Saturday, 24 February 2018

Guest Chef Pete Blake: Special Vegan Fried Rice

Old and young alike, who doesn't love fried rice? I personally prefer using a non-stick pan and making mine oil free but the choice is yours.

The trick with good fried rice is to use cold precooked rice, making this such a quick and easy midweek meal or mains accompaniment. Left over rice and whatever veg is in the fridge. The best rice for this is a long grain rice, either white or brown, and jasmine rice just adds something special to it I reckon.

Special Vegan Fried Rice
Serves 2 or 4 as a small side.

-2 cups of cold cooked rice
-150 grams of tofu (preferably frozen/defrosted/pressed) 
-Hoisin sauce 
-Powdered vegan chicken-style stock (I use Massells brand)
-1 carrot, diced
-Half a cup of frozen peas
-1 to 2 cups of bean shoots
-Spring onion, chopped
-Marinade your tofu in a little Hoisin sauce, overnight or at least for a couple of hours. Then air fry or bake and put aside. Once cool, dice the tofu.

-To your frypan add the carrot, peas, spring onion and bean shoots. Stir Fry until cooked but still firm.

-Add your tofu and mix through.

-Add the cold rice and a teaspoon or two of the stock powder and stir to combine all ingredients. I recommend putting in one teaspoon and tasting before you add more.

-Keep stirring until your rice is warmed through and all the ingredients are combined.

Serve and garnish with the tops of the spring onion and accompany with chili sauce and a dark sweet soy sauce.

Pete Blake - @the.anima.project 

Carmen & Mary - Two Rescues in One!

By Chris R.

Last winter, hoof prints were spotted in a regional park. Fresh traces were noticed each day and appeared to be that of a sheep or goat. Given the incidence of foxes and other threats in the area, we were concerned about who it was and if they were ok. With some help, a plan was hatched to capture the animal from the bushland. It was important to undertake the rescue before the onset of summer, when conditions would be difficult for the hooved hobo. 

Along with the building of a yard, a motion camera was put in place to give an idea of who exactly we were attempting to catch. With hay and chaff as the bait, it was not long until our target came into view - a beautiful, little woolly ewe. 

Over the days, the little ewe became accustomed to coming by for breakfast at the yard. Often seen with kangaroos, her visits became like clockwork. Then success! A fantastic helper observed her in the yard and managed to secure her in place. She was promptly moved into a trailer and in the absence of any identification, she received approval to come to the Valley. Upon arrival, the newly named Carmen was overjoyed to see other ovine friends. The flock was welcoming, so once vaccinated, wormed and health checked, she joined some very enthusiastic sheep companions.  

Carmen on Arrival

Just a week later, we delivered the evening hay feed to the paddock and noted a set of small eyes reflecting in the torchlight next to Carmen.  A wobbly new born ewe stood behind a very proud Mum. Little Mary Lamb was just a few hours old. We hadn’t realised Carmen was in lamb under her full fleece, so it was a great surprise!

We were so happy that Mary was born into the safety of the Valley. Zeus and Rhapsody the alpacas took their protective role seriously, assisting Carmen to care for baby Mary at all times. As Mary has grown, she has become a confident member of the flock, knowing only kindness from the people who approach her. 

Mary being held on shearing day
At shearing time, Mary was held close to avoid her being injured amongst the yarded flock of adult sheep and was content to watch Mum have her hair cut. Mary is now over six months old and still sleeps with Carmen each night. Family is as important to animals as to people and we are so happy that this family can stay safely together in the Valley of Hope.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Guest Chef Pete Blake: Tofu & Rice

It's not difficult to notice that here in Australia we have openly embraced Chinese cuisine, well the style we find in our Chinese restaurants anyway. Chinese takeaway is a staple of our mutli-cultural cuisine. Certainly as a Caucasian growing up in Australia it has coloured many of my childhood dining-out memories.

In my life I have a developed a real appreciation of the aesthetic found in many Asian cultures - from the art and crafts, to the spiritualities and philosophies, to the martial arts, to the vibrant and colourful celebrations and the wonderful food that always plays a part in these.

I can spend quite a time wandering through a Chinese grocery store, discovering an array of items to try, often wonderful and sometimes seemingly weird. As a vegan there are always lots of things to experiment with and with such a strong Buddhist influence found within many of the Asian cultures there are usually various varieties of mock meats to cook with.

Quite commonly found within Asian cuisines is tofu. For me it's a staple of my diet, I love it and find it versatile to cook with, and it's also packed with protein. For the first time user it can seem daunting and for some people it seems to be either a love or hate experience. Often it's because of the texture. One of the tricks to using tofu is changing this texture, and in doing so it changes its ability to being able to really soak up the flavours it's paired with.

The trick is to freeze your firm tofu, then defrost it. Once it's completely defrosted you can either gently press it, which can be done by placing it between two cutting boards and gently pressing down, or simply squeezing it, and doing this until all the water within the tofu is released. This then leaves you with a tofu that will readily absorb flavours into those air bubble like pockets where the water once was.

So with Chinese New Year upon us I thought I would offer a Chinese inspired recipe that I love to make from time to time. There are a few steps, and it needs some preparation time, but they're all easy and even a beginner could master this recipe.

Chinese inspired Tofu and Rice, with braised Asian Greens and Crispy Beancurd 
Serves 2 to 4

-1 x 450gm pack of firm Organic Tofu.
-2 Lengths of dried Bean Curd sticks, broken into lengths (found in Asian Grocers).
-2 Cups of water.
-2 Tablespoons of Chinese cooking rice wine.
-2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce.
-2 Teaspoons of crushed Ginger.
-1 Teaspoon of crushed Garlic.
-2 Spring Onions chopped into inch long pieces.
-2 Teaspoons of a dried vegan Chicken-Style Stock Powder (I use Massel).
-Asian Greens of choice.
-A long grain style of Rice (enough to give everyone a cup of cooked rice).

For the best results freeze, defrost and press your tofu.

Cut the tofu into serve-able size pieces.

In a bowl combine the water, rice wine, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and the spring onions. Then into this place the pieces of tofu and the lengths of bean curd and marinade for at least 2 hours.

Clean and prepare your Asian greens. Place these in a frypan and get a light colouring onto them.

Next pour you marinade and the spring onions into the pan of Asian greens, gently stir in the stock powder and cover, simmer gently until cooked.

While the greens are simmering place the soaked dried beancurd into an airfryer on high for about 10 minutes, or onto a lined baking tray, until starting to colour and they are crispy.

As both these processes are happening put your tofu onto either a frypan or in the oven and cook until it begins to get a light colouring also.

Once these are all ready place a cup of rice onto each plate, with a serve of greens and tofu. You can spoon a little of the braising liquid over the greens and tofu, along with some chilli and some darker soy sauce. To garnish add the crispy bean curd, the slices of cucumber and salad veg like shredded cabbage and beanshoots.


#Chinesenewyear #vegan #healthycooking #recipe


Burke and Wills – Double Trouble and Double the Cuteness!

By Chris R.

In mid Spring of 2017, an older female goat arrived after being found lost in bushland near Perth. She was nervous, thin and tired and was carefully placed in the sheep yards where she rested under the trees. We named her Vera and as the days passed, her trust grew, as did her belly. She was suspiciously round in shape, which led us to believe she may have precious cargo on board.  

Just a week after her arrival, we were home late from a busy fundraising event to find not one, but two baby boy goats cuddling up to a very proud Vera. Both were tiny and Vera was attentive and protective. We named the twins Burke and Wills, which seemed apt given their mother’s bushland adventures before her eventual rescue. The twins were robust and playful, soon finding a way to escape the stockyard fencing to play with neighbouring goats, sheep and alpacas. They always returned to Mum if stressed, tired or hungry.

Burke and Wills are now almost five months old and while having a little more trouble escaping the yard fencing as they grow, they always choose to return to Mum each night to rest. We are so glad that Vera made it to the Sanctuary in time to have her kids. She and her babies can stay forever together in the Valley of Hope, along with their rescue goat and sheep friends.  

Friday, 9 February 2018

Guest Chef Pete Blake: Hummus

"The food you eat can be either the safest & most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." - Ann Wigmore.

One of my favourite ways to eat is a bowl full of healthy and nutritious power packed plant foods. You can fill it full of all the foods you love, to offer you a delicious and satisfying meal. Dressing is often the key and one of my favourites is hummus. Lots of us have our own recipes. So here's mine, it's quick and easy and completely oil free, and you will notice I prefer unhulled tahini -I find it less acidic and bitter than hulled tahini. So please give it a try as a dressing or a dip and let me know what you think (@the.anima.project).

Hummus (Makes 3 cups) 
-1 x 400g can Chickpeas 
-1 x 400g can Butterbeans 
-1/4 cup Lemon Juice 
-1 teaspoon Minced Garlic 
-1/4 cup Unhulled Tahini 
-1/2 cup Water 
-1 teaspoon of quality Salt 
-1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin 

Blend all the ingredients until smooth and enjoy. 

#vegan #poweredbyplants #healthylifestyle #hummus


Thursday, 1 February 2018

Guest Chef Pete Blake: Smokey Beans with Rice & Tofu

One of my favourite weekday meals. It's delicious, nutritious and packed with protein. 

Smokey Beans with Rice and Tofu.... It's just a tin of black beans and a tin of red kidney beans, a tin of tomatoes, a cup of brown rice and 300gms of tofu, which I've cubed and air fried, but you could bake it or just add it in as is. A diced carrot and two diced celery sticks. A litre of stock, one to two teaspoons of smoked paprika and a couple of teaspoons of stevia. 

I just put it all in the pot and simmer, adding more stock or water if needed, until the rice is cooked, the veg is soft and the liquid has reduced. 

Season to taste if needed. 

So easy, and I'll get three to four serves from this with a nice salad on the side. 

#vegan #healthylifestyle #recipe