Ch ch ch ch changes

Life next year is going to be very different. Koren is leaving our cute little house with the green walls to travel and write and do amazing things in Spain. I will continue here with my degree, Mimi will continue with her catiness and we will look for a new housemate to join in on crafternoons, Friday vinos, vego dinners and cups of tea.

The day Koren leaves will be super sad. Mimi will mope around the house for a week as she normally does when Koren goes away for extended periods of time, I will cook too much for dinner and have nobody to share that and the stories of my day with, and we will both miss Koren a crazy. stupid. amount.

But what is life if there isn’t change?

So we figure, seeing as things are changing so much in every other area of our lives, why not give our cute little blog a facelift?

It’s almost been a year since we started NFWAF and its been an absolute delight sharing our stories with you. Just like we have, the blog has changed, evolved and grown up; it’s become so much more than just a vego site. While we still like to get our vego rant on every now and again,  the name – No Food With A Face – does not really reflect the true essence of what we have created here in this little space. In fact, sometimes we feel, the name does not really do the blog justice.

It’s with these thoughts that we began to consider the idea of creating not only a new look for our blog but also a new name. And so in a couple of days No Food With A Face will become…

Why The Little Green House you ask?

The name reflects the eco, ethical, handmade, simple, kind lifestyle we aspire to live – a ‘green’ lifestyle. Funnily enough this blog, and the many creative ideas we’ve had for the blog, transpired while living together in our little house with the green walls. So the name kinda chose us.

So what do you need to do?

Well, nothing really. We just ask that you be patient with us as the magical migrating fairy moves our blog to it’s new home, irons out any technical gremlins and makes the blog look pretty.  For our loyal followers, you will continue to receive updates each time we post. If you happen to forget the name change and wander over to NFWAF by accident, not to worry, a magical redirection fairy will politely point you to www.thelittlegreenhouse.net.

Um… apparently there’s one thing that hasn’t changed – my hair style.

Not much else to do now but wait. It’s all very exciting. Bye bye from No Food With A Face. See ya on the flip side!

Love Alana xx

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There is usually only one thing that holds us back…

How many of us go to work each day and feel like we make some sort of difference in the world? How often does that feeling happen for you? When I began my climb up the corporate ladder, I’m ashamed to admit, the last question I asked myself was ‘how can I make a difference?’. For our talented girlfriend Bianca, or B as she is known, this question has always been at the forefront of her mind. For almost her whole working career, she has been involved in not-for-profit organisations, with her current focus on Multiple Sclerosis Queensland.

Over the past month I have been fortunate enough to play a tiny role in the lives of people with MS, given the opportunity to work with B to design and build a website for her upcoming cycling event.

B and I – great friends, not-so-great lawn bowlers

When the idea to help B was just a little seed I believed this would be a great opportunity for the company I work for, Myriad Technologies, to get involved in the community and make a difference in the lives of people much less fortunate than us.

The Myriad team volunteering at the MS Moonlight Walk.

What I didn’t count on, was how much I would personally grow from such a project. There is something to say of the satisfaction and growth that comes with doing something selfless.

I was excited by the challenge but also a little scared to be nominated as the project lead. I only work two days a week, the timelines were tight and all our resources were already fully booked. How was I ever going to pull this off?

I think, as women, we often doubt ourselves. If we don’t know 75-100% of the knowledge we feel like we don’t know anything.  Fear is a funny thing. It can cripple you into thinking you’re incapable of achieving and honestly, for the majority of my career, I have been terrified; terrified of making mistakes; terrified of failure.  I’m a knowledgeable business analyst and a project manager, there’s no real reason why, but many days I still feel unequipped.

My Dad often says to me in reference to work, life, fear  “You get that on big jobs”. In other words, stop moping about and just get on with it (good advice Dad!).  So this time I consciously decided, I guess partly because this project was for such an amazing cause, that to let fear overtake me was just wasted energy; energy that would be better put towards making this website as successful as it could be.

I can’t claim victory all to myself. There is a very talented team of technical people at Myriad Technologies who donated many hours of their personal time to make this site successful and to deliver it on the given date. But I was part of that, and for that I feel proud.

This project taught me so much about myself and other people. I learnt that I am great at organising things, planning and managing expectations. I learnt to stress less, trust my instincts and that communication is so important – it is much better to talk in person than to email. I learnt how to encourage people and thank them for their hard work. I learnt that most people want to make a difference in the world and will donate copious hours of their own personal time if they understand and see a worthwhile cause.

But best of all I learnt that fear’s bark is definitely worse than his bite. Quite often the only thing that holds us back is the fear we have in our own head. That niggly voice that says “You can’t do it. You will fail”.  I can’t say that voice is gone for good but it’s definitely much quieter than it was before. And now there’s another voice, one which continually reminds me of the success of this project and says “You know, you can do the same for anything else you put your mind to”.

You can check out the site at www.mscycledefrance.com.au.

Love Alana xx

Recipe: baked pesto mushies with crunchy cashew cheese

There was a couple I once knew who would make these amazing stuffed mushrooms. They’d bring them along to parties pre-made, chuck them in the oven for 10 minutes and pop them out for party-goers to munch on. You wouldn’t want to be in the bathroom powdering your nose when they got placed on the table. Blink and you would miss bagging yourself a delicious mushroomy morsel.

I’ve dreamt of those mushrooms for a long while. Only problem is they had cheese on them and I never did actually write the recipe down.

Then I realised you could make cheese out of cashews!

My life got significantly better after that and this vegan version of the amazing stuffed mushrooms was created.

This recipe is my contribution to Virtual Vegan Potluck 2012. Happy World Vegan Day!

What goes in:

20 button mushrooms

For the pesto herby goodness:
4 garlic cloves
2 spring onions
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup chives
4 small red chillies
1/4 cup pine nuts
5 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
Salt to taste

For the cashew cheesey goodness
3/4 cup cashews
2-4 tablespoons of water
1 garlic clove
3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
Juice from half a lemon
Salt to taste

How you do it:

Soak the cashews in water for at least three hours but overnight is better.

To make the pesto
Crush the garlic and loosely chop the herbs, chilli and spring onions. Place these and the remaining ingredients into a food processor and pulse until chopped finely. Place to one side.

To make the cashew cheese
Place your soaked cashews and the water into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture becomes smooth and free of lumps. This can take a while. Crush the garlic and then add all the remaining ingredients to the cashew mixture.  Again, pulse until everything is smooth and mixed through.

If you have the time, it’s worthwhile popping both the pesto and the cashew cheese into the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavours to blend and settle.

Assembling the mushies

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Wash the mushrooms and pull out the stems. Scoop the pesto into the mushroom heads, then add a dollop of the cashew cheese on top. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 10-20 minutes until the cashew cheese is golden and the mushrooms are cooked through.

Pop them out on a serving platter and watch the little guys disappear before your eyes.

Love Alana xx

Ready for more delicious Virtual Vegan Potluck surprises? Just use the buttons below to move forward or back.

Living in Arnhem Land + a gourmet camping recipe

Imagine a land where the soil lies burnt and crimson beneath a crystal blue sky, punctuated by the searing sun and a changeable band of dusty green and grey vegetation. A land of deeply dark-skinned people with wide, white smiles. A land of heat and humidity that settles like an heavy, sticky blanket, morning and night.

This fabulous Australian bushland, at once stunning, confronting, surprising and challenging, is my home for five weeks. I’m lucky to have been accepted into Jawun’s first indigenous corporate partnership program running in the Northern Territory’s Northeast Arnhem Land, along with 15 other professionals. We’ve all temporarily abandoned our usual workplaces to lend a hand at a bunch of local non-profit groups.

We spent much of the first week out bush, camping at a remote Aboriginal homeland community of the local Yolngu people. Biranybirany is a bone-rattling three-hour ride south from the larger mining town of Nhulunbuy, a place only four-wheel drives dare venture. Come the wet season, the red roads turn to slush and Biranybirany and its 24 neighbouring homeland communities become accessible only by air. Biranybirany itself is a tiny place with just seven extremely basic houses for about 40 people, including a hoard of beautiful children who attend the community’s small school three days a week.

We were there to work with the community on some much-needed maintenance and spent two sweltering days chopping trees, cleaning yards, painting houses and relocating a shadehouse, sleeping in tents and cooking our meals over a fire or a gas camping cooker.

Most of us are ordinarily city-dwellers and it seems you just can’t take the urbane out of some, no matter how hard they work or how exhausted and completely filthy they become. Our group was thrilled to discover Michael had brought along his tops cooking skills and a spirit of inventiveness that left us with meals far too gourmet for any normal camping trip.

Here Michael shares his famed Biranybirany frittata recipe, essentially a Spanish tortilla with a Parmesan edge. We gobbled the lot down for brekkie but it could easily pass for lunch or dinner if topped with a salad.

BIRANYBIRANY FRITTATA
Serves at least six people – and is perfect for the gas camping cooker!

What goes in:

2 red onions, diced
2 waxy potatoes (such as Desiree or red rascal), cut into roughly 1cm cubes
½ cup grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
A dozen large eggs
Salt or one vegetable stock cube (Massel is a tried and true brand)
About 1 cup of water
Cracked pepper
Olive oil

How you do it:

Throw the onion and potato together in a non-stick frying pan or skillet and fry in olive oil for about five minutes without taking on too much colour. Add the stock cube and water and reduce until almost all the liquid evaporates.

In the meantime, whisk the eggs together then add the Parmesan and pepper.

Add the egg mixture to the skillet and give it a vigorous stir then let the mixture sit on the heat for about a minute until the bottom forms a bit of a crust. Flip the frittata onto a dinner plate to allow you to put it back on the heat upside-down to cook the opposite side. Feed to the hungry, hot and sweaty masses!

Thanks, Michael!

– Koren

Guest recipe: Frew’s zucchini fritters with truffle mustard vinaigrette + sangria

I’ve spent the past couple of days gallivanting around South Australia, catching up with my family and reconnecting with old friends – some I hadn’t seen in a decade – during my high school reunion. Now that was a blast from the past!

Our eldest sister Candice and her wonderful master chef partner Frew again opened their Adelaide Hills home to me for a night and once more a vegetarian feast of bliss was served up. (You might remember Frew’s superb chickpea and celery rogan josh from earlier in the year.)

As Candice and I talked up a storm from their back deck, watched by Sulpher-crested Cockatoos perched on the railing and hoping to score some seed, Frew got to work on possibly the best sangria I’ve ever imbibed – and that’s including some exceedingly decent samples tested in Spain itself.

Here’s the feast recreated for you.

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

What goes in:

2 zucchinis, grated
1 onion, sliced
2 eggs *
Garlic
Ginger
½ cup of flour
½ tsp baking powder
Grated parmesan rind (optional)
Salt

How you do it:

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Warm some olive oil in a shallow frying pan and add big dobs of mixture to make fritters. Flip them once so both sides are golden and crusty.

* Vegans can ditch the eggs and instead use mashed canned cannellini beans as a binder. Just lightly fry the other ingredients, then add the beans and refry in fritter shape.

TRUFFLE MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

What goes in:

Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp truffle honey *
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
½ tsp hot English mustard

How you do it:

First, a little tip. This recipe follows the basic vinaigrette base of one-third oil to two-thirds acid. If you follow this ratio you can make a lovely range of vinaigrettes using acidic ingredients such as lemon, balsamic vinegar, lime or apple cider vinegar.

Okay, so here’s what you do: Throw all ingredients into a small clean jar and shake well until the honey is fully mixed through.

Never seen truffle honey before? Join the club. Apparently it’s available from gourmet or specialty food shops. Candice and Frew picked theirs up from a truffle farm in Western Australia. Here’s what it looks like:

* Vegans can substitute the truffle honey for a few drops of truffle oil and 1 tsp agave syrup.

SANGRIA (recipe from The Food of Spain, A Journey for Food Lovers cookbook)

What goes in:

1 ½ tbsps caster (superfine) sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
750ml bottle of red wine (preferably Spanish)
500ml lemonade
2 tbsps gin
2 tbsps vodka
1 lemon
1 orange
1 lime
Ice cubes, to fill pitcher

How you do it:

Put the caster sugar, lemon juice and orange juice in a large pitcher or bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the red wine, lemonade, gin and vodka. Cut the lemon, orange and lime into halves, remove the seeds and slice all the fruit thinly. Add the slices to the pitcher and fill with ice. Stir well.

A word of warning: this sangria is exceedingly easy to drink and three jugs may have disappeared on our watch. But we managed to put aside our post-sangria hangovers and drag our sorry butts out of bed for an early morning ride on Candice’s lovely gentle horse, Duke, before I hot-footed it off to the airport.

Thanks for yet another wonderful stay, guys!

– Koren

You can make friends with salad // green tea noodle salad

Soba noodles are quickly becoming my most favourite food so imagine my happiness when I stumbled across veggie num num’s green tea noodle salad. A perfect salad to add to my list of salady friends.

Num num num num num. The recipe is over here.

It’s the last week of my six week ‘you can make friends with salad’ challenge. It really hasn’t been a challenge though – more of a pleasure (especially for my taste-buds). I’ve got lots of new salad friends and discovered many delicious blogs to follow. There sure are some talented cooks out there.

Happy salad eating.

Love Alana xx

Get cheeky … buds

I like these guys the best.

Now here’s an idea that’s music to my ears (see what I did there?). Clever Brisbane chaps Edan Norris and Chris Gryg have side-stepped plastic and created trendy eco-earphones almost entirely from wood and cornstarch. Their new and improved Cheeky Buds come with some nifty optional extras and the lot is packaged in a eco-friendly little cardboard box.

They’re selling for $39.95, online only at the moment but possibly in stores sometime this year. And they’ll send you new little caps for $2.50 if you lose them (which I always do).

As Edan and Chris say on their website:

“We all have clued onto the fact that plastic really isn’t doing much positive for the environment – and most likely ends up as landfill that takes over 500 years to break down, or we try to burn it at the expense of creating toxic gases.”

So they popped on their thinking caps and came up with the range of eco buds made from renewable materials. The ear housing is made from US plantation Black Walnut hardwood and the cable is a bond of organic cornstarch and biodegradable plastic. Genius! Word is they sound pretty good, too.

The pair blog over here, if you’re interested. And you can find out a bit more about their story in this article.

– Koren