Friday, 21 October 2016

Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls

This is not a Halloween post.  However Sylvia is skipping with joy at the thought of Halloween so we have lots of Halloween food props and ideas and plans.  (Though I have said no to trick or treat.)  I am still trying to think what would be the best way to use some candy eyes I have saved from Christmas in July.  Today I made these bliss balls and thought that you could do far worse than to make healthy recipes like this and put some eyes on them for Halloween treats.

But honestly I don't want to talk about Halloween.  I just want to post some good food.  Life is busy with Vegan MoFo preparation (sign up deadline is today), school fete preparation (am going to make grubs after work tonight),  my neighbour asking me who are the candidates in the local elections (thanks Catherine), a busy week with only one night where I am not heading out, birthday celebrations, and other stuff I can't even remember.  Above is a photo of the mac and cheese I made last night.  Perhaps I should call it a Mac and Cheese bowl.  So good.  But it was a dairy one that wont make it into November when my blog goes vegan for Vegan MoFo.

This photo also wont make it into my vegan month of November.  It was a very good afternoon tea birthday spread for my dad recently.  My mum did an amazing job of it.  I loved the guiness chocolate cake and the scones with jam and cream.  I will be telling you about my latest version of vegan sausage rolls.

I haven't done much of my own baking lately.  Yes, I have been trying to eat healthily.  Doing my best but could do better.  However, even if this was not the case, I still have baking the freezer and little time to bake.  Today I just wanted to make these bliss balls.  The combination of tahini and chocolate reminded me a bit of some favourite recipes.

It also seemed a good opportunity to use up some of the maca powder.  Apparently all its powerhouse of nutritional benefits is more potent when uncooked.  I am still a bit scared of the powder after the packet says not to eat too much at first but they say it makes you feel good and I could do with some of that feeling right now.  I am not that sure how much influence the maca is having but I can tell you that they taste great and that makes me happy.

And did I mention that they are nut free which is great for school snacks (if your kids aren't too fussy.)  I found them rather sweet and enjoyed them more when rolled in cocoa.

I took the above photo of some blossoms in Brunswick yesterday.  Look at that blue sky.  It was a wonderful warm spring day.  Today the sky is blue and tomorrow, the day of the school fete, is forecast to be cold, windy and wet with a chance of hail and thunderstorms.  Wish us luck and I will tell you about the jam I made for the fete soon!

I am sending these to Gluten Free Fridays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, We Should Cocoa and Treat Petite

More bliss balls on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Almond, date and cranberry truffles (gf, v)
Almond energy snacks (v)
Chocolate bliss balls with banana and oats (v)
Cocoa bites (gf, v)
Coconut almond balls (gf, v)
Wattleseed cashew truffles (gf, v)

Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls
Adapted from Wholefood Simply via
Makes 20-24

1/2 cup hulled tahini
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
2 tbsp maca powder
2 tablespoons cocoa
Pinch of salt
1 cup desiccated coconut
extra 1/4 cup cocoa, for coating

Mix tahini, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, maca powder, cocoa and salt to make a paste.  Mix in coconut.  Roll into walnut sized balls and coat in cocoa powder.

On the Stereo:
Amsterdamned: Tom Waits

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Street Art in Melbourne: Chapel Street, Fitzroy and surrounds

Life continues to be busy and so I bring you some street art photos from July 2014.  They were taken at Chapel Street in Fitzroy where it comes off Johnston Street and turns into Elliot Street.  When I was there, I was impressed at all the street art. 

The street sign has a second sign saying Juddy Roller, a street art company (I didn't know they had street art companies!!!) so I assume they have done some of it.  If I had the time, I would look it up. 

Hope you enjoy the pics, particularly The Hamburgler (does anyone else remember him?)

More street art photos can be found under Street Art in Melbourne in my Reflections and Reviews page.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Carrot, feta and cashew dip

It is busy times here and I am trying to spend time working on writing a few Vegan MoFo posts in advance.  So instead of telling you about some of the wonderful vegan food we have been eating, I am sharing a carrot feta and cashew dip I made last year in August.  Oh dear that is over a year ago.

I really love making dips.  The reality at the moment is that Sylvia is not keen on trying new dips.  She loves hummus but will not eat it when it is homemade so we buy a big bucket of hummus and go through it rather quickly.  It is a treat to make an interesting dip for E and me.

Sylvia does love it when I chop up lots of vegies to serve with dip and crackers.  She enjoys choosing what she wants.  As you can see in the photo she often goes straight for the chips or crackers.  But she also will eat vegies.  I love these sort of relaxed meals too.  Not too much work.  Not too many dishes.  And a nice healthy meal.  

I wish I could remember the dip better.  It was a bit more creamy than I usually have but had a nice flavour.  I wrote a list of ingredients in my notes but not much more.  There is this spinach pesto with almonds and feta link and a note to say "Blend and spread".  Does this mean I didn't cook the carrot?  I am not sure but I think I would cook the carrots before making it.  If nothing else it would give a little looseness to the dip which was pretty thick.  I have made a great raw feta for Vegan MoFo so if I use it to try making a vegan version of this dip, I will report back!

More dip recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Beetroot hummus (gf, v)
Buffalo hummus (gf, v)
Finnish green bean paté (gf)
Hummus (gf, v)
Roasted pumpkin and garlic hummus (gf, v)
Spinach hummus (gf, v)
Vegan salmon pate (gf, v)
Voracious vegan pate (v)

Carrot, feta and cashew dip

130g cashew
130g (2 medium) carrots 
100g feta
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 small garlic clove

Cook carrots.  Blend all ingredients until you have a smooth spread.  Keep in the fridge in an airtight container.

On the Stereo:
On the Road with the Wiggles

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Dal with haloumi and mint

Daylight savings has struck, spring rains are quenching our gardens and the nights are getting lighter.  Just not quite enough light for when I am rushing to make dinner on a weekend after gymnastics, lunch, op shopping and a garage sale.  So today I bring you this gorgeous but far from traditional dal that is served with golden brown haloumi and handfuls of mint from the garden.

I remembered the dal when looking for ways to use my mint that is flourishing after the recent rains.  I had planned to serve it in a fancy plate and take some tempting photos.  It is a dal after all that looks beautiful.  It is not at all traditional.  I took a recipe that used haloumi instead of paneer cheese.  I gather that the advice not to colour the haloumi was to make it look more like paneer but I like my haloumi golden brown so I dud as I pleased.

However I was rushing not just to beat the fading light but also to get dinner finished so we could eat with Sylvia who already had started dinner.  This, of course, did not stop her rushing out to help chopping mint from the garden with E and helping him to strip the mint leaves from the stalks.  She took great enjoyment in tossing a handful of mint leaves on the dal.

The next day I served the leftover dal and rice with some onion, cabbage and carrot that I fried with a scattering of mustard seeds. The dal was delicious but I did love it even more the second day when the mint flavour shone through and it had the vegetables on the side as well as brown rice.  Last night we finished it with the leftover cabbage and pasta.  It is a lovely dal to welcome in spring.

It was also really nice to have a good home made meal.  The first week of school term is always busy both with Sylvia and work.  This term has had a few challenges - technical errors at work, medical appointments and Christmas shopping for overseas relatives - that made me feel quite wrung out by the end of the week.  Then yesterday we heard that our accountant had died.  This week is looking better with a birthday brunch, Italian day at school and hopefully some time to tidy up the house.

I am sending this dal to Meat Free Monday; Eat your Greens hosted by VegHog this month; and My Legume Love Affair hosted by Cooking with Siri which is in its 100th month in October.

More red lentils recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe 
Creamy lentil and vegetable soup (v, gf)
Curried red lentil and apricot soup (gf, v)
Green dal (gf, v)
Red lentil dosa (gf, v)
Red lentil koftas (gf, v)
Red lentil loaf
Sweet potato and red lentil soup (gf, v)

Dal with haloumi and mint
Adapted from Karen Martini in
Serves 4-6

2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced*
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups split red lentils
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp chilli paste
1 tsp salt flakes, or to taste
180g haloumi, cut into cubes**
10 fresh curry leaves
2 handfuls mint leaves

Fry onion in 1 tbsp olive oil* for a few minutes until it is translucent.  Add 2 cloves of garlic* and stir for a minute or two until fragrant and then stir in turmeric briefly.  Pour in water, stock, red lentils, peas and season with chilli paste and salt flakes.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentil are soft.

About 25 minutes into the simmer of the lentils, fry haloumi in another tbsp of oil* over medium heat on a frypan until it is golden brown on both sides.   Scatter onto the dal once the lentil are cooked.  Add another 1/2 tbsp of oil* and briefly cook the remaining 2 cloves of garlic* and then cook the curry leaves (about 20 seconds) until starting to wilt.  Arrange over the curry.  Scatter with mint leaves and serve.

**NOTES:  To make a vegan version of this, you could try Rosalie's vegan "haloumi".

On the stereo:
Music From The Motion Picture Once: soundtrack: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Crafternoon: Brunswick cafe

At the beginning of the school holidays, Sylvia and I had an appointment in Brunswick so I wanted somewhere to eat beforehand.  I had always meant to visit Crafternoon in North Carlton and was pleased to find there is now a Brunswick cafe.  (Seems they moved in November and the North Carlton store is now closed.)   We had lots of fun and a nice lunch too.  And after a return visit today, I still think Crafternoon is a great place to take kids.

Upon entering the store, we were enthusiastically greeted and led to a table.  I was struck by all the craft and indeed it does seem to focus far more on craft than on food.  Which is not to say we didn't have some good vegetarian options.  But first look at all those pictures.

As well as pictures hanging from the ceiling, the floor is an appealing collage of magazine pages and the walls have displays of all the craft options such as badges, bookmarks, masks and crowns.

Upon entering we were greeted enthusiastically and given a menu.  The first page of the menu is a list of craft activities available.  Sylvia chose the playdough which came with a box of playdough toys.  She set about making a fruit and waffle ensemble while I drew with the pens and paper offered to us.

She had a cheese and vegemite toastie ($5) for lunch, accompanied by a baby hot chocolate.  The toastie was great but the hot chocolate was a small glass of lukewarm milk with not much chocolate flavouring.  I am guessing it for for toddlers rather than school age kids.  I think she woudl have prefeered an adult hot chocolate.

I chose the Roasted Pumpkin toastie ($9), which came with pumpkin, seared haloumi, baby spinach, and cashew dressing on mutligrain sourdough.  It was very nice.  A cut above the average toastie with lots of nice vegies.  I was surprised that the pumpkin was toasted in thin slices with the skin on but it seemed nice and soft.

Sylvia spied the Decorate-A-Cupcake on the menu but we did not have time for it.  So we returned later in the afternoon.  It was quieter than at lunchtime but we received a warm welcome as though we were old friends.  I really liked the little pain palate cum plate that the cupcake came on.  It had an art and craft feel to it and lots of options for decorating.

Here is Sylvia's finished creation.  I would have used more of the sprinkles but it seems that, unlike me, she knows that less is more.  The eyes are pretty cute!  It is such a fun idea for kids to decorate their own cupcakes.  It did mean a lot of icing to give kids a large canvas but I liked that it was as much about craft as food.

Despite being advised that the chocolate cake was great, I went for the carrot cake.  The cake was lovely and moist with nuts, pineapple and sultanas.  Sadly it was let down by the cream cheese frosting being a bit dry.  I tasted Sylvia's frosting which was soft and perfect so perhaps I was unlucky.  I ignored the cream and was happy just to eat the lovely cake.  Though I wish I had remembered my earlier plan to order the scones with jam and cream.

Meanwhile we doodled with the pencils and paper that is provided to every customer.  I love being able to scribble while I wait for Sylvia to finish.  And I thought it cute that she drew an owl to accompany mine.  I enjoyed it being quiet though it lacked some of the energy of the earlier visit but it was quieter than our visit today.

Today Sylvia and I returned with E in tow.  Sylvia was set on having the Billie Jean.  This is a bowl of mixed rice bubbles and coco pops with a jug of milk.  Sylvia didn't touch the milk because she does not like dairy milk so next time I would get her soy milk.  She also had a cheese and vegemite toastie.  Bargaining with Sylvia about menus has become even more complex since she started to read.  This meal was a bit much for her and half of the toastie came home with us to be eaten later.  I think she was more interested in her playdough activity!

I ordered the Crafty Amigos (which is gluten free and vegan.  The menu described it as "homemade toasted cornbread, topped with corn, capsicum, tomato beans, baby spinach and avocado.  I had imagined it as a fancy fry up but it was more like a tex mex meal.  I really loved it though it was very filling (and worth the $15).  It seems my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

I had also ordered the mini vegie rolls off the kids menu for E and I to share.  They were made with vegetables and marinated feta and really good.  E also enjoyed a soy latte and a poached chicken sandwich which came with an interesting cranberry and pistachio roulade.

I really loved visiting Crafternoon.  The idea of craft activities while eating out really appeals.  The craft and food on offer is quite overwhelming but there are lots of good options and an awareness of dietary options.  It is an entertaining place with lots to do and look at, newspapers and books to peruse, and fun names for meals like "Happily Ever Crafter".  I'd still like to try the pea fritters and the mushroom mountain. 

As we were leaving, two of the staff were dressed as fairies in preparation for  a party and clearly enjoying themselves.  When Sylvia asked for a different colour of playdough, they were happy to oblige and when they saw she did not like her dairy milk they offered soy milk.  I am sure we will be back and will be warmly welcomed when we return.

718 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(near the corner of Albion Street)
03 8777 0125

Crafternoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Carrot, onion and poppyseed bread

I really loved experimenting with some different flavours in bread baking.  Sylvia response was to ask when I was going to make her some of the white sourdough bread she loves.  Though I love my white loaves, I yearn for something a bit fancier.  And that was why I made this carrot, onion and poppyseed bread when Sylvia was staying with my mum for a couple of nights.  I made two different loaves and will share more about the fruit loaf soon.

I was inspired by the onion and poppyseed bread at Bakers Delight but then I decided to add carrot because I could.  I ran out of onion flakes so I fried some onion.  Good move!  Yet I could barely taste the onion in the warm bread.  Once cooled, it was a bit more prominent but still subtle.  Maybe more onion next time but I really loved this loaf.

When Sylvia came home from my mum's, we had a lovely lunch of fresh bread with cheese and chutney.  A couple of days later  Sylvia had been trampolining at Bounce with a friend.  They came back to ours for lunch.  I made them a pretty platter of bread, crackers, cheese, bikkies and hummus.  They left the bread and headed for the crackers and hummus.  Sigh!  They took their plates of lunch outside to a little tent they had set up as a house.  I stayed inside and enjoyed the bread and vegies!

I am sending this to Healthy Vegan Fridays

More savoury baking recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Carrot and poppy seed dinner rolls (v)
Cottage cheese and chive bread
Russian Vegetable Bread (v)
Sesame and Lemon Bread (v)
Sprouted green lentil and bulgar bread (v)
Yeasted Zucchini Bread (v) 

Carrot, onion and poppyseed bread
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

200g sourdough starter
275g water
10-12g salt*
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 medium onion, finely chopped*
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
15g poppyseeds 1 1/2 tbsp
4g onion flakes*
400g plain white flour
100g wholemeal flour
maize flour to dust surface

A few hours before making the loaf, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly. 

About an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) fry onion in oil on medium high for about 4 minutes until they start to char around the edges.  Add carrot and fry on medium heat for about 1 to 2 minutes until the carrot changes colour which indicates it it cooked.  Mix everything together.  It is easiest to mix everything except flour first and then add flour.  Use hands to mix if required.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute.  Cover with greased clingwrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Very gently without punching the air out, fold the dough in three.  Shape into a loaves.  Place on a floured surface and cover with the lightly greased clingwrap.  (Maize flour is great here.)  Set aside to rise for 30 minutes.  While the loaves rise, preheat oven to 240 C, with casserole dishes heating if you are using them.

Slash the loaves and put in the heated casserole dishes with lids on (or on a tray or in a tin).  Bake for 20 minutes with lid on.  Remove lid and bake another 20 minutes.  Then reduce oven heat to 180 C and return to oven for another 10 minutes to make sure the crust is crispy and golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

* NOTES: For more extensive notes on this method, go to my post on overnight sourdough bread.  I added more salt than usual (12g) because I was concerned that the carrot would make my savoury bread taste too sweet.  It was fine but I suspect you could get by with 10g.  I only used 1 onion but in future would use 2 onions to give more onioin flavour.  I also ran out of onion flakes so might omit if I had more onion or experimenting with using all flakes rather than onions if I had a good tablespoon or two of them.  Though I think I prefer fried onion.

On the Stereo:
The Velvet Underground and Nico 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

In My Kitchen: October 2016

September has been a big month.  Flooding rains, Father's Day, The Melbourne Show and school holidays.  And now October has started with a bang with an nail biting AFL footy grand final that saw the Western Bulldogs win their first premiership in 62 years.  The kids will be back to school on Monday and the gardens are green.  And it is World Vegetarian Day!

We have had some good breakfasts lately.  The one above is on Father's Day.  We decided a fry-up would be the thing for E.  It was overnight sourdough bread (inexpertly cut by Sylvia when I turned my back), chickpea scramble, veggie sausages, baked beans and sriracha.  It was lovely.  Since then Sylvia has been keen on beans and sausages for weekend breakfasts rather than pancakes.

We visited my own dad on Father's day in Geelong.  I took some coconut ice along.  My mum made pizza, and lots of desserts including macarons, caramel tart and chocolate cake.  I was so full after it.  And we also had a birthday, just in case you noticed the candles on the cake and though it was an odd Father's Day custom in my family.

Sylvia asked for sausages and beans on another weekend morning.  I had a bright idea to use up some potatoes in some potato scones.  Breakfast was a lot later but oh so yummy.

Spring has meant more visits to Coburg Farmers Markets.  Here is what we bought a few weeks ago.  Kale, new season asparagus (for this salad), pesto, a beeswax candle, caramel sauce (used in these chocolates), potato and rosemary sourdough bread, a jam tart, pretzel and Cocoa Rhapsody's fantastic salted lime chocolate.  Happy days!

We love our bread but don't always have it in the house.  One day coming home for lunch I wanted a healthy sandwich.  I remembered Ricki's brilliant Toronto Sandwich which is made with a chickpea flour wrap and lots of salad fillings.  It is so quick to put together that I really should make it more often.

This Women's Weekly Easy Party Cakes book was an impulse purchase from the supermarket.  It is  for those who want fun party food but don't want to cook.  Most recipes either suggest you buy the cakes or use fruit or are no-bake.  I like that it has some fun healthy options and hope it might give me some good inspiration.  I would love to make the camper van on the cover.

In my kitchen is some home cooked jam.  Actually the strawberry chia jam has been eaten and then mixed into ice cream.  The strawberry and rhubarb jam is for the school fete.  One of the jars did not seal so I have had to give it a test run.  I am glad to report it is really lovely.

It would be lovely if our strawberry plant produces some fruit.  Little flowers are opening up and giving us hope.  I'd love to have enough strawberries for jam but I suspect Sylvia would eat them before I had the chance.

During the school holidays, Sylvia went to stay at my mum's for a couple of nights.  She and her cousins decorated cupcakes while she was there and she brought some home.  Aren't they pretty!

On a visit to the farmers market, Sylvia and I tasted Peach Chutney.  We both liked it.  I was so impressed that Sylvia had found a chutney to enjoy that I bought it.  Since then she has not eaten any of the chutney.   E and I have been enjoying it.   Perhaps the sweetness drew in Sylvia and the odd idea of eating chutney pushed her away.  Or maybe it is just that kids are a mystery.

At the Melbourne Show, I bought a Super Food Ideas magazine showbag.  It has so many good things in it, including a copy of the magazine.  Lately I have been very disciplined in not buying food magazines.  I enjoyed flicking through the magazine but haven't had much more time for thinking about making any recipes.  We really liked a Costo Rica clementine anti oxidant infusion drink by Bai and will look out for it in future.  The Lindt chocolates are great too but have been saved while Sylvia eats through the Oreos from her showbag.

I was really pleased to have a small pack of Vegemite flavoured Bagel Crisps in my showbag.  I bought them for a swimming snack for Sylvia a month or two ago and have not seen them in the shops since.  Which is a shame.  They were so delicious that we were fighting over the last ones.

Another interesting addition in my showbag was the Macabella Choc Macadamia Spread (Crunch).  It reminds me a lot of Nutella, which is not surprising as according to its ingredient list it has a lot of sugar and has whey powder.  However it is different because it has crunchy nuts in it (like crunchy peanut butter).  I really liked it on some home made fruit bread.

We were tempted by these Infuzions Veggie Straws with Sour Cream and Herb Flavour.  The straws - in spinach, tomato and beetroot flavours really are hollowed out straws, which gives them a lightness and the flavour is very moreish.  However with all the added flavours, they will probably not be a regular with us.

I bought this reusable beeswax food wrap from BeeKeep at the farmers market this morning.  I have read about them and was curious.  It will be good to use less clingfilm if they do work with bread though I rely on seeing how much the bread is risen through the clingfilm so I need to see how these work.

We finish as we started with breakfast. We had a huge brunch yesterday because it was a public holiday.  It was one of those rare days which I ate more for breakfast than tea.  Baked beans, veggie sausages, fried cherry tomatoes, spinach, carrot onion poppyseed bread and zucchini slice.  The last two recipes are coming to the blog soon.

Next month (November) will be Vegan MoFo, a month when bloggers sign up to post often and vegan.  I am on the verge of signing up.  That means I have almost convinced myself to do it but am nervous about finding the time for frequent posting.  It means that I am keeping some of my vegan posts for then.

Meanwhile we have a new host for the In My Kitchen event, that invites bloggers to share a peek into their kitchen.  Maureen, who had taken over from Celia, has decided to pass the baton over to Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.  It is great that Lizzy has agreed to keep the event running and I wish her well.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 October.  Or just head over to her blog to check out all the posts.  They are always fun.