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


  1. Sounds like a busy but enjoyable day. Well done for entering the competition, bet the biscuits tasted delicious. It's all about taking part :)

    1. Thanks Katie - it was a bit crazy and Sylvia was so tired she fell asleep in the car on the way home - I think we were all quite tired and had a quite day on Sunday! But fun!

  2. I made an avocado salad dressing recently and really enjoyed it.

    It's sounds like you have been having a good time. I always long to go with you on your excursions, especially when you are having nice weather. I am sick of our bad weather, it seems to last most of the year now :(

    1. Thanks Jac - this is my first time making avocado dressing though I make guacamole quite often - glad to share the excursions with you. Scotland's cold weather just seems to keep going on and one - hope you get some gentler weather soon!

  3. The photo of those chocolate pumpkin digestives has totally suckered me in! YUM! Sounds like you've had an eventful month, too... hope you manage to get some rest time!

    1. Thanks Matt - the digestives are great but I started to worry they weren't full of butter and sugar - it has been a busy time but we have quiet days too like yesterday - had a good sleep in :-)

  4. I loved the list of all the little (and not so little) things that went into your week - it's interesting to see those little moments that make a life. Bummer re the cake competition - but good on your for entering! We went to CERES on our Melb trip last month. Sadly it was SO hot I couldn't appreciate it properly which makes me SAD! You're lucky to have this place so close to your home.

    1. Thanks Mel - it is amazing when you tally up the little things in the week and see just how much has been going on - CERES is a great place and I partly did the cake competition to support the place so that felt good! I hope you get to return to CERES another time.

  5. That dressing DOES sound gorgeous, definitely keen to try that, especially after a weekend of very dubious food (needless to say we have been away from home!)

    1. Thanks Lucy - a good dressing does so much for a pile of vegies - sorry to hear about your dubious food but I am sure you will make amends at home :-)

  6. What a week indeed! Your posts are keeping me very entertained at the moment - although they are always entertaining, but you seem to be doing lots of extra interesting things. I am so impressed you entered the baking competition, and I would definitely have voted your chocolate raspberry digestives above plain old gingernuts. I chuckled at the thought of you dropping the tray at seeing their colour though (and relate, after some of my purple carrot baking experiences...).

    Baking and outings sound far more enjoyable than medical procedures and 4-year-old vaccinations so I hope you've got those sorts of things out the way for some time. The salad and meatloaf look like a good dinner option for such weeks.

    1. Thanks Kari - we do seem to be doing quite a lot lately - have caught up on a few things but there is always something else that needs doing. The necessary appointments always feel better if we can get out and enjoy ourselves as well. The meatloaf was good in that it lasted us a while. I did feel that my biscuits were perhaps a bit too healthy for such competition but I felt I did well to get some biscuits into the competition. (and to be fair, I bought a gingernut and they were very good)

  7. The green dressing sounds so AMAZING, I have to try that out!

    1. Thanks Natalie - yes try it and hope you love it!

  8. I'm such a big fan of avocados and have never used them in a dressing before, it could be a good way to get me to enjoy salads more!

    What a busy week Johanna... Good on you for entering the baking comp and I hope you have no more medical appointments and procedures for some time!

    1. Thanks Mel - I find I can eat a lot more raw vegies in a salad if I just do an interesting dressing. I think this week will be less hectic than last, though I do need to return to the doctor's for a checkup

  9. love reading about your life and times! If the entry fee for entering the baking competition was to raise funds for a good cause, I would not mind but normally I think that it is not right :)

    1. Thanks Tandy - glad to share a little of my life and interesting to hear what you think about the charge for the baking comp - I tend to agree!


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