Monday, April 4, 2011

Easy Peasy Blueberry Muffins.

There's something about berries that I just love...perhaps their bountiful abundance, or the fact that they're tiny powerhouses of anti-oxidants? Or maybe it's the memory of berry picking in The Netherlands where I "lost" my 18month old son only to find him in a thicket of berries, purple from brow to chin , and then some! :-) These Muffins, so easy to make and served hot from the oven with cold Coconut Cream are absolutely irrisistable! Enjoy!

I large cup Blueberries
2 1/2 Cups White Bread Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
Grated Zest of 1 Lemon

3/4 Cup Sunflower Oil
I Cup Soya Milk
1 Cup Apple or Berry Juice
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
2 Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
I Cup Brown Sugar

Preheat Oven to 350f (180c)
Prepare Muffin Tray ( makes 6 Large or 10 small)


Add Wet ingredients to Blender. Whizz for a minute or two. Add to combined Dry ingredients. Stir carefully so as not to squash the Blueberries! Spoon into Muffin Tray. Bake 20-25 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out dry. Serve with Coconut Cream for maximum yummilicious appeal!

Vegan * Chicken and Mushroom * Pies

So there was this whole debate on FB about calling these pies "chicken" and mushroom. Why call this pie something that is an eeewww word in the Vegan community? Well, as everyone knows by now...I am going to turn the WORLD vegan, one bite at a time! There's no use in baking weird Vegan fare like Seitan if most meateaters don't have a clue what that is! Creating dishes that people can relate to, that are common fare for most people BUT completely Vegan is, for me, the way to go. Yes, there is method to my madness and my darstedely plan to turn the world vegan is slowly but surely taking shape...Bwhahahahaaaaa! Enjoy! :-)


I batch of pastry, enough for 6 hearty pies. You can use store bought...just check the ingredients! Or make your own!
1 Box Fry's Chicken Style Strips...these are soy based but feel free to use any other "fake" chicken products. You'll need about 3 cupfuls.
2 Chopped Onions
1 Finely chopped Carrot
1 Cup Frozen Peas
2 Med-sized Potatoes...diced.
2 Crushed Cloves Garlic
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
1 Tsp Sage
1 Tsp Rosemary
Salt and Black Pepper to taste.
Precook Potatoes until half done.
In a wide bottomed pan ( a wok works nicely) heat oil, add onion and strips. Saute until strips are browned. Add Carrots, Peas, Garlic, Herbs and Precooked Potatoes. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Keep stirring and tossing the ingredients so that they don't burn or stick to the pan. Now add Soy Milk, reduce heat and stir until you have a delicious creamy texture. Do not over-stir as the strips will start disintegrating. Remove from heat and cool completely. Prepare your pastry and cut 6 pieces, 6in wide and 8in long, add about 3-4 heaped Tbls per pie in the centre, fold the top over and crimp edges with a fork. Add a pastry heart/star/moon! Bake at 425f until light golden brown.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chickpea, not Chicken pies, thank you! :-)

Chickpea, Mushroom and Sweet Red Pepper Pielets.

I made these when I had a little extra pastry, some homemade Hummus and a few other odds and ends left over from a morning's bake. Turns out they've become one of my most popular sellers! So easy to make and they taste delish hot or cold. I serve them with tiny bowls of Chutney, Mustard and Tomato can accompany them with a Salad too, for a really satisfying meal.Enjoy!

I batch of Flaky Pastry made with Milk-Solid Free Veg shortening.

I cup Chickpeas (pre-cooked or can)
2 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
Half a Sweet Red Pepper ( cleaned and sliced)
Half a medium sized onion (sliced thinly)
Half a punnet  Button Mushrooms (sliced)
Half a ripe Tomato (diced)
Olive oil for saute
Salt and blackpepper to taste
I small handful of Dhania ( fresh coriander). chopped.

Saute onions, tomato, sweet red peppers and  mushrooms until tender but not dead! Add Chickpeas and saute for a few minutes, gently squashing with a fork...rough texture, don't over-squash! :-)Take off heat and cool down completely in the 'fridge. When the mix has cooled down completely, add chopped Dhania and any other flavouring that you like...chillies, curry...but only a pinch!

Roll out pastry into approx the length of a computer keyboard and about 7inches wide. If you know about pastry it will be cool and firm when you do this. With a sharp knife cut a straight line along the length, making 2 halves. Then divide widthwise three times. You should have 6 equal pieces of pastry. Using a teaspoon scoop about 3-4 tsp of the mix into the centre of the pastry square, wet the edges with Soy milk or water. Gather the pastry corners together, then gently twist, like rope-making, and roll into a neat little ball. Pinch the sides together here and there. Bake in a hot oven 450f until pleasingly crisp and golden!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tea for Tears...

Yes...a pot of Earl Grey, toast with peanut butter and Maple syrup, and a box of tissues are the first aid kit of any broken heart. It's that simple...if you allow it. Other people turn to stronger brews but this serves only to temporarily deaden the pain.Tea's warmth in times when you feel you have stepped into an emotional Siberian snowstorm has no equal. Cups and cups of it... flowing down your digestive tract, close to where your heart lies bleeding. Gently the warmth embraces, washing away the debris of turmoiled thoughts that blow like dry leaves around the cavity that was once him, or her. Tea can uplift a torpid spirit, quell the tides of depression, cool the temper, and fan a feeling that despite everything, all is exactly as it should be...and that's when we reach for another cup.I speak from repeated experience.

It brings to mind age twelve, racing around an asphalt quad and a spectacular somersault that had me breaking the fall with the palms of my hands. Holding my hands before me, now a bloody, gorey mess of shredded skin and tiny stones, I walked tightlipped and dead pale to the Nun's Tea Room. Many gentle tut-tuts and cluckings later, and surely two litres of very sweet tea too, I was feeling euphoric! This only lasted until about exactly the time the doctor started shoving needles into me and picking out the stones with a long steel sweezers! I screamed and cried like a three year old until someone had the bright idea of making me a strong sweeeet cup of tea....:-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Salutation to the Son...

This morning I woke to a night filled with dreams of my eldest son. He is a tea lover of note. Perhaps a chip off the old block and I don't mean me! :-) Like myself, he is an early riser. Although that has changed since he took on the night shift. I think we both share the feeling of owning the entire Planet in those hours just before the business of the day begins.Sipping from an extra large sized mug of tea, listening to the first trilling of bird life, the distant call to prayer fluttering like ribbons across a mercurial sky...simple delights. I'm reminded then to call him, for a chat over a pot of tea, to remind him how much I appreciated his help as the eldest brother, as the child who's room was always tidy, as the boy who loved his soccer, as a teen who played the guitar, as a man who takes care of his beloved.Sometimes all it takes is a pot of tea between you and someone you love, and an amiable silence that says it all....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Of Tea and Anarchy...

More plots ,valiant, fanatical or pure evil, have been hatched over a steaming pot of tea than in the clinically restrictive confines of an office. Poets and writers, chess players and actresses have swopped ideas, titillating gossip and tears over this dark golden brew from ancient times, beginning with the Japanese Tea Houses and continuing in the modern Tea Rooms of today. And let's face it...what woe, or joy, loss or scheme cannot be improved upon with the delicate chimes of teaspoons stirring a strong cup of Cha?

My family were Teaholics! I don't exaggerate here. Up to fifteen cups a day! My father's bark "Bring me a cup of tea!" still rings clearly in my head and I'd say it's the reason why, rebelliously, Coffee became  my drug of choice. lacks something, coffee does, history, ceremony, grace and anarchy? Tea is a lightly euphoric experience...beginning with the choices of leaf available, the size and shape of a Tea Pot, the particular curve of a spout, the delicacy or lack thereof in the china cup, a silver or stainless steel spoon? All this is considered, reflected upon over the amiable stands apart from the general chaos as something one can always count on to please, to turn to in times of solitude, shock or emotional disorder....or simply the fuel that has fired many an Anarchist dream of self governance...for what is there to live for, or to fight for in a world where there is no Tea? :-)

My Grandmother and her part in this...

An Introduction:

My Grandmother and I were close. My mother made her my Godmother at my birth so it goes without saying that when my Mother popped off a few years later my Grandmother seamlessly took over my care for all of 6 years or so...

My most enduring memory is of my Gran, in her kitchen, presiding over steaming piles of Crumpets, rolling out pastry or kneading bread dough. She taught me how to cook very basic foods, like minced-meat in rich tomato sauce (she was not a vegan! ) but she also showed me how to pickle fat, creamy cauliflower with succulent fiery-red bell peppers, and bottle sun- yellowed cling peaches or cherries in golden syrup.Memories of the colours, fragrance and ambiance of my Grandmothers kitchen kept me sane in the ensuing years of chaos, abuse, loss and fear after my father returned from walk-about to reclaim my brother and I, with a new young wife in tow...but that's another story!

Tea, or Moer Koffie ( a super strong brewed coffee), Koeksisters, Ginger Biscuits and Jam Tarts were a traditional 4pm Saturday afternoon thing...we weren't Colonial English (in fact my Grandmother could barely speak English)...but somehow this English Tea tradition caught on and prevailed for many years uniting friends and family around an enormous table in the Dining room...later the adults would swop tea for double shots of Brandy and Coke and the stories, jokes, laughter and "skinner" would go on well into the night...

Shopping with my Ouma (Gran) was ALWAYS an adventure. She'd whisk my brother and I in and out of one shop after the other...always some little thing for us, a toy, a green-blue tartan skirt, a yellow pair of wellies...and when I thought I couldn't walk another metre she'd whoosh into a steamy, crowded Tea Room and there we'd sit for the rest of the afternoon...drinking sweet tea, eating cheese and tomato sandwiches. She knew everyone and before long another table would join ours, then another...the waiters plying pots of tea, the ladies laughing and talking at the top of their voices.Life felt good, the world a safe place, sitting quietly, listening in on the scandalous yet hilarious tales of passion, broken romances, dry old husbands, juicy divorcees. Just my cup of tea! :-)