Making kind choices in your everyday life.

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“Sausage Rolls”

Posted by on Oct 6, 2013 in Recipes - Savoury | 3 comments

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My good friend Kylie has been asking for suggestions on what easy meal she can whip up for her vegetarian friend for dinner. Kyles, even your meat loving taste buds will find this one hard to distinguish from the real thing. There are two versions for you here – one vegetarian and one vegan (as seen above in the photo). Both equally as delectable. My vegan version has been tweeked from that supplied by “Where’s The Beef”.

The vegetarian one is thanks to Ange who tricked a group of meat loving men into guessing what kind of meat was in them. Lo and behold, there was indeed none and the men were none the wiser  !

My Animal Product Free Version 

125 g pecans

1 brown onion

1/2 cup of bread crumbs

300g silken tofu

1 cup rolled oats

1 Massel beef-style stock cube

1-2 teaspoons garlic powder

4 tablespoons soy sauce

Vegan milk to brush top (I used Bonsoy)

1 cup of baked, mashed up pumpkin

Sesame seeds

Frozen puff pastry 

 

What to do :

Process pecans in food processor until well chopped. Tip into mixing bowl. Put breadcrumbs in with pecans.

Chop onion and further chop in food processor. Add to mixing bowl.

Whiz tofu in food processor. Add to mixing bowl along with rolled oats, baked pumpkin, crumbled stock cube, garlic powder, soy sauce and pepper. Mix together well.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and lightly grease a baking tray. Take out one square of pastry and cut as required (I made 2 from one square). Place ingredients down centre and roll into sausage roll shape. Tuck in ends. Brush with soy milk or water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for about 30 mins.

Makes about 6 greedy sized rolls.

 

Ange’s Version

1 onion

1 Tbsp freshly chopped herbs

100g pecans

95g rolled oats

Chop above in food processor before adding the following :

3 eggs (organic free range of course)

150 g feta cheese (using a kind dairy type like Barrambah)

1 Tbsp soy sauce

45 g breadcrumbs

Frozen pastry

Assemble in same manner as vegan version and pop into oven for 30-ish minutes. Should make about the same number of rolls as vegan version.

 

Serve with a simple salad. (Chopped tomatoes, artichokes, Lebanese cucumber, red onion, rocket, capsicum, avocado drizzled with balsamic vinegar is my usual caper) and lashings of BBQ or tomato sauce on the side.

 

 

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All things Cheesey

Posted by on Sep 21, 2013 in Dairy | 2 comments

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of inhumanity” – George Bernard Shaw

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Kite Hill vegan cheese

Cheese, or should I say, the absence thereof in it’s conventional form, is a tricky topic. The removal of dairy from ones diet due to ethical reasons has, at first glance, a whiff of hippy extremism about it. (“I can understand about the pigs in the cages but, not eating cheese, WHAT ?!? You have completely lost me on this one” – quote from my dad). That is, until you start researching the reasons why people choose to give it up. I do believe that if we all watched videos of mother cows running and bellowing after their calf being taken away on the back of a ute, viewed rows of immobile, miserable calves in veal crates or watched footage of baby cows who are barely able to walk being stunned and pushed down a shoot to be slaughtered just like rubbish into a bin, any compassionate person would or should question the origin of cheese (or any other dairy product).

The facts are basic. Cows need to give birth to a calf each year to produce milk which humans use for yogurt, milk, cheese etc. The calf is taken away from it’s mother at the tender age of around 5 days of age. Male calves are considered waste products of the industry and are killed. Our laws to protect them from suffering are woefully inadequate (for example, baby calves on their way to the abattoir can be legally denied food for up to 30 hours). Their mum’s are killed when their milk production wanes.

The silent suffering of these most vulnerable of animals – mothers and babies in the far away land of sale yards, dairy farms and abattoirs remains hidden from most of us. Which makes it very easy for us to forget about what really does happen out there.

I have room for improvement in my cheese eating habits. I still eat a bit of Barambah Fetta and Cheddar Cheese (see my  “kind dairies” post). I also sometimes come up with excuses to eat a bit of “ordinary” cheese now and again but I want to be stronger in my resolve. I want to think about where my food comes from and what animal has suffered for my greed, desires, laziness or lack of thought. I am trying to be a kinder, more thoughtful eater.

Thankfully, I am on the path of discovering the world of non diary cheese and, much to my surprise,  it is tasty learning curve.  Non dairy cheese can be made at home with recipes varying in their complexity. I have made a couple – see my ricotta recipe here. I have many more waiting in the wings.

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Botanical Cuisine vegan cheese

Non dairy cheese can also be bought with relative ease. I have made some recent delectable discoveries, some of which I even prefer to “normal” cheese. Botanical Cuisine’s range is out of this world – the Lemon and Dill is blissful. Also it is Australian which is appealing. Most other non dairy cheese on the market is made overseas.

Here’s a few brands which I would recommend to Buy :

Tofutti – regular or sour cream is a good replacement for cream / sour cream cheese and can be found in supermarkets and health food shops. Affordable and can always be found in our fridge. Was not so keen on their “better than ricotta” and much preferred my home made version !

Vegusto No-Moo cheese – expensive – around $10 for 200g but so convincingly “cheese like” that I will continue to buy it. I also like the fact that it is palm oil free which seems a rarity. I found it at Dr Earth in Newtown but it can be bought online too (including Cruelty Free Shop and Vegan on line). I spied it on the weekend too for sale in my favourite Blue Mountains bakery / café – Rubyfruit (which, by the way, has the best pies and cupcakes I have ever tasted – all completely free of animal products).

Redwood Cheezly. Great variety of types such as “Blue Style” and “Melting Mozzarella”. Can be found at the Cruelty Free Shop and Vegan On line. Affordable and dependable.

Sheese – have spied these cream and hard cheeses in a few places like Harris Farm and Thomas Dux. Great to mix through pastas. Have the “Smoked Cheddar Style” waiting for me in our fridge (I bought it at Dr Earth in Newtown).

If only Dr Cow and Kite Hill (see top photo) would make their way to Australia. Kite Hill does the full on, aged camemberts and the like with such authenticity and rave reviews that I am having the worst of kind of vegan cheese envy possible.

Learn to make your own dairy free cheese

Here are a few recipes to get you tantalised !

Parmesan made With Cashews

Almond “feta cheese’ spread with herb oil

Another Feta Cheese version (thanks Bed and Broccoli for this one)

Vegan cheese – good for on crackers 

Non-dairy Baked Nut Cheese

Dairy Free Brie

Cashew Cream Cheese

Soft Cheese Platter

Marscapone

Rustic Pumpkin Cheese ravioli

Macaroni Cheese

The health issues surrounding the consumption of dairy are beyond the scope of this little post but I have read as many articles denouncing the health benefits of dairy as those promoting it so the jury is out. Calcium does not only come from dairy products but is found, in high doses, in the following foods – soy, nuts, seeds (especially sesame seeds), sardines, tinned salmon with edible soft bones, legumes, dried figs, whole grains and broccoli and kale.

A few suggestions on how to make some kinder choices

Say no to dairy cheese. Buy or make a vegan cheese and be baffled by how convincingly cheese like they can taste (not all of them, mind you !)

If you want to continue to eat conventional dairy cheese, try and buy from the “kind dairies“. These dairies treat their cows and environment better than conventional ones. Usual story, yes, it is usually more expensive but just eat less or it and / or try a vegan cheese here and there. Remember too that most cheese contains rennet which is an enzyme derived from the stomach of baby cows. Become a label stalker and ensure that  “non animal rennet” is listed as an ingredient.

Instead of cheese, try a delicious diary free dip / spread on sandwiches, pasta etc. I made this delicious pesto yesterday. Hummus is always a great, protein rich option too.

Sponsor a bobby calf at Edgars Mission, Brightside or one of the other wonderful sanctuaries around the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spicy Hummus

Posted by on Sep 21, 2013 in Dips/ Spreads | 0 comments

Thank you Jamie Oliver for this recipe. I have devoured it many times now and thought it about time that I shared my slightly amended version.

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

Sea salt and pepper

1 dried red chilli (easy to find in Asian grocery shops – otherwise, am sure that chilli flakes would do the trick)

2 peeled cloves of garlic

1 drained 400g tin of chickpeas

1 tablespoon of tahini

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 red onion

Create by doing the following

1. Fry cumin seeds.

2. Remove cumin seeds and crush using a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and the chilli.

3. Put following in food processor : garlic, chilli/cumin mix, chickpeas (minus about 10 of them) and tahini. Once smooth, mix in olive oil before adding salt, pepper and lemon. Put in a bowl.

4. Slice red onion and fry in frypan in olive oil with the remaining chick peas. Place on top of the homous.

Makes a medium bowl sized portion. Use the resulting irresistible hummus as  a dip and on sandwiches / rolls. Great protein fix.

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Perfect Pesto

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in Dips/ Spreads | 0 comments

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To make this perfect, dairy free pesto…..gather together the following ingredients :

2 bunches of basil

3 cloves of garlic

2 heaped tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes (easily found at Health food shops and provides the cheesy flavour)

1 long red chilli – seeds removed and chopped

1/3 of a cup of pine nuts

Juice from half a lemon

Salt and pepper

1/3 of a cup of olive oil.

Put all ingredients aside from the olive oil into a food processor. Whizz for a few minutes whilst slowly drizzling the olive oil into the mix.

This quantity made 400ml of pesto sauce which was just the right amount for 4 hearty spaghetti pesto portions.

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Escape from the big smoke

Posted by on Sep 14, 2013 in Holidaying | 6 comments

“The only good cage is an empty cage” – Lawrence Anthony

If only all chooks could live like this…..

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The Girls at Mill Paddock Cottage – during the day

 

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The girls’ sleeping quarters

 This is just a quick post to get me back into the swing of things following a 3 month blogging hiatus. I have been paralysed by work stress, indecision about where to start, self doubt (“does anybody read my rambles ? Are they too preachy ? Are they uninteresting ? Am I a facebook cretin – why do I find it so confusing ?” And so the internal dialogue goes on….) and procrastination which has now ended thanks to :

1. The recent election result. I don’t think we could have a more mean spirited, unkind, environmentally irresponsible government in power which means that, more than ever, we, as individuals, need to be responsible for kind changes in our lives through our everyday choices and actions.

2. Reading Mary Hutton’s awe inspiring book “Free the Bears“. If a 55 year old stay at home Grandmother could change her life so drastically and help so many animals (and people)  in need, we all can. Such a wonderful book – I was all teary and emotionally touched by page 2 of the preface, pathetic creature I am ! We may not all have the “extra-ordinariness” of the Jill Robinson’s, Mary Hutton’s or Lyn White’s of the world but we can all find our little niche or something that we are good at, and make positive day to day changes in our world.

3. Recently spending 3 days with my fella at the beautiful Mill Paddock Cottage, in Mountain Lagoon – just near Bilpin, only about a 90 minute drive from Sydney’s frenzy. It is an animal lovers paradise and gave me that much needed space (along with a serious addiction to the series “Orange Is the New Black”) to take a step away from my endless to do lists, internet distractions and the chaos of living in a big city. If the thought of gorgeous native birds sweeping onto your verandah, the free-est of free range chooks wandering the grounds, cute dogs, bush walks, cherry blossoms, grass chomping horses and night time frog noises tickles your fancy, get thee to Mill Paddock Cottage. The only bad point is that it has set off my “moving to the country” fantasy again which has spurred that to do list and real estate stalking back into action.

4. Some lovely feedback from friends letting me know that some of my posts have actually led to some kind changes in their lives.

So coming up……

– a swag of new success recipes from my kitchen (green tea icecream – oh my !). I will keep the failures on the low down (macadamia nut cheese – almighty fail !).

– new topics will be kicked off with how to indulge your love of cheese in the kindest way possible.

It’s good to be back.

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