Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Eats

I'm back from my blogging-vacation. It felt a little weird not to blog for the first couple of days after Vegan Mofo, but it was good to have the time to do other things (like watching Korean dramas... very important!). :)

And sheesh! Christmas is approaching so fast, isn't it? I can't believe it's only 2 weeks away. I have no idea what foods I want to make for Christmas dinner and our tree is still in a box somewhere, waiting to be unpacked. Decorations? Nada. Gifts? Non! I expect panic will set in soon. How are you all managing so far?

Friday Eats - December 10 2010
Raw Holiday Chia Pudding (recipe from Kristen's Raw) with banana's.

SOO GOOD! I doubled the amount of cinnamon and milk, let it soak over night (in the fridge) and had one half for breakfast yesterday and the other half today. Chia seeds are really hard to find here in Germany so I had to order from iHerb. I don't know if it's because they were moving to a new location or maybe the mail service is too busy during the holiday season, but my last three packages have taken an extra week in delivery and my last two got stuck at customs. They got released fairly quickly and with no problems, but just a heads up to any international iHerb customers out there.

Friday Eats - December 10 2010
Snack #1
Two tall glasses of kale packed green juice.

Friday Eats - December 10 2010
Lunch & Dinner
For lunch I made 떡볶이 (deokkbokki), a Korean dish consisting of a spicy hot pepper sauce and rice cakes. I usually prefer it fresh, but I had some of the leftovers for dinner and it wasn't bad at all! :)

You can find a recipe for it over at Maangchi's or Aeri's website. Kelp broth works well as a replacement for the anchovy broth and fishcakes can be omitted or be replaced by sliced tofu puffs or textured soy protein (soycurls) soaked/rehydrated in kelp broth. I like to add some ramen, mushrooms, tofu and/or textured soy protein. Yum!

Friday Eats - December 10 2010
Snack #2
A Persimmon. Still not sick of these little fellows! :)

Friday Eats - December 10 2010
Snack #3
Whole wheat bread with margarine and apricot jam.
Cup of Ostfriesentee/East Frisian tea (one of my favourite tea blends) with almond milk.

Have a lovely weekend! x

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The End of Vegan MoFo 2010

The End of Vegan Mofo, Mosaic

Ah, so this is it then. One month of blogging, over 700 participants from around the world and a whole lot of good vegan food! Well, it's been a blast. High five everyone, well done! *highfive*

I am so happy to have been part of this fun adventure and can not wait to make all of the great recipes I have found over the course of the last four weeks. Blogging every day was incredibly challenging for a blogging newbie like me, but I am glad I stuck with it and I hope some of you enjoyed what I have blogged about. I discovered a plethora of awesome blogs and people through Vegan Mofo and yes, I actually am excited for next year! Ha!

So thank you to all those of you who stopped by to read my blog, your comments provided a great deal of encouragement to me and kept me going! I will take a brief leave from the blogging world to replenish my energy (hello mofo burn-out!) , but I'll be back in a week or two, ready to start baking for the holidays. :)

x Julia

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Mighty 'Booch' Part II

As promised, here's part two of my kombucha adventure. I wanted to do something like a step-by-step guide for other people interested in homemade kombucha, but that didn't seem right since I am still experimenting with it myself.  Instead I thought it'd be nice to make a diary-style entry on kombucha, showing you how the tea & scoby developed during fermentation, as this was something I was very curious (and nervous!) about myself. I hope this is helpful to some of you, but do let me know if you have any questions and I will try to help!

First Batch of Kombucha
Part of the Equipment

A glass jar with a volume of 2,5 litres (84 fl oz) and six swing top bottles. Once bottled, the kombucha will continue to ferment, thus creating more carbonation which will put a lot of pressure on the bottle. It is best to use swing-top bottles as the caps are designed to release pressure without the loss of carbonation. I've read some horror stories about exploding bottles and mason jars, so you definitely want to go the safe route here. (Though I guess there's no guarantee with this sort of thing, so do your research if you decide to bottle your kombucha - this is just the way I make mine and I am not responsible for any accidents...)

First Batch of Kombucha
Day 0 - Tuesday evening

Here's the jar, sitting on a table in our storage/radiator room, the temperature in there varies from 24° C (75° F) to 26° C (78° F), average temperature seems to be 25° C (77° F).

First Batch of Kombucha (at Day 1)
Day 1 - Wednesday evening

The batch after one day. I think both the scoby and the tea are doing alright. I can see that things are happening inside (yeast), but nothing too exciting yet. If you look closely you can see that a new baby scoby is starting to form, the surface of the tea looks slightly matte, though it's a bit hard to see from this angle.

Kombucha at Day 2
Day 2 - Thursday evening

Things are happening! The surface looks a bit milky/cloudy, that's the new baby scoby growing - d'aww. There are small clusters of bubbles under the surface, first signs of carbonation.

Kombucha at Day 3
Day 3 - Friday evening

More bubbles, hooray! The baby is growing nicely.

Kombucha at Day 4
Day 4 - Saturday afternoon

The baby is slowly getting thicker: it is now 5mm thick and seems to be growing evenly.

Kombucha at Day 5
Day 5 - Sunday evening

Growning thicker, still. I had to move the jar today and the tea swapped over the baby. Those brown things, on the middle of the scoby and on the edge, are yeast not mould. The yeast normally likes to hang around under the scoby, sorry about the disturbance buddies! It looks a bit gross, but it's not dangerous and I might be able to wash it off before I start my second batch.

Kombucha at day 6, bottled!
Day 6 - Monday morning -> bottled!

I woke up this morning and walked into our storage room to check on my baby. Right away I noticed the temperature in the room seemed to be warmer than usual. The thermometer confirmed this with a temperature of 28° C (82° F). I lifted the paper towel off the jar and took a sniff, then quickly stepped back - vinegar-y! Panic set in, I wasn't sure what to do - stick to the original plan and wait another day or bottle it now?! I stuck a straw into the jar for a taste test and decided it'd be best to bottle it. In hindsight I am not sure if this was really necessary, I would've preferred a more sour brew, but I'm hoping that the second round of fermentation will take care of this. I got enough tea for 4 and a half bottles and starter liquid for two new batches, so I am rather happy with my first harvest.

1x ginger (dried & candied)
1x mandarin (juice of one fruit)
1x cranberry (dried)
1x black currant (syrup)
1/2 bottle plain kombucha

I'm leaving the bottles out at room temp. for 1-2 days for a second ferment to get some extra fizz, then they'll go in the fridge. The tea for my next batches is already cooling down as I type, one's black tea, the other one's a mix of black and green. Can't wait to see how these will turn out!

So, I guess that's it! I thought it would take a lot longer, but I'm happy about the fast progress. I am going to do more blogposts about the 'booch in the future, once I have a little more experience, so let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to see and I'll do my best to include it in my next post! There might also be a post about water kefir in the near future, I sort of stumbled upon it when I did research on kombucha and it looks really interesting and a bit easier than kombucha. Let me know if there's something you want to know about water kefir, so I know what to write about when I get mine. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Eats

Sunday Eats November 28, 2010
Oatmeal with almond milk and a heap of cherry compote.
A cup of Moroccan mint tea (so good!).

Sunday Eats November 28, 2010
Carrots, cucumber and bread with baba ganoush & hemp seeds.
Roasted chickpeas with nooch.

Sunday Eats November 28, 2010
Snack #1
More pulp cookies! Changed the pulp to flour ratio, added cocoa and switched
some of the oil for water. They're sort of fudgy inside - brownie cookies! :)

Sunday Eats November 28, 2010
Onigiri stuffed with marinated mushrooms and miso.

Sunday Eats November 28, 2010

Sunday Eats November 28, 2010
Snack #2
A sliced apple with almond butter.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mofo Favourites Week 4 & a Quick Kombucha Update

A couple of days ago I wrote about my little kombucha adventure, I figured I could give you a small update today. I'll do a full blogpost on it when the batch is done and I have taken photos of it's progress everyday so far, so I think that should be helpful for those interested in making the tea at home. 

Kombucha at Day 4
Kombucha at Day 4

As you can see there's a lot of carbonation going on, lots of bubbles under the scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, a.k.a. that gross white thing). The baby scoby is already 5mm thick and has taken the shape and width of the glass jar. It seems to be doing very well so far, yay. I wonder how much thicker it's going to grow (we're at day 4 out of approximately seven to eight days of fermentation.). There's some visible yeast under the scoby and in the tea itself. The tea smells nice and a little vinegary. Overall it all seems to be going according to plan, very exciting! :)

Anyway, on to my Saturday round up!


Zucchini Corn Pancakes (via EatPure)
I made these a couple of days ago and LOVED them! Jeni from HeathenVegan blogged about them and I couldn't resist and made them for dinner one night, the coconut milk added an interesting touch.

Tips for New Vegans and/or Raw Foodies (via BittOfRaw)
I thought this was so informative and well thought out. I wish someone would've linked me to a post like this when I was new to veganism.

T is for Thyme Bread (via TahiniToo)
Thyme is awesome! It is my favourite herb at the moment and those flat breads look scrumptious!

Candied Orange Peel (via BreadWithoutButter)
Oooh pretty! Making this as soon as I can get my hands on some organic oranges.

Cherry Bakewells (via Tea & Sympatico)
Cute and classy looking mini tarts from England, nom. :)

Coconut Macaroons / Kokosmakronen (via SeitanIsMyMotor)
A German Christmas cookie classic with grated coconut. This cinnamon swirl bread looks great too!

Königsberger Klopse (via Juu's GermanKitchen)
I fricking loved these as a child! 'Meatballs' with capers in a white sauce, usually served with potatoes.

Simple Cinnamon Berry Compote (via MusingsFromTheFishbowl)
You can't go wrong with compote. Good on oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, pudding, cake.. Good on everything!

Walnut Spätzle (via TisiGoesVegan)
A classic Swabian noodle dish, super tasty. Watch the video and be amazed! Check out these cookies too: Spitzbuam.

Swedish Lussekatter (Sweet Safron Buns) (via Seglare)
How cool is this? I have to make this asap!

Yakitori (via GoVeganMeow!)
Japanese 'chicken' skewers. Bring out the grill ( year that is)!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fast Friday: Today's Dinner

Dinner, November 26 2010

Very purple looking red cabbage, plain potatoes, mushrooms and the darkest gravy I've ever made.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sugar Cookies / Plätzchen

Plätzchen / Sugar Cookies

Seems like the blogroll is in full-on Thanksgiving-mode today. Happy Thanksgiving to all those of you who celebrate it, I hope you're all spending some quality time with your family and friends! All the festive food I've been seeing has me craving for a hearty meal, no fair. 

Cookie season has officially begun in my kitchen and it started off with a classic: The sugar cookie. The recipe is from my Oma (Grandma) and truly a childhood favourite. We made them multiple times every year  during the holidays and I am so grateful to have something that reminds me of her, as I never got to meet her because she passed away when I was just a baby. Our family doesn't really have a lot of traditions, so I cherish the ones we do have. It is comforting to return to this recipe every year, even if it is a veganised version. The recipe uses ground almonds, but sometimes we'd use ground hazelnuts instead - they're both very tasty, but the almond ones were always my favourite so that's what I'm sticking with now that I'm old enough to rule in my own kitchen. ;)

Plätzchen / Sugar Cookies

My Mum wrote down the recipe in 1988, a year before I was born. The page has some stains, but thankfully it's still in readable condition.

Plätzchen / Sugar Cookies
Dough pre-rest.

Sugar Cookies / "Butterplätzchen"

1 1/2 cup pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tbl margarine
1/2 - 3/4 cup ground almonds
1 tsp Vanilla Extract or 1 tbl vanilla sugar
dash salt

1) Combine all ingredients and knead to a smooth dough. You can do this by hand, but I let my food processor do the work as warm hands can make it hard to work the margarine into the dough.
2) Form dough into a ball, wrap in tinfoil and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
3) Preheat oven to 180° C / 375° F and grease your cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
4) Dust some flour onto your workspace and roll the dough out (I like mine thin). You may need to work some extra flour into the dough if it is too soft to work with. Time to use your cookie cutters!
5) Place cookies on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
6) Let cool and decorate with icing or dust some powdered sugar on them while they're still warm. Store in an airtight container.


Plätzchen / Sugar Cookies

Ha, see those wonky lines on that snail (you probably can't tell it's a snail from that photo..)? Yeah, I'm not very good at applying icing.

Plätzchen / Sugar Cookies

By the way: We had our first snowfall last night. It really feels all Christmas-y now. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Mighty 'Booch'

I got my first batch of kombucha started! The postman delivered my scoby yesterday afternoon, a day sooner from when I thought it'd get here. I spent the afternoon going over the whole process, reading multiple websites and blogs and got started.

First Batch of Kombucha

On Monday I ran through the shops, trying to find a big enough glass jar for the tea to ferment in, but didn't have much luck. I settled on a jar with a volume of 2,5L (83 fl oz) that I found in a shop for interior decoration & design. It came without a lid but that's okay, I don't really need one for this. I am glad I bought it then or else I wouldn't have been able to put the scoby to good use yesterday, but I guess I'll have to look for a larger jar eventually. I don't want to spend too much money on it though.. Any tips on where I might find one for cheap? I also got these nice swing top bottles for when the tea is ready to be bottled. They sell this kind of bottle online, but it's usually cheaper to buy a six pack of beer and so that's what I did. I really like the blue 'cork' and the red rubber ring.

First Batch of Kombucha

Here's the jar, sitting on a table in our storage/radiator room. Let's hope the booch will flourish in this environment, I'd rather not spend money on one of those heating plates that some folks use.

Below is a photo of the batch after one day. I think both the scoby and the tea are doing alright. I can see that things are happening inside, but nothing too exciting yet.

First Batch of Kombucha

So, I guess I'll do another post on kombucha after the batch is ready for harvest. I'm pretty excited, but I could use some patience heh!

Do any of you like kombucha? What's your favourite flavour or do you like it best plain? Do you make your own? Any tips on making it at home?
I'd love to hear your thoughts about it! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Caramelized Almonds

Caramelized Almonds
Caramelized Almonds.

Christmas markets are an essential part of Christmas season here in Germany and when I woke up this morning and turned on the radio, the DJ mentioned that it was finally time for the first markets to open their doors today! What a nice thing to wake up to. Caramelized nuts, usually almonds, can be found at every other stand and I would always ask my parents to buy me a bag whenever we went to one of those Christmas markets. Unfortunately a lot of sellers will use butter to prepare the glaze, but it is incredibly easy to make them at home and I thought today would be a perfect day to show you how I prepare them. :)

Caramelized Almonds
Almonds! Almonds!


1 cup almonds
4 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs water

1) Put all ingredients into a microwave-safe bowl and mix well. The sugar does not need to be dissolved.
2) Grease a large plate with a thin layer of oil.
3) Place bowl in microwave and microwave on high (see notes) for 3-4 minutes. You only want to stir once, after 1-2 minutes, and ONLY if you're using a large bowl. Not stirring will give you an even and see through glaze that you might not archive when stirring the mixture.
4) Put on your oven mitts and remove the bowl from the microwave. Pour almonds onto the greased plate and let cool down to room temperature. You may need to use a spoon to get the almonds out, the faster you are the better as the sugar will harden quickly.

Sugar Brown sugar here in Germany is different compared to what I've encountered abroad. In my experience brown sugar in other places of the world is often sold in tightly sealed plastic bags to keep the sugar slightly moist. Here in Germany brown sugar is granulated and dry, much like ordinary white sugar. I'm not sure if this will make a difference in the recipe, but I wanted to mention it in case anyone encounters problems. If your almonds come out funky, try using 2tbs of white sugar and 2 tbs of brown sugar instead. 1 tbs of white and 3 tbs of brown sugar could work well too.
Microwaves Cooking time will vary from microwave to microwave. 3 minutes on 900 watt did the trick for me. The almonds started to make a few 'popping' sounds towards the end, you can probably take them out if you hear that sound.
• Try to be patient and let the almonds cool down completely before you try them. The almonds will taste a bit weird straight out of the microwave (and hot, don't burn yourselves :)), but they'll be nice and crunchy once they've cooled down.

Caramelized Almonds
Ingredients assembled.


You don't have to use almonds, of course. Other nuts, like hazelnuts or macademia nuts for example, would be just as good.

Salted Caramel
Add 1/4 tsp of coarse sea salt for a sweet and salty combination. (before microwaving would be easiest. Though you could sprinkle it on the nuts after, but you'll have to be quick or else it won't stick!)

Cinnamon Caramel
Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon before microwaving.

Ginger Caramel
Add 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger before microwaving.

Using extracts
You could use a couple of drops of extract, like vanilla, to add some extra flavour.

Add grated dried coconut, cocoa nibs or other sprinkles after you transfer the nuts from microwave to plate. Be quick or the sprinkles may not stick, because the sugar will harden quickly!

Caramelized Almonds
After microwaving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fighting Mondays - One Banana & Cheese Sandwich at a Time

 What is it with Mondays? Even if you get everything on your list done (and today's list was long!), they just suck the energy right out of you, don't they? I want to crawl into bed and watch awful TV shows for the rest of the evening and so I am keeping this post short, but let me tell you: Banana and cheese sandwiches are amazing! Just what I needed when I came home. That pale yellow glob of cheese may not look too appetizing, but don't knock it till you try it (you can thank me later). Just two slices of toast, some vegan cheese (vegourmet santeciano), half a sliced banana and a sandwich maker - it's pure magic!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Eats

Sunday Eats Nov21 2010
Oatmeal with almond milk, roasted almond butter, banana and cinnamon maple syrup. 
Mhmm, tasted just like speculoos. :)

Sunday Eats Nov21 2010
Snack #1
Kale Chips. I snacked on these all day long, yum.

Sunday Eats Nov21 2010
'Cheese' pizza. I used the vegourmet santicciano cheese.  
The taste reminded me A LOT of real cheese, very good.
(So good in fact that I ate another one 2 hours later.. :))

Sunday Eats Nov21 2010
Snack #2
A Persimmon.

Sunday Eats Nov21 2010
Just hummus and carrots.

Snack #3 
(no photo) 
Cookies w/ almond milk. 

Wow, Vegan Mofo week 3 is over, see you all in week 4! :)