A cheesecake brownie.

This, my friends, is a cheesecake brownie (tested for Ricki Heller’s new book, Sweet Freedom).

Mmmmmmmm.

Edit: Anyone know if it’s possible to change how far away the camera focuses? I’m experimenting with the macro setting…

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One kitchen gadget I will never have: a pizza oven.

I went to a birthday pizza party on the weekend where the host was asked why he’d waited until a month after his actual birthday to have the party; he casually replied, “Oh, I didn’t finish building the oven until a few days ago.”

Heh.

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Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am horribly OCD about my menu-planning and shopping. My menus are always written in the exact same way; in green ink, separated into dinners, breakfasts/lunches/snacks and desserts with a black wavy line between each category; and with colour-coded asterisks denoting things that require very fresh ingredients and thus need to be made early in the week (red) and things that need advance preparation (black). Lately I’ve added blue asterisks for tester recipes. I’ve also started writing notes along with the asterisks so that I can see at a glance exactly what fresh ingredients or advance preparation is required – e.g. this week I have Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing (Vcon, p87) * (salad greens) * (marinate mushrooms).

I do my shopping lists in much the same way – green ink, black wavy line down the middle of the page, red headings. I’ve got it separated into farmers’ market (mostly produce, with a small box at the bottom-right for the few non-produce items I buy there, like tofu), co-op, Belconnen markets and/or supermarket.

The green ink is the most important part, and it’s terrible, because my mother finds it really difficult to read and she’s always at me to use something else, but somehow I can’t bring myself to. (If I can’t find my four-colour pen come Friday night, I turn into a quivering, tantrum-throwing wreck.) I seem to remember it started back when I noticed that I always had leftover green ink in my pens after all the other colours had run out, and I devised a cunning plan to use up the green ink… soon to turn into an addiction. *sadface*

Anyway, here is this week’s menu, sans colour-coding.

Dinners:

  • Cumin-Spiked Tofu w Sunburst Carrot Salad and asparagus (I missed the markets last week, but apparently the asparagus has finally made an appearance);
  • Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing (Vcon, p87);
  • Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta Sandwich (Vcon, p100);
  • Tangerine-Baked Tofu (Vcon, p126) w Jicama-Watercress-Avocado Salad (Vcon, p83) (dressed with extra tofu marinade instead of the dressing in the book) and Corn Tortillas (for the DIY challenge on the PPK);
  • Vegetable Ramen (Bowl, p33);
  • Porcini Wild Rice Soup (Vcon, p140)

Breakfasts/lunches/snacks:

  • Black Sesame Jewel (Ani, p49) (I bought the black tahini for this a while back; it’s beautiful. Beautiful like tar is beautiful.);
  • Essene Flatbread
  • Grapefruit-Ginger Marmalade (for last week’s DIY challenge, which I never got around to doing)
  • Multigrain Bagels;
  • Cinnamon Buns (tester)
  • Sunshine Breakfast Loaf (tester)
  • Plum Good Oaty Pancakes (tester)

I don’t usually cook from Veganomicon to the exclusion of all else, but I went to pick out a few for the cookbook challenge on the PPK (yes, I’m a week late – sensing a theme here?) and there was so much there that I’d never tried! I’ve started ticking things off in the table of contents as I make them, with the vague goal of ticking everything off one day… (I’m doing the same with the only other cookbook I like enough to want to make everything in it: ExtraVeganZa.)

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Ahhh, I am a VeganMoFo failure!

I’d like to say that I had some big crisis and was dragged kicking and screaming away from the internet for the start of VeganMoFo, but the truth is, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to fly up to Darwin (where I used to live) and see all my friends from back then, before they all graduated and scattered across Australia. And I’m glad I did; I had an amazing time (my first time travelling alone and everything!). Food-wise, though, there wasn’t an awful lot to write about.

I’d forgotten what a different food scene Darwin has compared to Canberra; in Darwin it’s all about the Asian food (fairly authentic – Darwin has a very large immigrant population – but very greasy) and the tropical fruit. Just about everywhere you went there was fresh juice available, with none of the pretentiousness that you get around juice down south (“no, I don’t want a wheatgrass shot; no, I don’t want to pay five dollars for a cup of ice with a tiny drizzle of juice; no, I don’t know why nobody that works here weighs more than 50kg”). I think the best I had was a banana and lime juice – it doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does. (And yes, it really was like a juice, not like a smoothie… I don’t know how they managed that.)

But the most exciting thing was… INDONESIAN MANGOES! In Australia! Omg!

There are actually a million kinds of mango in Indonesia, but what I mean by Indonesian mangoes is harum manis mangoes, my favourite from when I was growing up there. Harum manis means “fragrant and sweet”, and they are. They’re not sugary-sweet like the Kensington Prides that you usually find here, but they have so much more depth of flavour, with a tart bite to them and another taste I can’t quite place, reminiscent of… coriander? Perhaps? I’m not sure. In Indonesia they’re usually eaten green (as in the picture), which I always thought was just how they were when they were ripe, but apparently they do eventually go yellow: I bought some yellow ones at the market. (I pointed to the green ones, but I suspect the man took one look at me and decided I wasn’t Asian enough to actually want them green, so he gave me yellow ones.)

A harum manis mango. (Thanks to Sexy Chef of flickr for the image.)

A harum manis mango. (Thanks to Sexy Chef of flickr for the image.)

Anyway, when they’re yellow, they taste exactly like a cross between a harum manis and a Kensington Pride. (Or perhaps that’s what they were, and I was right in the first place when I said that the harum manis ones stayed green when ripe?) Very odd.

But in conclusion, harum manis mangoes are my favourite taste in the world (no, seriously, I know I say that about every new food that comes along, but these are a stayer) and I need to move back to the tropics – wait, sorry, I mean, and you need to try them.

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My first food porn – Carrot Red Pepper Mint Soup from ExtraVeganZa.

In the interests of improving my food photography before VeganMoFo, I think…

  • I need better light. (I didn’t finish making it until 6pm, at which point it was getting dark… I think for the next few weeks I’ll stick to photographing breakfasts and lunches, on weekends.);
  • I should have ironed that pillowcase, or found something else to use as a background, because you can see the creases in it;
  • I should decide on the angle I’m going to use before deciding on the garnishes. I had the mint leaves all laid out nicely and you can’t really see them properly in the photo.
  • I need an image editing program that isn’t Paint.
  • Carrot soup is really not the most photogenic thing anyway.

… But overall, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, especially for a first try.

Just this evening I was looking over all the food photos at VeganYumYum, trying to decide what she did to make her photos so beautiful, and lo and behold – Lolo has posted a food photography tutorial. I’m off to read it now.

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Here we have a VeganMoFo blog.

I’m going to spend the rest of September trying to teach myself food photography and brainstorming topics, but in the meantime, here is my menu for this week.

Dinners…

Lunches…

  • Spring Herb Rainbow in Kreamy Curry Dressing (Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen)

Breakfasts…

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