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.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas Bake Sales for Farm Animal Rescue

For those of you who don't know, large parts of Australia are on fire. And what isn't is in drought. This drought is hitting properties very hard, including Farm Animal Rescue. A refuge for rescued farm animals, their dams are dry and they are having to truck water into the property to keep the animals alive. They have a lot of costs at the moment, on top of the regular costs for caring for their residents. As part of their fundraising efforts, they had a run of three bake sales spread over eight days, all supported by wonderful local businesses. The bake sales were all very successful. and they have been getting some good donations on top of that, but obviously everything is still a struggle at the moment. This is what I baked for them over those eight days. If you have any sway with the weather, please send rain.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cozy Inside by Joni Marie Newman: A combination of the classic cookie flavours, it is hard to go wrong with this mix. The recipe just says to mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. I beat the peanut butter, sugar, and liquids together first and then stirred through the dry stuff. The dough is very goopy, and does benefit from firming up in the fridge a bit before scooping. I made a full recipe, but used and Australian TBS (20mL) as my scoop, so I got 28 cookies rather than 3 dozen. As they were bigger, I needed to bake them for about five minutes extra. These were great straight out of the oven, but froze very well also.
Rating: :)

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gooey Peanut Butter Creem Cheeze and Chocolate Chip Brownies from Cozy Inside by Joni Marie Newman: These are some very fudgy brownies. It has the option to use 2/3 - 1 cup of flour depending on how fudgy or cakey you want them, I used a heaped 2/3 cup. The batter melted peanut butter and chocolate in it, as well as additional chocolate chips. It is topped with a peanut butter and cream cheese swirl. I found the topping to be a bit thick, making it hard to spread and marble. Next time I would add a smidge more soy milk to loosen it up a bit, and perhaps a touch of maple syrup for a little bit of sweetness.
Rating: :)

Gooey Peanut Butter Cream Ceeze and Chocolate Chip Brownies

Candy Cake Fudge Cookies from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: Chocolate and mint, for the most part, is not my choice. But it is a very popular Christmas combination. I made a half recipe of these cookies, and using an ice cream scoop to portion out the dough got 11 nice big cookies. Because they were bigger, I baked them for 20 minutes. I was worried at first, because the chocolate in the cookie dough melted a bit and puddled around some of the cookies in the oven, but it all worked out. I used a block of Alter Eco Super Dark Mint Chocolate in the dough, and I only needed one candy cane crushed for the tops. Isa loves coconut oil, so I used Nuttelex instead of that in the recipe. The mint was not that over powering for me in the end, the chocolate was so rich, that I didn't mind these at all.
Rating: :)

Candy Cane Fudge Cookies

Gingered Cheesecake Bar Cookies from Veganissimo by Leigh Drew: These are SO GOOD! The cheesecake is based on cashews, no tofutti or bananas in sight. They cashews are blended in non-dairy milk that has been simmered with some fresh ginger and then left to steep, there in ginger in the base, and there is also chopped candied ginger scattered over the base before pouring on the topping. It is very gingery, which I loved. The base is a blend of gluten free flours and olive oil. I needed to bake these for about an extra 15 minutes in my oven before they were ready. These were so good, I cannot recommend them enough!
Rating: :D

Gingered Cheesecake Bars

(For The Love Of) Fruit Cake Bars from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero: I made a half batch of this cake bar, in an 8x8 inch pan. Instead of separate golden raisins and candied/glacee fruit, I used some ready made Christmas fruit mix. I also substituted the rum in the cake and icing in this recipe with rum extract and water. The cake itself was a little dry, and the icing was nice but didn't fully over it. But the flavour was good. I did almost screw up a little by adding too much baking soda, but I scooped most of that out gently.
Rating: :)

(For The Love Of) Fruitcake Bars

Harvest Cookies from Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson: The night before the final bake sale, I had an aesthetic baking fail (see later on in this post), and needed to make something quickly to replace it as my contribution. This recipe came through for me. Plus it had cranberries and ginger in it, so that is kind of Christmas-like, right? They have oats, cranberries, nuts, and sultanas in it, along with a delightful spice blend. I used an ice cream scoop to get nice bake sale sized cookies, and it made 14 cookies that I baked for 25 minutes. These were delicious, so I am glad I made them!
Rating: :D

Harvest Cookies

Mincemeat Pinwheels from Cook Share Eat Vegan by Aine Carlin: I mentioned a recipe that was an aesthetic fail, and this was it. The recipe seemed simple enough, a jar of vegan fruit mincemeat, a sheet of puff pastry. Roll, slice, bake. But I think that my sheet of puff pastry and her sheet of puff pastry were different. I know they are, because hers seems to be a rectangle according to the instructions to roll from the short side, and mine were squares. Anyway, it was meant to be cut into 18 x 1cm pieces, I did 12. But it was so thin, and the pastry was so smooshy. My mum suggested in future to pop the roll in the freezer for a bit before cutting, and I would also suggest cutting them thicker. So while they tasted lovely, and didn't look totally horrendous, they were not for putting out a bake sale table.
Rating: :) (for taste)

Mincemeat Pinwheels

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


Clinic boy Jed, sitting on his rocker/scratcher and having a good time.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Recipe Round-Up: Veganomicon

Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is a pretty famous cookbook in vegan circles. While the newest release of the book is the 10th Anniversary Edition, I cook out of the original version. You can see my other posts about Veganomicon here.

Sweet Potato-Pear Tzimmes with Pecans and Raisins and Spinach Noodle Kugel: The tzimmes was a very sweet dish, something that I would really think of more as a dessert than a main. There really is nothing in it that would mean it couldn't be a dessert, no onions or anything lurking, just sweet potatoes and pears and sweet stuff. But serving for dinner, it went very well with the gentle blandness of the kugel. I made a half recipe of the kugel, using a mix of frozen and fresh spinach, and broken up linguine for the pasta (I have never seen any vegan noodles that were suggested in the recipe). It also has matzo and silken tofu in it, as well as some dill. I added more dill than the recipe called for.
Rating: Tzimmes :), Kugel :)

Spinach Noodle Kugel; Sweet Potato-Pear Tzimmes with Pecans and Raisins

Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf with Citrus Sesame Date Sauce: This pilaf is so simple and so tasty. I decreased the amount of quinoa to about 2/3 cup, which gave me three serves. It also has onion, garlic, spices (I used ground coriander rather than crushwed seeds), and tomato paste. I needed to cook it a bit longer than the recipe said to get everything to cook through. The sauce is made with orange juice, dates, and tahini (plus some other things like miso). It comes together so easily, and is great over grains or greens.
Rating: Pilaf :), Sauce :)

Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf; Citrus Sesame Date Sauce

Fresh Dill-Basmati Rice with Chard and Chickpeas and Spiced Yoghurt Sauce: I am drawn to any recipe with dill in the title, it is my fvourite herb! I decreased the rice slightly from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups, so I had a higher other stuff to rice ratio. I couldn't get silverbeet (chard), so I used some English spinach instead. Rather than steaming it, I chopped it, put it in a collander and tipped a full kettle of boiling water over to blanch it, let it cool, squeezed it dry, then chopped it again. I used lots of fresh dill, plus some dry dill as well. You cannot have too much dill. The spiced yoghurt sauce is very easy to make, I used some natural soy yoghurt and seasonings, lemon juice, and coriander are mixed in. On it 's own, it is a bit meh. But it was very nice when combined with the rice dish.
Rating: Rice :), Sauce :|

Fresh Dill-Basmati Rice with Chard and Chickpeas; Spiced Yoghurt Sauce

Udon with Shiitake Mushrooms and Kale in Miso Broth: This recipe says it serves four, but they are small servings. I'd double it if you really were feeding four people. It has a lovely rich broth, that is very simple to make. It would be good with some tofu added too to bulk it up a little.
Rating: :)

Udone with Shiitake Mushrooms and Kale in Miso Broth

Almond-Quinoa Muffins: These muffins are a fun way to use up extra quinoa. Though they don't rise very high, they quinoa makes them dense and moist (sorry) and a great little snack. The almond comes from almond meal, and they also have some lovely spices and dried fruit as well (I used currants).
Rating: :)

Almond-Quinoa Muffins

Lower-Fat Banana Bread: This recipe uses a mix of applesauce and canola oil to make it 'lower-fat', eh, but it doesn't impact the taste at all. This is a very moist (sorry) and yummy loaf. It does have molasses in it, which gave it a lovely extra flavour (if you like molasses that is).
Rating: :)

Lower-Fat Banana Bread

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


A darling photo of our sweet sweet Petal. I will miss her the most!

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Midweek Munchies

Some more fun random things.

I bought this nice range of snacks from Woolworths one day. The mini PB tubs I keep at work. I did have a big jar of PB, but sometimes I didn't eat it in time and it would dry out and go a bit gross (sadness), so these tubs will keep fresh for when I need a little something. The chickpea crisps were OK. I didn't think they had a strong turmeric taste, but my mum did, so I guess it depends on your turmeric tolerance. But the Roasted Raspberry Dark Chocolate covered chickpeas? AMAZING! I love these.

Vegan Snacks from WW

Some lovely Olive and Thyme Sourdough from a local bakery with avocado, tomato, and smoked salt. Served with lots of cucumber on the side for a light lunch.

Avocado, tomato, smoked salt on olive thyme sourdough

When I saw this silly juice, and just had to get it. And it was worth it, the combination of flavours was really refreshing and a bit tangy. Would definitely buy again.

Silly drink

I tried out these Sol Mushroom and Wild Rice veggie burgers that I found on sale at The Green Edge one day. They were OK texture-wise, but they did have a bit of capsicum in it and I found that to be the overwhelming flavour. Boo.

Sol Mushroom and Wild Rice Burgers

I got this pouch of Super Fudgio in a mystery box ages ago, so finally decided to give it a try. It is delicious! I served it with some natural yoghurt and fresh raspberries so that it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. The only annoying thing is the pouch it comes in, I ended up cutting it open so I could clean it and recycle it with our soft plastics, and there was so much more product trapped inside that I would never have been able to squeeze out!

Super Fudgio with yoghurt and raspberries

Finally, this sandwich. I have no memory really of what this sandwich is. I think it is a smoked sesame cheese BLT, I can see the L and the T looking at it. But I have no memory of what the B was! Anyway, it looks good and I am sure it tasted good.


Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Holly and Pansy

Can you even with these two cuties?

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Eating Out: Flora by Greenhouse

I've been back to my beloved Flora by Greenhouse a few times. Not as often as I would like though! You can see my previous posts about Flora here.

I stopped in for lunch one day after yoga. There was some work being done at home, so I was trying to stay out of the house until it was done. Lunch at Flora seemed like the perfect way to do that! Because I had been sweating a lot at yoga, I had one of their green juices, with apple, cos, celery, spinach, cucumber, lime, lemon, and mint. Very refreshing!

Green Juice at Flora by Greenhouse

For food, I got one of their jaffles filled with smokey pulled jackfruit, cashew brie, rocket, and cheddar. It came with a side of their delicious tomato relish. And I also got some creamy dill potato salad as a side. As you can see, they were also covered in Flora's signature pea sprout garnish, so I also took some nude photos so you can actually see the food.

Jaffle and Salad at Flora by Greenhouse

Creamy Potato Dill Salad at Flora by Greenhouse

Smokey Jackfruit Jaffle at Flora by Greenhouse

I took my mum there a while ago for her first visit. I am happy to report that she really enjoyed it. For drinks, she got a hot chocolate and I got an iced turmeric latte, both on soy.

Hot Chocolate and Iced Turmeric Latte at Flora by Greenhouse

She had the savoury vegetable and dill chickpea pancake, with spinach and pea puree. I've had this before, and honestly it is the best thing that I have had from Flora ever. It is so good.

Savoury Pancakes at Flora by Greenhouse

I had the Garlic Mushrooms, which were served on sourdough with spinach, tomato, cashew brie and lots of herbs, and I got some avocado to go with it as well. Very nice.

Garlic Mushrooms at Flora by Greenhouse

Definitely need to try and get here a bit more often! I still am yet to try their famous Bruffin!

Flora by Greenhouse West End - 239 Boundary Street, West End

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Holly sneeking on Petal

By now, all the kitties and Petal have gone to their homes. But I still have a few more to share. I love this photo of Petal in the cat tunnel, with Holly peeking from the outside.