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Friday Feast: Vegan Okonomiyaki

I tried something new today: vegan okonomiyaki! I’ve never had it before, but let me tell you, it was okonomiyummy! Or maybe I should say okonomnomnom?

Oh come on, I had to go there.

So anyway… now I’m past the bad dad jokes…

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese fritter type of thing (some say pancake, some say pizza, I say big fritter), which is traditionally made with eggs and meat/seafood. However, Sara Lynn Paige shared a vegan recipe that looked so good, I thought I’d try it. Okonomiyaki means ‘as you like it’ in Japanese, so outside the basic recipe, you have a lot of leeway as to what you put in it. You can have it, you know… as you like it. I put in two cups of greens/veges, whereas I think Sara Lynn Paige must have only had about 1 cup of veges, based on her pictures. Mine looked like there was a lot more green. It also took lots longer to cook (maybe I had the heat on too low though). However, the end result was still ultimately yummy, if a little less perfect looking. Here’s what I did:

Vegan Okonomiyaki

okonomiyaki

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup of non-dairy milk or water (I used a mix of oat milk and water)
  • 1 egg replacer (I used Orgran’s)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 to 2 cups minced greens or other fillings (I used 3/4 cup of raw spinach, 1/2 cup of stir-fried celery leaves, 1/4 cup of raw shallots [scallions], 1/2 cup of diced cooked red onions and celery, and approx 1/4 cup diced honey soy marinated tofu)
  • Toppings – optional (I pressed slices of honey soy tofu skin into the moist surface of the fritter as soon as I put it in the pan and I sprinkled chives on top of the finished product to serve)

Method:

  1. Mix the ingredients (except toppings and oil) in a bowl. Do not overmix.
  2. Heat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Put some batter in the pan so it makes a thick pancake (about 1cm thick). This should use approximately half the batter you made.
  4. Let the okonomiyaki cook until you start to get a few little bubbles on the surface, then flip it and cook the other side. You might need to flip back and forth a few times until you get a crisp brownish surface. (The original recipe said 3 to 5 mins. I took more like 10-12 mins.)
  5. Remove from the pan and pat the oil off if you want.
  6. Serve with additional toppings and sauce if you want. (I tried with teriyaki sauce on some bites and sweet chili sauce on others. Good for both, although the teriyaki sauce is quite salty.)
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Friday Feast: Mango Pico de Gallo

This home-made salsa is based on a mango pico de gallo we used to eat when we lived in Texas. It was my first foray into pico de gallo ever (I know! But I’m Australian and it’s not something we typically eat here.). It was from HEB. Don’t look like that. It was good! Especially with those Tostitos cups or fresh made tortillas. You can’t get fresh made tortillas in Brisbane unless you make them yourself. I miss them. I miss Tostitos cups too.

I eat this pico de gallo piled on Mission corn chips/strips which I heat in the oven. In my pre-vegan days, I’d put cheese on top, but I find that it doesn’t taste that different. The heated corn chips add a really rustic flavour to the bright salsa. I also sometimes eat the salsa as an accompaniment to beans and rice. Or as a dip. Or on a spoon.

Yankee Elv has a weird genetic thing that makes coriander (cilantro) taste like soap, so we substitute parsley for coriander. However, if you don’t have that weird genetic thing, you like coriander and you’d like to be authentic, then that’s what should really be used.

Mango Pico de Gallo

Ingredients:

  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 5 – 6 tomatoes, with the cores discarded and the outer flesh diced for use
  • 2 green chilis, diced finely (include the seeds if you like more heat)
  • 1 red chili, diced finely (include the seeds if you like more heat)
  • a handful of chopped parsley leaves
  • lime juice, to taste

Method:

  1. Stir all the chopped fruit/veges together in a bowl.
  2. Add the parsley and lime juice and combine.

THE END! Easiest recipe ever. 🙂

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Vegan Attempts @ The Jetty Oxford

I went to a work lunch at a place not of my choosing today. But I wasn’t paying the bill, so I’m not complaining too much!

We went to The Jetty Oxford, at Bulimba. It’s right near the ferry dock. It had big fat no vegan food. Except, I think, chips and maybe olives. There may have been a salad they could have removed the cheese and dressing from. Er… appetising for a lunchtime meal? I think not.

So I talked to the waitress and she talked to the chef, and he was not helpful. But I think I took him unawares, because about two mins later he had the waitress come back out and offer to make me a mysterious risotto. I agreed.

Here it is:

I think it had fennel, asparagus, apple and maybe mint? The sauce was made from peas. That is not something I would typically choose ever, considering I don’t particularly like peas or asparagus and I’ve actually never eaten fennel. However, the chef didn’t know that and it was very good if you discount the fact that the flavours were not particularly to my personal liking (and actually, I found the flavours were not even too bad). It was infinitely better than chips, olives or nude, boring salad for lunch.

So thank you, The Jetty Oxford chef!

The moral of the story? You should never be afraid to ask if the chef can offer anything vegan, cos they just might!

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Friday Feast: Quinoa Puttanesca

I found this recipe on the Post Punk Kitchen Blog, and I knew I just had to try it! I’m all for figuring out new ways to eat ‘alternative’ grains, and quinoa is such a good one, since it’s a complete protein and gluten free. (I like to keep my gluten down.)

This recipe includes wine. Remember, when cooking with wine, the flavour intensifies, so choose a wine you like to drink.

I tweaked the recipe slightly – slightly increased the tomato, added sun-dried tomatoes and roasted capsicum, and reduced the capers – but otherwise it is the same thing. The taste of the olives and capers comes through strongly, so if you don’t like them (yes Mum, this would be you), then this dish would not be something I’d recommend. However, if you love the taste, as I do, then it’s fabulous.

I was surprised by how spicy (hot) it was. It seemed more like a matriciana than a puttanesca to me, but then it’s been a while, so maybe I’m remembering incorrectly. If you don’t like spicy food (yes Mum, that’s you again), I would suggest reducing or eliminating the crushed red pepper flakes. If, like me, you love spicy food – and I’m a spice wimp, but I still love it – then this is the perfect dish for you!

Quinoa Puttanesca

quinoa puttanesca

Quinoa Puttanesca, still hot and steamy.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • generous pinch tarragon
  • generous pinch marjoram
  • 1/4 cup wine (I used white because that’s what was open, but red would work too)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped (sliced in half is great)
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup roasted capsicum, cut into strips
  • 600g (21oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 cups of cooked quinoa*

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a good-sized pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute, being careful not to burn it.
  3. Add herbs, spices and wine; cook for about a minute.
  4. Add olives, capers, crushed tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted capsicum. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
  5. Reserve a few ladelfuls of sauce to put on top of each serving.
  6. Mix the quinoa into the remaining sauce in the pot.
  7. Serve in individual bowls with a spoonful of the reserved sauce on top. Yum!


quinoa puttanesca

I used red quinoa because I thought it matched the sauce better, but you could use white or black quinoa and it would work just the same.

*Note: To cook the quinoa, rinse about a cup of uncooked quinoa to remove any residual bitterness. Put the quinoa in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the grain is tender and the water has been absorbed.

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Wassup?

I haven’t been steadily posting recently cos I’ve either been busy or tired. Life has been interfering with my life! So here’s a snapshot (in hindsight, it’s more like a full school photo) of what’s been happening in the house of ELV.

The house of ELV (speaking of) is being sold – we have to move elsewhere. We don’t know for sure whether they want us to see out the lease for a few more months, or leave ASAP (although they can’t force us), but already plent of debate about buy vs rent has ensued. We’ve decided to rent again for now. So the house-hunting begins. I will miss our friendly neighbour even if he does kill passionfriut vines and can’t understand most of what I say. I already miss the duck at the other neighbour’s house – I don’t know what happened to cute little Mishka. I will also miss the sounds of the chooks over the back clucking away in the mornings. *sigh* I hate moving.

My butternut pumpkin vines are growing rampantly and have already started to flower (so pretty!). If we can stay for a few more months, I may get a pumpkin or two. Otherwise, the new owner will be feasting on the fruits of my labour.

I’ve been telecommuting up a storm, which has proved more enjoyable than I anticipated. I really thought I’d miss the camraderie of the office, but due to a combination of many of my chatty friends moving to other jobs and the use of collaborative technology to talk to my remaining friends, it has been pretty cool. I get more work done and my lungs enjoy the lack of air conditioning. I’m only going into the office once this week. Think how little the impact of my transportation is this week!

I read No Impact Man‘s book. I liked it, although it did get a little preachy at times, but only momentarily, then it went back to interestingly philosophical and funnily anecdotal at the same time. It took me back to when I first started reading No Impact Man’s blog a couple of years ago. I loved it and it inspired me no end. It was nice to feel that zeal again. A note though: why was it ok to tell the world that his wife used menstrual cups, but not share what he used instead of toilet paper? I’m not one for secrecy about bodily functions anyway, although I respect his choice not to expose everything, but isn’t that a bit of a double standard? (I shan’t stir up controversy by discussing what this double standard may indicate…).

My buddy went to Singapore and all I got were these two metal ear diggers. I only got them on the proviso that I blogged about them! Yankee Elv and I have both tried them. Apparently I have pretty clean ears, so nothing much is happening for me, although I’ve heard good things from others. Yankee Elv doesn’t get dirty ears at all (we’re not sure why, perhaps something to do with a lack of inner ear hair due to deafness?). She mostly uses cotton tips to itch the ear in which she wears her hearing aid. For this purpose, she tells me, the ear digger is a poor substitute – she can’t think of anything other than a cotton tip that will do the job, as she doesn’t like the hard, scrape-y feeling of the ear digger. Can anyone think of an alternative?

I’ve been reducing the amount of soy milk I’m consuming, since I’ve increased my intake of soy yoghurt and soy cheese as I’ve struggled through my first six weeks of veganism. I’ve been supplementing my soy milk intake with oat milk, and thought I’d do a little unofficial research into which is the best. Expect an oat milk review post coming soon.

Something is eating my sweet potato leaves. I thought it was a caterpillar, but I only saw it on them once. For a while I saw these shiny little bugs about the size of large fleas, but they seemed to disappear a week or so ago. Now they’re just holey leaves. What has been munching them?

I’ve decided before we move house, I am going to take cuttings of rosemary, pink frangipanis and jade plant. All three are growing brilliantly here and I don’t want to lose them. The grapefruits aren’t in season or I’d plant some seeds – the grapefruit tree really is prolific in its bounty and produces the most enormous, spectacular, juicy fruit. Alas, I think I shan’t be around to see it this year. Does anyone know if you can grow native ginger from a cutting? I’m sure we have some of that somewhere too…

I’m looking for a copy of Sharon Astyk’s Depletion and Abundance at the library as I’ve heard it’s good. I used to read her blog, but found it too heavy for my short internet attention span. I think I will like it better in book form. Unless I know the author or have read the book already, I try to get all my books from the library. What’s the point of wasting resources and space with a bazillion books you’re only going to read once? I like the books on my shelves to be old friends.

I’ve been trying hard to be a good vegan, and I think I’m mostly succeeding, but I haven’t always been able to keep a cheery face on. Now, you might think that a cheery face about veganism isn’t necessary, but I think it is when you’re talking about it with non-vegans. As a vegetarian, I always present the face of ‘gosh, I am supportive of everyone’s choices, and if you want to eat meat, that’s your right – but wow, vegetarianism is easy, tasty, fun, healthy, good for the environment… wow, it’s just so great!’. Yeah, that’s quite a face. I better hope the wind doesn’t change. However, I guess I didn’t have as many people to talk with when I first went veg, as opposed to now, when all my co-workers know and ask me how it’s going. They are all very supportive, but I find it hard to publicly keep my chin up on a day when I’m really missing cheese or chocolate – especially since these things are often to be found in our office! I think they all think I’m a bit of a fringey, fanatic weirdo – in a nice way, of course. Telecommuting has helped since I’m not around those foods so much, and so has Lindt Lindor’s 70% dark chocolate (I know it’s not Fair Trade, but one step at a time)… but still, I find myself feeling guilty over my inability to be perky, sunshiny vegan at work. Breaking the dairy addiction is hard – much harder than giving up meat was! Sometimes I think it’s too hard and I’m being mean to myself (after all, isn’t life about experiences? I like my experiences to be as pleasant as I can make them). I think maybe I could just get dairy sparingly, from a nice organic farm… but then I think of the baby cows, especially the bobby calves, and their poor mamas! I think the guilt I’d feel over that would surpass any nice feelings the cheese/chocolate/ice-cream gave me. And so I stick with it. Soldier on, you know. Codral hit the nail on the head with that one.

Yankee Elv and I went to the West End markets on Saturday. We missed out on Dagwood Dogs from Ykillamoocow, to our surprise. They normally start cooking them at 10am and this week they started at 7am, bowing to popular demand. Not my demand, I like a sleep-in! I got a pumpkin/barley roll (kind of like a vegan sausage roll, but one that isn’t trying to taste like herbed, minced animal bits. It was a tasty breakfast with the home-made tamarind sauce and the homestyle lemonade we bought. Plus I had a few of Yankee Elv’s Greek honey puffs for dessert, and a vegan melting moment (passionfruit cream, from The Bakery V stall). We also tried Hibiscus juice (gorgeous, tasted similar to sweetened cranberry juice), tapenade, local honey (also not vegan, I knooooow), pineapple chunks and more juice. We were quite restrained really. We got lots of stuff, including some things I haven’t tried before (parsnips and fresh olives, like, right off the tree kind of fresh). I also got a couple of plantains, which I think I’m going to use in a curry, plus lots of our usual kinds of veges/fruits. I loved going to the counter and paying tiny amounts; I paid 75 cents for the two most enormous carrots ever. I did not like going within a five stall radius of the feral seafood stall. We mightn’t eat fish, but Yankee Elv and I both grew up around seafood and I’m sorry, but if it smells like that then you do not want to be putting it in your body. Ew. We wound up the morning with a visit to Reverse Garbage, but didn’t buy anything. It’s fun just to look and imagine.

Only two of my spring onions have lived and they are tiny – I think they drowned in their wet little corner. From one extreme to another with them! I’ll try again at the new place. I can’t tell my carrots from the weeds, so I guess the new owner will be in for a surprise eventually…

The new Clem 7 tunnel is brilliantly fast, but apparently has tonnes (literally) more pollution that was originally estimated. I don’t know that the two air sucker towers (I can’t remember what they’re called! One is Jacaranda purple and the other is Poinciana red) are doing their job.

jacaranda

One of the Clem 7 air sucker tower things is the colour of the flowers on the Jacaranda trees.

Motorists have been advised not to wind down their windows in the tunnel because the pollution is so bad. We found this out after we spent 25 mins in a traffic jam in there, with the windows down cos our car has no air conditioning. This is why I like buses. The tunnel was very zippy outside of peak hours though, taking about 4 mins from end to end.

I’ve just remembered I haven’t hung out the wet sheets and blankets I washed, which made me think of the clothes line, which made me remember that all potential new houses must have a place for an under-the-house line. The list of requirements seems to be mounting.

And I have also realised that I’ve written a tonne! Clearly I needed a post like this. I started on the oat milk review yesterday and it just seemed to drag and things kept distracting me… sometimes I guess you need to just let it all flow out higgledy-piggledy.

Speaking of pigs (well, piggledy, close enough) – look!

edgar alan pig

It's Edgar Alan Pig from Edgar's Mission! He's so cute!

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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Friday Feast: Rosemary Butternut Pumpkin with Couscous

Another belated Friday Feast… this is a recipe Yankee Elv has made before, with butter. Yesterday she cooked it up for me vegan-style. Basically the only thing that changed from her previous version was using Nuttelex (vegan margarine) instead of butter. It tasted the same to me… gorgeously soft, savoury-sweet goodness. Perfect rainy-day eating, which is good, because we’re about to hit our third straight week of rain (by which I mean, days during which it has rained, not a constant monsoonal bucketing down – this is Australia, after all).

I love any recipe that allows me to use goodies from my garden (few that they are), and for this one we snip sprigs of fresh rosemary off the bush near the letterbox!

rosemary bush

The rosemary bush at our front fence smells so good, I'm always happy to check the mail! I think I will take a cutting when we eventually move out.

Yankee Elv created this recipe based on The Pioneer Woman‘s recipe for Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges.

Rosemary Butternut Pumpkin with Couscous

rosemary butternut pumpkin with couscous and rosemary oil

Rosemary butternut pumpkin and onions, with couscous and infused oil (margarine).

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut pumpkin (aka butternut squash), roughly chopped
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil (not a huge amount)
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 tabs vegan margarine (that is, 115g, 0.25lb or 1 stick)
  • ½ cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 2 tabs fresh rosemary (minced)
Rosemary butternut pumpkin and onion over couscous.

Rosemary butternut pumpkin and onion over couscous.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Place the pumpkin pieces in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. While the pumpkin is roasting, mix the margarine, brown sugar, salt and rosemary into a paste.
  4. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and add the onion. Gently toss to combine.
  5. Add dollops of the paste to the vegetables.
  6. Return the dish to the oven for approximately 30 minutes, roasting until the vegetables are tender and caramelised.
    Note: Halfway through roasting, your paste will have become a sauce. It is recommended that you brush or spoon the sauce over the top of the vegetables at this point, then continue roasting until they are ready.
  7. Serve over couscous*, drizzling more sauce over the top.

*Cook the couscous with a bit of salt for an even more obvious contrast between savoury and sweet. Super yum!

Look at the texture on the onion - yum!

Look at the texture of the onion - yum!

This recipe will leave you with lots of sweet rosemary, onion and pumpkin infused oil (melted margarine). Don’t throw it out! Keep it and use it on other vegetables, spread it on crusty bread or use it as a base for another dish.

Rosemary roasted butternut pumpkin in the baking dish, with lots of leftover melted margarine.

Rosemary roasted butternut pumpkin in the baking dish, with lots of leftover melted margarine.

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This post was entered into the Grow Your Own roundup, created by Andrea’s Recipes and hosted for March 2010 by House of Annie.

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Friday Feast: Quinoa-stuffed Butternut Pumpkin

Today’s recipe is a bit of a quirky one that I made up a few months ago and perfected this Thanksgiving. I really wanted to try out quinoa, a grain commonly eaten in Peru and really protein-rich (great for folks who are after low-carb meals). It’s about the size of couscous, so I figured making it into a stuffing would be a great idea.

Quinoa - it looks sort of like couscous, but it's a protein-rich grain

Quinoa - it looks sort of like couscous, but it's a protein-rich grain

Here’s the recipe!

Quinoa-stuffed Butternut Pumpkin (Squash)

Quinoa-stuffed butternut pumpkins (squash)

Quinoa-stuffed butternut pumpkins (squash)

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut pumpkin, cut in half with the seeds and some flesh scooped out
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced (you can also include the chopped celery leaves)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped well
  • 1 handful of broken pecans
  • 1 small handful of craisins (dried, sweetened cranberries)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
Celery, onion and apples - oh my!

Celery, onion and apples - oh my!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Rub pumpkins all over with olive oil and place cut side up in a roasting or casserole dish. Rub some brown sugar on the cut areas. Place in the oven until the pumpkins are justsoft enough to pierce with a fork, but still firm enough to easily hold their shape.
  3. Meanwhile, place quinoa and vegetable stock in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 10 to 12 mins. Remove from the stove and set aside, covered (the liquid will absorb).
  4. Pour some olive oil into a large frying pan and add the veges/fruit as you chop – celery, onion and apple. Add salt and pepper, then cook for 10 to 15 mins to soften the vegetables/fruit.
  5. Add the parsley, celery leaves (if using), pecans and craisins, and cook for 2 mins more, til the greens wilt and the craisins plump up a little.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the quinoa.
  7. Tightly stuff the pumpkins with the quinoa mixture, cover the dish with foil and return to the oven. Cook for approximately 30 mins.
  8. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 mins, unless the pumpkin is soft.
Pecans, parsley and craisins, ready to go into the pan.

Pecans, parsley and craisins, ready to go into the pan.

Let me know what you think!

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