Tag Archive: vegan cooking

Christmas is tasty!

We're back!! After 2 weeks of cycle touring in the South Island we finally made it home on Friday afternoon and are just beginning to surface again. We must be feeling good though as we were out riding again today!

Anyway, before we left it was Christmas and what is Christmas without a tofukey and christmas pudding right?

My plate with tofukey and tahini gravy and lots of delicious vegetables and salads.

There's nothing quite like a flaming pudding!

Christmas pudding, delicious fresh berries and homemade vegan vanilla ice cream.

Oh, and a gorgeous tree made by M's mum.

I shall try and get at least one post up about our cycling trip this week...but you know how these things go. Work may not start until Thursday but I have a dress to make for my cousin's wedding and summer days to have adventures in!

P.S. thank M for the glorious blog title :-P

Afghans are tasty

One more sleep and then it's Christmas! Exciting! And then on Boxing Day we're off on the train to Greymouth then setting off on a bit of a cycling adventure down the West Coast and (hopefully) eventually back to Christchurch. Even more exciting! Although I probably should pack...

Ever since our tandem arrived we've been doing a lot of riding. At the end of October we did our first randonneuring event with the Kiwi Randonneurs, a 400km loop from Greymouth to Greymouth in a day (via Reefton > Springs Junction > Murchison > Westport). Quite possibly also the last time I ever ride that far in one day! I mean, all the beautiful scenery down the West Coast from Westport and it was in the dark! It would make a beautiful two-day ride though. Anyway, we survived and it got me pretty keen for some cycle touring.

About half an hour into the 400km Greymouth ride. Photo by Shane Davidson.

Tuesday evenings are normally time trials along Old Tai Tapu Rd with the Canterbury Time Trial Association. It's pretty cool 'cause I definitely wouldn't normally want to ride for 16km along a flat course as fast as I can. That just sounds like torture! We are the only tandem there but there is a trike and it's always fun to see the pro riders with their skin suits, aero helmets and swanky time trial bikes. Some even bring some pretty fancy wind trainers to warm up on first. At the start of December each year there is also the hill climb time trial from the Blue Duck by Motukarara to just past the top of Kennedy's. Perfect conditions this year saw us with a new PB which will be ridiculously difficult to beat!

Along with the usual rides we also had a fun day out riding on the Peninsula down to Little Akaloa and round the bays to Okains Bay with the Emilys. EW and I then dragged ourselves round a 6-hour rogaine the following day...you've got to make the most of summery weather when it's here!

Clockwise from top left: the big green monster chilling at Okains Bay, Little Akaloa - many steep climbs ahead, EW shows us just how steep Okains Bay Road can be, top of Okains Bay Road - yay!

There's been various orienteering events, the Mountain Bike Orienteering Nationals, the Wedding of the Year (!), the Vegetarian Expo (so much delicious food! I love it!), book groups (so many awesome books, so little time) and so much more.

Early December was the National Rogaine Champs which was held in the Nevis Valley. I was racing with EW and it went pretty well apart from a few terrible controls!! I could write more here but I've already written enough and it's on my AP log so if you're interested you can read that here.

National Rogaine Champs map - you can almost make out our route if you squint hard enough!

And of course it wouldn't be Christmas without the annual Christmas Rogaine!! 3 hours of good times blundering around in the bush in the mist!

Christmas Rogaine madness.

Yesterday I was intending to head back out that way on my run but I wasn't feeling all that great so instead I ended up looping back from the Kiwi and having a bit of an explore. It was supposed to be sunny but as you can see below, ummm, the sun hadn't quite managed to get itself together so instead it was misty and drizzly.

The Port Hills are awesome.

And now back to Christmas. The tofukey just recently came out of the oven all ready for tomorrow and last night I found myself cooking yet another batch of cookies. I don't think I've ever cooked so many batches of cookies in such a short space of time!

The tofukey in various states of preparation.

Last night's cookies: a couple of New Zealand classics with afghans on the left and peanut brownies on the right (both adapted from the Edmonds Cookbook).

Merry Christmas! Here's hoping the typical Kiwi summer storm doesn't hit whilst we're riding (or is that just too optimistic?! It is the West Coast after all) and the little earthquake we just had is just a lone ranger.

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

Currently in my little kitchen there is Christmas cake in the oven and Christmas pudding on the stove along with a batch of delicious peanut butter cookies on the bench. It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas in my kitchen!

Speaking of food, I never got around to blogging about my American food experiences so you'll have to put up with it now. It was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. I went in with high hopes and they were dashed pretty quickly when we couldn't find bread that tasted, well, anything like the bread we know and love here. It was hard enough trying to find bread without dairy in it and when we did it had a weird texture and tasted sweet. Ugh.

In Boulder M and I did a lot of our shopping at Alfalfa's as it was close to where we were staying (Chautauqua which was amazing as we were right at the start of the trails leading up into the Flatirons - although an hour and a half run in the hot sun the morning after we arrived might have been a bit much for my jetlagged body!). The variety was pretty cool but it did make me appreciate what we have at home. I really wanted to be a fan but couldn't.

We had more luck at restaurants and cafes though. One lunch I got a takeaway reuben sandwich (it sounded very American - I've never seen anything like it on a menu in NZ) from Leaf which was pretty good. Different, but good.

We checked out Wholefoods in a few places...they are so huge it was a bit frightening but the salad bar things are pretty cool!

There is also a pretty impressive range of vegan frozen desserts in these type of places, of which we tried a couple...

Once in Salt Lake City we attempted to visit every vegan eatery in town (well, all the ones that were open during our stay). First up was the Vertical Diner. After spending far too much at REI (not for the first or the last time on our trip!) A then took us there for lunch. I loved this place from the moment we walked in. The menu is fun and the food was super yummy. I wished we could have gone back.

Clockwise from top left: a burger but I can't remember which one, Jerk Chicken Burrito and another burger of some description!

Dessert was definitely a must (hey, we had to try as much food as possible!)...

A banana split sundae and a strawberry brownie sundae - delicious.

Next up was the City Cakes Cafe for lunch whilst exploring Salt Lake City on our own. This place looks like it provides a lot of the vegan cabinet food we saw in other cafes and Wholefoods in the area. The lemon bar was delicious but I wasn't a fan of the more lunch-type food we ordered.

Clockwise from top left: a lemon bar, Mac n' Chezah and a Black Bean Burger

One evening M and I headed into town to Sage's Cafe a more fancy dinner. M ordered the mushroom stroganoff and I ordered the raw cashew pad thai and we agreed they were both exceptional. Plus the service, from memory, was excellent. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City I would really recommend Sage's.

Again, dessert was essential...

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Madness and the Tiramisu. Definitely worth it,especially the tiramisu.

The final cafe I checked out was the Frisch Compassionate Eatery where I got the special of the day which was some kind of spicy 'chicken' nacho dish and the most giant cookie I have ever seen in my life! The nachos were pretty good but I think I would have preferred plain beans to the mock chicken and by the time I came to eat the cookie I think I was over sweet food. The menu here looked pretty awesome though.

You couldn't really go wrong with Mexican though, even in the City Creek Mall. And corn chips here are so much more delicious than most we can buy at home.

On the whole though we did most of our own cooking. After Boulder we camped in Leadville for some altitude training before the rogaine (when you live at sea level it's a bit of an adjustment!).

The first morning we cooked up some terribly awful pancakes made from some boxed mix we found at a supermarket. They may have looked all fluffy but they tasted pretty awful! But the boys did try their hand at flipping them much to our entertainment.

Camping by Turquoise Lake was beautiful with the added bonus of a track going right past our tent for an easy morning run...followed by a swim in the lake.

Back in Salt Lake City we made pizza once my parents arrived and I got to try out some vegan cheese. It sort of melted but not like some of the pictures I'd seen and it kind of tasted a little bit plasticy (am I being too fussy here? Give me some of the European or British vegan cheeses any day...I don't care if they don't melt). The pizza was delicious though despite the cheese and the weird mock bacon we tried.

The best food of the whole trip though was definitely all the fresh summer berries, especially when out adventuring...or lazing in the sun!

Mountain biking in the hills above Park City. Perfect riding for me as it started with a big long climb up to the top (and then a punnet of raspberries of course!).

Exploring Mt Wolverine in the rain then meeting my parents and R checking out all the lakes.

And the best bit? Lazing around by a lake after eating far too many berries (if that is actually possible).

There, no more USA trip posts now. I think I'm done (and now hopelessly behind on everything since then!).

Icy cold minty goodness

I have just polished off a rather large bowl of very delicious homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream. After first trying my hand at making vegan ice cream in the States at my brother's house I knew I had to get my own ice cream maker (the Cuisinart ICE-21 in yellow - I mean, how can I resist a household appliance that is in my favourite colour!). Embarrassingly pretty much the only flavour I've made since getting it a few months back is mint chocolate chip but it is my favourite and it has been a very long time since I last got to have it so surely that's okay right?

Anyway, it's really simple. All you need is:
2 cans (400ml each) coconut cream (works best with the full, not the lite versions)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tsp mint essence (depends on the brand and quality as I had an expensive one that one required 1 tsp but now I've got a cheaper one from the supermarket which is best using 2 tsp)
most of a block of Whittaker's Dark Ghana Peppermint chocolate, chopped

Whisk all the ingredients together except for the chocolate and put in the fridge. Put the chopped up chocolate in the fridge too. Leave in there for many hours (at least 10 which might be because our fridge isn't set all that cold).

Then make as per your ice cream maker's instructions. Ours requires the bowl to be in the freezer until the stuff inside it has frozen solid which takes at least 24 hours in our little freezer so I tend to keep it in there.

Then, once it's super cold I can get it out, start it up on the machine and then pour the cold ice cream mixture in it. After about 15-20 minutes my ice cream is looking pretty good and I tip in the chocolate, slowly so it doesn't clog the machine up too much as the gooey peppermint inside tends to make everything stick together.

I let that mix until the ice cream is trying to escape out of the machine then tip it all into a container and put in the freezer for a few more hours.

Eat...lots of it (well, only if you like mint chocolate chip otherwise I'll come over and eat it for you).

The first time I tried to make this it didn't work so I've learnt that everything has to be super cold. Also, don't forget to put the paddle in the machine before you start it running 'cause it's too late once you've poured the mixture in!!!

Other than eating ice cream things round here have been really busy. I realised I haven't even finished writing about our trip to the States so there is more to stay about that. We've also been running and cycling up and down many a hill of late and last weekend I survived another 24 hour rogaine. Still trying to catch up on lost sleep! Not to mention it's nearly Christmas...where is the time going?

There's no such thing as too much cake

It's that time of year, the time when I get to eat lots of cake and feel a little bit more wise (you know, every birthday you're another year older so surely also wiser as a result!).

Thursday we had a farewell (for me even though I'll only be gone a month!) and a birthday celebration (also for me but for the 2 other workmates with early August birthdays too) which meant I had to make a cake! It was pretty late on Wednesday night when I started making the cake so went for something simple, the East Coast Coffee Cake from Vegan Brunch, except I made a lemon cornmeal version which I've done before. It went down well.

Work got me the usual delicious vegan sandwich they get me (made specially by the bakery for me) while the others had the usual savouries and club sandwiches. A salad sandwich might sound a bit boring but actually these guys (whoever they are) make a pretty good one.

I may have eaten a little bit more cake (with delicious coconut yogurt) for dessert that night...!

Friday, after work and a nice little walk with M, we headed out to the Beat Street Cafe on Barbados Street for more delicious food. I ordered their Big Warm Salad with tofu (so so good) for my dinner.

They don't have a vegan dessert on the menu but they do make a damn fine beetroot chocolate cake which they served with berries and chocolate sauce. I gather this is not normal but I'm sure they'd do this for anyone who asked. They also had a delicious looking vegan brownie but I can never turn down cake!

Then Saturday dawned ridiculously summery hot (despite still being definitely winter here so it was awesome!) so we went biking along the tops and round the bays and eventually ended up in Lyttelton to check out the new vegetarian cafe there, The Shroom Room.

I had a delicious lunch of toast and hash browns with lots of delicious fried veges and salady stuff (yep, I'm good with descriptions).

And of course more cake was consumed...their vegan chocolate raspberry cake was amazing and quite possibly wins the mini cake competition of the last few days of eating!

All that food did make the final relentless climb up to the Kiwi pretty difficult though! But worth it.

It seems vegan cake is doing quite well in Christchurch at the moment. The Lotus Heart makes a pretty fine cake. Then there's the Beat Street Cafe and The Shroom Room and I also heard from the waitress at Beat Street that there is a lady who makes several kinds of vegan cakes to sell at the Riccarton Bush Market which we haven't ever been to...but you can bet we'll be going once we get back!

Winter comfort

It's a bit chaotic round here at the moment. So much to do before we leave to head overseas and I'm getting so nervous. Race notes and rules seem to be coming out thick and fast and it's all a bit overwhelming. Plus I've never been further than Australia before. I should be excited but I'm currently just a bit terrified!

Anyway, while I attempt to assemble some kind of order I will leave you with some of the more exciting food we've been eating this winter (in amongst the standard stir frys and all that jazz).

One of my favourite dishes is the Lime Peanut Noodles with Seitan, Kale and Carrots recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. Well, I've never actually make it with seitan. Normally we just make it with a particular tofu that I get at the Funky Pumpkin (thinly sliced and fried) and we just use what ever vegetables we have on hand. Mushrooms, onion, capsicum, courgette, broccoli, spinach...all good things! It's even good cold or at room temperature inbetween TWALK legs!

Also awesome is the vegan mac and cheez from Yeah That "Vegan Shit. I normally fry an onion and, if I'm feeling virtuous, some veggies to go in it too. And, because I'm lazy, it's really easy to just make in one pot rather than the 2 mentioned in the recipe. Seems to taste just as good to me! It's a great winter comfort food and delicious with salad.

Also good with salad is the Corn Chip Casserole from Alison and Simon Holst's Very Easy Vegetarian. It's not too hard to veganise. Just make up a white/cheezy sauce with soy milk and yeast flakes (well, obviously a few other ingredients like cornflour to thicken it, some olivani or other vegan margarine type thing and a nice little shake of smoked paprika is always a good thing) and you're good to go.

But for real winter comfort food you really can't go past Pumpkin soup. All you need is a pumpkin (obviously), onion, some delicious spices (like a mild curry powder, cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika...), some vegetable stock (I just use water and stock powder - the Rapunzel vegetable bouillon is my favourite) and something to blend it up with (here's where a stick blender is awesome). Easy! Well, apart from cutting up the pumpkin which I delegate M to do! Super delicious served with hot scones (I veganise the Edmonds scone recipe - it's awesome every time). The above scones are even cheese ones as I bought the Sheese Cheddar Cheese and Chives at Piko I didn't end up liking all that much. It made excellent cheese scones though!