Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Vegan MoFo

This has been Vegan MoFo--Vegan Month of Food where vegans all over the world blog what they eat so people can see we don’t just eat sticks and leaves and that compassionate eating can be delicious.

Things I have learned this month:

I really need to learn to use the new camera. Spiderman took all the lovely pictures and was getting a wee bit testy by the end snapping pix while the food was getting cold.. Thank you Best Beloved for all your help!

I really like broccoli. A lot. I didn’t even think I did like broccoli but in August we ate some tenderstem broccoli and it was love at first bite. I cannot get enough of its greeny goodness. Then I discovered roasted broccoli and it was all I thought about. I even dreamt of its crunchy goodness. We have eaten broccoli 7 times in one month. That may be a record.

That my food is beautiful food. That the colours and flavours are exciting and everything tastes so fresh and delicious when there is no suffering on your plate.

That we eat well. We eat a diet high in fruit and vegetables-we get way more than our 5 a day. That we eat a diet high in whole foods--not processed foods and that we eat home cooked meals 99% of the time.

When you know about animal suffering--it just makes sense to follow a cruelty free diet. There are people who say to me “I don’t want to know because I don’t want to give up foods I love.” well let me tell you, there are plenty of foods out there that are delicious and way better for you than animal products. They don’t cause suffering and taste great. Hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes and see you next Vegan MoFo!

Monday, 29 November 2010

BBQ Tempeh with potatoes and roasted broccoli

We had a bit of tempeh hanging around in the fridge as well as some broccoli that needed to be used up. There were local new potatoes I had bought on the weekend that wanted using as well so I threw this together with a bit o’ BBQ sauce for a tangy, down home flavour. I also slow cooked some onions until they were brown and caramelised to go with the boiled potatoes and roasted broccoli. I threw a yellow pepper in to quick roast as well as it was just hanging out in the crisper feeling lonely. 

A word about BBQ sauce. Everyone has their favourite brand that can be squeezed from a plastic bottle, but I have yet to find one that didn’t have lots of High Fructose Corn Syrup or Glucose-fructose syrup or loads of unnecessary fillers. It is just about as easy to whip this one up in the time it takes for you to dig around in your overcrowded fridge or pantry and find that bottle with the crusty screw top because the last person who used it didn’t wipe it down only to discover that the bottle expired last summer..

This recipe is adapted from a tiny book called Vegan A Go-Go by the lovely tattooed Sarah Kramer that was a Christmas gift from our friend Karen. Here is a picture of it sizzling in the pan in front of my beloved vita-mix blender. Doesn't it look scrummy?

BBQ Sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 TB tomato puree (paste)
3 TB maple syrup (I cheated and did 2 TB maple syrup and 1 TB agave cos I ran out of MS)
2 TB molasses--preferably blackstrap as it is a bigger source of iron
1 TB Dijon mustard
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp liquid smoke

I can’t find liquid smoke here so I just shook in about 10 shakes of smoky Chipotle Tabasco.

Stir together and heat until bubbling. That’s it. I poured it over tempeh that had been browned and had the onions, potatoes and roasted veg on the side. BBQ sauce makes it feel like summer instead of these “arctic winds” and snow we’ve been having. Finger lickin’ good.

Walnut Crusted Quiche with Roasted Broccoli

I loved quiche in my omni days. We used to visit a restaurant called La Madeleine that had all this gorgeous, rustic French food. They also served strawberries Romanoff which we have veganized --but that will be a post for summer when the strawberries are in season.

But you can’t make quiche without breaking a few eggs, I hear you cry. Fear not, dear reader, Spidergrrl to the rescue with a quiche made from silken tofu. Seriously. Silken tofu is great when you want a thick pudding-y type texture. You can make a silk pie with it that is to swoon over as well as this quiche. This recipe was adapted from the blog Fat Free Vegan and her post on crustless tofu quiche. http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/12/mini-crustless-tofu-quiches.html  I like a bit of a crust and this wholemeal walnut crust delivers a healthy and savoury punch to hold up the delicious quiche. I served it with roasted tender stem broccoli because I love it and can’t get enough of its roasty goodness.

Wholemeal Walnut Crust

Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F
1 cup wholemeal pastry flour (not bread flour--it’ll be too tough--I used spelt)
½ cups walnuts
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 TB olive oil
¼ cup “milk” I used oat milk
Pulse the flour and walnuts in your food processor until the walnuts are like course crumbs. Then add the baking powder, salt and oil and milk and mix until a stiff dough forms. Press into a greased pie plate (important to grease it!) and bake for 5 minutes.

When you take it out to cool bump up the oven to 190 C/375 F.

Wash out your food processor and let it dry. Then start work on the quiche.

5 sun dried tomatoes (not oil packed) soaked in a bit of hot water
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 small pepper (or half a large one) finely diced
Large pinch dried rosemary
Lots of grinds of black pepper
4 strips smoked tofu, diced--I used Taifun smoked tofu with almond and sesame

In a greased pan saute the onion and pepper until soft and add the black pepper and rosemary and drained sundried tomatoes and tofu. Stir to coat with spices and then set aside.

In the mean time while the above stuff is sizzling in the pan work on the quiche.

1 box firm silken tofu put into a clean tea towel and squeezed over the sink to get rid of some of the water. Squeeze until it looks like crumbly ricotta. I used Mori Nu brand
¼ cup “milk”
2 TB nutritional yeast
1 TB arrowroot or cornstarch
1 tsp sesame tahini
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp turmeric (for colour)
Psst salt

Whiz all this together in your handy dandy food processor until it looks completely smooth and custard-y. Pour this into the pan with the rosemary onion, pepper, sundried toms and smoked tofu and mix well. Spoon into the crust and bake for 40 minutes.

Then you can work on your broccoli. Drizzle a bit of olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil to ring the changes) and black pepper and sea salt. When the quiche comes out it needs to sit for 10 minutes to firm up so crank up the oven to 220 C/ 425 F and roast that broccoli for 8-10 minutes until it’s all sizzle sizzle and roasty toasty. Then serve!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sticky Asian Buffalo Tempeh with Roasted Veggies

Have I mentioned how much I love my Vita-mix blender? Yes, we paid nearly a month’s salary for it, but it has something like a 2 horsepower motor and it does everything. I mean everything. Besides just heavy duty blending it can make soup and ice cream (not at the same time obviously) and we use it at least twice a day. We make a power smoothie for breakfast and I use it for cooking dinner in the evenings. I love my vita-mix and as Spiderman always says, the vita-mix loves me too. This is a recipe from the cookbook that came with my blender. This Asian Buffalo Sauce is a low fat but flavourful twist on traditional Buffalo wing sauce. That’s according to the blurb at the bottom of the recipe. When I was an omnivore I never ate Buffalo wings so I can’t say how this compares, but I can say it is delicious. I wanted something quick so I made it with barley couscous and roasted broccoli and carrots. Done and on the table in about 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to  220 C/ 425 F

To prepare the tempeh:
Cut an 8 oz packet tempeh into strips and boil for 10 minutes in water with a splash of tamari soy sauce and a blop of marmite to take out any bitterness and infuse the tempeh with a bit of flavour. While that’s boiling make your sauce in your blender.

Asian Buffalo Sauce 
¼ cup tamari soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp (or more) Tabasco or hot sauce of your choice
2 TB agave syrup
1 orange peeled and pulled into segments
Piece of peeled ginger as big as your thumb (I used 2 tsp BART ginger paste)
1 clove crushed garlic
2 inch strip orange peel
Stick it all in your blender and blend until the orange is completely pulped. I guess you could use a food processor for this if you don’t think your blender can hack it.

When the tempeh is done drain it and let it cool while you get your vegetables sorted. I just wanted some broccoli and carrots. I drizzled them with olive oil and massaged it into the broccoli. Then I  ground on some pepper and sprinkled on some sea salt.

Heat a non stick skillet and when it is hot enough for the tempeh to go in put the vegetables in oven and set the timer for 9 minutes. Cook the tempeh on medium high until browned. Keep flipping so all pieces get browned. In the mean time pour some boiling water over your couscous and set aside. Use whatever kind (we like barley) and however much you want. Just do it like it says on the packet, ya dig?

When the tempeh is browned then pour the sauce over it straight from the blender and let it heat up and bubble. The agave will caramelise in the hot pan and go all gooey. It will look a bit runny, but it thickens up as it cools. Remove from the heat and wait until the timer goes off and the veg are smoking hot and roasted and all brown and crunchy/crispy. Fluff your couscous with a fork and you’re good to go. Quick and easy and tangtastic (there’s that word again. If I use it enough the OED will adopt it, I feel sure) Enjoy!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Chipotle Corn and Black Bean Soup

This is a favourite recipe because it is a cook once/ eat twice meal. The soup makes 6 generous servings so perfect for busy weeks when all you want to do is heat something up when you get home. This soup is smoky and spicy and dare I say it--gumbo-esqe?  It is adapted from Dreena Burton’s wonderful cookbook Vive Le Vegan.

Chipotle Corn and Black Bean Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ tsp sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 ribs chopped celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil packed) soaked in ¾  cup hot water
2 tins black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock --I like to use marmite in my stock for a rich flavour
1 ½ cups water
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamari soy sauce
½ -1 tsp Smoky Chipotle Tabasco
2 bay leaves
1 ½ cups frozen corn, defrosted
Juice of 1 lime

She garnishes with sliced avocado which is clearly out for me as I am allergic to it.

In a large pot over medium heat cook your onions, garlic and salt and pepper--use oil or what ever you use. I use FryLight. Let cook a few minutes.

Add the celery, peppers, carrots and spices and stir again and cover and let cook for 6-7 minutes until everything starts to soften.

Add the beans, vegetable stock, water, sundried tomatoes and their tomato-y delicious soaking liquid, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, Tabasco. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf--don’t be like those mad old lunch ladies who used it leave it in, plonk it on your plate and then ominously warn small children “Don’t eat the leaf” and scare them making them think it was poisonous. Or was that just me then?

Any way, as I was saying. Remove the bay leaf and then add ½ cup of the corn and using an immersion blender or stick blender as I call it, puree the soup until it is smooth but still has some texture. Add the rest of the corn and cover and simmer for a few more minutes then add your lime juice.  Serve over brown rice or whatever grain you fancy. When we eat part 2 we’ll probably use quinoa. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

We interupt this programme for an important weather bulletin

We have snow! Granted, not very much--more like a dusting of powdered sugar on the grass---but it is snow! It snows every year here, but usually waits until February or early March to do it. Those snows are deeper--often a day off from school sort of snow. This was just like a little dusting that melted when the sun came out. By the time you woke up and found the camera it was starting to melt away. But this might mean there is more, heavier snow on the horizon. Will keep you posted. I leave you with a favourite poem by Robert Frost that perfectly reminds me of our sprinkle of snow.

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Secret Ingredient Blondies

Spiderman and I definitely have a sweet tooth, but over the years as we started eliminating ready made processed baked goods and started baking our own vegan ones with wholemeal flour and lower sugar we discovered that commercially made stuff is just too tooth achingly sweet--not to mention that they were most likely sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup or artificial sweeteners. We like our stuff sweet--but not too sweet. When I saw this recipe on No Meat Athlete’s blog  I knew we had to try it. You can see by the photo that we couldn’t wait and had to try it before we photographed it.

Rich, decadent, wholemeal blondies that were not overly sweet and fat free aside from the nuts--a dream come true. Plus they are full of fibre and protein from the secret ingredient that replaces the fat and makes these babies moist and tender. What’s the secret ingredient? Guess. Come on, guess. You’ll never get it in a bajillion years. Give up? OK, lean in close because I’m about to whisper it to you. It’s a tin of white beans.  Seriously. And you’d never know it. All you know is they are dense and moist and chewy and yum.

I cut back the sugar even more that their recipe suggested--from 1 cup down to ½ cup and it was plenty fine as it also had dates in it which are sweet as well. Their recipe called for ¼ cup of rum to give it a butterscotch feel. I didn’t have any rum just laying about because my Pirate friends nicked it  before sailing away somewhere (OK--that’s a lie. I just wanted to say Yo Ho Ho and Bottle of Rum in a Pirate-y voice.) so I subbed ¼ cup maple syrup which also gives it a buttery, sweet flavour. Another reason to reduce the sugar. And when I say maple syrup I mean the good stuff that comes from a tree in Vermont and not that Aunt Jemima rubbish that you put on pancakes, ya dig? They used macadamia nuts but I used walnuts as that was what I had and they were delish. The recipe just said white beans so I chose haricot beans --the kind cowboy beans (baked beans) are made from--because they are a bean high in calcium. Here is a link to the original recipe--if you want to make it their way, but my way was really good too.  http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegan-blondies/ 

Vegan White Bean Blondies

1 ½ cups wholemeal flour--I used wholemeal spelt
1 ½ tsp salt--I used lo-salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup Demerara sugar
1 15oz tin white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup dates--I did ¾ medjool and ¼ deglat noor
¼ cup maple syrup
1 TB apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F

Sift flour, salt, baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and set aside.

In your food processor whiz the beans with the dates and maple syrup. Add the water and vinegar and blitz until it forms a smooth puree.

Fold the bean mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips.

Grease a 9 x13 (my pan was 9 x 12 and they came out fine) and spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes turning the pan around half way through to ensure even cooking. A knife through the centre shouls come out clean. Mine took 28 minutes to get nice and brown on the edges and golden on top.

This is the hard bit: let cool then slice into squares. Ours made 15 squares. We ate 2 while still slightly warm because we were greedy guts and couldn’t wait, as you saw in the photo.

Make them for your friends but don’t tell them the secret ingredient until after they have raved about them.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Walnut Taco Salad With Roasted Fixings

Did you know you can make really good taco “meat” with walnuts? Well you can. This take a bit of day before planning to make it work. You need 2 hours to thicken your yogurt for sour cream. This can be done the day before if needed. You need to soak your walnuts for about 6-8 hours--put them on to soak before you go to work and they’ll be ready when you get in. If you don’t have a high powered blender like we do then you need to soak your cashews for the cheeze sauce overnight. This isn’t the sort of meal you can just decide to have today. But you can decide today and have it tomorrow. It’s totally worth the wait. 

The make ahead of time bits:
Sour Cream
Yes, you can buy something like Tofutti Sour Supreme but it has a bucket load of fat. This is far better for you. All you need to do is thicken some yogurt. I shouldn’t have to tell you again how to do this as I’ve mentioned it several times, but in case you’re just popping in to read and can’t be arsed to go look for it elsewhere--here it is again

Line a colander with a clean tea towel. Pour 500g pot of plain soy yogurt in the tea towel. Tie it up in a hobo bundle and hang it from your tap in the sink. Gravity will make some of the liquid  drip out. After 2 hours you will have thick Greek style yogurt. Scrape it back into the pot it came in and add enough lemon juice to make it taste tangy and sour. That’s all.

Walnut Taco Meat

1 ½ cup walnuts
They need to be soaked for about 6-8 hours. I just put them on to soak before I go to work and then drain them really well when I come home and they are ready.

Pulse in your food processor:
The soaked, drained walnuts
 1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp tamari soy sauce
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Smoky chipotle Tabasco to taste

Pulse until it looks like ground meat. Store in the fridge when not eating. Will last for 3 days in the fridge. Bring to room temperature or heat slightly in a pan before eating if you want it warm.

The fixings. Because taco salad needs fixings. Right?

Roasted Fixings

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F

2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
4 tomatoes, guts scooped out and cut into quarters
1 red onion, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of half a lemon
1 TB agave syrup
1 tsp chilli powder

Mix all these together and put them in a roasting tin. Put the tin in the oven and set the timer for 13 minutes. You need to stir half way through so when the timer goes off stir and back in it goes for another 13 minutes. Now get working on your Vegveeta Cheese sauce.

This is our favourite cheeze sauce recipe. We adapted it from Dreena Burton’s fantastic blog. http://viveleveganrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/03/vegveeta-cheese-dip.html

Vegveeta Cheeze Sauce

½ cup raw cashews (soaked if you need them to soften)
1 TB tahini
1 ½ TB lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup plus 3 TB “milk” --we use oat milk
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp mustard powder
Scant ½ tsp paprika--smoked if you can get it
¼ tsp turmeric--for colour
1 TB arrowroot powder
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 TB rapeseed (canola) oil

Blend it all in the blender until very smooth.
 When the timer goes off and you take the fixings out to stir it will soon be time to  start the cheese sauce heating up. When the timer gets to 10 minutes then begin. In a small saucepan, heat it slowly--over low or medium heat as it can easily scorch--until bubbly and thickened. Remove from heat and take out the fixings and get serving!

We layered ours with a bit of lettuce, roasted fixings, walnut taco meat, cheeze sauce and a blop of sour cream. Spiderman put some olives on his that were lurking in the fridge. Delicious!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

(Not So) Happy Turkey Day

When I was growing up in the 80s it was cool to say things like “Happy VD” for Valentines Day--oh ha ha. Yes I get the witty connection between love and sexually transmitted diseases. We also used to say Happy Turkey Day when we really meant Thanksgiving.  I looked forward to Thanksgiving every year because turkey was my favourite meat. But if you really think about it--it’s not happy for the turkey. Turkey farming is big business. Turkeys are bred to big ole fat butterballs that often cannot walk due to their top heavy bodies or even reproduce normally. They are basically too fat for sex and have to be inseminated. How sad is that?

Many people associate turkey with tradition. What would the meal be without turkey? Well, a lot less cruel for a start. Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving anyway? To remember the founding fathers (and mothers!) who survived that first harsh year in a new country. To remember their friendship with the Native Americans and how they were thankful for God’s help in their survival as well as their Native comrades who helped them cope with the long, hard winter. It is about giving thanks for what we have and counting our blessings not stuffing ourselves with factory farmed turkey virgins. But why can’t people have new traditions? Why is it so hard for some families to support a vegetarian/vegan family member during this time?  Why does their need to be a dead bird on the table to make it a real day of thanks?

This is from the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer:

At the center of our Thanksgiving tables is an animal that never breathed fresh air or saw the sky until it was packed away for slaughter.  At the end of our forks is an animal that was incapable of reproducing sexually.  In our bellies is an animal with antibiotics in its belly. ... And what would happen if there were no turkey?  Would the tradition be broken, or injured, if instead of a bird we simply had the sweet potato casserole, homemade rolls, green beans with almonds, cranberry concoctions, yams, buttery mashed potatoes, pumpkin and pecan pies? ... See your loved ones around the table.  Hear the sounds, smell the smells.  There is no turkey.  Is the holiday undermined?  Is Thanksgiving no longer Thanksgiving? 

Try telling my grandmother this. Sweetie doesn’t even believe that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (or 4th of July) here in England. Every year when I phone her to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving she is surprised and quite sceptical that we are not celebrating the same holidays. I try each year to remind her why the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, but it means nothing. I try to tell her that we have holidays like Bonfire Night and St George’s Day that America doesn’t celebrate, but she’ll have none of it. If they don’t celebrate it in Texas, it can’t be true.

I leave you with a favourite poem by vegan extraordinaire Benjamin Zephaniah whose wit and wisdom and Reggae style make me smile every time. Try reading it out loud for fun. Go on, you know you want to.  This is a poem about eating turkey and Christmas (because we do celebrate Christmas here, Sweetie!) but the sentiment is the same.

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don't eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I'm on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
'I cannot wait for de chop',
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called...Turkey
He said "Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?",
I said "I am not too sure turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash'.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey'll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends 'FOR LIFE'

So, think about what’s on your plate. Count your blessings, name them one by one (as the old hymn says) and create new holiday traditions around love and family. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American mates, but especially to my grandmother Sweetie. I’m thinking of you even if I’m not having turkey. 

Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever eaten raw cookie dough?  These raw cookie bites are kinda like eating raw cookie dough. Brings back memories. When Spiderman and I were in college we used to buy a tube of Pillsbury Slice and Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and spread it on French bread and eat it. Ah, those care free college days. It is a wonder we aren’t dead from all the crap we used to eat. This recipe comes from Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet.

Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup raw almonds
½ cup raw walnuts
Large pinch sea salt--smoked if you can get it
1 cup medjool dates (again, like the raw fudge dung balls it needs to be these large, super sticky dates to make this work)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/3  cup vegan chocolate chips

Pulse  the almonds, walnuts and salt in your food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the dates and the vanilla and process until the mixture sticks together. If it seems dry add a tsp of water then pulse again. Then add your chocolate chips and pulse briefly to distribute.

Turn off the machine and remove the blade and roll into balls and then flatten slightly to make a cookie shape. Store in the fridge. If they last that long.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


In my family, we often call foods by strange names. Bananas are called banjos due to Spiderman once misreading my poor handwriting on a shopping list. Potato waffles are called skiffles. Rice is called mice. There’s even field mice (brown) and lab mice (white). I can hear the vegan police knocking on my door because of an insensitive comment about animal testing and I’m sorry. There is nothing actually funny about animal testing. But mice is funny because it rhymes with rice.  Anyway, you get the idea. It all started when I was a wee nipper back at Cherokee Elementary school. I ordered a book called The Hungry Thing by Jan Slepian and Ann Seidler from Scholastic. It was the tale of this weird blobby creature who wore a sign that said “Feed me” and asked for food like Boop with a Smacker. It was fun trying to guess what the food actually was. For our readers at home: the answer was soup with a cracker. For years we called it that. I think my mum still does. So when I met the Amazing Spiderman we just kind of carried on the tradition. Hence the word Goatmeal for oatmeal. Let me assure the vegan police that no goats are harmed in the making of this food.

I like flavoured goatmeal. I used to like to buy the variety packs so you could choose different flavours. Instant goatmeal was a staple food for me at college. But when you read the labels of instant goatmeal there are often lots of hidden ingredients like way too much sugar and salt not to mention milk powder or whey. Whey is funny. A by product of the cheese industry, it is illegal to dump it in rivers because it can kill fish but perfectly acceptable to use at as a cheap filler in processed food. Go figure. This does not even take into account the packaging issues--all those individual bags lined with foil that can’t be recycled. So what’s a hungry Spidergrrl to do when she is craving some goatmeal-y goodness? Make her own of course!

 Instant Goatmeal a la Spidergrrl

You need some quick oats. Yeah, I can hear my step-dad now--Jamie I know steel cut oats taste better, but we’re going for quick and easy here.

Take out 1 cup of oats and whiz them in a blender until soft and powdery. This is your oat flour which will make it all creamy like porridge. Now I cheat on this bit. I buy something called Ready Brek that is basically whizzed up porridge oats that have been fortified with calcium and B 12 etc. I use this because it gives me a bit more nutrition. But the oat flour is cool too.

Get you a bunch of ziplock bags or containers or whatever you plan to store them in. Measure in your oats and sugar. The recipe I found online was:
¼ cup oats
2 TB oat flour
1 TB sugar

I personally like it half in half so I do:
3 TB oats
3 TB Ready Brek
1  TB sugar

My oats come with a scoop that is exactly 3 TB so it makes it easy. Now add your flavourings and label your bags and you’re ready to go!

Cinnamon Raisin
1 ½ TB raisins
¼-½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch allspice

1 TB dried cranberries
2 tsp desiccated (unsweetened) coconut

1 TB dried mango
1 TB desiccated (unsweetened) coconut

Blueberry and Cream
1 TB dried blueberries
1 TB almond meal (ground almonds--look on the baking aisle)
Replace the TB sugar with 1 TB vanilla sugar

Chocolate Orange
1 TB orange infused raisins (I use Nak’d brand)
1 tsp dark chocolate chips
½ tsp cocoa powder

Then just add boiling water—more if you like it thinner, less if you like it thicker. That’s it! Instant goatmeal!

These are the flavours currently residing in my storage box. I make up 6 of each flavour, store in slide lock ziplocks and store in a large box. That way I’ve always got a choice of flavours. When I eat one I wipe out the bag and store it away until they’re all empty. Then I fill ‘em and start again. These are the flavours I like--what do you like? How do you eat your goatmeal?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Lasagne for Two

We have had lasagne 3 times this month and each time it has been super scrummy, but also super runny. Yum in your tum, but not terrible photogenic. I have been trying to make a smaller lasagne --one that’s just right for 2 greedy people, but not so huge it feeds an army. Well meaning friends have said things like “Just make 2 and freeze the other one!” Have you seen the size of our fridge/freezer? It comes up to my shoulders and cannot possibly hold a pan of food as big as a lasagne. The obvious solution was to a) make a giant one and invite friends over or b) figure out how to make a smaller one. I think I have succeeded. It fits into an 8 x 8 glass pan and gives 2 slices apiece. Allowing us to have one as leftover lunch if we want it (if we can stop ourselves from eating it) or 2 thick veggie laden slices apiece if we‘re feeling on the greedy side. 

This happens to be a soy free lasagne because I didn’t have any tofu on hand to make ricotta. I made it with a white bean puree that was really good and would make an excellent mashed potato substitute in a pinch. I plan on trying it soon with a tofu ricotta, but in the mean time--Lasagne for Two.

Lasagne for Two 

Preheat your oven to slightly over 200 C/400 F
1 onion, cut into big chunks
1 pepper, cut into big chunks
4 tomatoes, guts scooped out and cut into 1/8ths
2 tsp olive oil
1 TB balsamic vinegar
Large pinch oregano and basil and fennel seeds

Mix this all together in a big roasting tin and put in the oven to roast for 25-30 minutes while you sort out the rest of the layers. NOTE: These are the veg I had on hand. Feel free to use whatever you’ve got--but leave the tomatoes in if you can. They make up in tomato flavour for a reduced quantity of red sauce.

In the food processor make your white bean filling.

White Bean Filling
1 tin cannelloni white beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup “milk”--we used oat milk
5 TB vegan parmesan cheese
Large pinch dried basil, rosemary and oregano

Zoosh it all together until it is light and fluffy. This makes an excellent lower carb mash potato sub when heated.

Now make your red sauce. This was where I was falling down. 1 regular sized 400g tin of tomatoes (we call these Mama Bear sized) is too much for a mini lasagne. Hence the fact that as good as it tasted it was suffering from a case of the runs. You could just use half a tin and figure out how to use the other half later in the week, but that could end up getting wasted. I found a Baby Bear sized tin of chopped tomatoes that is 227g and it was perfect.

Red Sauce
Aprox 200g tin tomatoes (or half a 400g tin)
1 TB red wine
3 TB tomato puree
Large pinch dried oregano and basil
1 small clove crushed garlic (or 1 tsp garlic infused olive oil)

Puree this sauce until foamy with an immersion blender and put on the stove top to simmer. Now make the cheesy cashew béchamel sauce.

Cheesy Cashew Béchamel Sauce.
300 ml “milk”--about 1 cup plus 3 TB
¼ cup cashews--soaked overnight to soften them if you don’t have a mega high powered blender like we do
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp mustard powder
¼ tsp each turmeric and paprika--optional for colour
2 tsp arrowroot powder

Blend this in your blender until smooth and then heat on the stove, stirring constantly until thickened.

By now your veg are lovely and roasted and slightly charred. Good. Lower the oven temperature to 180 C/ 350 F and get to layering your lasagne. You’ll need enough lasagne sheets to make 3 layers. We buy no boil spinach lasagne sheets and they are a perfect fit for my 8 x8 pan so we use 3 sheets.

Splash a bit of red sauce in the bottom of your pan. Lay on 1 lasagne sheet. Cover it with red sauce. Spoon half the white bean puree (you may have to spread it around with your hands) and layer on half the roasted veg. Then repeat: lasagne sheet, red sauce (if there is not enough to cover the whole lasagne sheet spoon in a bit of béchamel to fill any gaps) the rest of the white bean puree, the rest of the roasted veg, lasagne sheet. Pour the hot béchamel sauce over the top to cover the whole lasagne sheet.

Cover with foil and bake at 180/350 for 30 minutes. Take out and let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

This was mega yum and packed with goodness from the tomato sauce and roasted vegetables as well as the protein packed white bean puree. It held together well and wasn’t runny in the least. I can’t wait to try it again but with cashew ricotta, but I think Spiderman is a wee bit lasagned out, if you know what I’m saying. And if you are careful you can wash the foil and reuse it for your next lasagne! Hooray!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Leek and Sweet Potato Soup

Couldn’t be easier. This fast and easy soup is warm and comforting on cold autumn nights. Plus it’s full of protein from the chickpeas. Bonus.

Leek and Sweet Potato Soup

2 leeks, topped and tailed and then slit lengthwise to look for grit. Grit loves to hide in leeks.
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp dried thyme
½ - 1 tsp red pepper flakes--to taste
1 TB tomato puree  (That’s to-mah-to puree for all my British mates and to-may-to paste to all my American peeps)
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Tabasco sauce to taste

Saute your leeks in a bit of oil or whatever you use until softened. Add your sweet potato and thyme and red pepper flakes and tomato puree. Stir to coat. add the stock, bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft. Add your chickpeas and let them heat for 5 minutes in the soup. Then blitz the whole thing in a blender or use an immersion/stick blender like I do.  Top with some cracked black pepper and soup is sorted.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Raw Chocolate Chilli Fudge

Never eaten raw fudge? This stuff is hella-good. And rich so you wont need much to satisfy your cravings. Almonds are high in calcium--30g provides 9% of the RDA for calcium and 27% of magnesium. They are also good sources of zinc and vitamin E. Walnuts are packed with B vitamins as well as Omega 3 and Omega 6. Dates are high in iron and unsweetened cocoa powder is high in antioxidants.

Raw Chocolate Chilli Fudge

¾ cup almonds
¾ cup walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Large pinch sea salt--smoked if you can get it
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ to 1 tsp red chilli flakes (to taste)
6-8 Medjool dates--depending on size. They really need to be medjool dates--other dates are not sticky enough. I have had OK luck with ¾ medjool dates and ¼ other smaller less sticky ones in a pinch

In your food processor, grind your nuts (no sexist jokes please!) until coarsely ground. Add everything but the chilli flakes and whiz until it sticks together. If it seems to dry add 1-2 tsp water and whiz again until it makes a sticky, fudgy ball. Then sprinkle in the chilli flakes and kneed them into the dough. Be sure to have turned off your food processor and removed the blade before attempting this bit. Dont come crying to me if you accidentally chop your fingers off.

Now you have 2 choices. You can press it into an 8 x 8 pan and make brownies you can cut or do like we do and roll them into balls. Salty, spicy chocolate balls. Again--no jokes. I think they look a bit like dung balls and like to pretend Im a dung beetle as I roll them up, but thats just me.

However you do it--pan or balls--store them both in the fridge until they are all gobbled up.  

I leave you with my favourite joke about dung (yes, I have a favourite joke about dung. It’s from an old Monty Python episode)

What’s brown and sounds like a bell? Give up?? DUNG!!!!!!!!!!!! I laugh out loud every time I tell it. Seriously.
Coming soon--raw chocolate chip cookies!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Mediterranean Risotto with Roasted Veg and Broccoli

This is the first time we ever tried roasting broccoli and whoa it was good. With my new found love of broccoli I didn’t think there was any way to make it taste better. There is. Roasting it brings out a whole new flavour and that flavour is yum. But I’m putting the cart before the horse. Roasting broccoli comes at the end.

This recipe is adapted from  a Weight Watchers cookbook I picked up at the library. I adore risotto but most recipes are for 4 people--and the 2 of us can eat like 4 people when it comes to yummy food. Now just because you can doesn’t mean you should, ya dig? This recipe is perfect. It is for 2 people. It only uses ½ cup Arborio rice. I know what you’re thinking, because I have thought it myself. That isn’t near enough for 2 people. But it is. Don’t you trust your Auntie Spidergrrl? It is so packed with vegetables you don’t need all the rice. And you’ve got roasted veg on the side (including that dreamy roasted broccoli) so there’s plenty to fill your belly with.

Mediterranean Risotto

Preheat your oven to slightly higher than 200 C/400 F
6 sun dried tomatoes (not oil packed) snipped into bits and covered in hot water
½ cup Arborio rice
1 large red onion--chop half into dice and the other half into big chunks for roasting
1 fennel--chop half into dice and the other half into big chunks for roasting (if you can’t get fennel then just do some celery for the risotto but not for the roasting)
1 red pepper--chop half into dice and the other half into big chunks for roasting
½ cup chopped smoked tofu (or mushrooms)I used Taifun smoked tofu with almond and sesame
¼ cup chopped olives
50ml (2oz) dry white wine
2 cups simmering vegetable stock
½ tsp each dried basil and oregano
2 TB vegan parmesan cheese

2 cups tenderstem broccoli drizzled with 1 ½ tsp olive oil and pepper--put this aside until the end.

Take your onion, fennel and pepper chunks and drizzle with 1 ½ tsp olive oil and a pinch of dried basil and oregano. Put them on one side of a large roasting tin (leave room for the broccoli which goes in for the last 10 minutes.)

Heat your skillet to medium  with a bit of oil. I cheat and lower the fat and use FryLight--think PAM in the US.  Put the roasting veg in the oven to do their thing. When the oil/FryLight is hot add your diced onion, fennel and pepper (and mushrooms/celery if you are using) to the skillet  and stir until softened. Start your stock boiling and reduce heat to simmer. Add your rice and stir to coat with hot oil.

Add your wine and allow it to bubble up for a few minutes then add ¼ of the hot stock and keep stirring as the stock is absorbed. Add another ¼ of the stock and keep stirring.

When you are about half way through (with about 10 minutes left) put the broccoli in the oven. Set your oven timer for 10 minutes. Add the sun dried tomatoes and their liquid and keep stirring until it absorbed. Also add the smoked tofu (if using) and olives at this time. Then add the remaining liquid and keep stirring until all is absorbed. Add the dried herbs and the vegan parmesan cheese and stir to coat. Twist on lots of cracked black pepper then remove from the heat and let it rest until the timer goes off. For me this was about one minute. I checked the broccoli at 9 minutes and it seemed good so I took it out early. The whole risotto only takes about 25 minutes to cook from start to finish.

This was amazingly rich and satisfying. All those lovely veg really fill you up. And as I’ve said the broccoli was verging on orgasmic