Coburg Farmers Market

Today I met up with Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe and her daughter at the Coburg Farmers Market. I haven’t been there before so Johanna kindly suggested we meet there. Melbourne has had some crazy windy weather this week but things were a bit calmer today:

Coburg Farmers Market

I enjoyed looking at a range of vegetables, so many lovely colours. I thought about getting a spaghetti squash but might keep it for next time:

pumpkins

The carrots will be coming home with me on my next visit:

Colourful carrots

Hit that perfect beet boys!

Beautiful beets

There was a stall with really juicy delicious apples.  Nothing like the tasteless blobs I’ve bought from the supermarket recently:

Coburg Farmers Market apples

The 5 & Dime bagel stall was a welcome sight.  Check out the deliciousness:

5 & Dime Bagels

5 & Dime Bagels

I came home with some golden beetroot and coriander:

Coburg Market purchases

Six bagels for $11:

5 & Dime Bagels

And these blocks of chocolate from the Cocoa Rhapsody stall.  All of their dark chocolate range is vegan:

Cocoa Rhapsody chocolate

 

Now that I know the market is a stone’s throw away, I’ll make more of an effort to visit.  I’m looking forward to seeing more lovely veggies and cooking up something adventurous!

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Recipes from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

When I first became vegan, I bought a load of cookbooks.  A book that everyone seemed to recommend was 1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson.  It was one of the first cookbooks I bought, along with Robin’s Vegan Planet. Days later, more cookbooks arrived and from there I just kept on getting more books and finding myself more attracted to the cookbooks with photos.  Because of this, books without photos didn’t get much of a second glance.

This was a shame for such a packed-with-great-recipes cookbook like Vegan Planet:

Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

I’ve recently made a vow to go back to the start of my vegan cookbook collection and start making lots of recipes from the first books I bought, photos or not. I bookmarked loads of recipes from Vegan Planet, though it’s with a bit of a heavy heart that I don’t think my family would go for anything I plan on making. I still have hope though, as there was a time when I never would have dreamed Arthur would be asking for roasted chickpeas and homemade tofu nuggets.

The first recipe I tried from Vegan Planet was a breakfast: the Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal with Slivered Almonds and Dried Cranberries. Very nice, but I forgot to take a photo.

I haven’t made an eggplant dish in a while but I wanted to make something different from my usual Italian/Greek style eggplant dishes.  I chose the Mahogany Eggplant recipe though it meant I had to go out and buy a vegan sake (Go-Shu from Dan Murphys). Garlic, ginger, shallots, chili, sake, tamari is pretty much all there is to it.

I made the Udon Shiitake Stir-Fry with Sake and Ginger, using portabellos instead of shiitake. I made this a couple of days after the Mahogany Eggplant recipe and because the ingredients were roughly the same, I ended up mixing the two together when I was really hungry and couldn’t decide which one I wanted to eat:

mahogan yeggplant udon

I made the Three Way Sesame Coated Tofu Strips with Spicy Broccoli. I didn’t have red pepper flakes so I used a little chilli paste along with some garlic.  I served this with some soba noodles that were added to the pan with the broccoli, chilli and garlic along with some baby spinach.  I love sesame flavours so I enjoyed this.  Who says vegans don’t get enough calcium:

sesametofunoodles

The Chickpea and Eggplant Kibbeh sounded intriguing.  There’s a layer of bulghur-chickpea mix and a layer of cooked onion-eggplant-pine nuts, along with some spices.  I left out the allspice, leaving only the cinnamon (though I used half the amount specified) and cumin.  I wish the family ate this.  I liked it but if I made it again I’d try some different flavours:

chickpea eggplant kibbeh

Next up we have the Tuscan White Bean and Fennel Stew with Orange and Rosemary.  I was glad this recipe called for canned small white beans as I have a large stash of cannelini beans but haven’t really been using them.  Instead of chopping up the rosemary, I chose the lazy route and threw the sprigs in whole.  I was happy with this, though I’d probably cut down the orange zest next time:

tuscanwhitebeanstew

The Molasses Bread with Walnuts and Raisins doesn’t call for blackstrap molasses which is all I had, so when I was making the batter I wasn’t sure how it would turn out given the stronger taste of blackstrap.  It was very blackstrappy tasting so next time I’ll use regular molasses or maybe treacle as my jar of treacle sits there doing nothing. I made another stupid mistake here, I had taken out my bread flour to make a loaf of bread when I saw this Molasses bread recipe.  The recipe calls for all purpose flour but I used the bread flour instead of swapping the all purpose for spelt flour.  It was late, I was tired!  I mixed some vegan butter with maple syrup and had it with the molasses bread:

molasses bread

Polenta is so hit and miss with me, mostly miss.  I made half a batch using the recipe for Baked Polenta (omitting the coriander/cilantro), put it in the fridge overnight then baked the next day. Another miss with the family so I am officially now polenta-free. I made the polenta along with the Walnut Crusted Celery Root (celeriac) and Millet Croquettes. The croquettes tasted good but they were incredibly delicate. I don’t know if baking would make them firmer, unfortunately the family didn’t appreciate them enough for me to want to try again in a hurry, but I’m not writing them off just yet.  The first photo shows the millet cooking with the celeriac:

milletceleriac1
polentamilletceleriac

There are many more recipes I’d like to try from Vegan Planet, but for now I’ll move on to another cookbook in my collection so they all get a fair go. I’ve enjoyed cooking from Vegan Planet and look forward to using it again soon.

 

Eat Your Greens food blogging challenge: Avocado, Kale and Matcha Smoothie

Eat Your Greens challenge logo

This month I have entered the Eat Your Greens challenge set by Shaheen over at A2K- A Seasonal Veg Table.  The challenge requires you to prepare a dish (or beverage, or some kind of food) with green veggies.  All recipes must be vegetarian (vegan recipes are accepted too).

I joined the challenge quite late and it was good timing because my avocado and kale were looking a little sad and I’d also been wondering when I would start using the small tin of matcha I was given.  I’ve been hesitant to use it because, like yacon syrup, a small container is very expensive. So I prefer to sit and look at it.

I haven’t been having smoothies, green or any other colour, much lately because when I get up in the morning I’m so cold and immediately put the kettle on.  I don’t often have smoothies during the day, for me they’re pretty much always a breakfast thing.

Avocado Matcha Banana Protein Smoothie

For the Eat Your Greens challenge, I knew it was time to break out the smoothie love again. I didn’t follow a recipe, I just threw in the following based on smoothie combinations I usually make:

– 1 cup home made almond milk

– 1 banana

– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (maybe half a scoop if you don’t like too much protein powdery taste)

– 1/4 tsp matcha powder

– a few kale leaves, torn (if using baby spinach, I add a big handful.  With kale, I use much less)

– 1/2 avocado

For me, the sweetness was just right because my banana was spotty. If the banana wasn’t as sweet, I would have added one Medjool date.

 

I’m glad I chose this for the challenge as it made me realise how much I miss my breakfast smoothies!

Lunch at Wagamama, Rocky Horror in Melbourne

On Saturday, I met my mum and sister in the city for lunch and a casual stroll around before heading to the Comedy Theatre to watch the 2pm session of The Rocky Horror Show. We started off with lunch at Wagamama on Flinders Lane.  We ordered a bowl of salted edamame and I went for my Wagamama usual, which was the ‘spicy yasai itame’: tofu, mushroom and veg with chili, ginger, garlic and lemongrass on rice:

Wagamama spicy yasai itame

My sister ordered a vegan udon noodle dish, though I can’t see it on the menu.  I tried some and really liked it:

Wagamama udon noodles

My mum ordered a non-vegan meal so I won’t mention it here, but she kindly treated my sister and I to lunch so I don’t know how much the dishes cost.  As always, the service was fast, friendly and knowledgeable with our waiter being very clued up about which bits of a meal were vegan. I note that there are a large number of negative reviews on Urbanspoon.  All I can say is that my mum, sister and I expect good meals when we go out to eat and we got them at Wagamama.  Spicy, tasty, filling portion sizes and definitely not bland. My mum especially is always happy to chat about what was missing, this could have done with more garlic, that could have done with less cooking and so on but she was very pleased with her meal and would order it again.

Wagamama in the city is located at 83 Flinders Lane (the Southbank restaurant has closed). Toilets are near the cash register. Mum paid with plastic so that, along with cash, is accepted. The restaurant itself has long table seating indoors and seating outdoors.  The long tables are well suited to groups. http://www.wagamama.com.au/restaurants/flinders-lane-melbourne

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

 

After lunch (and before, actually) we had some time to kill so we walked around the city for a bit.  My sister and I both love older buildings with the gorgeous wood work and tiling, so when we noticed the stairwell at the Presbyterian Church of Victoria Offices, we had to go inside and snoop:

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

I WANT:

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

Presbyterian Church of Vic Offices

presbytarianchurchvic1

The Manchester Unity Building.  I wish they’d get rid of those barnacles:

Manchester Unity Building

We looked around the Royal Arcade and went in to the Babushka store:

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Babushka Shop Melbourne

Finally, on to the Comedy Theatre for the Rocky Horror Show.  The cast were great, my favourite parts were when the actors had to pause before delivering lines because they were trying not to laugh. Of course, I was taking photos (before the show!) of the wood panelling.  Nitpick time: perhaps someone would consider fixing the curtains, they were awfully torn in some areas:

Comedy Theatre Melbourne
A fun day out in my fab city 🙂

Preston Market with a vegan twist

I was introduced to Preston Market a couple of years ago, when my vegan friend T shared her secret with me: buy the old brown spotty bananas and other fruit right before closing time when the prices are dirt cheap.  A tray of fruit, past its best but still fine for freezing or smoothies, can be found for $1 or $2.  I’d pick up many kilograms worth of old bananans for a few dollars and use them in my smoothies.  The greatest discovery by far though was the hot jam donut van because they’re vegan.  Brilliant!

I went back to Preston Market a few days ago to see what it offers for vegan shoppers.  I stopped in at The D’Souzas for some amchoor (mango) powder.  Of course, whenever I go in “just for one thing” I end up with many things.  The D’Souzas store always has what I need and service is always smiley and friendly:

Preston Market

I picked up some soy beans from Preston Market Health Foods.  There were many elderly Greek shoppers here, looking for dried chickpeas for their ‘revithia’ (chickpea) soup and lentils for their ‘fahki’ soup:

Preston Market

Preston Market

Of course, there are a number of fresh produce stalls with prices cheaper than the big supermarkets:

Preston Market

Preston Market

I walked around looking at all the stores inside the main market area but didn’t see any other veganny-options kinds of places.  There were bakeries, continental delicatessans and lovely looking cakes but unfortunately none appeared to offer anything vegan, from my quick browsing.  I looked at the food stalls and alas, nothing vegan there.

I was pretty hungry so I headed for the Cornutopia van.  I’ve been there once before and enjoyed my vegan burrito so I ordered that again. The burritos (regardless of filling, it appears) are $10. Action shot:

Preston Market

The final stop (the most important of all): the jam donut van!

Preston market hot jam donuts

Preston market hot jam donuts

Overall, Preston Market is great for well priced fruit and veg, especially for those bargains right before closing time. You can find your nuts, dried beans, lentils and so on and different kinds of flours. More vegan options in the way of food would be great but I must confess the only food I go there for are donuts. Still, it would be nice to go there and have more of a selection of vegan food to chose from.

Preston Market
Preston Market
Preston Market

Preston Market

Preston Market

These are my purchases. I’m sure that’s the cheapest I’ve seen this particular vanilla extract.  As for the clove oil, I need some to help with minor mould problems around the house. I’m sure I paid double $3.90 for one of those teeny bottles in pharmacies! I also picked up some quinoa, curry powder (I like to try different kinds) and amchoor powder, which always seems to be in recipes I want to try then when I buy the stuff, I can’t find the recipes:

Preston Market purchases

If there are other markets out there you love for vegan shopping, please leave a comment!