Veganissimo! for NYE: scallion pancakes, Lancashire Hotpot and Lemon Self Saucing Pudding

I’m really enjoying Leigh Drew’s Veganissimo!  I’ve already blogged about the Chocolate Mousse Tart (YUM) and today I made a few more recipes.

First up were the Scallion (spring onion) Pancakes.  Very easy to make and I halved the recipe as I only had a few skinny spring onions.  I didn’t make the suggested dipping sauce, instead I mixed up some soy sauce with kecap manis.  Yum!

scallion pancakes

For dinner I made the Lancashire Hotpot, using the suggested tip for a ‘hotpot pie’ by putting some pastry on top.  I had some puff pastry to use up.  First you cook everything up in a pot: carrots, celery, leek, onion, mushrooms then add your extra bits and some canned beans (I used butter beans).  Easy!  Here’s the hotpot before I put the pastry on:

vegan lancashire hotpot

Cooked!

vegan lancashire hotpot

2 4 6 8 bog in don’t wait:

vegan lancashire hotpot

Truthfully this is the second time I’ve made the Lancashire Hotpot, the first time was without the pastry top but my photos turned out so terribly bad, worse than usual, that I decided to make it all over again  😉

 

I’m a sucker for self saucing puddings.  I think they’re the reason why I am so slack with giving up sugar.  I was happy to see this recipe in Veganissimo! because I LOOOOVE lemon saucy puddings.  Again, this was very easy to make.  I did have the “am I doing something wrong here” moment when I made up the batter because it was way runny compared to every other self saucing pudding I’ve made.  I cooked it for about eight minutes longer than suggested (and the pudding sprang back, as the recipe says).  The bit between the cakey part and sauce on the bottom worried me for a minute because I wasn’t sure if it was uncooked batter, but after about forty minutes in the oven and the batter being not-high to begin with, it was certainly cooked.  Any longer and the sauce would have really dried out.  I’m wondering if I actually overcooked it.  Oh well, I gobbled it down regardless.  I think it would go so well with coconut icecream which alas, I don’t have:

lemonsaucepudding

Thanks Leigh, if you ever read this!  I’m loving these recipes 😀

We’re not doing all that much tonight (New Years Eve), the plans are for the kids to stay up late watching a couple of movies then we will go fireworks hunting.  Which means we’ll probably end up in a shabby suburban park somewhere, watching silly people set off pissweak fireworks.  Our house is at the higher point of a hill and we get a good view of the city, so hopefully we can just walk to the end of the street and see the official, legal fireworks there.

So long (for now) and have a fab New Years Eve!

tsom

 

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Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries from Veganissimo!

For Christmas lunch I was tasked with making a dessert.  I had already flipped through Leigh Drew’s ‘Veganissimo!’, which has recently been released, and I knew I’d be making the choc mousse tart.

I made the pastry a day in advance so I wouldn’t be running around all crazy-busy like.  The pastry instructions are easy but when I was mixing it I was all “there is no way this wet sloppy sand consistency will turn in to rollable pastry”.  And I began to have a minor grrr-freakout period of annoyance.  But THEN, by some devilish sorcery, once I added the vegan milk, POOFFFFFF it all came together beautifully.

Baking the tart shell proved to be problematic however.  I used the correct size tart tin, though the height of mine was more a flan tart– I probably should have studied the photo in the book more and noted the tart tin sides were higher than mine!  But the biggest problem here was that the base of the shell, even though it wasn’t thick, puffed up a little but enough to make it impossible to pour a filling in and then not have half the filling left over.  So I had to use a sharp knife to chisel away at the base, thinning it out enough so that I could get all the filling in.  This proved to be a very good idea, because I was able to use all the filling when assembling the tart.

The recipe has you spreading a layer of raspberry jam on the base before pouring in the mousse but I left this step out.  The filling is easy to make and contains silken tofu.  I added a little bit of peppermint essence, only because I love choc-mint.

I kept the tart in the fridge overnight.  When serving the next day, I used blueberries and raspberries.  It was a bit sloppy to cut (I didn’t get a photo of a cut portion unfortunately) and there was some milky looking liquid at the bottom of the storage container and the tart shell had softened.  It wasn’t a problem at all though because this was really delicious and certainly something I would make again (with a higher sided tart tin!) for another special occasion.

Chocolate Mousse Tart

A fantastic recipe!

You can check out more photos and reviews of Veganissimo! by fellow vegan bloggers Kittens Gone Lentil and Made of Stars.

Scrambled Chickpeas from Isa Does It

It took me a long time to come around to tofu scramble.  With some kind of facon, all wrapped up in a wrappy thing, tofu scramble rocks.  Just when I decided I’d have to be making more tofu scramble, my copy of Isa Does It arrived and I saw the recipe for her Scrambled Chickpeas.

There’s not really much I can say about this dish apart from ‘easy’ ‘delicious’ ‘hearty’ and ‘filling’.  There’s no tofu in this scramble, just mostly-mashed chickpeas and other flavoursome stuff. I had mine with some tofu bacon and I’d added some mushrooms to the mix and a little black salt:

Chickpea Scramble

I foresee making this a lot with lots of flavour variations!

The No-Resolutions New Years Resolutions

In recent years, I’ve given up on creating a new years resolutions list.  Mostly because, you know, I never followed them.  I think “lose weight” has been a resolution since about 1990.  For 2014 though, there are some more mental health related resolutions I’d like to make and stick to, more to help me stress less!  They are:

Meal Planning

Oh boy, is this a biggie.  When I meal plan, I swear everything is just about stress free with the added bonus of everyone eating healthy meals.  In the past I’ve planned for a month at a time which really did work well but I think I’ll stick to weekly as we often have some last minute interruptions to plans.  The meal planning definitely makes me stress less!  I use the meal planner pad from Kikki K:

kikki k meal planner pad

No More News

Technically this is something I’ve done for about six months now, but I no longer watch or read news.  I found it was triggering periods where I’d feel really blah, particularly when the stories involved children or animals being hurt in some way, or some kind of injustice.  The final straw came when I read an article that upset me so much that Husband and I decided to configure our server firewall to disallow my computer access the news sites.  I don’t care about celebrity news and if there’s something major I should know about, I’ll no doubt find out pretty quickly from Husband or a family member.  And I can always check out the positive/good news sites!

 

Heavily Reduced Social Media and General Computer Distractions and Especially Never-Read-The-Comments

I’m not big on social media at all.  It makes me feel very anti social, but I’ve always been a rebel like that.  I have a Facebook account I forget to log in to these days, though I used to be quite active on it earlier in the year.  I found that when I’d meet new people at an event, everyone started friending each other.  So I felt obligated to do the same (which leads me to the next resolution of assertiveness, ha ha…) even though I didn’t know these people and I only wanted close friends and family on my fb.  And then these people would start posting links to articles or comments that I really disagree with and in some cases found personally offensive, particularly when it referred to matters my family deals with.  I found that these comments, images and whatnot really spoilt my mood and all by people I don’t consider buddies.  So I nuked just about everyone and stripped it right back (though like I said now, I barely use it and prefer email!).  I have also started cutting way down on my google+ hangouts.  The hangouts are great but even with notifications turned off, I was still checking them far too often.  If I know something is there, turning off notifications doesn’t stop me from checking!  I’ve now removed myself from most of the hangouts and have kept family hangouts to a minimum (which are very low traffic anyway) and only one social event hangout.  Already it feels so much better.

I’m not in to playing games on my computer or phone.  I got as far as installing Angry Birds and quickly got bored with it so uninstalled it, so I’m thankful for that at least!  But I am very easily distracted by computer stuff.  A typical example would be I am doing something else (like housework) then stop to look up say, a recipe.  While I’m looking up recipes, I might also refresh my blog reader.  Oh look, six new blog posts to read!  I’ll do that quickly.  Each of those blog posts contain links.  I read the links.  My email pings.  I check my email, google some information, reply.  I check hangouts while I’m at the computer.  There’s a discussion going on, I contribute to it… etc.  And before I know it, something that should have taken five minutes at most has ballooned out past one hour.

Cutting down on this stuff helps too.  I will be turning off all notification sounds, closing the door to the study, putting the phones on silent– this usually happens when I’m doing school stuff with the kids but if a friend or relative calls, I tend to answer it. I’m a worrywart like that, the last time I ignored the phone when it rang three times in fifteen minutes was someone calling to tell me a relative had passed away.  If family are trying to contact us urgently, they now have other ways.

I found that when I wasn’t getting my stuff done because I ran out of time, it would usually always be a time management issue where I pretty much wasted time!  Now, I’d rather make myself a cup of tea and settle down to do non-essential computer stuff.

Also, I will try harder to Never Read The Comments.  Mostly because if it’s an article about something like veganism or homeschooling, many of the comments are either trolling, or genuine (in which case I get fired up).  Remember folks, Never Read The Comments!

Happy Grover!

Assertiveness

I like to imagine I’m confidently assertive but truthfully,I’m just a big old wuss who hates confrontation. I think I’m more assertive-after-the-fact.  Like when I get really bad customer service somewhere and I’m too stunned to say anything because my brain is saying “did I just hear that no I must be wrong surely someone wouldn’t be that rude” sort of stuff.  And five minutes later, when it’s often to late to say anything, I am fired up and figure out then what I should have said earlier.  Whenever I have been assertive, it has ended badly.  There have been times when I’ve had to stick up for myself and my family and no matter how polite or diplomatic I am, some people take it very badly or react in a fashion where I end up being public enemy number one over things like “you have the flu right now I know, but would you mind not kissing my baby while you’re sick?  It’s just that I don’t want to risk him getting sick I’M SO SORRY DON’T HATE MEEEEE”.  As a homeschooler and a vegan, I’ve had plenty of sillybilly comments made to me and most of the time it’s smile-change-the-subject.  I am practicing feeling comfortable with saying “we find that homeschooling is the perfect fit for our family and has worked really well” and repeating it with a slightly firmer yet still polite tone if the comments keep coming.  Ditto for being assertive where veganism is concerned! I usually answer “check out vegan body building” when people ask the protein question.  So yep.  Assertiveness is something I will try to be mindful of now.

Anne and Gilbert

Exercise is another one that is always on the list.  Since I stopped going to the gym regularly, I must admit there has been a definite change in my body and mood, and not for the better!  I do have the stuff at  home to continue being active but the truth is I’m lazy.  So I’m planning out some family fitness activities utilising the park and playground up the road.

Life. Be In It logo

More Raw and Green Juice!

I’ve said it here before (and here I am saying it again) that overall I feel so much better when my diet consists mainly of wholefoods, often raw.  I’ve slacked off on the green juices/smoothies but I’m back with a vengeance now.  The family have a cack-coloured juice every day which is the green plus carrot.  I sleep better, I look better, I feel better!

They’re really the main issues I want to tackle in the new year and hopefully they’ll set the tone for the rest of the year.  With other things, well, sure I’d like to stick to my organisation systems but I prefer not to sweat it when things don’t go according to plan.  Life never goes according to plan!

So here’s to more realistic and mental-health positive goals for 2014!

Our Learning Spaces (well, some of it!)

We have a room that is set up for all the homeschooley stuff.  We call it the sunroom, because that’s what you often call a room with big windows that gets a lot of sun, right?  Or it’s called the sumroom, in a lame reference to schoolwork. Although I’ve named my photos ‘learning room’, I don’t really call it that either because learning is done everywhere, both indoors and out!  Most of the time, Arthur and DeeW are wherever Husband or I happen to be and a lot of stuff gets done at the kitchen table.  I haven’t snapped a photo of that learning space, because right now it’s covered with non-kitchen table stuff: My Little Ponies, two little sewing baskets, heaps of books, board shorts, a t-shirt, Christmas decorations, my hat, my sunglasses, a basket, the radio and a couple of fruit bowls which are the only kitchen-tabley things there.

Okay, so I’ve been busy setting up the homeschool/sunroom and cleaning so I thought I’d get some photos while it’s all looking mostly nice.  Except for all those cables lying around, urgh.  I haven’t finished setting up because I’m still deciding what posters to put up on the walls. I don’t like bare walls, but I don’t like posters that are too high above a child’s eye level.  For Arthur it’s not much of a problem seeing as he’s nearly as tall as I am (he’s 151cm (about 5ft.), I’m about 164cm and he is nine years old.  My mum is 5’1″ and Arthur wears the same shoe size as her, so when mum is buying him a pair of shoes she tries them on for fit.  Handy!)  But for DeeW, I don’t want her to have to look up too high.

Before I begin my little tour, please let me stress that this is *not* what a homeschooler needs to do!  Some people have larger learning spaces that look like a classroom, others have none whatsoever.  It really doesn’t matter in my opinion, because as I said, learning happens everywhere, for all of us.  Arthur has zoomed through his maths work sitting in bed late at night. Or he’ll be in the lounge room building something.  DeeW is often at the kitchen table or sitting on the playroom floor. But I wanted one central room where I could store everything, especially our books.  And although we have this somewhat dedicated space, I still have other maths and literacy resources strewn around the other rooms so the kids don’t have to go to the sunroom all the time to get games and whatnot.

Tour time!  As you walk towards the back of our home, this is what you see:

learning room

I love these book racks.  I fill them with books on things we’re currently studying (both our own books and library books).  I haven’t finished setting up yet.  I just move the rack on to the floor when we need the posters 😉

learning room

I use up every available bit of wall.  I can’t help it, I love posters:

learning room

Main view.  Ignore messy computer cables:

learningroom1

View from the other side.  I really need to fancy up those bare walls.  And mow my lawn:

learning room
I have a little table suited to DeeW’s size, and a small table from a church to act as a writing station:

learning room

All our reference/non fiction books are in these white folders that I bought from Ikea.  They’re $2.99 for a five pack according to the website.  I had to cut them a bit to fit in the shelves (two Ikea ‘Billy’ shelves my sister didn’t need anymore) and I printed up labels for the fronts:

learningroom5

learningroom15

I’ve set up our geography centre by the back door:

learning room

learningroom6

learningroom7

Not even the back door is spared:

learningroom17

We have Montessori puzzle maps I bought years ago.  These are the cheapy imitation ones, not the million dollar baby ones made by official Montessori suppliers:
learningroom11

We use the Workbox System, though I’ve made some modifications.  Arthur’s boxes are numbered 1 through 8 and DeeW has the bottom four.  The large white tub on the floor is called the finish box.  Their work gets divided up and sorted in to their workboxes (the numbered boxes).  When box 1 is complete, they put their completed work in the finish box and the empty tubs are stacked up.  This way, they get to see how much work they have done and how much they have to go.  We found this was a good motivator for Arthur when he was younger:
learningroom13

Some maths stuff:

learningroom14

All the texts and notebooks we will use all the time get put in these baskets so they’re always easy for us to access:
learningroom16

And that’s it for the Sumroom!  Now I should get on to cleaning the rest of the house, post-Christmas.

Are you a homeschooler?  Please say hi in the comments and leave a link to any learning space photos you have!  I’m such a sticky beak when it comes to seeing other learning spaces 😀