Marfigs' Munchies

Adventures in vegan eats and feats


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Guide to using up holiday leftovers

HolidayleftoversIt’s something of a law of nature: our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs (no matter how hard we try) in the holidays. So much baking, faffing and sighing, and then the hard, stale reality of excess that sits in the fridge for a week or two to silently judge us. Or, you know, it’s tough to work out portion ratio per person when everyone treats the holidays differently: some as a challenge of excess, and others as a season of torture and self-control so they don’t come out the other end in stretchy pants.

Moreso than my issue with clothes that don’t fit in January is the leftovers that get out of control. Waste makes me sad, because what we usually get rid of is actually edible. This is a little guide to help you plot what you can do with the never-ending crumbles of what you’ve been scoffing.

And before you go a-clicking, don’t forget to download my free mini me holiday ebook 🙂veganxmassplash

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Tofu sprout tacos

tacosides2I was explaining what a parfait was the other day to Man-thing when he suddenly piped up and said that, considering my background, I wasn’t actually a snob. It was random, but rather sweet. Diplomats don’t actually live glamorous lives, and as a kid there was nothing more boring than attending or hosting endless cocktail parties, making small talk about the South African economy with people in suits. I turned out a bit of a mongrel because I didn’t always pay attention, so it still takes me a few minutes to figure out where the knives and glasses go when setting a proper table, or how to eat certain foods. There’s nothing better IMO than standing over a sink eating a mango like a zombie or licking my fingers clean of ketchup and fries, because it’s the absolute opposite of all that pomp and ridiculousness I was exposed to. I’m sure all those diplomats wanted nothing better than to kick off their shoes after a long day and sit together on a couch eating comfort food and shooting the breeze about interesting topics.

Mess appeals, because it’s very much sensory and feels much more indulgent than sipping delicately on bubbly and wiping the corners of my mouth with a dainty piece of cloth. With that in mind, I’ve been very excited to try out this delightful set of taco shells we found at the amazing grocer on the way to the cat shelter, and it’s taken a lot of self control not to just scarf them down like crackers but to actually take the time to fill them and play around with tastes. Continue reading


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Carpe kitties! A day of munchies in photographs and raw custard curd cups :D

So, last Sunday was a pretty big day! I started volunteering at the Be Wise Sterilize shelter for a few weeks now and having the best time ever cleaning litter trays, giving meds, and feeding rascaly cats and kittens. Cats really are my creature of choice when it comes to cuddles and bonding, and all these meows want is love and attention.

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L-R: Plaster, …um, Pig on top and Puff at the forefront. Naptime!

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Sprouted zucchini pasta with sun-dried tomato sauce

I always try to have some side projects going when it comes to baking/kitchen-faffing. A while back I got an awesome three-tier bean sprouter from my colleague Marmiet, so I’ve been sprouting beans for the past week and they have suddenly gone ballistic on us. I’m not sure if they’re over-sprouted (is there such a thing?), but I simmer-boiled (totally a thing) them for 10 minutes with the idea to dash them into all our salads, because we are SO frakkin excited to have made our very own!!

topsproutschick-1res mungbeans-1resI wanted to do something fun with this first batch of mutant sprouts (because the “normal” sprout collection at the supermarket seems very much more subdued than my lot), so with that in mind I set out to make myself a mean “raw” pasta (and in the process break a thousand rules regarding what is actually raw, whoops!). Either way, it is awesome. 😀

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Birthday cakes, snacks, and lentil loaves

Thursday was a day much like any other, except for the fact that I was born a few decades ago and people like to celebrate that sort of thing. I couldn’t figure out why Man-thing looked so giddy when I groggily opened my eyes that morning until he wished me a happy birthday. In order to overcome my apathy I decided to view that day as I would those which actually excite me, such as the very noble world cupcake day – an excuse to gather people together in an enclosed environment and make something they must at least take a bite of. >:) If I had a cape I would wear it in the kitchen for such moments, but as it is I am barely able to put an apron off and end up making a sad mess of myself. Still, elegance can be a trait of aging – a gradual process :p

Because I am slightly compulsive I also figured was a good opportunity to tick something else off of my to-do list: the ominous lentil loaf. There are so many wonderful recipes out there, so unique and vibrant, that it’s difficult to see the woods for the trees, or some such. Many of these recipes also rely heavily on nuts (cups and cups of the stuff!) or bread stuffing, which sounds yummy but is not always suited to everyone’s health requirements. Since my SIL’s own man, Foxtrot, is an avid cyclist (as in 100s of kms!) and tries to avoid starches, I decided to scour the web for recipes that weren’t reliant on too much (or any!) bread or unnecessary gluten. I’m also finding that I have much more energy when I also lessen the amount of carbs I eat, and I like to have my nuts where I can see them and can control my portions. Yes, I need lots of healthy fats, but eating x5 my daily intake in one slice of nom is also a bit much, especially considering my birthday cake was brimming with lovely cashews!

I based my recipe on that of the Simple Veganista – straight-forward, no-nonsense and oh so delicious! My only changes were to sub the pepper for grated marrows and I also added a handful of chopped basil for its beautiful taste. It really came out rather spectacular for a first run! Next time I’ll go wild with mods – some raisins, nuts, etc, but I wanted something everyone could enjoy, or at least taste without horror. :p My MIL was very complimentary, but that might also have been because it was my birthday!

loafcutresNext time I’ll also make a lovely gravy to go atop the loaf – there wasn’t time – but even without the spicy tang of the blushing soy tomato glaze is just enough to give a pleasant shock to the tongue.

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Stringy split green pea soup and a smoothie to go!

Ok, before I get into the whole split pea soup side of things, let me sing the praises of a well-known vegan standard that I have studiously avoided til now: le smoothie. It’s something I decided to try out now that I have some spare time and have direct access to a kitchen (in case I was left starving half an hour later). I also have SO much spinach that I carefully prepared, and with the overflow of salad and mayo-free coleslaw as well, I had to come up with something to do with it all. Cue our hero!

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Man overboard! Stuffed and baked cabbage rolls to the rescue!

Last night Man-thing unexpectedly caught a fever (in the space of half an hour!) so he’s now in bed, suffering and going through the typical hot/cold flashes and other unpleasant symptoms. The problem with such situations is what one can eat, because everything tastes foul or makes you feel rather nauseous. So this morning I quickly decided to bake some yeast-free rye bread to toast, and, in the spirit of not wasting energy, quickly trundled up these gorgeous baked cabbage rolls which I’ve been meaning to make for  a while now. The filling isn’t as glamorous as I’d wanted, but when you’re under pressure time-wise anything will do. Plus, admittedly, the filling is bladdy tasty after all, so worries on that account! Cabbage rolls is one of those things I would have refused to eat a few years ago because a) where’s the cheese? and b) seriously? Lately, however, I’ve been spying it on the archives of many of my favourite food bloggers, and it truly sounds delicious now that my palate is more adventurous and balks at animal produce. So, win-win!

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Broccoli and pumpkin curry with almond butter fried broccoli

This week I’ve been giving glimpses into my different meals – first breakfast, then tea-time snackage, and now lunch! Today’s post is all about comfort food, because stews and curries are exactly that. Making your insides all warm and fuzzy with the added benefit of all-natural veg. yum! I’ve slowly been collecting the ingredients to do this, and they’re pretty straight-forward, admittedly. I’m essentially testing out my curry skills for my secret project for next week. I loathe surprises, so I may spoil it before I actually make the goodies, but in the meanwhile, come summer or coldest winter night, there is really nothing better than flavour and bite to round off our natural instinct to feed. This is like grazing, but amplified.

spoonres

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Cauliflower bean burgers and polenta fries on a Tuesday – utter bliss and naughtiness!

I’ve decided on many things. For instance, I will personally take action in restoring our shiny garden set (or rather, let it be restored). We bought it last year sometime and it is absolutely divine, except for the fact that one cannot sit on the two chairs, nor can you actually use the wooden table which has lifted due to the rain. *sulk*

I will also make macaroons at some point soon, because everyone I’ve spoken to says it is a great evil in their baking adventures. Naturally, pig-headed as I am, this seems to be some galactic challenge. I’m not actually expecting success, but I love the science behind baking and maybe I can get somewhere in discovering the mystical alchemy within the fluffy (or is it crunchy?) clutches of those blasted cookies.It probably doesn’t help that I’ve never had a French macaroon in my life, so anything will taste fine to me, but I know Man-thing may just curl his lips in despair. C’est la vie!

I will, also, have fun during the week and take time to make new and different dishes for Man-thing and myself, wherever possible. Since I have some off-time again coming soon, I decided to set out a to-do list for what I plan to make and bake. Because I lack patience, however, a project that was supposed to be for next week was already completed last night. Ahem.

Cauliflower hummus burgers! I got the recipe from Kiersten over at Oh My Veggies, since I had searched far and wide for a lovely cauliflower-based burger that wasn’t dusted and dry-drowning in flour, which is my usual impression of veg burgers. Not this! I *love* that there’s tahini and lovely beans and that it is simply a magical and easy peasy combination. Honestly.

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Pumpkin gnocchi and back to the grind

Today I am officially back at work, so expect lots of moaning…except not. I actually had an awesome holiday – all the baking, family, and late mornings! I am twitchy, however, about starting up the structured Masters course and getting work on the roll, so it’s best to get it over and done with and rev up the intellectual engines (which are, shall we say, rusty).

To celebrate the end of the holidays I decided to do something different and try my hand at pumpkin gnocchi, because a) I love gnocchi and b) I’m trying to wean myself off of sweet stuff. I spent five or so years living in Milan, which naturally infused my soul and stomach for a love of pasta, pizza, and all those goodies. I must say, I miss the delicious coffee and little treats one could get at any corner shop, but for my health it’s probably best that I am geographically severed from that haven of yeasty and carb-loaded goods.

In fact, I discovered a wonderful resource last night that made me very glee-ful: it lists what veggies and fruit are in season in South Africa at different times of the year (here is the original post linking to seasonal produce in different areas/countries). Usually when the northern hemisphere are perving over berries or whatever I’m usually left miserable because there isn’t even a whisper of such things on the shelves, but I have just come to terms with saving the recipes and testing them out at a later stage – of course, it means that anyone who may be tempted to try what I link or make will have to also adjust accordingly. Oh well! Still, I think cooking and baking in season is the way to go, especially since one can also freeze ahead (although our freezer is rather cramped with soup provisions).

Anyway! Pumpkin is a staple of mine, no matter the season, and I will pay out of my ears to have it in the fridge – healthy, hearty, and versatile! I simply adore the idea of it being useful in baked, sweet goods, as well as the centrepiece or filling for savoury delights. Therefore there was a natural inclination to testing out pumpkin gnocchi, and I’m glad I did!

I used the recipe from Darth Vegan, because it looked to be the most straight forward. I’d run out of rye flour (sadness), so I used nutty wheat, but I’ll try these again with rye since I find it has a less flour-y or wheat-y taste.

I first steamed my pre-cut pumpkin blocks and then roasted them at 180C for about 20 or so minutes to get rid of the excess moisture, since I didn’t want to use extra flour to compensate. After that I rolled them into snakes, but alas I couldn’t get the gnocchi textured lines right with my fork, so they remained without decoration. I ended up plopping them in the boiling water and them frying them for a few minutes on each side on a hot, non-stick pan, just because I was in the mood for something less uber squishy and more substantive. Yum! I paired it with a fresh radish and roasted cauliflower green salad, as well as grilled marrows and baked tofu in a tomato pasta sauce with tikka curry (splashed with a bit of carrot juice). SUPER yum!

onaplateresI apologise for the lack of glamour shots but I was getting hungry! One of my resolutions this year is to set up my tripod (which is collecting dust), and get into the habit of taking action shots. Usually I’m in a spin when in the kitchen so there isn’t time to dust or wash off my hands and take snaps, but planning should ease that process.

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