Lunch at Lakshmi Vilas in Dandenong

Today we ventured out to Dandenong for a social group outing. It was due to end at noon so I looked up vegan options in Dandenong so the family and I could have some lunch.  I was very pleased to see there was a South Indian vegetarian cafe about a five minute drive from our social event that also have vegan options.  Here it is, Lakshmi Vilas:


There was a small bain marie and I chose rice with the two vegan dishes there, both potato curries.  I was a little disappointed that the dahl contained dairy because I was in a dahl kind of mood. Regardless, these curries were tasty (even though I prefer my curries to be full on flavourful, these were more subdued):



I ordered a vegan veggie pakora, samosa and curry puff for the family to try.  When the food arrived, DeeW said the words many parents dread when out in public: “I need to go to the toilet”. Arthur wasn’t hungry. From what we could see, Lakshmi Vilas did not have a toilet so Husband took the kids across to the magistrates court as we figured there were bound to be toilets there.  This meant I got the samosa, pakora and curry puff to myself, as the fam were going to go off and find a bakery. Score! I was assured the sauce below was vegan:



I only had a little of each because I had ordered two dosas.  One plain, the other with a potato filling which I think was the same potato curry I had.  I only had a bit of the dosas (dosa?) at the cafe because I was full and had planned on taking a lot of stuff home.  The dosa(s) were great, they look so easy to make on YouTube but I just know I will screw them up and end up with something completely blergh if I tried it myself:



This is what I ended up taking home.  Later on I ate the samosa and pakora.  Very tasty:



I didn’t take photos of the dining area because it was full and I don’t think anyone would have appreciated a photo in such close quarters!

For a simple, affordable, tasty lunch I was happy. Service was friendly and when I said I was vegan, the woman there told me what my options were.  The cafe was very busy as it was lunch hour but I didn’t have to wait long at all.  Lots of people were coming in to pick up take away orders.  Although it is unlikely I will visit Dandenong again (I don’t have friends or family around there and it is an hour drive from where I live), I would happily head back to Lakshmi Vilas if I was in that part of town. I’m very much looking forward to eating more leftovers tomorrow.

Lakshmi Vilas is located at 31 Pulteney Street in Dandenong. I didn’t ask if there was a toilet but a glance around told me there didn’t seem to be one for customers.  This is a small cafe which offers more home style cooking than fancier cafe/restaurant fare, but I very much enjoy eating dishes the cooks would make for themselves at home. I paid cash but didn’t ask about other payment options.

Lakshmi Vilas on Urbanspoon

Meal Planning Week 4: The Hideous Food Photography version

I was incredibly lazy last week when it came to food.  I didn’t plan a full menu again which of course meant our meals were nowhere near as vegietastic as I’d hoped!

One smoothie I like is made with banana, plant milk, oats, cinnamon and hemp protein.  This fills me up for a while.  I call it my ‘porridge smoothie’:

oat porridge banana smoothie

I made the Cauli-power Alfredo pasta sauce from Oh She Glows.  It was quite tasty, though I should have added more plant milk as it was far too thick (I didn’t follow the recipe thoroughly).  Or perhaps I could have added some vegetable stock.  Anyway, I was thinking that if it was really thick, perhaps it could serve as a kind of bechamel layer on a baked pasta or moussaka.  I’ll have to try that one day:

caulipower alfredo

I found a packet of vegan rendang in the back of the pantry and cooked it up with some peas and coconut rice:

vegan rendang

I made some filo parcels with a filling of chickpeas, walnuts and cooked brown rice.  The kids weren’t crazy about them but the next day Arthur asked for leftovers so I’d say they ended up being a winner for one child at least!

chickpea  walnut rice filo parcels

Quite a bit of fruit:

fruit salad

Husband had gone out to a shopping centre and called to ask if I wanted anything from the food court.  It was a hot day, I wasn’t in the mood to cook so I requested some Indian food.  The Indian food outlets at shopping centres often have a few vegan dishes.  My photo does not do it justice.  My photo does not do the plastic bag justice:

indian takeaway

Arthur and I baked the Sweet Potato Blondies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  As always, I significantly reduce the amount of sugar used:

sweet potato blondies

Sunday was Australia Day.  Originally I had plans to take the family out to some of the free events going on, like the Government House Open Day.  But we had a late change of plans, a really late night and when Husband and I woke up we were way too tired.  We did stop at Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop on the way to visit my parents:

Mister Nice Guy's Bake Shop music

Mister Nice Guy’s made awesome Australia Day themed cupcakes (here are last year’s).  I got the Golden Gaytime, which the Bake Shop described as a “vanilla toffee swirl cake with caramel frosting, topped with chocolate and caramel ganache and sprinkled with honeycomb”.  Golden Gaytime is an icecream that has been around since I was a little girl and it was probably my favourite icecream-on-a-stick before I went vegan. So if something is ‘Golden Gaytime inspired’ I am THERE.  We also got the ANZAC biscuit inspired cupcake and a donut. Arthur got his usual cinnamon bun:

Mr Nice Guy's Bake Shop selection

To finish off the week, Husband and I went out to dinner at Magic Mint Cafe in Moonee Ponds.  I got my usual veggie pakora for entree and the mixed vegetable curry for my main.  YUMZ:

Magic Mint Cafe veg curry

It’s Wednesday here and I haven’t used a meal plan this week either! The weather has been urgh-hot again, though today is lovely so I might get some baking done, or meals that can last a few days.

Fingers crossed I’ll get back to meal planning for next week…

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:




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


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:


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:


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:


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 return to Magic Mint and some *wheeeeze* *huh?* funnies

* UPDATE March 23rd 2014:  We went to Magic Mint tonight and I decided to confirm again if the onion kulcha was vegan as the last couple of times they told me it was.  But when I googled recipes they all seemed to have dairy.  Anyway tonight I was told their onion kulcha has milk in it  😦  I’m hoping it didn’t the times I ordered it but well, it would explain the (TMI alert) Sneaky Dairy Poos.


Husband and I returned to Magic Mint in Moonee Ponds for a lovely meal.  Magic Mint always has great service, the food is good and I get to take leftovers home for breakfast.  So it’s a win on all fronts!

The first time we visited, I ordered the mixed veg curry.  On the second visit, I got the eggplant, potato and pea masala.  For this third visit I went back to the veg curry with coconut rice.  I ordered onion kulcha on the side but forgot to take a photo:


Husband and I are always happy with our visits to Magic Mint and it’s our go-to Indian restaurant.

Now on to the humour part of today’s broadcast.  I’m usually a bit slow catching up on all these funny clips and stories that float around the WWW so I’m guessing a lot of my readers have seen the following clip.  The “you have never seen a more inexplicable clip than this” really sums it up for me.  I swear I sat there in a state of utter confusion and speechlessness, with some laughter (hello Tonya Harding!) thrown in before going back to being utterly confused.  Enjoy!

Vegan MoFo 2013: Day 1 is a bit of a fail, theme wise…


It’s the first day of this year’s Vegan MoFo and my theme is the rather ridiculous ‘eat as much raw as possible but any cooked food is to be oil free and oh while I’m at it everything is gluten free too’.  I chose this theme because I have wanted to try oil free for a while, plus I need to be more disciplined with going gluten free and I want this to be an experiment to see how I feel overall.  I’ve blogged before about my short mostly-raw food trial making me feel and sleep fantastic and I’m very curious to see if I can have that again.  I’ve also stacked on a little weight and feeling blah about it.  Yep, when I do my aeroplane seatbelt up and notice my stomach flopping over the top of it, it’s time to re-think my eating and lack of aerobic activity.

Most days I have a smoothie or some kind of juice for breakfast but for MoFo I want to get back in to green juices daily.  My day 1 MoFo smoothie was made with frozen banana, peanuts, raw cacao powder (I put too much in by accident) and ground flax:


As we hadn’t gone shopping since returning home from our holiday, I made another smoothie for lunch.  This time, frozen bananas, oats, a date, non dairy milk and cinnamon.  I know I know, oats aren’t exactly gluten free but there was nothing else to eat and I wasn’t sure when we’d go shopping nor when I’d eat next:


Finally we went shopping and I loaded up on fresh produce.  I had a precooked dinner I’d made and frozen so that I wouldn’t have to cook for a few days after returning from Sydney.  Everything was set, then we dropped the kids off for a sleepover at my mum’s and then as it is Fathers Day here in Australia, I asked Husband what he’d like for dinner.  Aaand he suggested Magic Mint Cafe in Moonee Ponds, our go-to Indian restaurant. Aaaaaaaaaaand I got the veggie pakora which are, you know, deep fried in oil.  And my main of Aloo Gobi Mattar had oil in it. Aaaaand I got some stuffed naan as well which is… gluteny.  I supposed I can wriggle out of my day 1 fail by saying “BUT I said the food I cook would be oil free, I didn’t say anything about other people cooking for me so nyerrr”.  Plus my mum gave me some stuffed veggies she’d made for me and they’re cooked in oil.

Dinner at Magic Mint was great as always though:



Let’s hope I get some more raw happening tomorrow!