Monday, August 10, 2009


Like our wayward cat, I’ve been absent without leave lately.

It has been a strange few weeks. While not blogging my fingers have still clocked up a record amount of keystrokes writing content for a website I've launched for my other life. The toil and RSI has been worth it but I have needed a break from the keyboard to recover.

Just when I thought I was getting my mojo back one of our cats went missing. I know felines tend to wander, one of my childhood kitties went away for months yet returned in good shape. But this particular creature is a 14 yo Siamese who until last month had never left the house or the garden before. 24 hours later she turned up, loud and hungry and now won’t leave my side. We are both a bit tired as a result of the middle of the night reunion.

But this is a trivial matter compared to events in my home town with the wonderful Maranui SLC and café burning down and worse, my friend The Editter’s recent cancer diagnosis (she’s reinstated her blog and is happy for you to pop by and cheer her on).

So what about the food?

I’ve been keeping it simple:

At least once a week am having a “detox” meal featuring seasonal steamed vegetables.

Whipped up some arepas on the weekend to eat with a bowl of chilli beans.

Making dry-style curries with fresh turmeric and ginger plus roasted and ground spices. How easy is it to toss some cumin, coriander seeds and chilli in a pan and pound them once toasted? Fry off some onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric with the other spices, toss in diced potato, add water as required to keep it moist, then cauliflower and any other vegetables that tempt you. Top up with water as needed, add salt til the flavours come together, toss through a generous handful of coriander leaves before serving and there you have it, a basic curry packed with flavour.

Made a variation on The Moosewood Cookbook’s satay sauce* – though I substituted peanut butter with cashew butter, used some lovely palm sugar for sweetness and (no doubt to Molly Katzen’s horror) added fish sauce for salt. Delish!

Out in the world, hit Victoria Street and had a REAL vegetarian soup at a Vietnamese restaurant. The stock was authentically vegetable-based, not chicken in disguise. To carnivores this may sound like a trivial matter but with the world of pho and all the other fragrant, spicy Asian soups closed to those who eschew meat – it was an exciting find. There were other highlights on the menu but I need a few return visits before I can do the place justice in a review. (I did however fire off a red-hot email to my favourite local vegetarian duo to share the find).

Here’s to a calmer month!

* The Moosewood was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I ever owned. I get nostalgic whenever I open the pages. The peanut sauce was my all time favourite and I remember making it for a dinner party I went to hosted by a work colleague. I was the youngest by far and everyone seemed so glamorous and politically correct. Whilst dipping artful bundles of carrot sticks into the sauce there was a heated discussion about phone tapping - it seemed we all were convinced that the NZ secret squirrels were interested in our personal calls. In reality, they likely were. I know for a fact my housemates at the time had ASIO files. I can't make satay sauce these days without it feeling like a subversive act!

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Anonymous Jess Ho said...

Sounds like you're due for some clam. And I definitely know when you mean by a detox day.
Where is this fabled actual vegetarian pho? I was so distressed when I couldn't have it when I was vegetarian, I would love to give it a try.
Take care of yourself.

12:45 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Actually, I think Katzen wouldn't mind the fish sauce one bit.

Flicking through a recent edition of The Best Food Writing, I stumbled - shocked - across a piece in which Katzen admitted she now eats flesh.

Glad puss is back. She's uber-bad, though.

12:58 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

I often avoid soups in asian places because had so many bad experiences (including ordering soup with vegetable noodles only to find it full of chicken and to be told it was vegetarian chicken soup) - would love to taste this pho

I think Lucy is right about katzen eating fish now - I am sure it was in her later cookbooks - a shock to me

And I am glad your pussy cat is home and safe

8:54 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Bad cat is beside me as I type and rather afraid of the big wide world..for now.

7:55 am  
Blogger Jimmy said...

I always love the blogs talking about food..Yours is the best among them..

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10:17 pm  

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