.

If you want it to slice up nicely, you should cool it completely and then lift it out of the tin carefully with an egg flip (or a wide spatula), then reheat slices.  We heated our slices under the grill (broiler) so they were slightly crispy and golden on the outside.  Great with salads, vegetables or crumbled into a pasta sauce.

Tomato sauce
From my own experience
makes more than 1 1/2 cups

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 tsp maple syrup (or less)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce (or less)
pinch salt - I used a bit because of too much maple
1 tbsp tomato pesto
1 tbsp tomato paste

Cook onions in oil for a few minutes.  Add remaining ingrediemts.  Check seasoning and simmer for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.  (When you have some leftover from the loaf, you can serve the loaf with some of this sauce on the side.)

On the stereo:
Filigree and Shadow: This Mortal Coil

Saturday 23 March 2013

Blog housekeeping and some quicklinks

Every now and again I like to note a little blog housekeeping that has been underway.  You know how if you didn't tell everyone that you had vacuumed no one would notice!  Well I think blog housekeeping is the same.  Yet it helps to make these notes to keep track of the development on the blog.  Plus I will share a few quicklinks that have made me think and laugh.

Housekeeping - recent blog changes:

- In December I started a monthly reminder of key dates on my sidebar.  I have been thinking about it for a while and even have a draft post on the calendar.  I am still swithering over whether to post it.  I probably will do so one day.  The sidebar reminders is another way to help people navigate my blog.

- Another change on my sidebar is that I have reinstated a blog list (or blogroll).  As a newbie blogger I had a sidebar list of blogs.  It got too long and I moved it to my Blogroll page.  Sadly that page doesn't get updated as much as it should and Blogger has now introduced a sidebar blogroll that feeds through the latest post from each blog.  I am quite enjoying browsing it for updates.

- I spent a bit of time adding photos to my Recipe Index after getting all inspired by Poires au Chocolat's index.  It was quite fun sourcing the pictures - reminded me of how many good recipes are on my blog but also how many bad photos I have uploaded.  When I have more energy I might even fix the photos in the index so they are bigger and prouder.  For now I think it helps to illustrate the index.

- Occasionally I add a new category to the Recipe Index.  This week it was (South East) Asian Stirfries, Curries etc.

- Less of a blog change and more of a blogging change is the news that Google Reader is soon to disappear.  I really need to think about this one and how it will change my ways of reading blogs.  I will write more about this soon.

Housekeeping - blog wishlist:

- As always, I have many plans for my blog that would be done in an instant if only I had a bit more time.  Top of the list is to create drop down menus, using Kari's tutorial.

- I would also love to add Notes on Variations for each recipe.  I love how Cates Cates and stonesoup do this.  Unfortunately I just don't have time but may do it from time to time where particularly useful.

- The problem with being so many years into a blog is that there is so much history to change if I want to make major changes.  Every now and again I think maybe I would like to clean up my Keywords in the sidebar.  They really need work to craft them into a list that isn't too long but is representative.  Every time I consider it I get overwhelmed at all the posts I would need to change the keywords for.. 

- I have been using picmonkey quite a bit to make collages.  However I am most displeased with the site for drawing me in with their free service and started to charge for some of the things (like cloning) that previously I was able to use for free.  I miss Picnik, my previously online photo editing software that has gone to Google.  I am still in search of a photo software editor to love.  Perhaps I will need to bite the bullet and buy Photoshop!

- I have recently bought a smartphone with a far better camera than my last phone.  I had a ride on my bike today and was pleased to have the smartphone camera with me as I don't like to take my heavy DSLR with me while cycling.  Now I just need to work out downloading pictures to my computer.

Though I have included it in my Kudos page, I have been remiss in mentioning in a post that I was listed in the Top 50 Vegetarian Blogs 2012 on the Institute for the Psychology of Eating website.  It is most appreciated!
Quicklinks to make you think and make you laugh:

Some are related to blogging, cooking and the internet.  Great food for thought:

And in case this post has been too dull, here are a few links (mostly Youtube videos) to make you laugh: