World Vegan Day 2013 and more info on Loving Hut in Northcote

Today my sister and I headed off to World Vegan Day here in Melbourne.  The start time was advertised at 10am so we figured we’d “get there early before the crowds”.  About fifty million other people had the same brilliant idea.

It was difficult to take photos inside as there were people everywhere and I was conscious of stopping the flow of traffic in the aisles, which unfortunately (in my opinion) were a bit too squishy.  It was a good decision to leave the kids at home and I felt for the people with prams! Personally, I preferred last year’s set up outdoors (though some people prefer the indoor arrangement).  I don’t like crowds much and I had a shopping basket with me today and at times it was really difficult to move around. So I apologise for the lack of photos:


First off: lunch!  I feel a bit silly not knowing the name of this business, but my sister and I had some dumplings and shared a Vietnamese pancake.  Both meals were delicious:



We polished it off with a Bounty (coconut flavour) gelato in a waffle cone from Fritz Gelato:


Here are some of the exhibitors.  One of my go-to stores, Global  Green Vegetarian Food Mart in Braybrook:


Gorgeous soaps from High Tea in the Bath:


I bought a stainless steel straw, though I was eyeing off the glass straw:


The fabulous Al Nada sweets were on offer:


I came home with a stainless steel straw for my juices and smoothies, a Mac and Cheese from Bed and Broccoli and some Fresh Ginger ginger ale.  I tried all the ginger ale samples and decided the Jasmine Tea was my favourite, though all were delicious:



Ideally I would have liked to do a few more laps of all the stalls as I felt I had rushed through due to the crowds but I started feeling a bit too ‘over it’ (ditto for my sister) and so we decided to go home.  I do appreciate the work involved in organising an event like this, but for me last year’s outdoor setup was lovely as lots of people were lounging around on picnic blanket.  There was more room for the queues too.

Now on to the info about Loving Hut Northcote that is opening soon.  An exhibitor told me that the Northcote restaurant will feature more European style dishes like pasta.  I’m pretty sure she said French and Italian influenced.  I’m curious to see what they’ll be serving though we still don’t know when they’ll be open for business.

Did you go to a World Vegan Day?

Random What-I-Ates and the Never Ending De-cluttering

I’ve been feeling so very lazy when it comes to cooking lately.  I’ve been relying on the old faithfuls which are too boring to list on the blog.  A lot of my time has been spent cleaning and de-cluttering the house even more, in preparation for a good deep spring clean.  We’ve been in this house for seven years and every year I say the massive spring clean will happen inside and out.  Except it never does and I stick to the same old daily chores.  But there are those big jobs that need to be done once and for all, especially outside.  On the plus side, we did finally get our roof replaced, so we no longer have to put up with the leaking kitchen ceiling:

Even though it was a short term job, I found myself slightly annoyed with the skip bins and broken bits of tile and concrete littering our front yard:


The crazy discarding-of-stuff continues.  I think I’ve donated about eight garbage bags worth of clothes, toys, books and general stuff.  I’ve sold a filing cabinet and storage shelf on eBay as well as some other things that were taking up space.  I’ve packed up a box of Dora the Explorer (SSSSHHHH) and if they don’t get asked about for a few months, well Dora is gonna go exploring eBay.  With de-cluttering, I’m always gobsmacked at how much stuff we accumulate.  Our recyling bin gets emptied once a week, but when I de-clutter I refill it the day it has been emptied.  Which means for the rest of the week I’m playing a kind of rubbish bin reverse Jenga, trying to slot cans and cartons inside the bin.

DeeW has been very accident prone lately.  She found out the hard way that you shouldn’t walk in the path of an oncoming bicycle.  Luckily the rider was a little girl, all wobby on her bike and not going fast but DeeW still ended up with lots of bruises and scrapes.  Out came the ‘hurt box’, which is an old retro plastic sewing box I bought cheap with all the contents.  I took everything out and made it our first aid kit:



Speaking of DeeW, do you think she likes to wear a tutu to ballet class?  Ho ho. Fortunately a ballet uniform is not compulsory at the classes she goes to.  More fortunately, she does remove the ski boots (which are big for her, they were her brother’s):


Arthur and I went to see ‘James and the Giant Peach’ at ACMI.  To kill time before the movie started, we did some Mad Libs.  This is the Adventure Time (a funny tv show) Mad Libs book:


Mad Libs has been around forever.  If you’re not familiar with it, it involves one player asking the others for some words like a noun, adjective etc. These then get plugged in to the story where the blanks appear, then you read it back aloud (nobody knows the story to begin with):


Food adventure time! During the week my mum cut up a bunch of red and green peppers and fried them with a little garlic and onion in olive oil.  Simply but tasty on pasta:


Mum also made some stuffed vine leaves:


Now for some vegan food products.  I tried the Lamyong vegan hot dogs.  I don’t know how else to word this apart from “it’s not to my liking”.  I ate two in a hot dog bun but binned the rest:


I was given a packet of Linda McCartney sausages.  These were nice, the kids said they were okay.  I ate mine like a hotdog, with tomato sauce and American mustard:


In search of a good vegan hotdog, I bought the Redwood version and really liked them.  I didn’t have hot dog rolls (buns) so I used a tortilla heated in a frying pan and threw in some red onion and a Tofutti cheeze slice:


I made some zucchini carrot fritters with chickpea flour but the kids didn’t like them, arghghghhhh:


The mega bag of sweet potatoes I asked my parents to buy me from Costco.  Don’t you think the super dude looks like an orange Mr Hankey?



the colostomy version:


I made a gluten free chocolate cake using a recipe I found online that called for some vegan yoghurt.  I didn’t like it at all, it had that ‘this is a gluten free cake’ taste about.  Know what I mean?  The sort of cake that makes people think GF cakes are yuck, when of course that is far from the truth!


Arthur and I had a dvd movie night.  We watched the original ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ate home made pizza:



A smoothie made with strawberries, spinach, hazelnut, banana and cacao:


I made roasted cauliflower with almond meal and nooch and kinda forgot about it:


And I made another batch of Sweet Potato Spiced Blondies, with less sugar.  Muuuch better with the reduced sugar in my opinion:


Today I read that Lou Reed passed away, so I’ll leave you with Perfect Day.

Thank you to Mister Nice Guy and a few ‘what I ates’

We haven’t visited Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop in quite a while.  Well, to be fair Husband did take the kids recently but he forgot that the Bake Shop is closed on a Monday, doh.  After the kids beat him up for it, they took it well.

Arthur’s birthday is this week and it appears he has refused my order to stop growing up.  I don’t think that will stop him writing stories for me on my birthday with titles such as “how to cook a butt” (actually that one was a graphic novel complete with recipe instructions).

For a pre-birthday treat, Husband took Arthur and DeeW to Mister Nice Guy’s today and he came home bouncing around in excitement, because of this lovely thoughtful gesture:


Arthur was given a cinnamon bun for his birthday-in-advance and declares it one of the best presents he’s ever received.  I haven’t had a cinnamon bun myself in ages so asked Husband to get one for me and it was every bit as delicious as always:


A very mega thank you to Mister Nice Guy and the Bake Shop crew!  Best customer service ever!

Okay, here are a few “What I ate this week” tidbits.  There aren’t many because I’ve been sick with no appetite and when I felt okay to eat all I wanted were the oranges and strawberries and bananas.

First up, the Mushroom Pecan Burgers from Dreena Burton’s ‘The Everyday Vegan’. I’ve never been lucky with things made from mushroom.  I like whole or sliced mushrooms but if it doesn’t look like a button shape to begin with, I won’t eat it.  I can’t bring myself to eat enoki, it falls too much in to the category of alien space food.  I’ve never been interested in turning mushrooms in to something else (like a burger), instead just preferring them sliced and tossed through pasta or on a pizza.  And that’s really about it. Arthur and DeeW won’t go near mushrooms so I thought I’d be sneaky and whiz them up and put them in burger form.  The recipe was very easy and contains tahini and hoisin sauce.  I used oats instead of the breadcrumbs:


I liked them but the kids weren’t keen which was pretty frustrating as this is a really good recipe.  I suppose they may have eaten them in a bread bun but I want to avoid giving them bread (or gluten, specifically) wherever possible.  It’s worth noting Dreena includes a ‘version 2’ recipe in her book Let Them Eat Vegan and you can see those burgers here.

Still, it means I got to have the leftovers to myself, this time in corn tortillas with salsa and vegan sour cream with coriander:



For the first time ever, I made myself tofu scramble.  Up until now I was never truly convinced that ‘tofu’ and ‘scramble’ belong in the same sentence.  Kind of like apricot chicken.  Or any of those ‘fruit’ flavours in the Cadburys family block.  I had some tofu that had been defrosted and pressed (I think it was firm tofu) so I just crumbled it and fried it up with a pinch of curry powder and black salt.  I haven’t used my black salt much and boy when I added it to the tofu scramble, could you smell egg!  It smelt and looked so much like scrambled eggs that I had to sit there for a few minutes trying to will myself to eat it.  I added some of the coconut bacon I’d make and some rocket (I love rocket, yeah-eh) along with a little bit of vegan mayo. Delicious!


More burgers from Let Them Eat Vegan!, this time the Lentil Walnut Burgers.  The recipe calls for green lentils but I only had brown and they still tasted great.  There’s also diced apple (though I grated it) which adds a little sweetness without being too sweet.  I really liked these:


I saw these green curry soups at Aldi.  I love green curry but not as a soup so I put most of it (but not all the liquid) on brown rice.  It wasn’t very good, a bit too sweet and the vegies too blergh looking and I gave up after a few spoonfuls.  Then felt a bit crappy because I’d put a couple of these soups (the red curry variety as well) in a bag of goodies for my sister’s birthday:

Woolworths sell these pakoras in their freezer section and they were over a dollar off so I grabbed some as a snack to have back at my mum’s house.  They tasted fine enough but were too dry when reheated:


I made the Pecan Date Nibblers from Let Them Eat Vegan! as an experiment for a short family holiday we have coming up.  The sweetness comes from the dates and maple syrup though next time I will cut the maple syrup way down as they were pretty sweet.  Arthur loved them, DeeW not really.  I added pumpkin seeds to the mix:


I made my sister a lemon slice using Mel’s recipe but because I was plain old lazy I didn’t include the dairy free margarine and instead just dumped the condensed soy milk in without heating it.  I’ve never used the vegan version of condsensed milk and like the dairy version it’s basically massive sugar overload in canned form.  Does it stop one from having a big spoonful?  Not usually:


I’m hoping that my food blog posts (well, my cooking I should say) for September will be far more interesting because of Vegan MoFo.  I’m looking forward to trying lots of recipes from my cookbooks, especially raw recipes.  See you then!

Rocket, YEAH-EHH!

Rocket, YEAH-EHH!

Lots of vegan goodies I’ve tried recently

In recent times I’ve been trying out some vegan food products so I thought I’d blog about them of course.  Let’s go!

First up, we have a jar of Tiramisu-ish by Botanical Cuisine. Oh mannnn, do you know how hard it is to stop eating this?  Now, it’s called Tiramisu-ish because it’s not like your traditional tiramisu (which, of course, is not vegan)… but there’s enough in it to make it tiramisu-like.  It’s also raw!  So I think Tiramisu-ish is a great name.  It has all those tiramisu flavours but feels really decadent.   The sort of thing that could be served in a really fancy restaurant, with an artful dribble of chocolate fudge.  And it would be gushed about in all the gourmet food mags.  At around the $10 mark it’s not cheap but mine was a present  😀



Co Yo Yoghurt is up next.  Think yoghurt consistency with coconut flavour.  If you don’t like coconut and you want a non dairy yoghurt then this may not be for you even though I personally don’t find the coconut flavour overly strong.  Then again I love coconut and it’s not unusual to see me opening the jar of coconut oil for no other reason than to smell it.  Co Yo is lovely and thick and so so much better than any soy yoghurt I’ve tried.  I’m sorry soy yoghurt, but you pretty much all suck in my experience.  Co Yo has a variety of flavours and this one is the passionfruit.  I like that it isn’t as sweet as soy (and dairy) yoghurt I’ve tried in the past.  For me, Co Yo is a winner but not something I would buy often as it’s pricey:


Notzarella is the first vegan cheese I’ve used which acts the most like its dairy counterpart.  I never liked mozarella much and  when it came to pizzas, I felt like I was eating plastic. I sometimes ordered pizza with only a little mozarella, because otherwise I’d be picking off great greasy, plastic blobs.  Whenever I made a lasagna or pizza in my pre-vegan days, I hated using mozarella because of the whole plastic thing.  Yuuuuuck.  But now, I still want a melty vegan cheese for certain dishes.  Notzarella fits the bill there.  And I had a laugh at the FAQ on Notzarella’s site: “Is Notza good for you? No. It’s loaded with salt and fat. It’s not a health food in any respect. It was designed to give the best pizza experience possible for those who can’t (or don’t want to) eat dairy cheese”.  They get points for that kind of honesty!

My first big Notzarella experiment was a home made pizza topped with pepperoni (see below), red onion, olives, rocket, basil and the Notzarella.  The Notzarella melted and compared to a mozarella, I find it quite thick on the tongue and roof of my mouth.  Which is probably a really dumb description.  The amount I used, which you can see in the photo below, was way too much.  So much so that I didn’t want to eat any more.  I’m not keen on making my own pizzas at home because nobody eats the stuff I make but I would use the Notzarella sparingly in something like lasagna.  Note to Veganopoulous: don’t put the rocket and fresh basil on the pizza until you take it out of the oven:


Syrup waffles!  When I lived in The Netherlands I got hooked on stroepwafel.  Then I got sick of them quickly.  Then I got my sister hooked on them because I’d sent her food packages every now and then.  I spotted these Billy’s Farm Organic Wheat Syrup Waffles recently and decided to get some for my sister’s birthday… but I couldn’t resist eating one.  They’re nice, but not something I’d buy for myself.  Still, I got to reminisce about my times overseas so it’s all good:


I haven’t had fairy floss (cotton candy) in YEARS.  Probably at least ten years.  So when I saw this tub of Spun Fairy Floss I pounced.  It’s so delicious that when I dropped it all on the floor of the car, I picked it up and ate it:


I don’t like meat substitutes as a meat replacement.  I’ve never had a meat craving or “geez I miss chicken kiev” moment.  It’s just a thing of the past.  I am however very curious about vegan pepperoni slices.  The curiosity about pepperoni is courtesy of growing up watching American tv shows because pizza was always pepperoni pizza.  Sure, I’ve had pizza with salami and I did try pepperoni pizza once when I was a non-vegan in the US.   But vegan pepperoni was something I wanted to try.  I saw these Redwood pepperoni slices [somewhere] and because I was planning on making a pizza, I thought why not?  I’d never buy them otherwise so this was more an experiment.  They were okay, with a bit of heat and worked well on the pizza but as I’ve never really been interested in salami type stuff even before becoming vegan, I won’t buy it again though I recommend you give it a try:



Many, many years ago I was a big fan of Bounty bars.  They’re basically sugar loaded coconut bars covered in chocolate.  I also loved Coconut Roughs.  I did give up chocolate/candy bars about ten years ago and never reacquired a taste for them and so any coconut chocolate craving would be satisfied by something, you know, gourmet posh like.  I turned in to a big chocolate snob.  Even now I’m not a chocolate lover but when I see something like the coconut Bonvita Bonbarr, I try it just to see what it’s like.  Had I still had a Bounty craving, I’m sure the Bonbarr coconut flavour would make a a great substitute:


Next up is the luvju mint flavour raw chocolate by Loving Earth.  I bought the small packet, not being a chocolate fan much as I said, though peppermint in chocolate was my favourite after coconut in chocolate.  This is just right for me, not too sweet:



Another “What I Ate This Week” half job…

… it’s a half job because I haven’t been meal planning and what I’ve eaten seems far too boring for a blog!  Plus I haven’t put any effort in to my cooking at all recently, whoops.

We had some fantastic news with the arrival of our first niece. Yay!  When Arthur was little, Husband’s sister  bought him a giant stuffed toy emu.  It’s so big Husband uses the butt as a pillow.  We are considering passing this big gift back to her now with a big “MWAHAHAHA!”  😉

A few days ago, we woke up to find this:


That’s our car’s rear window.  Overnight, someone tried to break in, using some kind of sharp implement.  I had heard noises while I was watching Call The Midwife (fabulous show but mehhh, can’t warm to Nurse Jenny Lee at all) and opened the curtain to look out which may have disturbed the person because I didn’t hear anything after that.  Fortunately they didn’t get in, the car was otherwise okay and insurance has covered the repair which was done yesterday.  All that’s left is this reminder, which I’m yet to clean up because I can’t find our broom and am too lazy to search the back yard:


It could have been worse and we’re thankful our trusty steed sustained no other injury.

Two weeks ago, DeeW began a ballet class.  I now know first position, demi pointe, arabesque.  Maybe next time I’ll learn how to spell them:


On with the food!

Hallo!  What is in that bag?


It’s Lebanese zaatar bread and a spinach pide!


This week, I went back to Wonderbao and again got the three vegan options.  $7.50, you can’t go wrong!  Unless you can’t have gluten in which case, SAD FACE:


I went to one of those Noodle Hut(?) places for the first time.  You select the kind of noodles you want and vegies etc and they stir fry it for you.  I was a bit unimpressed with the $10 pricetag but I was so hungry and nothing else was open as it was a public holiday when I was out and about.  I chose the thick rice noodles with every single kind of vegie they had plus tofu.  I could have made something tastier at home, it was just garlic and soy sauce and waaaay too much oil.  I won’t be going back:


I bought some vegan burger patties.  I think this is the Macro brand curried chickpea burger eaten two ways.  Firstly in a sandwich overloaded with rocket (which I love, as you can tell):


and then in a bun with salsa and Tofutti sour cream:


‘nachos’… I had to tear up a square of Tofutti for my cheese:


Green curry vegies and rice served in a bowl that really makes this look terrible…


I’ve been eating way too much of this mock meat rendang curry.  I throw some vegies in and serve it over rice:


I hope your week had lots of excellent news!