Friends and Tea Parties

This past weekend, Arthur and DeeW had some friends visit. The boys had fun on their computers playing Minecraft and the girls hung out in DeeW’s bedroom. I asked Arthur and DeeW what snacks they wanted to serve their guests.  Arthur requested garlic bread.  Both DeeW and Arthur begged for fairy bread and some two-minute noodles for Arthur’s friend (that’s all his friend eats when he comes here).  I had been browsing vegan websites for packaged stuff I could buy to serve as I really didn’t want to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  I was very happy to learn that the Ho Mai yum cha entertainment packs were a) vegan and b) on sale from $13.80 down to $7. Just throw it all in the oven then serve out the moneybags, spring rolls and curry puffs. Phone photos:

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I made the Maple Banana Bread from Dreena Burton’s Everyday Vegan (with spelt flour instead of kamut as kamut can be a little strong for some people).  I decided to use fancy little muffins/cake tins that have been in the pantry but never used.  I’m a sucker for cake and muffin tins in novelty or fancy shapes.

I also made chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I made these mini size.  Half were frosted with peppermint icing, the other half with crushed Oreos in the frosting for a cookies ‘n’ cream version.  I didn’t like them all that much but the guests did!

I finally pulled out the three-tier cake stand thingy that mum gave me a while ago.  She won it as a door prize somewhere and gave it to me. I’m glad I hung on to it!  Vegan fairy bread on the bottom.  One of our visitors made the choc chip biscuits on top:

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I really like setting a table for children.  If I had more time, the table layout would have been a bit more over the top (ha!).  I love how they think a tiered cake stand is rooolly special. Next time I’ll get Arthur and DeeW to think up a theme for the table and we can make place cards and stuff like that.  Who says you need a birthday to have a partying table!  I’d love to fancy up my kitchen table every day, but that would mean de-cluttering the table every day.  Glancing over at the kitchen table now, it is covered with stuff: vase of flowers, DeeW’s rainbow Bandaloom thing and all the rubber bands, cups and mugs, a fruit bowl, fruit not in the bowl, DeeW’s Easter egg hunt basket, two board games, tea towels, containers without lids, a deck of cards, a money box, library books and DVDs.  I suppose that’s my cue to hit ‘publish’ now and go clean…

Double-downnn at The Cornish Arms

My buddy T was back in town this past weekend after a few months away, so she booked a table at The Cornish Arms.  I used this as an opportunity to finally get my maw around the Vegan Double Down.  That’s right folks, two southern-fried style slabs of seitan with vegan cheese, facon bacon and the salady bits.  This, plus a big serving of wedges and a decent blob of coleslaw made for an incredibly filling meal.  In case you can’t tell from the photos:

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Let’s take a closer look at my pig out:

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Although it tasted good and the crumb was yum, I find it pretty hard to eat so much seitan in one sitting. Please don’t let that deter you, it really is one of the best meals on the vegan menu. I find it hard to finish a big serving of green beans or okra, even if they’re in a fantastic curry.  Anyway, I couldn’t finish the last chunk of double down.  I did swap some of my wedges for a slice of the vegan Hawaiian pizza T’s daughter ordered.  I rarely order vegan pizzas unless I’ve heard rave reviews but this was pretty good and I would order it myself:

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So I was sitting there all “oh man I’m so stuffed I can’t possibly finish this piece of double down”.  Which of course, in Veganopoulous-speak, means “I will still order dessert”.  T and I ordered the sticky date pudding each, but we were told they only had one left.  So we decided to split it.  I’d definitely order this again:

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The kids in our group all went for the vegan cookies n cream cheesecake.  Judging by how fast they all ate it, I’d say it met with their approval:

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That’s phone-camera-with-low-lighting photos and an aggressive looking fork for you.

This is my third visit to The Cornish Arms and although the noise level is uncomfortable for Husband and I (and our group found it too loud and we moved outside as soon as we had the chance), I’d still go back.  Our food came out surprisingly fast.  At far less busy times on a week night, my meals have taken much longer to arrive.  For a full house on Saturday night, having the food come out so fast was great.

The vegan menu at the Cornish shows a lot of thought and I very much appreciate that vegans now have a choice of three desserts.  The previous times I visited, there were only two options.

Where’s The Beef? blogged about the double down, so have Easy As Vegan Pie and Ballroom Blintz.

Since my visit, I can’t get this song out of my head, though I change the title and chorus to “double down”.  I think people who like the double down secretly imagine themselves busting out these Al Jarreau moves in the middle of the Cornish Arms.  Crotch-fanning photographer’s assistant optional. I know I was probably making the same faces you see at the start of the video when my double down arrived.  It was like “Where’s me double down… oooh here it comes… ZOMG CHECK IT OUT IT’S WIZAAAAARD!”.

The Cornish Arms is located at 163 Sydney Road in Brunswick.  Check out the awesome vegan menu! You can read about my previous visits here and here.

The Cornish Arms Hotel on Urbanspoon

Recipes from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan! and Eat, Drink & Be Vegan!

Dreena Burton’s cookbooks rate highly among my favourites.  Dreena’s recipes are easy and delicious and I’m determined to use them more than ever.  See, I have an over abundance of vegan cookbooks because I have a slight vegan cookbook addiction problem.  This means that whenever I get a new book, the older ones get ignored. Not so with Dreena’s books, I still leaf through them regularly.

This past fortnight I made batches of muffins to freeze.  Arthur in particular is ALWAYS sniffing around the kitchen for snacks and often makes himself a peanut butter sandwich, which is what I want to move him away from.  So I decided to make a bunch of muffins for the freezer and defrost some overnight so there’s always a muffin kind of snack for him every few days.

First up were the BF Blueberry Muffins from Let Them Eat Vegan! (LTEV) where the BF stands for blueberry-free.  These can be made with or without the blueberries (just add blueberries to some of the batter). They turned out great, perfect for freezing and for keeping the “I’m hungreeeeeee” monster kiddies at bay:

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Next up, also from Let Them Eat Vegan! were the Coconut Banana Muffins.  These also turned out fab.  I made them in a mini size because my muffin cups had been used for the blueberry muffins, which I cooked immediately before:

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Of course, even though the intention was to freeze the muffins, a few got eaten just to make sure they were okay…

Every now and then I like to make something a bit more fancy for breakfast.  This week I made the Banana Pecan Rice Pudding Pie from (ED&BV).  This is made with pre-cooked brown rice and I had a batch in the freezer.  Other main ingredients include banana, coconut milk, brown rice syrup.  There’s a topping involving pecans but I chose not to make it. I also used a little less rice syrup.  I had the exact 2/3 cup of coconut milk that the recipe calls for but it was a carton of a coconut-rice milk.  I was all out of plant milk after that, otherwise I would have put a little more because I don’t think there was enough.  Still, it tasted pretty good and the bananas provided enough sweetness.  Next time I’ll make it without the rice syrup but with more banana and see how we go.  DeeW didn’t want any as she likes her rice plain. Preferably from Loving Hut. Surprisingly though, my rice-hating son ate it and said it was good:

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I FINALLY made the Festive Chickpea Tart from LTEV.  I can see why this is often considered a favourite among Dreena fans. I chose to make it without the crust.  I thought about leaving out the cranberries, as I don’t go for sweetness in savoury recipes but I guess the cranberries add the festive touch so I put them in. I brushed the top with the oil-tamari mix but chose not to put walnuts on top as there were enough in the tart.  This is so simple to make, the hardest part is chopping the onions (I left out the celery) and cooking them first.  Everything goes in the food processor and you press it in to the pie base/dish. This is now one of my favourite savoury tarts, along with the rosemary gravy (which had thickened heaps the next day, as you can probably tell):

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Next up is the Cashew Chive Spread from LTEV.  I halved this recipe as I am watching my fats and I knew I’d be the only one eating this.  I halved the cashews but forgot to halve the amount of fresh dill and lemon juice.  Not to worry, because I love the taste of lemon juice and dill! I had it on some Turkish bread with maple-balsamic tempeh, all squished in my sandwich press.  The sandwich looks terrible but tasted good:

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Here’s the Moroccan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew from LTEV.  Initially I wasn’t going to make the topping, which is dried figs drizzled with a little EVOO and roasted.  I’m glad I changed my mind!  The stew itself was full of flavour and proteiny goodness with the black beans, chickpeas and lentils.  I discovered I was all out of red lentils so I used green instead.  Red lentils would have been nicer but I was happy with the stew and the fig topping added a nice sweet touch.  I would probably leave the figs off next time, as I’m fine with the stew on its own:

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From ED&BV I made the Peanut Butter Banana Tortillas.  I used sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter (this is a suggestion in the recipe and Arthur eats too much peanut butter as it is!). I used wholegrain wraps instead of tortillas and used my sandwich press instead of cooking in a frying pan.  Arthur liked these but DeeW didn’t.  If oooonly I could find recipes both children like that don’t involve the word Fry’s before it… anyway, I can see these nut/seed butter + banana tortillas being a bit of a dangerous thing when I have chocolate chips about.  I miiight have put choc chips inside the leftover piece and heated it up…

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I tried the Veggie Sizzle Burritos from ED&BV.  Easy to make  but unfortunately I was the only one who liked them (the family don’t go for wrapy-burrito-type things.  I KNOW, right?) I took this photo before serving it up nicely with some salad.  That’s a bit of Cheezly on top, I had to be careful with the cheeze sprinkling because the family wouldn’t touch one with cheeze.  Without it, they at least took a bite:

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Finally, here is the Cashew Ginger Tofu from ED&BV.  This tofu was fantastic.  I served mine on soba noodles with some salady stuff, stir fried zucchini and carrot and lots of fresh mint and coriander:

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There are so many more of Dreena’s recipes that I have bookmarked so I will definitely be blogging about those in the future!

Bust the Budget March and dinner at Chocolate Buddha in Federation Square

Husband and I, along with thousands of others, attended the Bust the Budget march to show our opposition to the federal government’s proposed budget. These marches are being held around the country.  I can’t begin to describe how awful this proposed budget is and how seriously it will hurt people who are already struggling. In a nutshell, it is cruel+unfair+discriminatory+harmful. We met up with some friends and marched together.  Our friends today, and others, will be so negatively affected by this budget.  They will struggle to pay rent and put food on the table because they’re doing it tough now as it is and this budget will make things worse.  It’s that simple.

The weather was perfect:

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The march started at the State Library and ended up at Federation Square:

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After saying goodbye to our friends, we decided to try out Chocolate Buddha at Fed Square.  I’ve heard some vegans recommend it as a place to take both omnis and veg*ns.  The menu had the vegetarian options marked but I asked quite a few questions.  Service was great and very helpful, though I was disappointed to learn that the curry had a little cream in it.  In the end I went for the ‘Tofu Ankake Don: silken tofu simmered with bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, carrot & ginger with shredded nori over Japanese rice’.  I enjoyed my meal and wish I could make this at home, though I probably wouldn’t return for it unless I was the only vegan in a group of people wanting to eat dinner there. Don’t get me wrong, it was good.  But not great enough to get me back there on my own.  Please forgive the awful lighting, I was using my phone to take photos:

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Chocolate Buddha is located in Federation Square.  Head in the opposite direction from the outdoor stage area, going slightly uphill. http://chocolatebuddha.com.au/

We sat outside and it was such a beautiful night for this time of the year.  Alas, my photos of Fed Square turned out awful so I’ve cheated here and applied some ‘artistic’ filters to the images!

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Dinner at Trippy Taco, Fitzroy

I finally, FINALLY got to go to Trippy Taco.  I still can’t believe I’ve never been there.  Now that I have been, I’m really going to make up for lost time!

I had been doing stuff in Fitzroy and planned to go straight home when I realised I was right across the road from Trippy Taco. Awesome or what?! I was there well before dinner time and there were only two other customers.  Perfect!

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I took my time reading the menu but eventually settled for the tacquitos. The description was ‘three crispy, rolled up corn tortillas with black bean filling topped with guacamole, (vegan) cheese, salad and lime’.  The salad was kind of basic to be honest but remember, Veganopoulous will probably never be convinced that iceberg lettuce belongs in a restaurant.  After I polished off the tacquitos, which were very tasty (I wish I had more), I mixed the salad up with the the remaining saucy bits and guacamole:

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Dessert! Remember, making up for lost time here folks. I got the ‘sweet corn tamale with icecream, bananas and maple syrup’. This was like a soft, moist, sweet cornbread.  The ice cream was basic– using something like Zebra Dream would really make a difference (to the price as well probably!)– but the tamale itself was really good.  Bananas and maple syrup are just that, but I thought they were perfect with this.  Whenever I’ve made cornbread it has been dry and blergh.  I really liked this dessert and would definitely get it again.  In fact, I’m going on a mission to try and replicate it at home.  Too bad I don’t have a Star Trek replicator:

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The toilet is located outside Trippy Taco, up the little lane and at the back of the restaurant.

Trippy Taco is located at 234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. http://www.trippytaco.com.au/

I’ve been forgetting (or not bothering) to take my camera out and about lately so here are some snaps from my phone.  The colours in Melbourne at this time of year are beautiful.  Enjoy!

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