St. Patrick’s Day Colcannon Puffs and Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings

Every year I try to incorporate days of celebration in to our family life.  Although we do not celebrate based on religion, it’s still a good opportunity to explain to Arthur and DeeW why people celebrate a certain day or occasion and we learn about different cultures, countries and beliefs.  We watched some short clips about Ireland online and borrowed some library books.

Husband and I visited Ireland back in about 2001.  A relative was staying in Howth so we arranged to meet up, as Husband and I were living in Amsterdam at the time.  Unfortunately we didn’t get much time there and we only had two full days in Dublin so we opted for day long bus tours which took us to Newgrange.  Newgrange was built in about 3200BC so it’s older than Stonehenge and the pyramids.  Amazing stuff and we really enjoyed the tour.  My photos are all stored on backups somewhere but I found this old-camera-that-was-great-at-the-time picture of the view from our bed and breakfast in Howth.  It’s the St. Mary’s Church and graveyard:

St. Marys church howth

Naturally, green food was on the menu for today.  I didn’t make anything sweet and the shamrock cookie cutter will stay in the drawer for another year.  We’ve had our share of sweet things recently and really didn’t need more cake or biscuits.

Arthur’s breakfast was a banana-sweet potato-spinach smoothie.  Which is simply called ‘banana smoothie’ in our house, for reasons that will be obvious if you were or have a child who hates vegetables:

green banana smoothie


My breakfast was the Cake Batter Smoothie from Eat Raw, Eat Well made with avocado, orange and lemon.  Of course, after drinking it, I realised I forgot to add some leafy greens to really green it up.  But it was still kinda green, though the lighting in the photos is really bad:

cake batter smoothie2

For lunch I made Colcannon Puffs from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  I thought they were great, Arthur rated them 60% but the kale was too much for Husband and DeeW taste and texture wise so next time I’ll use peas instead.  I used the baking option.  I think these would be great samosa style with nice curry-esque spices:

colcannon puffs

I wanted to make something along the lines of an Irish stew.  I used the Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings recipe from Isa Does It as it seemed a perfect fit.  To save time I chopped some of the veggies the day before and got a few things ready in advance.  Then once everything was in the pot, I went off to get a can of white beans but ended up having a total Mother Hubbard moment.  As in, no beans.  Whoops.  Still, it turned out okay and Husband is a bit iffy when it comes to beans in a stew.  I used four cups of broth instead of the stated six cups.  Six was way too much for my pot and would have overflowed with that plus the beans I thought I had.  I think the four cups was a good decision in my case because my stew didn’t thicken enough, so I made a Nutellex-flour roux and whisked it in.  Then it thickened up beautifully. I sorta made the dumplings a bit too big…

dilly stew2

Next time I’ll reduce the amount of potatoes and add more carrot as it seemed I was scooping out lots of potato:

dilly stew1

As always, I’m loving Isa Chandra M’s recipes and am looking forward to seeing her, Terry Hope Romero and Vegan Black Metal Chef at their live show in Melbourne soon.  Are any of you guys going to see them here or Sydney?

It’s officially autumn! Which means baked treats and decoratey things

Yay! It’s the first day of autumn here.  My favourite time of year, where our grapevine starts sporting those beautiful autumn colours.  When our grapevine gets too long I just trim it all back but, genius of all genius, I’ve realised I can make wreaths from the vines.  I feel proud that in this area I am quite literally millennia behind the times.

I’ve always wanted to decorate my house with seasonal crafts, mostly nature crafts.  The problem is I lack the creativity gene.  My sewing is as basic as you can get.  I lack patience too when I’m learning a new skill because I want to know it all NOW.  I want the autumn colours NOW but everything is still green.  And it makes me hop around all annoyed like and thinking chlorophyll is totally overrated.

DeeW was feeling a little bummed out because Arthur was off at a birthday party, so we made some gingerbread in autumn shapes.  I used the gingerbread cut-outs recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I love my leaf cutter shapes but some of them are rather small and better suited to things like dough craft or cutting out pastry shapes for a pie:

making gingerbread

I have other larger cutters so now we have acorns, apples, teddy bears and a squirrel from an Ikea set.  No icing, there’s enough sugar as it is:

gingerbread autumn shapes

So many north American blogs I read feature autumn and woodland crafts.  People decorate their homes inside and out with autumnal displays and I sit there reading the blogs all happy like.  I love it and wish things were the same here.  Because autumn ROCKS and I love acorns, though I lack patience to do something lovely like this.  I don’t know about you guys but I just wanna wear this as a sash when I walk down to the shops:

The park near us has some oak trees so DeeW and I went and looked for acorns on the ground, along with other treasures.  Argh, flash!

autumn treasures

I googled for autumn nature crafts and was all stunned at the cute stuff one can make with leaves and acorns.  Remember folks, MILLENNIA behind the times here at ziggurat Veganopoulous.  Look at this sweet little fairy tea set!  I used air drying clay for the saucers, handles and spouts, then used a hot glue gun to stick all the bits together… badly, as the coffee pot will attest:

acorn fairy tea set

I have some more autumn crafts coming up (I hope).  Check back and see how someone totally useless at crafts and sewing fares. And I foresee some apple pies in my near future with pastry leaf cutouts!  And lots of crafty disasters.

gingerbread2

 

Valentine’s Day tasty delights

Ah, Valentine’s Day.   Not something I’m personally in to, but DeeW was quite excited.  She made a card for me, then asked me to write “Dear Mummy, Happy Valentine’s Day, love from DeeW”.  I finished writing, she folded it up and proudly exclaimed “look!  I made you a card!”

I had planned on baking something in a heart shaped tin, or making something in my heart shaped moulds but in the end Husband and I thought we would have a special food day.  In other words, Mum Hasn’t Been Organised Enough To Prepare Stuff.  First stop in the morning was Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop. I tried the mini raw strawberry shortcake and it was fantastically good.  This is the first time I’ve tried one of the raw offerings from the bake shop and it did not disappoint:

raw strawberry shortcake

More goodies on display:

strawberry cream cheese scrolls

Mister Nice Guy's cupcakes

For dinner, we headed off to Eat Fresh Pizza at 44 Raleigh Road in Maribyrnong.  I got myself a vegan gourmet veggie pizza, with capsicum, roast pumpkin and eggplant.  Major yum here too:

vegan pizza

My Valentine’s present to myself, Husband and the kids magically appeared earlier in the week.  I had some things to drop off at an op shop and to my delight there was a big “50% off everything” sign on the window.  I scored this 1970s Mastermind set, just like the one I had growing up.  Not only that, but this I am sure is unused as the scoring pegs were still in a sealed bag and the coloured pegs were in a bag (non-sealed).  For $2.50!!!

Vintage Mastermind game

Note the hands. BWAHAHA!

I love my readers! MWAAAA!

Meal Planning Week 4: The Hideous Food Photography version

I was incredibly lazy last week when it came to food.  I didn’t plan a full menu again which of course meant our meals were nowhere near as vegietastic as I’d hoped!

One smoothie I like is made with banana, plant milk, oats, cinnamon and hemp protein.  This fills me up for a while.  I call it my ‘porridge smoothie’:

oat porridge banana smoothie

I made the Cauli-power Alfredo pasta sauce from Oh She Glows.  It was quite tasty, though I should have added more plant milk as it was far too thick (I didn’t follow the recipe thoroughly).  Or perhaps I could have added some vegetable stock.  Anyway, I was thinking that if it was really thick, perhaps it could serve as a kind of bechamel layer on a baked pasta or moussaka.  I’ll have to try that one day:

caulipower alfredo

I found a packet of vegan rendang in the back of the pantry and cooked it up with some peas and coconut rice:

vegan rendang

I made some filo parcels with a filling of chickpeas, walnuts and cooked brown rice.  The kids weren’t crazy about them but the next day Arthur asked for leftovers so I’d say they ended up being a winner for one child at least!

chickpea  walnut rice filo parcels

Quite a bit of fruit:

fruit salad

Husband had gone out to a shopping centre and called to ask if I wanted anything from the food court.  It was a hot day, I wasn’t in the mood to cook so I requested some Indian food.  The Indian food outlets at shopping centres often have a few vegan dishes.  My photo does not do it justice.  My photo does not do the plastic bag justice:

indian takeaway

Arthur and I baked the Sweet Potato Blondies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  As always, I significantly reduce the amount of sugar used:

sweet potato blondies

Sunday was Australia Day.  Originally I had plans to take the family out to some of the free events going on, like the Government House Open Day.  But we had a late change of plans, a really late night and when Husband and I woke up we were way too tired.  We did stop at Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop on the way to visit my parents:

Mister Nice Guy's Bake Shop music

Mister Nice Guy’s made awesome Australia Day themed cupcakes (here are last year’s).  I got the Golden Gaytime, which the Bake Shop described as a “vanilla toffee swirl cake with caramel frosting, topped with chocolate and caramel ganache and sprinkled with honeycomb”.  Golden Gaytime is an icecream that has been around since I was a little girl and it was probably my favourite icecream-on-a-stick before I went vegan. So if something is ‘Golden Gaytime inspired’ I am THERE.  We also got the ANZAC biscuit inspired cupcake and a donut. Arthur got his usual cinnamon bun:

Mr Nice Guy's Bake Shop selection

To finish off the week, Husband and I went out to dinner at Magic Mint Cafe in Moonee Ponds.  I got my usual veggie pakora for entree and the mixed vegetable curry for my main.  YUMZ:

Magic Mint Cafe veg curry

It’s Wednesday here and I haven’t used a meal plan this week either! The weather has been urgh-hot again, though today is lovely so I might get some baking done, or meals that can last a few days.

Fingers crossed I’ll get back to meal planning for next week…

What We Ate – Meal Planning Week 1: The New Years Day version

Okay so I’m determined to get back in to weekly meal planning.  For this past week, things went pretty much according to meal plan.  I definitely stress less about meals when there’s a plan in place so I hope this continues for a long time yet!

A cornucopia of terrible food photography follows.

Monday

– a special breakfast of pancakes (followed by a green juice), using the Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes recipe from Vegan Brunch.  I kept them warm in a low oven but forgot to cover them so by the time I served them, some were crunchy on the edges.  Whoops:

gf pancakes

– for lunch I made pasta for Arthur and DeeW.  Arthur refuses any kind of pasta sauce and DeeW prefers plain.  After the pasta is cooked, I toss it with a little vegan margarine and a good amount of nutritional/savoury yeast (no, not the stuff you make bread with!).  If my children will be eating blergh pasta then mark my words they’re gonna get some B12 in there:

plain B12 pasta

– for dinner I made sausage rolls from Where’s the Beef? though I change the recipe to use oats instead of breadcrumbs and I plop in some very fine food-processor’d raw cauliflower or broccoli (or both):

sausagerolls with veg

– whenever I use puff pastry, as I did with the sausage rolls here, I get strange ideas.  So I put some nooch-roasted cauliflower in half a square of puff pastry, drowned it in zaatar spice and served it with the last of some eggplant dip.  It was okay taste wise for a ridiculous experiment but maybe it’s because I was hungry:

cauli zaatar parcel

Tuesday

– My breakfast was a cherry coconut cacao smoothie with hemp protein:

cherry cacao smoothie

– the kids had leftover sausage rolls for lunch.  I had some No-Fu Love Loaf from Let Them Eat Vegan! plus one of my favourite quick kale dishes, Fannetastic’s Cheesy Coconut Chickpeas and Kale:

cheesy kale chickpeas

– Scallion Pancakes from Veganissimo!:

scallion pancakes

– I made the Lancashire Hotpot from Veganissimo! for dinner:

hotpot

– special NYE dessert was the Lemon Self Saucing Pudding also from Veganissimo!:

lemon pudding

Wednesday

Happy New Year!

– breakfast was a smoothie for me and I think the rest of the fam had toast, because we were to have a late lunch with my parents.  Here’s the lunch spread:

nyd lunch spread

nydlunchspread2

– my plate:

nyd lunch plate

– we didn’t really eat dinner as lunch was so late and we were hanging around picking at stuff.

Thursday

– a non sweet green juice for me.  I could have made it bearable with a date or two but I’m trying to move away from sweetening my green juices.  Truthfully, when I have the unsweetened green juices they taste blergh and by the bottom of the glass I feel a slight urge to barf:

green juice

– for lunch I had some spelt pasta with tomato and walnut mince:

walnut mince pasta

– for dinner I made the Mini ‘Beef’ Wellingtons from Vegan Lunch Box:

wellingtons with veg

Friday

– we skipped breakfast because we all had a bit of a sleep in and were heading out.  Though I ended up not getting anything and waited to eat at home.

– lunch for me was toasted ‘cheese and bacon’-ish sandwiches for lunch, using Tofutti slices and some tempeh, using the Tempeh Tickle recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan! with a little (vegan of course) mayo inside:

toasted cheeze facon sandwich

– a nice big juice made with leafy greens, watermelon, orange, carrot, apple, tomato, grapes cucumber, nectarine.  In other words, I had lots of fruit and veg that really needed to be eaten fast:

green juice

– dinner was leftover over Mini Wellingtons plus the Potato Scones and Tempeh Sausage Patties from Veganissimo! Husband really likes mashed potatoes turned in to patties and pan fried so he liked these.  I thought the kids would like the patties but unfortunately they didn’t (they have food sensitivities based more on textures and smells). Luckily I only made half the recipe and it’s a good recipe at that:

wellies

tempeh sausage patties

Saturday

– for breakfast I made Arthur and DeeW plain oat porridge with some golden syrup on top (I had the last of my cherries in a choc-cherry-banana-spinach smoothie):

oat porridge

– for lunch I decided to try the Sunflower Mac recipe from Isa Does It, in the hopes the kids would like it.  My hopes were dashed as neither made it past the first spoonful and both requested I stick to ‘regular plain pasta’.  I explained that I like to get them to try new things in case they discover something new that they like.  Arthur diplomatically argued that it would be far faaaaar less work for me if I just stuck to regular plain pasta.  Sometimes it sucks when teaching your children thoughtfulness backfires:

sunflower mac

– for dinner Husband and the kids ate out, I wasn’t hungry and didn’t have anything.

Sunday

This was a special day because it is the birthday of the Brothers Grimm.  In our house, something like that is considered a special occassion and so we had a German themed menu for dinner, as well as hanging out reading the original fairy tales (some were edited as I read!) from a tattered old 1967 Readers Digest book of fairy tales my aunt gave me when I was little.

– we had a light not-very-German breakfast of smoothies (for Arthur and I) and fruit (for Deew):

fruit salad

green smoothie

– we made the German Apple Cake from The Joy Of Vegan Baking, yet another great vegan cookbook I have hardly used.  I think this may actually have been my first time using it.  Anyway, the cake was easy to make but unfortunately it hardly rose.  Did that stop us from eating it?  Ha!:

German apple cake

– for lunch I made some vegan sausages:

sausage in roll

– for dinner we had some Fry’s shnitzel and some Kartoffelpuffer (German potato pancakes) using the recipe over at Seitan Is My Motor.  All to the tunes of German folk music:

German themed meal


People of Germany probably hate me now.

So, that’s week 1 of meal planning out the way.  I have to say things ran so smoothly with a plan in place, though trying new recipes can get tiring.  It’s all in the pursuit of finding things the kids will like, and the upside is that there is often one thing I can make again.

I’ve got week 2 planned, this time taking it easy and making meals for myself that can last a few days.