Thursday, 9 January 2020

Mum's Birthday 2019

My mum is a December baby, earlier in the month so that it doesn't get swallowed up by Christmas. I always make my parents a special dinner for birthdays, and this year was no exception.

Deconstructed Banh Mi Salad from Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson: I have posted about this a couple of times before, because my mum is in love with this salad and no amount of suggesting something new for me to try cooking had any effect. This salad was her birthday wish. I made it as I have before, using cos instead of cabbage, and using some Soyco Japanese Marinated Tofu instead of seitan. I imagine you'll probably be seeing this salad same time next year as well.
Rating: :D

Dceonstructed Bahn Mi Salad

All-Out Chocolate Honeycomb Loaf from Cook Share and Eat Vegan by Aine Carlin: One thing I stand firm on is that birthday dinners must have a cake! Other desserts are for other times, cakes are for birthdays. This is a chocolate cake, topped with chocolate icing and homemade honeycomb. The cake itself has a banana in it, which you could definitely taste. It was meant to be baked i a 450g loaf tin, and when I looked up measurements I realised I didn't have one small enough, so I baked it in am 8x4 inch pan for 30 minutes, which is why it is a bit flat. The icing is really simple, and remarkably not overly sweet. The biggest part of this was the honeycomb - my first attempt at making it. I made a half batch, which was lots for topping the cake with some left over. It didn't really go to plan. I was leaving it to bubble untouched as the recipe instructed, but then it seemed to start burning? Whatever I did, I obviously didn't do it long enough as it ended up being pale and chewy, I couldn't break it into chards well. But it was still tasty. And I made honeycomb!
Rating: :)

All-Out Chocolate Honeycomb Loaf

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim helping me make the bed

Dim Sim 'helping' me make the bed.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Eating Out: Brisbane CBD 2019

I continue to go into the city regularly for my psychologist appointments, which means I have continued to explore some of the vegan options in the city. This year I didn't eat there for every appointment, sometimes I just came home instead or ate before I went. But there was still lots of good food.

Felix For Goodness: A little cafe tucked down a laneway, I saw someone on IG eating some of their vegan options so decided to check it out. I had the Soba Bowl and an Elderflower and Lemon Iced Tea. It was all lovely and refreshing, though pricey for what you got.

Soba Bowl at Felix For Goodness

Elderflower and Lemon Iced Tea at Felix For Goodness

Gelatissimo: I was walking past with no plans to stop in when I saw a big sign advertising a special creamy vegan ice cream. Almond Delight was made with almond milk, chocolate swirls, and flaked almonds. Plus their cones were vegan. This was a special, and I don't think is available anymore. Normally it is just some of the sorbets that are vegan.

2019-01-16 12.12.11

Phat Elephant: I love Thai, so when I found out there was a place with a vegan menu in the city, I had to try it out. The vegan menu is small, but tasty. On my first visit I had the Pad See Ew, which is one of my favourite dishes. I am happy to report that there's was good! At my next visit I had the Tofu and Veggies in Mushroom Sauce, which was also very nice. I also tried a Chrysanthemum Iced Tea, which ended up being very sweet and came with a distressing number of straws. I'll stick to water when I go back in the future.

Pad See Ew at Phat Elephant

Tofu and Veggies in Mushroom Sauce with Rice at Phat Elephant

Chrysthanemum Iced Tea at Phat Elephant

VegeRama: Old standard VegeRama has two locations in the city. Though I am trying to try other places, I returned a couple of times this year. Both times I had their Creamy Mushroom Pie (once with tamarind sauce, which annoyingly comes in a tiny plastic cup, just slop it on the pie) and some salad. Once with my favourite Mustard Dill Salad, once with the Pesto Chickpea Salad.

Creamy Mushroom Pie and Mustard & Dill Salad from Vegerama

Creamy Mushroom Pie with Pesto Chickpea Salad from Vegerama Myer Centre

SpudBar: SpudBar only has a few vegan options, but they are great when you are after something packed full of veggies and not too pricey. The Moroccan Chickpea and Kale is served over a baked potato, and also has quinoa, beetroot, and a healthy dose of hummus. On a recent hot day visit, I tried the Vegan Poke Bowl. Served over a baked sweet potato, it had edamame, corn, beetroot, seaweed, sweet potato chips, avocado, and vegan mayo.

Moroccan Chickpea and Kale potato at Spudbar Wintergarden

Poke Bowl from SpudBar

Iku Noodle Bar: Another random place I stumbled across, this is a make your own noodle bowl place. I had soba noodles with the vegan miso broth, vegetables, and seaweed. This is pretty much the only vegan option, but it is a good one for those all too rare chilly winter days.

Vegetable Soba Miso Noodles from Iku

Brisbane City Markets: These markets are on every Wednesday in the city, which is always the day that I see my psychologist. There are fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, plus quite a lot of vegan food options as well. I think I have seen falafel, bagels, bratwurst, salads, and more. I don't go much, because it is busy and sunny. But I did snag this amazing cinnamon sugar vegan pretzel from one of the stalls there once.

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel from the markets

I am sure this new year will bring me the chance to explore some new places, and revisit some old favourites. You can see my previous wrap ups of CBD eats here.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Jed and Kitten

Jed giving Holly a ride on his back. Or a bed on his back. All of that litter, including sweet Petal, are doing very well in their new homes.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

New Years Eats

I am not one who celebrates the new year, or makes resolutions, or does recap posts. Time is time and it just keeps on passing. I certainly don't stay up until midnight, that is way way way past by bedtime/ But I do like food traditions, so I have a few that I have made around the new year.

New Year's Eve I will normally make pizza and pie for dinner and dessert. This is what I made this year.

Chard, Coriander, and Cashew 'Cheese' Pizza from Greens 24/7 by Jessica Nadel: This pizza has a base of Chard and Coriander Pesto, topped with some broccoli florets and sliced red onion, and finished off with blobs of a delicious and easy to make cashew cheese. I used a store-bought crust for ease. The cheese and pesto were very easy to make as well. This is a really fantastic combination of flavours, and not the usual pizza suspect. The pesto recipe is lovely on its own, and uses sunflower seeds to make it nut free.
Rating: Pizza :), Pesto :)

Chard, Coriander, and Cashew Cheese Pizza

Creamy Banana Pie from Hearty Vegan Meals For Monster Appetites by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman: This is a very rich pie! First up, a word about the crust. The instructions say to bake in a pie plate, but then remove it from that to completely cool. Do not do this, mine completely fell apart. I think this must be a mistake? Unless they meant a tart pan with a removable base. Anyway, I ended up with crust bits. I blitzed them up in the food processor to crumbs with the intention of making a cookie crumb base by adding some melted Nuttelex. I followed some proportions for this from Joy Of Vegan Baking, but it ended up being too sloppy. Oh no! But I ended up just pressing it into the bottom of a lined 9 inch springform round cake pan. The filling is a mix of tofu, Mori Nu vanilla pudding mix, almond butter, and chocolate chips. I used regular chocolate chips instead of white chocolate like the recipe called for, because I hate white chocolate. As a result of my fiddling around with the crust, now really just a base, I just used a single layer of the sauteed bananas on top, not an extra layer in the middle. The base actually set up in the fridge and worked out pretty well, like a dense brownie base for it. But as I said, super rich!
Rating: :)

Creamy Banana Pie

On New Year's Day, I like to start the day with some pancakes for breakfast, and end it with some beans and greens.

Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Tofu 1-2-3 by Maribeth Abrams: This recipe makes a lot of pancakes! It says 15, but I got 16, so between three people we had several left over. I made half with chocolate chips, and half just plain. To be honest, for breakfast I preferred the plain ones, the chocolate chips make pack a pretty rich punch first thing in the morning. The pancakes have silken tofu and a banana blended into the liquid ingredients. Lovely served with maple butter, maple syrup, blueberries, sliced bananas, and some peanut butter.
Rating: :)

Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Coconut Black-Eyed Pea Curry (Lobia) from Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero: I took a different spin on my greens and beans this year. In the past, I have made many versions of Hopping John, normally having to make my own black eyed peas from scratch because you can't get them tinned. For a brief few months though, there were some tinned ones available. Sadly I only bought one, and now they are gone again, but I used that tin for this recipe (with a second tin of kidney beans). This is simple, you make an onion/garlic/spice paste in the food processor, but then it is just sauteeing that and simmering beans in a coconut-milk broth and then mixing through some coriander. I served it with some spinach for the greens (no collards where I live), and some brown basmati rice. This served three people.
Rating: :)

Coconut Black-Eyed Pea Curry (Lobia)

However you do or don't mark New Year, I hope you had some nice days regardless.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim on New Year's Day

The one tradition I very much do care about is going to sleep and waking up next to this precious baby for the new year, and if fact for every new day regardless.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Cruelty Free Shop December 2019 Vegan Mystery Box

For Christmas this year I got another six month subscription to the Cruelty Free Shop Vegan Mystery Box. As I am getting a new mattress for Christmas, I wasn't expecting to get another subscription as well, so it was a lovely surprise! Let's see what we got!

CFS Vegan Mystery Box December 2019

  • Freedom Choc Coated Strawberry Marshmallows: I have had these before, and they are tasty, but it was the packet of these that I opened that gave Dim Sim her noise-induced seizure, so I am a little anxious looking at it. Best thing to do will be to open the packet (far away from Dim Sim), put them in a box, and eat them quickly I think!
  • Gingerbread Christmas Tree: I like these gingerbread cookies, I've had them before (they also do cute gingerbread bunnies for Easter), so I am looking forward to enjoying this with a cup of tea.
  • Louisville Vegan Jerky Pepperoni: I am approaching this with caution, as while it doesn't say chilli in the ingredients list, it does just say 'spices' and pepperoni is normally spicy. So this may be gifted on!
  • Kewpie No Egg Mayonnaise: I love this stuff!
  • Beanies Fava Bean Snacks Lime & Chilli: Not even going near these, they say chilli, they have pictures of chilli on the packet. These will be given away.
  • So Free Chocolate Santa: This is a milk chocolate kind of chocolate, which is not what this dark bitter chocolate loving woman would choose. So it might be gifted, or it might be munched, or it might be melted down for something.
  • Well & Good Cheesy Mac Wild About Mushroom: I've blogged about trying the two other flavours of this mac and cheese with varying results of meh. I have actually already tried the mushroom one a while ago, just haven't blogged about it yet, but it is the best of the three. So glad I got this flavour of it in my box!
  • So Vegan Coconut Bite Lamington: Coconut bite? Thankfully it is all actual coconut, no coconut oil, so I think we will be good! I love to have a stash of bites, balls, and bars for emergency snacking.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim paws

Look at Dim Sim's perfect little front paws.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Litha 2019

Litha (22nd December, 2019)

Christmas is the northern hemisphere lines up nicely with Yule, the winter solstice. And a lot of the traditions surrounding Christmas certainly do suit a chilly climate well. In Australia, Christmas is in summer. If you are following the sabbats on the Wheel of the Year, we celebrate Litha - the summer solstice. I have been celebrating the Wheel of the Year through food, and the foods associated with Litha include fresh fruits and vegetables, red and yellow foods, dairy, bread, and herbs.

For lunch on the 22nd, I went to Easy House at the Gold Coast for yum cha with my friend Amy. This had nothing to do with Litha specifically, but it was delicious.
Yum Cha at Easy House

On the way back, we stopped at Flour of Life, the vegan bakery. I picked out a celebratory apricot danish... because pastry is similar to bread, right? It also had custard (vegan dairy) and apricots (seasonal fruit and also orange), so I felt it was an appropriate solstice treat.

Apricot Danish from Flour of Life

Dinner that night was a lovely light salad, which combined some nice red radishes and orange carrots, as well as lots and lots of herbs.

Chicken-Free Goi Ga Bowl from Vegan Bowls by Zsu Dever: This crunchy, fresh bowl has fresh herbs (I used mostly cilantro and just a bit of mint), radishes, carrots, cos lettuce (which I used instead of cabbage) and a tangy dressing. The recipe uses simmered tempeh as the protein, but as I live with to people who dislike tempeh, I just used a package of Soyco Japanese Marinated Tofu straight out of the packet and diced. The dressing is a lovely mix of rice vinegar, lime juice, and caper brine. I left out the sambal oelek and the jalapeno from it to keep it mild. Sweetness in the dressing comes from sugar, though I had a hard time getting it to dissolve in the liquid. I also left out the scallions from the salad, and I realise later that I forgot to add the chopped peanuts.
Rating: :)

Chicken-Free Goi Ga Bowl

I also kept up the theme the next night with another salad with a greed goddess dressing, which was a dressing I saw in a few Litha menus online.

Nicoise Goddess Salad: This salad is a great fusion of nicoise ingredients and a goddess dressing. For the salad, instead of using baby potatoes halved I just diced up some regular potatoes, and I used some cos lettuce rather than butter lettuce. Mixed up with some roasted green beans, white beans, grape tomatoes, and kalamata olives, this was a great combination. The Goddess Dressing is based on mayo and dairy-free milk and was easy to make. It has a lot of herbs and spices in it, including fresh parsley. It calls for fresh scallions and garlic, but raw onions and garlic do not make my tummy happy so I used some garlic and onion powder. I blended this up with my immersion blender rather than my high speed blender, which was fine. The book recommends making this at least a day in advance, but I only had a few hours. It was nice and tangy, though I did keep a little to try after two days in the fridge and it had mellowed a lot. I got three dinner-sized serves out of this salad, while the book says it serves four.
Rating: Salad :), Dressing :)

Nicoise Goddess Salad

Anyway, thank goodness the longest day of the year is done! Bring back the dark!!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara on Christmas

Sahara's last Christmas, in 2016. Her beautiful cinnamon fur certainly embodied the blazing sun of Litha. Plus she also was her own little heat generator, as well as a shining light in our lives.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Other Christmas Eats

Last post I shared our Christmas lunch, but there were several other festive Christmas foods over the last few days.

A few days before Christmas, I made some Christmas pudding overnight oats using this recipe. I made 2/3 of the recipe (based on measurements for one cup of oats with everything scaled accordingly). As well as the oats and cinnamon, it has dried mixed fruit, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds in it. I topped mine with some pepitas, blueberries, and coconut flakes. I know a red berry would have been more festive, but blueberries were what I had.

Christmas Pudding Overnight Oats

Aldi always comes through with some vegan friendly Christmas goodies. I love their stollen, and I also picked up a dark chocolate covered marzipan bar for my dad and some festive coloured strawberry and apple flavoured liquorice.

Aldi Christmas stuff

Super Nachos from Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson: I have a semi-regular tradition of making nachos for Christmas Eve dinner. As I was working most of the day on Christmas Eve, I needed something that would come together fast, and Robin Robertson's quick-fix series always comes through. This has a layer of pinto beans and salsa mashed together on the bottom of a ceramic dish (I used a 9 x 13 inch one, rather than a 9 x 9 inch one, to better fit all the chips). These are topped with chips (I used a bag of Mission tortilla strips), then with a very quick and easy cheese sauce and baked for five minutes. This it is topped with sour cream (except I used some natural almond yoghurt as easy to get and pretty much fills the same purpose), more salsa (I was just using a bottled one), black olives, and minced scallions. I left out the pickled jalapenos, and also the chili powder from the cheese sauce and the beans. I served it with diced avocado on the side for me and my dad, as my mum has an avocado intolerance. These were tasty, scooped up into a bowl to get the chips covered with everything, and very quick to make. We ate these while watching the first three-quarters of Love Actually. Then there was a huge storm and we lost power! But it came back on in time to go to bed.
Rating: :)

Super Nachos

Pomegranate Ice Smoothie from 350 Best Vegan Recipes by Deb Roussou: I mentioned in my last post that I do a bikram yoga class on Christmas morning every year, and when I get home I normally make some sort of vaguely festive smoothie to help with rehydrating me. This year I had some pomegranate juice in the freezer that needed using, so this seemed like a good option. Pomegranate and orange juices, mixed with berries (I used all frozen - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and ice. I made some ice cubes out of coconut water, and then also some coconut water liquid as to make up for using all frozen berries instead of some fresh. This was very tangy, strongly citrus, and very icy. It was OK, but probably not something I'd make again. Or if I did I would replace the OJ with more coconut water.
Rating: :|

Pomegranate Ice Smoothie

Presents! My big present for the year is that I am getting a new mattress for my bed, which I desperately need because my current mattress seems to actively hurt me. But I still need to go looking for one. But I also got a few books and some chips, pictured here, as well as another 6 month subscription for The Cruelty Free Shop mystery box. I'll give the December box it's own post soon.


After a big Christmas lunch, dinner on Christmas day is just fend for yourselves leftovers and snacks. I used the leftover pea and tarragon side, mixed with the leftover field roast, some diced cherry tomatoes, and some Green Goddess dressing I had leftover from a recipe I made a few days before to make a nice, light, salad for dinner.

Leftovers for dinner

The day after Christmas in Australia is Boxing Day, another public holiday. No yoga on that morning, Dim Sim and I had a nice little snooze in. For breakfast, I made a ham and cheese croissant. The croissant is from Flour of Life, the ham is Tofurky, the cheese was Nutty Bay Garlic Cashew cheese, and also I added the leftover cranberry sauce from the day before. I had this with some fresh cherries.

Ham, cheese, and cranberry sauce croissant

I spent the day dawdling around the internet and watching some movies, a very relaxing day. For lunch, I tried out some new to me dips. The Yumi's White Bean and Lemon with Oregano was lovely and refreshing, though a bit sweet. I was very excited to try the Chris' Plant Based Spring Onion Dip, they recently came out with a range of creamy vegan dips. While the taste was good, unfortunately the texture was not. It is kind of oily and greasy in your mouth. It is based on vegetable oil, but unlike Vegenaise which is so delicious I could eat it by the spoonful, they haven't really mastered the technique.

Boxing Day Dips

Dinner was simple and light, a bowl of steamed vegetable gyoza with plum sauce and black vinegar.

Boxing Day Dumplings

And finished off with some stollen and some fresh grapes and cherries.

Boxing Day Dessert

The clinic only closes for the public holidays, so I was back to work on Friday morning.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Gizmo under the Christmas Tree 2011

We haven't had a Christmas tree for a few years now, but back when we did, and when I had my sweetest Gizmo, she used to love sitting underneath it. She didn't try to climb it or play with any of the ornaments, she just liked to sit and purr and contemplate.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Christmas Lunch 2019

Hello friends, and merry holidays or happy hopefully day off or whatever this time of year means to you. Yesterday was Christmas here, and I managed to actually muster up some festive feelings, which was nice. The day started with my traditional Christmas morning bikram yoga class, then home to presents, and making Christmas lunch. It actually rained quite a bit, which was delightful! I'll have several festive posts to share, but today I am focusing on our Christmas lunch for this year.

We decided to keep things pretty simple this year. So instead of making a centrepiece or even buying some big fancy roast, we went with the easiest options of some Tofurky smoked ham slices and a Field Roast Wild Mushroom Quarter Loaf that I had lurking in the freezer. It was my first time trying the loaf, and it had such a wonderful mushroom flavour. We sliced the loaf and gave it a quick pop in the microwave as recommended on the packaging as the simplest way to heat up, and the ham was from the fridge.

Tofurkey and Field Roast

Field Roast and Tofurky

Tarragon Pea and Spinach Side from Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin: The first of two new recipes I tried for our meal. This is very easy to make, using frozen peas and a bag of baby spinach. The recipe says to cover the peas with water to simmer, and once the liquid has reduced add the spinach to wilt. This would have resulted in a super soupy dish, so I ended up draining off most of the liquid before adding the spinach. I realised that I forgot to add grated nutmeg (doofus), and I also decided not to add the optional soy cream. It was a really nice, savoury, green side dish. Perhaps next year I will try it with the cream, and also remember the nutmeg!
Rating: :)

Tarrragon Pea and Spinach Side

Miso-Glazed Roasted Carrots from I Can Cook Vegan from Isa Chandra Moskowitz: The second new recipe I tried, from my newest cookbook. This recipe is super simple, and super tasty. I made a half recipe, for three side serves. I had five skinny carrots, that I cut in half crosswise before cutting in half lengthwise, just because otherwise they would have been too long to fit easily on our lunch plates with everything else. The glaze is easy to make. It says to toss the carrots in it and then put them on the tray. This left most of the glaze in the bowl, so I scooped out the glaze and rubbed it on the carrots. I left out the red peppers, and topped with chopped parsley rather than scallions. I roasted these for a bit longer, and at a slightly higher temperature than the book suggested to make sure they were nicely roasted and glazed.
Rating: :)

Miso-Glazed Carrots

Potato Squashers from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton: These have been a Christmas Day staple at our house for years. Salty, hot, crispy, roasted potatoes. Who can say know? We always bake them for about five extra minutes on each side once they have been squashed, to make sure they are super crispy.
Rating: :D

Potato Squashers

Cinnamon Citrus Cranberry Sauce from Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin: Frozen cranberries are hardly ever available here, but I had some in my freezer still from when I bought a heap of bags last year when Woolworths randomly had them (they didn't this year). This is my favourite cranberry sauce to make, and I've made if to previous Christmas times as well.
Rating: :D

Cinnamon Citrus Cranberry Sauce

Mum also made this lovely tomato and cucumber salad with balsamic dressing.

Balsamic Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Our Christmas table.

Christmas lunch table

And my fully loaded plate.

Christmas lunch

For dessert, I got these mini vegan friendly Christmas puddings from Coles. It was great having them in individual portions, as we could each eat ours when we felt like it and it was just a small bite, rather than having a huge pudding to share with leftovers. I drowned mine in some Alpro custard, because I like a very high custard to pudding ratio.

Coles Christmas pudding with Alpro custard

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim Christmas

While she may not look impressed here, Dim Sim had a lovely Christmas day. She got a fresh packed of Greenies, enjoyed running in and out of the rain multiple times to get rubbed down and hugged, had many sweet lap snuggles with me, and ate very well.