Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What is this amazing creation you ask??

Yep, again it's mochi!

Mochi Waffles Drizzled with Lemon-Walnut-Rice Syrup (page 286).

I really can't say in words how truly delicious this breakfast meal is...very decadent! I am so lost for descriptive words that I've decided instead to post the recipe for you (straight from the book)...because if you haven't got a copy of The Kind Diet book, then at least poach this recipe off me because I guarantee it's a breakfast meal you will LOVE!

1 cup walnuts
1-2 packages of plain mochi (buy this from any Japanese grocery store. I used 3 of the mochi blocks and cut them into thin slices).
1/2 cup brown rice syrup (Pure Harvest do a really good one)
Juice of 1/2 lemon.

Toast walnuts in a dry fry-pan over medium heat until just starting to turn golden and fragrant, about 5 mins, stirring often. Transfer to a bowel to cool, and chop coarsely.

Preheat a waffle iron (I used a sandwich-maker instead as don't own a waffle iron). Cut mochi into large pieces widthwise. Slice each piece into long finger-like pieces. Using 6-8 strips for each waffle, place the mochi strips on the hot, ungreased waffle iron and close the top. Cook until puffed and slightly crispy but not too hard and dry, about 3 minutes, or until waffle iron signals that it's done. Remove the waffle and place on a plate. Don't stack the waffles because they will stick together. Serve and eat waffles ASAP -they are best hot and crispy.

While the waffles cook, combine the rice syrup with 3 tablespoons of water, lemon juice, and toasted walnuts in a saucepan. Stir together over medium heat just until warmed. Pour over the waffles, and serve!


After a short hiatus...here's the finale! DAYS 6 & 7.

For all my healthy habits, unfortunately I still get bad head colds...and so after a couple of days out of action with a lot of couch time, I'm back to post the closing to The Challenge.

But first, the food.

Day 5 for breakfast was a personal favourite of mine (and of most vegans I'm sure)...scrambled tofu on crisp sourdough toast. Mmmm. I followed the recipe a la Alicia-style, which suggested sautéing leeks, zucchini, spring onions and any other vegies you need to clear your fridge of, and then adding in the mashed tofu and seasoning with shoyu. I also added a little cracked pepper to taste, and some rocket lettuce. Oh, and a healthy dosing of Nuttelex butter. S LOVED this tasty breakfast and I have a pretty phenomenal quote from him:

"My god...this is seriously better than scrambled eggs. I'm not joking...."

Need I say more?

Lunch was a lazy salad sandwich (we got a little slack with the challenge these last couple of days due to my unannounced head cold...however S maintained a strict vegan diet)!

DINNER that night was Ginger Pasta with Zucchini (page 238). I used spelt pasta for this dish, and added some carrot to bring a bit of colour with the zucchini. I should also mention that this meal has mashed tofu in it which I personally think MADE the dish...does anyone else think of adding tofu to pasta?! I hadn't before this meal...

S is not a fan of zucchini (or any other squashes for that matter), so he was very hesitant to eat this, even though it was pasta -which is a staple in his daily non-challenge diet. However...he ate his bowel and half of mine...so I took that as a positive sign! Adding ginger to the pasta was a clever little idea that I usually wouldn't have thought to do, but added sooo much flavour, so this pasta dish is getting added to the "KEEP" meals of Alicia's book!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dinner...Day FIVE

Tonight I got to make my favourite dish (of which now I am getting quite adept at making), Polenta Casserole with Seitan. I don't know if A.Silverstone came up with this one herself, or whether she poached it from someone else...but it doesn't matter, as this meal is sooo good!

S was very excited to learn that he'd be eating this dish also, as quote: "I could be a vegetarian permanently just to eat this meal..."

Yep, there you have it. Quoted. Perhaps this is the start of him realising that vegan food can, indeed, be super-delicious! As it was a relatively hot and muggy night in Melbourne, I decided to skip the Creamy Pumpkin Soup and substitute it for a rocket salad instead.

To finish off the meal, we had Strawberry Kanten (page 281). I had never heard of this dessert before, and to be honest had always assumed that anything 'jelly-like' would require gelatin, and obviously gelatin is an absolute no-no in vegan cuisine.

To my surprise I learned that there is yet another magical Japanese food called 'agar agar' which is again a sea-vegetable that acts like a vegetarian gelatin. The dessert literally was just fresh organic apple juice, organic strawberries (I should mention that all the foods I cook are only cooked with organic ingredients), ginger juice, agar agar and some sea salt. Super-easy, super-quick, and super-delicious.

Particularly refreshing on a hot summer's night!

Oh, and S took nearly the whole of the remaining dessert to work today....!

Breakfast/Lunch (another free choice for S)...Day FIVE. The night after Meet Your Meat.

B'fast today started off with miso soup, some bok choi drizzled with Ume Vinegar, and instead of the Barley with Sweet Rice and Corn, I made some brown rice porridge with fresh plums, linseed, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon (S was craving something a little less savoury).

I made S watch the dvd "Meet Your Meat" last night as I figured he was more than halfway through his challenge, a quarter of the way through the book "Eating Animals", and it seemed like a good time to educate him a bit further about the industry that is the biggest contributing factor to global warming.

I didn't expect it to affect him as much as it did (although for that movie not to have an effect on a person would have to mean that person is truly heartless and devoid of emotion), and S went to bed feeling truly sad and depressed, with his words at breakfast, "that movie should be shown on national tv so that everyone can be educated about where their meet comes from..."

It's all about education. Most people aren't even aware of the true effects of factory farming -on the animals, the environment, and on their own human health. I'm sure that the more and more people were made to be aware of the impacts, the less they'd want to support such a cruel and heartless industry...

Breakfast...Day FOUR

Today breakfast started off as it had yesterday, with miso soup (a staple of this Superhero menu plan), and something AMAZINGLY yummy and addictive called Pan-Fried Mochi.

Personally I'm beginning to feel great on day four, the miso soup is really cleansing and with the addition of all these weird and wonderful sea vegetables (arame, wakame & kombu), I'm beginning to feel a lot more energised -maybe it's a psychological thing, like a placebo-effect or something...but regardless, I'm going to put it down to this super-healthy eating plan and the weird and wonderful sea vegetables first thing in the mornings.

So, onto the magical dish of the whole week (so far). Pan-Fried Mochi. My god, this stuff is amazing. S was in heaven and I could seriously have kept eating it for lunch and dinner. Mochi is found in Japanese food stores and is (I hope I get this right) a block of rice glucose. It's hard and white in colour but when put in a frying pan with a bit of sesame oil, it goes all gooey and syrupy. You add a little bit of Shoyu on each side and then drizzle with some rice syrup....and I guarantee you won't be able to stop raving about how good it tastes!


Lunch and Dinner on Day FOUR...I was off the hook in terms of cooking as S spent the day at the tennis (Aus Open), and so was in charge of organising his own vegan lunch and dinner. True to his word, he opted for vegan-friendly salads (boring, but still vegan), and to top it off, he sent me photo-proof of his lunch (such a dedicated challengee)!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dinner...Day TWO/THREE

Brown rice with shoyu and toasted sesame seeds,
Tuna Salad Sandwich (kinda...the vegan version), and
Cabbage, Radish and Cucumber Pressed Salad.

And...as you can see the smell must have been enticing as to get my little labrador jumping up cheekily for a bite ;-)

Firstly, I am a little confused as to why Ms. Silverstone has decided to call one of the dishes a "Tuna Salad Sandwich." I understand that it has capers and pickles and other 'seafood-y' accomplishments, but there is no bread, no tuna, no anything that resembles tuna... Anyway, just a small observation. It has tempeh instead, which S it turns out, is a BIG fan of!

One dish I did miss tonight was the Carrot and Burdock Kinpira (page 272), which apparently is a BIG feature in macrobiotic cooking due to the medicinal properties of burdock. However, a major drama proved to be trying to find this burdock root, fresh, ANYWHERE in Melbourne. So if any Melbournians are reading this and have any idea where to locate burdock, please post a comment because I'd love to know where to pick up this trusty little gem.

And, in closing, I highly recommend the pressed cabbage salad. Whilst my photos make it look a little mushy and odd-looking, it really tastes great...and the combination of the ume-vinegared onions with the cabbage, cucumbers and apples, made it pretty special.

3 days down and 4 more days to go.

So far so good. S is in full detox mode...a little lethargic, a little gassy, but overall he says he's feeling "lighter" and finding that he doesn't want to drink as much water as he used to when he was eating dairy and meat...

Breakfast/Lunch...Day TWO/THREE

Day three in, and so far so good! Yesterday was a kitchen-free day (yay), and as I mentioned last blog, this challenge allows for extra food to be made so that leftovers are had for the next day...easy.

DAY TWO Breakfast: Leftover Millet & Sweet Vege Porrige with toasted sunflower seeds.
DAY TWO Lunch: Leftover Quinoa with Basil/Pine Nuts and the rest of Day One's dinner...
DAY TWO Dinner: Free night...Japanese take-away, Vege Tempura, Stir-fried Vegetables and Vegetarian California rolls.

So, what are the above meals I hear you asking in anticipation?? Well. Today's breakfast was Bok Choy Miso Soup (only using barley miso) and Hot Polenta, Millet and Corn Cereal (left out the steamed watercress with Ume-Sesame dressing since this didn't go down too well on day one)! Poor S, I'm not sure how well he's coping with the breakfasts. He's a real cereal with fruit kindof guy, and I don't think he ever thought he'd be waking up to vegan breakfasts like this! Such a good sport though...not sure how many boyfriends would give this challenge a go! :-) And then there's me: up at 6am preparing this breakfast so it's all ready in time before he goes to work...what a girl!

Lunch was up to S. Today called for a free lunch choice, vegan of course. I trusted him to stick to this and had even gone so far as to provide him with a list of vegan-friendly restaurants in Melbourne's CBD (yep I'm a minor control-freak). Turns out he opted for the friendly salad sandwich, no cheese, no mayo, all vegan. Maybe he's slowly seeing the light?? Maybe it's because he started reading "Eating Animals" last night? Time will tell.

Since I'm technically "unemployed" right now and in-between jobs, the above Crispy Peanut Butter Treats (page 184) proved to be my boredom-saviour for today. The problem was that they were sooooooo good that I ended up eating more than half of them and was so full I couldn't eat dinner. Was really refreshing making these minus sugar...I'd never used rice syrup before but it proved to be a FANTASTIC sugar substitute!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Embarrassing Fact # 2...

Embarrassing Fact #2:
I've never baked a cake... (not since I was twelve), so needless to say my first attempt at baking a vegan cheesecake, turned out like this one. Burnt.

I think the key is not to use fan-forced, and not to have it sitting on the highest rung in the oven...

Breakfast/Lunch...Day ONE

Day One of the challenge proved to be a lot more time in the kitchen than I'd anticipated! Argh!

And a lot more mess. For someone who's a terrible cook, and a really messy cook, I think I coped pretty well overall!

My breakfast staple on a daily basis generally consists of an oatmeal/quinoa porridge with blueberries & bananas...so to go from something relatively sweet in taste, to a savoury porridge, was kindof hard! And if it was hard for me, well...I think S's face in that photo says it all don't you? ;-)

Ok, breakfast: Millet and Sweet Vegetable Porridge, with Steamed Cabbage leaves and an Ume-Sesame Dressing (Umeboshi plum paste with roasted sesame seeds). To be honest, whilst the meal was definitely wholesome, filling and full of flavour...it really didn't do it for me on this Sunday morning. I guess I'd choose waffles or scrambled tofu over this dish easily. Sorry Alicia...

Lunch: Fried Udon Noodles...pretty self-explanatory. I just added in some chopped cabbage, mushrooms, peppers, onion, garlic and a heap of paprika. Cooking the noodles al dente and then finishing them off in the wok gave them a really nice finish...S said this was something he could eat every day. Tick! I think the noodles definitely made up for the lacklustre brekky...

And then came dinner.

Dinner...Day ONE

I've had a quick look over other foodie blogs on this site, and I have NO IDEA how they get their food photos to look so enticing...mine have a fair way to go. Ok, so dinner was hard. Really hard. I've never had so many dishes on the go all at once. Oven, two fry pans, two saucepans, another saucepan waiting for space on the stove...needless to say the mess and the stress combined left the kitchen in a sorry state afterwards!

The menu: Quinoa with Basil and Pine Nuts, Hijiki-Tofu Croquettes (apparently we can't get hijiki imported here to Australia, so I just left that out and used some diced carrots instead), Scarlet Roasted Vegetables and Steamed Greens with Umeboshi Vinegar and black pepper.

The vegies were the best! Seriously would put my meat-roast-loving mum and her roast vegies to shame! I highly recommend this recipe to everyone -I think the lemon zest coupled with the dried apricots gives it that really different flavour. The tofu croquettes were a bit of a drama. I entrusted S to do the moulding of the dough and the adding them "gently" (a word he obviously didn't hear me say), into the frying oil. He kindof tossed them in in messy lumps, so naturally they came out at the end like, well, messy lumps. Oh well.

The great thing about this week's menu plan is that usually what you cook one day becomes the meals for the next day, thus S's lunchbox for work tomorrow. I think because eating in this vegan-macrobiotic way is quite time-consuming in terms of food prep etc, the idea is to make it last over a couple of days... I'm not too sure though how S will go eating that millet porridge for breakfast again tomorrow. Eek!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Menu Plan for the coming week...

Knowing my lack of skills at anything 'computer-savvy', these two menu pics will probably be illegible...but if they are it doesn't matter too much because I'll be blogging the meals daily. But...this gives a good indication of what S will be eating.

A DISAPPOINTING prelude to the challenge occurred last night at a family get-together. Firstly, the joke of the night was that S would be being a vegan for a week (I have a meat-eating family so this notion of a challenge was more than hilarious), and of course the tofu jokes came out in full swing...but that didn't so much bother me as the fact that S (perhaps to spite me??) decided to order an Eye Fillet Steak. Not only this, but he helped himself to prosciutto on more than one occasion. This really pissed me off. It's hard enough having to sit there and watch people around me order and eat meat...but S?! Two days out from The Challenge? Really....

So I've decided I'm going to make this even harder for him than he thought. I've decided to skip the options of the vegan recipe section in Silverstone's "Kind Diet" recipe book, and go straight to the recipe options in her Superhero plan...which is basically all vegan macrobiotic meals.

So yes S, you will be having tofu and miso soups for breakfast. Go shove that up your mean cow/pig-eating backside........but you know I still love you baby? Right? :-) This is seriously going to be for his own good. Just think of how amazing he will feel after this challenge, not to mention all the good he will feel by not supporting the meat and dairy industries for a week. Saving animals, saving the planet...one vegan at a time! Had to throw that in....

Okay, better go write a shopping list and get cracking.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Subject & The Challenge.

Subject: S
Height: 6"
Weight: 75kg

Current Diet: Vegetarian mostly by default (he lives with a vegan: me, so has not a lot of choice in the matter), but a meat-eater any other times.

Vices: An addiction to these nasty, greasy pork buns that he gets on his way home from work. He tries to hard the evidence from me...but I know. Oh, I know ;-)

Views on the whole vegan thing: Hates factory farming and doesn't want to support it, but just doesn't think he can live without meat, or stop wearing leather shoes. And no amount of "if you love me then you'd really make the change for me..." has worked thus far on him.

Reaction when I mentioned the challenge: "Oh my god there's no way I can eat miso and vegetables for breakfast every day..." Quote: Thursday January 14th, 21:00hrs. Again...because that's all vegans eat for breakfast.

Yep, look at that strained manic look on his face. That's simple enjoyment if ever I saw it. This is the night I made him ditch his chicken pasta to savour this little eggplant dish...
He was pleasantly surprised (again) at the awesome flavours of this meal (two for Jess, nil for S). This dish was just brown rice with Tomato-Chickpea Curry in Eggplant Shells (The New Vegan Cookbook, Lorna Sass).

So now it's on. The challenge. Thanks to these two dinners he has succumbed and willingly agreed...bye bye meat and dairy!

This is the first dinner of two, that I think helped my boyfriend (it's too long typing "my boyfriend" all the time, so for the sake of anonymity I'm going to call him "S") get closer to accepting my challenge.

This dish is Polenta Casserole with Seitan, and Gingered Green Beans with Hijiki (although at the time I had no idea what Hijiki was, so substituted it with dried Shitake). Both from Kind Diet book, and both a success!

Embarrassing fact #1: This was the first time ever I had cooked something in the oven. I didn't even know what a casserole dish was so had to borrow one of my mum...

The start of a challenge!

So I proposed a challenge to my boyfriend last night...

I asked him to go completely vegan for a week (starting this Sunday), with breakfast/lunch & dinner to all be vegan meals. All cooked and prepared my moi.

I figured that the challenge would not only help me with my struggles in getting through my vegan cookbooks, but it might also show him that there's more to vegan food than what he thinks (which at this moment is tofu, miso and carrots)...why does every non-vegie think that we live on tofu and carrots??

I mean, we add spinach and rice to them...doesn't that count for something? ;-)

The menu I'm going to steal is an example menu from Alicia Silverstones "The Kind Diet" book...I'm going to combine some of her Vegan and Superhero recipes (Superhero is her definition of vegan macrobiotic food...really yummy stuff). So as I get closer to compiling the week's menu, I'll get organised and post a copy up on here.

I'll blog daily about the meals and his reactions (little does he know I'm posting a crafty blog on this experiment)...and include photos of my hopefully-tasty meals! In my next post I'll tell you a bit about my meat-eating man, and show you some recent meals I cooked from my new vegan cookbooks, that helped in twisting his arm around to do this challenge!