Mushroom Gyoza (Vegan)

Posted by Penny on June 03, 2013
Cooking, Food, Vegan Recipes / 1 Comment

I love dumplings. And really, who doesn’t? Gyoza are one of my favourites, gently pan-fried on the bottom, steamed on top, with a fantastic dipping sauce. They’re actually really easy to make, my method was taught to me by a Japanese friend. Basically the gyoza are fried, water is added to the frypan and the lid popped on, then when the gyoza are steamed the lid is taken off, you just keep cooking until the gyoza are dry and you can slide them out. Traditionally they would have a minced pork & spring onion filling. You can also do a vegetarian version using wombok (cabbage) and spring onion. But I choose mushrooms!

You will need: A good quality non-stick frypan with a lid.

You can’t make gyoza using this method unless your frypan is non-stick! It doesn’t matter what size your frypan is, mine is about 25cm across and I can make around 15 gyoza at a time.

Gyoza Ingredients:
3 medium-sized mushrooms (regular white ones are great!)
1 spring onion
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
fresh grated ginger to taste (around 1/4 teaspoon)
15 gyoza wrappers (round wheat wrappers from Asian grocery)
1 tsp rice bran oil for frying (or your fave frying oil)

1 cup of warm water (with an optional teaspoon cornflour stirred in) *

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
3 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 spring onion, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon chilli paste
3-5 drops sesame oil

Directions:

1. Combine all your ingredients in a bowl. Finely chop the mushrooms and spring onions, and finely grate the ginger. Add the cornflour and soy sauce and mix well. Grab your frypan and rub the 1 teaspoon of oil over the surface.

2. Start filling the gyoza! Dip your finger in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water, then rub it around the edge of half the wrapper. (The warm water will make the flour on the wrapper gummy so you can crimp the gyoza closed.) Pop about a teaspoon full of filling in the middle, then crimp the wet half closed (if you’ve never made dumplings before this tutorial may help! I only fold mine once as I’m lazy.)

3. Lay your finished gyoza evenly in your oiled frypan. The gyoza shouldn’t be too cramped, if they’re so cramped that you can’t see little patches of frypan around the place they’ll take too long to cook.

4. Pop the frypan on a high heat on your stovetop for around 1 minute until the gyoza start lightly browning on the bottom (use a pair of wooden chopsticks to peek!)

5. Quickly pour the cup of water with optional added cornflour and pop the lid on. Switch the heat to medium-high. Cook for 4-6 mins until the gyoza wrappers have started to cook (they will be ever so slightly translucent and have started to puff up from the heat). If your water is cooking off too fast you can always add a little more. *

6. Take off the lid and cook, still on medium-high, until all the water has evaporated. You can take a peek again by lifting one with your chopsticks! You want them nicely browned and crisp on the bottom but not burned.

7. Serve. If you’ve added the optional cornflour the best way to serve is to pop a plate on top of your frypan and then carefully flip over.

 

Dipping Sauce:

Combine everything, and adjust to taste!

 

* The reason the cornflour is optional at stage 5 is: if you want your gyoza to form a ‘pizza’ with a crispy crunchy bottom (like the above photo!) add cornflour. If you want your gyoza to be easily separable, don’t add cornflour. The cornflour, when cooked, goes from runny to gloopy to crispy crunchy.

 

Ethical Fashion: Baby

Posted by Penny on May 11, 2013
Babies, Fashion, Organic Cotton / 3 Comments

I tend to think it’s easier to buy ethically for babies and kids than for adults, mainly because there are just so many organic kids brands around, and the price per item can often be a lot more comparable to other brands. So, lucky babies! Organic is often said to be better for babies skin, which might be true, however it’s also better for our earth. Organic & fair trade products mean in general the workers have better conditions, and of course handmade is amazing too as we can support local artists and designers! Here are some of my favourite baby pieces.

1. Long Sleeve Bodysuit: Birds in Trees by Sapling. A little family run Australian business, Sapling produces certified organic cuteness for babies. Read our interview with Sapling here.

2. Stripe Hoodie and Play Pant Marle by Broken Tricycle. Practical but super cute clothes for babies and toddlers, PLUS certified organic.

3. Long Sleeve Bodysuit in Atlas Print by Nature Baby. This New Zealand based company have a massive range and have been making organic baby clothing for 15 years – I think their newest range of prints are just fantastic.

4. Organic Penguin Bib by Down Home Amy. Handmade, hand printed, organic and adorable.

5. Handmade Unisex Cotton Spot Sweater by Fable Baby. You may have seen Fable around the design market scene – their baby clothes are so gorgeous you’ll want a grown up version of everything, plus it’s all handmade in Australia and mostly organic.

 

6. Knot Hat – Mushroom by Duns. Duns baby and kids clothes are organic but still have these amazingly vibrant colours – completely Swedish-cool.

7. Green Splotch Bodysuit by Baobab. These guys have some of the most timeless but still on-trend baby and kids styles around, with some great organic unisex clothing for bubs that’s not just lemon yellow!

8. Lap Tee – Construction Red by Winter Water Factory. My only problem with Winter Water Factory is that their baby prints are so amazing the clothes always sell out far too quick. Seriously, go check out the baby romper section and be amazed. Organic and made in the USA.

9. Organic Bodysuit – Bears by Sture & Lisa. More Swedish-cool! Bright, awesome and lots of great unisex in organic cotton again.

10. Juicy Fresh Vinyl Toddler Bloomers by The Smallest Tribe. Handmade from organic cotton, love these colours. Plus, The Smallest Tribe has one of the most positive, kid-empowering messages ever.

 

Let me know if I’ve missed your favourite ethically made baby brand? Penny

Ethical Fashion

Posted by Penny on May 06, 2013
Fairtrade, Fashion, Handmade, Vintage / 1 Comment

If we want to live more ethical & sustainable lifestyles, one of the best places for many of us to begin is to become more conscious consumers. This past couple of weeks the garment manufacturing building collapse in Bangladesh has been on many of our minds. It’s so easy to ignore the pesky knowledge that many of our clothes are made in sweat shops, but I think this past week many of us have said to ourselves ‘I must try harder’. Try harder to spend our hard earned money on businesses that share our ideals, rather than ones who act unethically.

It’s actually fairly easy to shop ethically these days, when there are plenty of Australian made, organic & fairtrade, handmade or secondhand options around. I know organic and locally made clothing often has a bit of a reputation as being rather expensive, so let’s break it down.

 

Secondhand / Vintage
My hands-down favourite way to buy clothing is op shopping or thrifting. I love that buying preloved means I’m getting something someone else might not have. It’s mostly about the thrill of the hunt – you never know what you might find! There’s plenty of vintage and secondhand to be found online as well – eBay anyone?
Pros: you’re reusing an item that’s already been loved – no new resources were used.
Cons: you have to find it first!
Lust-list: Vintage 1960s Blue and Green Silk Tropical Floral Print Wiggle Frock from VintageFrocksofFancy

 

Ethically Made
This is a no-brainer – ethically made means that you’re purchasing something thoughtfully, which is hopefully made of organic fibers and been made by workers who’re paid a fair wage. There are many different accreditation systems for ethically made, but I like to look for fairtrade, organic and eco-friendly items. Ethical Clothing Australia is a good place to begin!

Pros: you’re supporting worker’s rights to a safe workplace and a fair wage.
Cons: there are heaps of labels out there who may not be as eco-friendly or fairtrade as they claim – look for accredited brands or ask questions!
Lust-list: Men’s Triangle Print Tee by People Tree

 

Homemade
Making your own clothes is great. You can get a perfect fit, use any fabric you want, and the sky’s the limit in terms of style! Plus, you can pay yourself whatever you like! Just make sure to try and find some great organic or vintage / secondhand fabrics. Check out your local op shop!

Pros: you made it yourself! Sweet satisfaction.
Cons: you need to know how to sew. You can totally teach yourself though!
Lust-list: Bow Shirt 02 Pattern by BurdaStyle

 

Handmade
And finally, there are so many independent labels around run by talented designers and makers creating clothing in small runs, making one of a kind pieces, or even making bespoke pieces tailored just for you.

Pros: support a local designer, buy something truly unique, and have it tailored just to you.
Cons: are there any?
Lust-list: Pink Flamingo Dress with Peter Pan Collar by Kissyface

If you have any favourite handmade or ethically made labels, great sources for vintage and secondhand or resources for DIY clothing please leave a comment. More posts soon!