Thursday, 27 February 2020

Midweek Munchies: Next! Plant Based Bacon

Next! is a brand of vegan meat that is available in Coles. You can find it in the dead animal refrigerated section, with a few other plant based meats. I have tried their unseasoned chicken chunks (I posted about them a few weeks ago), but this post is dedicated to their bacon. I tend not to be a huge fan of bought vegan bacons, with the exception of the ones you can get at the Asian grocery store. My heart belongs to tempeh bacon, which I can make easily at home. But I had heard good things about this, and ever curious I tried it. For science. Honestly, I should get a medal or something. I take my science very seriously.

For my maiden voyage, I decided to go all out with the vegan products and make some BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers. Featuring the bacon, of course, Vegie Delight BBQ Burgers (these are very good), and some thin slices of a Daiya cheddar block.

Making Bacon Cheeseburgers

But we are here for the bacon, which looks like this when you take it out of the packet. Streaky.

Next! Bacon

And cooked up! It goes a bit crispy in places, I didn't cook it to a total crisp. Though you could if you wanted.

Next! Bacon

And then I made it into a burger! Verdict? I quite liked it! Definitely more like the Asian grocery store vegan bacons than the gross other vegan bacons (Vegie Delights bacon, I am looking at you. You're gross.). It made for a fun and satistying burger. I melted the Daiya on top of the burger patty, and I also added some caramelised onions and BBQ sauce. Excellent combination.

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers

I saved a few slices for lunch the following day to make a BLT. The ultimate test, because I love a good BLT. And it made a very good one! With mayo and avocado as well.

Next! BLT

So, I would buy this again. If I saw it on sale. AU$10 for 12 slices is fairly pricey, and I can make a lot of tempeh bacon for that money. But I'd say definitely give it a try if.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

BunnyDee Pet Pins

A closer look at Dim Sim's gorgeous Bunny Dee personalised pin. She looks so proud!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Eating Out: Hungry Jacks

Hungry Jacks is the Australian equivalent of Burger King. While they have had a veggie burger for a long time, it was definitely not vegan. And for a long time neither were their chips. But they have started introducing some new options for the vegans of the world.

Their first offering in their vegan range was the Vegan Cheeseburger. Two veggie patties, vegan cheese, vegan mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and onion. I tried this but was super underwhelmed. The veggie patties (which fried and cooked separately from anything meat... or as separate as you can get in a Hungry Jacks kitchen) were just quite mushy and flavourless. I also was very sad with the fries I got at that visit. However, I should say that heaps of people love the vegan cheeseburger, so this as always is just my opinion.

Vegan Cheeseburger and Fries from Hungry Jacks; Raspberry Almond Thickshake from New Zealand Naturals

They also have a vegan breakfast burger, which has the a single of the same patty with cheese, mayo, salad, and plus or minus avocado. As I wasn't a fan of the veggie patty, I haven't tried this. It should be noted that their hashbrowns are also vegan if you are getting breakfast!

Burger King in the US made all sorts of waves when they introduced the Impossible Whopper. Hungry Jacks wasn't far behind, launching their Rebel Whopper. It is not the Impossible burger, the burger has been developed here in Australia. Yes, the buns are vegan. And because Hungry Jacks already has vegan mayo, that is not a problem to sub... and vegan cheese if you are getting the whopper with cheese.

What has made some people very angry, both here and in the US, is that it is cooked on the same grill as the regular burgers. I know in the US they will microwave it for you if you ask, that doesn't seem to be an option here. For me personally, cross contamination is gross, but it doesn't make the end product any less vegan. But of course there has been a very vocal group online saying that because of this it is not vegan, and if you eat it you are not vegan. And then the other group saying that it is too unhealthy and you shouldn't be eating this sort of food if you are a vegan. And can we just not with the pedantic gatekeeping please? People can make their own choices with this sort of thing. If it is not for you, then it is not for you. If it is for you, then it is for you. Plus I think that seeing vegan friendly options in mainstream businesses is a very important tool in making vegans feel less isolated. Both in terms of living in places where maybe there aren't any fancy vegan options, but also just you can go and hang out with your friends and get something to eat with them. If you want to hear more about this, might I suggest checking out The Bearded Vegans podcast, they have some great episodes.

Anyway, there is my rant. So what did I decide? Yes, I tried it. For Science. And they were super upfront as I ordered telling me it was cooked on a shared surface. The way I ordered was a Rebel Whopper with Cheese, minus the cheese and the mayo, add vegan cheese and vegan mayo. That way it didn't cost me any extra! I also got a large chips to go with it, because for some reason the large was cheaper than the medium.

Rebel Whopper from Hungry Jacks

When it came I was happy to see it had been marked vegan on the wrapper!

Rebel Whopper from Hungry Jacks

And how was it? It was fine. The burger had a bit of a metallic taste, which I assume is the haem that everyone seems so desperate to have these days. Though it wasn't as meaty as the Beyond Burger. I have no idea what an Impossible Burger is like. The chips were a lot better this time too!

Rebel Whopper from Hungry Jacks

Would I get it again? Probably not, unless it was some sort of emergency road trip scenario. It was just fine. The shared cooking does squick me out a little. I know lots of places I eat out at that are not entirely vegan probably have some degree of shared surfaces, though most of the time I am not thinking about that. (Though I remember one time I ordered a vegan gozleme at a stall and they were cooking it and right next to it started cooking a big pile of dead cow for another customer and that was confronting.) But this is front and center in our minds. But that is my personal feeling, and doesn't make the burger any less vegan to me! As for any health concerns... seriously... I am not going to Hungry Jacks for a healthy meal. Vegan food has no obligation to be healthy, thank goodness!

Anyway, sorry for the essay on what was essentially a short post about burgers. But these are some of the fun things that we have to face as vegans, both from omnis and (sadly) sometimes other vegans. So if you are near a Hungry Jacks/Burger King and you have the Rebel/Impossible Whopper, enjoy it and let me know what you think!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

BunnyDee Pet Pins

I posted some of my cute Bunny Dee prints a while ago, and I continue to be totally obsessed with this wonderful cat loving artist. A while I go I commissioned some custom pet pins, one for each of my girls! These are gorgeous wearable works of art. I'll be showing off a closer look at each of them in coming blog posts.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Recipe Round-Up: Vive Le Vegan

Viva Le Vegan! is Dreena Burton's second cookbook. But one I have not used very often. I decided recently to change that, so here are some of the things I have made. This is the first time I have done a recipe round-up for this book, but I have posted about one other recipe from it before here

Molasses Baked Beans, Miso-Curry Roasted Potatoes, and Creamy Orange Poppy Seed Dressing: This was a delightful dinner! I made a half recipe of the baked beans, and streamlined it by using 2 tins of white beans instead of cooking them from scratch and baking for four hours to get finish cooking them. This has ketchup and blackstrap molasses in it, which gave it a great flavour. I cooked mine for an hour and a quarter in total, but because my beans were already fully cooked it ended up being very liquid. So I uncovered it after the first half an hour of baking and also increased the heat to 200dC for the last 20 minutes and it thickened up. I'd suggest reducing the amount of water in the sauce if you are making these with tinned beans. The roasted potatoes were so delightful! They have miso and curry paste (I used red curry paste, but I decreased the amount). I actually halved the amount of potatoes, but made the full amount of coating. It is a very thick coating, so I did add a smidge of hot water to loosen it up so I could easily coat my potatoes. I finished off the meal with some steamed green beans and the dressing. The dressing is creamy thanks to silken tofu! I used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, and used maple syrup as my honey alternative. This had a lovely sweet citrust flavour.
Rating: Beans :), Potatoes :), Dressing :)

Molasses Baked Beans; Miso-Curry Roasted Potatoes; Creamy Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing

Creamy Raspberry Oatmeal: This says a full recipe will make 3-4 serves, I made a half recipe and got a reasonable sized serve. This is made with frozen raspberries, which gives it a beautiful pink colour. It has a bit of nutmeg and allspice in it for some lovely flavours. I also stirred in a bit of LSA meal (that is linseed, sunflower, almond meal), and I topped it with flaked almonds and pepitas.
Rating: :)

Creamy Raspberry Oatmeal

Hemp Power Shake: This is a very simple smoothie, consisting of non-dairy milk (I took the chocolate option - mine was an almond milk), frozen banana, and either hemp butter, hemp seeds, or hemp protein powder. I used hemp seeds. I also added a sprinkle of cinnamon, because cinnamon. This was not too rich, which was good, but also was not very filling. I served it with a persimmon, which was a nice contrast.
Rating: :)

Hemp Power Shake

Diane's Stork Muffins: The story with this recipe is that Dreena's sister delivered her a batch of these 'baby' muffins to her when she had recently given birth, and they were a great snack. So I made them for my friend that had just given birth. I made a half batch, for 12 small muffins. The recipe uses a blend of oat, kamut, and barley flour, and I just happened to have all of those in my cupboard because I collect and hoarde flours. They also have dates, coconut, and cranberries in it as well as spices (I forgot the fresh nutmeg, what a dope, but made up for it with cinnamon). These are tasty little snacks, but are very soft and a bit crumble especially when first out of the oven. You need to let them cook completely before trying to take them out of the tin.
Rating :)

Diane's Stork Muffins

Creamy Hummus: A perfectly good hummus recipe. It has the usual suspects of tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.
Rating: :)

Creamy Hummus

Chickpea Ratatouille: This is the sort of dinner where you mix a bunch of stuff together, and pop it in the oven (I uncovered it for the last 15 minutes of baking). Easy peasy. I used zuchinni instead of capsicum, garlic powder as my garlic had gone gross, and I used agave as the honey alternative. I made a half recipe for three serves, served over baby spinach and mashed sweet potato.
Rating: :)

Chickpea Ratatouille

Veggie Stir-Fry with Spicy Almond Sauce: The sauce for this is based on almond butter, but I removed the spicy part of it by leaving the crushed red pepper out of it. I also used carrots instead of capsicum in the veggie saute, which also had celery, zucchini, broccoli, silverbeet, and mushrooms (I had a blend so I used shiitake, black fungus, and oyster). I used a bit more of the veggies than specified as well, to use stuff up. The other part of this is some tofu, marinated in rice vinegar and soy sauce and sauteed to brown and crisp before adding the the stir-fry. This was great, with nice big serves and tons of veggies.
Rating: :)

Veggie Stir-Fry with Spicy Almond Sauce

Fudgy Brownies: These brownies live up to their name! They have some ground chocolate chips in the batter, that melt during baking. I cooked for an extra 10 minutes.
Rating: :)

Fudgy Brownies

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim's last day of 19

Dim Sim would like to know when you will be giving her scritches.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Cruelty Free Shop February 2020 Vegan Mystery Box

February is the third box of my six month Cruelty Free Shop Vegan Mystery Box subscription, which means we are half way through!


  • Boulder Canyon Avocado Oil Chips: I haven't had these yet, but curious about how the avocado oil will be. Apparently it will give it a 'uniquely subtle, buttery flavour'.
  • Lamyong Rendang Mock Meat: Too spicy for me! But my mum likes this. Normally I get her the ready-made meal Rendang pouch, where as this one needs some coconut milk added to it.
  • Suma Vegan Meatballs Bolognese: I am excited to try these. Someone posted a photo of a cheesy meatball sub they made with them, and I think that is what I will do with them too!
  • Cruelty Free Pantry Savoury Yeast Flakes: I require large amounts of nooch in my house at all times. I buy my nooch in bulk. So I will never say no to more nooch.
  • JOM Organic Candy - Juicy Peach: I am not normally one for lollies, but lately I have been enjoying non-too sweet fruity gummies, so I hope these will be like that.
  • Shelby's Raspberry Dark Chocolate Almonds: These I am excited for!
  • Bite Society Milky Choc Balls - Salted Caramel: I was very sceptical of these. Their regular balls were marketed as 'vegan Maltesers', but in fact were not malty at all. Just rice crisp covered in milky chocolate. Plus I am not a caramel person. But I thought I'd try them and I was pleasantly surprised. They are smalled, so the cripsy part is less compared to the chocolate part, which is an improvement. I don't think I could taste caramel or even salt, and obviously I would have preferred something in the dark chocolate realm, but these ended up being a fun little snack treat.
  • Pur Chewing Gum - Pomegranate Milk: I don't like chewing gum, it makes me gag, so I'll be giving this away.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim

Dim Sim, exhausted by birthday festivities... not really, this is just how she sleeps most of the time while she is waiting for me to finish my bedtime reading so we can snuggle under the covers.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Eating Out: The Green Edge

Circumstances keep seeing me back at The Green Edge, and I am not mad about it. Delicious food to eat and buy? Yes please. You can see posts of my previous visits here.

The Green Edge does some good comfort food, and one day I was feeling not great and their Gnocchi came through for me. A cheesy tomato sauce, served with garlic bread and salad.

Gnocchi at The Green Edge

With a turmeric latte to go with it, a perfectly warming and comforting lunch.

Turmeric Latte at The Green Edge

Back in the very early days, The Green Edge used to make an amazing satay tofu burger, but then they changed location, changed hands, and changed chefs and the satay tofu became kind of gross. But with the most recent owners and their new chefs, I thought I'd get the Satay Tofu starter to give it another try. OH MY GOD. It is so good. Tofu batons are cooked in chickpea batter and served with a delectable satay sauce. So good!

Satay Tofu at The Green Edge

You can get the satay tofu on a burger or as a salad. It has been a hot summer, so I went for the salad option the next time I got it. This was delicious. With a little serve of chips on the side because carbs are life.

Satay Tofu Salad with chips at The Green Edge

One of their specials for a while was the Philly Cheesesteak. They kindly left out the capsicum for me, and I got this delicious roll stuffed full of beefy slices and smothered in cheesesauce.

Philly Cheesesteak at The Green Edge

And of course, I almost always have to get a treat to take away. Here are some sweeties...

This red liquorice and chocolate chip giant cookie was AMAZING!

Red Licorice and Chocolate Chip Cookie from The Green Edge

I was excited to get this pumpkin pie slice back during Halloween, but unfortunately it was far too sweet for me. My dad enjoyed it!

Pumpkin Pie Slice from The Green Edge

Speaking of Halloween, this spoooooky black liquorice and marshmallow borwnie was legit.

Spooooky Black Licorice and Marshmallow Brownie from The Green Edge

I love carrot cakes, and this carrot cake blondie was a fun twist.

Carrot Cake Blondie from The Green Edge

A terrible photo because it got squished a bit in transit, but this Cherry Almond Muffin with Ganache was lovely.

Cherry Almond Muffin with Chocolate Ganache from The Green Edge

The Green Edge - Shop 2b 229 Lutwyche Road, Windsor, QLD - (07) 3861 1132

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


Yesterday (Monday the 17th of February), was a very different day to Dim Sim's birthday the day before. The 17th of February is the anniversary of Sahara's death, it has been three years this year. While last month I took myself out and about for Gizmo's anniversary as I needed to be out of the house for the morning, yesterday I had a much more mellow day at home. Snuggling Dim Sim, watching some movies, making some nice food (including broccoli for dinner - Sahara's favourite)... and of course I lit my candle for Sahara and thought about her a lot. A couple of days ago at work I saw another cinnamon Abyssinian, and while she had a completely different face and body shape to Sahara, the fur was the same. That colour, the way it changes over the body, it made me feel very sad and missing my girl.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Dim Sim's 20th Birthday

A non-food post today, because we are celebrating a very important kitty event on this Sunday, the 16th of February.

Dim Sim's 20th birthday!!!

Dim Sim's 20th birthday

Yes, I made her a tiny crown!

This milestone means that this tiny precious princess is now the oldest kitty I have shared my life with. And I really hope we still have more years together.

Here is a photo I took last night, a final photo before her birthday the next day. I hadn't meant to wake her, but she woke up with my moving around and was unimpressed.

Dim Sim's last day of 19

And here is a photo I took when we woke up this morning! On her birthday!

Dim Sim's 20th birthday

And finally, please enjoy another photo of her in her tiny crown. I was really impressed how well she tolerated having it on for the photos.

Dim Sim's 20th birthday

I'm off to snuggle on the sofa with her, watch a movie, and open a fresh packet of her favourite Greenies for her to munch on.


Thursday, 13 February 2020

Midweek Munchies

Munching, munching, munching...

First up, these fun snacks I bought on a sale day. Obviously peanut butter pretzels are always a winner. But the mushroom crisps were amazing! So savoury and tasty.

Mushroom Crisps and Peanut Butter Pretzels

I had bought this snack pack a while ago and finally tried it out at work one day. That chocolate hazelnut butter was not so much a butter as a block, as you can see in the second picture. It was well before the used by date as well. I ended up snacking on the pretzels, and the brownie-ish block separately. But the block wasn't all that nice. I did try and melt it in the microwave as well, but it just burnt!

Byron Bay Peanut Butter Pretzels with Chocolate Hazelnut 'Spread'

Byron Bay Peanut Butter Pretzels with Chocolate Hazelnut 'Spread'

San Remo came out with three varieties of vegan ravioli a while ago, available in IGA supermarkets. Of the three flavours, this was the only one that spoke to me. I served them with some Leggo's Stir-Through sauce for maximum ease. The sauce is really nice! The ravioli were OK, though the filling was a bit gritty. I served it over some baby spinach and topped with some cashew hemp parm.

San Remo Lentil Ravioli

San Remo Lentil Ravioli

A while ago my Mum went to Tasmania and brought me back these strawberry vegan chocolates. More like white chocolate with strawberry in them. She'd previously brought me back the passionfruit flavour, which were surprisingly excellent because the tanginess of the passionfruit really shone through the sweetness of the white chocolate. But these were a bit on the too sweet side.

Nutpatch Strawberry Chocolate from Hobart

More ravioli! This brand is in Woolworths but is normally super pricey, but I found some on sale. I tried them with another flavour of the Leggos stir-through sauce. I didn't like this sauce as much as the other one. But I enjoyed these ravioli a lot.

i Pasti Vegan Ravioli

i Pasti Vegan Ravioli

Here is something non-food related to end up on (before the cat photo, we always end on that, never fear). Some of you blog buddies (I'm looking at you Julie and Sarah) are incredibly talented artists. I am not one of those. But last year I started doing a bit of doodling for fun. I even did a very bad doodle version of Inktober! I thought I might share the first doodle I did last year, back in September, that started my fun doodling now. I do doodle. You too! You do doodle too! Please enjoy my poorly drawn T-Rex.

Poorly Drawn T Rex

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


Clinic boy Jed having sweet dreams in his new suitcase bed.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Lammas 2020

My only real food goal for this year is to still make food to celebrate each of the sabbats as they occur. It is a nice way that I can mark them, and the progress of the year (I'd say seasons... but where I live barely has seasons any more... sigh). You can see my previous sabbat posts here. This post brings my calendar year around full circle, as I started this goal with Lammas last year.

Lammas (2nd February, 2020):

Corn, grains, bread, seasonal fruits and berries... these are some of the foods associated with Lammas. Lammas is a harvest festival, celebrating the wheat harvest. It is also the time of the height of summer, and the knowledge that things are changing, and the days are getting shorter. Of course, here in Brisbane, the height of summer tends to be about 6 months of the year... so, you know. At least the days are getting shorter!

Roasted Corn and Sorghum Salad with Chipotle Dressing from The Great Vegan Grains Book by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes: While sorghum isn't typically a grain you think of, I had some to use up and it seemed like this summery corn-filled salad was perfect to mark this time of year. I cooked my sorghum in some stock (rather than water) and used my rice cooker to do so (less fuss and out stove is half broken at the moment). I also increased the amount of sorghum a little, and added a tin of white beans to bulk this up into a proper dinner. Frozen corn (I can't get white corn so I used yellow) is roasted in the overn to give a lovely sweetness. Of course I didn't use chipotle in my dressing, but rather used smoked paprika and it was delightful! I left out the scallions from the salad, and used garlic powder rather than raw garlic in the dressing to keep it Susan tummy friendly.
Rating: :)

Roasted Corn and Sorghum Salad with Chipotle Dressing

As you can see, I served it with some slices of sourdough bread spread with smoked sesame cheese. (Yes, the smoked sesame cheese is back and in supermarkets! Fenn has sold or rebranded it as Made From Plants. Unfortunately, while good, it is not as good as the original Fenn version. They have switched from smoking the sesame seeds to using liquid smoke, and it is a bit runnier as well. I guess something had to give in the change from small batch to mass production.) While baking bread is a traditional Lammas activity, I just didn't have time or energy. So this lovely sourdough on the side was my nod to that.

Blackberry-Sunflower Crisp from Blissful Basil by Ashley Melillo: Blackberries are a traditional Lammas fruit, and this blackberry crumble was a wonderful way to finish up a symbolic meal. I made a half recipe in and 8x8 inch pan. I used frozen blackberries rather than fresh, because although fresh blackberries are around and on sale and delicious at the moment, it would still cost a lot to buy enough fresh blackberries for this. But my frozen blackberries were deliciously sweet. As I was using frozen fruit, I increased the amount of arrowroot starch a bit in the filling. The topping is a blend of ground sunflower seeds and oats, with more oats, cardamom, maple syrup, and oil. It called for melted coconut oil (gross), I used canola. This was wonderful served with some vanilla raspberry ice cream.
Rating: :)

Spring & Summer Blackberry-Sunflower Crisp

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim

Speaking of blackberries, I think we all know who my favourite blackberry is. And she is so sweet as well!