St. Patrick’s Day Colcannon Puffs and Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings

Every year I try to incorporate days of celebration in to our family life.  Although we do not celebrate based on religion, it’s still a good opportunity to explain to Arthur and DeeW why people celebrate a certain day or occasion and we learn about different cultures, countries and beliefs.  We watched some short clips about Ireland online and borrowed some library books.

Husband and I visited Ireland back in about 2001.  A relative was staying in Howth so we arranged to meet up, as Husband and I were living in Amsterdam at the time.  Unfortunately we didn’t get much time there and we only had two full days in Dublin so we opted for day long bus tours which took us to Newgrange.  Newgrange was built in about 3200BC so it’s older than Stonehenge and the pyramids.  Amazing stuff and we really enjoyed the tour.  My photos are all stored on backups somewhere but I found this old-camera-that-was-great-at-the-time picture of the view from our bed and breakfast in Howth.  It’s the St. Mary’s Church and graveyard:

St. Marys church howth

Naturally, green food was on the menu for today.  I didn’t make anything sweet and the shamrock cookie cutter will stay in the drawer for another year.  We’ve had our share of sweet things recently and really didn’t need more cake or biscuits.

Arthur’s breakfast was a banana-sweet potato-spinach smoothie.  Which is simply called ‘banana smoothie’ in our house, for reasons that will be obvious if you were or have a child who hates vegetables:

green banana smoothie


My breakfast was the Cake Batter Smoothie from Eat Raw, Eat Well made with avocado, orange and lemon.  Of course, after drinking it, I realised I forgot to add some leafy greens to really green it up.  But it was still kinda green, though the lighting in the photos is really bad:

cake batter smoothie2

For lunch I made Colcannon Puffs from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  I thought they were great, Arthur rated them 60% but the kale was too much for Husband and DeeW taste and texture wise so next time I’ll use peas instead.  I used the baking option.  I think these would be great samosa style with nice curry-esque spices:

colcannon puffs

I wanted to make something along the lines of an Irish stew.  I used the Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings recipe from Isa Does It as it seemed a perfect fit.  To save time I chopped some of the veggies the day before and got a few things ready in advance.  Then once everything was in the pot, I went off to get a can of white beans but ended up having a total Mother Hubbard moment.  As in, no beans.  Whoops.  Still, it turned out okay and Husband is a bit iffy when it comes to beans in a stew.  I used four cups of broth instead of the stated six cups.  Six was way too much for my pot and would have overflowed with that plus the beans I thought I had.  I think the four cups was a good decision in my case because my stew didn’t thicken enough, so I made a Nutellex-flour roux and whisked it in.  Then it thickened up beautifully. I sorta made the dumplings a bit too big…

dilly stew2

Next time I’ll reduce the amount of potatoes and add more carrot as it seemed I was scooping out lots of potato:

dilly stew1

As always, I’m loving Isa Chandra M’s recipes and am looking forward to seeing her, Terry Hope Romero and Vegan Black Metal Chef at their live show in Melbourne soon.  Are any of you guys going to see them here or Sydney?

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:

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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!

A week in Sydney

Every now and then Husband gets some great cheap-as-chips offers for accommodation and when we can find some budget priced flights, it seems like a good idea for a short family holiday. We were fortunate to get a good deal on Sydney accommodation in Darlinghurst which is a fantastic location for exploring, so we booked a sortof-last minute holiday.  DeeW had never been on a plane before and insisted on packing most of her wardrobe (which, of course, I unpacked).

We pretty much did the typical touristy stuff with a focus on the kids.  The Powerhouse Museum is really good:

ausmuseum2

This piece of rock is 3.9 billion years old, older than 99% of rocks on earth:

powerhouse1

Retro!

powerhouse2

We also went to the Australian Museum, another great visit for the kids but you know, I was oohing and aahing over the old woodwork:

ausmuseum1

ausmuseum4

Arthur and I went to the Maritime Museum and got to check out some sea vessels, and whacky maritime humour:

maritime3

Arthur thought this bath plug was hilarious:

maritime1

I like the faces on this Vikings chess set:

maritime2

sydney9

Arthur and I went to the Sydney Observatory. I WANT ONE:

obs1

obs2

Then we wandered around The Rocks for a bit and I bought some veg gyoza from the Japanese stall after being assured there was no animal content.  I didn’t take a photo because I was too hungry:

rocks1

Husband wanted to take the kids on one of those jet boat rides.  I declined, because of the crazy price and the fact I hate being on any kind of boat.  Even the short ferry ride from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay made me feel sick.  I have photos of the kids going in to the boat, looking all excited.  Then photos of them coming off the boat, with their hair dripping wet and looking very unimpressed.  They did enjoy it though, particularly the fast spinning around bit:

sydney6

We did a lot of walking around with my taking the standard tourist photos.  We didn’t go to the top of this tower, though I think I went up when I was a little kid:

ausmuseum3

Sydney Opera House and a closeup of the tiles:

sydney2

sydney3

Sydney Harbour Bridge, aka ‘the Coathanger’:

sydney7

This was pretty much the route we took when walking to/from our hotel near Hyde Park:

sydney5

sydney4

sydney1

The hotel was around the corner from Grandma Takes A Trip.  Wallpaper!  Old stairs!

grandmatrip2

grandmatrip1

DeeW loved this spiral fountain at Darling Harbour:

spiral1

Sydney is the oldest city in Australia and is full of stunning buildings:

sydney10

sydney11

I bought some nut-seed cookies I’d made from home and trail mix type stuff and I’d buy fruit too, to avoid buying meals all the time.  For one of my non descript lunches I went to an Indian outlet in a food court somewhere:

chickpealunch

and I enjoyed this delicious chocolate sorbet from a gelateria:

sorbet

After my boycott of the Iku Wholefood store in Darlinghurst, I wandered around looking for a smoothie/breakfast/brunch place I’d passed but forgotten to note the location.  Instead I came across this little sustainable fair market and got a lovely fresh juice.  The juicer-women and I had a laugh about the healthiest juices looking the ugliest.  It was nice to start the day with a fruit-veg juice:

market2

market1

Sydney is a fantastic city to explore and like Melbourne, there are great options for vegans. I’m very glad to be back home, even if it means many loads of washing…

Zambrero, Darlinghurst Sydney

I was thrilled to see a burrito-serving place around the corner from my hotel and even more thrilled at the ‘vegan’ sign in the window.  One of my first food stops for lunch was here at Zambrero, where I chose to pig out on a burrito containing everything veg: guacamole, rice, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, corn, japalenos, red onion, corn and a choice of a Zambrero sauce:

zambrero

I was stuffed after this so the next time I read the menu properly and saw you can get the smaller size option.  The staff at the Darlinghurst outlet on Oxford Street were super friendly and changed their gloves when making up my burrito.  Win!

Zambrero have outlets in Melbourne too though I’ve never tried them.  I am however inclined to make my own at home, though for Vegan MoFo I’d probably experiment with a raw wrap of some sort.

Mother Chu’s Taiwanese Gourmet, Sydney

The Happy Cow app came in very handy before and during my Sydney stay.  The fam and I were on a random bus ride (you know, hop on a street bus to who knows where) and we ended up at Hay Street near Chinatown.  I’d read about Paddy’s Market and everyone was hungry so we thought we’d brave a food court then have a look around.  Husband and the kids were able to find lunch options but there was nothing for me so I loaded up Happy Cow and saw that Mother Chu’s Taiwanese Gourmet was closeby.  So I went off to get my lunch, arranging to meet the family at the Powerhouse Museum later on.

Mother Chu’s was easy enough to find and I was seated quickly.  There was some confusion as none of the staff understood what ‘vegan’ meant and I had to keep explaining how it was different to vegetarian.  I was assured the ‘vegetable combination’ with plain rice had no egg, dairy or fish sauce so I went for that.  It wasn’t a stand out or anything special but I was struck by how much I was enjoying the crispy vegetables.  Before I was vegan, I would never ever have enjoyed vegies like this.  It felt good to be on a holiday but still being able to load up on a veg meal:

motherchu2

The staff also told me the ‘red bean flaky pastry’ had no egg or dairy so I ordered one.  This was quite delicious and the pastry was certainly flaky:

motherchu3

I went back a couple of days later to try the green onion pancake.  I was told this was just a flour-water-oil-green onion recipe.  Truthfully, this is one of those snack foods that is technically quite bland but really yum at the same time.  I also got myself another red bean flaky pastry:

motherchu4

My experience was kinda ho-hum and I’m always concerned when people don’t know what vegan means but the waitresses did go to the kitchen and ask about any animal products so that was good.  The place is hustle-bustle but service is prompt.  When you order at your table you pay at the same time:

motherchu1

 I’d return for the green onion pancake and flaky pastries but probably not a main meal, unless I go there with a fellow vegan who is experienced with the menu and can recommend something awesome.

Mother Chu’s is located in Chinatown at 86 Dixon Street, Sydney.


motherchu5