Thursday, 30 January 2020

Cruelty Free Shop January 2020 Vegan Mystery Box

Month two of my Cruelty Free Ship Vegan Mystery Box subscription rolled around, though there was a bit of a wait for it to arrive. A lot of Australia is on fire, and because of this there were delays in them receiving shipments to send things out in the box. A trivial non-inconvenience compared to what other people in the country are dealing with right now. But the box did arrive, and there were things in it.

Jan 2020 Vegan Mystery Box

  • Oatly Original Oat Milk: I know Oatly is all the rage right now. Here in Australia, we only get the milks (original, barista, and chocolate), no ice creams (yet). I love love love the Oatly Barista one (so rich and creamy), but the original one is just a bit meh. I am happy sticking with my Vitasoy Oat Milk, which I prefer (and is also much cheaper and far easier to find).
  • Vego 150g Hazelnut Chocolate Bar: And I know Vego bars are all the rage as well. I love their Dark Chocolate berries and nuts one, but find the hazelnut chocolate one too sweet for me.
  • Booja Booja 2pck Hazelnut Crunch Truffles: I love Booja Booja! Their truffles are so very good. When this arrived, the two truffles inside had kind of melted into one larger truffle (it is summer here, it is hot, it is yucky), but as if I was going to eat them one at a time any way.
  • Alpro Soy Cream: A big fan of having some of this on hand for cooking and baking.
  • Zuii Luminising Cream: Honestly, I have no idea. To enhance my natural tan? Ummmm... I'm a pale skinned red head!
  • Grants Mini Toothpaste: I am a Red Seal Natural SLS Free toothpaste kind of girl, but have never tried Grants before. So I'll give it a whirl. It is in a cute little tube.
  • Vessimix Thai Green Curry Paste: Gave this to Amy, my spicy loving friend.
  • Fratelli Bruschetta Crackers - Garlic: I haven't tried these yet but I am looking forward to when I do!

A bit of a mixed bag this month. But February is just around the corner, so we'll see what comes of that!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


This cutie is Twinkie, who was one of our adoption kitties. I say was because she already has a great new home! She was called Twinky because of her 'creamy centre' - she was born with a little hernia in her abdominal wall so a little bit of omentum was poking out and you could feel it under her skin. Thankfully this is completely correctible with surgery, done at the same time as her spey, and her creamy centre is now safe and sound back where it should be! She was such a sweet, cute, little kitten. She has a very lucky family!

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Eating Out: Hay Gurl, Grill'd, The Pick Up Joint (Indooroopilly)

Hello friends. It has been a couple of weeks I know! I was really into the rhythm of my three times a week blogging for a while there, but earlier this year I was struggling with some pain flares and also some crappy mental health, so I took a little bit of time off. Easing myself back in with a post about eating out.

The 14th of January was 8 years since Gizmo passed. I really can't believe she has been gone from me so long. I always take this day off work every year, and spend the day doing something nice and thinking about my sweet girl. This year I needed to be out of the house early, so I put together a nice little plan for the start of the day.

Indooroopilly is a suburb that I rarely if ever am in. The most I have been there in the last several years was to occasionally drive through it on my way from one place to another. I knew I wanted to go and see CATS (for the second time, I love that movie!), so I was looking for early session times in cinemas that were close to food. Originally I had planned to go to my beloved Flora By Greenhouse for breakfast... BUT THEY HAVE CLOSED! Very sad. So plans had to change.

I'd heard about Hay Gurl, a vegan cafe in Indooroopilly, and it was on my radar of places to go. So why not! Google Maps gave me a bit of trouble getting there. But if you go, it is in the same complex as Spotlight, and is tucked inside the main entrance doors. They have a lovely small menu, as well as a selection of baked goods and some housemade cheeses and mayo for sale. I started with a delicious hot chocolate (made on Bonsoy) and enjoyed their amazing chickpea-based Omelette. It had almond feta, smoked carrot, tomato, spinach, and avocado. Plus some fresh dill, my favourite herb. It was delicious! I also picked up a slice of banana bread to take home, which I forgot to get a photo of.

Om (Nom Nom) Lette at Hay Gurl

Hot Chocolate at Hay Gurl

Even though it is a bit of a drive, I definitely want to go back there. Look how cute some of the seating is!

Hay Gurl

After breakfast, I headed to the cinemas at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. It has been decades since I have been there, I think the last time would have been in high school maybe, and it has had some major renovations. It is now HUGE! Four floors of shops, during school holidays. But thankfully it wasn't as crowded as it could be. And I went and I saw CATS again. Have you seen CATS? I am a huge fan of the musical, and I couldn't wait to see the movie. I know it got terrible reviews, but I heard a lot of people talking about how great it was. The first time I saw it my brain was really just trying to make sense of this uncanny valley... are they cats... are they humans... why do they walk on two legs sometimes and sometimes on four... why do they have human hands and noses... but their CGI cat ears are so good... So many questions, but really enjoyable. I definitely wanted to see it again, and the second time I loved it still! Anyway, if you are after some wonderful, weird, musical, escapism, I highly recommend it.

After the movie, I popped into Grill'd, conveniently located right next to the cinemas, to get some lunch. I've been to Grill'd lots of times before, they have great chips and vegan burger options. A while ago I had made the Beyond Burger at home, and wasn't a huge fan. The cooking process and smell was a turn off. Grill'd has beyond burgers, so I thought I'd try one that I didn't have to prepare. I had the Vegan Beyond Garden Goodness, which had the Beyond Burger, beetoot, lettuce, relish, vegan cheese, avocado, and vegan mayo. Be sure to specify vegan if you are ordering it! And look, I still don't really like the Beyond Burger. Which is fine, I don't need to. Lots of other people do, which is great. And I can enjoy the regular veggie pattie in the future. Of course I got a side of their amazing chips, with some tomato relish. I ordered the regular size, and I forgot how big it was! But all delicious.

Vegan Beyond Garden Burger and Chips from Grill'd

After lunch, I jumped on the escalator to start working my way back down to the car. The escalator from the movies goes down into the third floor food court, and what did I see right as I stepped off? A sign saying 'all vegan'! Turns out The Pick Up Joint was having a pop up for the month of January. I'd been to their physical store in the Valley once before, but had no idea that they were doing a pop up.

Pick Up Joint Pop Up

I got a selection of goodies, including (clock wise from top left) a strawberry short cake, chocolate orange curd brownie bomb, wagon wheel, and a gingerbread cookie. As well as being vegan, they are also all gluten free. The shortcake and the brownie base definitely suffered from that sort of really dense, slightly dry fate of some gluten free baked goods, which was a shame. But the orange curd was amazing. The wagon wheel was filled with aquafaba marshmallow and jam, and the gingerbread cookie was amazing (definitely my favourite). I also got a strawberry iced tea.

Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Curd Brownie Bomb, Wagon Whee, Gingerbread Cookie, Strawberry Iced Tea from The Pick Up Joint

Hay Gurl - Shop 2/34 Coonan St, Indooroopilly

Grill'd Indooroopilly - Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, 322 Moggill Rd, Indooroopilly

The Pick Up Joint - 97 Kennigo Street, Fortitude Valley

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Gizmo's 13th Birthday

Of course, I have to share a photo of Gizmo for this post. How has she been gone for so long? I miss her sweet, calm, healing presence, and her epic purr. Time goes so fast, and I don't like that it keeps taking us further apart. When I got home, I lit a candle for Gizmo and spent some time snuggling with Dim Sim and thinking about my girls.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Mum's Birthday 2019

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

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

Dceonstructed Bahn Mi Salad

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

All-Out Chocolate Honeycomb Loaf

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim helping me make the bed

Dim Sim 'helping' me make the bed.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Eating Out: Brisbane CBD 2019

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

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

Soba Bowl at Felix For Goodness

Elderflower and Lemon Iced Tea at Felix For Goodness

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

2019-01-16 12.12.11

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

Pad See Ew at Phat Elephant

Tofu and Veggies in Mushroom Sauce with Rice at Phat Elephant

Chrysthanemum Iced Tea at Phat Elephant

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

Creamy Mushroom Pie and Mustard & Dill Salad from Vegerama

Creamy Mushroom Pie with Pesto Chickpea Salad from Vegerama Myer Centre

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

Moroccan Chickpea and Kale potato at Spudbar Wintergarden

Poke Bowl from SpudBar

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

Vegetable Soba Miso Noodles from Iku

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

Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel from the markets

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

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Jed and Kitten

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

Sunday, 5 January 2020

New Years Eats

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

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

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

Chard, Coriander, and Cashew Cheese Pizza

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

Creamy Banana Pie

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

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

Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes

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

Coconut Black-Eyed Pea Curry (Lobia)

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

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim on New Year's Day

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

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Cruelty Free Shop December 2019 Vegan Mystery Box

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

CFS Vegan Mystery Box December 2019

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

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim paws

Look at Dim Sim's perfect little front paws.