Fossicking Adventures, Tofu and Coconut Cake

If you ask my family what I always wanted for Christmas and birthdays when I was a kid, they’ll answer in unison: a powerful telescope, a metal detector and a Stable Table.  Well, they ended up buying me one of those three.  In my thirties.  Folks, let me tell you I’m still not doing any stargazing or living out my Indiana Jones fantasies (digging up artefacts, people!).  But I am enjoying tv dinners in stable table style.

A few weekends ago, we had a family lunch at my uncle’s house which is about an hour’s drive out of Melbourne.  Such a beautiful place that backs out on to the State Forest.  Check out their view. Ahhh, Australia!


My uncle got the fires going:



Being the only vegan in the village, and my sister now being vegetarian, we took our own food.  I made two firm tofu recipes from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan: the Cumin Lime Tofu and the Orange Sesame Tofu.  Delicious!  These were cooked up on a flat plate with some zucchini and mushrooms:


We ate our lunch on one of the many picnic tables my aunt set up:


I also took a cake along.  I made Dreena’s Coconut Cake with the Coconut Dream Frosting.  Which wasn’t coconut-dreamy  at all, as I didn’t realise I had zero coconut essence.  And I also dropped in too much almond essence.  So it ended up being coconut cake with more of an almond dream frosting.  Regardless it was still yum and fortunately the people who tried it love marzipan so they said the almond frosting was great:


My brother in law recently bought a metal detector and brought it along.  I was so excited because I am a massive dork that way.  There was a dry creek bed near my uncle’s house, which may have seen some action in the gold rush days.  We started digging when the detector went all beep beep woowooowoooo.  We spent half an hour digging and sifting through small piles of dirt only to come up with absolute crap.  But we did find this, which was kinda fun:


And this was the walk back to the house:


I’m definitely a city girl but I can’t deny that being out there in these surroundings really does good things to one’s spirit  🙂

Sloppy Joes at Las Vegan Cafe

I never knew that sloppy joe referred to food.  Growing up, a sloppy joe was always an item of clothing.  I think it was only a few years ago that I discovered it’s also something you eat.  I always meant to try the food version but it’s not the sort of thing my family go for, so I never bothered.  And to be honest, the idea of a kind of bolognese sauce in a bread bun didn’t appeal much to me either.

Well, the other day I had some business to do in Collingwood and Las Vegan was very closeby so that’s where I went to eat, being a hungry vegan and all.  I’ve been there before and enjoyed my nachos but this time I saw the sloppy joe and knew right away that’s what I’d get.

The cafe was quite full with only one person serving but the atmosphere was laid back.  To be honest though, I was starting to get a little peeved after half an hour when my meal still hadn’t arrived.  It arrived bang on the forty minute mark, with an apology for the delay which was appreciated. I was in a hurry that day too, hence feeling a bit frustrated at the wait.  Behold:


My sloppy joe and chips sure looked great (in person, not so much in this photo).  Unfortunately the sloppy joe itself was cold.  Now, maybe it’s supposed to be that way, I don’t know.  In which case, I’d prefer the meal be warm.  If it’s supposed to be cold, it’s not something I’d order again.  I’m just not a cold meal person but hey, I put my salads and icecream in the microwave so feel free to ignore me.

Welll.  The sloppy joe tasted awesome.  The mushroom mince was great and the bun, although a bit too cold compared to the mince, was good and thick and chewy.  The chips were just right too although I’m not a fussy chip person these days.  I was absolutely stuffed.

A word of caution: ask for extra paper napkins.  It’s called sloppy for a reason.  The sauce was running down my hands and one napkin wasn’t enough.  Hell, take a packet of baby wipes or something!  Or maybe it’s just because I’m a sloppy eater.

Despite the delay in getting my order (on a day when I was already frazzled and in a sooky mood I admit) and the temperature of the meal, I’d definitely return.  Las Vegan have some great food and I look forward to trying other items.  When I left, I realised I was charged less than what the menu stated.  Perhaps this was because of the delay?  I don’t know, but I’m definitely going back!

Here are some pics of the drive back home:



Las Vegan Cafe is located at 22 Smith Street in Collingwood.

Some Stuff We Eat and Some Food Stuff We Say in Australia

I thought I’d put together a blog post on ‘Aussie’ foods, or food experiencess, I’ve had in my life.  It’s a bit tricky because most is non vegan and I only like to feature vegan foods.  I do have a lot of vegetarian readers so for this post I’ll show images of vegetarian stuff (mostly sweets!).

I also thought I’d mention some of the words we say for various food items, that have other names in (mostly) North America.

In Australia, we say biscuit for cookie.  Even though we use the word cookie, it’s seen as more of an American word.  If my children ask for an Oreo, they either say Oreo or biscuit (photo from Wikipedia).  Oh, and we say fairy floss, not cotton candy:



We say scones, elsewhere say biscuits.  Scones are made from self raising flour, butter, milk and salt then baked in the oven (photo from


Scones! (cooked in the oven)

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong here.  In Australia we say plain flour for ‘all purpose flour’.  We say self raising flour, I think, for ‘cake flour’.  Basically it’s plain flour with raising thingies added, so you don’t have to add in baking powder to a recipe.  For corn flour, we mean corn starch– often added as a thickener to a sauce for instance (photo from White Wings website.  When you’ve got a White Wings mum, you’ve got it maaaaade):


Self Raising flour! Used for baked goods that need to rise, like cake

Here we say jam, in North America you guys say jelly.  Growing up, I never understood why American kids would eat peanut butter with jelly (photo from the IXL site):


Jam on Scones!

An Australian sweet treat is a lamington.  It’s a sponge cake cut in to a cube and covered in chocolate icing then rolled in dried coconut.  Some are plain inside but others have cream or jam, or both (photos from Wikipedia and respectively):


Cream filled lamington


Jam filled lamington

Arnott’s Assorted Creams were the cause of many a battle between siblings when I was growing up.  In the pic below (taken from starting from top left going clockwise, we have Delta Cream, Orange Slice, Monte Marlo (this had to be separated before you ate it, or you would be thrown in jail), Kingston (my favourite, fortunately there’s a good vegan alternative!) and Shortbread Cream.  Or as Arthur used to say, and we never corrected him, Shortbread Crimes:


Arnott’s also had the non-cream variety packs:


Okay, I think that’s enough of the biscuits.

Pies (unfortunately the very non-vegan variety, aka gristle ‘n’ gravy) are considered an Aussie staple by some. They’re sold at sporting matches and are pretty much everywhere.  The more well known brands are your typical high fat high salt massively processed parcels of grossness.  There are loads of variations and yay we also have some great vegan options (photo from Where’s the Beef).  Now, I grew up thinking Americans only ever ate hot dogs at baseball games.  The Australian equivalent is pies being eaten at our footy (Australian Rules Football) games:


Sausage rolls are very common here.  We had these for dinner tonight using the recipe I borrowed from Where’s the Beef.  I add in finely food-processor-chopped raw cauliflower and omit the breadcrumbs:


When I was in primary school (about 1980) a popular frozen treat was a Sunny Boy.  Another flavour was called Razz and was more raspberry flavoured.  Collectively, they were referred to as ‘frozens’.  Because… they were frozen. Basically it was a frozen pyramid of sugar and nasty colours and additives.  Now, if you were lucky, sometimes the inside of your packet would have a special stamp called a Lucky, which entitled you to get another frozen for free.  It was quite an experience finding a Lucky.  I think they’re still around and I would hope they’re not as nasty as they used to be.  I couldn’t find a picture of the 1980s packaging:


A ‘Frozen’ cost 5 cents when I was in primary (elementary) school.

I’ll leave you with some incredibly dorky old TV commercials.  Wow, I almost can’t believe TV ads were so cringey.  Believe me, there are many more examples…

(highly effective, people still tell their kids to Slip Slop Slap)

(highly effective… because people still quote this kid.)

I think our tv ads these days are only sliiiightly better.  But none beat this:

If I had to name one favourite thing about Melbourne, it’s our multiculturalism. When people have asked me a question like “what’s a typical Australian dish”, I don’t really have an answer because there’s just so much on offer!  I’m reminded of an article I once read quoting a survey saying the number one favourite English food was curry. Thinking of the meals my mum made growing up, there were lots of Greek dishes of course but nothing fancy like moussaka, more just simply every day dinner foods.  These days, my mother will cook curries, Asian stir fries, Italian, you name it.  I absolutely love that I can find whatever cuisine I like (I assume!  I still have to track down a place that makes food from Panama!)

I’ll leave you with this video of a favourite song of mine growing up.  Thanks to Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe for reminding me!

Lunch at Fina Vietnamese Vegetarian Cafe, Richmond

Husband and I were passing through Richmond and I loaded up the Happy Cow app, as you do, because my stomach was growling.  And while we were waiting in traffic and for the app to load, I spotted a sign saying Fina Vegetarian Vietnamese food.  I hadn’t tried Fina so I was very pleased to just get Husband to pull over in to a convenient parking space right outside Fina!

I looooove Vietnamese food but haven’t been to a Vietnamese cafe since my pre-vegan days.  I asked the friendly dude there if they had vegan options and he said pretty much everything in the menu book is vegan.  Win!

The menu book contains pictures of the dishes they offer.  Husband wasn’t hungry so he went off to be a geek somewhere while I stuffed my face with this amazing curry for $10.50 (and it was a big bowl, though I could easily have gone for another serving of rice):


This was one of the nicest curries I’ve had and I would love to learn how to replicate it.  I ate the leftovers in the bowl like soup.

Fina have a big lot of cakes and desserts in their counter display but none are vegan.  Still, I’d happily return for more of this delicious curry.


Fina has been visited by Where’s The Beef here and here .

Fina Vegetarian Vietnamese Cafe is located at 268 Victoria Street, Richmond. 

Weeks That Were And Food That Was

Here are a bunch of photos of general random stuff.  Including food photos that I forgot all about.  So this post is kind of a “what was eaten over the past month or so plus extra stuffs”.

First up is my latest addition to my kitchen family: a new rice cooker.  My old one had all the bits inside the metal pot flaking off.  And it had a glass lid which was really annoying because the foamy steamy bits would bubble out of the cooker and make a mess.  I loooove my new rice cooker:


I bought the rice cooker from Myer because I had a gift card.  Here are the Myer displays in the city store:




Our house was built in 1930.  The kitchen has an alcove area for cooking which looks cute but it is really quite rubbish.  And it leaks too.  We had some torrential rain here recently.  See?


Water dripping through the ceiling.  We’re hoping to have our kitchen renovation done this year.  I’m hoping the ceiling will last that long.  Our walls are actually a nice mauve colour, the photo makes them look a bit blergh:


Do you forget to take your daily vitamins and B12 during the week?  Me too.  These two brands are vegan and I purchased them from


DeeW loves these mosaic things.  They keep her occupied.  Me?  I don’t know if I can handle any more pink and purple unicorns:


A closeup of the wall that always looks like dirt in my photos, but it’s actually burnt.  Thanks to me switching our portable grill on but forgetting to move it away from the wall.  The smell of burning paint alerted me ten minutes later:


My friend J and I had met up in North Melbourne and went to an op shop nearby.  I had to take a photo of this shelf labelling…


We saw this gorgeous old phone in an antiques store, where we drooled over the breakfast sets that sadly cost $500 each:


I went to Savers and found this awesome old fabric collage.  I never look at the frames area in Savers because I don’t need any but I noticed a woman holding this frame and peering closely at it.  As soon as she put it back and walked off I went to take a look.  And my immediate reaction was YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE SISTAH! And I bought it.  It was tagged at $49.99 but I had a 20% discount.  I adore this and would have happily paid more.  It makes me happy because it contains a fabric I had when I was little (the pink paisley) and I still have the pillowcase.  The trim bits remind me of the clothes my grandmother used to make from scraps for my dolls. I bought this for DeeW but well, it’s kinda mine now:







My friend T and I went to lunch at Cafe Sarabella:


Wishing Chips!  You may remember these from your school days if you’re my age (old).  If you got a wishing chip in your packet, it was SOMETHING MAJOR.  Now I get bunches of wishing chips in a packet.  It’s not the same anymore  😦


I made orange sesame baked tofu from a Dreena Burton recipe:

Oat and cranberry biscuits with some coconut and hemp seed thrown in:


80s hair Barbie photobomb of hazelnut banana smoothie:


I made some biscuits with cranberry, millet flour and corn flour.  Those flours have a weird aftertaste which I can handle, but the kids thought was yuck.  In a bizarre turn of events, Husband really liked them:


I went to a family function and made this delicious coconut cake from one of Dreena Burton’s cookbooks:


Mum made a batch of kritharaki:


My friend J and I ate lunch on Errol Street in North Melbourne.  I had this vegan burger with salad.  The burger pattie was nice but the salad had iceberg lettuce and well, I kinda think iceberg lettuce should remain in the house.  I’m a lettuce snob, just cos:


I finally got to visit a Crumbs bakery.  All these goodies you see are vegan.  I got a donut with chocolate icing.  It was okay but I probably wouldn’t buy it again:



Mr Banana in vintage pink cardigan:


And that’s about it.  The weather is is quite cold and rainy so this week’s meal plan will hopefully include a lot of stews and curries.  I would say I love cold weather because I get to eat hot curries, but I make those in summer too…