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:


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

Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger by Isa Chandra M

Growing up, my sister and I absolutely hated the stuffing you’d get with purchased roast chicken.  There was always that ‘taste’ to the stuffing we both found revolting and years later we discovered it was sage.  Or rosemary, or both.  Anyway, as adults we ended up cooking a lot with rosemary but sage was always a bit hmmmm. Growing up in a Greek family, we never had stuffing with chicken.  My sister and I did come to love the stuffing that came with (in?) the roast chickens from the charcoal chicken place around the corner from us, in pre-vegan times.

I’ve never made stuffing in my life so I had no idea how to replicate it.  That is, until Isa Chandra M posted this recipe for a Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger over at The Post Punk Kitchen.

Oh my goodness, a burger that is entirely made of stuffing!!! STUFFING!  I even went and bought celery for this:


The hazelnuts give a nice little crunch and I can safely say I can now have a stuffing fix whenever I like. Life is GOOD, all served on a retro Bessemer plate in a bad photo:


I’m planning on making up the mix for Christmas lunch and cooking them on the bbq.  Yummmm!

Il Gobbo comes to Essendon!

I’m always excited to learn of a new vegan business opening up (especially food) so I was most pleased to learn that Il Gobbo has opened on Keilor Road in Essendon.  Offering a selection of burgers, hot dogs, a burrito, nachos, lasagna, spaghetti with sauce and fries for your meal, I decided today was the day I had to go  😉

Even though I’d looked at the menu online at home, I still had some trouble deciding on a burger because they all sounded great.  In the end I decided that because I am a Veganopoulous I had to get the Fully Sick Wog Burger.  I really liked the patty and the onion, sundried tomato, vegan bacon and cheese with the fresh basil and tomato worked well together.  Definitely something I’d get again once I work my way through the menu!


The fam inhaled two bowls of fries that were nicely seasoned:


I very much enjoyed my meal and service was lovely  🙂  Go check it out!  Essendon peeps, well done on scoring such a tasty cafe!

I forgot to take a photo of the outside (a common theme with me) but here’s the inside:


Il Gobbo is located at 305 Keilor Road, Essendon.  Tram 59 stops right outside (stop 51).  Look for a green shop with signage for Down to Earth tattoos (who use vegan ink)– the cafe is in the front!   https://www.facebook.com/ilgobbovegan

Il Gobbo has been visited by The Good Hearted and Vegawesome.

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!

Sloppy Joes at Las Vegan Cafe

I never knew that sloppy joe referred to food.  Growing up, a sloppy joe was always an item of clothing.  I think it was only a few years ago that I discovered it’s also something you eat.  I always meant to try the food version but it’s not the sort of thing my family go for, so I never bothered.  And to be honest, the idea of a kind of bolognese sauce in a bread bun didn’t appeal much to me either.

Well, the other day I had some business to do in Collingwood and Las Vegan was very closeby so that’s where I went to eat, being a hungry vegan and all.  I’ve been there before and enjoyed my nachos but this time I saw the sloppy joe and knew right away that’s what I’d get.

The cafe was quite full with only one person serving but the atmosphere was laid back.  To be honest though, I was starting to get a little peeved after half an hour when my meal still hadn’t arrived.  It arrived bang on the forty minute mark, with an apology for the delay which was appreciated. I was in a hurry that day too, hence feeling a bit frustrated at the wait.  Behold:


My sloppy joe and chips sure looked great (in person, not so much in this photo).  Unfortunately the sloppy joe itself was cold.  Now, maybe it’s supposed to be that way, I don’t know.  In which case, I’d prefer the meal be warm.  If it’s supposed to be cold, it’s not something I’d order again.  I’m just not a cold meal person but hey, I put my salads and icecream in the microwave so feel free to ignore me.

Welll.  The sloppy joe tasted awesome.  The mushroom mince was great and the bun, although a bit too cold compared to the mince, was good and thick and chewy.  The chips were just right too although I’m not a fussy chip person these days.  I was absolutely stuffed.

A word of caution: ask for extra paper napkins.  It’s called sloppy for a reason.  The sauce was running down my hands and one napkin wasn’t enough.  Hell, take a packet of baby wipes or something!  Or maybe it’s just because I’m a sloppy eater.

Despite the delay in getting my order (on a day when I was already frazzled and in a sooky mood I admit) and the temperature of the meal, I’d definitely return.  Las Vegan have some great food and I look forward to trying other items.  When I left, I realised I was charged less than what the menu stated.  Perhaps this was because of the delay?  I don’t know, but I’m definitely going back!

Here are some pics of the drive back home:



Las Vegan Cafe is located at 22 Smith Street in Collingwood. http://www.lasvegan.com.au/