Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy First Anniversary

Has it really been a year already?
Actually it has been just over a year.  The anniversary on the 19th of April slipped by without me even realizing.  But I am still going to mark the occasion - complete with reminiscing, goal setting and celebrating!

Some highlights of the year:
(Not in any particular order)

1. Vegan MoFo Iron Chef Callenge - I loved creating new recipes and seeing how other vegan bloggers responded each week to the challenge.  The Bounty Slice I made was a big hit and so delicious.  I may never have made it without the Iron Chef Challenge to inspire me.

2. Finding out how easily my taste buds can adjust.  They went from saying "Yuck!" to soy milk in tea to now loving it and being disappointed if I ever drink tea with regular milk when visiting a friend's home.  I am now going to train my taste buds to like black tea so that if I am visiting and the host does not have a non-dairy milk available then I will just smile and take my tea black.

3. Finding that there are so many "accidentally" vegan products on supermarket shelves, including Oreos, Hob Nobs, Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate and many flavours of Corn Chips, Rice Crackers and Potato Chips.  This week I also discovered that Glucojel Jelly Beans (sold in Phamacies here in Australia) are vegan.  I don't recommend eating Jelly Beans on a regular basis but if you have a lolly craving these may just hit the spot.

4. Getting to know other bloggers - both vegans and the not-so-vegan.  I have loved connecting with people and sharing ideas.  I have received so much inspiration from reading about how other people confront the challenges in their lives and how they respond to their convictions - whether it is to live more sustainably, frugally or authentically.  And of course I have loved the recipes! 

5. Sharing vegan cooking.  I especially love baking something yummy and not telling people that it is vegan until after they are hooked.  Vegan "sausage" rolls and vegan chocolate cupcakes with swirling chocolate icing have been big hits with omnivorous friends, family and co-workers.

So, one year on, am I a Vegan, or still a Vegan Apprentice?  Unfortunately I have to say that I am still just an apprentice.  I am not quite ready to graduate and accept my Vegan badge of honor.  But I am ready to take the next step.

*** Drum roll ***

I commit to being 100% Vegan at home!  I have been 99% vegan at home for a while now, but have balked at finally filling in that dotted line.  Now I think it is time to do so!

Phew, that wasn't so hard was it?
(I am sure there are many people who would think "What's so hard about it.  Why hasn't she already made this commitment?".  I guess they won't be lining up to join my cheer squad.)

Vegan when out and about?  Well that is another story.  I am not quite ready to accept the restrictions and social implications of going 100% vegan 100% of the time.  Please don't hate me Vegan community - I am sure I will get there eventually.  And every step towards Veganism is a step in the right direction, right?

My way of tackling Veganism is to see it as something I am learning, just like an apprenticeship in any other area.  I know my approach is not perfect, and I am not perfect.  In someways I guess I am just another person who does not live up to their ethical convictions.  But I hope that my approach can help others who want to make the change but are not yet ready to dive in.  One step at a time, one challenge at a time, and refusing to feel guilty for trying.

Now, on to the celebrations!  Celebrating?  Yes celebrating.  An no self-respecting celebration would be seen without some kind of special celebratory food, right? 

I have been thinking about what to make for my 1st Vegan Apprentice Anniversary for the last couple of days.  I was thinking it would have to be something chocolatey but now I am leaning towards trying to make my first vegan cheesecake. Cheesecake has always been a favorite of mine but vegan + cheesecake, apart from the obvious misnomer, just don't seem to go together naturally.  But if I am going to stick with this 100% vegan at home I am going to need a good vegan cheesecake recipe to indulge myself from time to time.

So, go ahead and inundate me with your vegan cheesecake recipes!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Choc Chips.

I had some left over mashed some pumpkin after making the Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf from the Post Punk Kitchen website (it was delicious by the way but I forgot to photograph it).

So the next day I decided to try these Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies (also from the Post Punk Kitchen).  I made a half batch (as I only had half a cup of mashed pumpkin) but it still made heaps of cookies.  I think you would only want to make a full batch if you planned on sharing them.  As this batch was eaten entirely by Dear Husband and myself, half the amount was definitely enough!

The only changes I made to the recipe were to leave out the flax seeds (I didn't have any), substitute the walnuts for choc chips and to add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.  The result was quite yummy but my cookies turned out quite soft and cakey. Like a cross between a cookie and a scone - but quite delicious.  I think they would be great with the walnuts too but I was more in the mood for chocolate than walnuts at the time.  I plan to try them with the flax seeds next time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato and White Bean Dip

I love dip.  I love eating it with crunchy raw veggies and experiencing the different combinations of flavor and texture.  There are lots of vegan versions of Sun Dried Tomato dip around.  I have tried a few and below is my take on it - adjusted to suit my taste buds.  This recipe can be easily adjusted to suit your taste buds and mood.  You can add olives, fresh herbs, leave out the vinegar - whatever!

1 clove crushed garlic
1 cup cooked Cannelloni Beans (rinse and drain if from a tin)
1 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, drain off most of the oil (although I wish I had not drained quite so much)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt or powdered vegetable stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1. Combine all the ingredients except the pine nuts in a food processor and process until very smooth.  Adjust salt/sugar/vinegar to taste. 
2. Add most of the pine nuts and process for about 5-10 seconds so they are combined and a little chopped but not too smooth.
3. Transfer to the bowl you plan to serve the dip in.  Garnish with the remaining pine nuts.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. Serve with a variety of vegetable crudites.  Is also very nice spread on fresh or toasted bread and in sandwiches.

When I finished making this dip yesterday I thought it had the perfect texture.  But after refrigerating for a couple of hours it was a little to thick for my liking.  Next time I will add a little extra oil from the Sun Dried Tomatoes to keep it more "dip-able", but you could add a little water instead if you wanted to avoid the extra oil.