Friday, March 28, 2014

Possum, a farewell

Five weeks ago tomorrow (Saturday), our beloved family cat Possum was injured. His injuries were so severe that surgery was not a realistic option, and we made the painful decision to help him go in peace.


Possum in the garden


Possum was nineteen years old, he had been in my family for almost two thirds of my life. He had stage three renal disease, arthritis and was going a bit batty, as old cats tend to do. But he still had a gleam in his eye and could frisk up the stairs like a kitten if he wished to. He had a firmly established routine in his life (he liked his routine), and ruled over the house with a quiet dignity. He was a gentleman.

Possum Asana


Possum came into our family in November 1994 as a tiny little kitten. For my high school years, the two of us were very close. After I moved away for university, and eventually came back nine years later with three cats (something he dealt with with great tolerance), he very much became my parent's boy. However he still saved some moment for me. I treasure all these moments.

Possum


Unlike the long, painful ordeal with Gizmo, Possum's departure was sudden and unexpected (though in the immortal words of Tara Maclay from Buffy... It's always sudden...). We were all so used to working within his routine, and to having his quiet presence nearby. Adjusting to a two cat household with Dim Sim and Sahara.

Possum is hopeful


Goodbye good boy, handsome boy. Thank you for nineteen years. I hope you are frolicking freely, and eating all the prawns and kangaroo you want.

Possum's 17th Birthday


Possum with violet

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Japan 2012 - Part 7 (Hikone and Kyoto)

Happy New Year! It's well beyond the new year now (I'll share some food from that time in a later post), so let's get back to Japan!


Breakfast


While perusing some food shops earlier in the trip I had found this vacuum packed pumpkin which I had with some rice and a side of fruit (from my mother's breakfast). The pumpkin ended up being sweet, which was quite odd!

I was heading out on my own today for a train trip to Hikone so I could see one of the original castles of Japan in all its glory! I managed to get on the right train and get off at the right stop. And thankfully there was a very helpful English speaking person at the information office who gave me a great map to point me in the way of the castle and also let me know there was a festival on in the town that day!

Hikone


On the way to the castle was a roundabout with a famous statue - and also a figure of the little Hikone mascot, named Hikonyan. More on mascots later!

Hikone Castle
Hikone Castle


At the castle I bought a '1000 Yen Set', which gave me access to the Castle Museum (which was really interesting and had a lovely place for tea). The castle itself was lovely to behold, though you can see from the inside the Japanese style of castle is very different to the European style! Also it had these ridiculous almost vertical staircases. So steep! I am terrified of heights and when I had to descend it was slow and very scary. But worth it!

Hikone Castle Garden
Hikone Castle


After the castle I walked down a steep hill to the gardens, which were lovely and also afforded some very pretty views of the castle as well.

Hikone Mascot Festival


After the castle I walked down Castle Road (finding an adorable cat themed shop on the way - I bought some ridiculously cute little rice bowls!) and found this festival. It was the Hikone Mascot Festival! I am still not sure what it was all about, but it seemed to be different Mascots from all over Japan who had little tourism or information stalls selling all sorts of different things. And they all had people dressed up as adorable mascots! I have know idea which mascot this is, but it is a kitty! There were a couple of kitty mascots. So much fun!

I made my way back to the station and caught the train back to Kyoto, snacking on a fruit and nut bar I had brought from home. Once back in Kyoto I had a rest at the hotel, and had some 7-11 inigiri and edamame for lunch before heading out again.

Tofuku-Ji Tofuku-Ji Tofuku-Ji Tofuku-Ji


What sort of vegan would I be if I didn't visit the temple called Tofukuji? I caught a train to Tofukuji station, but then got a little lost. However some helpful people assisted me with directions. Tofukuji is the site of some very famous gardens, some of which you can see above. It is a very beautiful place.

Inari Shrine Inari Shrine


I took a taxi to my next stop (I was tired), the incredible Inari Shrine. Fushimi Inari Shrine has entire pathways made up of tori gates that wind up a mountain, and it is full of beautiful stone fox statues. It is pretty amazing.

Inari Shrine


As I was walking up, a man was trotting up the hill with a backpack full of cat food. Several cats were around, very timid, but they came running out to greet him. I would have hugged him if I could.

Hale Restaurant


After my shrine experience I caught a train back to the hotel for a shower (it was a long day) and then the subway out to dinner. I finally made it to Hale! Hale has a strict no photo policy, but I did take some notes as to what I ate.

When I first sat down I was brought some cucumber spears with some sort of miso garlic dressing. I ordered the Hale Dinner Set for 2400 Yen, determined to eat as much as I could! It started with 'Kyoto Hattori's Delicious Chilled Tofu', which was indeed delicious, creamy and lightly salted. Then came 'Two Types Kyoto Seasonal Vegetable Dish'. One of the types was eggplant, capiscum and carrot ribbons with seaweed, and the other was some sort of carrot noodle in a sesame dressing. Following this was a bamboo steamer full of organic veggetables - lotus, pumpkin, okra, mushroom, daikon, carrot, potato, onion turnip, edamame and some soft green thing. This came with three dippers - salt, soy and sweet miso. 'Today's Fried Tofu and Fried Gluten Meat' was always going to be popular! Fried tofu, lotus balls, root, gluteny blobs, chilli, yuba crisp, leaves and cucumber and bean sprouts with dressing, Japanese mustard and chestnut. Yum!. But my favourite may have been the 'Yuba and Mushrooms Rice Bowl', enoki mushrooms and shreds of yuba over brown rice. This was also served with tea. Drink wise I also had a homemade grapefruit ginger ale, which is a must buy drink if you are at Hale! In fact, Hale is a much eat at place if you are at Kyoto! It did look like one thing contained something fishy, however the English menu is very clear as to what is what.

Matsunoko - Deep Fried Yatu Hashi with Ice Cream and Green Tea


One thing Hale didn't have was dessert, so I popped back in to Matsunotoko for some Deep Fried Yatsu Hashi with Ice Cream and Green Tea.

Kitty on Nishiki


On my way back to the hotel wandering through Nishiki I came across this lovely shop cat who was very giving with her affection. A lovely end to a mammoth day!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eating Out and About

I've been eating out a bit lately, and I thought I would share two lovely experiences I have had over the last few months.


Dayboro Deli Vegan Night

The Dayboro Deli is located an hour or so out of Brisbane in the town of Dayboro. A few months ago they held a series of four dinners, each focusing on a different 'food'. The first of the nights was a vegetable night, and they decided to make it all vegan. Of course I had to go! Driving to and from Dayboro in the dark was kind of terrifying - even with my high beams on it was pitch black! But it was worth it for a lovely dinner.

Dayboro Deli Vegan Night


The first course was 'Pine Nut and Sweet Potato Risotto with Crispy Kale'. This was a risotto made actually of pine nuts! A very nifty idea. The flavour was good, though as it cooled down it was quite rich. It came with a bit of crispy kale, which was amazing!

Dayboro Deli Vegan Night


The main course was 'Portobello Steak with Vegemite and Red Wine Jus and Baby Vegetable Medley'. As vegans, portobello steaks are nothing out of the ordinary. However this was a steak made from minced mushroom that was bound together and cooked. Mixed with the delicious jus, it was a great combination!

Dayboro Deli Vegan Night


Dessert was 'Coconut Milk Kheer Pudding with Carrot, Orange Mousse and Beetroot Sorbet'. The beetroot sorbet was kind of like eating a frozen baby beetroot from a can in flavour, but all together it really worked.

All up it was a great night, well worth the trip out there. I really enjoyed how the chef was quite inventive with how he made the dinners, it is great to see that sort of effort put in to vegan food and omni places!

Statler and Waldorf

One of the nurses at work goes out with one of the owners and chefs of The Statler and Waldorf Gastronomy Club in Paddington. On a regular day, the menu will have a couple of vegetarian options, however vegan not so much. However, when Lisa arranged for our work Christmas party to be held there, they were able to put together a delicious array of share plates that were mostly vegan.

Statler and Waldorf


This salad was probably the favourite of the table, a Waldorf Salad. Greens, shredded apple, candied walnuts and frozen grapes (and other things as well I am sure), forks were crossed trying to scrape the last of this amazing salad off the boards and onto our plates, or just directly into our stomachs. I loved the frozen grapes!

Statler and Waldorf


Coming in second by just the merest of a whisper were these amazing quinoa and eggplant tacos with avocado cream. So. Frakking. Good. I could have devoured a whole plate. Actually, these probably tied for first with the salad for me.

Statler and Waldorf


After this I gave up taking photos, because the whole low light/bright flash thing was really frustrating. You can see how bad this photo is! It is a photo of a little quartered beet and portobello slider (yum!). In the 'I did not take a picture' category there was also some lovely artichoke bruschetta - where the artichokes took the place of the bread and had a zesty topping. And a giant pot of sweet potato chips with more avocado cream.

This was an amazing dinner! I was so happy and full after this. I would recommend checking out Statler and Waldorf should the opportunity arise - just be sure to call in advance so they can put together a great vegan menu! Even if you aren't vegan, if everyone keeps asking for those amazing tacos maybe they will put it on the menu permanently? YUM!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Possum Asana


Cats love yoga mats, and they love yoga poses. Here is Possum practicing a very important pose - Resting Cat. Possum turned nineteen years old in September, he is amazing!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: One-Dish Vegan (part 2)

On to the second part of my initial round-up of One-Dish Vegan, by the magnificent Robin Robertson.

Jamaican-Style Coconut Rice Bowl

Jamaican-Style Coconut Rice Bowl


This dish is a great reminder that you don't need complex ingredients for great flavour. Initially I was worried this might be a bit bland, but I was so wrong. This is a beautiful dish, which I served over kale.

Chipotle-Citrus Tofu and Broccoli

Chipotle-Citrus Tofu and Broccoli


This is a very filling dish, with a lovely orange flavour and gentle heat. I only used one chipotle (which I seeded) to make it Susan spice level approved.

Black Beans and Quinoa with Shredded Vegetables

Black Beans and Quinoa with Shredded Vegetables


Another dish that is generous with the serving sizes! There's something so fun about eating shredded vegetables, plus with quinoa and black beans it will fill you up and give you that protein omnivores are always so concerned about. Great with nooch!

Thai Peanut Bowl with Tofu and Asaparagus

Thai Peanut Bowl with Tofu and Asparagus


This is amazing, and will definitely have you going back for seconds. I got three big servings out of this, and that was only with great restraint (I really wanted to eat more!).

Pasta and Zucchini Puttanesca

Pasta and Zucchini Puttanesca


I love puttanesca, something about all those olives and capers and tomato and pasta. This version has finely chopped zucchini in it as well, which is lovely. I accidentally had bought green olives with pips, so I had to slice my olives off around them. Annoying! But worth it. Sprinkle with nooch.

Pad Thai Tofu

Pad Thai Tofu


I always gravitate towards Pad Thai recipes in cookbooks (any excuse to bust out my tamarind paste!), and this did not disappoint. I love all the toppings on it as well.

Hoisin Tempeh Noodles

Hoisin Tempeh Noodles


Hoisin, tempeh and soba noodles... three of my favourite things! This recipe is definitely one to keep coming back to, even my tempeh suspicious dad enjoyed it. The recipe calls for 8oz of tempeh (about 250g) but I had a 300g block so I just used it all and increased the amount of sauce (by using 20mL Australian TBS instead of 15mL US TBS when I was measuring out the ingredients for it).

Sesame Soba with Tofu and Broccoli

Sesame Soba with Tofu and Broccoli


Another totally awesome dinner. I can't get enough of soba, and I also love tofu and broccoli and tahini. Tahini and miso sauce has got to be one of the best combinations out there.

Pesto Lasagna

Pesto Lasagna


A great lasagna, I did make a few modifications. I can't find non-instant lasagne noodles that don't have eggs in them, so I used instant (which worked fine). I also used 1/4 cup of water with 1/8 tsp of guar gum in place of the oil in the pesto, just because I was feeling like being oil-free. The recipe calls for 1 pound of firm tofu, but I had 375g firm tofu and 100g of left-over silken in my fridge so I used a combination. This is a great recipe, and surprisingly filling!

Mac and Thai

Mac and Thai


You MUST buy the book for this recipe, if for no other reason. This was one that was frequently mentioned in the teaser posts leading up to the book, and oh my goodness it was everything that I hoped and dreamed. Noodles, vegetables, a white bean sauce that is a little bit peanut a little bit cheesy... heaven! I could eat an entire recipe of this!!

Butternut and Cremini Lasagna

Butternut and Cremini Lasagna


This is an unusual lasagna, but one that makes a nice change from the regular variations. The recipe calls for butternut squash thinly sliced, I wasn't sure how it was meant to be sliced (rings? quarters? slabs?) so I think that I just cut it into thin rectangular slices as it was being sauteed. It also has kale and mushrooms, yum! The sauce is a blended white bean sauce, and it is topped with toasted pecans for crunch.

Vegetable Paella

Vegetable Paella


This is a fun dish bursting with flavours and different ingredients. It bakes up perfectly (no issue with the rice not cooking here) and makes six giant servings, so lots leftover for lunches during the week.

I have made other dishes as well, though the photos are still on my camera, and there are lots more that I am keen to make. Bahn Mizza and the Tofu, Potato, and Cauliflower Piccata Bowl are at the top of my still to make list. I recommend everyone get their hands on a copy of this book, as I think it will suit vegans and omnis alike, with any level of cooking experience.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim in her pink bed


Dim Sim sleeping in her fluffy pink bed. The bed itself is made out of such a soft, smooth fluffy material that Dim Sim kind of finds it a bit strange, so I have had to put a crocheted blanket into the base of it to make it fit her exacting requirements.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: One-Dish Vegan

Wow, it has been just over two years since I last posted a 'Recipe Round-Up' post. But even though there has been a long time between posting, I haven't stopped cooking!

One-Dish Vegan is the latest cookbook published by Robin Robertson, who is my favourite vegan cookbook author. I knew about this book for months before it was published, pre-ordered it early and then waited patiently by my mailbox for it to arrive. I was not disappointed!

One-Dish Vegan is packed full of a fantastic array of tasty recipes. It has a focus on wholefoods, so lots of grains, beans, tofu, tempeh and vegetables. There are a few dishes that call for seitan or vegan sausages, and only one or two that have an option of vegan cheese. The premise of the book is recipes that can be served in the one dish, though they are not all one pot. Some do dirty up a few pots and pans along the way, but there is nothing complicated. There are no photos in the book (except for on the cover), but this is not something that bothers me. Make the recipes and you can take you own photos. :) There are no starters or desserts here, just filling savoury dishes. Chapters include Soups That Make A Meal, Main-Dish Salads, Stovetop Simmers or Stews, Chili Today, Sautes and Stir-Fries, Pasta Plus, and Oven to Table.

I have been using this book a lot in the short time that I have had it, so I will split this into two posts. There are so many great sounding recipes!

Indonesian Noodle Soup with Tofu

Indonesian Noodle Soup with Tofu

This yummy laksa-type soup provides four giant servings of goodness. It calls for extra-firm tofu, which is what I used, but if you have access to fried tofu puffs these would be great here.

Wild About Rice Salad

Wild About Rice Salad

This salad is an absolute delight - amazing flavour in every bite! Wild and brown rice are mixed with celery, carrot, peas, scallions, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and beans. There are a few options of fresh herbs to use and I chose dill, which was fantastic.

Citrus-Dressed Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Citrus Dressed Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Cauliflower is the key to this great salad. Rather than cooking mine with the quinoa, I roasted it for extra awesome flavour. I didn't use yellow capsicum (because capsicum is ewww), and instead cut the kernels off a cob of corn and added it to the quinoa for the last few minutes. Again there is a choice of herbs, and I used coriander.

Three-Bean Rice Salad

Three-Bean Rice Salad

Green beans, kidney beans and black beans are the three beans in this substantial salad. The recipe calls for pimientos, which I am yet to find here, so I just left them out.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad


Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

The first salad I picked from this book, it comes together in a flash and is full of great flavours. I should mention that all of the salads here keep well to take to work for lunches throughout the week.

Rice and Broccoli with Lemony White Bean Sauce


Rice and Broccoli with Lemony White Bean Suace

The first recipe I made! White beans are blended up to make a great lemony sauce. I found that I needed to cook the broccoli for a little bit more to make sure if cooked all the way though, and I added some extra white beans to the rice and broccoli (as suggested in the recipe notes) to make it a bit more substantial.

Risotto Primavera


Risotto Primavera

When you find yourself with two bags of aborio rice, you have to make risotto. Carrot, zucchini and edamame are included here. The recipe suggested serving with salad and garlic bread, which I did. And of course I sprinkled liberally with nooch!

Jambalaya


Jambalaya

Jambalaya is fun to say and fun to eat! The recipe called for 20 minutes to cook the rice, but my rice took much longer to cook. I always find this with cooked rice dishes! But after some patience I was rewarded with a great dinner. I didn't use the capsicum but added some green peas at the end when you add the sausages.

Moroccan Chickpeas with Couscous


Moroccan Chickpeas with Couscous

Another dish that is generous in the serving sizes. The sauce has a lovely blend of spices that get soaked up by couscous. There is the option of topping with toasted almonds or scallions, and I chose almonds which gave a lovely crunch.

Brown Rice and White Beans with Shiitakes and Spinach


Brown Rice and White Beans with Shiitakes and Spinach

Is there anything in the title of this dish that is not good? Again I needed a bit more time and liquid for the rice to cook all the way through, but then I enjoyed a fantastic dinner. I chose dill as the herb option, because you should always choose dill.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

This book has an entire chapter of chili recipes, though being a bit of a spice wimp I am slow to move through them. But when I do I will shameless decrease the heat in it until it gives me just a nice mild warmth. Sweet potatoes and black beans are a great combination. I only used one chipotle chile instead of two, and also decreased the amount of chili powder (in Australia our chili powder is much hotter than the powders in the US).

Tomorrow I will be back to post the second part of my initial round-up of this fantastic book.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post



Sahara sitting pretty

Trying to take photos of cats can be tricky, they always seem to know how to move just as you are about to press the button! I was trying to take a photo of Sahara to send to Leigh (who is a great admirer of the red cat), and she was moving everywhere. But somehow I managed to snap this photo of her sitting pretty.