Saturday, 23 February 2019

Vegan Spanish Feast

My brother visited recently. He lives in the UK, and this was his first visit home in two years. He also brought his partner, who we had never met. It was super exciting, and she is super lovely. She is also Spanish. So one night the two of them cooked up a vegan Spanish feast for the family. Even though I am the only vegan, which was super sweet. They also made everything super mild for my sensitive self. Double lovely!

A big bowl of guacamole went down a treat.

Guacamole


Followed by sweet little bowls of gazpacho. It is summer here, so chilled soup is a good thing! (This was the one thing that had a little bit of capsicum in it, so I was glad for the small serve).

Gazpacho


Creamy Mushroom Croquettes were delicious.

Creamy Mushroom Croquettes


Plus a delicious platter of Patatas Bravas. These potatoes were cooked for ages, and they were so crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Plus the tomato sauce went so well.

Patatas Bravas


Plus a big bowl of Spinach and Chickpeas.

Chickpeas and Spinach


It was a fantastic spread!

Spanish Feast


It was a lovely dinner. Afterwards we stayed up watching The Emperor's New Groove, which is them best Disney movie. It was so great having them visit, and I look forward to them coming again!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Luna


Remember all those tiny kittens I shared with you over the last several posts? Well, they are all grown up now! They have been desexed, and are ready for adoption! This little girl is now called Luna, and already has a home to go to.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Eating Out: Tamm Ha Tamm

I'd known about French crepe cafe Tamm Ha Tamm for a while, though it didn't pop up too frequently on the vegan web so I forgot about it. Not a vegan place, but I had heard it had some vegan options. But I had to go and pick up some medication I get compounded for Dim Sim from a pharmacy that happened to be right next to it, so it seemed like a good chance to try it out.

The menu they gave me varied a bit from the one online. For a start, the menu I saw had three vegan options for the savoury crepes. I picked out The Broceliande, which had garlic vegetal butter, sauteed mushrooms, fresh spinach, and balsamic fig glaze.

The Broceliande at Tamm Ha Tamm


A lot of the sweet crepe options can be made vegan, though instead of the regular crepes they use the same buckwheat crepe for the vegan ones that they use for the savoury crepes. So they are a bit sturdier than what you think of as crepes, but still good. I went for the classic, lemon and sugar, though they also have fruity options and a vegan chocolate sauce.

Lemon Sugar Sweet Crepe at Tamm Ha Tamm


They also make some baked vegan goods - they called them cupcakes, but they are really muffins. They use different flours in each of them, and the flavours come from essential oils. One was an orange muffin made with green lentil flour, which was a bit heavy and the essential oil had a definite flavour to it that made me think of aromatherapy. I'd prefer regular orange essence. And regular flour! The other was a Cinnamon muffin with buckwheat flour, which was my favourite.

Orange Lentil Flour and Cinnamon Buckwheat Flour Muffins at Tamm Ha Tamm


Tamm Ha Tamm - 1/830 Old Cleveland Road - Carina - (07) 3195 8670

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Mumma Cat


All those kittens had one great mumma. This is her! The two gingers were hers, and the took on the six greys as well. Her name is Pippi, and she is now up for adoption, as are the kittens. She is a very sweet little girl, so I hope someone will take her soon for her forever home. Mumma cats often get overlooked for their kittens, but older cats have a lot of love to give!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Recipe Round-Up: The Urban Vegan

Not going to lie, I didn't think about getting The Urban Vegan for ages because the cover features the author (Dynise Balcavage) standing in front of a giant pile of red capsicums. Regular readers will understand why this did not appeal to me at all - devil vegetable! Eventually I saw it on sale and picked it up, and it has some really lovely recipes in it. Without capsicums. And yet still, I have hardly made anything from it. In part I think this is due to the layout of the book - chapters such as The Melting Pot, House Party, Haute Cuisine, and Cafe Culture, mean that recipes are arranged very randomly throughout the book. I prefer a book where recipe organisation makes a bit more sense to my brain, so I know where to look when I am after something. Bit I really should make more from it. Here are some of the things I have made. This is the first time this book has appeared on my blog!

Lemon Poppy Seed Tempeh and Confetti Quinoa: The tempeh has a very strong lemon flavour, calling for the juice and zest of four lemons. I do wish cookbook authors would give a volume amount for this sort of thing, as sizes vary so much so I always feel like a bit of guess work. The other issue was the marinade, it has 2T cornstarch in it, and it goes super gluggy. I served is with the Confetti Quinoa, as suggested. This is a fun little grain dish with onions, celery, corn, and peas. And more lemon juice. I took the option to make it with stock rather than water, which gave a nice flavour. I also served this with some steamed broccoli.
Rating: Tempeh :|, Quinoa :)

Lemon Poppy Seed Tempeh; Confetti Quinoa; steamed broccoli


Sandwich Mousse: This had a delicious savoury taste. It is based on pink beans (I used borlotti) to give a nice colour, but has a lot of great additions like tahini, sumac, and nutritional yeast. Spread on bread with some baby spinach for a great sandwich.
Rating: :)

Sandwich Mousse


Grilled Cheese and Banana: It sounds weird, but it works great! Very simple, sliced banana and cheese in bread, and then toast in either a sandwich press or skillet. I made this quite a while ago, so used some Tofutti American Style cheese slices. Even today, I still enjoy these slices. I know they taste plastic and processed, but that is the charm. Anyway, good combination!
Rating: :)

Grilled Cheese and Bananas


Curry Cashew Casserole: Hello delicious! I very much loved this casserole, with broccoli and chickpeas and a creamy cashew based red curry sauce. The recipe calls for cashew butter and a small, Susan-friendly amount of red curry paste. Served four over rice, and definitely recommend.
Rating: :D

Curry Cashew Casserole


Pastitsio: I don't remember the first pastitsio recipe I made as a vegan, I'd certainly never had it before I went vegan, but I became a big fan almost immediately. Something about the tomato nutmeg meaty sauce, pasta tubes (this recipe calls for ziti, I used penne), and creamy white sauce is just so satisfying. This recipe was to make a large amount, I jiggled with it a bit by using half the pasta, but still making the full quantity of the meaty mixture and the bechamel. This gave me two layers in an 8 inch square casserole, which worked out perfectly. I used Linda McCartney mince for the filling, and used the bechamel recipe in the book. The sauce was roux based, and has a lot of nutritional yeast in it. It ended up more like a cheese sauce than what I would consider a traditional bechamel. The casserole can be topped with either breadcrumbs or nutritional yeast, I chose the latter. But I think a mix of panko and nutritional yeast would be the ideal crunch topping.
Rating: :)

Pastitsio


Pastitsio


Brussels Sprouts au Gratin: Not a gratin at all, more like slightly cheesy Brussels sprouts. They are steamed until just tender (don't over moosh them!), then tossed with Nuttelex, nutritional yeast, and seasoning. It is simple, quick, and tasty, whatever it is called.
Rating: :)

Brussels Sprouts au Gratin


Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach: Simple, fresh, and nice flavours. Unlike the gratin, this is perfectly named. Chickpeas, a mix of fresh and tinned tomatoes, and fresh spinach are sauteed and served over rice. A very fast and easy way to get dinner ont he table.
Rating: :)

Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach


Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

All the Kitties


A giant pile of sleepy babies. They have grown a lot since this photo, they are much bigger now!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Cats

No food today. Just cats.

Yesterday, the 16th of February, was Dim Sim's 19th birthday. She spent the days as she always does, snoozing in her chair cave while having food brought to her. And then we snuggled all night. I hope I have many more years to spend with her.

Dim Sim's 19th birthday


Today is the two year anniversary of Sahara's passing. How has it already been two years? I don't know. I miss her so much. She was such a bright, enthusiastic, energetic little bear, how is she not still here being her?

Sahara sitting pretty


And speaking of missing people so much, here is a photo of Gizmo as well. I miss her calm, sweet, love.

Gizmo and mousey


Hug your babies close.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Eating Out: Yavanna (mostly sweet edition)

In my last post, I covered some of the meals I'd had at Yavanna, but I also mentioned that they have a great selection of baked goods. It changes day by day, so you are never entirely sure what will be there. But they always have several delicious options, some of which are also gluten free, and some of which are savoury. While I've only eating in the restaurant a few times, for a while I was in a habit of popping in for a little treat. Especially at the end of a Saturday shift! I like to get myself a treat, go home, and watch Steven Universe. A good ritual, though it has been a while since I've been. Buckle in for a trip down things I've bought lane.

German Poppy Seed Pastries

German Pastries at Yavanna


Cheese and Vegemite Scroll

Cheese and Vegemite Scroll from Yavanna


Vanilla Slice

Vanilla Slice from Yavanna


Strawberry Curd Doughnuts

Strawberry Curd Doughnuts from Yavanna


Glazed Berry Cake

Glazed Berry Cake from Yavanna


Apple Crumble Cake with Roasted Tahini

Apple Crumble Cake with Roasted Tahini at Yavanna


Cardamon Sugar Doughnut and Chocolate ANZAC Sandwich Cookie

Butterfly Cardamom Sugar doughtnut and Chocolate Anzac cookie from Yavanna


Iced Vovo Cake and Jam Doughnut

Iced Vovo Cake and Jam Doughnut from Yavanna


Orange Creamsicle Slice and Cardamon Sugar Doughnuts

Orange Creamsicle Slice and Cinnamon Doughnut


Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes, Berry-Glazed Doughnut Holes, Peanut Butter Jam Drop Cookie

Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes, Berry Galzed Doughnut Holes, Peanut Butter Jam Drop from Yavanna


Loaded Gingerbread and Coconut Raspberry Slice

Loaded Banana Bread and Coconut Raspberry Slice from Yavanna


Yavanna - 9/2 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington, QLD

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim


Dim Sim's results came back confirming the UTI, so we've got four weeks of antibiotics ahead of us. She is much better now though, so that is good news!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Eating Out: Yavanna (savoury edition)

Yavanna opened earlier this year to a lot of buzz. All vegan, the focus is heavy on mock meaty and cheesy creations, with a pretty amazing selection of baked goods to boot as well as a full vegan bar. Despite it being only a five minute walk from my work, I've only been to eat there a handful of times. But the general acclaim on the vegan scene is good, and it gets super busy! The menu has changed a few times, and they also have fortnightly specials as well.

The first time I went was for lunch, and I was feeling like something a bit lighter. Lighter can be hard to find at Yavanna! I settled on the Brinner Omelet (with mushrooms, spinach, tomato, onion, and cheese... served with a side of tater tots and some guacamole), and some garlicky greens. There wasn't much mushroom or spinach in the omelet, and it could have been cheesier, but it was pretty tasty and a good texture. The garlicky greens were lovely, though a little bit on the oily side.

Brinner at Yavanna


Garlic Greens at Yavanna


This one time, I discovered on the Saturday morning of my weekend off that I had left my laptop charger cable at work. This was my old laptop, that wouldn't work without being plugged into the wall. So to make the trip in to work to get it seem more justified, I stopped in for breakfast at Yavanna. It was a cool day, so a turmeric latte was definitely on the cards. I am happy to report theirs is good!

Turmeric Latte at Yavanna


I ordered the Bacon Toasted Sandwich, with a side of tater tots. The side ended up being a whole bowl! This was a yummy and pretty filling and decadent breakfast! Yavanna will never leave you hungry.

Bacon Sandwich and Tater Tots at Yavanna


Another lunch visit, they had a fortnightly special that was a burrito filled with mac and cheese, chicken parm, and fries. Of course I had to go there! It was so good, they crisped the burrito wrap up perfectly! Alas, that red smear you see there was capsicum based, so I gave it a wide berth. If I'd thought ahead, I would have asked for BBQ sauce instead. This was a pretty fun special!

2018-11-01 12.12.17


In very important news, Yavanna does milkshakes. And while coconut ice cream is their default, they often have soy ice cream for people like me! I have enjoyed two soy strawberry milkshakes there. Always strawberry, as that is the best flavour. Once they didn;t have soy ice cream, so they made me a strawberry milk with a reduced cost.

Strawberry Milkshake at Yavanna


Not long ago, I popped in for lunch to try their special - the Halal Snack Pack. This was chips with gyros 'meat' slices, cheese sauce, sour cream, and sweet chilli sauce. But I had them sub the sweet chilli for BBQ sauce, which was excellent.

HSP at Yavanna


If you are wondering more about their delicious baked goods, stay tuned for the next post!

Yavanna - 9/2 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington, QLD

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim


I little break from kittens for my sweet baby girl. She was a bit off yesterday morning, had some vomiting and not eating. It was stressful being at work away from her, but when I got home it looked like she had a UTI. Waiting for culture results from the lab, but have started her on some antibiotics in the meantime and she seems better. I don't like it when she is not well, we had all good results only two weeks ago with her senior check!

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Cruelty Free Shop February 2019 Vegan Mystery Box

Here's what was in my February Cruelty Free Shop Vegan Mystery Box! This was being advertised as their biggest box ever (in terms of value, I guess), so I had some high hopes.

2019_02_VeganMysteryBox


  • Vegan Honeycomb: This is the nekkid variety, not covered in chocolate. At first I was a bit 'meh', not the biggest fan of super sweet stuff. But I have found that this is not really all that sweet, and has some kind of nice almost charred undertone. Not really the word I am looking for, but I can't quite grasp the one I am after.
  • Peanut Butter Banana Clif Bar: Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bars are the best, I have always been a bit let down by other flavours. So we'll see. Cautiously optimistic because at least it has peanut butter.
  • Peas Please Sea Salt: These are crunchy little snacks based on green pea flour. I am always looking for savoury snacks, so I am keen to try these.
  • East Bali Cashews Chili Lime Cashews: I have had this brand before, they make these amazing cocoa covered cashews. However I will be gifting these to my friend Amy, aka the one who gets all my spicy stuff.
  • Oskri Organic Sunflower Snap: Funny story, the morning before the package arrived, I was in a new organic shop and I was holding one of these in my hand debating getting one. I ended up getting one of their peach fruity ones instead, so this was a fun surprise. Pretty sure every Australian vegan is familar with the sesame snaps you get from the supermarkets, so I imagine these are like an upmarket version of them.
  • Geo Organics Thai Red Curry Paste: Red curry paste is actually one spicy thing I do use, but at much lower quantities than recipes usually require. Just enough to get the red curry hint, without too much heat. I normally use the Thai Gourmet brand from Coles, so I wonder if this is hotter than that or not.
  • Pimp My Salad Cashew Parmesan: I am pretty happy about this. Not something I would normally buy, as nut parmesan is easy enough to make, and most of the time I just use straight nooch. But I love cheesy things, so this is fun.
  • Argan Oil Normal Hair Shampoo Bar: I have tried shampoo bars in the past, and I haven't had much success. Still, in the spirit of finding ways to use less waste I tried this bar. I was quite happy with the lather I was able to get out, and my hair felt squaky clean after. Almost a little too squeaky, I wonder if this is a bit too drying for my hair (they do have a dry hair version as well), but after some conditioning spray my hair felt pretty good. So I'll keep on using this and maybe I have found a package free solution for my shampoo.
All up, a pretty good box. Only one thing that I have to give away! The shampoo bar I am really happy about, as I probably wouldn't have bought it given my previous experience with other bars.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Kitten in the Barn


When work gets you Grill'd for lunch, and someone gets a kids meal that comes in a little barn box, and you have tiny kittens in the clinic.... well, can you blame us?

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Recipe Round-Up: The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a giant tome with something for almost every holiday. While I spent a year making something from every chapter for each holiday, these days I just pick and choose what I want to make at any time of year! You can see what else I have made here.

Grilled Tofu with Peanut Sauce (Fourth of July) and Seared Dragon Green Beans with Almonds (Chinese New Year): Tofu and peanut sauce, sign me up! This recipe is for two blocks of tofu, but I only used one. While I halved the tofu, I still made a full recipe of the peanut sauce, because of course. The tofu is dipped in a soy and sesame oil mix before grilling. I just did mine inside on the mini George Foreman grill in batches, and then popped in the oven at 120dC while I was making the rest. This kept it warm, and also helped it firm up a bit as I didn't press it first. I also didn't put it on skewers, because honestly I am not the biggest fan of eating from skewers. I served it over some rice, and with the seared green beans. Mixing my holidays together! The beans were super fast and easy to make, and really had a great seared flavour. I loved the toasted almonds, though I found the amount called for was too much for garnishing the amount of beans. The recipe calls for searing in coconut oil, gross, so I used peanut oil instead.
Rating: Tofu :), Green Beans :)

Grilled Tofu with Peanut Sauce; Seared Dragon Green Beans with Almonds


Tater Tot Kugel and Stone Fruit and Lentil Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing (Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur): Disclaimer, there aren't any tater tots in the kugel, but it is meant to taste like a giant one. Honestly, it did not, but it was still very tasty! I made a half recipe, and got four side serves from it (it says a full one serves 10-12, presumably as part of a multiple dish meal). This is definitely best served piping hot from the oven! The salad was a lovely and refreshing side. Mixed greens, nectarines (you can use whatever is in season), lentils (I used a tin), with a lovely dressing and pickled onions. I only made a small amount on the onions, mostly because my mum likes them. Pickled onions don't sit well with my stomach. I was out of white wine vinegar for the dressing, so I used some diluted sherry vinegar, which worked well.
Rating: Kugel :), Salad :)

Stone Fruit and Lentil Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing; Tater Tot Kugel


Blood Orange Glazed Tofu and Pumpkin and Cranberry Risotto with Chestnuts (Christmas): When winter gifts you a short season of blood oranges, you make this recipe. Again, this recipe is for two blocks of tofu. I halved the recipe again, as I am only cooking for three people. I used garlic powder in the marinade instead of fresh garlic, and the marinade also has blood orange juice, ginger, maple, and soy. I marinated it overnight, and the tofu absorbed most of it. The recipe says to bake at 190dC, but I know how tofu bakes in my oven so I increased the heat to 210dC to get it a bit firmer. The risotto was lovely, sweet, and creamy. It went well with the tofu. For the risotto, I used a 1kg package for chopped butternut pumpkin, rather than chopping 3 pounds of pumpkin (sore shoulders, tough vegetables, convenience appreciated).
Rating: Tofu :), Risotto :)

Pumpkin and Cranberry Risotto; Blood Orange Glazed Tofu


BBQ Nachos (Super Bowl): I don't watch sportsball, and this particular sportsball isn't even a thing over here, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy watching what everyone eats for it. These BBQ nachos had layers of corn chips, a BBQ lentil meat mix, and queso, which you then repeat. Very important for optimal chip coverage! Then topped with pico de gallo, which I made without the raw onion or the jalapeno. I also left the jalapeno out of the queso, and used onion and garlic powder in place of garlic and onions. The lentils were meant to have some capsicum in it, which I also left out. And I used coriander for the final garnish rather than scallions. This made a huge casserole dish full of nachos, but really only served three or four as main meal. A great combination.
Rating: :)

BBQ Nachos


Rice Paper Rolls with Red Curry Peanut Sauce (Chinese New Year): Rice paper roll wrapping is an art, and while sometimes I have the skills, other times it just ends up looking sloppy, like these. I was not super keen on the filling either - cabbage, carrot, avocado, coriander, and mint, it was just a bit meh and not very filling. I really would have liked some tofu as well. The sauce was nice though, and added some much needed flavour. Though I only used 1 tsp of red curry paste instead of 1 TBS to make it Susan friendly.
Rating: :|

Rice Paper Rolls with Red Curry Peanut Sauce


Curried Pork Fried Rice (Chinese New Year): This was the first recipe that I ever made from the book! I took the option of using tofu rather than seitan, because tofu is my true love. The tofu was soaked in some beetroot mix and liquid smoke to give it a pinkish appearance and smokey flavour. Mine didn't keep the pink colour too much. I also sauteed the tofu before I added it to the rice to give it some firmness. I used a large bag of microwave jasmine rice, which was 3 cups rather than 4 cups, but I prefer a higher stuff to rice ratio anyway. There was also broccoli, carrot, and red onion in it... I kind of would have liked a bit of pineapple as well.
Rating: :)

Curried Pork Fried Rice


Tofu Short Ribs with Gingery Mashed Root Vegetables (Chinese New Year): Guys, this is super good! Again, a two block tofu recipe that I halved to work with one recipe. Though I still make a full amount of the mash. The sauce is hoisin based, with five spice, and is so amazing! The mash is a combination of parsnips, turnips, and sweet potato, and I used Nuttelex instead of coconut oil. I also served with some green beans. Recommend!
Rating: :D

Tofu Short Ribs with Gingery Mashed Root Vegetables


Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Snuggles


These two little snuggle bugs!