Thursday, February 27, 2014

Special moments: Nursery rhymes

One evening I finished getting A ready for bed a little before his bed time so I asked my then 17 month old if he would like "milkies" or to play. He looked at me pensively and replied "Old King Cole". What he calls his nursery rhymes book. He wanted to be read to before bed!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Book Review: Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

As a new year resolution DH and I would like to greatly reduce meat and dairy from our diet. Now we have gone virtually vegetarian before but with the business of a new baby we fell of the wagon and with a new year and a new house with a new kitchen we want to get back at it again. I also wanted a new cook book to be inspired again. Browsing the books of Nigella, Jamie and Gordon I felt disappointed I would not be able to cook from much. The title of Vegan cooking for carnivores grabbed me because we sometimes miss the meat and it can sometimes be daunting to completely change your diet and eliminate it when you've been eating it almost everyday. So when I saw this book in the book shop it looked great so we bought it.

"Vegan Cooking for Carnivores" is written by Roberto Martin, the personal chef of Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres it's published in 2012. The photographs were done by Quentin Bacon. The book came out in September 2013. It is published by Grand Central Life and Style. It is also available as an ebook. The book has over 125 recipes and they include: breakfast, lunch, appetizers and snacks, soups, salads, pizza and pasta, entrees, sides, beverages, desserts and condiments.

Now I have made quiet a few recipes from the book already, including red beans and rice, shepherd's pie, mushroom pasta, rueben sandwich, arrabiata sauce, lentil soup, tofu egg sandwich and garlicky mash potatoes. And overall I am quiet happy I, DH and A have enjoyed everything we have made. (Well except for some reason I have not enjoyed the mushroom sauce pasta, I felt the mushrooms were a bit too strong but I used mushrooms and not shiitake like the recipe stated.)

I would say most recipes are simple to medium difficulty to prepare. He also has a lot of basics like sandwiches, tomato pasta sauce, tomato soup. I think a novice cook or a an everyday cook would easly master them. Martin is South American so a lot of his recipes are spicy and are Latin. I enjoyed cooking the food from that region. I think if someone is starting out as a vegan or a vegan starting to cook or a vegan living with a carnivore this book is great. If you are an experienced creative vegan cook you might find this book a bit boring. Not every recipe has a picture but there are a number of good photographs.

The one problem I have with this book is some of the ingredients it asks for. As I said some recipes are pretty basic and simple but being in South Africa the ingredients aren't so easy to find. For example there is a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich. You need vegan cheddar cheese, I've seen vegan cheese once, it wasn't cheddar but it was expensive. A lot of recipes, especially desserts asked for vegan butter, I haven't seen vegan butter and I don't want to use margarine. Same problem exists with vegan mayonnaise. So that would require making your own substitutions and hope it works in the recipe. The Americans are lucky to have som many vegan alternatives.

So If you're in the US and the book looks enticing, get it the recipes are tasty. Anywhere else be warned that you might have trouble finding some of the ingredients!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vegeterian Lentil Shepherd's Pie

When it comes to comfort food there's not much better than a warm hearty shepherd's pie. Traditionally it is made with lamb mince but since we want to cut down on meat I've been looking for a good simple lentil shepherd's pie for ages. I love eating it out of a bowl, it makes it even more cosy and tasty. I adapted this recipe from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

  Vegetarian Lentil Shepherd's Pie

1 cup brown lentils
5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup warm milk
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1.5 cups vegetable stock
0.5 cups frozen peas

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C or 420F.
  2. Place the lentils in a pot and cover with water. Cover and simmer for 20 min. Sieve and reserve.
  3. Meanwhile boil the potatoes until soft. Turn the stove to low, drain the potatoes and put back in the hot pan. Shake the potatoes in the pan to scruff them. Mash the potatoes. Add the warm butter, milk and salt and pepper and quickly mix with a spoon. 
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until it starts to become translucent. 
  5. Add the garlic, carrot and celery and fry for a few minutes.
  6. Add the flour over the vegetables and mix well to coat the evently and to get rid of the bumps.
  7. Slowly add the vegetable stock and stir well.
  8. Add the lentils and let simmer for 5 minutes. 
  9. Add the peas and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Transfer to a 2.5 litre ovenproof dish and spread the mash potatoes on top. Make sure to seal the edges so the mixture doesn't spill over.
  11. Bake the pie for 25 minutes. Let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Special moments: Toddler laugh

There is nothing more earnest and joyful sounding than a toddler laugh. And it does lift your spirits to laugh more.

Yuppiechef The Art of Baking: Lesson 3

I'm really enjoying the Art of Baking online class from Yuppiechef. Did I mention it is free and easy to follow? so far I made (a half successful) cake in lesson 1 and biscuits (which turned out very very yummy) in lesson 2. I was very excited about lesson 3: BREAD!

I always thought it's difficult and complicated. Now I've learned you only need 4 ingredients to make bread; flour, yeast, salt and water. Well a pair of loving hands does help! The recipe was for a whole wheat bread. I found this great GMO free flour from Eureka Mills.

It was really fun seeing the dough rise while waiting for the yeast to make it's magic.

Whole-wheat bread dough before rising
The yeast doing it's magic after 45 minutes
The bread turned out great. The crust was amazing, nice and crispy. It would re really cool to experiment with different flours such as rye. I think in a year or so I'll be making bread with A regularly :)

My yummy bread

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A's teeth

A's teeth are not popping up like all those charts I have seen on pinterest. So I thought I's start documenting just in case someone else's child's teeth come out in a funny order. I'll update every time A gets a new tooth.

Upper Right Central Incisor - 8.5 months
Upper Left Central Incisor -8.5 months
Lower Right Central Incisor -9 months
Lower Left Central Inscisor -9 months
* Comment: the first four teeth started popping out one after the other. A was a bit irritable before the first one came out. The rest went ok.
Upper Left First molar - 13 months
Upper Right First molar - 13 months
*Comment: I've heard people complain that the molars cause a lot of pain when cutting. For us it wasn't that bad really. Hardly noticed really
Upper Right Lateral Incisor - 16 months
*Comment: We barely noticed the previous teeth cutting. But we certainly noticed this one! We were up quiet a lot for about 2 weeks. I shudder thinking about the rest of the teeth.
Lower Left First Molar - 16.5 Months
 *Comment: Guess all the suffering the last few weeks was also for this molar.
Lower Right First Molar - 19 months
*Comment: THat one tooth was really hard on him.
Lower Left Second Incisor - 20 months 
Upper Left Canine - 20.5 months
Upper Right Canine - 20.5 months
*Comment: It wasn't too bad waiting for them to cut actually