Friends and Tea Parties

This past weekend, Arthur and DeeW had some friends visit. The boys had fun on their computers playing Minecraft and the girls hung out in DeeW’s bedroom. I asked Arthur and DeeW what snacks they wanted to serve their guests.  Arthur requested garlic bread.  Both DeeW and Arthur begged for fairy bread and some two-minute noodles for Arthur’s friend (that’s all his friend eats when he comes here).  I had been browsing vegan websites for packaged stuff I could buy to serve as I really didn’t want to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  I was very happy to learn that the Ho Mai yum cha entertainment packs were a) vegan and b) on sale from $13.80 down to $7. Just throw it all in the oven then serve out the moneybags, spring rolls and curry puffs. Phone photos:

lunchtable

I made the Maple Banana Bread from Dreena Burton’s Everyday Vegan (with spelt flour instead of kamut as kamut can be a little strong for some people).  I decided to use fancy little muffins/cake tins that have been in the pantry but never used.  I’m a sucker for cake and muffin tins in novelty or fancy shapes.

I also made chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I made these mini size.  Half were frosted with peppermint icing, the other half with crushed Oreos in the frosting for a cookies ‘n’ cream version.  I didn’t like them all that much but the guests did!

I finally pulled out the three-tier cake stand thingy that mum gave me a while ago.  She won it as a door prize somewhere and gave it to me. I’m glad I hung on to it!  Vegan fairy bread on the bottom.  One of our visitors made the choc chip biscuits on top:

cakestand

I really like setting a table for children.  If I had more time, the table layout would have been a bit more over the top (ha!).  I love how they think a tiered cake stand is rooolly special. Next time I’ll get Arthur and DeeW to think up a theme for the table and we can make place cards and stuff like that.  Who says you need a birthday to have a partying table!  I’d love to fancy up my kitchen table every day, but that would mean de-cluttering the table every day.  Glancing over at the kitchen table now, it is covered with stuff: vase of flowers, DeeW’s rainbow Bandaloom thing and all the rubber bands, cups and mugs, a fruit bowl, fruit not in the bowl, DeeW’s Easter egg hunt basket, two board games, tea towels, containers without lids, a deck of cards, a money box, library books and DVDs.  I suppose that’s my cue to hit ‘publish’ now and go clean…

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

 

Home made pizzas: I love this recipe

Husband and DeeW are off in Apollo Bay, staying with some relatives at a holiday home.  Naturally, the car boot is taken up with all the stuff DeeW absolutely MUST take.  And of course, she doesn’t even look at any of it during the holiday.  Yes, those are ski boots heading for the coast:

packing

Arthur and I will bum around at home and see if we can catch some of the free kids activities in the city (though we just missed the last tram that would have got us to ‘James and Giant Peach’ in time, so we had to trudge back home from the tram stop.  You know those moments where you turn a corner and see your bus or tram sailing past?  Yeah, that!)

Last night was movie night for Arthur and I so to celebrate his first ever viewing of Star Wars, I made us some pizza.  I used a Jamie Oliver recipe for the dough and it’s my favourite go-to pizza base because it just turns out so nice!  I halve the amount to make two medium sized pizzas.

Arthur’s only pizza preference is Hawaiian (aka Tropical or Pineapple pizza in restaurants around the country).  It’s ham, pineapple and cheese.  I use Redwood Cheatin’ Ham slices and Notzarella which I had frozen in portions, defrosted and squeezed a bit to get excess water out.  For the tomato sauce on the base I use the Aldi ‘Just Organic’ pasta sauce for a little extra flavour and I prefer this than regular plain tomato paste.  Oh, you may notice this pizza base is really thick.  That’s because I thought I stretched it out enough but obviously didn’t…

pizza3

A friend had given me a bunch of portobello mushrooms the other day that she picked up from Coburg Market but didn’t think she’d use them in time before they went bad.  What a score!  They’re about $10 a kilo in the supermarkets.  So my pizza was mushroom pizza.  Lurking in the back of the fridge was one of those jars of antipasto strips of capsicum, eggplant and possibly artichoke so I used that too, plus the Notzarella:

pizza4

I held my breath when Arthur tried his pizza because I wasn’t sure how he’d take the ‘ham’.  He asked for a second piece, and a slice for breakfast today so that’s a big win folks!  It means I can make him vegan pizzas at home and hopefully this will significantly reduce the occassions where he has the non-vegan version when he goes out.

My pizza was really nice too and made for a good breakfast this morning.  We’re a pizza reheating family.  Cold pizza, blergh!

Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough (the semolina flour version.  Shown below is the full recipe, but I halve it and it turns out fab) from ‘Jamie At Home’

800g bread or pizza flour (I use the Lighthouse brand)

200g finely ground semolina flour (I used a packet labelled “fine semolina”)

1 level Tbs fine sea salt

2x 7g sachets of dried yeast

1 Tbs golden caster sugar (I used regular caster sugar)

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

650ml lukewarm water

* What I did (as I can’t make the dough on a table top/ work surface like the recipe states but if you can, great! These directions are pretty much word for word from the Jamie recipe)

– In a large bowl, sift the flours  and salt and make a well in the centre.

– In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil in to the warm water and leave it for a few minutes then pour in to the flour well.

– Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it in to the liquid.  Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in.  When it comes to together, knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

– Put the dough in a clean, large flour dusted bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Place in a warm spot for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size:

pizza1

(this is where my photo of the recipe instructions got cut off so here’s what I do)

– when the dough has doubled, give it a good punch.  Or maybe that’s just me?  I don’t know, it’s very satisfying to see it go all deflatey:

pizza2

– knead a little then divide in to quarters.  Roll a ball out, do your pizza topping thing, then cook until you know it’s done  😛

I’ll stick with this recipe as it has worked so well 🙂

Random foodie things of the past couple of weeks

Here’s a look at some of the veganny goodness/not-so-goodness stuff I ate this week:

I spotted these in an Asian supermarket and was assured they’re vegan.  Note the picture on the box.  Note the real life version.  No, the inside looked nothing like the box either:

mochi1

mochi2

My parents visited for lunch and I made vegan sausage rolls.  My dad liked them which, trust me, is amazing:

srollslunch

I made a pasta ‘sauce’ with some roasted eggplant panfried with some sundried tomatoes, tapenade, red onion and garlic.  I served it over my leftover kritharaki.  Man, I really need to stop with the food closeups:

eggplantrisoni

I had lots of dolmades for leftovers.  They look a horrible colour in this photo:

dolmades

I made the Pad Thai from The Kind Cook:
padthai

I made an apple-rhubarb-sweet potato crumble for dessert.  I call it ‘breakfast crumble’ because in the fruit layer I have rhubarb, sweeter apples, sultanas and a finely grated sweet potato (no sugar in the fruit layer).  The crumble layer is made of oats, minimal raw sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, shredded coconut and the flour used is a ground up five grain porridge mix.  I used vegan margarine here but next time I’ll see about using coconut oil.  When I make something for ‘dessert’, it often contains hidden veggies that I can serve the kids for breakfast but it’s not something that unhealthy.  I’m going to experiment with using buckwheat and barley flour more in this recipe:

breakfastcrumble

Dumplings purchased from Global Green Vegetarian Food Mart:

dumplings

I made crumbed tofu nuggets, with the breadcrumb coating containing almond meal, garlic powder, onion powder and nutritional yeast.  The tofu was a firm one, pressed to get as much water out as possible then cut up in to chunks:

tofunuggets

Of course there was lots of food on Christmas and New Years which I blogged about separately.  Now I’m just working through all the leftovers…

Unintentional Twice-baked Pineapple Upside Down Cake

No, the twice-baked bit isn’t the magic secret.  This cake was twice baked because after I cut it up and served it, I noticed the middle was completely uncooked.  A bit of whoops. This was despite the insert-a-skewer test of doneness.  Obviously I didn’t insert the skewer in the exact centre of the cake, just everywhere else.

This is what it looked like before the second baking *cough* I used a star shaped cake tin (not a springform) so I could only fit one complete pineapple ring in the centre:

pineappleupsidecake

The cake was based on  this recipe from the Vegan Society website.  I didn’t have any applesauce so I used half a cup of vegan mango-peach yoghurt instead.  I also cut down the sugar to a little less than one cup.

Next time I won’t do the vegan margarine + brown sugar step for the gooey sticky part.  I might use the juice from the pineapple slices and some golden syrup instead.  Because I used the yoghurt the cake turned out that nice moist-yoghurt-cake soft so next time I’ll halve the oil and see how it turns out.  I’ll also use a different flour.  Today I used regular unbleached white flour, which I never ever use but I found a packet in the freezer and decided to make this cake as a test run for DeeW’s birthday which is coming up soon.  She requested a mango cake so I thought I’d make a mango upside down cake and make a pineapple upside down cake today as a trial.

Arthur and DeeW helped with this.  Did you know that there’s this whole awe thing involved with putting the pineapple slices in the cake tin and filling the gaps with pitted cherries?

The Critic’s Choice:

Arthur: “10 out of 10, the raw cake was good but the cooked cake was more delicious”.

DeeW: “I want the cherry part.  No, don’t put a cherry on it, I want a slice that already has the cherry stuck in it.”