Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dim Sim's 18th birthday (and Sahara)

Hi friends, I hope you will indulge me in a cat-full and food-free post! Dim Sim's 18th birthday was on the 16th of February, so I thought I might do a little day in the life post of my sweetheart from her special day.

Dim Sim sleeps either under the covers with me, or on her blankie next to my pillow, so we woke up together. In the mornings, I have to sneak into the bathroom for my shower before she can get in there. She likes to drink water out of the bottom of the bath, and the fact that someone is in there with the shower running doesn't stop her. Once I'm done, I run some fresh water for her, and she jumps in for a drink.

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Then she went to have a little drink from her actual water bowl in my room.

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Then it was downstairs to have a look out the window at the back yard, then settle onto her special chair for a nap.

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

I had to work all day, out of the house for 12 hours, but I was sure to get a little photo of us before I left. She had moved from her chair onto her cushion in front of the sunroom window. Now that she is an only cat, all places are her places.

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

While I was at work, Mum sent me regular photos of her throughout the day. Mostly eating, napping, having cuddles, or occasionally just skulking about in deep contemplation. Enjoy.

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

As you can see, life is tough when you are a small black cat. When I finally got home, we had some nice snug time with her on a cushion on my lap, sleeping away.

Dim Sim's 18th Birthday

Then we go up to bed, she has another drink from the bath, there is bedtime snacks, and then we sleep. This is a fairly regular daily routine for her, so I guess every day is like your birthday when you are a cat! Still, happy 18th my love. Now she is old enough to vote!

On a sadder note, the 17th of February, the day after Dim Sim's birthday, was the one year anniversary of Sahara's passing A whole year without her, I can barely believe that time would be so fast and so cruel. Though I know, it has been six years since Gizmo. Time does not stop. I went to yoga in the morning, and then had a quiet day watching a lot of Brooklyn Nine Nine. Dim Sim slept on my lap a lot. I made a dinner that involved steamed broccoli, which was Sahara's favourite treat. I miss her.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Recipe Round-Up: Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats

I am happy gluten-full vegan, but not everyone can be. I have a number of vegan friends who are coeliac, and I like to be able to cook for them and make them treats. Allyson Kramer has you covered, with a great blog and four cookbooks! This is a round-up of her first cookbook, Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. You can see what I have made previously from this book here.

Mac & Cabbage Polonaise: This is a Polish-inspired baked mac and cheese, with a sorghum flour roux-based cheese sauce, macaroni, and cabbage, all topped with a crispy cheesy crumb. I halved the pasta, and as a result also used only 2/3 of the sauce to get my perfect pasta to sauce ratio. The recipe calls for a head of cabbage, and I used half a large head... there is always so much variation in sizes with vegetables, but this seemed right for the rest of the amounts. The instructions say to make the mac and cheese first, then the cabbage, but I made the cabbage first, then the sauce, then the pasta and stirred it all together. The pasta is layered with some cheddar cheese in the middle (I used Daiya), and then topped with more cheese and the topping. The mix of creamy sauce and strong cheddar was great!
Rating: :D

Mac 'n Cabbage Polonaise

Mac 'n Cabbage Polonaise

Quinoa Tabbouleh: I had some parsley and mint I needed to use up, so tabbouleh was on the cars. This uses quinoa rather than bulgur to make it gluten free. I only had 3/4 cup of dry quinoa, rather than a full cup, so I slightly decreased the other ingredients as well. I also decreased the amount of oil in the dressing. I served this with some salad, hummus, and a Fry's Falafel Burger.
Rating: :)

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Late Summer Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing: I love dill, so I was excited to make this salad, but I was a bit underwhelmed. I was making a single serving for my own lunch to use up some silken tofu, so I made a third or a recipe (I had 150g tofu). I do often find that I prefer silken tofu dressings to have time to sit overnight for the best flavour, so perhaps that would improve it next time.
Rating: :|

Late Summer Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing

Drenched Pad-Thai Salad: Full disclosure, this is meant to be entirely raw zucchini noodles, but I am just not a fan. So I used some cooked a cooled Pad Thai noodles (a 200g packet), though in this case I did also still add one small zucchini that I spiralised. Zucchini is not pasta, everything is better with carbs! This salad is topped with a beautiful five-spiced tofu, and grilled pineapple slices from a can. The marinade uses the juice from the tin of pineapples. To make the dressing, you mix leftover marinade with peanut butter and lime. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of the marinade for the dressing, but I had just under so I topped it up with a little bit of orange juice. The salad also has fresh mango in it, so it is lovely for summer.
Rating: :)

Drenched Pad-Thai Salad

Cheesy Broccoli Soup: This soup is thick, rich and very cheesy. I made a half recipe for two lunch servings. The entire recipe serves eight, and if you were serving with anything else I would say that was right, it is so filling! It uses cashew cream, loads of nutritional yeast, and there is also the option to add some shredded cheddar (I used FYH shreds). This soup also thickens up a lot as it cools, so leftovers would be great as a dip or sauce for vegetables.
Rating: :)

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Pina Colada Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting: I have blogged these cupcakes before, but wanted to update with my frosting experiments. The frosting in the book uses a lot of coconut oil, and I made it like that once for a bake sale but it didn't set up well enough to pipe, only to smear. And there was so much leftover. Since then I made it a few times with a VWAV coconut frosting. But I recently remade these using the original recipe, but subbing the coconut oil for half cream cheese and half shortening, using only 1T of pineapple juice (rather than 2). The icing was still soft, but I could pipe it and it set up well in the fridge. So if you are adverse to coconut oil, try it this way instead!
Rating: :)

Pina Colada Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pineapple Carrot Cake: I really love carrot cake, and made this for a friend's birthday. But unfortunately it didn't turn out great texture wise. Thankfully I only made a half recipe to make a single layer. I baked it for 35 minutes as directed, a skewer came out clean, but it was still kind of underdone and a bit smooshy in the middle. I would suggest baking for longer, regardless of the skewer. At least the taste was still good. There is a recipe for cream cheese frosting to go with it, that is full of coconut oil. I just made an easy frosting using 1/2 cup of cream cheese (Tofutti is my favourite), with a scoop of sifted icing sugar (I don't like things too sweet), and a splash of milk. Perfect. Unfortunately my cream cheese had frozen a bit a the back of the fridge, and thawed with a slightly lumpy texture, but it still tasted great. I ended up putting the rest of this cake in the freezer and eating it frozen, it was still soft enough to do this!
Rating: :|

Pineapple Carrot Cake

Banana Berry Cobbler: I made a half recipe of this and got four serves, using a mix of frozen blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The filling was good, but the topping had a strong baking powder taste (a full recipe calls for a whole TBS, so I used 1.5tsp for my half batch), and wasn't very sweet. Improved with ice cream!
Rating: :|

Banana Berry Cobbler

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie: It's cute that this recipe says it makes four serves, because I made the whole thing and it was one actual serve. A simple blend of spinach, frozen banana, cocoa, and peanut butter. The recipe calls for cold water, but I used oat milk to make it creamier and to get a calcium boost in. I also halved the amount of vanilla and agave called for.
Rating: :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim sleepy prawn

Dim Sim had her liver biopsy on Tuesday. The results are back, and unfortunately they came back as most likely small cell lymphoma. There is still a small question mark, so I have requested an addition test that takes a couple of days to come back. Small cell lymphoma is a type of cancer. It is a different type of lymphoma than the one Sahara had, and has a much less intensive chemo protocol (all done with tablets at home), and has a fairly high remission rate, so that is something. But cancer is never good. My poor baby. Here she is sleeping yesterday after coming home, you can see part of her little shaved tummy peeking out.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Eating Out: Brisbane Vegan Markets December 2017

The last Brisbane Vegan Markets of the year were held on the second Sunday of December. There was only the morning markets this month, as the twilight markets would have fallen on Christmas Eve. I was hoping that there might be a bit of a holiday theme to the December markets, with some fun specials or things to buy, but it was mostly just the normal stuff. But of course, the normal stuff is still great!

First stop was our favourite, Green Street Foods. Tracee and I shared a new menu item, the Krab Burger. I am often not a fan of vegan seafood things, but I needn't have worried. This was awesome!!! The patty is jackfruit based, the bun is their own home-made gluten free dill bun (best gluten free bun I've ever tried, it was delicious, and I am not gluten free), and it even had some foraged beach mustard leaves on it! So good. Next time I won't be sharing. We also ordered some of the black bean nachos, with some of the mac and cheese on top. I missed out on the November markets because I was in Melbourne, which meant missing out on the first year birthday market celebrations. Green Street Food had an all mac and cheese menu, that I was devastated to miss. But I got to experience a little bit of it with these nachos.

Krabby Cake from Green Street Food at Brisbane Vegan Markets

Nachos with Mac and Cheese from Green Street Food at Brisbane Vegan Markets

Tracee also tried some of their special, tuna sushi rolls. I tried one, and while it wasn't that fishy, it was a bit too spicy for me!

Tuna Tempeh from Green Street Food at Brisbane Vegan Markets

We also got some refreshing beverages from the oddly named Bloody Buddy. Tracee had a passionfruit peaflower iced tea, and I had a fruity rose infusion. So delicious.

Passionfruit and Rose Teas from Bloody Buddy at Brisbane Vegan Markets

They had a new baked potato stall there called Kumpir Guy, where they baked the potatoes in some special baked potato oven. So they were super hot with crispy skins. They all came with butter and cheese (mashed into the hot flesh), but you could add all sorts of topping. I added pineapple, corn, pickled cabbage, falafel and BBQ sauce. So good, but so filling!

Baked Potato with corn, pineapple, pickled cabbage, falafel and BBQ sauce at Brisbane Vegan Markets

I finally got a chance to try the Cacao Almond Milk from Genki Milk Co, local makers of the only almond milk worth drinking. It was rich, chocolatey, not too sweet, delicious!

Cocao Almond Mild from Genki Milk Co at Brisbane Vegan Markets

I decided to try the Caramel Pretzel ice cream from I Should Coco, but because I don't like caramel I turned it into a chocolate pretzel. It was good, though for some reason their ice cream wasn't as set as normal and as you can see it started melting super fast!

Chocolate Pretzel from I Should Coco at Brisbane Vegan Markets

For my take home treat, I skipped my usual and ended up getting a Nut Nog from Genki Milk Co. A seasonal treat! Based on cashew and almond milk, with a perfect amount of spice, this was amazing. I ended up buying a big bottle from them the week before Christmas because I loved it so much. Definitely looking forward to this next year. I had it with some fresh cherries for afternoon tea.

NutNog from Genki at Brisbane Vegan Markets

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Barry & Maurice

This is Barry and Maurice. Two black brothers that are up for adoptions at work. They are super sweet, super silly, and full of purrs!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cruelty Free Shop February 2018 Vegan Mystery Box

I can hardly believe that I am already up to the third month of my six month CFS Vegan Mystery Box subscription. The time does fly! Let's see what this month brought me.


  • Sweet William White Chocolate Baking Buttons: White chocolate is an abomination, but I will use these up in things for bake sales. (Note, Sweet William is on the 'not recommended, but at least addressing the issues' part of the FEP chocolate list.) There was also a recipe in the box for white chocolate and macadamia cookies.
  • Sierra Trail Mix Clif Bar: I am all about the Peanut Butter Crunch Clif Bar, they are clearly the best (also Clif bar does not use FEP-approved chocolate). This one does have some chocolate in it, as well as seeds and nuts. I find a lot of other Clif bar flavours to be too sweet or artificial, so I will be curious to sample this. By PB Crunch will always be my go to.
  • West Country Organic Korma Curry Paste: This has two sachets of hopefully not too spicy korma paste (though the ingredients don't list chili), which will be handy for some quick lunches.
  • Blue Dinosaur Banana Bread Bar: I love snack bars, and I love banana bread. Though this does have coconut oil in it, so I approach with caution.
  • Upton's Real Meal Kit - Thai Curry Noodle: This is a handy, super fast ready meal to zap and eat in moments of crisis! It will be a good back up at work for emergency hunger attacks. We now have Upton's jackfruit and meal kits,so I am hoping that mac and cheese will be coming soon!
  • Leda Choculence Biscuits: This is a old faithful product in the Australian vegan world, the original vegan version of a Tim Tam (though Woolworths has their own brand version as well). Tim Tams are very Austalian biscuits! Though should be noted that Leda is not on the FEP approved chocolate list.
  • Nakula Coconut Water: I am a huge fan of coconut water, especially to make super refreshing post yoga smoothies, so I will never be sad to have some extra around.
  • Andalou Naturals Pod Mask: The am super excited to try out this face mask, I love face masks!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim

Dim Sim normally naps most of the day away, but when she was in hospital apparently she spent most of her time watching what was going on around her. So when she got home yesterday, she was exhausted! Much deep sleeping. And she spent the night in bed with me, as we do. It was so good to have her back. Thank you for your kind thoughts. She has to go back in next week to have a liver biopsy done (still ultrasound guided, not surgically), so we can get some more definitive results.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Eating Out: September 18

I've spoken about getting some goodies from the September 18 stall at the Brisbane Vegan Markets before, but they also have a whole restaurant! It is up in Northlakes, which is a bit of a hike from my place on the southside. But I have been there a couple of times!

I have some friends who live in North Lakes, so if I visit them we normally go here for lunch. You already know that I love their steamed BBQ buns!

Steamed BBQ Buns from September 18

They also make some delicious roti bread as well.

Roti from September 18

Brendan ordered the sweet and sour. I am not a sweet and sour fan, so I did not sample it.

Sweet and Sour from September 18

Diana ordered the Hawaiian Nasi Goreng, which is like pineapple and ham fried rice. I tried a little bit, and it was pretty fun.

Hawaiian Nasi Goreng from September 18

I ordered the Braised Noodles and Tofu, which was a big soupy dish of savoury deliciousness.

Braised Noodles and Tofu from September 18

Another time I went to eat there was back when Jojo and Nick where here. They were volunteering at Farm Animal Rescue, which is not too far from North Lakes. So I went and picked them up so we could eat and do some grocery shopping. I met some sheep while I was picking them up!

Sheep at FAR

I had heard a lot of people rave about the drumsticks at September 18, so we tried some. They are the type that has yuba-style strips wrapped around a paddle pop and then friend and spiced. They did not blow my mind, but they were nice!

Chicken Drumsticks at September 18

Oh look, steamed BBQ buns... are you surprised?

BBQ Steamed Buns at September 18

We also tried some dumplings, because you can never have too many dumplings!

Pan Fried Dumplings at September 18

We shared a couple of mains. The Spring Fried Rice, and the Kway Teow.

Spring Fried Rice and Kway Teow at September 18

September 18 is also super close to a Charlie's Raw Squeeze, which also has a Moo Free Burgers there if you are into it. I am not a fan of their burgers, and will always choose delicious steamed buns and stir-fries every time. But we did stop by after lunch to get some lattes. I had a turmeric, and Jojo had a matcha.

Matcha and Turmeric Lattes and Charlie's

September 18 - Shop 2B 1650 Anzac Av, North Lakes, Queensland - (07) 3886 5581

Charlie's Raw Squeeze North Lakes - 53 Endeavour Blvd, North Lakes, Queensland - (07) 3880 6743

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim

Dim Sim had her ultrasound yesterday, and unfortunately it did show some liver abnormalities. She had a fine needle aspirate, and the results came back looking like they are probably inflammatory, however they could not completely rule out cancer. So she will probably go back next week for a biopsy. She spent the night in hospital on fluids after the aspirate, and it was horrible sleeping without her. I didn't really sleep at all. But she is home now. Not so impressed with having that bandage on her arm from where her IV was taken out, but that can come off in a couple of hours.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Recipe Round-Up: Forks Over Knives The Cookbook

The Forks Over Knives Cookbook is a solid book, that I frequently turn to. I have made a lot of things from it! It may not be as flashy as some other cookbooks, but it consistently provides tasty food that is a bit on the healthier side. You can see other things that I have made here.

Mean Green Smoothie: This is a simple smoothie with non-dairy milk, greens, berries, banana and dates. The recipe calls for kale as the green, but I used mostly spinach and a bit of kale. The recipe called for 1/2 cup of dates, but I only used three and it was still far too sweet like that. For the most part I use dates very sparingly. I used frozen strawberries for the berries, and I used frozen banana as well to make sure it was thick and cold.
Rating: :)

Mean Green Smoothie

Banana Cranberry Smoothie: This was so good! It is so pretty, and has an amazing tart and sweet flavour. If only frozen cranberries were not almost always impossible to find here, I would make this a lot! The recipe again calls for 1/2 cup of dates, and this time I used 5 small dates. But because the cranberries are so tart, this was a perfect balance for me.
Rating; :D

Banana Cranberry Strawberry

Basic Oatmeal: This is the simplest of recipes - oats, milk/water, a bit of toast. I used oat milk, because I like it creamy. I made a half recipe of this (the whole says it will serve 2), and it was an OK single serving. But I also added a bit scoop of peanut butter that I put at the bottom of my bowl to melt and stir through, and I also sprinkled on some cinnamon. This really is just a blueprint recipe, you can add anything you want!
Rating: :)

Basic Oatmeal

Savoury Squash Soup: You may recall from some of my recent market posts that there were a couple of times that I had given myself some painful mouth burns the day before, and this was one of the culprits. Unfortunately, for the pain it caused, the taste wasn't really work it. It was a bit thin and bland. I would definitely recommend using stock instead of water to cook it in. I must take a little bit of blame though, as I ended up with slightly more butternut and slightly less potato than the recipe called for, though it all balanced out. But perhaps the higher potato content would have made it creamier. It says to garnish with parsley, but I only had coriander so that is what I used. It had lime juice in it, so the coriander worked well.
Rating: :|

Savory Squash Soup

Eggplant Dengaku Stir-Fry: I love dengaku eggplant. This was a tasty stir-fry, though the flavour wasn't quite as strong as you would find with a traditional dengaku. You make a batch of the easy miso sauce, and then add it to some stir-fried eggplant. Technically also capsicum, but I used celery instead or some crunch. I also garnished with some sesame seeds rather than green onions. The miso sauce is a mix of kombu stock, miso, mirin and sake. Using the amount of eggplant specified, I got three serves with some rice and spinach.
Rating: Stir-Fry :), Miso Sauce :)

Eggplant Dengaku Stir-Fry

Vegetable Lo Mein: This is a quick and easy stir-fry, with onion, carrots, and snow peas. Also capsicum and mung bean sprouts, but I used celery and bamboo shoots instead. The sauce is a mix of soy and brown rice syrup, but needs to be doubled or even maybe tripled, by the time you add the noodles there is not enough to go around.
Rating: :)

Vegetable Lo Mein

Singapore Noodles: I love Singapore noodles, as long as they are not too hot from too much curry powder. Making them at home means I get to control this, and use mild curry powder. As well as noodles, there are a range of vegetables like onion, carrots, mushroom, and capsicum. I just left out the capsicum and didn't replace it with anything.
Rating: :)

Singapore Noodles

Five-Spice Noodles: Five spice is one of my favourite spices blends! This recipe uses the Chinese Brown Sauce as a base, and calls for just half a cup. I used the entire batch (so just over 3/4 cup), and increased the five-spice powder accordingly. I also added some Japanese flavoured tofu cubes to bulk it up. It did get a bit dry during the cooking of the vegetables, so I added a few splashes of water to keep things moving in the pan. This recipe gave me three good serves, using 200g of brown rice vermicelli. My dad really liked this as well.
Rating: :)

Five-Spice Noodles

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Miso and Sake: Another quick and easy recipe. No need to make one of the sauces from the book first, this recipe makes its own very easy sauce. It has lots of vegetables (I left out the capsicum), and made a great meal served with some brown rice and some... sort of marinated tempeh. I honestly have no idea what exactly I served it with.
Rating: :)

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Miso and Sake

Indian Spiced Eggplant: I had an abundance of eggplants to use up, so this seemed like an excellent choice of recipe. But it came out kind of bland, unfortunately. Onions and eggplants and tomatoes with some spices, it just needed a bit of extra oomph somewhere.
Rating: :|

Indian Spiced Eggplant

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sink kitty

This beautiful green-eyed boy thought that if his slunk into the sink, we wouldn't notice him.