Saturday, August 23

Vegan chicken noodle soup recipe

The other day a colleague brought a chicken noodle soup in for lunch. It looked really yummy and I was like you know what? I can veganize that! So away I went to invent this recipe. It's quick, easy, very very yummy, and doesn't involve any dead animals.

Serves: 4-6

2 carrots, diced into small pieces
2 sticks celery, diced into small pieces
2 onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
250g vermicelli pasta, broken into 1/3 lengths (or use angel hair pasta if you can find it, I couldn't get any!)
3L vegan chicken stock (I am a fan of Massel powdered stock)
A big handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 tbsp Nuttelex

1. Melt the Nuttelex in a large saucepan, then add the carrot, celery, and onion and fry for 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes. Then add stock and bring to the boil.

3. Add the pasta and stir. Boil soup for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.

4. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Happy eating! :)

Saturday, July 26

In sickness and in health

Sometimes in life we take risks. We take risks and we think 'it'll be alright', and then sometimes it isn't. This year I didn't get the flu shot. I was busy, I didn't have time to get it and I didn't have the money to pay for it. Then I got the flu, and considering the loss of productivity and wages I experienced, it would have been much better to just get the shot in the first place. Ah well, hindsight's like that isn't it?

So I was very ill for several weeks, even now that I'm back at work I'm still not 100%. This was also my first experience of being sick while living alone, and it was hard! But thankfully in my hour of need, I still had my family to take care of me. My grandmother to drive me to the doctor, my sister to lend me the entire box set of Horrible Histories, my mum to cook for me, buy me medicine, and lend me money so that I could pay my rent.

One day when I was really sick, my mum brought around this beautiful basket full of things to nurse me back to health. Herbal teas specifically designed to support your immune system, help you get to sleep, and restore energy; my favourite biscuits; a big pot of warm homemade baked beans, and some nice bread to go with it.

If my break-up and the difficult period following it has shown me anything, it's the love of my family and the way in which we all support each other. You're never alone when you're surrounded by people who love you. Thank you family, for being awesome.

Happy loving :)

Tuesday, June 17

Samhain (and the Woolton pie recipe)

As some of you may know, and others may have picked up, I am Pagan. For me, this means observing the movement of our amazing planet as it travels through space, the seasons which result from this, and the feelings we inherently associate with these seasons. I've always celebrated the Pagan festivals by having a special dinner that reflects the moment in time we are celebrating.

Shortly before we split up, Jeff and I observed Samhain, which is the festival from which Halloween was created. Samhain marks the halfway point between the Autumn Equinox (Mabon) and the Winter Solstice (Yule. Ah, I see you making the historical connections to another popular festival celebrated around the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere...). Samhain is the final festival of the Pagan calendar and represents death and dying in the circle of life, before the spark of life is reignited at Yule when the days begin to lengthen once more and the sun begins to return. It seems fitting then that this would be the last festival that Jeff and I would spend together. This is also a very fitting time for me to be grieving for this loss and spending my time healing, consolidating, and refocusing for a new beginning in the coming months, because that's what this time of year symbolizes.

However, Samhain, with its background of death, is not a time of sorrow. It is a time of acceptance, of love, and of appreciation for what you have, and what you will have. I like to make something for dinner on that night that reflects that feeling you get around this time of year, that you just want to curl up in the warmth with a hearty meal and those you love, and hibernate through the Winter. This year I made something I've been wanting to make for years, Woolton Pie.

Woolton Pie has its roots in WWII England when rations meant that there wasn't a whole lot to eat besides a few vegetables and a bit of flour. I found my recipe many years ago and cut it out of a magazine, the name of which I have long since forgotten, and have been saving it for a festival such as Samhain. It was a bit more effort than I like to take when making dinner, so I think it'll stay as a 'special occassions' meal only, though I must say the pasty was very yummy!

Woolton Pie

Serves 4

For the filling

450g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

900g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch of nutmeg
Chopped parsley
Vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste

For the pastry

50g Nuttelex
22g plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Fry the potatoes and carrot separately in Nuttelex until soft. Set aside.

3. Fry the spring onions, celery, and leek in Nuttelex until soft.

4. Mix all the cooked vegetables together with the dried thyme, and salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chopped parsley to taste. Fill a pie dish with this mixture, bury the bay leaf in the middle, and moisten with a little vegetable stock or water. Set aside to cool.

5. To make the pastry crust, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Rub in the Nuttelex, then add enough water to make a rolling consistency, although one that is slightly softer than when making pastry with white flour. Roll out and use to cover the pie.

6. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Happy eating! :)


I had intended to write longer individual posts on all of these, but in light of recent events I think a list will have to do.

Carrot, potato and peas curry from Allotment 2 Kitchen.

From the NEW Oxfam Vegetarian Cookbook (yes there's a new one!), spiced cauliflower masala.

African sweet potato and peanut stew.

Bean and vegetable chili from Fat Free Vegan with quinoa.

Pancakes with sliced banana and amber agave syrup for breakfast.

Roasted pumpkin seeds which came out this time with the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth texture!

Alpine Coconut Yoghurt with banana for a snack.

Porridge with amber agave syrup on cold mornings.

A delicious pie I got during my Everything Vegan shopping spree, McCain's Beer Batter Chips, and tomato sauce.

Homemade carbonara (you can find the sauce recipe here) with Kinda Bacon.

Happy eating! :)

How to heal a broken heart

Bob Graham wrote an excellent picture book called How to Heal a Broken Wing, the book follows a pigeon with a broken wing and the boy who helps it. There's a very vegan message of empathy, respect, and kindness towards all creatures and I highly recommend you check it out.

As you would have noticed, I have been absent from blogging for quite some time. The reason for this is that after 6 years together, Jeff and I split up. As I'm sure you can appreciate, this has been devastating and heart-wrenching for me, so I hit the pause button on my life and went to curl up by myself for a bit. I'm just starting to emerge back out into the world now, but the sadness and the grief is still there, and I'm still completely heartbroken.

Bob Graham writes that a broken wing can sometimes heal with rest, and time, and a little hope. But how does one heal a broken heart? Not with Breakup Pudding from PETA's Vegan College Cookbook, that's for sure! In my happily coupled-up days, I'd always wanted to make this recipe but never got around to it. Then when I found myself alone and facing suffocation under an ever-increasing mountain of snotty tissues, I thought yes, now's the time.

This pudding is not for the faint hearted. It contains 10 tablespoons of sugar and though it professes to feed 4, I dispute that claim. This is 10 tablespoons of sugar for 1 person. Along with the entire sugar stocks of Australia, the pudding also requires a whopping 8 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 pack of silken tofu, 2.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Then you simply blend it all until smooth and chill. The end result comes out like this (please excuse the poor quality of the photo, I was not in a good state of mind):

Is it possible to feel worse after your life partner has just abandoned you, you know you're going to be alone forever, and you find yourself curled up on the lounge watching 500 Days of Summer while wearing a jumper that says 'I Like Cats' and crying into your breakup pudding? Well, no, but it is possible to feel very very sick on top of that. Was it eating my own weight in sugar? No, I don't believe so, though that did cause my heart to race at an extraordinary speed. Was it eating a pudding made for 4 people in one sitting? No, that's not really out of the ordinary for me. No, it was the absurd amount of cocoa, I'm talking so much cocoa that it burns the back of your throat as you're eating it. The problem is, the ratio of cocoa to water was, well, non-existent. This meant that the cocoa created a sort of thick gel in my stomach and couldn't continue down into my small intestine which resulted in terrible nausea and a great amount of vomiting. On the plus side, the relief that one experiences post-vomit was probably the emotional highlight of my day.

So if you're ever heartbroken, I suggest that you ignore PETA's advice and do not eat their breakup pudding, even though sugary, chocolaty gloop is exactly what you feel you need. I think Bob Graham is probably on the right track, the only things that really heal a broken heart are rest, time, and a little hope.

Happy (not) eating...and here's to hope.

Wednesday, May 7

RSPCA: accepted fishing methods are inhumane

We have a sick fish in our house and while searching for advice I came across RSPCA guidelines on euthanasing fish (interesting) and RSPCA guidelines on killing fish for food (more interesting).

Personally I have never fished in my life because even as a child I found it an abhorrent bloodsport. However, as I'm sure we all have, I have witnessed my fair share of fishing. Now, the accepted method of fishing sees fish being pulled from the water and left out in the air to die by suffocation (how 'fun'!). Occasionally I have also seen them put into containers of icy water.

Interestingly, the RSPCA states that both of these methods are "not suitable for killing fish as they do not result in a rapid or humane death". Honestly, I was very surprised (pleasantly surprised) at this considering that the RSPCA endorses practices such as 'barn laid' eggs. So what are the killing methods considered 'humane'? A forceful blow to the head rendering unconsciousness followed by bleeding out, or spiking the brain (which should render the fish unconscious as soon as the spike enters the brain). So, how many people have you seen doing that?!

Unfortunately, despite all Australian animal welfare legislations covering vertebrates (which fish obviously are) in WA and my home state of SA fish are specifically excluded from cruelty protection. This is totally unacceptable and ridiculous! Animals are animals, pain is pain, suffering is suffering. Again, surprisingly the RSPCA agrees (it's not often that we see eye-to-eye) stating that "Because there is clear evidence that fish are sentient animals capable of experiencing pain and suffering, RSPCA Australia believes that fish should be uniformly protected under State and Territory animal welfare legislation."

So be a voice for sea kittens! Share this information and hopefully fish-killing-type-people will start to re-think their actions.

Happy reading and advocating! :)

Tuesday, May 6

Warming Winter stew recipe

There's just something about cold rainy nights that makes me want to eat warm, nutritious comfort food! Slow cooking food is the best because it makes the house smell all yummy and cozy. This is a favourite stew of ours, a hearty meal to warm your soul.

We used liquid smoke in this, which we bought during our Everything Vegan shopping spree. It really is a fantastic product, if you haven't tried it you should!

Serves: 6-8

4 large potatoes (or 6 smallish ones)
3 large carrots
2 parsnips
2 swedes/turnips
2 large brown onions
1 cup pearl barley
2.5L beef stock (Massel brand is vegan)
1 tsp liquid smoke

1. Peel the potatoes, parsnips, and swedes/turnips and chop into 1cm cubes. Peel the carrots and chop the smaller half into coins, and the thicker half into semi-circular pieces. Dice the onions.

2. Put all ingredients into a large saucepan, cover, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, stirring twice.

Happy eating! :)

Tuesday, April 29

What I'm eating: kinda bacon

Another of my new treats from my Everything Vegan shopping spree was this packet of 'Kinda Bacon', bacon bits made with coconut (of all things!).

Oh. My. God. Salty, smokey, crunchy, fatty, amazing.

I never was a fan of bacon. I never really ate any pork products as a child in fact, excluding certain thinly sliced, extremely lean ham, even then I wasn't really a fan of it. However, I was always an avid muncher on bacon bits, which used to be produced by Masterfoods (and were vegan), but sadly they stopped making them a couple of years ago.

I've been very upset about this for a long time, I even wrote on their facebook page begging them to bring the bacon bits back (sad, I know). However, I think that Kinda Bacon has healed my broken fake-bacon heart.

Totes amazeballs is, I think, the only accurate way to describe them. The smokiness is so yummy, almost spicy, and my God, they should come with a warning as they are highly addictive! Jeff had to actually physically remove me from their presence as I couldn't stop myself from going back for "Just one more little bit". It was the only way to stop me!

After that, I managed to control myself and I tucked them into the back of the pantry so they'd stop looking at me. I succeeded in saving them until we made baked potatoes and then I again relished their salty, fatty, loveliness. On our baked potatoes we also put Nuttelex, capsicum, pineapple, cashew sour cream (homemade), and grated strong cheddar Sheese:

I just had another "little bit" of these bacon bits before sitting down to write this post.

Just so that the taste was fresh in my mouth so I could write an accurate review.

I fear they may not last much longer...

Happy eating! :)

Monday, April 28

What I'm eating: Redwood Thai fish cakes

One of the things that I picked up during my recent shopping spree at Everything Vegan was this packet of Redwood Thai fish cakes:

We had them along with some steamed vegetables and rice and they were quite yummy. The texture was fish-like but the flavour wasn't very fishy (this might have been a good thing as I'm not sure I could stomach fish after 7 years of not eating it!). The Thai flavourings were very nice, though they were quite spicy so if you're not into that or you're looking for something to serve to little ones then this product might not be for you.

On the whole, B+, would eat again.

Happy eating! :)

Thursday, April 24

Everything Vegan shopping spree

Yesterday I was very lucky and my lovely mum treated me to a shopping spree at Adelaide's vegan supermarket, Everything Vegan (if you don't live in Adelaide, you can buy from their online shop at Vegan Online).

Though I have bought from them online before and my mum is a regular customer, it was the first time I'd actually been there myself. It was really cool and pretty reasonably priced considering how much we got. Most importantly, the owners also own and run Freedom Hill Sanctuary, the only farm animal sanctuary in South Australia, so I'm more than happy to throw money at them (even though in this instance it wasn't my money!).

I got a few old favourites and staples (such as savoury yeast flakes, Amy's Soups, Soyatoo whipped cream, Cheatin' Chicken and my favourite lip balm, Yaoh hemp seed oil in blueberry), and also lots and lots of new things to try. So watch this space as I'll be reviewing the products as I try them. Mmm... I'm looking forward to it!

Happy eating! :)

Sunday, April 20

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! Besides getting chocolate for breakfast, Easter is really a non-event in our family. However, this year my mum had us over for a special Easter Sunday breakfast, which was very nice.

When we arrived, the first priority was the Easter egg hunt! Yes, I am in my mid-20's and I did move out of home several years ago, but the Easter bunny still visits (as does Father Christmas for that matter). I guess that's what happens when you're really really good...

He left little clues everywhere...

Until finally I found this beautiful basket full of vegan Easter goodies!

After that, we all settled down for a lovely breakfast. My mum had made her own hot-cross buns from scratch for the first time and they were delicious. She made chocolate ones and fruit ones, and also had fruitless ones from Bakers Delight (theirs are vegan as are Coles brand) because she knows that I don't like the fruit ones. However, her fruity ones were delicious and I didn't eat a single fruitless one! We also had these great big juicy strawberries, and lots of cups of tea.

After spending time at my mum's house, we went to Jeff's parents house where I received a whole tonne more chocolate plus a box of Ogran Itsy Bitsy Bears which are basically vegan Tiny Teddies. I think this lot will keep me going for the rest of the year!

How did you spend your Easter? Did the Easter bunny come to your house? I hope he was as generous to you as he was to me.

Happy hoppy eating :)

Friday, April 4

Pink milk smoothie

If you've ever seen Charlie and Lola or read the books, you'll know that pink milk is very very special. Unlike normal pink milk though, this yummy smoothie is also very healthy.

Serves 1

1 banana
handful of fresh raspberries
1-2 handfuls of strawberries
4 tbsp coconut yoghurt (I use Coyo brand)
Amber agave syrup (to taste)
250ml soy milk

1. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Take in that pink milk deliciousness.

Happy drinking :)

Wednesday, April 2

Adelaide Festivities Part 2: WOMADelaide

Missed the last installment? Click here: Adelaide Festivities Part 1: Soundwave

Being unabashedly hippy, one of my favourite events of the year is WOMADelaide, a 4 day celebration of world arts and culture held in Adelaide's beautiful Botanic Park. Also, being brought up by an unabashedly hippy mother, I've been attending WOMADelaide since I was a child!

Psst... that's me dancing

The festival is very family friendly, there's a great kids' section with lots of activities and performances, all stages and stall areas are 'no smoking' areas, and it's a very relaxed and positive atmosphere - no drunk swearing people, and no one asking you to breastfeed in the toilets. Oh, did I mention that children 12 and under get in for free?

Plus, I think it's great for children to experience the world and all of its magnificent cultures. All around there are children laughing, playing, dancing, and climbing trees. You hear them discussing the music, performances, and ideas being presented, and adding in their own perspectives. Being a massive hippy and also an early childhood educator, I just think that it is so important for children to be exposed to these things. It really shapes them into the inclusive, worldly, ethical, conscious, and active participants in society that we want them to be (or should want them to be!). I am lucky enough to have a much younger sister (she's 12) and I have really enjoyed watching her become the wonderful person she is today through experiences like WOMADelaide. I had a very proud moment this year when she headed off towards the social justice and activism area saying "Now, let's go sign some petitions!" (For Christmas last year she also donated money to OXFAM instead of buying us presents).

There are so many fantastic acts to see, lots of stalls, and even workshops that you can do with the performers. This year, they were also running hour-long yoga sessions in the mornings. I jumped at that opportunity and found it such a lovely way to start the day; doing yoga under some beautiful shady trees while fruit bats chattered in the branches above. What a relaxing experience!

However, as my sister put it, "WOMAD, you come for the music but you stay for the food". How right she is. WOMADelaide is the biggest eating event on my calendar. In fact, Jeff and I save up money specifically so that we can gorge ourselves on the abundance of delicious sustainable and multicultural food.

This year the event attracted 90,000 people over the 4 days. That's 90,000 educated, ethical, environmentalist, barefoot hippies like myself so you can bet your life that there was a lot of vegan food on offer!

Here's what was going down, down to my belly that is:

First off, a lovely warm chai, which was followed by many more. All chai sold at WOMADelaide is made with soy milk.

Next, a handmade spring roll filled with some kind of mushroom. I noticed the nice texture that the mushroom gave the spring roll but mushroom-hater Jeff didn't and ate his all up saying how delicious it was. Little did he know his nemesis lurked inside...

I also had some mushroom in these tofu cold rolls. My goodness they were yummy, and filling!

Something that I find such a novelty, the drinking coconut. These were very popular. The coconut water inside is so refreshing and then you can scrape away the coconut flesh inside with your spoon and eat it, a big hit with the children of WOMADelaide! I really like the texture of the fresh coconut flesh.

I paired my coconut water with this cinnamon and sugar bread AKA cinnamon doughnut. I was so glad that the stall selling these was back this year, as they weren't there last year.

In the evening, I had a sago and fresh fruit dessert (you can find a recipe to make your own sago here).

Lastly, I couldn't go past the Hare Krishna's feast of rice, vegetable curry, and kofta with tomato chutney, even though I'd just had one the week before at Soundwave!

Happy eating! :)

Tuesday, March 25

Out of the mouths of babes...

A couple of days ago I was privy to this interesting exchange between some 5 year olds at the school I work at.

Their class had recently hatched some chicks as part of the Living Eggs program (which is extremely cruel, unethical, and not endorsed by the RSPCA! See the following links for more information: Oppose Living Eggs Facebook groupEdgar's MissionPETA Australia).

First, some background information: My experience in early childhood education has taught me that a favourite game between children of this age is the "Who likes...?" survey. Children ask "Who likes (topic or item)?" and they all put their hands up if they like it, and so on. Usually the topic is food and as you can imagine there is a lot of silliness involved and it invariably ends up at "Who likes to eat poo?" This was the game being played in this scenario.

4 children (2 girls and 2 boys) were sitting around a table doing a pasting activity. While working, they were playing the "Who likes to eat...?" game. After a few quick-fire rounds, one boy asked "Who likes to eat chicken?" All of the children put their hands up and giggled. "Who likes to eat baby chicks?" he asked. More giggles and a resounding "Ewww!" from everyone at the table, including the questioner. Next, "Who likes to eat big grown-up chickens?" the boy asked with a smile. The other children's faces were about to break into more laughter but then they faltered, the boy's smile slipped, they all avoided each others eye contact, and their body language indicated awkwardness. "Well... I do sometimes" said one girl, her voice sad. They all silently went back to work before one of them brought up a new subject of conversation.

I found this exchange really sad. Children know in their hearts that eating animals is wrong, there are so many examples of this and it is clear to see everyday if you look, in little exchanges such as these. Yet they are taught by others in society that they should blind their hearts to animals' suffering and the blatant wrongness of ending another's life so that you can indulge in its flesh.

There is so much more that I could say about this issue and so much more that I could pull out from this brief moment in time in the lives of these 4 young children. Instead, I'm going to say nothing. I'm going to leave this moment in time as it is, for you all to see, and ponder in your own minds.

Monday, March 10

Adelaide Festivities Part 1: Soundwave

Starting with the Tour Down Under in January and running through to Oz Comic-Con in April, Adelaide becomes a very very busy place! Between those times, there's the Adelaide Fringe Festival (and its mini festival - the Adelaide Street Theatre Festival), Adelaide Festival of the Arts, Clipsal 500 V8 racing, WOMADelaide, and numerous music festivals (Big Day out, Day on the Green, Soundwave, Future Music Festival).... I've probably forgotten other things as well. Anyway, you get the picture, very busy time of the year!

As well as seeing a few Fringe shows and attending a few street events, the major events on our festival calender are Soundwave, WOMADelaide, and Oz Comic-Con. First up, Soundwave.

For those who don't know, Soundwave is a metal/punk/hardcore/grunge music festival and in Adelaide it is held in one of the many large parks that surround the city. It is almost always extremely hot (last year it was over 40 degrees C) and with so many people walking on the grass it becomes very dusty very quickly. However, this year the weather was very nice, the dust mostly stayed down, and I didn't get sunburned, so it was very pleasant! I also got hugged by a stranger because I was wearing my Black Sabbath concert t-shirt and she was at the same concert and had the same t-shirt at home. Apparently "we are connected now".

I saw Placebo, Alice in Chains, Alterbridge, Living Colour, and Richie Sambora, popped my head in on Korn but got bored and ended up leaving, and watched an hour of Green Day who I've seen before anyway. But my absolute favourite performance and the reason I was there this year was Rob Zombie.

But I digress, this is not a music blog, it is a food blog and a vegan one at that. 'What did you eat Kayla?' I hear you ask, 'do the metal/punk/hardcore/grunge types prove a market for tasty vegan food at their music festivals?' Why yes, being largely cheery anti-establishment types, a large number of Soundwave patrons are vegan or vegetarian meaning that there are plenty of vegan options - not just hot chips! This also means, I learned, that the Sea Shepherd stall is the busiest of all and very hard to get into!

So what did I eat? Well after a hearty breakfast of a large fruit smoothie and baked beans on wholemeal English muffins to set me up for the day, I started with a smoky Cajun tofu wrap:

It was actually really funny because unlike the chicken and beef wraps, the tofu ones were made fresh to order (which is better and the service was really fast anyway). However, I don't think that the people at this particular stall had expected such a demand for veg*n food, in the approximately 4 minutes that I was waiting for mine, 8 other people ordered tofu wraps as well!

When the sun started to shine down in the early afternoon with its strong, burny rays, I relaxed under a tree with a lovely frosty fruits ice-block:

Then in the evening, I filled my hungry belly with a feast of rice, mixed vegetable curry, kofta balls and tomato chutney thanks to the Hare Krishnas:

All in all, an excellent day of food and rocking out.

Happy eating! :)