no hat required

Halloween didn’t really register on the radar where I live.  OK,  so the confectionery companies do still try to use it as a marketing ploy, but it’s not really a big thing here in Queensland.  I did buy some little chocolate bars just in case of trick or treaters, but there were none.  Viper was very happy with his acquisition of sugary milk chocolate treats.
Something that is a highly celebrated day in Australia, particularly down Victoria way, is Melbourne Cup Day (today).  Basically, it’s a big horse race which gives people the excuse to a) dress up fancy b) drink lots c) gamble d) drink lots e) lose lots of money f) drink lots.  I’ve never been a fan of it, because I don’t like wearing little dresses and high heels, and of course, I’m Cheap.  The drinking part is attractive, but hey, I can do that at home, not pay $8 a glass for some fizzy wine.  I have never gotten a buzz off gambling – probably due to the fact that I’m Cheap, and don’t want to part with my coins.  Some people LOVE it though – what about you?  Love to thrill of the rush?  Double or nothing?
I did attend Race Day once – I think I did pretty well, particularly with the dressing up and drinking.  Winning the big bucks with my betting?  Not so much – the first and only time I’ve gambled on a horse race.
Dressed up? Check.
Fizzy wine? Check.
Large attention seeking hat – nothing to do with races, but fun all the same?  Check.
Tonight’s dinner was cheap, quick and easy.  Much like these girls after a long day at the Melbourne Cup.
I love salad-meals.  It’s an awesome way to use up leftovers (think cooked rice/grains/vegetables) and is pretty quick to assemble.  I’ve made my own “meaty” substitute, which makes this meal preparation a little more time consuming –  but really, you can sub in anything here – chicken, tofu, tempeh, fish, beef whatever you enjoy or have in your fridge.  The sauce is sweet with a nice spicy kick (feel free to add more chilli I added one tiny birds eye, thinking I would need a couple more, but woah these chillies had some BITE.  I rubbed my nose after cutting it, and think I burnt out my nasal passages).  Oh yeah, no MSG in my sauce.  I love the fresh ingredients and vibrant flavours in Thai-inspired dishes…
Thai Coconut Strips: (Based on method in this recipe) 
  • 1/2C coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 T Thai green curry paste
  • 1/4C TVP
  • 1/2C vital wheat gluten
  • 1T onion granules
  • 1/2t ground coriander
  • 1/2t chilli flakes
  • 1t ginger powder
  • 1T soy sauce

  1. Quickly fry off curry paste in a fry pan until fragrant (a few minutes).  Mix into coconut milk, and add soy sauce.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Mix wet and dry together.
  4. Give “dough” a quick knead, and shape (this time instead of the usual sausage roll I just made little patties)
  5. Place in a steamer for 30 minutes.  Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
  6. When ready to serve salad, slice into strips and pan fry.
Sweet Chilli Sauce:
  • 1/2C soaked dates (chop dates and pour about 1/8C boiling water over them to soften)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2C + 3T water
  • 5t lime juice
  • 5t fish sauce
  • 1/2-1 small birds eye chilli, chopped (depending on how hot you like it)
  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor.  Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
Salad Assembly:
This is what I used, but feel free to utilise whatever you have on hand (mushrooms, carrot, broccoli, coloured peppers, bean sprouts, sweetcorn, cashew nuts, toasted coconut, steamed rice, cooked quinoa, noodles etc)
  • Mung bean noodle threads, rehydrated and tossed in sesame oil
  • Dry toasted chopped peanuts
  • Cucumber
  • Fresh coriander
  • Red onion
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Steamed Pak Choy
  • Steamed Pei Tsai
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander, chopped.
I  assemble everything on a large communal platter, with little bowls of sauce, wedges of lime, extra chopped nuts, fried shallots etc.  Everyone helps themselves and creates a plate.  A big free-for-all…just how I like to eat.
I’m not going to put any money on it, but if you’re anything like me –  I bet you’d love this meal.

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About Lou

I'm a stay at home Mum, recipe book addict who can't stick to a recipe to save my life.

10 responses to “no hat required”

  1. Katy says :

    Wow that hat is incredible – I have no words 🙂

    • Lou says :

      Yeah, my old boss (who is a painter/artist/crazy lady) made me it, it got a LOT of attention 🙂 Was sculpted on top of a bicycle helmet!

  2. lindsay says :

    we have friends from Geelong visiting right now and they are missing that! maybe I should make this recipe for them, eh?

  3. Lou says :

    maybe just feed them a LOT of alcohol to soften the pain of missing the Melbourne Cup!

  4. Emmy (Wine and Butter) says :

    I LOVE homemade sweet chilli sauce – you’ve reminded me to make some! I always do it using brown sugar but dates is a great idea. I also totally want to get back into green curry – you should try it with homemade paste – super duper good. Only probs is my broken food processor, which I’m waiting to replace. As soon as that happens I’ll be back in curry paste action!! Youve totally started a thai craving now!!

    • Lou says :

      mmm Thai, so so GOOD! I would love to have a crack at homemade curry paste, just have to get organised and have all the ingredients on hand. The homemade chilli sauce is great with dates, originally I used palm sugar, but the dates are just as good (even better I reckon) sweet and spicy 🙂

  5. Angela @ says :

    Ha ha, this is a great write-up. This dish sounds so yummy. I’ve never worked with vital wheat gluten but you make it sound really easy so I’ve bookmarked this to try ASAP. So glad you stopped by my blog! 🙂

    • Lou says :

      Dude, vital wheat gluten (or they just call it gluten flour here in Australia) is SO easy to work with. I use it in my “Snozzies” recipes too (vegan sausages) It’s almost creepy how similar the texture is to meat. I make up a big batch, and then just freeze it for quick dinners. LOVE your blog, it’s so exciting to have see some Aussie based blogs – familiar products etc. Thanks for having a read 🙂

  6. Yolie @ Practising Wellness says :

    Mmmm…I love salad meals too. They are so filling. Ditto for veggie meals… I had such a huge rich bowl of veggie soup today, into which I dipped roasted kale and steamed broccoli…so yummy! ❤
    I agree with Angela – you make your recipes sound so easy – particularly this one with vital wheat gluten – awesome! 🙂
    And the write up about the melbourne cup day made me chuckle – I'm not a big gambler either…at all…I like to keep my money to spend on food, lol! 😛 xyx

    • Lou says :

      Yum, steamed broccoli is so good, I love it with tahini drizzled all over mmm – have you tried Chinese broccoli? It’s awesome with oyster sauce. Vital wheat gluten is so fun to experiment with – you should try, even the Kiwi might like it, it’s the closest thing to a meaty texture I have ever come across. Viper reckons the sausages I make with it are the best vegetarian sausages he’s ever had (he was a vego for 10 years, so he has eaten a few!). It’s so cheap too which is a bonus 🙂 More $$$ to spend on other fun foodie products!

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