What I Ate This Week (or so)

Food glorious food!  But first I have some sad news.  I was in Coburg yesterday and wanted to go to Cafe Sarabella for a piece of their vegan cake.  I was all happy hoppin’ along, having bought some coconut flakes for coconut bacon and then I noticed there were no chairs and tables outside Cafe Sarabella.  Never mind, I thought.  Perhaps Sara is inside cleaning up and can still sell me a piece of cake.  But you guys, OH NO.  There was a big sign saying they’ve closed because of damage caused by plumbing and their last day of trading was August 8th.  MUCH SADNESS.  I really liked going there. *SNIFF*

We’ve had some cold, windy, rainy weather here this week.  Two days ago there were branches blown off trees when we were driving around Brunswick and through the city.  It’s great reading weather though.  I borrowed three memoirs from the library but couldn’t make it past the first few chapters because the authors got on my nerves.  I much prefer leafing through my cookbooks.

Husband and I have been catching up on Red Dwarf episodes.  I will always have a crush on Chris Barrie.  Movie-wise, I have also been subjected to more Fast and the Furious films.  I also borrowed Julie & Julia from the library which was entertaining I suppose but mehhh I don’t know, Meryl Streep kinda overdid the Julia Child a bit.

Okay, the food. Let’s start with the apple hemp pancakes from Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton.  I didn’t make a separate post about it because I really made them look bad on the underside, where the apple slices go (in my version… the lazy version), so next time I make them I’ll at least make them look presentable.  Anyway, this is a great healthy recipe (without lashings of maple syrup that we add, ho ho…):


I bought some falafel balls and made some hummus.  I like to serve these on top of salad greens:


I made myself wraps with sprouts, salad greens, avocado, vegan sour cream, sliced apple and pecans:

applewrapIs this alien space food?


It’s a calzone!  Made with my leftover Redwood Cheatin’ pepperoni slices and Notzarella.  Awful photo taken with my phone:


I made the Banana Scented Vanilla Cake, also from Let Them Eat Vegan!.   Can you see the evidence of my laziness (and why, again, I didn’t make a separate post about it)?  Note the indentations.  That’s because when I am lazy and line a round cake tin with baking paper, I just shoved a whole square of paper in.  Not the whole properly cut out a circle and side bits routine:


My mum made some pilafi (rice) and Greek style beans and potatoes:


My sister cooked up a bunch of mixed veg and some burghul and gave me some.  I love it when people give me food they’ve made.  If I cook the same thing for myself I won’t enjoy it and wouldn’t want to eat it.  I’m strange that way.  But if someone else makes it, even if it’s toast, to me it is raised to gourmet status:


I decided to make a mushroom stroganoff.  It was blergh.  The best thing about it was the bowl (from mum’s kitchen when I was growing up):


I had the falafel zocaccia from Zaatar in Coburg.  I can only eat half at a time as it’s so filling:


I had the No Wurry Curry pie from Funky Pies:


That’s pretty much it for the more interesting stuff.  I don’t put the standard boring veggies in there but every time I look over these What I Ate posts I think perhaps I should 🙂

Until next time!

A slightly fancy luncheon party

‘Slightly fancy’ here means I’ve broken out the old china, properly cleared the table and planned a bit of a menu for a special guest.  Today’s special guest was my sister who came over so Husband could fix her phone.  That was the special occassion.  Yep, any reason to get the slightly-fancy on in the haus of Veganopoulous.

Usually I have a fair bit of anxiety when it comes to cooking for anyone not in the immediate family.  My shoebox kitchen doesn’t help matters.  Anxiety about cooking for others kinda sucks when you love to cook.  But hey, I’ve come a long way from my teenage sweet and sour Asian macaroni piece de resistance and the truly disgusting ricotta tortellini salad that was simply dressed with sesame oil (thank YOU, awful 90s Womens Weekly cookbook.  Or was it Family Circle?).

My sister and I like the same foods so I decided to put together a hearty main meal of veg and chickpeas, a few veg sides, a simple garden salad and a slice for dessert with tea.  Plus a coconut cake, because I couldn’t choose between a slice and a cake so I made both.  Because I can!  I did briefly consider a tofu dish but decided this was enough if we were going to have tea and more than one piece of cake…

I collect old china by companies like Johnson Brothers, Meakin and Grindley.  And clearly,  I don’t like to iron or properly co-ordinate a table setting:


I asked DeeW to prepare a centrepiece:


The main part of the meal was the Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad recently featured on Where’s The Beef? I used half butternut pumpkin and half sweet potato. This was simple and very tasty.  My sister says it would make a great lunch to take to work:


One side dish was the Lemon Dijon Green Beans from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan!:


I also made some potatoes that were sprinkled with lemon juice, garlic and sumac.  Which turned the potatoes pink:


I roasted some cauliflower, using Dreena Burton’s recipe for Almond Roasted Cauliflower from Let Them Eat Vegan! but I was out of almonds (yeah, noticed that after I started preparing the cauli) so it was walnut roasted instead:


The garden salad was a simple green leaf mix, toasted pecans with a vinaigrette made with EVOO, pomegranate molasses, garlic and lemon juice:


Everything ready to go:


The slice was Hedgehog, which I haven’t made in many many years.  I used the recipe from Veganise This! which was adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe’s recipe.  I had eaten some biscuits from the packet of Arnotts Nice before I knew I’d be making this recipe so yeah… could have done with about five more biscuits here and a smaller tin:


And the cake was another Dreena B. recipe: the Coconut Cake from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan! with the Creamy Vanilla Frosting on top.  I love this cake.  In place of almond extract for the cake and frosting, I used a tiny bit of coconut essence (I really need to buy the good stuff).  This cake was renamed by Husband to Sunken Cake.  And then Caldera Cake.  Obviously I went wrong somewhere cos yeah, it really sunk in the middle:


You know those moments when you’re really stuffed but you’re still thinking about going back to the fridge for the last piece of cake?   Yes, that.  I’m resisting the urge though so I’ll go and make another pot of tea for myself instead  🙂


Fossicking Adventures, Tofu and Coconut Cake

If you ask my family what I always wanted for Christmas and birthdays when I was a kid, they’ll answer in unison: a powerful telescope, a metal detector and a Stable Table.  Well, they ended up buying me one of those three.  In my thirties.  Folks, let me tell you I’m still not doing any stargazing or living out my Indiana Jones fantasies (digging up artefacts, people!).  But I am enjoying tv dinners in stable table style.

A few weekends ago, we had a family lunch at my uncle’s house which is about an hour’s drive out of Melbourne.  Such a beautiful place that backs out on to the State Forest.  Check out their view. Ahhh, Australia!


My uncle got the fires going:



Being the only vegan in the village, and my sister now being vegetarian, we took our own food.  I made two firm tofu recipes from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan: the Cumin Lime Tofu and the Orange Sesame Tofu.  Delicious!  These were cooked up on a flat plate with some zucchini and mushrooms:


We ate our lunch on one of the many picnic tables my aunt set up:


I also took a cake along.  I made Dreena’s Coconut Cake with the Coconut Dream Frosting.  Which wasn’t coconut-dreamy  at all, as I didn’t realise I had zero coconut essence.  And I also dropped in too much almond essence.  So it ended up being coconut cake with more of an almond dream frosting.  Regardless it was still yum and fortunately the people who tried it love marzipan so they said the almond frosting was great:


My brother in law recently bought a metal detector and brought it along.  I was so excited because I am a massive dork that way.  There was a dry creek bed near my uncle’s house, which may have seen some action in the gold rush days.  We started digging when the detector went all beep beep woowooowoooo.  We spent half an hour digging and sifting through small piles of dirt only to come up with absolute crap.  But we did find this, which was kinda fun:


And this was the walk back to the house:


I’m definitely a city girl but I can’t deny that being out there in these surroundings really does good things to one’s spirit  🙂

What I Ate (and got rid of, including food disasters) This Past Week or So

This past fortnight has been decluttering time.  About once a year I do one of those big declutters and my front hallway is filled with boxes of stuff to get rid of.  Then over the year I seem to accumulate enough stuff so that the process is repeated again twelve months later.  And I always say WHERE? HOW? WHY DO WE ACCUMULATE SO.MUCH.STUFF???

I’ve been reading some home organisation books and websites to get inspiration.  I honestly can not sit down to do work, or meal plan, or even craft activities with the kids if I don’t have a large cleared table or surface to work on.  If the kids are trying to do schoolwork, stuff around them distracts them.  I find it very distracting too. I’ve also been reading about minimalist homes and take my hat off to people who do it and do it well.  But I’m guilty of liking stuff too much and I have lots of little knick knack dust gatherers that I’d never part with.

Anyway, I’ve been ruthless with getting rid of stuff and here’s the list of what has been given away, donated, eBayed or binned:

– a drawer’s worth of kitchen utensils.  Goodbye, silicon pancake shaper thingies in the shape of a circle and a star.  Goodbye wooden ginger grater that I never used.  Goodbye metal template thingies that sit over a mug of hot chocolate so you can create pretty shapes with sprinklings of cocoa.  Goodbye metallic contraption where I don’t even know what the heck you were.

– slow cooker.  I barely used it before I was vegan.  Now it’s not worth keeping as nobody eats the vegan stuff I’d cook in it! My sister in law will be getting this one 🙂

– a big box of about 30 plastic coathangers.  I use those velvetty/felt lined thin coathangers that take up less space in the wardrobe.  They do make a bit of a difference.

– nappies and assorted baby items.  These are going to my niece.

– lots of Arthur’s clothing and shoes that no longer fit him, or that he just never wore.  I give things like this to St. Kilda Mums.  They’re a great organisation, please consider giving them your unwanted baby/kids goods!  Please also consider casting your vote for St Kilda Mums to help them win $5000 that will be put towards providing essential items for babies and children experiencing hardship, so they have a safe, warm place to sleep: http://sunsuperdreams.com.au/dream/view/providing-a-safe-place-to-sleep

– food serving stuff.  A melamine food container I never used that just took up space and a metal platter that has always been a pain to store.  A faux silver serving dish engraved with “thanks for your work”– it was a gift to my sister when she finished her two week year 10 work experience at a pharmacy.  She passed it on to me and now it’s time to go.  But as I type I feel like keeping it.

– mini food chopper: Used once.  I use a knife or food processor most of the time so this has been given to my sister.

– clothing.  Lots of stuff I no longer wear is heading to the op shop or Fitted For Work, another charity I recommend you consider if you have work/business attire to get rid of.

– shoes.  A few pairs that seemed like a good idea when I bought them but highly uncomfortable after wearing them for ten minutes.

– books. On their way to the op shops.

– paper stuff.  I went through the drawer where I throw in warranties and instruction manuals.  I found manuals for electricals I got rid of ages ago.  I found the manual for the microwave and now know how to use the power level setting instead of randomly punching numbers and hoping I get the sequence right.

In addition to physical clutter, I’ve also tried to cut down on the mental clutter.  For such a long time now I’ve toyed with the idea of no longer reading the news.  All it takes is for me to see an article, or even a headline, that then causes me to feel upset/depressed/sick– things relating to children (particularly those with special needs) or animals being hurt is enough to kill my mood, cause trouble sleeping and all sorts of other stressful stuff.  I’m very sensitive to all that.  A couple of weeks ago I read one such article that affected me so badly that we changed the configuration of our internet servers to block my access to the popular news sites (I never watch tv news or listen to the radio much so that wasn’t a problem).  I found that all the bad news I was reading really began to take its toll.  I also unsubscribed from various online services and Facebook pages to reduce the mental clutter and stress triggers even more.  Do I really need to be subscribed to a dozen recipe services when I barely read them?  Nope!  I always wanted to stay on top of world news and current affairs, but when so much of that is just bad news, I’m happy to skip it.  I figure I’ll find out about things anyway but at least I won’t load up news sites and be confronted with distressing images or headlines first thing in the morning.

Okay, so here’s a look at what I’ve been eating this fortnight or so.  Oh my gosh you guys, lots of disasters.  And I swear I don’t eat crap all the time.  I’ve been pretty sick with a bad cold so my appetite wasn’t the best.  In an effort to start using up food supplies instead of shopping for more, I made the ‘Chesapeake Crab Cakes’ from Vegan Brunch.  There was vegan mayo in the fridge that had to be consumed soon as well as tempeh that had been in the freezer for too long.  I used half the tempeh called for and subbed the rest with chickpeas.  The kids didn’t like the cakes at all and I don’t think I’d ever make them for myself.  I still can’t bring myself to like tempeh enough to buy it again and I don’t like mayo in such quantities:


For Mothers Day, I received some items from Vege2Go on Lygon Street in Brunswick.  I got the pear and blueberry quinoa breakfast.  This was okay as I’m not crazy about quinoa and only eat it because it’s a good source of plant protein (remember folks, you absolutely do not need to eat animals for protein, you can get more than enough from plants.  I believe Harvard and Cornell U will tell you so).  The sweetness was just right in that it wasn’t too sweet at all.  If you love quinoa I’m sure you’ll like this.  I served mine with some stewed plums made by my mother in law, with plums from her tree:


I also received Vege2go’s hazelnut tiramisu.  On first tasting, I thought hmmm there’s something about this that makes me think it should not be called tiramisu.  A couple of bites in and I was really enjoying it.  It was hard work not eating it all in one sitting:


The Vege2go coconut lemon slice was an absolute winner.  I love anything that has lemon and coconut in it.  I really hope I find a recipe for something like this because it would absolutely win over the people who don’t believe desserts can be made without egg or dairy:


Finally, I received the Vege2go lasagna.  This was nice too but I could easily make one similar myself.  Still, it was nice to have a few meals out of this for myself without having to cook anything.  Note the microwave splatter pattern:


The family wanted pizza one night so I asked the local place if they could make a vegan pizza.  They did, but it was pretty bland:


For Mothers Day, I treated myself to a movie (Star Trek: Into Darkness).  I have not been to the cinema in years (I’m not including taking Arthur to see The Croods, I’m talking about films I want to see).  Beforehand, I killed some time eating this from Little India, located in the food court at the Crown complex. Little India is in a few food courts around town, I blogged about another Little India outlet here:


While I was sick I felt like eating something hot and spicy so I made Black Pepper Tofu that I’ve blogged about before and ate it with rice:


For one late breakfast I had the leftovers from Magic Mint:


I visited the lovely Cafe Sarabella again and came away with a vegan laksa and rice:


I tried the Jerk Chickpeas from Dreena Burton’s ‘Let Them Eat Vegan’.  The kids and husband, as expected, didn’t like them but they never eat chickpeas.  I thought they were okay, although allspice is one of those things I’m really on the fence about:


I decided I would try to make my own corn tortillas.  I found the packet of maize flour that has been sitting in the cupboard for a year and the best before date was two days ago.  Now this will tell you what a hack I am.  I have a metal tortilla press I bought months ago but haven’t used yet.  I thought you put the tortilla dough in it, squash it down and have the whole thing sitting on the stove over a flame.  Thank goodness I used the recipe from ‘Vegan Eats World’ where Terri mentions using plastic wrap.  And I thought oh… that must mean the tortilla press is not supposed to get hot.  NO VEGANOPOULOUS. NO.  It’s just a tortilla press.  Anyway, I made up the mixture and did this:


Step 2.  Give it a squish, open, and let out an expletive. More photography for blog:


Fry it anyway, just to see what it tastes like:


… and realise it tastes disgusting.  Go to google, type in “is maize flour the same as masa harina” then read lots of comments saying  NO THEY’RE NOT.  Throw dough in the bin.

Here’s a picture of DeeW’s dinner.  Macro brand curry corn pumpkin puffs (she doesn’t like them, Arthur does) and vegies (she likes them, Arthur doesn’t):


After ballet class, Husband sometimes takes DeeW to buy some avocado maki hand rolls.  They picked up a couple for me.  They’re not very fresh looking:


I made blueberry breakfast muffins with buckwheat flour I ground myself (in the blender of course).  They weren’t very sweet which is fine with me but Arthur wasn’t that thrilled:


I found a vegan mushroom pie in the freezer.  It was okay but I don’t really like to eat stuff like this.  Even as an omni I was never in to the meat pie thing.  There’s a reason why meat pies are called ‘gristle ‘n gravy’.  I’m so glad that being vegan means I will no longer have to bite in to something hard in a meat pie and wonder which bit of the animal it is:


Another disaster.  I made the lovely Mac-Oh-Geez recipe from one of Dreena Burton’s fantastic books.  Everything went great until I tasted it.  And realised the rice milk I used was obviously the sweetened variety.  The kids said it was awful and I agreed.  Sorry Dreena, next time I will read the plant milk carton and use the unsweetened variety like your recipes states.  I’m certain it is a fantastic recipe with the right milk:


I love roasted hazelnuts and lately my breakfast has been a smoothie made with frozen bananas, cacao, plant milk and hazelnuts:


I went in to the city as well during the week. Here are some photos taken around the Flagstaff area in Melbourne, where you’ll find the law courts and the lovely Flagstaff Gardens:





This is the lobby of the Hellenic Museum:


One of the old trams in Melbourne:


No, this isn’t the wild Australian bush.  It’s in the eastern suburbs somewhere:

This week I am going to try and create menu plans based on what I already have.  I just read a post over at Happy Herbivore where a reader says she made every recipe from Happy Herbivore Abroad and that her family were all on board.  I suppose I shouldn’t have a defeatist mindset but I really don’t think my family would go along with something like that.  Both kids and Husband have food related sensitivities, as I’ve mentioned before, that qualify them as very fussy eaters.  This is really difficult for me sometimes, as I can rarely cook one meal that everyone will eat.  Naturally, we all agree on dessert but in terms of nutritious meals, it’s incredibly challenging and I’m often struggling to keep my head above water there.  It’s crazy, having to cook separate meals.  So I’m constantly having to try different recipes in the hopes both kids will like them.  If I can get both Arthur and DeeW to like the same meal, that’s a big problem solved right there.  With Husband, at least he can eat the same thing for days in a row so if I make something he likes, or he makes something himself, that problem is solved.

Well, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?  I may never have a table setting like this, where I serve up vegies in lovely serving dishes and the kids argue over who gets the leafy greens first:


but I’m trying lots of different recipes and I’m sure I’ll find more the kids like.  Tomorrow’s plan is chickpea flour pikelets with vegies– the ingredients are chickpea (besan) flour, water, seasonings and whatever grated veg I can come up with.  On the plus side, the kids are willing to try more stuff!

Thai Almond Chickpea Curry from ‘Let Them Eat Vegan!’

I’ve made quite a few of Dreena Burton’s recipes and they’ve all been great.  I decided to make Dreena’s Thai Almond Chickpea Curry because I’ve never made this kind of curry in the oven before.  It’s simple and straightforward and appeals to my lazy side.  All the sauce ingredients get blended up.  Nice!

The first time I made this, I followed the recipe exactly, using almonds.  It was nice, but I found the almond taste a little too strong but that could be because I used whole almonds instead of almond butter (recipe says almond butter) and these organic almonds I’ve been using have a lovely strong almond flavour.  Not so great in this dish, so when I made it again I used cashews.  Much better!

I used a variety of vegetables and added water to the blended sauce:


Cover with foil and stick it in the oven.  I mixed some baby spinach leaves through after it was cooked then served it up plain as I was a bit sick of rice:


Delicious and something I’d make again, with cashews and not the almonds.  This recipe also depends on the curry paste you use.  I used the vegan red curry paste Aldi stock and it was mostly okay but I don’t think you can ever beat a homemade curry paste  🙂