Sunday, 18 November 2012

Recipe: Tofu Bouillabaisse

Another super simple stew recipe lifted from the wonderful book "The Vegan Slow Cooker" by Kathy Hester. The original recipe calls for the use of saffron, which I skipped due to its cost and it really is only there for show rather than taste. But if you are flushed with cash, use it! You can even find it in the supermarket, next to all the other herbs and spices.

What you will need:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
small fennel bulb, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, cut into half moons
3 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
1 pack extra firm tofu, cubed or roughly chopped into chunks
1 can diced tomatoes or 3 cups chopped fresh
1 and a half cups water
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
juice of half lime

This part can be done the night before: Heat oil in a pan over medium heat and saute onion, if using, for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, if using, and saute for 3 more minutes. Store this in the fridge over night, along with cut up tofu, fennel, carrots, celery and potatoes. make sure you use an airtight container.

In the morning: combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve.

Recipe: Split pea and lentil soup

A little while back, I was browsing in Planet Books which has a considerable vegan cookbook collection, when I came across this beauty: "The Vegan Slow Cooker" by Kathy Hester. I like using my slow cooker because it is so easy and you can plan do most of the work overnight, switch it on in the morning, go to work and then come home to a hot meal and a house full of aromas. And I do believe slow cooked meals are tastier, too.
My main problem, however, was finding a cookbook with just vegan slow cooker recipes. So imagine my glee when I found this book.
Over the last few weeks, my partner and I have been trying out a few recipes. This one is absolutely delicious. The split pea gives it a nice thick consistency and the herbs make it very aromatic. Try it!

What you will need:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced (optional)
1 cup lentils
1 cup split peas
6 cups water
2 tbsp vegan chicken flavoured bouillon (You can use Massel which is gluten free and vegan. I have fond it at IGAs and in health food shops.)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried tarragon
Half tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried rosemary
170g baby spinach
salt, to taste

You can do this part the night before if you wish: If you are using the onion, saute it over medium heat in a pan, for 3 to 5 minutes. Store it in a container in the fridge, ready to use the next morning.

In the morning: combine the sauteed onion, lentils, peas, water, bouillon, bay leaves, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary and salt in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Approximately 30 minutes before serving, add spinach and stir through.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Recipe: Ginger pasta with zucchini

I found this one in Alicia Silverstone’s book “The Kind Diet”. It is super easy to make, as you will see. I only tweaked it a little bit to suit my needs.

What you will need:
Pasta of whatever shape, size and quantity you like. It doesn’t really matter. I used two 250g packs of gluten free rice pasta.
1 block of firm tofu, roughly mashed up with your hands or fork
1 tbsp olive oil
Half onion, chopped (optional)
Small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
A few dashes of tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp ginger juice (grate a 5cm piece of ginger and squeeze out the juice with your fingers)

Cook the pasta according to the packet directions, drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a pan and if using, add onion and sauté until onion is translucent. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 or 2 tbsp water if the onions start to stick to the pan. Add the zucchini and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes to until it softens. Then add tofu and tamari/soy sauce. Saute for 2 minutes and then stir in ginger juice and cooked pasta. Toss ingredients and serve.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Product: Redwood 'Wot No Dairy?' Dessert

On my recent visit to PAWS, I came across a shelf full of these little tubs of yum. I grabbed the peach and apricot one to try and my partner opted for the raspberry one.

These are vegan, and do not contain any soy. I find with these sorts of products they can often be too sweet but this one hit the right balance, being sweetened by fruit juices. The texture is creamy and yoghurt like.

These are best served chilled though so long as you haven't opened the seal, can be stored in a cupboard until you are ready to chill and then eat.

The Redwood website indicates there are other flavours available, such as strawberry, black cherry and plain. I did not see these at PAWS but will keep my eyes open in case they come in, as I would like to try them too.

Product: Redwood Gourmet Meat Free Fish Style Fingers

I picked up this product at PAWS recently. I am not big on mock meats, though my partner does like them, so we bought a pack to try out. I haven't eaten fish fingers since I was a child. Even when I ate fish, I was very very picky and only ate certain types, cooked in certain ways. I was certainly not keen on anything that smelled or tasted 'too fishy'. So, I approached this product a little warily.

To my relief, I found it to be not too fishy. As they cooked in the oven, they gave off a fishy aroma but it was not over powering. Also, when eating it, the fishiness was there but not too strongly. The texture had the flakiness of fish fingers and I loved the crunchy coating.

I had mine with a dab or two of tomato sauce. A salad on the side would make it a nice meal.

Be warned however, tasty as they are, they are not gluten free.

Event recap: Cruelty Free Festival, 2012

This was my second year in attendance and I must say, this event is getting bigger and better. Much kudos to the wonderful people at ARA for organizing it!
There food demos, talks, raffles, lots of product stalls and information stalls from animal rescue groups, environmental groups, activists, etc. There was also live entertainment and kids activities.
The biggest draw card, I felt, were the food stalls. There were way more than last year, and I did my best to sample the wares... My biggest mistake? I didn't bring a container to take food home! Next time!

The event took place in Subiaco again and it was packed. There definitely were more people in attendance this year, than last and it was so nice to see people bring along their kids..and their dogs! There were a lot of pooches there, along with greyhounds up for adoption.
It was so nice to see so many familiar faces, but also to meet new people, chat to stall holders, and to soak up the positive vibes, in general.
Naturally, I took a lot of photos. What follows is just a small sample.
Pictured to the left is Geoff's famous 'not-dog'. Well, half of it actually! It is much longer than that, but I was so keen to get stuck into it, that I forgot to take a photo first! This is a gorgeously spicy vegan sausage that has fooled many a meat eater. I am not keen on mock meat - especially the kind that tastes and feels a little too much like meat. This item hits a wonderful balance - delicious but not too 'meaty' for my tastes. Oh, and they are all handmade! Needless to say, Geoff's stall sold hundreds and ran out before the event was over.

At the same stall were sausage rolls and Ric's awesome pies. I had the corn mornay one, which was delish and creamy.
Also to one side of this stall, was a sweets stall, run by some friends. For sale were biscuits, cupcakes, cakes, and various other sweets. I do believe that they sold out of items, as well, and no wonder considering how wonderful everything looked! You could tell a lot of effort and care went into the making of these goodies!
Out the front of the stall was a lovely lady who was offering to take people's email addresses so the recipes of these items on sale, could be sent to them. What a great idea!
As it transpired, the lady in question turned out to be none other than fellow vegan blogger Vegan Sparkles ! It was so nice to finally meet her in person!

After stuffing ourselves for a bit, my partner and I went and checked out the stalls. We especially liked the Sea Shepherd stall, ARA stall, and PAWS stall. And then I spotted the stall by Edgar's Mission! I heard that they were coming, and were so pleased! Based in Victoria, they are a farm animal sanctuary and do a lot of important rescue work and are also active in educating school students and the public at large, on animal issues. If you haven't heard of them before, please check out their website. As I listened to the stall holder speak, it dawned on me that it was none other than Kyle whom I have seen on videos by Edgar's Mission and in lots of photos. That is when I had my fangirl moment! Kyle was very sweet about it, giving me a hug and letting me have his photo taken with him. My partner thought is was all very amusing...hehe. Well, what can I say? Some women get all fangirly over sportsmen, actors, singers, etc..For me, it is compassionate, vegan activists!

Speaking of meeting awesome people...I got to meet this awesome little guy. His name is Jolly and he is cutey! He was a very popular little fellow! I love pigs. They are smart and have a lot of character, and are very dog-like.

Wandering around for a bit, we also came across the greyhounds that were up for adoption. Now, the greyhounds are the one breed of dog that suffers a lot at the hands of humans. I had no idea until I was told about it. No wonder there is the need for rescue groups for these gentle creatures. If you were like me - in the dark about the greyhound racing industry - read about it here and work to educate others.
Although all the greyhounds there were gorgeous, here was one greyhound that caught my attention and heart. Her name is Chloe. She was sweet, placid and affectionate to all that took their time to give her a bit of attention and kindness. Having two cats and a small home, I am in no position to adopt, but I do hope some met her on the day and opened their hearts and home to her. This is a photo of her with my partner.

After a while, it was time for some dessert, so my partner and I split a tub of dairy free, vanilla icecream, topped with crushed oreos, from Loving Hut. Yum!

It did rain a little on the day, though not for too long. It certainly did not affect the crowd attendance, from what I could gather. I am looking forward to next year's event and WILL be bringing an empty lunchbox to take food home!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Recipe: Turkish everyday beans

Another recipe from the book “Veggiestan” by Sally Butcher.  This one is pretty easy to make but I found that it didn’t make much, so I have doubled the amount of beans to use. You can do the same with the other ingredients if you wish. Also, I use canned beans because I am lazy. If you do this,  expect the beans to break down a bit or otherwise add them in a little later to the rest of the ingredients. Also, I used far less lemon juice than what the original recipe asks for, as I felt the juice of 2 lemons would be way too much, but use your own judgement on that, of course.
This dish tastes good hot, cold or room temperature – on its own or with a salad or stir fried tofu.

What you will need:
2 x 400g cans of cannellini beans (or haricot)
1 onion, finely diced (optional)
3 sticks of celery, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 large potato, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
A few sprigs of fresh parsley

On medium high heat, heat the oil and add onions, celery and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add potatoes and garlic and after a minute of stirring constantly, add ½ cup water and stir in beans.
Turn heat down to low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, to that the potato is cooked.
Add lemon juice and parsley. Serve.