A Very Veganopoulous Christmas

However you celebrate December 25th, or whatever you chose to do today, I hope it was a great day! In Melbourne we had a hot sunny day though fortunately not horrendously hot (though we were sitting in shade at Mum and Dad’s house so it was all nice).  The only downside to Christmas this year was none of the tv stations screening ‘A Very Brady Christmas’.  WHAT IS GOING ON???

Anyway, true to Family Veganopoulous form, we cooked enough food for twenty people even though there were only six adults and two children. We have many days worth of leftovers so it’s all good, as I don’t particularly want to see the stove again for another few months.  Just plop me down on the edge of my sofa waiting for Mike Brady to get out of the collapsed building and life is good.

What I loved most about Christmas lunch this year was how everything on the kitchen table buffet was vegan. The bbq stuff for the meat eaters was outside. It really struck me just how much vegan food a lot of omnis eat without actually realising it, so when people do the “ewww vegan food!” thing, they don’t see they’re probably already eating it– they just have meat on the plate too and getting rid of the meat isn’t really that much of a big deal after all.

But let’s start with breakfast.  This year I said no special breakfast, because last year the kids only ate the unhealthy part, then we stuffed ourselves at lunch.  So this year’s offering was fruit:

Fruity breakfast

Here’s the table at lunch.  You can see the Island Black Bean Burgers and Bistro Beet Burgers from Isa Does It, but I forgot to take a closeup:

vegan Christmas table

I made the Lemon Dijon Green Beans from Dreena Burton’s ‘Let Them Eat Vegan!”:

Lemon Dijon Green Beans

My sister made a delicious roast eggplant dip:

eggplant dip

Sis also made the Quinoa Olive Tabouleh from Let Them Eat Vegan!:

Olive Quinoa tabbouleh

I made the Kale Salad with Butternut Squash & Lentils from Isa Does It, minus the lentils:

kale pumpkin salad

My sister always roasts up potatoes, sweet potato and pumpkin:

roast veggies

From ‘Appetite For Reduction’ by Isa Chandra M, I made the Masala Baked Tofu:

masala baked tofu

My mum made a coleslaw with a simple dressing:

slaw

There was a Jamie Oliver Christmas show on the other day and he made a celeriac dish. We’ve never eaten celeriac before so my mum made the recipe. I think it’s just the celeriac in olive oil plus thyme. It was nice though I don’t think I’d buy celeriac myself:

Jamie Oliver thyme celeriac

Mum made some plain pilafi rice:

Greek pilafi rice

Mushrooms and onions, yum:

mushrooms and onions

I was totally stuffed from THIS.  Check out the herbi goodness!

my vegan plate

Being stuffed from lunch didn’t stop me from eating a big fat piece of Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries from Leigh Drew’s ‘Veganissimo!’:

chocolate raspberry tart from Veganissimo

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I did heaps of baking. Here is what I made and gave out to people.  We have the Rosemary Choc Chip Cookies and Norah’s Lemon Lemon Cookies (which didn’t turn out flat) from Isa Does It; some coconut macaroons I put together randomly; Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Woman in Real Life plus a hazelnut version and a peanut version; some raw balls I made up from nuts, dates and chia:

assorted baked vegan treats

I’ll try to blog about the recipes individually, but everything was pretty much great. Even if things didn’t turn out texture/consistency-wise great, it still tasted fab.
Despite all that food, today was fairly low key. Usually I have some relatives visiting from interstate on Christmas day but they won’t be here for a few days. I’m sure my parents will enjoy the quiet time until then.

Before I go, I’d like to share this awesome book Arthur received. Oh man you guys, I am so SO tempted to claim it for myself. It’s called ‘Archi-Doodle: An Architect’s Activity Book” by Steve Bowkett. You can fill stuff in and make up your own designs, with prompts like “complete the panorama with your vision of the future:

Archi-Doodle book
***
And now, all I want for Christmas is a good night’s sleep! All the hustle-bustle is over, Arthur and DeeW have new books to read and games to play. I’ve realised that even though the baking can get on my nerves in summer, I have enjoyed giving home made treats as gifts (and freezing biscuits/cookies really is helpful, as long as you don’t keep eating them and having to bake more…) Quite a few of the presents I bought for others were second hand: a box of 48 unused Prismacolour pencils for DeeW bought cheap on eBay because the seller got the description wrong and had zero bids mwahaha; the tea cup-saucer set for my brother in law was from a collectables store. I bought copies of ‘Isa Does It’ for some relatives then purchased some of the ingredients to go with it (a kind of baketivism I guess!). Through purchasing vegan cookbooks as gifts in the past, my family have changed their eating habits to include more vegan meals and my sister has now stopped eating fish and meat completely. By default, my mum now mostly cooks vegan and is quite happy to be meat free herself (my dad, not so much!)

Best wishes for a super holiday season!

Brady Christmas

Brady Christmas

A What-I-Ate-And-Forgot-To-Blog-About-Again post

I’ve been crazy busy baking lately.  I decided to give out tasty vegan treats for Christmas this year.  The grand plan was to bake things I could freeze before hot weather kicked in, so I wouldn’t have to bake closer to Christmas if the weather was foul (as in hot).  Now the big problem with this grand plan, in case you can’t see it (though I think it’s big enough to fit the orbit of a small planet) is this.  TREATS.  FREEZER.  Now what do you get when you walk to the freezer to remove said treats?  You get TREATS FOR OTHER PEOPLE EATEN. So I have to keep baking.

This year I’d planned to decorate the house more Christmassy, do crafts with Arthur and DeeW and make a fabric wreath for the front door.  None of that happened because our short getaway got in the way of all that.  The kids decorated the tree.  Yes, that is a small patch of paint that has come off thanks to blu tack.  Toad is this year’s Christmas star ornament and there’s also an angel (that purple thingy) DeeW made:

Our Christmas tree

Decorations from when I was little:

vintage Christmas decorations

DeeW likes to decorate with her toys:

our Christmas tree

Our mantel in the lounge room:

Christmas mantel

…and what you see when you zoom out a little:

Christmas mantel

With our family holiday this month, I’ve been forgetting to blog about what I’ve eaten.  I did manage some photos here and there.

First up: VEGAN POUTINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some may remember my rather pissweak attempt at poutine on Canada Day.  Welllll as it turns out, Lord of the Fries serve vegan poutine.  It’s not my fault they only call it ‘French Canadian” on the sauces menu.  I would have noticed poutine and pounced otherwise.  Anyway, LOTF’s poutine was deeeelish.  I know where I’m going next Canada Day.  Gosh I hope they didn’t give me dairy cheese, I did specifically ask for vegan but you never know.  Disgusting looking photo:

Lord of the Fries French Canadian Poutine

 Speaking of fries, the Philips Air Fryer has been faithfully churning out chips.  I use a teaspoon of oil, even though the instructions say use a tablespoon.  Still tastes fine to me and the less oil the better I say.  We call these air fries:

air fries

I went to Divine Realm Veggie Delight and got a serving of their tofu and veg curry, a mock meat with green beans and I asked for a few pieces of the mock duck with sauce.  I went well after the lunch rush was over, nobody was around, so I think they pretty much gave me what was left.  Which meant a massive serve.  I’m confused though, did they change their name from Chan House?  Or was it always like this with two names?  Anyway, food is yum:

divinerealmmeal

I made some chickpea patties that weren’t popular with anyone but me. At least DeeW ate all the veggies on her plate:

chickpea patties with veg

I can’t even remember what this is… I think it was based on the Cambodian Noodle Salad from The Kind Cook:

 Noodle Salad

The Classic Baked Tofu from Isa Does It plus some garlicky cashew topped noodles:

basked tofu cashew noodles

I think this may have been the Sizzling Mongolian Kantong packet mix, with veggies and mock duck on brown rice:

Kantong Mongolian with veg and mock duck

Vegan pizza time with Notzarella, which I really like using:

vegan pizza with Notzarella

I think I just roasted some veg and tofu here and mixed it all up.  Nothing flash:

mixed veg tofu

Husband and I went to Zaatar and I got my usual.  This costs about $4:

zaatar pizza

I’ve been making lots of juice in my new juicer.  I’m so happy that Arthur and Husband will drink a juice made with greens.  I add some sweet fruit to theirs, like orange and apple:

Fruit and greens juice

familyjuice2

juice1

green juice

A berry smoothie with hemp oil:

berrysmoothie

Green smoothies of some sort, with a bit of chlorella.  Which makes it sound like a diseased drink:
chlorellasmoothie

chlorellasmoothie2

DeeW loves a Planet Box with fruit:

Fruit Planet Box

Some time ago I bought this sweet coconut spread.  It’s okay but I don’t know why I bought it.  It was on sale and I must have been in a “buy something on a whim” mood:

coconutspread
I picked up this Wot No Dairy? dessert, to use in a cake that called for vegan yoghurt.  Must admit I tried really hard to like it, but failed:

wot no dairy
This was the cake, but ah, I don’t even remember what recipe I used:

some kind of cake

My mum had made an apple rhubarb compote and I plopped some on the plate with my cake:

some kind of cake

Last night we thought we’d be clever and drive in to the city to see the Myer Christmas windows.  We thought surely it won’t be busy on a Sunday evening.  The queue was looong and when we lined up an attendant told us this was the middle of the queue.  The end of the queue was waaaaaay down there.  Over an hour long to wait.  So we decided to go and get dinner instead.

DeeW liked this big door:

big red door in the city

These are the Melbourne Bike Share hire bikes:

Melbourne bikeshare

The Christmas tree in the city square.  It was raining and I didn’t want to jaywalk to get a better photo:

Christmas in Melbourne 2013

Bourke Street Mall all dressed up:

Bourke Street Mall

Bourke Street Mall

Melbourne Town Hall:

Melbourne Town Hall

And this was the sky when we got home:

sunset

Hope you’re all having a peaceful lead up to the holidays  😀

A short birthday holiday: Inverloch and Phillip Island

This past week saw us take off on an early ‘summer’ holiday.  Early, because we like to go on holidays when school kids are still in school, so holiday venues and tourist spots are not crowded.  And ‘summer’ there is in quotes because the night before we left, I checked weather forecasts, unpacked most of the summer gear and replaced it with winter clothing.  Because we saw this weather most of the time we were away:

inverloch weather

The drive there had lots of this:

Melbourne to Inverloch

Melbourne to Inverloch

DeeW has turned six and her birthday was on the second day of our holiday.  A couple of days before we’d ordered a cake from Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop and ate it with family and packed the leftovers.  Delicious!

Mister Nice Guy's Bake Shop unicorn milkshake cake

We received some discount specials on accommodation in Inverloch and Phillip Island so when we booked them over a month ago, we assumed we’d have some nice warm weather and hang out at the beach swimming.  Ha! Regardless, they’re both great holiday spots.  Here was our view from our fancy pants (as in, we got a big fat discount) cabin in Inverloch:

inverloch cabin

inverloch cabin

The cabin, before we messed it up.  I took care to enjoy this one, because our cabin in Phillip Island was kinda divey in comparison:

inverloch cabin

We walked along the beaches admiring shells and rock formations:

inverloch1

inverloch10

inverloch9

We went to the shell museum which had a fantastic collection and good information for kids and adults alike:

Shell museum Inverloch

Shell museum Inverloch

Shell museum Inverloch

Pretty green shells!

Shell museum Inverloch

I found a store called Green Heart Organics.  Although not vegan, there were a lot of products you’d find in many vegan kitchens such as my own:

Green Heart Organics Inverloch

Green Heart Organics Inverloch

Nearby were these tile mosaics:

Inverloch tile mosaics

We drove up to Korumburra to visit Coal Creek Community Park and Museum, which showcases life from the 1870s to the 1920s after coal was discovered in the region.  Not everything was open (we missed out on a train ride) but there was still much to see and learn.  Most of the staff are volunteers.  Photo time!

Coal Creek Korumburra

The spinners room.  I felt a bit embarrassed taking a photo of the two women in period costume because I was talking to them and felt awkward doing the whole “say, can I take a photo?” thing, even though they have a million photos taken:

Coal Creek Korumburra

I wanted to steal this dear little housey:

Coal Creek Korumburra

Shoes!

Coal Creek Korumburra

Truly vintage hair styling tools:

Coal Creek Korumburra

The music school:

Coal Creek Korumburra

The general store, where I had a lovely conversation with the woman there.  She was very complimentary of the homeschool kids that come in which was fantastic to hear.  Too often we get a lot of silly comments, so when people in an education role are very positive and tell you how much they enjoy working with the home ed kids, it’s very special:

Coal Creek Korumburra general store

Coal Creek Korumburra general store

Coal Creek Korumburra general store

 Coal Creek Korumburra general store

Coal Creek General Store

DeeW made a friend:

Coal Creek Korumburra

Inside the Pig and Whistle Cafe (no vegan options unfortunately, but I didn’t expect anything different as such places rarely have vegan food):

Coal Creek Korumburra Pig and Whistle Cafe

As usual, I walk around taking photos of doors, wood paneling and windows:

Coal Creek Korumburra

Coal Creek Korumburra

From Inverloch, we drove to Phillip Island.  Phillip Island is famous for the penguin parade, motor sports events, Australia’s largest fur seal colony as well as beaches and being a great holiday spot in general.  We only had two days there,which is hardly any time at all.  We did go to the penguin parade which was pretty good, though you are not allowed to take any photos, flash or not, so unfortunately I don’t have any to share with you. Here’s an image from the official Phillip Island tourism website (clicking on the image will take you there):

Phillip Island penguin parade

We walked along the beaches, though it was quite cold so we didn’t stay there long:

Cowes beach

Amaze’n Things has a maze, mini golf, puzzles, vertical drop slide and whacky zany rooms.  There was the anti gravity room, which had a warning sign about possibly feeling nauseous.  I felt nauseous alright.  I had to get out of there as I get motion sickness easily.  Arthur and DeeW liked the big tap outside.  I would quite happily put something like this on my house, but more so if it was a teapot pouring:

Amaze'n Things tap

Amaze'n Things mini golf

Arthur and DeeW said their favourite place was the Phillip Island Panny Chocolate Factory.  What’s not to love about free samples, and printing out squiggles of (non-vegan) chocolate that you can eat? Husband liked it too.  Me, I tend to be pretty mehhh about these kinds of places but had to admit it was better than I expected.  These games, where you could win these wooden balls then exchange them for chocolate, were pretty addictive:

Panny Chocolate Factory

Panny Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Not to be outdone, I bought myself vegan dark peppermint chocolate:

Panny Phillip Island Chocolate Factory

Some old advertisements for chocolate.  The photos are larger so you can read the print.  Even if you can’t be bothered, just remember that MOTHER IS THE QUARTERMASTER– THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OVER RATIONS:

Panny Phillip Island Chocolate Factory vintage chocolate ads

Panny Phillip Island Chocolate Factory vintage chocolate ads

Panny Phillip Island Chocolate Factory vintage chocolate ads

Panny Phillip Island Chocolate Factory vintage chocolate ads

On the way back to Melbourne, we stopped off at the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine and went on the underground tour.  This was really interesting, just when you think you know all about the horrible conditions miners had to work in, you learn some new information that makes you realise it was worse than you previously thought:

Wonthaggi State Coal Mine

We visited Cobber the pit pony, who hadn’t done a day’s work in his life apparently:

Cobber the Pit Pony at the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine

Before we left home, I had prepared a lot of meals for myself in anticipation of zero vegan dining options.  Here’s a selection of What I Ate.

Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry from Isa Does It.  I used salt-and-peppered soy chunks:

Isa Does It Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry

Also from Isa Does It, the Roasted Vegetable Romesco Sandwich:

roastedcauliromescosandwich

Pasta with walnut mince made with walnuts, olive oil, tamari and oregano, mixed in with some tofu bacon and the leftover romesco sauce:

walnut mince tofu bacon spaghetti

I brought along a supply of muffins made with kamut flour and some biscuits:

vegan muffins and biscuits

I took my blender along so I could keep a smoothie in the car during the day.  I only made two smoothies.  Next time, no blender:

smoothie

I had made some blueberry waffles at home and frozen them for the holiday:

blueberry waffles

In Inverloch we had pizza dinner for DeeW’s birthday.  The pizza bases were vegan so I got myself a vegie-minus-cheese pizza.  Vegan pizzas like this from standard pizza joints tend to be bland, but this pizza joint on A’Beckett Steet (it might have been called The Pizza Pasta Place, with a large eat-in area) poured some minced garlic over the top which was a tasty touch:

Inverloch vegan pizza

Sausage sizzle, vegan style:

vegan sausage sizzle

I made myself a Fry’s burger with some kale and roasted red peppers:

Frys vegan burger

In Phillip Island I was happy to find Cowes Indian restaurant, located at 134 Thompson Avenue in Cowes.  I went in and asked if their vegetarian dishes were vegan and the friendly fellow there said they could make up whatever I liked.  I got the Baingan Masala (eggplant cooked with, peas, onions and tomatoes) with a serving of coconut rice and plain roti.  The leftovers were eaten for breakfast:

Cowes Tandoori Indian Restaurant

My meal was lovely, I ate there on my own while Husband, Arthur and DeeW sat across the road in the pizza parlour.  Bliss!

Cowes Tandoori Indian Restaurant

I found some gelato that appeared vegan when I checked the ingredients list:

Vegan Gelato in Cowes

I also had another vegan pizza from Jessie’s Pizza.  The chap at the counter was very friendly and told me what the bases were made from and he would use different gloves to make my pizza.  When he brought it out to me he said he used a new pizza cutter.  That’s big to me, lots of places don’t understand why you don’t want hands or cutters that have touched animal products to touch your food:

jessiespizza1

One big thing I realised on this family holiday was that Mum wasn’t really on a holiday.  Mum often still has to wash up, cook, clean, deal with arguing children, make sure everyone has jackets and water bottles and so on.  Arthur, DeeW and Husband are very forgetful about such things.  I knew there were some op shops in Cowes so I said to Husband see you all later, I’m going to the op shops.  From the Rotary op shop I bought some old glass jars, a round silicone cake tin and some books:

old glass jars

op shop Australiana books

I found this tennis set in an antiques and collectables store and bought it for my brother in law for Christmas.  He likes tea with biscuits and cake so I think this will suit him fine:

Alfred Meakin tennis set

For myself, I bought this magazine rack from another collectables store.  I think I’ll put my library books in there:

old wooden magazine holder

I bought this carnival glass bowl in a lovely collectables shop in Korumburra which unfortunately is closing down. All stock was discounted.  There was soooo much I wanted but I knew I really wanted a new fruit bowl so this is what I chose:

carnival blue glass bowl

carnival blue glass bowl

As nice as it is to get away on a short break, I am really happy to be home!  I have about six loads of washing to get done and I am determined more than ever that we will follow the One Bag approach to travelling light when we go on our big dream trip– you only pack one carry on bag.  No checked luggage!  We took a big suitcase on this holiday and I said to Husband there is NO WAY I am taking suitcases on an overseas holiday.  My sister and brother in law went on a ten week Europe/US adventure following One Bag advice and they said it was the best thing ever and will never go back to checked luggage.  These days, with easy dry crease free travel clothing and garments by companies like ScottEVest, it’s not difficult.

Okay, speaking of all that washing, I best get to it.  I have all this washing and folding plus all the other travel bits and pieces to put away.  Which often involves sorting through brochures I picked up, wondering why on earth I grabbed them in the first place!

Christmas baking adventures

Just about every year I say I’ll make treats to give as gifts.  But every year, being summer in Australia, it’s often way too hot to turn the oven on.

But Melbourne has been true to form and given us some nice cold wintery/autumny weather.  In summer!  Melbourne is such a delight that way. I love Melbourne.  These cool changes in the weather make summer bearable for me.  I really, really dislike hot weather.  I was sweating it out in shorts last week.  Three days ago it was so cold and rainy that I had to break my winter coat out of storage and we put the room heaters on.

I recently purchased the super lovely ‘Vegan Food Gifts’ by Joni Marie Newman. Beautiful photography coupled with great gift ideas and recipes.  The book contains instructions on how to make little boxes and decorations, as well as labels, hang tags and cards you can copy. This is great for talentless hacks like me when it comes to crafts and using one’s hands to make pretty things. I have to go through it again and narrow down the stuff I’ll be making, then I will get Arthur and DeeW to help make the boxes and decorationy bits.

Aaaanyway, let’s talk food.  This year I’ll be making the Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies from  Woman In Real Life.  Joann has a great blog and these cookies, which I made twice, are delicious.  I didn’t have chocolate chunks the first time so I used small white chocolate chips.  I also bought far more cranberries than I’ll probably ever use so I threw in some of those as well, along with some chopped pumpkin seeds for the whole green-and-red Christmas vibe.  They turned out great.  The second time (photo below), I think I chopped things too finely in the food processor (I was being lazy) so there aren’t that many nice chunks and I used wholemeal spelt and the cookies turned out puffier-yummy, whereas the first batch (with stuff chopped by hand) were crunchy-flat yumness:

lemoncookiespecancoconutcookies

Also on the plate there are the Norah’s Lemon Lemon Cookies from ‘Isa Does It’ by Isa Chandra M.  These are great too, though a little on the sweet side for me.  I decided not to make the icing, though when I give them out I’ll dust over some icing (confectioner’s) sugar.

Now, I made both these cookies and put them in the freezer to keep until Christmas, where I can then wrap them up when I’m about to go visiting.  I tried one of each from the freezer and they were fine.  So fine, that I had a few more of each.  I really don’t think these will last.  But that’s okay, I want to make them again and see if I can shape them properly.  I’m a bit of a glutton perfectionist like that!