Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Vietnamese Rice Bowl

This is an adaptation from a recipe I saw in Family Circle magazine. I added whatever vegetables I had that I thought would taste good. I also added the coconut milk as I wanted to use up some left overs I had - tasted pretty good! Not sure why it's called a rice bowl and not stir fry since you just pour it over the rice but anyway...


Vietnamese Rice Bowl
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 block hard tofu, drained, pressed and cut into small cubes
2 Tbls minced ginger
1 Tbls chilli paste (I used sambal oelek)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls vegetable oil
4 green onions, sliced
4 cups cooked white rice
Fresh mint or cilantro for serving
Lime wedges for serving

Vegetables as per taste;
Chinese cabbage I used steamed collard greens)
Bamboo shoots
Mushrooms, sliced
Red/Green Pepper, chopped
Carrots, slices and steamed

Sauce:
2 Tbls vegan brown sugar
2 Tbls lime juice
5 tsp vegan fish sauce
1/2 can coconut milk (optional)


Method

Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
In a large frying pan heat oil on a medium and add tofu, ginger, chilli paste and garlic.
Add I vegetables and cook till heated through or to your desired firmness.
Stir in green onions at the end.
Pour over sauce and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
Serve over rice and top with fresh herb of choice and lime wedges on the side.



Saturday, 19 March 2016

Cloth Diapering


For me cloth diapering was a financial decision for me but it's inadvertently an environmental one! You don't use much extra water and think of all the landfill/pollution you save! Plus the resale value on the diapers and equipment is great. If you buy new all your equipment can set you back an upfront cost of around $300+ but that's it and you can get around half or more back when you sell. As you can see below, I only spent around $250. Disposable diapers will set you back up to $1000 a year, and that's if you're NOT buying the eco-friendly ones, (which most of us would prefer)! Disposables might be necessary in the first few weeks before the baby reaches a weight that fits into the cloth diapers but even so it's a huge saving to you and the planet! Cloth didn't fit my baby till around the 3rd month. I bought most of my baby stuff secondhand (except the crib and car seat which are recommended to buy new) because of the cost difference and the environmental impact.

If cloth diapering seems a little too much work then disposables are obviously fine! Cloth does tend to leak more and I find doesn't hold as much liquid as disposables. From around 10 months I found a disposable at nighttime was much easier in terms of leakage. With cloth I have to change around every hour but with disposable you can leave for two hours +. I use disposables on longer car trips or outings when I know the cloth will be a hassle. Try The Honest Company eco-friendly diapers! For diaper rash I use Lucas' Paw Paw Ointment and for the bath time I use my own homemade soap but The Honest Company also has a Soothing Bottom Wash and Diaper Rash Cream.


I bought all my diapers and inserts secondhand from KSL for $150 so if you're not opposed to secondhand cloth diapers then it's a really cheap way to do it. I purposely bought one size diapers because I knew I wouldn't have to buy any more as the baby grew. I have FuzziBunz which I researched as being one of the better reviewed brands. I got 22 diapers and 2 inserts for each which is around what you need (20-25 diapers). Adjust to babies size. When my baby was 11 weeks and 11 lbs and I used the tightest setting on the diapers, on the legs I use a 3 one end and 4 the other end tightness.

I made my own wipes which cost around $10. I bought 2 yards of white flannel (washed the fabric first) and cut it up into squares. I rounded off the edges and just sewed a serge stitch around the edges. So easy!!!


I bought the Munchkin wipes warmer from a thrift store for $5. Again you don't need this, especially if you are planning to use disposable wipes.


I bought some PUL fabric on sale for $15 and made 2 diaper pail liners, 4 different size wet bags and still had 1/2 yard left over from 2.5 yards. I had left over material to make a baby laundry bag that hangs on the end of the change table.



I bought my toilet spray/hose on eBay for $15 thinking I was getting a great bargain (most of the cloth diaper brands are around $50) but then I had to spend $20 getting attachments from the hardware so it costs around $30+ dollars for this addition. If you have a sink in your laundry already you may not even worry about it! I installed it myself using YouTube videos. The guy at Lowes kindly put the parts together for me when I bought it so I wouldn't have to figure that out ;)


I got a diaper pail on eBay for $30 (incl shipping). It came with a bunch of the plastic bags which are handy when you're using disposable diapers in the beginning.


Guide to Cloth Diapering
  1. If soiled, knock off solids into the toilet then spray the diaper and wipes till look clean (I do this part in the bath tub as the toilet is a hard target with a spray).
  2. Add to your diaper pail.
  3. Once diaper pail is full remove all inserts before washing and spray any stains.
  4. Wash on hot using special detergent (traditional ones have soap which can coat the diapers and make them less absorbent).
  5. Air dry in sun for bleaching effect or put in cloths drier on low heat. I find I have to wash every 1-2 days.
  6. Once dry replace the inserts and fold wipes. 
Great Recipe for DIY Cloth Diaper Laundry Detergent from Measuring Flower.

Ingredients

1/2 to 1 c. epsom salt (the harder the water, the more salt)
1/2 c. washing soda (Brambleberry)
1/2 c. baking soda (Brambleberry,
1/2 c. baby OxiClean

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together in a container.
To use, add 1 tablespoon (more for heavily soiled items) to the wash.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Vegan Omelette with Egg Replacer

I made a pretty good omelette Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg. My local health store ordered it in for me pretty easily and it's a powder so you can just keep it in the pantry. Initially I wasn't super impressed because it's not that flavorsome and was quite rubbery (more so than regular eggs) so in terms of scrambled eggs I didn't really like the texture but for an omelette it worked great! I also used it as an egg replacer in my Devil's Food Cake and it turned out well too.


Vegan Omelette with Egg Replacer

Ingredients

2x Vegan Egg (4 Tbls Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg + 1 cup ice water, whisked together)
1/2 - 1 tomato, chopped
1 large mushroom, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup grated vegan cheese (I used Daiya Cheddar shreds but have also used Parmesan))
1 Tbls vegan Parmesan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart)
2 Tbls olive oil


Method

Whisk the salts and pepper into the egg mix then stir in the cheeses.
In a non-stick frying pan add oil and heat pan on high.
Add egg mix and let set for a minute before turning heat down to medium.
Sprinkle vegetables over one half of the egg circle.


After a few minutes use a spatula to test the non-vegetable side to make sure the bottom is set.
If so flip that side over on top of the vegetables.
If you're super skilled you can flip the omelette over after a few minutes to get both sides nice and brown, I failed and so mine was a bit messy but still delicious!


The messy (but delicious) version!

Devil's Food Cake

I was supposed to make this for my husband for Valentine's Day but then our little Peanut arrived early and it through a spanner in our V-Day plans. So a month later I finally got around to making it. This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. Verdict was the cake was perfect but the icing not so much. Maybe a softer buttery icing next time.


Devil's Food Cake

Ingredients

For Cake;

50 grams best-quality cocoa powder
100 grams dark brown muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar)
250 millilitres boiling water
125 grams soft vegan butter (plus some for greasing)
150 grams vegan sugar
225 grams plain GF flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg replacers (I used Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg)


For Frosting;

125 millilitres water
30 grams dark brown muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar)
175 grams unsalted butter
300 grams vegan dark chocolate (finely chopped)


Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Line the bottoms of two 20cm / 8inch round sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides. (I had to use the same pan in two batches.
Put the cocoa and 100g / half cup dark muscovado sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb togetherl, and set aside for a moment.
Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg replacer, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg replacer.
Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.
Divide the batter between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.
For frosting: put the water, 30g / 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar and 175g / 1 1/2 sticks butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.
Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting. I found this didn't by itself so I put it in the fridge and then in the microwave for 10-20 seconds before frosting the cake.
Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula.
I used a cookie cutter to contain the sprinkles into the heart shape, pressed them into the frosting, then removed the cutter.



Thursday, 10 March 2016

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I got this recipe of Noel Trujillo from Food.com and have veganised it. The main reason I made them was because they were supposed to promote lactation in breastfeeding mothers - although I'm not sure they had that effect they definitely were delicious. The whole family ate them.


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup vegan butter
1 cup vegan sugar
1 cup firmly packed vegan brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 vegan egg replacers
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups GF flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups GF oats
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
2 -4 tablespoons brewer's yeast


Method

Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar well.
Add eggs and mix well.
Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
Stir in oats and chips.
Scoop onto baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Homemade Twix Bars

Yes, it is true. Vegan and gluten free Twix Bars!!!! They are slightly fiddly but worth it! It would be easier to make it all in one pan and then just cut it into pieces as well! Original recipe from Fork and Beans.



Homemade Twix Bars

For the cookie:

Ingredients

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4oz vegan butter (cold)


Method

Combine the flours, xanthan gum, sugar and salt together with a whisk until completely mixed.
Add butter into flour mix and with a fork/hand, cut the butter into dough until combined.
Knead dough briefly until smooth, divide in half and chill in fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
I skipped this next step by just cutting the pieces straight from the cold ball of dough.
Roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper until 1/2″ thick.
Cut into rectangle shapes (I used a candy mold so I have to make sure the cookies would fit inside–so I needed the cookies at 3″x1″)
Gently using a metal spatula, place cookie dough rectangles onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes (to ensure that they will not spread in the oven).
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
Freeze the cookies while you are making the caramel.


For the caramel:

Ingredients

1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk (full-fat, canned)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla


Method

Line an 8 inch x 8 inch pan with parchment or cover a baking sheet with parchment
In a large saucepan (must be large enough where your candy thermometer will not touch the bottom when you attach it to the pot), put the coconut milk, sugar, butter and corn syrup in a large saucepan.
Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil stirring continually.
Keep stirring. You want the candy to reach 250 degrees.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour into a parchment paper lined pan (8×8 works great).
Allow to sit out for a few minutes before placing into freezer for 10 minutes to set.
Cut into rectangles with food scissors or a knife.
Wrap extras in parchment paper.


For the chocolate:

Simply melt 1-2 packets of vegan chocolate chips in a double broiler.


Putting it all together:

Place a strip of semi-hardened caramel on top of a shortbread cookie.
Place back in freezer while chocolate is melting to make sure the caramel stays hard.
Place the cookie and caramel into the chocolate bowl and using a spoon, drizzle chocolate until completely coated.
Be gentle though–the cookies will be fragile.
Set on a a piece of parchment or wax paper to allow excess chocolate to drip off.
drizzle any extra chocolate over the top of the bars for effect.
Place molds or place of candy into freezer to set for 20 minutes.