Wednesday, 31 May 2017

CEVA Training in Brisbane

The Center for Effective Vegan Advocacy (CEVA) visited Australia earlier this year, with Melanie Joy and Tobias Leenaert conducting two day advocate communication workshops. As soon as I heard about it I knew I wanted to go!

Sadly, my ability to really engage and learn from this event was hampered. Sahara passed away less than a week before. I didn't even know if I would go to the training, but I did because I just didn't really know what else to do at the time. Other than stay home and cry in bed, which would have been a valid option. Anyway, I took lots of notes during the two days, and at some point I will look over them and try and properly absorb everything. So I'm afraid I don't have a lot of great insights into the training to share with you. Though even in my fractured state, I knew that it was good and interesting and thought provoking.

The event was catered, with food provided by VegeRama. While my appetite wasn't normal, I was at least starting to feel hungry again after a week and a half of barely eating. And I am happy to report that the food there was good.

On the first day, they had a morning tea option of a savoury porridge cup and some banana bread. I didn't take photos of it. The banana bread was incredibly dense and heavy, so I ended up taking my porridge cup home to have with dinner. Lunch was buffet style, and included a really nice and not very spicy red curry, some rice, and a delicious salad with avocado and beetroot and a mustard dill dressing. There were also some little savoury pies, but either they didn't make enough or people took extras because by the time we got to the front of the line they were gone. Dessert was a chocolate cherry cake, which was really nice but quite sweet and very rich.

Ceva Day 1 Lunch

Ceva Day 1 Cake

On the second day, they bliss balls, overnight oat cups, and fresh fruit for morning tea, which was nice.

Ceva Day 2 Breakfast

Lunch was another curry, this time green. Unfortunately this was too spicy for me. I do wonder why catering places make spicy things, there are a lot of people who cannot handle heat. Also some more fried rice and a chickpea pesto salad. They also had little mini wraps, with veggies and mayo, and this time they weren't all gone by the time we got there! And for dessert I had a little cheesecake cup, which was very nice.

Ceva Day 2 Lunch

I wish I had been able to absorb more to give you a better run down of the actual event itself, but it is what it is. And when all else fails, I share some food with you.

Tomorrow I am off to Melbourne for four nights to stay with my friend Leigh, meet her kitty Chia, watch the new Twin Peaks finally, and eat some yummy food. So expect some fun food posts next week!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim

While I am excited about the Melbourne trip, I am also very anxious about leaving Dim Sim without me. She'll still be in her own home, and looked after by my parents, but still nervous!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Eating Out: Easy House and Flour Of Life (Thursday Cheap Day edition)

I know, I know. My last post was about yum cha as well. But last Thursday I did it all again with my friend Amy and her husband Cam. We both took the day off work to head on down. On Thursdays, Easy House has their cheap day - all yum cha plates are $5.50! We had been wanting to go down on a Thursday for a while, and it finally happened. Plus we were a party of three - the optimum number for a yum cha date. Of course, we had to stop off at Flour Of Life on the way home.

We started with some Radish Buns and BBQ Buns, both of which are encased with a delicious, flaky pasty. Don't worry, the steamed buns are coming!

Radish Buns and BBQ Buns @ Easy House

Then onto some pan-fried dumplings, sesame prawn rolls, and deep-friend wontons. I'm not a huge fan of the wontons, they are far too deep fried, but I didn't object to nibbling one with some sweet sour sauce. The sesame prawn rolls actually don't taste at all like fake prawn, which I normally hate, so I was pleasantly surprised! And the dumplings are a favourite of mine.

Pan-Fried Dumplings @ Easy House

Sesame Prawn Rolls and Deep Fried Wontons @ Easy House

We also got some original-style Noodles in XO Sauce (as opposed to the special chili-free ones in my last post). This time the chili level was appropriate, still just pushing my boundaries, but didn't make me cry.

Noodles in XO Sauce @ Easy House

Coriander Dumplings and Mushroom Dumplings.

Coriander Dumplings and Mushroom Dumplings @ Easy House

BBQ Steamed Buns and Steamed Dim Sims. Again, people ordering food named after my cat!

Steamed BBQ Buns @ Easy House

Dim Sims @ Easy House

And of course, my favourites! Steamed Beancurd Rolls and Radish Cakes.

Bean Curd Rolls @ Easy House

Radish Cakes @ Easy House

We were pretty happy with our efforts!!

Then it was a stop by Flour of Life on the way home. Of course I got my favourite strawberry flan, but I also got a berry crumble (which was really nice warmed up with some So Delicious Creamy Cashew ice cream) and a mini custard doughnut. Yum!

Berry Crumble, Strawberry Flan, Mini Custard Doughnut from Flour Of Life

I promise my next post will be something other than yum cha!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Burmese Boys

A couple of Burmese brothers.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Eating Out: Easy House and Flour of Life

Pretty much one of my favourite food days is to visit Easy House Vegetarian for yum cha lunch down at the Gold Coast, and then stop off at the all-vegan Flour Of Life on the way home. This is a trip I took a few weeks ago with my friend Melanie. It was her first visit there, so it was very exciting!

The first tray came around, and we snapped up some Beancurd Rolls (my favourite!), Black Bean Eggplant, and Dim Sims. I'm not normally a dim sim fan when it comes to the food, plus I am not a fan of eating a food named after my cat (logic, obviously it is not the other way around, heh), but these were quite nice.

Beancurd Rolls, Black Bean Eggplant, Dim Sims from Easy House

Next up we have some dumplings (I can't remember what type, they are all tasty), steamed BBQ buns and radish cakes (my second favourite!).

Dumplings from Easy House

Steamed BBQ Buns from Easy House

Radish Cakes from Easy House

In the past, I have cautiously enjoyed their Noodles in XO Sauce. The sauce does push my spice boundaries, but I just love the fat, rolled rice noodles (though I wish they wouldn't put bits of faux prawn in them). However the last time I went, the sauce was far too hot for me to manage, so I was a bit shy of it this time. They very nicely made us some chili-free noodles! With a sweet soy sauce rather than the XO sauce. The noodles were lovely, though with the sweet soy it had a slight pancake vibe, but still very tasty.

Non-XO Noodles from Easy House

There were only two of us eating, so by this point we were fairly satisfied. Then it was off to Flour Of Life on the way home to pick up some goodies! I grabbed a strawberry flan (my favourite!) and passionfruit tart for me, and an almond croissant and custard doughnut for my mum. My dad said he didn't want anything, but he regretted that decision when I got home!

Custard Doughnut, Almond Croissand, Strawberry Flan, Passionfruit Tart from Flour of Life

It was a super fun morning. Melanie also met Dim Sim for the first time, and I have to say that Dim Sim loved her! Dim Sim is a lot braver and more social in life now, but she doesn't normally give that level of attention to people she has just met.

I have since done this trip again, which I will share soon, and will hopefully be going yet again in the next few weeks. So I hope you don't get tired of yum cha and bakery goodies, because this is one theme I am very happy to revisit! You can see my previous posts about Easy House here.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim

The original Dim Sim.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Recipe Round-Up: But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan

But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan is the second cookbook by Kristy Turner, a follow up to But I Could Never Go Vegan (you can read my posts about that book here.) Once again, the chapters are broken up into different reasons why people might think that vegan food is not for them, and Kristy addresses each excuse with a huge range of yummy recipes. Let's see what I made!

Maple Peanut Butter Pancakes: I always start the first day of the new year with pancakes, and these were the ones I started this year with. The recipe as written is 'GF' (it does have oat-flour in it, and in Australia it is super hard to find GF-certified oat flour), however as I am not GF I took the G-full option and used all purpose flour. It says it makes 8 pancakes, I got about 10. The peanut butter gives them a lovely flavour, and makes them very filling!
Rating: :)

Maple-Peanut Butter Pancakes

Quick Cauliflower Curry: This is a saucy curry that provides generous serves over rice (the recipe says it serves 4-6). Cauliflower, mushrooms and chickpeas are in the creamy tomato sauce, which is very tasty. The recipe calls for coconut yoghurt, I used soy yoghurt instead, and I also decreased the amount of curry powder from 1T to 1t and used a mild curry powder. The recipe calls for fire roasted tinned tomatoes, but they are infinity dollars here so I just used a regular tin.
Rating: :)

Quick Cauliflower Curry

BBQ Chickpea Salad: This salad is so good! BBQ saucy chickpeas top a crunchy pile of cos, red cabbage and carrot, with cherry tomatoes and sweet nectarines. It is delightful! It is all topped off with some Pickled Red Cabbage Relish and Avocado Ranch Dressing. The relish is meant to have both cabbage and onion, however as raw or pickled onions no longer suit my stomach I left them out and just made it with cabbage. It is very easy (though uses up a lot of apple cider vinegar, I have since bough a cheap one for cases where large amounts are required). The Avocado Ranch Dressing is creamy and refreshing, and uses all dried herbs and spices which makes it pantry friendly.
Rating: Salad :D, Relish :), Dressing :)

BBQ Chickpea Salad

Avocado Ranch Dressing

Spicy Sesame Soba Noodle Bowl: These were my version of spicy, which meat that instead of 1-2 TBS of sriracha in the sauce I added but the merest spritz. The soba noodles are mixed with a lovely tahini based sauce, with lots of veggies included. I found the sauce was very thick, so did thin it out a little with some pasta water.
Rating: :)

Spicy Sesame Soba Noodle Bowl

Cheese Quinoa and Veggies: This makes a huge amount (it says it serves 4-6), but it is cheesy wholefood goodness, and leftovers keep really well, so there will be no complaints. The veggies are onions (it said to use half an onion but I used a whole one so I didn't have a remaining bit of onion kicking about), cauliflower, green beans, mushroom and zucchini. It calls for 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast but I used 1/2 cup because the more the better. The finished product is topped with parmesan. I used a packaged parmesan mix that I had kicking around from my last US trip, though there is also a recipe in the book.
Rating: :)

Cheesy Quinoa and Veggies

Tater Totchos: I can't say no to anything involving potato gems aka tots. These gems are topped with some sauteed black beans (with onion and spices, I left out the capsicum and chiles), a nacho sauce, and then whatever toppings you wish (I used tomato and avocado). The nacho sauce is made out of potato and carrot, and it was OK but not as good as a cashew based cream sauce. For the sauce I doubled the nooch and skipped the oil and the chile. The recipe serves 6-8, and this sort of thing doesn't keep well, so I scaled down for three people. I used 3/4 bag of potato gems, a 1/2 recipe of beans, and a full recipe of sauce. There was some sauce leftover, but it is always better to have too much sauce rather than too little.
Rating: :)

Tater Totchos

Jackfruit Carnitas Burrito Bowl: This bowl is a great combination of flavours! Rice, simmered jackfruit, black beans, salad, avocado and a yummy lime crema. The jackfruit was still a bit too liquid at the end of the specified cooking time, so I simmered a bit longer with the lid of. I also needed to add a little bit of extra water to the cashew-based crema for consistency. The bowl calls for white rice, but I used brown because that is what I had and also I like it. The bowl is also topped off with some of the picked red cabbage.
Rating: :)

Jackfruit Carnitas Burrito Bowl

Buddha Bowl: This is a lovely bowl with a great blend of components that go really nicely together. Sweet potatoes are roasted with paprika, and then combined with brown rice (the recipe calls for kasha but I didn't have any), spinach, kidney beans, cucumber and avocado, topped with yet more of the pickled cabbage and also a very lovely Lemon Tahini Sauce (though there is also the option to use the Avocado Ranch). The sauce comes together so quickly, and is a perfect sweet and tangy blend.
Rating: Bowl :), Sauce :)

Buddha Bowl

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim in my arms

Cradled in my arms like a baby, looking very pensive.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Eating Out: Brisbane Vegan Day Out, Buddha's Birthday Festival, and Loving Hut

A few weeks ago The Cruelty Free Shop organised a Vegan Day Out in all the cities where they have a shop. This takes place over a Saturday and Sunday, and we got out first one in Brisbane this year! The Cruelty Free Shop organises with local businesses in the area for specials and deals on vegan goodies, and you get a map that has coupons you can use. I'll be honest, the Brisbane one was not really all that exciting, lots of things on there for non-food things like a percentage off yoga classes and what not. But it was still fun.

I was working on the Saturday until the afternoon, so headed in to West End from there to check it out.

My first stop was of course The Cruelty Free Shop itself, to pick up my map and to buy some goodies. As part of the weekend they had huge sales on items across the store. Here is my haul.

Cruelty Free Shop Haul

Right next to The CFS is Downunder Chocolate, which has a vegan range and had special going, so I picked up a little selection of treats for myself.

Down Under Chocolate

The Boundary Street Markets are always on every Saturday (and Friday) evening, with some good vegan options so I headed there next. Not sure of the name of the stall I got this from, but it was a pretty peach iced tea drink made from some sort of special magic tea.

Peach Pea Iced Tea from Boundary St Markets

I thought I'd try a gozleme from the Gozleme Universe stall. They had a coupon in the VDO brochure, but it was really just their regular vegan gozleme and their regular price. This was a let down for me, it was just kind of flavourless and smooshy. Sometimes they have had vegan cheese in the past, but not today. I think they probably more do that for when they take part in the Brisbane Vegan Markets, but you'd think they would have had it for VDO as well. Also the person after me ordered a dead cow kebab, and they sure did just plop all that dead cow flesh perilously close to my gozleme on the grill.

Vegan Golzeme from Golzeme Universe at Boundary St Markets

Happily my next stop was a delight. I've spoken about my love for I Should Coco before, the very best soft serve ever! They had an actual proper special for the VDO, a $5 cone. I got mine covered in sprinkles and it was as delightful as it was pretty.

Cone with Sprinkles from I Should Coco at Boundary St Markets

I also picked up a doughnut from The Organic Frog, which makes vegan GF hot cinnamon sugar doughnuts. These are only good if you get them fresh and hot straight from the stall, let them go cold and they go a bit funny. But they are so good when they are fresh. Next time I am going to get a doughnut and take it to I Should Coco and get them to make it a doughnut sundae!

Doughnut from The Organic Frog at Boundary St Markets

I headed home for the night, but with plans to return the next day. In very exciting news, Jojo and Nick were in town! I got a chance to hang out with them in Austin for VVC in 2015, but they have come to Brisbane to do some volunteering at the nearby Farm Animal Rescue. They had two days in Brisbane before heading out there, so we got to catch up.

Our first stop (after another trip to The Cruelty Free Shop) was VegeMe. There weren't any specials for VDO here, but it is a good spot to get a few tasty little share plates. We had big eating goals. We ordered some edamame, radish cakes, deep fried suji, and corn fritters. It was my first time trying the corn fritters, and they are a bit too deep fried for me! Also my first time getting the edamame here, which I really enjoyed. They were tender and the salt and pepper seasoning was just spot on.

Edamame from VegeMe

Radish Cakes from VegeMe

Corn Fritters and Deep Fried Suji from VegeMe

After this we took a little stroll around West End and ended up using some coupons at Insane Acai Bar for juices and smoothies. I can't remember what we had. My juice had beetroot in it. But pretty colours!

Juices and Smoothies from Insane Acai

Then we headed into South Bank for the Buddha's Birthday Festival vegetarian food markets. First we took a lovely stroll around to see the river and the parklands, it is really very pretty. Then it was onto food! It was fun having the three of us so we could share food together, it meant we could try more than if we were just eating solo!

First up was this amazing Asian food stall, and I can't remember the name! They sadly do not have a restaurant in Brisbane, though. Not everything at the festival is vegan, so you need to ask, but they had a handy chart they checked to confirm and happily everything we wanted was vegan! We got some steamed BBQ buns, dim sims and duck with rice. The steamed buns were phenomenal. So giant and soft and fluffy with so much saucy filling.

Mock Duck and Rice, BBQ Buns and Dim Sim from Buddha's Birthday Festival

Next up we went to the Langos stall, where they had vegan dairy options available! So we were able to get one with garlic, sour cream and cheese - all vegan. It was delicious.

Vegan Cheese and Sour Cream Langos from Buddha's Birthday Festival

Finally we hit up the Vegerama stall. Jojo and I shared a wonderful savoury mushroom pie, and we all got dessert. I enjoyed my peach and apple crumble, Nick got chocolate mousse and Jojo was excited to find a tiramisu.

Mushroom Pie and desserts (Peach and Apple Crumble, Chocolate Mousse, Tiramisu) from Vegerama from Buddha's Birthday Festival

After that we said our good nights and toddled off home with full and happy bellies. But that is not where it ended, the next day was a public holiday, so we met up for lunch at Loving Hut. We ordered summer rolls, BBQ buns, peking duck pancakes, Beijing Blackbean (my favourite) and Char Kway Teow (which I hope they take off the specials board and turn into a regular because it was very good).

Summer Rolls from Loving Hut

Char Kway Teow, BBQ Buns, Beef & Black Bean, Peking Luck from Loving Hut

Peking Luck from Loving Hut

I am looking forward to more fun adventures with them during their stay here! We already have plans, so stay tuned.

A final note, one of the things I got from my Cruelty Free Shop haul was this locally made vegan smoked sesame cheese by Fenn Foods (which has no coconut oil in it, I am thrilled!). This was really nice, and I enjoyed it on crackers, with cucumber and spread on toast. Unfortunately the non sale price is $17 (eeep!), so I am not likely to be buying it at full price. But if you get the chance to, I definitely recommend.

Fenn Smoked Sesame Cheese

Fenn Smoked Sesame Cheese

Cute Cat Photo of the Post

Dim Sim finds the sun

Dim Sim always knows how to find the sun.