What we are Reading (and Cooking)

The Gluten Free Cooking Mega List!

By Melian Jarvis

These sites are some of my favourite gluten free recipes go-tos. They are mostly gluten free, and mostly Vegan. Note that most of these sites are American, and have recipes containing oats, which are NOT considered gluten free in Australia (and Australian oats can be contaminated with wheat anyway).

Mostly gluten free & mostly vegan - my favourite recipes from the Minimalist Baker  (click through images for full details)

Mostly gluten free & all vegan - my favourite recipes from Oh She Glows  (click through images for full details)

All Vegan & all gluten free - my favourite recipes from Allyson Kramer's Recipes  (click through images for full details)

Vegan & mostly gluten free - Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl  is an archived site but the recipes are really good.

Also Vegan Richa has a lot of flavourful plant based recipes that are inspired by the author’s Indian upbringing, including many gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options

Vegan, some gluten free - One Green Planet is a collection of user recipes, so quality is variable but generally pretty good.

 

Also - It doesn't taste like chicken a fun site that focuses on fuss-free cooking.


Volunteer Spotlight – Micky

Interview by Dea

D: Hi Micky, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed today for Volunteer Week. Can you share with us your pronouns, and your volunteer role here at Alfalfa House?

M: No worries! My name is Micky, he/him pronouns, and I mostly do the jobs of receiving stock, filling the shelves and anything else that needs to be done.

D: When did you start volunteering here and what made you want to start?

M: I started almost two years ago, mainly for two reasons. One, I had just moved to the city from the country and I didn’t really have any connections or friends, those hadn’t developed yet, so that was one aspect. Also, I have volunteered since I was about 15, so it’s always been something I’ve done.

D: So, what was your first volunteer role?

M: I volunteered at an aged-care home when I was in high school. I played games with the people there and cooked them food and stuff, it was fun!

D: That’s sweet! It’s really interesting that you said you started volunteering here at Alfalfa House to make connections and friends. When I first came to Sydney, the first place I went to was the co-op and that’s how I found my first share house.

M: It’s really cool how we can share connections like that through the co-op. Everyone here is so lovely, and they all come from different fields and walks of life, which I really enjoy.

D: Yeah, it is a really great place where people can come together, be accepted and give back.

M: It really is. I love the concept of people consciously coming together and making a difference not only to the community but also to the environment. A big factor for me, is how can we help the environment as much as possible? Alfalfa does its best to do that and demonstrates different ways we can sustainably live in society.

D: In what ways do you see Alfalfa House and our volunteers giving back to the Inner-West Community?

M: Alfalfa House is a space where people can come and connect with others. It also has that open, almost ‘home-like’ feel to it that you don’t get when shopping for your groceries elsewhere, and you can just come in and enjoy the community garden out the back too.

D: I’m not sure if a lot of our shoppers know we actually have a community garden out the back you can spend some time in and just chill out. I love starting my volunteer shift spending a few minutes out in the back garden, ‘grounding’ before I get into it.

M: It is so important that a space like Alfalfa House exists. There aren’t many places like it where you’re just completely welcome.

D: Let’s talk about National Volunteer Week and this year’s theme: “Recognise. Reconnect. Re-imagine.” What does this mean to you?

M: With, “Recognise”, I go straight to how Alfalfa House really recognises the different things we can do as human beings to help the environment, and consciously makes that effort. I think it’s so cool that we now have a container so people can sustainably dispose of their old toothpaste tubes and tooth brushes. It’s important to keep recognising the small things and the difference they make.

D: What does “Reconnect” mean to you as a volunteer?

M: Making connections with new and established volunteers. We’ve just met and instantly connected, but we’ve both been volunteering here for some time, just on different shifts!

D: The last part of the theme is “Re-imagine”. What does that mean to you as a volunteer here at Alfalfa House?

M: Mmm, let’s look around. It would be cool if we could paint a rainbow on the floor or wall! That’s my callout to an artist member who wants to volunteer their time and come in and paint us a rainbow here!

D: The world can always do with more rainbows! Now you’re also an employee here. How did your volunteer work lead you to being employed?

M: I was talking to Carina about being dissatisfied with my then paid job, and she told me that we had an opening and that I should apply. I thought this was amazing, I had been a volunteer for a long time and built these great friendships, I didn’t think that could be an option for me. It really shows how important this space is to connect, and what those connections can bring to your life.

D: That is perfect timing, and really does align with this year’s theme. You were able to form a deeper connection with the people here and be employed in a role that you didn’t consider or see as an option before. Your skills and effort were recognised in a way that allowed you to re-imagine your career, while staying true to your values and goals. 

One last question Micky, what would you say to someone considering becoming a volunteer at Alfalfa House?

M: Definitely do it! It’s enjoyable and nice to know your actions will make a real difference, and that’s all we really have control over in our lives. At Alfalfa House, you can make a difference for the community, the environment, and yourself.

D: That was beautiful and powerful to end on. Thanks so much Micky for what you do and taking the time today for this interview.

M: Thank you, it was fun!!


Myles & Patricia, customer & volunteer duo

Interview by Caroline

Myles: 

"I’ve been shopping at Alfalfa House since I moved to the Inner West five years ago. 

I choose to spend my money here because I strongly believe in co-operative economics, where the aim is to achieve value for members, not dividends to external shareholders, and in minimising negative environmental impacts. 

To me, Alfalfa embodies all the best aspects of being ‘small’. I love that many of the products have a triple benefit of being organically-farmed, supplied directly by known and trusted producers, and are minimally-packaged. 

By bringing my own reusable jars and containers when I shop, I’ve been able to massively reduce the amount of waste that I have to throw in the bin, to the point where many weeks the bin doesn’t have to go out because it’s empty. This is radically different from most for-profit shops, where choosing to buy organic produce means having to accept unnecessary plastic packaging, and half the fruit and veg are out-of-season and from halfway around the world. 

At Alfalfa, there’s no need to compromise on my values. And while some of the produce wouldn’t meet the cosmetic standards of a supermarket giant, it most certainly wins on flavour!'

 

Patricia:

'It wasn’t long after my partner, Myles, introduced me to Alfalfa that I signed up to become a volunteer, back in January 2020. 

My usual shift is Friday mornings, when we get our biggest produce deliveries, bread, and more recently, vegan croissants. During the shift, I work with our amazing produce manager and another volunteer to quickly prepare the store for opening on what is usually a very busy morning. 

I bag the bread, display the croissants, help organise the deliveries by weighing what needs to be priced, bring produce into the shop, refill what’s missing, break down boxes, and anything else that needs to be done. 

I love being part of the Alfalfa community because it’s a caring community. Before I started volunteering, I was heading home after having a rough day. I entered the shop and asked one of the staff if I could sit and stay there for a while because I needed a minute to centre myself. The loving response and welcoming energy I felt that day was undisputedly honest, warm and caring. I was invited to stay as long as I needed, offered a tea, and felt I was being provided a safe space. 

The Alfalfa community cares about the wellbeing of its members and it is always seeking ways to be more involved in important causes, such as waste reduction, green practices, and offering affordable products.'

Myles & Patricia are dog people. They'd love to adopt a rescue but their landlord won’t allow dogs because of their unfenced yard. One lucky dog will get to join them when they next move.

Cat person or dog person, everyone is welcome at Alfalfa House and we're always on the lookout for volunteers. Join one of our inductions to find out more.


Cinnamon Scrolls

Cinnamon Scrolls Recipe (with Vegan Version)

Our Alfalfa House member Ivy shares with us her Cinnamon scrolls recipe. After all the baking fever that 2020 brought upon on, all the ingredients should be in your pantry right now. Further Ivy’s included the vegan version as well. She makes these feel so simple to bake. We have our ovens ready to preheat right now!

Cinnamon Scrolls

If you do bake these cinnamon scrolls, please share your creation on Instagram with #alfalfahouse

Cinnamon Scrolls

Cinnamon Scrolls Recipe (with Vegan version)

Ivy – Alfalfa House Member
These are quick and easy cinnamon scrolls to bake. We use pantry staples (flours, yeast, cinnamon ) and have also included the vegan version.
Course Baking
Cuisine American, Australian
Servings 12 scrolls

Equipment

  • Medium baking tray (approx 35cm×25cm)
  • Baking paper for lining tray (optional)
  • Small bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Large bowl
  • whisk
  • Wooden spoon or a silicone spatula
  • Basting brush

Ingredients
  

For the Dough

  • 330 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g granulated sugar (App. 1/4 cup)
  • 30 g butter (See Notes for vegan version )
  • 1 large egg (See Notes for vegan version )
  • 1 package  instant yeast
  • 120 ml water (App 1/2 cup)
  • 120 ml milk of your choice (App 1/2 cup)

For the Fillin

  • 149 g brown sugar
  • 56 g butter (See notes for vegan version)
  • 15 g ground cinnamon (App. 1 tbsp)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract (1 tsp)

For the Vanilla Glaze

  • 180 g  icing sugar (App. (1½ cups) 
  • 56 g butter (See notes for vegan version)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (5 ml)
  • 45 ml milk of your choice

Instructions
 

  • Combine and warm up milk and water in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of the sugar along with the yeast. Set aside for approx 5 – 10 minutes until the mixture is foamy/frothy.
  •  In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt, set aside. Melt the butter (if using oil, skip this step) ensure it has cooled down, then add to the activated yeast along with the rest of the sugar. Whisk to combine. 
  • In a large bowl, add the yeast mixture. Whisk in the egg to the yeast mixture. Once combined add the flour little by little, switch to a wooden spoon (or spatula) when it gets thick. Mix until you get a nice tacky dough.
  • Knead the dough in the bowl for a bit with some extra flour. This helps get the dough off the sides of the bowl. Transfer onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Knead the dough for 8 – 10 minutes, using your hands. Use a bit more flour if the dough gets too sticky.  Coat the same bowl with a bit of oil, transfer dough to the bowl. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rise for 1 hour
  • Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (or a wine bottle, ensuring the lid is screwed on tight!) into a long rectangle (approx 1cm thick) and baste the top with softened butter (or oil).
  • Combine the cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread the mixture evenly on the dough, then roll the dough up tightly. 
  • Using dental floss or a knife, cut the rolled dough into 12 sections. Line baking tray with baking paper (or lightly bast with oil), then place the rolls onto the tray. Cover tray and let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (or 180°C fan forced).
  • Uncover and baste the tops with butter (or oil). Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes until the rolls are golden brown. Once they are done allow them to cool.
  • While the rolls are cooling make the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, melted butter (or oil), vanilla extract, and milk (extra milk can be added if you want your glaze runnier). Baste the glaze to the top of the cinnamon rolls and they are ready to enjoy!

Notes

For the vegan version 
  • Instead of butter use 30ml of your preferred oil in the dough, 60 ml of your preferred oil in the filling and 60 ml of your preferred oil in the vanilla glaze,. 
  • Instead of egg in the dough, use 1tbsp ground flaxseed and 3tbsp water stirred and left to thicken for 5 mins.
Keyword cinnamon scrolls


Vegan Currant Upside Down Cake

One of our favourite recipes here at Alfalfa House. This is Ran’s upside down currant cake. And an added bonus – this cake is vegan, made with wholegrain flours and unrefined sugars. Guilt-free eating at it’s best! The final baked product is a moist and rich cake topped with currants. Further go ahead and make this vegan upside down cake all year round. It doesn’t rely on any special seasonal foods. After all we are using currants available in most bulk food stores like your very own Alfalfa House.

Jump to Recipe

Note on The Ingredients

This cake uses ingredients that should be quite familiar to all. Except may be Kuzu Starch and/ or arrowroot powder. These 2 ingredients are commonly used in vegan baking. Kuzu root creates a starchy thickening texture and provide structure to the cakes. That is important in vegan baking. When we are missing ingredients like eggs and butter that do provide structure and firmness to cakes (besides fat).

So What is Kuzu ?

“Kuzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is the Japanese name for the kudzu plant and the starch derived from the kudzu root. Kuzu is native to both China and Japan. It is a member of the pea family.” Read more about Kuzu and it’s benefits over here

More Delicious Vegan Upside Down Cake

We have been busy searching for more vegan baking deliciousness. Try baking one of these, if you want more weekend baking projects!

If you do bake this cake, please share your creation on Instagram with #alfalfahouse

Vegan Upside Down Currant Slice

Ran – Alfalfa House
A simple recipe to make a vegan upside down currant cake. This cake is also refined-sugar free and uses whole food ingredients and flours. Guilt-free eating at it's best
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Australian, Baking
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients
  

For the Dry Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups white spelt flour
  • 1.5 cups almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a good pinch of salt

For the Wet Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups sunflower oil (or neutral tasting oil of your choice)
  • 1 cup  rice syrup
  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 2 medium zest of lemons
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

For the Topping

  • 2 cups  currants
  • 1 tbsp kuzu (or arrowroot powder)
  • 1 tbsp agar flakes

Instructions
 

For The Cake Base

  • Pre-heat oven to 180° C
  • Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl
  • Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl – you see the mixture becoming thicker and as the ingredients join together and emulsify
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together without overworking the mixture (this might be runnier than you think a cake ought to be – don’t worry!)
  • If you are going to make cupcakes you can now spoon the mix into 12 cupcake cases in a cupcake tray and bake for 25 minutes or when poked with a skewer the skewer comes out clean (apart from a few crumbs of almond)

Preparing the Toppings (for upside down cake)

  • Combine the currants on a low heat in a small pot.
  • Stir in the kuzu and dissolve.  Stir in the agar flakes.
  • Warming up this mixture is sufficient

Finishing Up the Cake to Bake In Oven

  • Line a 12” shallow tart tin with baking paper
  • Pour in the topping
  • Very carefully pour in the wet mix – you will see the topping coming up and mixing with the cake mix – don’t worry about that, just be as gentle as you can
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until when poked with a skewer the skewer comes out clean
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes
  • Turn out tin onto serving dish and peel away baking paper.
  • Serve in thin cake slices – lovely with a soya yoghurt or lemon sorbet.
Keyword refined sugar-free, vegan, wholegrains

Japanese-Style-Potato-Salad

Japanese style Potato Salad Recipe

I grew up eating potatoes every single day – my parents were Irish. Potato salad is one of my favourite things to eat.  This is a Japanese style potato salad that I found a couple of years ago. I made it for Christmas the first time. This potato salad recipe does take a little time, so I like to listen to a podcast or an interview while I’m preparing this one – Ingrid, Alfalfa House Member

Jump to Recipe
Japanese Style Potato Salad

A Note on Potato Varieties

Potatoes are normally waxy or floury in texture. The waxy potatoes hold their shape when cooked . They are great in a potato salad recipe. Or maybe just boiled and cubed , then served with butter and chopped herbs. Floury potatoes on the other hand, don’t hold their shape so well once cooked and are soft and fluffy. They are ideal for mashed and baked potatoes.

For most home cooks , potatoes are a pantry staple. Use them in stocks and stews, or bake and mash the potatoes in hearty casseroles and pot pies. In Australia, we have a wide variety of potatoes to choose from. And best of all Alfalfa House stocks many of these potatoes when in season (and even some heirloom varieties that we source direct from farmers)

Further Reading on Choosing Potatoes

This link talks about different types of potatoes and when to use them

And here is A guide to every type of potato

How to choose the the right potato for your next meal

Starchy, Waxy, and All-Purpose: Potato Types, Explained

Japanese-Style-Potato-Salad

Japanese style Potato Salad

Ingrid – Alfalfa House Member
An Easy potato salad recipe. Excellent as a side dish accompanied with grilled or BBQ food
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Australian, Japanese
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber peeled in intervals, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small purple onion thinly sliced
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 kg Kipfler potatoes or any other potatoes of your choice
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup Kewpie mayonnaise I like the flavour of this mayonnaise. You can substitute any other mayonnaise of your choice.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Toss the cucumber and onion in a little salt and drain for 15 mins.
  • Rinse off the salt and dry on paper towel. 
  • Bring small saucepan of water to boil and hard boil eggs – maybe 6 – 8 minutes
  • Transfer eggs into iced water and tap the shells all over while in the water – this makes it much easier to peel the eggs.Peel and roughly chop
  • Cook sliced carrots in boiling water for 3-4 mins, cooked and not mushy.
  • Cook potatoes and peel while hot. Roughly chop and mash, season with salt – or not.
  • While potatoes are still warm – not steaming hot – add the vinegar, half the mayonnaise, cucumber, onion, carrot and eggs and mix together. 
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and add more mayonnaise if required. I personally use less than a cup of Kewpie.
Keyword potato salad