Random What-I-Ates and the Never Ending De-cluttering

I’ve been feeling so very lazy when it comes to cooking lately.  I’ve been relying on the old faithfuls which are too boring to list on the blog.  A lot of my time has been spent cleaning and de-cluttering the house even more, in preparation for a good deep spring clean.  We’ve been in this house for seven years and every year I say the massive spring clean will happen inside and out.  Except it never does and I stick to the same old daily chores.  But there are those big jobs that need to be done once and for all, especially outside.  On the plus side, we did finally get our roof replaced, so we no longer have to put up with the leaking kitchen ceiling:

Even though it was a short term job, I found myself slightly annoyed with the skip bins and broken bits of tile and concrete littering our front yard:

skipbin

The crazy discarding-of-stuff continues.  I think I’ve donated about eight garbage bags worth of clothes, toys, books and general stuff.  I’ve sold a filing cabinet and storage shelf on eBay as well as some other things that were taking up space.  I’ve packed up a box of Dora the Explorer (SSSSHHHH) and if they don’t get asked about for a few months, well Dora is gonna go exploring eBay.  With de-cluttering, I’m always gobsmacked at how much stuff we accumulate.  Our recyling bin gets emptied once a week, but when I de-clutter I refill it the day it has been emptied.  Which means for the rest of the week I’m playing a kind of rubbish bin reverse Jenga, trying to slot cans and cartons inside the bin.

DeeW has been very accident prone lately.  She found out the hard way that you shouldn’t walk in the path of an oncoming bicycle.  Luckily the rider was a little girl, all wobby on her bike and not going fast but DeeW still ended up with lots of bruises and scrapes.  Out came the ‘hurt box’, which is an old retro plastic sewing box I bought cheap with all the contents.  I took everything out and made it our first aid kit:

sewingbasket1

sewingbasket2

Speaking of DeeW, do you think she likes to wear a tutu to ballet class?  Ho ho. Fortunately a ballet uniform is not compulsory at the classes she goes to.  More fortunately, she does remove the ski boots (which are big for her, they were her brother’s):

balletoutfit

Arthur and I went to see ‘James and the Giant Peach’ at ACMI.  To kill time before the movie started, we did some Mad Libs.  This is the Adventure Time (a funny tv show) Mad Libs book:

madlibs1

Mad Libs has been around forever.  If you’re not familiar with it, it involves one player asking the others for some words like a noun, adjective etc. These then get plugged in to the story where the blanks appear, then you read it back aloud (nobody knows the story to begin with):

madlibs3

Food adventure time! During the week my mum cut up a bunch of red and green peppers and fried them with a little garlic and onion in olive oil.  Simply but tasty on pasta:

pastapeppers

Mum also made some stuffed vine leaves:

dolmades

Now for some vegan food products.  I tried the Lamyong vegan hot dogs.  I don’t know how else to word this apart from “it’s not to my liking”.  I ate two in a hot dog bun but binned the rest:

lamyonghotdog

I was given a packet of Linda McCartney sausages.  These were nice, the kids said they were okay.  I ate mine like a hotdog, with tomato sauce and American mustard:

lmsausages

In search of a good vegan hotdog, I bought the Redwood version and really liked them.  I didn’t have hot dog rolls (buns) so I used a tortilla heated in a frying pan and threw in some red onion and a Tofutti cheeze slice:

redwoodhotdog

I made some zucchini carrot fritters with chickpea flour but the kids didn’t like them, arghghghhhh:

chickpeafritters

The mega bag of sweet potatoes I asked my parents to buy me from Costco.  Don’t you think the super dude looks like an orange Mr Hankey?

bagpotatoes

sweetpots

the colostomy version:

potpuree

I made a gluten free chocolate cake using a recipe I found online that called for some vegan yoghurt.  I didn’t like it at all, it had that ‘this is a gluten free cake’ taste about.  Know what I mean?  The sort of cake that makes people think GF cakes are yuck, when of course that is far from the truth!

gfcake

Arthur and I had a dvd movie night.  We watched the original ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ate home made pizza:

pizza2

pizza1

A smoothie made with strawberries, spinach, hazelnut, banana and cacao:

chocberry

I made roasted cauliflower with almond meal and nooch and kinda forgot about it:

roastcauli

And I made another batch of Sweet Potato Spiced Blondies, with less sugar.  Muuuch better with the reduced sugar in my opinion:

teablondies

Today I read that Lou Reed passed away, so I’ll leave you with Perfect Day.

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 🙂

Lots of vegan goodies I’ve tried recently

In recent times I’ve been trying out some vegan food products so I thought I’d blog about them of course.  Let’s go!

First up, we have a jar of Tiramisu-ish by Botanical Cuisine. Oh mannnn, do you know how hard it is to stop eating this?  Now, it’s called Tiramisu-ish because it’s not like your traditional tiramisu (which, of course, is not vegan)… but there’s enough in it to make it tiramisu-like.  It’s also raw!  So I think Tiramisu-ish is a great name.  It has all those tiramisu flavours but feels really decadent.   The sort of thing that could be served in a really fancy restaurant, with an artful dribble of chocolate fudge.  And it would be gushed about in all the gourmet food mags.  At around the $10 mark it’s not cheap but mine was a present  😀

tiramisuish1

tiramisuish2

Co Yo Yoghurt is up next.  Think yoghurt consistency with coconut flavour.  If you don’t like coconut and you want a non dairy yoghurt then this may not be for you even though I personally don’t find the coconut flavour overly strong.  Then again I love coconut and it’s not unusual to see me opening the jar of coconut oil for no other reason than to smell it.  Co Yo is lovely and thick and so so much better than any soy yoghurt I’ve tried.  I’m sorry soy yoghurt, but you pretty much all suck in my experience.  Co Yo has a variety of flavours and this one is the passionfruit.  I like that it isn’t as sweet as soy (and dairy) yoghurt I’ve tried in the past.  For me, Co Yo is a winner but not something I would buy often as it’s pricey:

coyo1

Notzarella is the first vegan cheese I’ve used which acts the most like its dairy counterpart.  I never liked mozarella much and  when it came to pizzas, I felt like I was eating plastic. I sometimes ordered pizza with only a little mozarella, because otherwise I’d be picking off great greasy, plastic blobs.  Whenever I made a lasagna or pizza in my pre-vegan days, I hated using mozarella because of the whole plastic thing.  Yuuuuuck.  But now, I still want a melty vegan cheese for certain dishes.  Notzarella fits the bill there.  And I had a laugh at the FAQ on Notzarella’s site: “Is Notza good for you? No. It’s loaded with salt and fat. It’s not a health food in any respect. It was designed to give the best pizza experience possible for those who can’t (or don’t want to) eat dairy cheese”.  They get points for that kind of honesty!

My first big Notzarella experiment was a home made pizza topped with pepperoni (see below), red onion, olives, rocket, basil and the Notzarella.  The Notzarella melted and compared to a mozarella, I find it quite thick on the tongue and roof of my mouth.  Which is probably a really dumb description.  The amount I used, which you can see in the photo below, was way too much.  So much so that I didn’t want to eat any more.  I’m not keen on making my own pizzas at home because nobody eats the stuff I make but I would use the Notzarella sparingly in something like lasagna.  Note to Veganopoulous: don’t put the rocket and fresh basil on the pizza until you take it out of the oven:

pizza

Syrup waffles!  When I lived in The Netherlands I got hooked on stroepwafel.  Then I got sick of them quickly.  Then I got my sister hooked on them because I’d sent her food packages every now and then.  I spotted these Billy’s Farm Organic Wheat Syrup Waffles recently and decided to get some for my sister’s birthday… but I couldn’t resist eating one.  They’re nice, but not something I’d buy for myself.  Still, I got to reminisce about my times overseas so it’s all good:

wheatsyrupwaffels

I haven’t had fairy floss (cotton candy) in YEARS.  Probably at least ten years.  So when I saw this tub of Spun Fairy Floss I pounced.  It’s so delicious that when I dropped it all on the floor of the car, I picked it up and ate it:

spunfloss

I don’t like meat substitutes as a meat replacement.  I’ve never had a meat craving or “geez I miss chicken kiev” moment.  It’s just a thing of the past.  I am however very curious about vegan pepperoni slices.  The curiosity about pepperoni is courtesy of growing up watching American tv shows because pizza was always pepperoni pizza.  Sure, I’ve had pizza with salami and I did try pepperoni pizza once when I was a non-vegan in the US.   But vegan pepperoni was something I wanted to try.  I saw these Redwood pepperoni slices [somewhere] and because I was planning on making a pizza, I thought why not?  I’d never buy them otherwise so this was more an experiment.  They were okay, with a bit of heat and worked well on the pizza but as I’ve never really been interested in salami type stuff even before becoming vegan, I won’t buy it again though I recommend you give it a try:

pepperoni1

pepperoni2

Many, many years ago I was a big fan of Bounty bars.  They’re basically sugar loaded coconut bars covered in chocolate.  I also loved Coconut Roughs.  I did give up chocolate/candy bars about ten years ago and never reacquired a taste for them and so any coconut chocolate craving would be satisfied by something, you know, gourmet posh like.  I turned in to a big chocolate snob.  Even now I’m not a chocolate lover but when I see something like the coconut Bonvita Bonbarr, I try it just to see what it’s like.  Had I still had a Bounty craving, I’m sure the Bonbarr coconut flavour would make a a great substitute:

bonbarr

Next up is the luvju mint flavour raw chocolate by Loving Earth.  I bought the small packet, not being a chocolate fan much as I said, though peppermint in chocolate was my favourite after coconut in chocolate.  This is just right for me, not too sweet:

luvjuchoc

Enjoy!