Friday 30 June 2017

Garden update - June 2017

Today is one of my infrequent garden updates.  As regular readers will know we only have a small courtyard garden.  For years it has been quite a grey area that is pepped up with some plants.  Recently I put down some astro turf which, together with the mural we painted in January has brought a lot of colour to the garden.  Happy days.  Let's have a wander.

My favourite part of the garden are my lemon and lime trees.  Above is a picture of the trees in January.

The trees were starting to fruit at the same time as the top leaves started to curl.  My mum diagnosed it as citrus leaf miner.  Apparently it is an insect that burrows or mines into the leaf and leaves little tracks.  Like in the above photo.  I have had a trap hanging off the lime tree and been spraying occasionally with eco oil.  It is better but still not quite gone.

How much the citrus leaf minor affected the fruit from the trees, I cannot tell.  We still got quite a bit of fruit in May/June.  But it was really odd that the lemon tree only fruited on side and the lime tree fruited on the other side.

I planted some broccoli in March.  It seemed fine.  Until I saw little bite holes in it.  Which grew and grew...

...until the plants were mostly sticks.  The leaves had all by disappeared.

My mum said it was the white butterflies and to make little butterflies of plastic bags tied to stalks of wire so they scare off the real butterflies.  It is on my to do list.  Meanwhile the netting on the broccoli has helped keep the little blighters away.

The broccoli leaves are looking better.  There is hope.

Above is my rosemary plant.  It has always been quite robust.  Lately it has been rather straggly.  But it's hanging in there.

The lavender took a beating in the summer heat and still isn't quite recovered.  This photo is from April with Shadow checking out the steps we made for Zinc.

I am far happier about my camelias.  Last year we did not get any flowers.  Sad face.  I think it got too neglected while we were in Scotland.  This year we were delighted by all the flowers.

Sylvia enjoyed looking at the buds and predicting which would flower next.

At this time of year my succulents do very well.  They are probably my most neglected plants.  Makes me think I need more succulents in my garden.  The aloe vera to the left is also thriving.

Out the front our roses seem to be just about at the end of their flowering.  They have had a bit of a bashing this year with black spot and aphids.  I've been giving them some eco oil spray too.  hopefully they will rebound.  My mum says they are not too bad.  I am now comparing them with other local roses when out walking.

The photo of the rose is of one of the last.  The rose bushes are more like the ones above.  Quite sparse.

Finally the flowers out the front that were grown from a cutting have thrived for years.  This winter however they have been reduced to a few sticks after our gas meters were replaced in the part of the garden and the flowers were dug up and replanted.  Given that they grew so easily the first time, hopefully this part of the garden will thrive again.

To check out more garden photos - go to the How Does My Garden Grow post.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Vegan brownies with optional dulce de leche swirl

Some foods are easy to veganise and others are more challenging.  Vegan brownies are hard to get right.  I have made a few that are quite sludgy inside.  Actually most of the brownies I have blogged have relied on eggs.  Today I made brownies because I wanted to use vegan choc chips and coconut condensed milk but there were no eggs in the house.  The results were most pleasing.
Firstly I decided to marble caramel or dulce de leche on the top of the brownies.  Because I had coconut condensed milk.  I had used half a tin in some choc chip cookies.  The remainder has sat in the fridge for a few weeks.  I simmered the condensed milk for 10-15 minutes and it got so chewy that I had to warm it up to actually spread it on the brownies.  But in the edge result it just added a small amount of chewiness and sweetness to the top of the brownies.  I had meant to salt it but forgot.

Next is the vegan brownie recipe I have been planning to make forever.  I was intrigued by this recipe that started with a roux of water and flour. 

The mixture then went glossy until I added the flour and it thickened up into a mixture that was so hard it was difficult to spread in the tin.  There were lots of choc chips mixed in at this stage.  And I still have more.  (Thanks Faye for the generous donation to my baking adventures.)

The above photo is of the mixture in the tin with the dulce de leche inexpertly swirled through.  Actually both the brownie mixture and dulce de leche were so stiff that I sort of folded some under like I was tucking it into bed.  I don't think this is the method that any experts would recommend.  It was enough to distribute it.  And once it cooked it looked pretty similar but drier on top.

Finally there is the tasting, to make sure these are the best vegan brownies I have ever made and then to just check again and maybe one more after swimming and parent teacher interviews and then perhaps put a lot of the batch in the freezer because they are too tempting to just leave out begging to be eaten!

I am sending these to Jibber Jabber for Love Cake and Tin and Thyme for We Should Cocoa.

More chocolate vegan baking on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate blackberry cupcakes (v)
Chocolate cupcakes (v)
Chocolate (layer) cake (v)   
Chocolate tahini cookies (v)
Coconut and chocolate chunk cake (v)
Flourless almond butter choc chip cookies (gf, v)
Kale cheesecake surprise choc mint cupcakes (v) 
Lamingtons with a touch of quince (v)
Zucchini brownie with smoked walnuts (v)

Vegan Brownies
Adapted from Pollen on

2 cups plain white flour, divided
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 cup cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup coconut condensed milk (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 C and grease and line a 28 x 18 cm (11 x 7 inch) slice tin.

Cook 1 cup water and 1/2 cup flour over low heat until you have a gluey paste that holds its shape.  Stir in sugars, salt, cocoa and oil to make a glossy mixture.  Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cup flour and baking powder, then chocolate chips (if using).  Tip into prepared tin and press out to fill tin evenly.  I used my hands to smooth some of it down.

If you wish to use some dulce de leche - I slowly cooked some coconut condensed milk for about 5-10 minutes.  Mine was setting to toffee rather than a sauce so I think let it darken but it does not need to coat the spoon too much.  Dollop over unbaked brownie and swirl a little with knife and then smooth down as much as possible.  (Maybe some salt in the dulce de leche would work.)

Bake for 25 minutes.  a skewer should come out cleanly when inserted in the middle but I looked more at the top being drier and the edges feeling cooked and the middle a little softer but not uncooked.  Cool in tray and then cut into small squares.

On the Stereo: 
Big Red Truck: Rubher

Saturday 24 June 2017

Banana butterscotch pudding, wonder and mosaics

When a week starts with warming banana butterscotch pudding, you expect good things of the world.  And when you expect good things of our world, it means that life should drop into your lap like a plump shiny crisp apple from the tree.  But recently I have been reading R. J. Palacio's amazing novel Wonder.  It has made me think about luck and blemishes and generosity that makes a apple falling in your lap so much more complex.  Just like the mixed blessings of manky bananas that can be baked it in a pudding to send warm vibes through your family.

So let me tell you that the week did not deliver the goods in the way I had hoped.  Firstly I went to a mosaic workshop on the wrong day.  Then Sylvia lost a fob that locks the car by tossing it in the air and it landing in a tangle of bushes.  Then she got scratched by our cat, on the nose.  Finally yesterday I found my wallet missing as I was about to leave the house. 

The above photo of the book, Wonder was taken at the Vegie Bar with the Miso Mushrooms and Sourdough with Macadamia Feta.  Wonder is about a 10 year old boy with severe facial abnormalities and his challenges in starting school.  It made me ache and cry and smile and want to be a better kinder person.  There is a part in the book that I love when one of the characters talks about life seeing random and yet the universe "takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see".  Indeed, we are all more resilient than often we see. 

And so, I can tell you that the universe took care of me this week, even though perhaps it did not seem so.  When my friend discovered the mosaic workshop was not on, she came over and we enjoyed a cuppa in some welcome winter sunshine and then we had a fun afternoon at the park where we bumped into other friends.  The car fob is something I have worried about losing because the other one was already lost and getting it copied has been a headache.  I was relieved that with the help of our local mechanic we have sorted the car locking system.  The scratch hasn't bothered Sylvia as much as I feared it might and life goes on - it was an accident.  And my purse was at work so my boss was delighted to have me in unexpectedly because if you find yourself in at work it is hard to just walk in and out without looking around you and doing what you can to help out.  I might have missed my body balance class but I had a decent amount of cycling to get to work.

The universe  looked after us in ways we did not imagine.  As always I could complain about more, I could be grateful for more.  But life is ok.  And today, we got the date of the mosaic workshop right.  It was my first time doing any mosaics.  I have much to learn but I was glad to have a go.

Likewise, my banana butterscotch pudding was not perfect but I was pleased to have finally tried one.  I checked out a few recipes and was glad to see Kari's recipe at Bite Sized Thoughts to warn of how sweet it was.  I reduced some sugar and then tinkered more.  My notes show that next time there will be some changes.  Yet I would eat that pudding all over again as it made me very happy to dig in to the plump sponge cake and spoon sweet butterscotch sauce all over my serve.

I am sending this pudding to Honest Mum for Brilliant Blog Posts

More butterscotch recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Brownies with butterscotch chips
Butterscotch pudding (v)
Butterscotch layer cake
Butterscotch surprise cake
Cranberry, apple and butterscotch muffins
Microwave self-saucing butterscotch pudding (v) 

Banana butterscotch pudding
Adapted from Bite Sized Thoughts
Serves 6

3 tbsp butter*
1 tbsp golden syrup
2-3 ripe bananas, 2 mashed and 1 cut into slices
1 cup milk*
1/4 cup  sugar 
1 egg OR1 flax egg*
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup plain flour*
5 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup brown sugar*
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup hot water
pinch salt*

Melt butter and golden syrup together (I used the microwave).  Stir in 2 mashed bananas, milk, sugar, egg (or flax egg) and vanilla.  Gently mix in flour and baking powder to make a batter.  Place batter in medium baking dish.  Lay slices of 3rd banana over the top.  Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over batter.  Bake at 160 C for 45-60 minutes until the pudding is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.


  • I used a flax egg, nuttalex margarine and soy milk so mine was vegan.  
  • A flax egg is a 2 tablespoon of flaxmeal or ground linseeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water.  
  • I added quite a bit more flour than Kari's recipe so I might scale it back to 1 1/2 cups flour (and 4 tsp baking powder) to have a better cake to sauce ratio.  
  • The cake wasn't overly sweet but the sauce was quite sweet and I would reduce the sugar in it to 1/3 cup in the sauce next time and have added in pinch of salt to the sauce.  
  • I did not have the third banana to place over the top of the pudding which might have made the cake sweeter.

On the Stereo:
Song of Evil Reindeer: Reindeer Section

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Orange, grapefruit and lime lemonade

This is a quick post with a quick lemonade idea.  We love making lemonade and limade but I was interested to try some grapefruit instead.  I was a bit unsure about using the sour grapefruit and used a few oranges but it made it too sweet.  I ended up adding in the juice of quite a few limes.  You can taste that distinctive sweet bitter flavour of the grapefruit but not quite as much as I would like.  More experiment is needed.  And could come soon as we are heading into the time of winter when fresh fruit is disappointing.

More juice combinations at Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Blackberry limeade (gf, v) 
Moody Blues (pineapple and blackberry juice) (gf, v)
Mulled apple juice (gf, v)
Raspberry lemonade (gf, v)
Spiced red currant and orange punch (gf, v)
Watermelon, banana, strawberry, peach juice

Orange, grapefruit and lime lemonade
Inspired by Green Gourmet Giraffe's Lemonade and Limeade 

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 ruby grapefruit
3 oranges (or less)
1 mandarin (optional)
3-4 limes (or more)
Soda water
Ice blocks and fresh mint, for garnish

Heat water and sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved to make a sugar syrup.

Juice the fruit and add to the sugar syrup.  (NB it is more like 2 cups of juice to 1 cup sugar syrup here unlike my lemonade which is 1 cup juice to 1 cup sugar syrup because the oranges were quite sweet.)

Serve about 1/4 citrus mixture with 3/4 soda water or to taste.  Garnish with ice blocks and fresh mint if desired.

UPDATE July 2017: Made this again with 1 large ruby grapefruit and some smaller lemons and limes (I think it was 1 1/2 cups juice with one third grapefruit and one third a mix of lemon and lime.  I made sugar syrup with 1 cup water and 1 1/2 cup sugar.)  Really loved it.

On the Stereo:
Edgar Allan Poe's Haunted Palace: The Tiger Lillies

Sunday 18 June 2017

Sourdough hybrid olive oil bread

I meant to make sourdough bread this weekend.  I forgot.  Some days it feels like my sourdough starter is just hanging in there.  (Actually I made amazing brussel sprouts, red capsicum, green olive and goats cheese pizza with it on Friday but the starter still needs another feed desperately.)  So I keep searching for easy way to use up the bread.  In this case, easy means that I don't need to take 12-16 hours to make a loaf of bread.

I really love my fast track pizza dough that uses a combination of sourdough (for taste) and commercial dried yeast (for fast rising).  So I have been interested in trying one of my favourite regular yeasted breads with some sourdough.  I made it on a Sunday morning recently before we went to the Cat Cafe.  It still didn't seem that quick but at least it can work on a day when I want bread but forget to start it with sourdough the night before.

Here is a step by step photo collage of the process.  In making the olive oil bread without sourdough, I found 30 minutes long enough for it to double in size.  With sourdough I had to wait 60 minutes.  I am not sure if that is because I reduced the dried yeast or because it is winter and dough generally takes longer to rise.  You might think there are three photos that are the same in the collage.  However that is showing how little difference there is because a) when the loaf first doubled in size, b) when I punched it down and kneaded it briefly, and c) when it rose for 30 minutes.  The end rise was light enough that this similarity seemed ok.

I was happy with the loaf but it needed some sort of slashing.  I have got better at slashing the free form loaves on trays but am not sure how to slash when in a tin.  However I can see that the side was straining without the slash.  It made it very easy for Sylvia to break off a bit of the crust.

As we were headed out to the Cat Cafe, I didn't have the luxury of waiting for the bread to cool for an hour and eating it warm.  I meant to leave it, but once one naughty small child grabbed a chunk from the loaf, I caved in and we all had a piece before we left.  It was good but you can see in the above pic that the crumb was a bit moist because the bread cooks after it comes out of the oven.

This photo shows what the crumb should look like if one has more patience than I showed.  It was a lovely bread.  However I found the crumb quite close compared to the sourdough loaves I am used to baking with far more open crumb.  Despite this, I am sure I will return to this loaf when I need to bake bread and use up sourdough starter but don't have time to wait for my usual sourdough loaves.

More quick ways to use sourdough starter on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Celia's overnight sourdough bread  (v)
Fast track sourdough pizza bases (v)
Kale sourdough tortillas (v)
Sourdough toss-off flatbreads (v)
Spelt sourdough flatbreads (v) 

Sourdough hybrid olive oil bread
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 1 loaf

400g starter
200ml lukewarm water
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
400g white bread flour
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
extra flour for kneading

1. Mix yeast, sourdough starter, chia seeds and warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in flour to make a dry shaggy dough.  Leave for 10 minutes. 

2. Add olive oil and salt.  Stir to combine as much as possible.  It is not easy to add the oil and salt  but once you start kneading, it comes together beautifully.  Knead on a lightly floured board for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough.

3. Scrape out the mixing bowl to clean it as much as possible before placing dough ball inside.  Cover with teatowel.  Rise for 30-60 minutes until about doubled in size.

4. Punch down and lightly knead for about a few seconds.  Return it to the bowl and cover with the damp teatowel and rise another 30 minutes.

5. Knead briefly and either place on a greased tray or place in a greased bread tin.  I do the latter (my bread tin in 25cm x 9cm and about 10cm high).  I cut it in half, roughly knead each half into a neat ball and then press the two halves of the dough into the tray so they fill out the corners and are flat on top.  Cover with teatowel and leave to rise about two thirds (usually about 30 minutes).  Mine gets to about an inch from the top of the tin but rises to the top once baked.

6. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 240 C.  To steam the oven I sprayed in the oven once the loaf was in.  Bake bread for about 25-30 minutes or until dough is a deep golden brown and hollow when knocked.  (Mine took 25 minutes.)  The crust might seem quite crusty when it is first out of the oven but once it cools it will soften and be full of flavour.

7. Tip loaf out of tin (or off the tray) and cool on a wire rack.  Leave for at least an hour, and more if possible, before cutting the first slice.  Lasts well for a few days.

Note: this bread takes about 2 and 1/2 hours to 3 hours to make and then another hour or so to sit before cutting.  

On the Stereo:
I Love Paris: 18 sensuous French classes: Various Artists

Thursday 15 June 2017

Cat Cafe, Melbourne CBD

A few weekends back, I went to the Cat Cafe in Melbourne with my dad, Sylvia and her friend.  It was interesting but I don't feel the need to go back.  I am content to just spend time with my own cat rather than strangers and prefer to go places where food is more important than cats.  Which is not to say it does not cater to those who want to pat every cat they see and are happy to have hot drinks in cardboard cups.  But the cats were cute so here are some pictures.

The building is down an old laneway in the heart of Melbourne, near the corner of Queen and Latrobe Streets.  Blink and you would miss it.  We've booked and paid $12 each so we make the effort to find it.  (That does not include drinks and snacks.)

Look up and you will see the sign.  (Can you spot this sign on the left of the middle window in the photo higher up?)

Inside you sign a disclaimer (including that your children are 8 years or older which I assume means you are in trouble if you have a child under 8 and there is any trouble.)  There are two rooms.  We first enter the lower room.

The cats are pretty sleepy in this room.  I expected them to be more entertaining.  I expected more people and more cats.  But there is lots of unexpected space.

So we go upstairs.  A cat sits and watches up come up the stairs.

I like the upstairs better.  Lots of tables and chairs where we can have a drink and a snack.  We also watch the kitties have their feed.

Lots of cosy corners.

The cats still don't seem to spend a lot of time on the play equipment.

But at least we can see who they are.  Each cat has a photo, a name and a bio.

We each choose a snack (from Love Eat Cake by Lisa).  Actually I choose two.  I have the cheese and vegemite biscuit that is so so so cute.  The sweet food looks good and is yummy too but nothing is as good as my bikkie.  And I take home the brownie.  I am less impressed with the hot drinks in cardboard cups.  I understand there is no kitchen but I never drink tea from cardboard cups.

Obviously the cats disagree.  A couple of moggies are curious about what is on the tables.  However they only are there after we have finished.

I didn't really have a favourite cat but I was quite taken by the white one called Jasper.  It reminded me a bit of our white cat who died last year.  The box behind Jasper is really cute.

Here are more cats.  (And Jasper again.)  They are all rescue cats that live at the cafe.

We are only allotted 1 hour.  It goes by quickly.  Soon we are back at the entrance surrounded by gifts which are very tempting for the kids.  I pass on the laser light toy and the catnip and am glad to head how to our own Shadow cat.

Cat Cafe
30 Guildford Lane, Melbourne 3000
Between La Trobe Street and Little Lonsdale Street
Accessible from Queen Street or Sutherland Street
(03) 9642 8540
10am-6pm, 7 days a week

Monday 12 June 2017

Apple sponge (pudding)

It was always "apple sponge" in my childhood.  And it was often apple sponge for dessert.  I add pudding to the name for those who think sponge is a light fluffy cake (as in Australia) or a dense buttery cake (as in the UK).  It is a dish I only make in winter when the cold dark nights demand a warm baked pudding like my mum used to make.

Though to be honest, as a child I always resented having apple sponge rather than apricot sponge.  Now I appreciate that stewed apples are far more practical than stewed apricots.  This dessert makes me nostalgic for nights waiting at the table with my siblings as my mum's big serving spoon dug into the steaming pudding.  I don't make puddings much.  Fortunately the tradition continues because my mum still makes apple sponge for Sylvia.  And it was Sylvia who requested I make apple sponge for dessert.

I sliced up apples to stew for the pudding while I chatted to a friend.  A kilogram seemed heaps.  I told Sylvia that there would be stewed apple leftover.  But there wasn't.  I like a decent amount of fruit in my pudding.  Just like E loves some cream or ice cream with his.  (I don't!)  We ate ours with ice cream (custard is also good).  It was delicious.  After we had finished a few sneaky spoons made their way into the dish.

I had to make more stewed apple the next day.  It was quite a lot of apple and took a while to bring it to the boil.  The first time I simmered it for 5 minutes after it boiled.  It was quite mushy, especially once it had been baking.  The second time I turned off the heat after it boiled and the apple sliced kept their shape.  I slice mine quite thinly like my mum used to (2-3mm thick).

I made the apple sponge vegan because that was what we had in the house.  I wish I could take some better photos but I will always make this pudding when the nights are dark in winter.  And it is usually such a palaver making warm puddings (because I don't do it often) that I end up serving them late and in a hurry.  So these photos will do and this post will remind me how to make it next time it is requested.

More of mum's desserts on Green Gourmet Giraffe blog:
Apricot crumble
Apricot sponge (v)
Bread and butter pudding
Chocolate pudding (v)
Golden syrup dumplings (v)
Rice pudding (gf, v)

Apple Sponge Pudding
From my mum
Serves 4

65g softened butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg or 1 flax egg
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup milk
stewed apples (see below)

Mix the butter, sugar, egg, flour and milk to make a thick batter.  Spread stewed apples at the bottom of a greased medium sized baking dish. Spoon the batter over the apples and smooth. Bake for 45 minutes at 180 C till the batter is cooked (check with a skewer).

Stewed apples

1 kg apples
1/2 cup water 
2 heaped tsp sugar, or to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
shake of cinnamon

Peel, quarter, core and slice apples.  Place in a large saucepan with remaining ingredients.  The sweetness may need adjusting depending on the apples.  Bring to the boil.  Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

NOTES: I made this vegan by using a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed or linseed meal plus 3 tbsp water).  I used soy milk, brown sugar and half white, half wholemeal flour.  If your apples are not warm from stewing, put them in the baking dish and heat in the oven while you make the batter.  Cold apples will mean a longer cooking time.  I had a bit of liquid in my stewed apples and worried it would not work for the apple sponge but they were fine.  I stewed granny smith apples.

On the Stereo:
Le sac des Filles: Camille

Sunday 11 June 2017

Tempeh soup, cardboard park bench and a week of eats

I made a wonderful tempeh stew recently.  The photos were nothing to be proud of so it seemed a good time to tell you I avoided finishing laying the astroturf in the backyard by making a park bench with the astroturf cardboard rolls and a stanley knife.  Sylvia's teddy bear Mr Cuddles loved it.  I have discovered it is for kids not adults.  And if this little piece of cardboard craft is not enough, I will also tell you about a week of dinners.

Stews are ugly at the best of times.  This one indeed tasted much better than it looked.  And I just haven't had the time to surround it by food props, which is the only way to make a stew look good.  But when you have a grumpy child who has been on a sleepover and now is demonstrating why she really did need a decent amount of sleep to function properly, it a victory to just get dinner on the table, any old way it looks.

I made the stew as a vehicle for dumplings.  The stew was delicious but the dumplings weren't quite right.  I didn't add baking powder as I mixed and matched recipes.  As I dropped them into the stew I regretted the lack of a raising agent.  I regretted it even more as I ate them.  The were dense and disappointing rather than lovely and fluffy.  However all was forgiven because the stew was so good.

I based the stew on a favourite tempeh and corn soup.  But I changed up the flavours and added lots more vegies.  I have always liked the soup because the tempeh gives enough of an imitation of chicken to be substantial but not enough to taste like meat.  So it was also in this stew.  I hope that if I try it again with some baking powder the dumplings might work too.  (Will update when I get to do this.)  However the stew was so good, especially with rice, that I would make it again without dumplings.

The stew saw us through a lot of the week.  I love it even more because of all those leftovers making for easy nights after work.  And while reflecting on this, it seemed a good time to share my week of dinners.

Sunday - Tempeh stew
Monday - Tempeh stew
Tuesday  - Tempeh stew with rice and broccoli
Wednesday - Takeaway fish and chips
Thursday - Lo mein
Friday - Tofu besan omelet and broccoli, cauliflower and fried potatoes
Saturday -  Eating out at Shakahari

The fish and chips were from a new local shop after a maths night.  I didn't read the notice and assumed it was a night of maths games like a few years back.  But it was a night to give parents tips on helping kids develop maths strategies.  I was glad I misread the notice.  I might not have gone but it was useful and we enjoyed the fish and chips, though our corn jacks (because we don't eat fish) was a bit overcooked.

And I will make some more comments on the week of eating.  Breakfast was mostly yoghurt and weetbix bites.  Lunch was often a cheese or salad sandwich with an apple.  Above is one of my fancier lunches on a weekend after riding our bikes to the farmers market for bagels.  I had leftover omelet, leftover fried potatoes (a bit like these) which were hearty with my favourite salad sandwich fillings of the moment - purple cabbage, carrot and spinach with a lick of mayo.

I also ate out a few times.  Probably more than usual.  Brunch at the Snug, lunch at Acustica and dinner at Shakahari.  E and I went out for dinner while Sylvia was at a sleepover birthday party.  Firstly we saw Things to Come at the cinema which is a fine understated  and beautiful movie about change in a fiftysomething woman's life.  I could not resist tasting a vegemite choc top at Cinema Nova.  It was a little grey and too much vegemite for me but worth tasting once.

The meal at Shakahari was very impressive.  We shared the Teff Seed Debut for a starter.  It was most impressive.  I loved the warm teff and besan flatbread.  The "curried black turtle bean and yellow split pea dip" was more like a stew than a dip but had wonderful flavour.  E had the Legendary Satay Shakahari.  He was very happy with his meal and could see why it was had been on the menu since 1978.  I went with a more modern Rice plus Rice.  It was a thick warming miso stew with daikon, swede, pumpkin and mushrooms accompanied by wild rice, brown rice, turmeric chestnuts and pickled cucumber.  As the waiter said, it was health food but substantial and very tasty. A bit like my stew.

More dumpling recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Baked blushing dumplings 
Bean and beer stew with dumplings (v)
Cauliflower and zucchini soup with dumplings
Golden syrup dumplings (v)
Strawberry dumplings (v)
Tahini stew with feta and dill dumplings (v) 

Tempeh vegetable stew with dumplings
A Green Gourmet Giraffe recipes inspired by here, here, All Recipes and Sandra Vungi Vegan
Serves 6

1-2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
300g tempeh
1 litre stock
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium sweet potato, cubed
1 tsp cider vinegar
kernels of 3 corn cobs
2 handfuls of chopped kale chopped (about 7 small stalks)

For the dumplings:
1 cup plain flour
2/3 cup soy milk
1-2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp nooch
1 tbsp (olive) oil
2 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp seeded mustard
½ tsp salt
Fry onion and celery in 2-3 tsp of oil until soft (this took me 8-10 minutes).  Add in garlic and smoked paprika and stir for about a minute. 

Meanwhile squeeze as much liquid from the tempeh as possible, crumble with your hands then fry in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 10 minutes to brown it.

Add 1 litre stock, tempeh, sweet potatoes, potatoes and vinegar to the onion mixture.  Season well (as the corn and sweet potato will sweeten the stew).  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until potato is starting to soften.

While stew is simmering, make the dumplings by mixing all the ingredients together.

Once potatoes are softened add in corn and kale.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Drop in dessertspoons of the dumplings and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  They should look fluffier and you can test one by cutting it open and checking it has cooked.

If you want to make the stew without dumplings, you may need a spoon or two of cornflour towards the end to thicken it slightly

On the Stereo:
Fearless - Taylor Swift