Saturday, February 27, 2010


Originally uploaded by for_esme
Using the recipe below, we made a Japanese favourite for dinner. This is great to use up those last bits of veggies hanging around in the fridge.
One Okonomiyaki pancake is enough to fill me up, this recipe makes about three plate sized pancakes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I've been thinking about dying my hair again. I used to colour my hair like crazy years ago. This is the longest I have had the same hair colour since I was old enough to dye my hair. So, in inspiration here are a few pics.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Layout

For some super cute FREE layout designs check out YUMMY LOLLY

Monday, February 22, 2010

Baking makes me happy

Originally uploaded by for_esme
I'm not sure how or why but baking makes me feel better.
An afternoon in the kitchen whipping up a batch of cupcakes for no reason other than relief.

Product Review #1 - Bean Curd Fish by Adriano Food

Shopping at our local Asian grocery yesterday we came across something new called Bean Curd Fish by Adriano Food.

A favourite recipe of ours is Ginger Fish, so we decided to try something other than our regular fake fish and at $5 a box, it was much cheaper than our usual.

The 2 pieces come wrapped in a freezer bag kind of wrapping and also a cling wrap type of film, which i peeled off, not knowing whether it was edible or not. After looking at the box I realised maybe it was supposed to be left on.
I cut the logs into bite size pieces and deep fried them as we usually do.

We then made the Ginger Fish like always and popped the pieces on top.


The fish didn't have the over-powering fishy taste, infact it had no taste at all. The inside was mushy and had no resemblance to meat whatsoever. Despite being wrapped in seaweed, it didn't taste like the ocean, just little balls of processed soy. I'm not sure if maybe our cooking technique was wrong or it's just a matter of personal taste but we will be sticking to our regular fake fish.
Lesson learned. If there is nothing wrong with the original recipe, don't change it just to be cheap.

UPDATE: Just checked out Lamyong and now their fish is no longer vegan.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Black Dog

It's no secret that I have been a long term sufferer of depression. Starting in my early teens I have struggled with bouts of depression, sometimes lasting for months at a time. I have taken medications in the past to "help" but have found them to be worse than the depression itself.
Just when I thought I had maybe grown out of it, it sneaks back into my life. The recent death of my best friend I assume being the trigger.
I could feel it pulling me in to the black hole, the one I thought i had escaped, I pulled away as hard as I could but ended up at the inevitable.
The guilt of not being able to help someone and the regret and remorse of not being there for him weigh heavily on my mind. Without a release of this guilt the sadness has built inside me, bubbling just below the surface, waiting for the best time to ravage my brain with anxiety and black thoughts.
It feels almost as if someone has unplugged a cord from my brain, it's flailing around, emitting it's current and causing havoc. Noises are amplified and sound like they are coming from a mega-phone. Sleep comes in off-beat blocks. I can stare at the ceiling for hours on end or sleep until past midday. My mind races, sounding like a schoolyard of screaming children that just wont quit. My heart beats until it feels like it's about to escape my chest. I grit my teeth until it hurts and wait for the feeling to pass.
To try and explain this to someone who has never experienced depression is hard. My friend knew exactly what I felt but I never had to say a word. He would look at me and just say "I know, it's okay" and sometimes that is all I would need to hear. My quick fix. My verbal valium.
Sometimes there is no trigger at all, just that familiar tap on the shoulder. "Oh hai depression, there you are. I have been wondering where you have been hiding while I have been off picking daisies" Then I am dragged, kicking and screaming, to that familiar place.
For a while I found comfort in drugs, any I could get my hands on. This proved to be futile, often exasperating the symptoms. I am pleased to say I learned my lesson, albeit the hard way, and no longer use drugs at all.
So with the hands of depression firmly gripped around my neck, I await the ride it takes me on. The repeated roller coaster. There is no choice in jumping off or tightening the seat belt. It decides when it wants to spit you out.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sydney Vegan Bake Off

Last weekend was Sydney's inaugural (and hopefully, annual) Vegan Bake Off hosted by Aduki Independent Press and Naked Espresso.
If you have been following me on twitter lately you would have noticed me tweeting madly about the bake off and a few creations I had been working on. I was super excited to introduce my Vanilla Slice Cupcake and Cherry Ripe Cake onto the Vegan community.
Armed with my treats, we drove to Basil Pizza in Newtown (which also moonlights on the weekend as Naked Espresso - a vegan brunch cafe).
I got to meet lots of lovely vegans - Mandee, Lisa, Cate and a few more whose names/blogs I can't quite remember.
So, onto the entries and pics

My lavender shortbread cookies. Made from a recipe off the internet called Sassy Shortbread. I added some culinary lavender to these just to make it taste a little different to usual. The lavender gives it a soft, velvety taste which goes well with a cup of Earl Grey. I used some cute teapot and tea cup cookies cutters to go with the theme.

My Vanilla Slice Cupcakes, which won in the cupcake category.
I had made these before, but worked on the recipe a little more and added custard to the middle. The icing melted a little but had the delicious zing of passionfruit to compliment it well.

To go with my current obsession of cake-ifying favourite Australian Slices into vegan goodness, here is my winning cake - the Cherry Ripe Cake.
This is a coconut chocolate cake filled with cherry/coconut filling and topped with a thick ganache and a few glace cherries for good measure.
Somehow I got this cake tasting just like a cherry ripe first go. Must be my awesome tastebuds and sweet tooth working together.

These are a few of the entries I was competing with.
Top Plate - Black Forest cake, Mars Bar Cookie
Middle Plate - Banana Split Cuppy (gluten free) Cherry Ripe Cake
Bottom Plate - Macadamia Slice, Vanilla Slice Cuppy, Chunky Choc Chip Cookie, Savoury Polenta Pie/Quiche, Lavender Shortbread.

Don't Worry, I didn't eat these all myself! There were six of us to share this between.

Winners of the best in show were Mandee and myself. Between us we won almost every category.
Best Cake - Cherry Ripe Cake (me)
Best Cupcakes - Vanilla Slice Cupcakes (me)
Best Biscuit - Mars Bar cookies - made with Go Max Go Twilight Bar(Mandee)
Best Gluten Free - Banana Split Cupcakes (Mandee)

We won a cute prize pack for the categories including some Aduki Books and some handmade wallets and brooches and pins made by Cate.
For best in show we also won a free brunch/dinner. I'm going for the new Hawaiian Pizza from Basil and Mandee will be having brunch at Naked Espresso

I really had a great time and it was nice to try other people's cooking and to show them my own.
I didn't enter to win, but it was a nice suprise. It offended me when i saw that someone said I only won because I had tattoos, but BOOOOOO to people like that! 

After the Bake Off we hung out in Newtown, checked out some op-shops and had a very light lunch at Green Thai Palace.
What a fun day. I can't wait 'til the next one.

All photos are courtesy of the lovely Michelle B

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

spicy moroccan chickpea and lentil soup

serves 6

1 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves crushed garlic
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
3 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
half tsp chilli powder
half tsp saffron threads soaked in 2 tbs boiling water
can of chopped tomatoes
1 litre veggie stock
1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
can of chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup chopped coriander
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-7 mins. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and chilli powder and cook, stirring, for 1 min.
Add the saffron and its soaking liquid, tomatoes, stock, lentils and 1 litre of water to the pan. Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 30 mins. Add chickpeas and cook for another 10 mins.
Remove from heat and stir in fresh coriander and parsley. Season to taste.

warning - does make you a bit FARTY!! but tastes delicious :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Vegan Paella

I have never made or eaten a Paella before, so I had no idea how this was going to turn out. Well, it turned out to be a delicious success so I will share the recipe with you.

1 tbs oil
1 spanish onion thinly sliced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp regular paprika
1 cup basmati rice (I used Jasmine instead)
small pinch of saffron
500 ml vegetable stock
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 green capsicum
1 truss tomato (de-seeded and diced)
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas
100 grams firm tofu (cut into 1 cm chunks)
half a small jar of artichoke hearts cut into thin wedges
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

You will need to pre-roast the capsicums first so quickly chop into strips and de-seed and put onto a roasting tray and drizzle in olive oil. Cook on each side for 10 mins at 165 degrees.
I also suggest adding your saffron to the stock at this point, just to be extra prepared.
While this is roasting heat the oil in a cast iron pot. (We have a fancy new La Chasseur French oven that works perfectly.) Keep on a medium low heat and add the onions stirring occasionally for about 5 mins.
Then add the garlic and stir in for another minute. Add the paprikas and cook for another minute. Add the rice to the pot and coat evenly with the spices.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20-25 mins or until all the stock is absorbed.
By this time the capsicums should be ready, let cool for a few minutes, peel off the skin and dice.
Add capsicum, tomato, corn, peas and tofu to the rice. Combine well and cover again and cook for a further 5 mins.
I suggest while this part is cooking you toast the pine nuts.
Remove from heat and and stir in the artichokes. Top with pine nuts and enjoy!