July 24, 2014

quinces and kale

successful sprouts!

alfalfa sprouts

I love bean sprouts, but I have to admit I suck at making them. I don’t like buying them because of the packaging.

I’ve tried lots of methods of making sprouts, from the good old-fashioned jar with some net, to a hessian sprout bag. They almost always end up manky. This is absolutely my fault – I always forget to rinse them enough.

I BRIEFLY considered (for about one nanosecond) a top end auto rinsing model, designed for the completely sprout challenged. I dismissed it as ridiculous at a couple of hundred dollars. Really, it shouldn’t require a technological marvel to make sprouts. It should be fairly simple. Shouldn’t it?

But with failure after failure I’d pretty much abandoned hope until…

Enter my new kitchen toy, perfect for the lazy or forgetful person - an Easy Sprout sprout maker that promises no need for rinsing. I have to say I thought it was too good to be true, but it really isn’t.

Let me be clear – I think it is outrageously priced (around $40 for a few bits of plastic). But for what it does, it is a bargain. The theory is that the double walled construction holds the heat and moisture needed to sprout successfully. The heat is generated by the sprouts themselves and the moisture is retained, but in the outer container.  And it does work!

All you need to do is to soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight, rinse once and leave them alone. You can rinse them again if you like. I did this twice during the 5 days when I noticed the sprouter on the bench, but it is very forgiving. The only reason I can see why you might want to rinse, is to redistribute the seeds from the bottom of the container, to give them a better chance at sprouting more evenly. Even I can remember to do that.

So far I’ve made alfalfa, mung bean and lentil sprouts. All successfully.

I cannot speak highly enough of this sprouter.  I got mine from Sprout.


handy sprout lentils sprouting mung bean sprouts



Posted July 24, 2014 10:10 AM

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Christmas in July smoky cheese and barley nut roast

Sylvia started it.  I love to celebrate Christmas in July but had no plans this year.  We had a quiet weekend at home to try and throw off our colds when Sylvia found the Christmas CDs and books.  (Must hide better next time!)  So began the craziness.  I told her we could play carols and watch a Christmas DVD and I would make Christmas dinner.  Why not when, baby, it's cold outside!

For those unfamiliar with Christmas in July, it is truly delightful in Melbourne to celebrate Christmas in the middle of winter and indulge in a decadent festive meal.  (Of course it is not about presents!)  We are feeling very wintery lately.  Sylvia is insisting on turning her calendar to August for the snowman picture.  We even have had snow in the hills outside Melbourne.  And I keep hearing wind and rain outside even when there is none.  You see, I have had an ear infection for the past week that is playing havoc with my hearing.

We needed a tree!  I wasn't committed enough to drag out Christmas decorations.  Instead we had a quick craft episode with a few rolls of colourful washi tape.  With a bit of guidance, Sylvia created a picture of a Christmas tree to put on the wall.  Her tree had bananas and the star at the top was sticking out its tongue! 

More effort on a Christmas tree was kept for our gingerbread tree.  We have a graduated set of 5 star biscuit cutters that we have used on another gingerbread Christmas tree.  Last time we used a gingerless gingerbread that was appropriate to our friend's intolerances.  On the weekend we used my favourite gingerbread recipe.  It has never let me down.  We smooshed together the stars with green icing.  Then Sylvia decorated it with Christmas sprinkles.

For the Christmas dinner, it seemed obvious to make a nut roast.  As those who know my blog will be aware, I love nut roasts and make them frequently.  I had some pearl barley and split peas in want of using.  I googled and found ideas.  In particular, a Jamie Oliver Cranberry and Pistachio Nut Roast.  It appealed because it suggested I could use barley instead of rice in the risotto base.  (The recipe omitted to note that it would take longer to cook barley than rice!)

I have decided my recipe is different enough to Jamie's to claim it as original because I made so many changes.  The main one is that I couldn't find fresh cranberries to top the nut roast.  They are rare in Melbourne at the best of times and I didn't have the energy to hunt them out.  I only went to the shops because I needed another course of antibiotics.  Our local shops don't sell wild mushrooms so I used portabello and button.  I used whiskey instead of wine, smoked vintage cheese instead of cheddar, walnuts instead of pistachios.  Even my breadcrumbs were different as I had kept leftover seasoned crumbs and cornflakes from some tofu nuggets.

Jamie says to leave out the eggs and cheese to make the nut roast vegan.  I would try mixing through a little tofu.  My nut roast took a lot of its flavour from the smoked vintage cheese.  To veganise this nut roast, I would add some smoked paprika and additional seasonings.  In fact the nut roast was so hearty that a small amount would suffice and it would serve quite a lot of people if need be.

I had promised Sylvia a Christmas dinner so it was a proper roast dinner with roast potatoes and pumpkin, brussels sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauce.  I had some miso lentil grave (from Isa Does It) in the freezer.  It was ok but a bit thick and intense for a nut roast.  The cranberry sauce worked well in lieu of freshly cooked cranberries.  The nut roast was so flavoursome that it needed the sweetness to cut through the seasoning.

And there were sprouts.  There are always sprouts in a traditional British Christmas.  I hated brussel sprouts as a child.  E hated brussel sprouts when I met him.  Yet both of us have come to love them.  More surprising is that Sylvia loves them.  She eats them first in her dinner because they are her favourite thing.  When I ran out this week she was demanding that I buy her more sprouts.  Am I alone in thinking this is odd behaviour in a child!  Not that am complaining.  Even so, it seemed ironic that I didn't cook all the sprouts that I bought for the meal and wished I had.  They were really good!

I dug out our tartan table runner and Christmas dishes.  Sylvia decided that dinner must be by candlelight.  She loves roast potatoes but was less impressed by a small piece of nut roast.  In fact the best thing she had to say for it was that if she ate enough cranberry sauce she couldn't taste the nut roast.  I suspect it was the candles and carols rather than the nut roast that made her exclaim that it was the best night ever. 

And Sylvia loved the gingerbread Christmas tree.  She was very excited when it was time for dessert.  This was an easy and yet impressive way to finish our Christmas dinner.  And it made a festive touch to the table.  I enjoyed the gingerbread but I was so full from main course that it was a bit wasted on me. 

As a meat eater I once loved the leftover meat after Christmas dinner, and as a vegetarian I now love the leftover nut roast.  The following day we had plenty of nut roast.   Did I mention that I baked oat and seed sourdough bread around preparing for our Christmas in July!  It meant that I could eat wonderful leftover nut roast sandwiches.  Actually I overdid the cranberry sauce and roasted pumpkin in the sandwich.  It need a little less sweet flavours but with spinach and grated carrot was still lovely.  I also made some rice and nut roast, a bit like this recipe (without stuffing it in peppers).

And the next day I could photograph the nut roast in daylight.  Natural light for blog photograph seems very limited at the time of year.  For those in the Northern Hemisphere experiencing long summer days (or as The Age newspaper recently said, Britons experiencing a (sort of) heatwave), you probably don't feel very Christmassy at all.  Perhaps reading this post, you are feeling just the way that we do Down Under when it comes to Christmas in December: too hot to think about Christmas and finding it hard to feel in synch with those wintery weather that are the hallmark of the festivities.  For us, it felt just like right.  But even better without the annoying commercialism.  This is the sort of Christmas I wish for all year round!

I am sending this nut roast to:

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Christmas in July - Chocolate Shortbread and Sovereign Hill
Two years ago: Celery and blue cheese soup and Open House Melbourne
Three years ago: Mulled wine and chocolate cake
Four years ago: Christmas in July Cupcakes
Five years ago: Pudding, Parties and Plate Smashers
Six years ago: Miss Marple’s Tea Room – cosy charm
Seven years ago: Hubert the Hog’s Head

Smoky cheese and barley nut roast
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver
Serves 6 to 8

2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g pearl barley
1/4 cup whiskey
3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tsp stock powder
200g mushrooms, diced
100g walnuts, crushed with a fork
100g almond meal
150ml breadcrumbs
125g smoked vintage cheddar
black pepper, to taste
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 190 C.  Grease and line a loaf tin (mine is 22 x 13cm and was full to the brim with the

Heat between 1 and 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan.  Fry celery and onions over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until soft. Stir in garlic for a minute or so.  Add pearl barley and fry for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Deglaze with whisky and the stir in the 2 - 3 cups of boiling water and the vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the pearl barley is just cooked and most of the water is absorbed.  Add more boiling water as required.  (I originally added 2 and 1/2 cups of water and then added another cup when it was absorbed and not yet cooked.) 

Meanwhile fry mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes until soft and most of the juices have evaporated. (If you don't get to do this until your barley is cooked, you can do this in the same saucepan once barley is transferred to the mixing bowl.)

While the barley and mushrooms are cooking, prepare remaining ingredients and add to a large mixing bowl.  Add pearl barley mixture and mushrooms once cooked and stir together until well mixed.

Spoon mixture into the prepared loaf tin.  Smooth the top of it with the back of a spoon.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Turn halfway through the baking and check if it needs to be covered in foil.  My oven refuses to burn anything (except the odd chip) but I know others are more powerful.  I baked mine for 40 minutes at 200 C and it was a bit soft so longer would be better.

Allow to rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a serving tray.  You can make this a day ahead and keep on a serving tray covered in foil (once cooled) and reheat (covered in foil) on the day.  Serve with lots of roast vegies, greens and gravy or anyway you want.  I highly recommend some cranberry sauce.

On the Stereo:
White Christmas: Bing Crosby

Posted July 24, 2014 10:02 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tokyo | Day 3

July 2, 2014

We were left to our own devices on Wednesday, with a recommendation from Matt that we flee the heat by catching the train up the hill to the Hakone Open Air Museum. It was surprisingly great - beautiful views, tranquil parkland, a natural hot spring foot-bath and dozens of brilliant outdoor sculptures to explore. The slideshow below captures the highlights - I really recommend making the trip up if you've got some spare time, especially if the Tokyo heat is getting to you.

The food options up the mountain were pretty limited - we loaded up on chips and mochi at the supermarket and snacked our way through the trip up, before pouncing on some inari on the way down. We were lured in to the little snack shop by the plastic model of inari on the table outside and were thrilled when the owner whipped up a freshly made box for us to take away. Brilliant.

Our aim on our return to Tokyo proper was a visit to the vegetarian ramen place T's Tan Tan (one of the recommendations on this wonderfully helpful post on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry). It's buried deep in the sprawling Tokyo train station and we spent a good half an hour wandering about struggling to spot it. We actually had pretty decent directions, but it took a few stops at the train station maps for us to eventually pin it down.

It was well worth the effort - a fully vegan menu focussing heavily on ramen and ramen-related delights. I took the set menu option - your choice of ramen plus a small side bowl for between 1050円 and 1200円 (AU$11 - AU$12.60; pictured top left). I picked the shirunashi tantan for my noodle soup - it came with bean sprouts, pot-herb mustard, chilli oil, black vinegar, cashew nuts, peanuts, sesame oil and soy bean meat and was based around a complex and tasty broth (rather than the watery version that vego noodle soups can sometimes rely on). My small bowl accompaniment was the rich and creamy massaman curry, which had a few scattered veggies among the thick sauce and rice. I cooled myself down with an iced coffee, which was sweet and cold but otherwise not that memorable. Cindy went for a smaller meal - the original T's Tan Tan ramen (sesame, peanut, soybean meat and green pak choi in a noodle soup, 800円 ~ $8.40; pictured bottom right) and an accompanying cup of sweet apple lemonade tea (450円 ~ $4.70). She was just as impressed as I was. 

T's Tan Tan is definitely one to add to your Tokyo checklist - it's got a bit of a food court vibe about it, but the food is cheap, delicious and lacking any fish-related concerns. Ramen is such a Japanese classic and one that is challenging to track down in a properly vegetarian form, so we were thrilled to eat so well here.

Posted July 24, 2014 09:24 AM by Michael

July 23, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tokyo | Day 2

July 1, 2014

Tokyo has a beverage machine tucked around every corner and Michael happily made use of them, often hunting down a self-heating can of coffee first thing out the door.

We spent much of our second day with Michael's family, first strolling through Meiji Jingu. Michael and I had been there before, and in spite of our many fellow sightseers it was a pleasant, relaxing place to be - cooler in the shade of the trees and surrounded by positive prayer cards at the Shrine. Even so, we were thirsty and aching for a seat within a couple of hours.

Matt led us to Sakura-Tei for lunch, where we were seated around a hotplate to cook our own meals. We chugged down iced drinks to stave off the plate's radiant heat and ordered a bowl of okonomiyaki ingredients each. Matt helpfully ascertained with our waiter that there was one genuinely vegetarian option among them (1150円 ~ AU$12.10; there was something fishy going on last time we tried this) so we set to work gently folding together cabbage, onion, cheese and eggs into a nobbly batter and arranging it on the plate. I proudly pulled off a neat flip, though I made more of a mess of my fried egg and cheese topping. My 'yaki might've been a little overcooked but there was no faulting it once the brown sauce and mayonnaise were slathered on.

We sought out another uniquely Japanese experience for dinner that evening, gathering at an izakaya in Shinjuku, ordering our snacks and drinks directly from an ipad at the table. Honestly, the food at this one wasn't great so I won't bother naming the venue - the edamame were unruly and starchy, the avocado was brown, and Michael and I found ourselves pushing fish flakes off several dishes that had looked vego on the menu. (On the upside, I had a lovely yuzu-flavoured soft drink.) There are numerous other excellent izakaya around Tokyo, and it's well worth giving them a go.

We finished the evening timidly exploring Shinjuku Golden Gai, a cluster of tiny bars that usually only welcome friends-of-friends. Even without an in, we could feel the quiet intimacy of this neighbourhood in stark contrast to the huge intersections and looming cinema-screen adverts only a few minutes' walk away.

Posted July 23, 2014 12:22 PM by Cindy

Consuming Cate

Vegan oven baked donuts

I'm not a huge fan of donuts but I really like these little ones. They are baked rather than deep fried, making them less greasy. Make them small and you'll be reaching for more

1 cup milk ( I like almond milk)
50g dairy free spread
2.5 cups self raising flour*
1 1-2 teaspoon dried yeast
3/4 cup lemon sugar 
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Place milk in saucepan and heat until warm. Do not boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon spread.
2. Sift flour into a bowl. Stir in yeast, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Make a well in the centre. Add milk mixture. Mix to form a soft dough.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel
5. Set aside in a warm place for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size

6. Line a baking tray with baking paper
7. Using your fist, punch dough down.
8. Place on a lightly floured board
9. Knead until smooth and elastic
10. Stretch dough to be 2cm thick

11. Using a small round cutter, cut 12 donuts
12. Place doughnuts, 5cm apart, on prepared tray. Cover with a tea towel again. 

13. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C.

14. Cook doughnuts for 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
15. Combine remaining lemon sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
16. Brush doughnuts with remaining butter. Dip in sugar mixture, shaking off excess.
17. Serve with your choice of tea or coffee.

 *Don't have access to self raising flour like here in Germany? You can use plain flour on it's own of course or add 5 teaspoons of baking powder to the flour and stir well together. 

Posted July 23, 2014 06:15 AM by Cate Lawrence

Lemon sugar

Lemon sugar is a great way to use up lemon rinds and add flavour to your baking, cocktails and desserts. It takes only minutes and each jar will last a couple of months. 

  • 2  medium lemons
  • 3 cups sugar

  1. Place sugar in a jar
  2. Zest the yellow outer rind (avoiding the white pith) and place in the jar
  3. Stir well then leave in a warm, dry place to dry slightly for 30 mins
  4. Close and store in the cupboard
  5. Shake before use

Variations: use orange of lime zest
This can also be made using orange zest or lime zest, instead of lemon zest, if you’d prefer a different citrus taste. In addition to being mixed into recipes, citrus sugar is also great for making drinks

Posted July 23, 2014 06:04 AM by Cate Lawrence


A New Home For Veganopoulous! And You’re Invited!

It’s moving day! My new site is now at http://www.veganopoulous.com/  

I’ll no longer be blogging here at wordpress.com but everything has been successfully (I hope…) moved over to veganopoulous.com.  Follow me! I’d get all Pied Piper on you, except I think that would involve leggings-as-pants.

Remember: http://www.veganopoulous.com/  

See you there!

Posted July 23, 2014 01:14 AM

July 22, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Shortbread like Ena Baxter made it

When I started blogging back in 2007 I was having a lovely time  experimenting with new flavours and ideas.  It was only later I realised that I had forgotten to include the basics.  I just took them for granted.  Perhaps that is why I have posted a recipe for dark chocolate and cranberry shorrtbread and spiced chocolate shortbread but until today I have not posted a basic shortbread recipe. 

It might also be that I find regular shortbread to be quite dull.  Maybe it was not always so.  I blame my current disdain for shortbread on the months I spent working in a quiet office in Edinburgh.  Most of my days there were spent gossiping and raiding the stocks of Walkers shortbread.  However, I live with E who loves it with a passion that betrays his Scottish upbringing.  Our little girl loves shortbread too. 

Now bring in my sister in law HH who lives in Edinburgh and is thoughtful and generous at choosing presents.  A few years back she sent me this present pack.  A book of baking recipes, a woollen rose and Ena Baxter's Scottish Cookbook.  I particularly loved the cookbook as it was one that belonged to E's mum.  Ena Baxter is one of the famous Baxters family that make lovely soups and preserves.  I was lucky enough to visit Fochabers in Scotland where their main factory is.  Sadly it was too snowy to visit their Highland Village

The cookbook is full of traditional recipes.  Most of the dinner recipes are meat.  I have spent more time looking at the baking chapters.  It is written for women who are skilled in the art of baking and don't need precision when it comes to cake tins, amounts of ingredients or baking times.  I consider myself a competent cook and yet I find this sort of recipe challenging.  I have tried the treacle scones once or twice and not got the (unspecified) amount of milk right.

Earlier this year I tried Ena Baxter's shortbread.  The recipe didn't give a size of tin or nor the time to bake it.  I had to try it twice to feel like I had it right.  The first time I didn't fill the whole of the lamington tin because it seemed too thin.  The shortbread was golden brown around the edges but in the middle it was too pale, dense and soft rather than sandy and crumbly.

Don't get me wrong.  It was edible.  Which was just as well.  I had made it for a school lunch on Harmony Day.  This is a day for children to wear their national dress and bring food from their family's country.  Sylvia wore a tartan skirt and a t-shirt with the Scottish saltire on it.  I had to pin them to fit with a safety pin or two.

It surprised me that Sylvia did not know what a safety pin was.  I grew up helping changing my siblings' cloth nappies that were held together with safety pins.  I guess they just don't feel safe enough for kids any more.  Well I guess I did stick the safety pin into them occasionally.  Oops!

Incidentally I was quite surprised at an article in The Age newspaper on racism damaging children recently which said that one-off multicultural events "can do more harm than good and reinforce rather than challenge negative attitudes and beliefs".  I wonder how this plays out at Sylvia's school where there is a lot of diversity in the children's backgrounds.  Today I heard about a nutrition presentation at the school where a child asked if the puppet presenter was fasting for Ramadan.

But I digress.  Back to the shortbread.  I tried again.  This time I spread it thinner, cooked it until I knew the colour seemed more evenly golden brown.  It was much better.  Cooked right through.  Sandy and crumble.  Sylvia had been a bit wary about the first batch but gobbled up the second.  And I think Ena would have been pleased that I am learning not just by cookbooks but also by learning from doing.

E's mother would also be delighted that I am using her cookbook to feed her son and granddaughter (and myself) a traditional biscuit that has been eaten for many generations in Scotland.  So while plain old shortbread is not my favourite thing to eat, it is embedded in our family and can make me feel quite sentimental  Which is a good reminder of why the simple foods are sometimes the most important to us.

I am sending this to Cates Cates for the Christmas in July theme this month for Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food.  While shortbread can be enjoyed all year round, it is also a traditional festive treat and great for gifts..

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Carrot dinner rolls
Two years ago: RRC Show us your Cookbooks
Three years ago: MLLA Chickpea, potato and tomato stew
Four years ago: Syrup cake, shoes and chooks
Five years ago: Pear and Walnut Chutney
Six years ago: Chickpea cutlets and gluten strings
Seven years ago: Mulled Apple Juice for a Midwinter Birthday

From Edna Baxter's Scottish Cookbook
Makes about 54 small squares

250g plain white flour
125g rice flour
125g sugar
250g butter

Preheat oven to 160 C or 325 F.  Line a lamington or swiss roll tray with baking paper (mine is 31 x 24cm).

Use your hands (or pastry cutters) to rub butter into flours and sugar until thoroughly incorporated.  The mixture will be soft lumps.  Tip the mixture into into the prepared tray and use the back of a spoon or your hands to press it down firmly, evenly and flat.  It might seem thin but thin is good.  Mark squares (or fingers) by running a knife through the shortbread dough.  Use a fork to poke holes in each piece.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.  Cool in the tray and then cut into squares or fingers as marked.

On the Stereo:
White chalk: P J Harvey 

Posted July 22, 2014 09:23 PM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tokyo | Day 1

June 30, 2014

We hit our first full day in Tokyo without having really done much in the way of planning. Luckily, Matt was on the case and had our day pretty well mapped out. We started with a wander around Nakemuguro, browsing through a few shops and wending our way towards Potager Marche, a vegetable focused deli. They sell fruit and veggies, pre-made veggie meals and snacks and have a lunch set for people who want to eat in.

The lunch set is 1290円 (AU$13.50) and involves a little cup of soup, a bread stick, fresh leafy salad, your choice of three sides and a freshly squeezed veggie juice. The sides were the most interesting - there were pickled veggies, a couple of different kinds of mock meat, a gratin and so on. Everything was fresh and tasty - it felt like a good healthy start to our Tokyo eating.

We followed up with a visit to their nearby sister establishment, Patisserie Potager, a sweets shop with an intriguing focus on vegetables - everything has a vegetable component, so there's pumpkin and corn-based treats, radish jelly and a whole range of other odd-sounding desserts. I had a white asparagus souffle (470 円 ~ $4.90), while Cindy went for the passionfruit and yellow capsicum jelly with yoghurt mousse (470 円 ~ $4.90). Both were excellent, although the capsicum in Cindy's got a bit lost under the other flavours while my souffle had distinct hints of asparagus that worked surprisingly well in a sweet context. It's a fun shop and one that would reward more exploration. Vegans might struggle though, my sense was that everything was heavy on the dairy.

We strolled around for a while, making our way up the Hikarie building for a view over Shibuya and surrounds and some impressive design exhibitions before trekking back out to track down a source of decent coffee.

Matt knew just the place - Omotesando Koffee, tucked away in the back streets and offering a tiny peaceful oasis in the midst of the city's buzz. The heat was hitting us pretty hard after our walking, so we all ordered variations on iced coffee: iced latte for me (530円 ~ $5.60), iced mocha for Cindy (660円 ~ $6.90) and an iced cappucino doppio (660円 ~ $6.90) for Matt. We were all sucked in by the amazing baked custard cubes as well (170円 ~ $1.80).

The plan for dinner was to meet up with the rest of my family in Shinjuku where they were staying, but delays in their transport from the airport meant we had time for dinner first. Like a magician, Matt remembered the existence of Ain Soph Journey, an all vegan restaurant, just as we were about to walk past.

This was another Japanese veg*n place that was stuck on Western food - Ain Soph offered risotto, tortillas, paella and other slightly uninspiring menu items. I naively expected that most places would be doing vegetarian versions of Japanese dishes, but that didn't seem to be the case.

We ordered a mix of dishes to share between the three of us: tofu Spanish omelet (800円 ~ $8.40), tortilla with dips (1200円 ~ $12.60), deep fried veggie meat (650円 ~ $6.80), salad of the day (1500円 ~ $15.80) and a veggie cutlet (650円 ~ $6.80). The two fried mock-meat dishes were the highlights, with the salad and dips passable but overpriced and the omelet a bit lacking in flavour. It's lovely (and rare) to be able to order freely in Japan, so Ain Soph's fully vegan menu is going to be a life saver for some, but the food itself probably won't blow anyone's mind.

After a quick catch up with the rest of the family at their hotel in Shinjuku, we collapsed back at Matt's house and recharged our batteries for day 2, wiped out from too much food and too much heat.

Posted July 22, 2014 10:36 AM by Michael

July 21, 2014

Little Vegan Bear

Baked Falafel with Quinoa Tabouli

I freaking love falafel, and for some reason I’ve always enjoyed the baked kind more than the fried. Maybe it’s memories of greasy kebab shops with crispy oily falafels that leave a coating in your mouth. Maybe it’s the fact that you can put them in the oven and leave them be to do their thing without too much worry. Whatever the reason, they rock.

I actually made this recipe back in Gympie when we were living in the van. Oh, how it seems so long ago…cooking in our tiny fold out kitchen on the side of the road or in the bush. Those were the days! I didn’t have an oven then to bake them, but have since made the recipe again and enjoyed it as much.

What I liked about these is how moist they are, they don’t dry out even when baked. Rather than being like dry biscuits, they are like mouthfuls of creamy hummus. And who doesn’t love hummus?! They are also one of those magical foods that taste even better the next day, so they make great leftover lunch.

Of course, tabouli is the perfect match for falafels, and I love the hint of mint hidden away in it – so fresh and zangy. Oh and the parsley helps with the garlic breath you may find you have after eating all this. You’re welcome.

falafelBaked Falafel with Quinoa Tabouli

Quinoa Tabouli:
(serves 4 as a side dish)

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil

Rinse and cook quinoa according to instructions. I usually do 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid. Allow to cool.

Add quinoa, tomato, cucumber, red onion, parsley and mint to a bowl and toss to combine.

Whisk garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl. Pour over tabouli and mix through.

Ta-daaaaa! Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Baked Falafel:
(makes 12-14 small falafels)

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 brown onion, diced
2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp hulled tahini
3 Tbsp chickpea flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C and lightly grease a tray.

Blend onion, garlic, parsley and coriander in a food processor or blender.

Add half of the chickpeas, cumin, paprika, lemon juice and tahini and mix until well combined.

Add the remaining chickpeas, and pulse until just combined. I like to leave half of them kind of chunky.

Transfer mix to a bowl, and stir in flour and baking powder. The mix should be like a thick paste or soft dough and you should be able to roll it into balls without making too much of a mess. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour. If too dry, try adding some more lemon juice or water.

Roll mixture into balls and lay out on the tray, press slightly to flatten into disc shapes. Spray or brush lightly with olive oil (optional).

Cook for 15 minutes, then carefully flip each falafel over. Bake for another ten mins, until golden brown.

Serve with tabouli and dressing of choice – here I whisked together some tahini, white wine vinegar, water and smoked paprika, then topped with some hot sauce (of course!)


Posted July 21, 2014 10:49 PM

melbourne with the rocket » food

sydney with the rocket: day 2

There are few things more satisfying than opening up your heavy hotel curtains to find the sky as blue as a 90s teen heartthrob’s eyes. It means your day is going to go well, your party hair isn’t going to become soggy, and your kid won’t have to lug around an umbrella and poke other people in the shins with it. So up we all got, ate some cereal, then spent far too long making ourselves all very beautiful for the party we were to attend in the afternoon. The Rocket and her dad had gone out two days before while I was at work and picked her a very froufrou frock, all tulle and sparkles, which she wore with skull and crossbones sneakers; I’d hit up Dangerfield a couple of nights before for my own Melbourne-black frock with a pair of cityscape tights; Teach wore a white shirt with bicycles on it and looked very handsome. We layered up with coats and caught the train to Newtown for our to-do.

Nicked from the Wedpics site (pretty handy tool for those getting hitched or not hitched) and taken by the superlative C, party-thrower extraordinaire

Firstly, Sydney public transport requires you to know which station you’re going to and touch-screen your way to a ticket; some other machines have this totally hilarious system with some fifty or however many actual pushable buttons to pick your destination. Melbourne has Myki so I can hardly criticise, but it was pretty fun for us all to jab at the buttons while laughing in a mocking fashion. Anyway, once we were beyond that we moseyed onto our destination, via the quite lovely Hollis Park, which had an elaborate, split-level playground. It’s seriously beautiful around there, all sloping hills and gorgeous close-knit houses looking over parks. Newtown, or at least the small part we went to, was full of giant second-hand bookshops (the Rocket led me to the economics aisle and made me read her the titles), cutesy little shops full of stuff I would’ve spent all my money on if I’d gone through those doors, and vegan restaurants. Our destination was Rubyos, a lovely fresh-looking restaurant where we had our own room walled off and I walked through the door to be greeted by a bunch of people so friendly and just gloriously, colourfully stylish, that I was immediately happy. The Rocket looked shy for a while until complimented on her dress, then foofed around twirling for a while. The non-bride and non-groom were beautiful, polished, and beaming; there was talk, and merriment, and readings, declarations of love for this moment if not an unknown future, and singing and such emotion that I almost couldn’t even. It was sweet and funny and original and I loved everyone by the end, including everyone who was very kind to the Rocket even though she was the youngest by some twenty years. To her credit, she was pretty great: she talked during the ceremony, but only because she wanted to narrate out loud the Maisy book I brought along to shut her up. She had puppy stickers and a book to put them in, but most of the stickers ended up on the guests as she happily shared them with everyone and eventually had people coming over for requests. And the food, guys, OH the food – it was GLORIOUS and there was MOUNTAINS of it. Grazing plates of glory: beginning, I think, with an antipasto that had the most absolutely genuinely best crackers and baba ganoush I have ever, ever had, and a tasty little salad and olives (blech) and other things; there were rice burgers that fell apart but tasted heavenly; steamed green beans with ginger, lime, and cashew nuts (I think), which weren’t my thing but Teach adored; ancient grain and vegetable patties; the best fucking potatoes I may have ever ever had; so much more, I don’t know. It ended with cupcakes that stained people’s mouths blue as everyone kissed goodbye. It was, of course, totally worth the trip, and I’m so glad we went.

Totally stolen from C’s sister. Sorry H! It was just such a loverly picture. x

We went home in the cooling afternoon and tucked the Rocket in for a nap. Teach sent me out to get a coffee and explore the city on my own, and I wandered the streets, excited to be somewhere new, somewhere so familiar – all the stores, of course, are essentially the same as home – yet the streets were too big, or too small, and the buildings were wrong, and so beautiful. I couldn’t find anywhere for coffee but ended up at a now-forgotten chocolate shop where I did some sketching (I remain genuinely terrible but I like drawing pictures of the Rocket doing ridiculous things) and had a fairly average coffee that made me quietly smug about Melbourne’s coffee scene. Just as I finished, Teach let me know that the Rocket had rejoined the waking world, so back I went, we regrouped, and went out for a walk.

Our aim was Bodhi, upon the advice of many friends who said it was great but we had to be okay with spending big. We are very talented at wasting money on food, and seeing as we’d already blown a stack of cash just getting to Sydney there was no point in holding back on a tasty night’s dinner, so off we went. Hyde Park was on our way, and I really can’t tell you how happy I always am to encounter mid-city parks. The juxtaposition of city buildings and grass to run around on – it’s great. So we ran around, then unexpectedly bumped into a street gang of possums who, unlike our local skittish brand, happily came right up, sniffed your sneakers and begged for food. The Rocket was very pleased if not slightly alarmed about the whole scenario; I’m sure our local possum hunts are forever ruined by this version. After getting confused and not figuring out the multilayers of the park, we found our way sideways and underneath to Bodhi, a sprawling, glittery place with outdoor heaters, friendly staff and trees knotted with fairy lights. They could have fed me torn paper bags and I wouldn’t have cared, it was just so lovely. We sat outside so we could get rice on the ground and ordered.

Overwhelmed by choice, we ordered plain rice for the Rocket, who jabs at all menus and yells “RICE!” at waiters even if we are at a pizza joint; edamame (as always); English spinach gow dumplings; Australian mushroom gow dumplings; smoked soy, coconut, chili and coriander betel leaves; chickpea battered winter vegetables with sour cream and sweet chili sauce; san choy bao and sweet yam tempura spring rolls. Edamame: excellent as per usual (and much better than the night before, slathered in salt); spinach dumplings A++; mushroom dumplings awful as mushrooms are awful (Teach adored them though); betel leaves miniature but absolutely incredible; battered winter vegetables hit and miss (I was also full once I got to them); san choy bao super tasty even though the Rocket, devastatingly, threw half the lettuce on the ground; the sweet yam was nice but way way too sweet. Share with four people, or maybe eight so you can have half each. One made me a little queasy. Still, it was a beautiful, satisfying meal, the service was lightspeed-fast, and it did cost a lot but hey, worth it. I pondered a few times during ordering about getting the peking duck, but kept talking myself out of the $23, and since regretted it entirely after my colleague Alison said, “You went to Bodhi, right, and got the peking duck? I have literally flown to Sydney just to eat that dish.” DAMMIT PAST FIONA, YOU NEVER LEARN. It cost us around eighty bucks and was worth it.
Then back home via the lit-up streets around Sydney Tower (which was closed, pah), and back to the hotel for the Rocket to sleep soundly in her metal prison while her jailers sat on the couch with Nickelodeon and popcorn.

Posted July 21, 2014 10:11 PM

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Al Nada Sweets


Al Nada Sweets
160 Sydney Rd
Coburg, VIC 3058
03 9386 0002


Opening Hours:
7 days: 9am-10pm

Al Nada Sweets have been baking traditional Lebanese sweets since 1978. Over 30 years on they made the switch to using all vegan ingredients in their traditional sweets, and say it was the best decision they ever made. We tend to agree!

If you’re a newcomer try a mixed pack of 10 pieces for $12 in order to sample everything. They are very sweet, so unless you’ve got a mega sweet tooth or some mates to share with, you may prefer to buy some single pieces for $1.50 each. The baklava and birdnest pastries are popular, and for those not keen on pastry the nummoora, a simple semolina cake is a good choice.

Best of all, they're open every day until 10pm

The biscuits in the front window are not vegan, and not baked on the premises.

Other places that sell Al Nada Sweets:

Aust Cafe, Austin Hospital, Level 1 Austin Hospital 145 Studley Rd, Heidelberg - 03 9496 4740
Bear Cafe, 439 Brunswick Rd, Fitzroy - 0414 507 635 (currently closed)
Las Vegan Cafe, 22 Smith St, Collingwood
Cafe Tru Track, 52 Leveson St, North Melbourne - 03 9328 8753
Little Dear Tracks, 44 Oheas St, Coburg - 03 9354 3449
Life Skills Cafe, Latrobe University Bundoora - 03 9479 1525


Habib Wholefoods, 260 Flinders St, Melbourne - 03 9639 5515

The Cruelty Free Shop, 385 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy - 03 9495 6673
Mad Cowgirls Vegan Grocery, Shop 2, 93 High Street, Preston - 03 9943 9184
Aunt Maggies, 188 Gertrude St, Fitzroy - 03 9417 5504
Golden Mini Mart, 2-10 Murray Rd, Coburg North - 03 9355 7786
Yarra Groceries, 736 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056 - 03 9384 0414
Hayat Spices, 852 Sydney Rd, Coburg - 03 9383 7233
La Manna Fresh, 403-407 Sydney Road, Brunswick - 03 9380 1909
Al Alamy Bakery, 51 Waterfield Street, Coburg - 03 9355 8866
IGA Fitzroy, 424 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
IGA Brunswick, 614 Sydney Road, Brunswick
IGA Nth Melbourne, 20-26 Errol Street, North Melbourne

Prahran Convenience Store, 196 Commercial road, Prahran - 03 9529 2050
Foodworks Sth Melbourne, 135 Wells St South Melbourne - 03 9696 0995
IGA Sth Melbourne, 36/38 Park St, South Melbourne - 03 9699 3820
IGA Brighton, 765 Hampton St, Brighton - 03 9592 3598
IGA St Kilda, 64 Fitzroy St, St Kilda - 03 8598 9644
IGA Albert Park, 133 Dundas Place, Albert Park - 03 9690 3772
IGA Middle Park, 19-21 Armstrong St, Middle Park - 03 9696 2532
IGA Richmond, 518 Bridge Rd, Burnley - 03 8459 7086

IGA Moonee Ponds, 118-126 Maribyrnong Road, Moonee Ponds - 03 9372 8777
IGA Essendon, 347 Buckley St, Essendon West - 03 9337 8228

 Al Nada Sweets on Urbanspoon

Also visited by Veganopoulous

Posted July 21, 2014 06:10 PM

quinces and kale

east elevation

potato and onion

This was my third trip to an East Elevation Vegan Night.

I don’t think I was blogging when I went to the first two. The first visit was great, the second even better. So I was really looking forward to my third visit.

Even though I don’t think the third visit was quite as good as the second, I wasn’t disappointed.

This time the dishes were even more refined and creative than the last couple of visits, though perhaps a little less filling. Some were utterly brilliant, and while there were one, or possibly two I didn’t enjoy as much, others in the group were impressed. I  guess it all comes down to taste.

Those quibbles aside (and they are minor quibbles), this is bargain priced vegan fine dining. $60 for 6 courses with an optional $30 wine pairing.

I love the space at East Elevation, it is open, with high ceilings and a mysterious industrial sized chocolate rolling machine in a glass room to add to the fascination. The tables are beautifully set out with flowers and herbs.

This dinner also happened to be the third trip to EE of our vegan dining group. This was the site of our first dinner. Since then we’ve eaten a lot of really good food, but EE still retains a place in my heart (and stomach) as one of the best. I love that the food here is conceived as vegan, not vegetarian with something missing, as is sometimes the case.

Here is what we ate…

jerusalem artichoke and truffle

I don’t normally like jerusalem artichokes, I find their earthiness a bit overpowering,  but this was brilliant and delicious. A jerusalem artichoke puree, truffles and crisp jerusalem artichoke chip.

artichoke and truffle


soy curd with mushrooms and sea vegetable

The sauce was poured at the table adding a little bit of theatre. I liked the flavours in this, but the curd was a little soft and disintegrated. I’d probably have preferred it with silken tofu to give more texture, but the flavours were good.

mushroom, curd and sea vegetable


confit nicola potato, crispy onion, caramelised onion, burnt leek, soy emulsion and vegan parmesan

This one was mind-blowingly wonderful. The soft potato, the crispy and caramelised onions, the smooth textured slightly tart emulsion, smoky leek and a cheesy, crunchy nut parmesan, all combined to make a great dish. Wow! I could have eaten several. Definitely dish of the night for most of us.

potato and onion


carrot, hay, stout

This one left me a bit cold, others thought it was great, but I am not a big fan of carrots. Roasted carrot, pickled carrot, carrot puree, hay flavoured emulsion of something (I wasn’t listening properly…) and a crumb of stout.

carrot, hay, stout


rhubarb, blood orange ,almond curd and nasturtium

Two ways with rhubarb, poached and smoked, with an almond curd and blood orange segments and syrup. I loved the smoked rhubarb. The blandness of the almonds and the peppery flavour of the nasturtium worked well with the tart flavours of the fruits.

rhubarb, almond, nasturtium


chocolate and almond

Hot chocolate, chocolate soil, almond praline, almond granita, chocolate with almonds and persian fairy floss. Yum.

chocolate, praline, granita, persian fairy floss


I’m glad to see vegan food being taken so seriously.


East Elevation
351 Lygon St,
East Brunswick, 3057
9381 5575


Posted July 21, 2014 10:00 AM

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tokyo | Day 0

June 29, 2014

Our final holiday week was spent in Tokyo. It's been four years since our last visit, and Michael's brother Matt stills lives happily in the city. He met us at his local subway stop on Sunday evening and helpfully deposited us at Meu Nota for dinner while he headed off to a gig.

The staff at Meu Nota don't speak much English, but they do have a subtitled copy of their menu to share. In any case, every thing is vegetarian so we knew we couldn't go too wrong. It's not a deeply traditional set of options, with falafel bites and couscous salad available beside the miso soup and rice bowl of the day.

Michael shoveled his way through the Meu Nota 30 ingredient taco rice bowl (1000円 ~ AU$10.50), a salad with corn chips and spiced bean 'mince' - we think this is where most of the 30 ingredients were going.

I dug into a modest bowl of sauteed vegetables in a coconut, carrot and ginger sauce, served over brown rice (850円 ~ AU$8.90). It was comforting home-style food, exactly what our exhausted diner-weary bodies needed. We could barely string together any English let alone Japanese, but I hope we adequately conveyed our gratitude to the friendly Meu Nota staff.

Posted July 21, 2014 09:54 AM by Cindy

Consuming Cate

Greetings from Leipzig

I've been an absent blogger but this time, with good reason, I've moved countries! Chris, Mr Pablo and I now reside in Leipzig, Germany. We've been here just over 2 weeks, and it's certainly been a ride.

How's it all going? I'll divide into good and bad in dot point form to give you a wee snap shot. I've had a rotten lurgy so have been too unwell to explore much or cook much so my lens is somewhat limited to local haunts.

Bad (and some good)

  • I left my mobile phone on the plane to Frankfurt. Despite contacting the appropriate authorities it was never handed in. And it's not worth much either. Luckily Chris sent a phone to his Dad in the UK which he doesn't use so he's posting it to me. Hence the lack of photos
  • We had major dramas with the Lufthansa and Mr Pablo. In short, he was left in Frankfurt whilst we flew to Leipzig. I caught a train back the next day (four hours each way) and spent 5 hours in animal cargo/customs/animal cargo/ et al. All of these places were a fair distance from the main airport and required driving to each. Yes, neither the airline or pet travel company detailed any of this. Stressful, very stressful. I was very lucky to befriend a kindly cab driver who spoke English and really helped me out. In his own time for free. As we'd caused a bit of a rucus at Lufthansa the day before when we realised Mr P wasn't loaded onto the plane. I also had a lovely Lufthansa animal staffer called Armando helping me out. It's when you depend on the kindness of strangers that you really value goodness in people.
  • I developed a rotten sore throat and ear infection and bad cough a couple of days after arriving. Probably the same lurgy that struck everyone back home. I needed to see a doctor and did a google for doctors who could speak some English. 
  • Ah the joy of the German medical system. Appointments could only be made by an online form and the place was closed all weekend. Despite sending two requests for an appointment I received no reply. So went down to the clinic which looked like a weird hospital DDR style. The receptionist was dressed in white and didn't speak English (fair enough). We were all offered tea and coffee in the waiting room. Called in to see a student doctor perhaps in her 50's. Explained symptoms and asked how to say ear in Deutsch. She suggested holding my nose and exhaling repeatedly with my mouth closed. I explained I had tried this repeatedly and my ears have been ringing at a high volume for days and are extremely painful. Then her supervisor came in (wearing shorts and t shirt hehe) and changed the battery of the ear checker, digging it far enough into my ear that I screamed. He then showed the student comparable pictures of ear infections on google pics and pointed to mine. They decided that a nasal spray from the chemist would work and if it wasn't better in 2 days go back for a prescription for  'very serious treatment-' antibiotics. I'm cursing myself for not bring a pack with me from Australia. It's times like this I miss Brunswick Betta Health, as crap as it was. That said, the appointment was free and the nasal spray was 2€. It contains water and essential oils.  ( I returned for another visit and since my hearing is still impaired, I received a script for antibiotics and a referral for an ear specialist if the antibiotics don't fix it).
  • The chemist was like going to a liquor shop with no booze on show. There were sweets and bandages but I couldn't see any drugs. If you are planning a trip to Deutschland bring all the drugs. Upon advice of other expats I took 6 months worth of my prescription meds with me to Leipzig.
  • It's been really hot. 36c today which is of course, not as hot as Melbourne but there's no air con anywhere. Poor Mr P in his winter coat!
Things that are just a bit weird or different
  • We only have one key for the apartment, for both of us. We are not allowed to copy the key. I am terrified of losing the key. When we next leave the country we will try get some copies made overseas. 
  • Supermarkets are interesting. Each supermarket has at least three full aisles of booze and a comparative amount of meat. I have never seen so much meat in my life in all it's forms. I have bought some vegan bratwurst however. 
  • You get charged a tax on any bottles (glass or plastic) that you buy. These can returned to the store for a refund. 
  • Despite scouring supermarkets and health food shops, I am unable to find bicarbonate soda in quantities bigger than 50g, more than single sachets of yeast or baking powder, ice cube trays or shower puffers 
(these things) 
I am debating whether to wait until I go to the UK next or buy all of the above on ebay. 
  • Sausages are hugely popular. Even when a sausage stall is located next to indian and thai restaurants for the same price, people will opt for the sausages. 
  • Ice cream parlours are very popular, serving huge sundaes. I have enjoyed a few due to lurgy recovery. Great gelato!
  • Downloading aka torrenting is heavily penalised. We have a proxy but I miss being able to d/l at whim.

The natural museum near our apartment . It currently has an exhibition about Australia, complete with posters of badly taxidermied kangaroos. 

The Good
  • Despite speaking very little German I can generally get by. Chris is fluent and I am keen to do a proper intensive course once the schools reopen in August. I have done German lessons in Australia, it's just hard to remember! Unlike Berlin, most people don't speak English unless they are younger. 
  • There's a fruit and veg market twice a week in the town square with lovely fruit, veg, bread, flowers etc.
  • Booze at the supermarket is ridiculously cheap. When you go out, beer is the cheapest followed by wine, mixed spirits (like a gin and tonic) are expensive by Australian standards but the wine is good. 
  • Buffet brunch is really popular here on the weekends. I love brunch! 
  • It's great living in the city and being close to things. It's a walk to shopping centres, the town square, cafes and restaurants etc
  • Our cargo arrived without any damage. 
  • Yesterday I found the Leipzig version of Brunswick st/Smith st in Melbourne. A big second hand store like Savers where I bought a skirt, plenty of bars and interesting restaurants. It's 8 tram stops from our house, nice and close. 
  • My ears are still blocked but my throat is better and hopefully I'll be well enough next week to get stuck into working on my book.

 We can attest the fire station is still in operation

Stay tuned for more pics once I have a phone again!

Posted July 21, 2014 01:08 AM by Cate Lawrence

July 20, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Sourdough banana oat pancakes

It was a cool autumn morning with a banana to use up.  That calls for banana oat pancakes.  This is my easy way of using up smelly old bananas and pleasing Sylvia.  I hadn't been baking much sourdough bread.  I don't like to discard the starter so I just feed it up and find a purpose.  Usually that is flatbreads.  I thought I would try tossing it into the pancakes.

Most of the pancakes were small but I made a large one at the end when I had had enough of frying.  However, they fried quite quickly and soon we had a plate piled with pancakes.  They were a bit flatter than my usual version and also not overly sweet.

I had stewed some plums the night before.  This meant the pancakes were fancier than the usual lemon and sugar or maple syrup.  I had a pile of three pancakes with plums and vanilla yoghurt.  It was scrumptious.  Then I had seconds.  And was very full.

Now we were ready for the day.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Healthy banana bread and kids making do
Two years ago: WW Tofu nut balls and princesses
Three years ago: CC Vegetarian Moussaka
Four years ago: Fish and chips – reflections of a vegetarian
Five years ago: SHF Apricot sponge – by any other name
Six years ago: Vegetarian Cassoulet
Seven years ago: Mushroom Yoghurt Pie with Spinach Crust

Sourdough banana oat pancakes
Adapted from our favourite banana oat pancakes
Serves 4 to 6

30g butter
2 tsp golden syrup (or other sweetener)
1 banana, mashed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
butter, for frying

Melt butter.  Mix in golden syrup and banana, then egg.  Mix sourdough starter, oats and baking powder.  (My batter was thickish and quick blobby rather than a pouring consistency.)

Heat a frypan over medium heat.  Melt a little butter (about 1/2 tsp) in the frypan and use the back of a spoon to spread it about evenly.  Drop dessertspoons of batter into the frypan.  (Or two spoonfuls for a slightly bigger pancake.) Fry a few minutes until bubbles appear.  Flip over and fry another minute or two until the other side is golden brown.  Serve warm with your choice of toppings.

On the Stereo:
Talking with the Taxman about Poetry: Billy Bragg

Posted July 20, 2014 09:56 PM by Johanna GGG

Vegan Bullsh*t

Cajun Kitchen, CBD

My SO and I have recently developed a fondness for Young and Jacksons' bar - especially the rooftop cider bar, where they're currently serving the Hills Cider Co's limited pomegranate cider (has anyone tried this? it's vegan friendly and incredible). So we've been looking more and more at v-friendly CBD eats. After our first plan of action fell through, we saw the word 'tofu' and decided to wander into Cajun Kitchen on Elizabeth Street.

The menu isn't extensive for veg*ns - you basically have three choices: chips, a salad (which, to be fair, looks pretty good) or the Cajun Tofu Wrap, $9.90, which I went for:
It was.. okay. The tofu was tasty but there wasn't nearly enough of it - just two small strips. You have a choice of heaps of sauces, and silly me grabbed the hot sauce despite being a chilli wuss which may have affected my judgement a bit. The SO, a raging meat-eater, ordered the pulled beef wrap and said it tasted like nothing else, just beef, which is a bit disappointing. I like the concept of what they're trying to do, but for around $10 in the city you have so many more options within the CBD itself: Shandong Mama's zucchini dumplings, Panzerotti, LOTF,  at least two v-friendly ramen shops, etc. I probably won't be back, but I'm glad I checked it out all the same!

One great thing they are stocking is Fentiman's rose lemonade:
This stuff is excellent: a fresh lemony kick with rose and a few other things mixed in. It doesn't taste too floral and was incredibly refreshing - one of my favourite carbonated drinks I've tried. If you happen to walk past, grabbing a bottle is a good idea - it's different enough that it's worth a try. If anyone tries the chips, let me know if the seasoning is worth a revisit!

Posted July 20, 2014 08:54 PM by L


Veganopoulous will be changing address!


Ooooh, new address over there!

Hi folks, gosh this blogging break is trying my patience. I’ve got stuff to blog about (food reviews, op shop finds!) but I thought I’d wait until the new blog is up. My blog will be changing hosts so there will be a new address. Unfortunately I can’t automatically move subscribers over so when the new blog is live, I’ll post here with the details and you will have to manually subscribe to the new blog yourselves.  Sorreeeee! I’ll give you an awesome family recipe of mine to make up for it.

I’d love to see you (and new subscribers of course) over at my new address when everything is up and running! Please? MWAH!

Posted July 20, 2014 05:27 PM

Little Vegan Bear

Yong Green Food

At the start of June, my Granny came over from Perth to visit. On one of the first days she was here, she and my mum came to meet me in Fitzroy and we went to Yong Green for lunch.

I was happy to find they were open when we arrived, as I have been having some poor luck with them this year – every time I make an effort to try and go, they end up being closed for holidays! Thankfully, not this time.

Yong Green Food have a wonderful menu which is based around healthy, sustainable and seasonal food and conscious eating. Pretty much the entire menu is vegan, or vegan on request, and they also cater for other dietary requirements such as organic, gluten-free and garlic/onion-free.

If the food’s not enough to draw you in, their sustainability initiatives are also admirable – Yong Green have taken steps to reduce their greenhouse emissions by purchasing their own GreenPower and acquiring carbon credits through abatement projects. They also donate 10% of their profits to support farmer-managed natural regeneration in East Africa.

yonggreen2We had a lot of trouble choosing what to eat – we couldn’t decide between entrees or desserts. Ultimately, we went with mains to ensure we had room for coffee and cake afterwards.

I went with the famous dragon bowl – brown rice, topped with various veggies (I think there was carrot, cucumber, sprouts and more) and sliced soy beef. There is also the option to have it with tofu.

yonggreen1Excuse the crappy photos and shadows plz.

The dragon bowl comes with a miso soup and chili sauce – the warm miso an especially nice touch for a winter’s day. The meal was delicious, filling and nourishing.

I didn’t actually take photos of my mum or granny’s meals – mum went with the macro dragon bowl, so it was very similar to mine. Granny went with a Japanese curry, which was absolutely scrumptious.

Then the cake!

yonggreen3We got a piece of raw cake each, and split them three ways so we could each have a taste. This was the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Not too dense and with a generous amount of raspberries and sauce, this was lovely.

yonggreen4I’d never had a raw pecan pie before, and our first meeting was successful. I would definitely eat you again pie!

yonggreen5The tiramisu was my favourite, and unfortunately the smallest (and most expensive) of the three. This was also my first raw tiramisu, and the addition of spiced rum was most welcome.

The cakes were very nice, though I’ve probably had better elsewhere, and given the price ($9 – $10.50/slice) I would probably prefer to spend the money on entrees next time as the savoury food on offer is more interesting.

Yong Green Food
421-423 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Tues – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 10pm
Wed – 5pm – 10pm
Thurs – Sat – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 10pm
Sun – L – 12pm – 4pm, D – 5pm – 9pm

Posted July 20, 2014 03:20 PM

July 19, 2014

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

where's the beef? at the Melbourne Writers Festival

The 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival program was released yesterday, including an extensive selection of Food, Wine and Travel events. I'll be appearing on a panel entitled Thinking & Drinking: Australian Fine Dining alongside Andrea Frost, Ronnie Scott and Estelle Tang. This panel will be held at the Duke of Wellington (an accessible venue!) from 6:30pm on Monday August 25.

I'd love to see some friendly faces there - please come and say hi if you attend!

Posted July 19, 2014 11:01 AM by Cindy

July 17, 2014

Green Gourmet Giraffe

5:2 diet - vegetarian meal plans, reflections and recipes

Late last year I started the 5:2 diet. I was impressed by Michael Mosley's Eat Fast and Live Longer BBC tv program, Horizon.  It argued that eating 500 calories (or 600 calories if you are male) 2 days a week and eating whatever you want for the remaining 5 days has many health benefits, as well as aiding weight loss. I have been surprised at how much I liked it. Yet starting the diet was hard because I couldn't find vegetarian meal plans. So here are a few reflections, recipes and meal plans for anyone who is interested in the diet.

Disclaimer: I am not a trained health professional. I am merely sharing my experiences. I have discussed this diet with my doctor and I recommend doing so before starting the diet, especially if you have any risk factors. It is not recommended for people with eating disorders.


I started out religiously counting calories, and it was hard at the end of each day. As my stomach demanded food, I would dream of the piles of food I would devour the next day. Strangely enough, when the next day came I wasn't that hungry and didn't gorge myself as I had expected. While there is much talk about 'fasting', it is not a starvation diet.  The longer I do the diet, the easier I find it. Though you still might find me a little more grumpy than usual on the evening of a fast day.

I really like the light feeling of eating less food on a fast day. It has also made me cut back on the amount of cooking and groceries we buy.  This diet is not for everyone and it has its critics.  (I like to believe it is good for my health but it seems the research is still in its early days.)  However I like that I have lost a little weight and this has been with no extra cost, no signing up, and no foods I must or mustn't eat.

Having done this diet for months, I find that I don't always calorie count now. I follow a fairly similar eating pattern of porridge for breakfast; rice cakes or bread with a spread and salad for lunch; perhaps some fruit or miso soup for snacks; and a soup of vegies and legumes for dinner. Mostly good simple food. On occasion I have had cake for lunch but I don't recommend it.  Nor do health professionals who recommend good nutrition both on fast and non-fast days.  Here are a few notes on what works and doesn't work for me:

The 5:2 diet works fine when:
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal tea
  • I eat lots of vegies to give plenty of interest to a meal
  • Child free day (school holidays are challenging)
  • Shopping for food (surprisingly doesn't bother me)
  • Busy so that time flies
  • I take snacks with me when out and about
  • If I meet friends it is just for a coffee and I have herbal tea
  • I don't eat lots of sweet and salty foods that stimulate my appetite

The 5:2 diet is not easy when:
  • I am eating out
  • I have a headache and/or am sick
  • I do lots of exercise
  • I am photographing tempting food for blog
  • I am baking and storing freshly baked goods around the house
  • If I don't have a good idea of what food I will eat (preparation helps)
  • Christmas and Easter or other big celebrations present me with lots of good food


When I first started, I found it useful to keep a food diary to keep a running total of my calories.  I used calories lists from Tinned Tomatoes and Lavender and Lovage as well as searching online.  Here are a few sample days.

After a while I didn't need snacks as much and found myself making slightly higher calorie soups for dinner.  I still keep a good supply of rice cakes, cuppa soup, miso soup, fruit and herbal tea for light snacks if I need them. And I find a homemade vegie stock helps give extra flavour to soups.

NB I don't get too hung up on getting the calories precise so if they are slightly out that is fine.  (Fro example: my notes say that a small apple is 52 cal and a large one is 95 cal so I may allocate different calories depending on the size.)  It is about reducing calories rather than precision.

Hearty tomato noodle soup - 125 C

Week 1 Day 1

Breakfast Porridge 127 cal
Morning tea Half apple 42 cal
Lunch Hearty tomato noodle soup (from a box)         125 cal
Afternoon tea 3 cherry tomatoes 12 cal
Dinner Italian butter beans
A few vegies
140 cal
10 cal
Supper Half apple
1 pistachio
42 cal
4 cal
Total 502 cal

Rice cakes with peanut butter and tomato, and fried asparagus - 92 C

Week 7 Day 1

Breakfast Porridge 127 cal
Morning tea Half apple 47 cal
Lunch 1 thin rice cake with 1 tsp peanut butter         
1/2 tomato
4 asparagus spears
fried in 1/2 tsp oil with pinch of salt
58 cal
13 cal
11 cal
10 cal
Afternoon tea Happy cow cheese wedge 35 cal
Dinner Broccoli soup 153 cal
Supper Rice cake with vegemite
1 almond
40 cal
12 cal
496 cal

Curried red lentil and dried apricot soup - 141 C

Week 9 Day 1

Breakfast Porridge 127 cal
Morning tea Nectarine 39 cal
Lunch 1 ricecake with hummus
1/4 tomato
1 ricecake with vegemite
60 cal
13 cal
40 cal
Afternoon tea n/a
Dinner Curried red lentil and dried apricot soup     141 cal
Supper 1/2 Nectarine 15 cal
445 cal

Sweet potato and red lentil soup - 129 C

Week 13 Day 1

Breakfast Smoothie 147 cal
Morning tea n/a
Lunch Cuppa noodle soup (packaged) 125 cal
Afternoon tea bit of rice cracker
bit of peach
7 cal
7 cal
Dinner Sweet potato and red lentil soup              129 cal
Supper Rice cake 35 cal
440 cal

Nashi pears - 127 C and packam pears - 80 C

6 months later(I had given up noting the week number)
Breakfast1 rice cake and peanut butter49 cal
Morning tean/a
Lunch1 slice sourdough bread
2 tsp hummus
132 cal
15 cal
Afternoon tea1 (260g) nashi pear127 cal
DinnerBeetroot and kidney bean soup181 cal
504 cal


Based on this microwave porridge
serves 1

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp honey

Mix all ingredients in a small heat proof mixing bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir and cheek consistency. Microwave another 1-2 minutes depending on how thick you like your porridge. When it is thickened and oats are cooked, serve hot. 127 calories per serving.

Serves 2

1/2 banana
1 ripe peach*
1 ripe plum*
10 raspberries
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp chia seeds
ice blocks, optional

Place everything in a large jug and blend until smooth with a hand held blender (or use a blender jug if you have one). Pour into two glasses and enjoy. 147 calories per serving.

*Variation: I have also made this smoothie with 1/4 cup of blueberries instead of the plum and the peach. It worked out at 122 calories per serving.

Italian butter beans - 140 C
Italian butter beans
From BBC Good Food
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
400g tin diced tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
2 x 400g tins butter beans, rinsed and drained
small bunch basil, chopped

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry the garlic for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar and seasoning. Tip in the beans and a splash of water. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil and serve. 140 calories per serving.

Sweet potato and red lentil soup
A lighter version of this soup
Serves 4

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 celery stick, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup red lentils
1 sweet potato (mine weighed 233g), chopped*
5 cups water
2 tsp stock powder
pinch salt

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Fry onion, garlic, celery and carrot until soft. Add remaining ingredients and check seasoning. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until potato is soft and lentils cooked. Puree and serve. 129 calories per serving.

*Note: you could bake the sweet potato until soft. It will make the flavour more intense in the soup but it is not necessary if you don't have time.

Variation: I have also made this soup with 1/2 tsp olive oil, 50g silverbeet, 30g mushrooms, 35g kale, 2 tbsp tomato paste and not pureed it. This was really delicious and 139 calories per serving.

Asparagus and chickpea salad - 133 C
Asparagus and chickpea salad
serves 2

1 bunch asparagus
1/2 x 400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 medium red pepper, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cider vinegar

Trim and roughly chop asparagus. Lightly steam and cool under cold water. Drain. Mix with remaining ingredients. Season to taste. 133 calories per serving.

Smoky kidney bean soup
Adapted from Lavender and Lovage
Serves 4

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion
2 carrots, chopped
100g button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
125g butternut pumpkin (or squash), chopped
400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
400g  tin diced tomatoes
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
good shake of cayenne powder
2 cups vegie stock
nutritional yeast flakes to serve, optional

Fry onion in olive oil for a few minutes until translucent.  Add carrots, mushrooms and garlic.  Fry 5 to 10 minutes until vegies soften. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until carrots and pumpkin are soft when pierced with a fork.  Serve with nutritional yeast flakes if desired.  142 calories per serving.  (149 calories per serving if you scatter each serving with 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast flakes.)

Smoky kidney bean soup - 142 C
Other recipes on my blog that I have used on the 5:2 diet:


Blogs that have 5:2 recipes and low calorie recipes (mostly vegetarian) :

Reflections by others:

I am sending the Smoky Kidney Bean Soup to Lisa's Kitchen for No Croutons Required, a monthly event held with Jac of Tinned Tomatoes for bloggers to share vegetarian soups and salads.  This monthly event would also be a great place to look for 5:2 diet meal ideas.

      Posted July 17, 2014 10:48 PM by Johanna GGG

      quinces and kale

      orange almond meal cake

      orange almond meal cake

      It’s winter and I have a fruit bowl full of navel oranges begging to be used. I cannot think of a better use for them than this wonderful cake.

      This recipe is a vegan version of a beautiful Sicilian/Sephardic Jewish orange and almond cake. Navels work best in this cake because they have no seeds to remove – the oranges are pureed whole. The only non vegan ingredient in the original recipe is eggs. While eggs are reasonably easy to replace in a cake,  this one has a lot. Six in fact. So I approached it with some unease, thinking it would turn out like a brick. I need not have feared. It is a fairly dense cake, sort of like a pudding in texture, but so is the original.

      It is the easiest cake to make. It is really suitable to make vegan because it is such a fudgy cake to begin with. It doesn’t suffer from having the eggs replaced with a vegan alternative, as it doesn’t need the eggs for lightness like say, a sponge.

      The original is an old faithful recipe that’s been in my family for years. There are lots of versions of it out there, some with fewer oranges, some with and without flour. This is the one that seems to have settled in as my favourite.

      It is utterly delicious with its combination of nutty, bitter and sweet flavours.

      My only problem with this cake is I could happily scoff the lot at two or three sittings.


      orange almond meal cake
      prep time
      30 mins
      cook time
      45 mins
      total time
      1 hour 15 mins
      author: quincesandkale
      recipe type: sweet
      cuisine: vegan
      serves: 8
      • 4 small or 3 large navel oranges (they don't have seeds)
      • 1 cup raw caster sugar
      • 6 vegan egg replacement (I used Orgran No Egg and made 6 'eggs' according to the instructions)
      • 250 grams of almond meal
      • 1 cup self raising flour
      1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
      2. Put the whole oranges into a saucepan and boil gently for 20 minutes.
      3. Put the whole boiled oranges into a food processor and blitz until pureed but with some small bits of peel still visible.
      4. In a bowl, beat the egg replacer with the sugar until smooth and fluffy.
      5. Mix in the almond meal.
      6. Mix in the orange puree.
      7. Fold the flour in gently and scoop the mixture into a cake pan and level it out.
      8. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until done.
      9. Insert a skewer and it should come out cleanly when done.
      10. If it isn't give it another 5 minutes.
      11. Cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before turning out.



      Posted July 17, 2014 10:00 AM

      July 14, 2014

      Vegan Bullsh*t

      BBQ Night at the Cornish Arms

      So. This is a horrible photo because The Cornish's lighting is horrible at night but who even cares. BBQ NIGHT.
      This is the vegan big plate, $20: you're looking at a veggie frank with a gorgeous semi-spicy black beany chili and cheeze, chick'n strips, pork skewers, deep fried pickles (AW YES), slaw and a gorgeous BBQ sauce to slather it all in. Plus, not pictured, cuminy seasoned shoestring fries and a roll to assemble your own carbwich. I have no words, you need to get on this.

      Posted July 14, 2014 06:51 PM by L

      July 12, 2014


      A short blogging break: it’s decluttering time

      Hi everyone, I’m going to be changing the blog up a bit (like cleaning out the gajillion pointless categories and decluttering the tags for starters) and a few other things.  All this requires a bit of a break while I move things around and make everything sparkly clean and makeovery.  Plus I need to find more time to go op shopping ;)

      You can catch me on Twitter @Veganopoulous

      See you when I get back!

      love boat

      Veganopoulous is expecting you!


      Posted July 12, 2014 01:04 PM

      July 08, 2014

      Thoughts Of A Moni

      Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill

      As part of Nuffnang's birthday celebrations, I was lucky enough to win some vouchers for Mad Mex. We hadn't had a chance to use the vouchers, but last weekend, we finally forced ourselves to go out, and indulge in some Mexican food!

      I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from Mad Mex. The website seemed to indicate it was a franchise, but I wasn't sure whether it was more like a restaurant or whether it was fast food. Turns out, it was something in between.

      The set up is very similar to a Subway concept, but instead of choosing the bread, you choose the type of meal, from nachos, enchiladas, a burrito, a grande melt or tacos. You then choose your main filling, which in my case was obviously vegetarian, and just like subway, you then choose your salads, while they build your meal.

      As we sat down at our table, we noticed the great light fittings constructed out of empty Corona bottles, an apt homage to the Mexican beer.

      I unwrapped my burrito to discover a very full wrap.

      Firstly the tortilla itself was great. I was expecting something dry, but instead it was soft and tasty. Inside I had rice and beans as the base, and then sautéed vegetables as my vegetarian option. As usual I had opted for all the salad on offer, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and hot sauce. Commendably, the hot sauce was hot, which impressed me. Everything combined well, and worked together, but to be honest, it was nothing spectacular.

      Mad Mex is nothing fancy, and if your on Chapel St, there are definitely better options. Infact we were commenting that perhaps Grill'd would have been a better option, after all, their burgers are amazing. But nevertheless, it was an enjoyable meal, just not extraordinary.

      Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

      Posted July 08, 2014 10:08 PM by Moni

      vegan about town

      bare burger [various locations, nyc]

      My first and last nights in NYC saw me dining on food from Bare Burger. After being collected from La Guardia and depositing my belongings, I walked with my hosts to Bare Burger in Astoria, where the staff were friendly and delightful, offering advice, opinions and the ingredients list as required.

      We started with two serves of fries: one sweet potato (or "yam", which is often not actually yam), and one of not sweet potato. This is served with a whole lot of sauces, which our waiter kindly replaced with some other options, more vegan, for me.

      Bare Burger has a whole lot of options, but both times I've eaten there now I delighted in the Barest of Burgers, which is where you get to pick everything! I went with the wholemeal bun and filled it with this amazing black bean patty, smoke house sauce, avocado, tomato, spinach and mushrooms.

      I'm not ashamed to say that tonight, my last night in NYC, we stayed in to do some work and ordered delivery from Bare Burger and I ordered something very, very similar. It was a good nom choice, as they also do gluten-free and were totally lovely. (Also there is vegan cake on the dessert menu)

      Bare Burger
      33-21 31st Avenue (also has other locations)

      Posted July 08, 2014 11:47 AM by steph

      July 07, 2014

      The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

      Disco Beans

       Disco Beans: Disco de Fiesta’ ($16.50 GF)

      Disco Beans: Disco de Fiesta’ ($16.50 GF)

       Disco Beans: ‘Disco Bonanza’ ($15.50)

      Disco Beans: ‘Disco Bonanza’ ($15.50)

       Disco Beans: Vegan Banana Cake ($4 GF)

      Disco Beans: Vegan Banana Cake ($4 GF)


      Disco Beans
      539 Plenty Rd
      Preston VIC 3072

      03 9478 1461


      Takeaway: www.menulog.com.au/disco-beans

      Opening Hours:

      Tues-Sun: 8am-4pm

      Dinner Tues-Sat: 5.30-9.30pm

      Cash Only

      Disco Beans is a sweet little cafe in Preston offering up homestyle Japanese food with vegan options aplenty.

      A breakfast favourite is the ‘Disco Bonanza’ ($15.50) with pan-fried marinated organic tofu, baked mushrooms, roasted potatoes, rocket and homemade tomato sauce served with organic 7 grain toast. Gluten free bread ($2) is also available. 

      The 'Disco de Fiesta’ ($16.50 GF) is the other notable vegan option, with a combination of homemade guacamole, homemade black beans, homemade tomato sauce, corn chips, lemon and jalapeño served on grain rice. Most ingredients are available as sides, so you could also build your own vegan brunch extravaganza if you wish.

      Disco Beans is now also open for dinner with a multitude of vegan options including ‘Gyoza’ ($10.50), ‘Fried Chicken Do’ ($16.50), ‘Vegan Okonomiyaki’ ($14 GF), ‘Organic Tofu Don’ ($14.50) and ’Organic Tofu Steak’ ($7.50). A six course vegan Japanese banquet (Regular, Winter or Sushi) dinner is also available for $30 per person (cash only, bookings necessary).

      There are also some vegan sweets on offer including traditional Japanese rice cakes 'Daifuku' ($3 GF), 'Chocolate and Black Bean Brownie' ($4 GF), 'Banana Cake' ($4 GF) and 'Vegan Muffins' ($4).

      Coffee is $3.80 with with a 40c soycharge for Bonsoy.

       Disco Beans on Urbanspoon

      Posted July 07, 2014 06:48 PM

      In the Mood for Noodles

      Life cafe

      We are back in Hong Kong and since being gf is hard here. Im going to try to blog my meals. Although I've already missed a few things.

      Hong Kong is such a crazy city. I feel like I still love it and hate it. I always get whirled into shopping too much even now when I have no money. This city makes me want to go out more, see more, do more but then I get tired and over the heat and the crowds and just want to retreat.

      I'm seeing a new side to it at the moment though. Its no particularly baby friendly, I'm glad for baby wearing because I think prams and strollers would be tough here.  Also parent rooms are hard to find especially areas to breastfeed privately. But it's also nice seeing so many people playing and talking to our 9 old month old son. He's been loving the attention and seeing his HK relatives and all the neon lights.

      Anyway, on to the food.

      First meal that I managed to take photos of was this delicious kale risotto. This was so much better than it sounds. Brown rice risotto cooked in wine with crispy tofu 'bacon'. My bowl was licked clean. I also devoured their sweet potato fries with a garlicky aioli type dip and a juice. Toby enjoyed his big vegan breakfast. We will definitely be back.

      Life cafe
      Hong Kong

      Posted July 07, 2014 12:02 PM by K

      July 05, 2014

      melbourne with the rocket » food

      sydney with the rocket: day 1

      We arrived in Sydney around one o’clock on Saturday. It was windy but bright, a wholesome twenty degrees, and someplace different. For one, the airport has a train. Sydney 1, Melbourne 0.

      It costs about $16.40 to get an adult onto the airport line into the city proper – it’s only about three stops to Central, so I’m not sure if it’s cheaper to get a taxi if there’s a few of you. The Rocket was free, so we sucked up the thirty-plus dollars and delighted in being on a double-decker train. Our hotel was a short walk from Central, so we wheeled ourselves over and checked in. I was in charge of booking as Teach was armpit-deep in reports at the time, so I spent a few days getting increasingly agitated about how expensive it is to stay places, and not having any visual of where in Sydney is good or safe or close or fun, and panicking about the date getting closer and everything selling out and us sleeping in an internet cafe. Eventually I chose the Campbell Street Meriton Apartments, because they had an immediately available online chat and could answer all of my questions about cots and babies and stuff, and their prices seemed relatively competitive, especially for the size of the rooms. (Not that I would know. I am just awful at booking things. If it’s on sale, I’ll find out, the day after I’ve paid upfront and signed a no-refund disclaimer. It’s just not one of my skills, sadly.) Anyway, it turns out that the reason it was a bit expensive was because it’s right in the middle of the city, and quite nice; armed with a bit more knowledge I would probably stay a few suburbs further out next time and just catch a train in. Still, as Past Fiona had already paid for it and Present Fiona got to stay there, it was a nice place: a one-bedroom serviced apartment, which meant we could get the Rocket to sleep in a separate room and then go watch free Foxtel in the lounge/kitchen. For another $35 we had a cot put in the room; it was pretty small, and with metal prison bars instead of gentle white wood like the one at home we inherited from my sister. As we settled in, we tried to get her to sleep, but she wasn’t really on board with that idea. Instead we got her up and took her for a wander around.

      This door to our hotel: most fun thing in New South Wales

      It’s hard not to compare Sydney to Melbourne the whole time. In my mind where we stayed was the equivalent to the Spring Street end of Little Bourke, with theatres and people but narrow streets and not quite the level of excitement of the bigger streets. Sydney is cleaner, but maybe less friendly – unless it’s just that it’s unfamiliar – and has almost no street art in the places we were. There weren’t many cute little shops to go into, though there were lots of tasty-looking eateries. We strolled up Pitt St just as gale-force winds hit; hats flew off people’s heads and one person was attacked bodily by an errant newspaper. The Rocket has stopped enjoying wind and instead chose to wail, so we went into a Coles for a bit to buy some milk and cereal, then went up to Kings Comics and talked ourselves out of piles of collectible toys we didn’t need. It was nearing dinnertime, so, having previously consulted my friends online about where to go, we had dinner at Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen.

      It was a patchy start; we got there at about five past five but weren’t given our mains until about a quarter to six, though we’d had some (sadly unsalted) edamame to start. The service was very friendly, however, and the Rocket just happy to be indoors. The menu mostly calls things “soy” or “gluten” instead of the usual “duck” or “chicken”, and doesn’t elaborate on the flavours. I chose crispy bean curd with mushrooms and broccoli; Teach picked a crispy gluten dish. Once they turned up, we were much more positive; the food is pretty delicious, and maybe we’d just been a bit tired and cranky. My bean curd wasn’t crispy, but it was warm and good and there was tons of it and I ate it all up, only managing to get a little of Teach’s crispy gluten before he scoffed all his too. The Rocket was happy with her bowl of rice, a bunch of edamame and some of my tofu. If I’m in Sydney again, I’d give it another shot for sure, maybe this time calling a day in advance so I could have some of their vegetarian Peking Duck, or some steamed BBQ buns, or satay sticks.

      We decided to call it a night after that, and took the Rocket back to the hotel, tucked her in, consoled her, tucked her in, gave her toys, went back and picked up her toys from the floor, tucked her in, etc etc for all eternity until she finally slept. Then we ate candy and watched terrible television until we were sick, because if there’s one thing we do well, it’s knowing how to waste being in a different city.

      Posted July 05, 2014 03:05 PM

      July 03, 2014

      Thoughts Of A Moni

      Proud Peacock

      Social media is brilliant at providing businesses with free advertising, and for this occasion, The Proud Peacock had definitely benefited from this. One of my friends had visited it and put photos up on Facebook, with comments to say that it was a little local place, with amazing food. I decided to look up how local it was and found that it was walking distance from my place! And so it was decided, we were going to have dinner on Friday night there. It just so happened that Friday lunch was scheduled to be our monthly team lunch, and we were without a venue, so I decided to nominate Proud Peacock, so that I could get a preview of what was to come for dinner... it proved to be a good move.

      Visit 1:

      We arrived at about 12:30 pm, and the lunch rush was well and truly under way. There were no seats inside, a massive crowd lined up at the counter, and a few people even sitting outside. This was a clear sign, that this place must be good. We also joined the queue, placed our orders at the counter, and then found ourselves a spot outside. Luckily it wasn't too cold!

      Whilst we were waiting, the waitresses were running around, frantically trying to keep on top of things, and make sure all the patrons were looked after. We were given bottles of soft drink, Chinese tea, fruit, and tim tams, all as freebies, while we waited. After about 10 minutes (not long at all given how busy they were), our dishes arrived.

      One of the things that impressed me most about Proud Peacock was the separate vegetarian menu. I was spoilt for choice, but I settled on a vegetarian pad thai, knowing that I would be back later that night to sample more of the menu.

      The pad thai was delicious with all the standard inclusions, vegetables, egg, tofu, crushed nuts, and a wedge of lemon on the side. There was also chilli on the table, but it was super spicy (even for a seasoned chilli connoisseur like me!) so I used it sparingly! The waitress also bought around some take away containers, suggesting that there was a high chance that we wouldn't be able to finish our portions, but she clearly underestimated my abilities! In her defence, the portions were big, but I was just super hungry!

      We left very full, but very satisfied, and I was excited to come back for dinner!

      Visit 2:

      We arrived at about 6:30 pm and the dinner rush was no less than the lunch rush from earlier in the day. We squeezed through the front door, and looked around for a spare couple of seats. Luckily there was a table that was just emptying, and we pounced. It was cold, and we didn't particularly want to sit outside, so we were grateful for the spot inside.

      Surprisingly, given how busy it was, there was still table service, and almost as we sat down, menus were brought to us, followed by fruit, Chinese tea and chocolate biscuits, and after a few minutes our order was taken. We got greedy and decided to order three meals between two of us which was ambitious, given I knew how big the serves were. Nevertheless, we were up for the challenge. There was about a 15 minute wait, but this wasn't an issue, and completely understandable given how busy they were.

      Given how cold it was, my heart was set on a vegetarian noodle soup, and whilst this wasn't on the menu, the staff were happy to oblige. A very large bowl of steaming broth, vegetables, noodles and chunks of beancurd was placed in front of me. This dish hit the spot perfectly, and unlike some other phos with are bulked up with mock meat, this one was full of fresh vegetables and soft beancurd.

      Our other dish was a salt and pepper eggplant, which was on the specials board that night. Deliciously soft, succulent pieces of eggplant were coated in batter and then deep fried and the whole dish was dressed liberally with salt pepper, shallots and chilli. There must have been some secret spices in the batter because it made the eggplant taste amazing. Unfortunately we were way too full and could hardly finish half this dish, so in true Proud Peacock style, we were handed takeaway containers to pack our leftovers in for the next day!

      As we headed to the counter to pay, we received countless apologies for the slow service. To be honest we didn't mind at all, infact the whole chaotic nature adds to the character of the place, but regardless a family pack of Tim Tams was forced upon us as a way of saying sorry and we were sent home!

      Proud Peacock is definitely going to become one of our favourite locals. It's one of those places where you just want to give the people that run it a big hug!

      The Proud Peacock on Urbanspoon

      Posted July 03, 2014 06:01 PM by Moni

      vegan about town

      grasslands [toronto]

      I know it’s a big call, but breakfast at Grasslands was the best meal I had during my time in Canada, despite the amazing pie at The Wallflower. 

      At first we were really only going because it was one of the few places that could cater for vegans and coeliacs and also took bookings. But it was so good. SO. GOOD. 

      Having had a big night before (we got back to our accommodation at well after midnight, having consumed many alcohols, spent the day in the sun, and hung out in an indoor hotel pool for many hours), it was with a gentle stride that we navigated our way on public transport to Grasslands, located on Queen Street West. 

      We arrived to find a beautiful puppy lying across the doorstep, and I fell upon a lovely coffee. 

      I wanted to eat everything on the menu, but in the end went for the Hangover Helper, on the grounds that I was a bit delicate. The Hangover Helper is comprised of scrambled tofu (with mushrooms and daiya cheese), salsa, guacamole, spinach (which I asked to be withheld), toast, chips, salad and watermelon. The tofu was a lovely texture with the daiya adding a slightly cheesy creamyness. The salsa and guacamole added a nice little flavour, and then I added a big of sriracha sauce for a little spice and it was perrrrfect. The salad was bland but a nice addition to the friedness of the rest of it, and finishing it off with three slices of watermelon was just right. 

      ALSO AMAZING: the bite of french toast I had; the bite of gluten-free waffle I had, so light and fluffy and, as Dr F said, you couldn't tell it was gf + vegan at all (unlike the pancakes at Fresh, so sad). 

      I am disappointed that I didn't get a chance to return to Grasslands. If you get a chance, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 

      478 Queen St W

      Stairs to enter and down to the toilets. Payment at the table. CC accepted. Lighting okay but it was daytime.  Get there on the streetcar. Service really helpful and lovely. 

      Posted July 03, 2014 10:02 AM by steph

      June 30, 2014

      Ballroom Blintz

      Grigons & Orr II: Attack of the Avocado Egg

      I normally don’t do a lot of repeat visit posts here. Mainly because I mostly figure that if I’ve already written a rave about a place, that’s really enough of an incentive to readers, no one wants to hear me gabbering on about the same places over and over again. I only ever feel inclined to write about a place multiple times if I visit a long time after the first post and feel inspired enough to do a kind of ‘so here’s what they’re up to now’ update, or if I experience a particular dish that makes me sit up and take proper notice and feel the need to make a community awareness announcement. This particular post is most definitely of the latter variety.

      Jen and I ended up at Grigons & Orr during the now distant Anzac Day weekend when our first choice of Elceed was closed. Physically not much appears to have changed since my first visit – the resemblance to an old school corner shop is still very charming, and I even spotted the box of crocheted blankets by the front door, although the autumn sun was strong enough that we didn’t need to borrow any.

      I knew that I was after a big plate of assorted breakfast goods, and was pleased to see that there was a vegan and gluten free option that looked like it would be of good service to my craving. “The Ghandi” promised potato rosti, spinach, BBQ tofu, tomato, and an “avocado egg” consisting of half an avocado with a pumpkin puree yolk. I was immediately taken by the thought of this avocado egg – how on earth do you make pumpkin taste like egg? Would it taste like egg? Or would it just be a very savoury ball of pumpkin, which probably shouldn’t be sniffed at and might be a nicely novel edition to breakfast? Clearly I HAD to find out.

      Well, I have no idea how the cooks at Grigons & Orr did it, but the bright yellow orb of pumpkin sitting in the middle of my avocado half in place of the stone did, unaccountably, magically, taste like like creamy egg yolk. WIZARDRY! Really I shouldn’t be surprised that pumpkin can be induced into tasting like rich delicious anything, but as a child who stupidly eschewed anything pumpkin related I am still catching up with the full extent of this miracle. As to the other components of my plate, the rosti were crispy and provided a good starchy sponge to soak up all the excess sauce from the BBQ tofu, which was VERY saucy indeed and a welcome brunch plate edition, I’d love to see more places play around with tofu that aren’t specially veg*n places, it can be done guys, tofu isn’t scary. The spinach was properly buttery (or margariney in this case), and the tomato was, well, warm breakfast tomato. I am not that fussed with warm breakfast tomato, it was just there, getting the way of tofu and avocado egg. While I was initially worried that the moderate serving size wasn’t going to be enough to soothe my rapacious tum, it was actually the perfect amount to fill you but not stuff you.

      Jen went with the salmon version of the corn fritters, which was an impressive looking pile crowned with salmon and a fan of sliced avocado. They didn’t look to be too dense, and seemed to contain a decent array of vegetable matter.

      Grigons & Orr was well worth a repeat visit food-wise – the thought of the pumpkin egg still keeps coming back to me weeks later. The service is friendly but remains slightly idiosyncratic – as with my first visit if you want dairy and sugary accoutrements with your tea you have to get up and go source them yourself – but honestly it’s always reassuring when in this brunch fad mad town an establishment that’s been around for more than a year or two can still front up with a good spread.

      Grigons & Orr

      445 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne

      Ph: 0487 608 489



      Posted June 30, 2014 02:25 PM

      June 24, 2014

      In the Mood for Noodles

      Olive oil and butter

      Hi, remember me ? Just realised I can blog while feeding my son!

      Olive oil and butter is a Greek cafe/bakery. They have at least one sweet bakery item which sadly my coeliac disease stops me from trying and reporting on. They recently started offering all day breaky on the weekend which includes a vegan and gluten free option. Their polenta is creamy and porridge like but not lacking in flavor, served with slow cooked beans (gigantes) and avocado. They somehow manage to pull off both slivered almonds and crispy fried shallots together too. 

      Bonus points for having high chairs and interesting flashing lights which together with a friendly waitress helped entertain my 9 month old son.

      It's also been blogged about by Mel hot or not and Consider the sauce

      Olive Oil and Butter
      196 Sommerville rd
      Kingsville (tiny suburb near yarraville and seddon)

      Posted June 24, 2014 10:45 AM by K

      June 13, 2014

      Consuming Cate

      Selling my bike!

      2012 model of the Great women’s bike in good condition, this is the 2012 model of the Breezer Uptown 8

      The saddle has been replaced with something far more comfortable, the Electra Amsterdam Comfort seat and the cabling has been tidied up as on the original model, cabling would slip a lot. 

      It's a fantastic bike, especially if you are on the shorter side like me and find a lot of Amsterdam bikes simply too tall. 

      Pick up available Brunswick or I am happy to arrange a courier at your expense. Bought for $1000 selling for $600. Will throw in my shiny red retro helmet for free. Interested? Email me or give me a call on 0433584889

      Sizes: (17.5″), M (19.5″), L (21.5″), XL (23.5″) Low-Step: XS (15″), S (17″), M (19″), L (21″)
      Color(s): Black Satin/Mineral Brown, L.S.: Black Satin/Cobalt Blue
      Main frame: Breezer Custom Aluminum, Single Water Bottle Mount
      Rear triangle : Breezer Custom-Tapered Aluminum, Horiz-In Dropouts
      Fork: Breezer CrMo w/ CrMo steerer, V-Brake Mounts
      Crankset: Shimano Nexus FC-NX75, 38T
      Bottom bracket: VP-BC73C Cartridge Style
      Pedals : Wellgo CO21 Aluminum Body w/Kraton top and CrMo Spindle
      Front derailleur NA
      Rear derailleur NA
      Shifters: Shimano Nexus Revo, 8-speed
      Cassette: Shimano, 18T
      Chain: KMC Z-51
      Wheelset: Shimano Dynamo 3N20 6V-3W Front Hub, Shimano Nexus 8 Premium Rear Hub, Alex DH19 36H Rims
      Tires: WTB Freedom Cruz Elite w/Reflex, 26×1.5″
      Brake set: Tektro 857AL V-Brake
      Brake levers: Tektro CL530
      Headset: VP-H692W
      Handlebar: Breezer Aluminum, 26mm Rise
      Stem Breezer Aluminum, Quill Style
      Tape/grip: Breezer Open End Ergonomic Kraton rubber
      Saddle: Breezer Comfort Saddle
      Seat post: Breezer Suspension Aluminum 40mm Travel, 350×27.2mm
      Fenders: Polycarbonate w/Integrated Lighting Conductors
      Headlight: Busch & Muller Lumotec Fly LED w/Standlight Feature
      Taillight: Basta Riff Steady LED w/Standlight Feature
      Rear Carrier: Breezer Tubular Aluminum w/Spring Clip
      Other: Axa Solid Ring Lock, YWS Chime Bell w/Black Anodized Chime

      Posted June 13, 2014 03:52 PM by Cate Lawrence

      June 08, 2014

      Ballroom Blintz

      Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie with Mushroom Gravy

      Ordinarily I am the sort of cook where if I see a recipe with a hugely long ingredients list and a method that involves more than using maybe two pots, I go “tell him he’s dreaming” and then make ramen for dinner for the forty thousandth time. It’s not just laziness (although a decent percentage of it is laziness) – huge recipes are generally a signal that not only are you going to have to whip out some very clever kitchen skills in order to pull it off, but there’s generally also specialty ingredients lurking within that list that are going to be a bugger to source, are probably expensive and will then sit in your cupboard forever never to be useful for anything else and you’ll end up throwing them away four years past expiry in a fit of annoyed guilt. And of course, there is nothing worse than throwing all your soul and effort into a big complicated recipe, only for it all to explode in your face and end up tasting terrible.

      This Frankenstein’s monster of a shepherd’s pie recipe, which I cobbled together in order to use up a packet of tempeh, is however well worth its long ingredients list and slightly fiddly assemblage. I was inspired by Michael’s version of the Viva Vegan creamy corn-crusted tempeh pot pie and used that recipe as a jumping point, although I already knew that I’d be changing several elements – subbing out the corn crust for a more traditional mashed potato, replacing the potato with pumpkin, adding green beans and leaving out entirely the currants and olives (because HONESTLY), and using a mix of spices more easily found in my cupboard and garden. It also didn’t look saucy enough for my purposes, so I started googling around for a suitable vegetarian gravy to add, and came across this version of tempeh pie to further jump off. The mashed potato formula comes courtesy of my mother, as all the best things do.

      The only thing that I’ve amended in writing this recipe down is that in my original version I used half dried shiitake mushrooms and half a mix of other dried mushroom varieties, as that’s what I had in my cupboard. But as the shiitake was clearly the best part of the whole endeavour, and lent an awesome richness to the pie filling as a whole while the other mushrooms were merely taking up standing room, I must forcefully insist that you go Full Shiitake.


      Tempeh Filling

      • 1/2 medium sized pumpkin, deseeded, skin removed, and diced
      • 230g packet tempeh
      • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
      • 2 brown onions, finely sliced
      • handful green beans, top and tailed and cut into short rounds
      • 2 tsp cumin
      • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (substitute with dried if you don’t have fresh)
      • 2 tbsp red wine
      • 1 tbsp soy sauce
      • 1 1/2 cups water
      • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
      • olive oil

      Mushroom Gravy

      • 1 small packet whole dried shiitake mushrooms
      • 3 tbsp soy sauce
      • lots of ground black pepper
      • 1 cup mushroom water (this will be what’s left from re-hydrating your shiitake!)
      • 2 tbsp corn flour, dissolved in 1/2 cup water
      • olive oil

      Mashed Potato Topping

      • 4 floury potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
      • 50g butter
      • milk
      • ground black pepper and sea salt


      Grab your shiitake and set them to soak in a big bowl of boiling hot water. The longer the mushrooms have to soak the better, so always make sure this is your first step.

      Steam your tempeh and boil your taters! I have one of those stovetop steamer sets where you boil water in the saucepan then whack the steamer pot on top, so if you have one of those you can be a SUPER MULTITASKER and do both at the same time. WONDERS! (You can also just bung on a separate saucepan for the potatoes if you don’t have a stovetop steamer set.) The potatoes will take about 20 minutes to properly soften up, and you should make sure you boil them in water that has had a good generous shake of salt added. The tempeh will take 10 minutes or so, so lay a little round of baking paper on the bottom of the steamer before putting in the tempeh, and then place over the boiling potatoes with a lid on – make sure there is a few inches gap between the top of the boiling water and the steamer pot, otherwise you’ll end up with very soggy tempeh indeed. Once the tempeh is ready, take it out carefully – it will be hot – cut it into cubes and put aside.

      Since we’ve been multitasking wonders and boiled our potatoes, we may as well make the mash topping now. Drain the water from the pot, add the butter, and use a masher or the back of a fork to mash the potatoes. Add in a splash or two of milk to bring it to your preferred level of creaminess, add generous amounts of black pepper and sea salt, and mash it all up good. You can set aside the mash with a lid on it and it will keep warm while you make the filling and gravy.

      Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 200C.

      Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a big deep frying pan. Fry the onions and the carrots over medium heat for about 10 minutes – you want the onions to be completely soft. Add the tablespoons of wine, which will cook off nice and quickly, then add the cumin, thyme, pumpkin, beans, tempeh, soy sauce and water. Add the powered vegie stock, combine, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, with some occasional stirring, before taking off the heat and setting aside.

      Now to the gravy. Drain the mushrooms (but keep that mushroom water, we need it!), and cut the shiitake in half. Put them in a small frying pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil and start to saute away. Crack over a good generous amount of black pepper. Add in 1 cup of the leftover mushroom water and bring to a gentle boil. Slowly pour in the corn flour and water mixture, and let it all simmer, while stirring, until it thickens nicely (your kitchen will be smelling like THE MOST DELICIOUS THING IN THE WORLD at this point, by the way).

      Let us assemble the pie. Get the biggest, deepest casserole dish you can find. Layer first with the filling mixture, then with the gravy, and finish with the mashed potato. Put the casserole dish on a baking tray that has been lined with foil (just in case there is any spillover during the pie’s time in the oven) and bake for 45 minutes, or until the potato has nicely browned.

      photo (3)

      If you are vegan you can make this pie – just replace the milk and butter in the mashed potato with your preferred non-daily equivalent. If you are coeliac you can make this pie – just replace the soy sauce with tamari. If you are an omnivore who ordinarily goes “ugh tempeh”, get your childish arse in hand, stop being so fucking boring and make this goddamn pie. This is my greatest life achievement, creating this delicious monument to saucy starch, and if this is the only tangible thing that I leave to the world, well then my existence has been worthwhile. Make the goddamn pie.

      photo (4)

      Posted June 08, 2014 12:10 PM

      June 06, 2014

      blog | easy as (vegan) pie - australian vegan recipes and places to eat!

      yong green food - fitzroy

      Raw cheese platter: herbed garlic cashew cheese, nut bread, tamari olives, balasamic figs $20  Quinoa Fritters: Fried organic quinoa patties, mixed with vegies and spices served with coconut chilli sauce $12.50 Raspberry white chocolate cheesecake: cashew, raspberries, agave, cacao butter, macadamia nuts, coconut flakes $8 Long time no speak. Believe me it's not because I haven't

      Posted June 06, 2014 08:53 PM by Carla

      May 20, 2014

      Challenge Accepted!

      Week 7: Pumpkin Tomato Curry and Chandra Malai Kofta

      Pumpkin curry

      This was a surprisingly easy recipe from a random Penguin curry book I have, that I discovered when flipping through my cookbooks for something to do with the Pumpkin I had.

      Oh man, I wish I could transmit scent through this blog because it smelled amazing, with just the Pumpkin, vegan butter and Cumin seeds. Mmm.

      Quick, easy and delicious, this is going to be one of my new staples, along with the chickpea curry I love. The only ingredients in this really are Pumpkin, ghee, Cumin seeds, onion, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, turmeric and Chili. I also added amchoor powder because I had it and thought it might add to the flavour.

      I was craving the Pumpkin Lakhnawi from my favourite Indian takeaway place and this really hit the spot.

      Malai Kofta

      This was actually a lot easier than I'd thought, providing you remember to soak the nuts or as Isa says "always be soaking"! Which I am not, but luckily I did remember.

      I like that this is made mostly from ingredients I usually have on hand (except Panko Crumbs). :-)

      The kofta mixture came out a little too wet, so I added some more Panko Crumbs, but then it didn't hold together super well when frying (side note: I am always frying with Coconut oil from now on. Yum.), maybe because I tried to chop the Zucchini instead of shredding it finely due to not being able to locate my grater. Oh well.

      The sauce was super thick and creamy and amazing. If anything, maybe slightly too rich, but so worth the time put in. It would be equally as good just poured over some steamed veggies. Definitely making again!

      Time for food porn photos:

      Posted May 20, 2014 07:31 PM by Kate

      May 18, 2014

      Challenge Accepted!

      Week 6: Black Rice and Cashews

      This week's dish is from Robin Aisbell's Big Vegan. (I have a beloved sweet potato gnocchi recipe from this book that I make regularly, it is divine.)

      Big Vegan

      It's been a long week, so I decided to go for something a little easier - black rice with cashews. I also added in some other veggies (zucchini, red Bell peppers and mushrooms) for some colour, but the rice kind of overcame all their colour and in the end the whole thing was black. Oh well!

      In the end it turned out a little too salty for me, what with the Miso as well as the vegetable stock. I probably wouldn't make this again, but I would like to try black rice in more dishes. :-) 

      Posted May 18, 2014 05:34 PM by Kate

      May 16, 2014

      Tempeh Tantrum

      Porch and Parlour

      As I mentioned last week, I’ve relocated to ol’ Sydney town. I’ll be here for a few months before heading overseas for a wee bit. Who knows where this wild roller-coaster we boringly call ‘life’ will take me after that? For now I plan to uphold my promise to you, dearest reader, and drag (really, it’s a tough gig) my butt along to some of the finest vegan-friendly food dispensaries this fair city (gosh she’s a beauty, ain’t she?) has to offer. A heads up on Sydney’s most lip-smacking cafes offering cruelty-free grub for Melbourne readers who are visiting or for those of you lovely followers who call this place home.

      It only takes a little Instagram thumb scrolling to realise that there’s a real hub of conscious eating happening in the Bondi area. A couple of weekends ago the folks and I headed for the beach for some brunch-hunting and Bondi Farmers Market shopping. We found a cozy little offering of divine smelling coffee and breakfasty delights hugging a North Bondi street corner across the road from the ocean. It’s certainly an intimate atmosphere at Porch and Parlour so you may need to wait for a seat but I promise you it’s worth it.

      This little beauty serves up locally sourced, seasonal produce accompanied by delicious cups of rich and smooth Will & Co. coffee. I practically excited-squealed my order at the friendly beard and man-pony adorned waiter. This was my first vegan brunch since coming back to Sydney and I had high expectations. They were met. I enthusiastically devoured my scrambled tofu with semi dried tomato, basil, spinach, red onion, kalamata olives, plump and juicy cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic cloves, hummus and lemon.

      t-scram bondi

      Yes, it was a big gorgeous mess. I loved that there was enough guts to this t-scram (yes, I coined this a few posts back and I’m sticking with it — don’t snort) that it didn’t need any bread. Perfect for those avoiding the dreaded gluten. This is made even more delicious with a generous glug of Handsome Devils Co. hot sauce (the De Arbol doesn’t have honey in it, the Chipotle does). With a ‘best of’ Creedance Clearwater Revival adding extra warmth to the atmosphere and a ripper cup of coffee on offer, the folks and I decided P&P’s the perfect spot to kickstart the weekend. We’ll be back.

      Vegan options: The t-scram and there were a couple of sweet options too.
      Coffee: Noice. Locally roasted Will & Co.
      Soy: Bonsoy
      Moola: $21.50 for breakfast and a coffee. Not bad.
      Ear candy: Creedance Clearwater Revival.

      Have you got a favourite vegan-friendly spot in Bondi?


      Posted May 16, 2014 04:21 PM

      May 07, 2014

      Tempeh Tantrum

      How to build a bad ass smoothie armoury

      Apologies for the lack of posts lately, I’ve taken some time off blogging due to a sudden and unexpected move to Sydney. But I’m back! I missed ya, I did. You look ravishing today. You do!

      As promised, here is your guide (finally) to building a bad ass smoothie armoury. Once you have gathered these ingredients you’ll be shooting from the hip come smoothie o’clock. You don’t need to go out and buy them all at once — take your time collecting them. As I said in the previous post, the superfood powders seem expensive at first but you only use a teaspoon or a tablespoon at a time so they will last you a long time.

      I cleared a shelf in my pantry for all of my smoothie bits and pieces. Once you get rolling, you’ll be knocking back at least one smoothie a day so it is worth making the space. Smoothies are perfect for breakfast, post-workout, lunch, dessert, and with a few magic ingredients — matcha, maca or cacao — they can even, GASP, replace your morning coffee. So make some space, start collecting your gear, and get slurping!

      Frozen bananas: I buy a bunch of bananas every week with my grocery shopping, it’s the easiest way to make sure you always have bananas ready to freeze. When they start to spot, peel them, pop them in sandwich bags and into the freezer. Bananas are high in potassium, vitamins C and B-6, manganese and fibre AND they are my NUMBER ONE smoothie ingredient. They have the perfect sweetness and give your smoothies a lovely creamy consistency.

      Fresh, seasonal, organic or farmer’s market produce: I think it’s important to buy organic, for your health, the environment and for flavour. Make the effort to buy fresh, seasonal produce — look up where your closest farmer’s market is — and you will be rewarded with flavour and more nutrient-dense smoothies.

      Dates:  Medjool dates are absolutely delicious. They are the perfect caramel-like sweetener for your smoothies. And they happen to be packed with minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. Sweet deal.

      Açaí puree pouches: You will need these powerful little purple pouches for  açaí bowl breakies. Heaven in a bowl. This Brazilian tropical fruit is not only delicious, it will also dose you with amino acids, antioxidants and omega fatty acids — a beautifying combination that slows the ageing process and boosts the immune system.

      Frozen berries: It’s always handy to keep some frozen berries in the house. They are a brilliant açaí bowl ingredient, are high in vitamin C and bursting with other antioxidants too!

      There are many new superfoods hitting the market every week, and many new brands. Not all of them are created equal so I have added my favourite brands below to help you suss out the good stuff.
      Cacao powder
      This Mayan superfood is one of my all-time favourite smoothie boosters. Not only does a spoonful of this stuff make your smoothie exquisitely chocolatey it will also ensure your liquid breakie gets a dose of antioxidants, protein, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Cacao also boosts serotonin levels which is our natural anti-depressant — among other therapeutic  benefits.
      My favourite cacao powder is the Ecuadorian Gold by Power Superfoods.

      Maca Powder
      Maca is a Peruvian root and is jam-packed with nutrients. It is high in vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins. It also provides plenty of calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. Maca is said to promote sexual function in men and women. PLUS it is said to relieve issues relating to women’s menopause and menstrual cycle. Not to mention it is known to increase energy levels and stamina! It really is top stuff.
      My favourite maca powder is by Power Superfoods.

      Mesquite powder
      This powder is ground from the pods of the mesquite plant and has a sweet, nutty and caramel-like flavour — especially delicious when paired with cacao. It is a high-protein wholefood that is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and the amino acid lysine (great for bone health, cholesterol management, pain relief, anxiety and stress reduction). It also helps to control blood sugar levels so it’s a great superfood for diabetics.
      My favourite mesquite powder is by Loving Earth.

      Lacuma powder
      Lacuma is a subtropical fruit native to Peru, Chilli and Ecuador. It is gluten-free and a great source of antioxidants. It is a natural sweetener that won’t raise your blood-sugar levels. It adds a lovely almost maple-like flavour to your smoothies while delivering fibre, vitamins and minerals.
      My favourite lacuma powder is by Loving Earth.

      Psyllium husk powder
      This powder is derived from the gluten-free psyllium seed. It is a rich source of soluble dietary fibre. It helps to cleanse the bowel, lower cholesterol levels and has been used to help regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics. It will bulk out your smoothie without adding any flavour.
      My favourite psyllium husk powder is by Planet Organic.

      Plant-based protein powder
      There are many plant-based protein powders on the market. Some, especially the raw varieties, are more nutrient dense than others. The problem I have with many of them is their chalky consistency. If the powder is too chalky, it ruins the smoothie and they are less likely to become a daily habit. So I stick with the least chalky one I’ve found.
      My favourite is Vital Protein’s natural pea protein isolate. 

      Matcha powder
      Matcha is a Japanese green tea leaf powder. It is a nutrient-rich wholefood that gives you an extra zing in the mornings, increases metabolism, fortifies your immune system, improves cholesterol, enhances your mood and even boosts memory and concentration! Plus its high chlorophyll content (giving it that wickedly green hue) makes it a powerful detoxifier for the body.
      My favourite matcha powder is Absolute Green’s certified organic green tea powder.

      There are too many to list. This post would become a blogologue of epic proportions. Experiment. Have fun exploring. At the top of my list are: coconut oil (my fave is Nuigini Organics), chia seeds (my fave are Power Superfoods), activated buckwheat kernels (my fave are Loving Earth, especially their heavenly caramalised buckinis) and cinnamon. But I will try to talk a little more about ‘awesome extras’ in later posts.

      For now, start stocking your smoothie armoury with these wonderful ingredients and get blitzing! Here is another of my favourite smoothie recipes to get you started. Happy slurping.

      This smoothie is oh so pretty in pink. I call it…

      The Molly Ringwald
      Serves 1
      1 heaped cup frozen raspberries
      1/2 red dragon fruit
      1/2 medium beet
      1 cup coconut milk
      1 tbsp coconut oil
      1 tbsp chia seeds
      Blend it like Beckham. Top with coconut and dragon fruit. Slurp.



      Posted May 07, 2014 05:26 PM

      May 01, 2014

      Sour Cherry

      Vegan Baking Guide

      Noticed this vegan baking guide on One Green Planet. It will definitely come in handy for veganising some old favourite baked goods!

      On another note, I've sorely negelected this blog for some time now! I have a bit more time on my hands this year, so look forward to posting more recipes and photos soon.

      Posted May 01, 2014 01:13 PM by Scarlet

      April 28, 2014

      Around the World Vegan


      On the weekend I decided to treat my partner to a fancy, frenchy meal at home for being such a fabbo guy.

      I went to town on it, and made 5 courses of yum, including:

      1. Brioche and walnut pate
      2. Autumn harvest soup
      3. Jerusalem artichoke puree with sauteed mushrooms
      4. Nut loaf, Brussels sprouts and blueberry, pomegranate and ginger sauce
      5. Caramel apples and roast hazelnut and cocoa nib chocolate bark

      It was very tasty, and also too much food. We only got half way through, then saved the rest for lunch on Sunday.

      I didn’t get photos of everything, and not all the recipes will be posted here. You’ll need to head to my other blog, Not Your Nan’s Vegie Patch, for the recipes for the soup and the puree/mushroom thing which I’ll post soonish – they both included mostly ingredients I grew myself.

      I did make sure to get a shot of the brioche though, so I could illustrate the recipe to share with you.

      Golden vegan brioche!

      Golden vegan brioche!

      I have to confess I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten brioche before, but this isn’t an entirely faithful version anyway, given my impatience and the need to replace the eggs and the butter.

      I used these two recipes as a base, then veganised using xanthum gum, Vegg (the main ingredient is stinky black salt), Nuttelex and Melrose Omega Care spread.

      Against the odds, my vegan brioche turned out gorgeous and yellow and soft and melty. It didn’t have much in the way of it’s own flavour, as I was trying to keep it neutral to go with both the savoury walnut pate and the sweet blackberry jam. If I make it again I’ll add either salt or sugar to match it’s purpose.

      I have yet to manage the egg-wash effect of a shiny surface on any baked good – if you have a trick, let me know!

      Brioche, apricots, pate and jam

      Brioche, apricots, pate and jam


      Vegan Brioche

      Makes 12 little brioches in a muffin tray

      1/2 cup soy milk
      2 teaspoons active dry yeast
      3 1/2 cups plain flour
      1 tsp Vegg (or a mix of black salt, nutritional yeast and cornflour)
      2 tsp xanthan gum

      3/4 cup water

      8 tablespoons vegan margarine (I used half Nuttelex, and half Melrose Omega Blend)
      1/4 cup sugar
      1. Warm the milk to lukewarm in a pot or the microwave.
      2. Add the yeast and 1/2 a cup of flour and whisk together. Sit, covered, in a warm place until the mixture doubles (mine only took about 5 minutes).
      3. In a blender, pulse the Vegg, water and xanthum gum until smooth and thick.
      4. In a large bowl, mix the margarine, sugar, yeast mixture and egg replacement until smooth. 2 1/2 cupfs of plain flour and mix to form a sticky dough.
      5. Using the left over flour, knead with your hands, or if yours is too sticky (like mine was) with a bendy spatula until the dough starts to get a little more elastic (only about 5 minutes, don’t overdo it).
      6. Grease a 12-muffin pan.
      7. Divide the mixture into 12 parts and let rise in the muffin pan, covered with a tea towel. I put little balls of dough on top of each brioche, to simulate the properly french-ish look, but you don’t have to do this.
      8. After allowing to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place (my dough grew by about one third in this time), bake at 170 degrees celsius until golden brown on top. Mine took about 2 minutes, your oven will vary.
      9. Et voila! Enjoy warm, with delicious spreads of your choosing.


      NB: Please ignore my poor punctuation/grammar/layout/etc. I’m not really putting much effort into this blog at the moment, I just thought vegan brioche was a little too great not the share.

      Posted April 28, 2014 10:34 PM

      April 18, 2014

      April 09, 2014

      blog | easy as (vegan) pie - australian vegan recipes and places to eat!

      yearly melbourne roundup - music

      I just saw this sitting in my drafts. I also wanted to do a yearly gig/music roundup (most of this info is for me to record through the blog). I don't want to rank and file so will just present these gigs are all being awesome (except the Presets - that was a total bummer). St Vincent and David Byrne (dream come true seeing David Byrne live) The Drones Einsturzende Neubauten (Blixa - another

      Posted April 09, 2014 09:35 AM by Carla

      March 18, 2014

      Appetite Affliction

      Cheap and Easy Black Bean Veggie Burgers

      This may have been my breakfast this morning… I served it with guacamole, home grown stripy beets, grilled asparagus and some of my tangy macadamia ricotta.

      Scott Marquart from One Week Without is guest posting here today. I was pretty stoked when Scott emailed me, because I love the concept of his blog – every week he goes without something and posts updates about how it’s going and what he’s learning from the experience – something that, contrary to a lot of blogs, is more self aware than self indulgent. It’s an admirable thing to dedicate yourself to and I was even more impressed when I saw that he’d been a week without television. He approached me because he was planning a week without meat and wanted to share part of it with Appetite Affliction’s readers – so here it is!

      Until just over a month ago, my life was stale, conventional, and stagnant. Finally, I got fed up and decided to challenge myself to give up one aspect of my routine in order to learn, grow, and keep questioning and improving my habits.

      This past week, I decided to go without meat (up until this point, I had been something of a die-hard carnivore) and instead indulge in vegetarian dishes which I had lived my whole life without trying. In the end, I discovered that I could live happier and healthier without having meat as a significant part of my diet.

      Still, diving headlong into a vegetarian diet took some adjusting to. At the beginning, the easiest way for me to get my fix of my old diet, without indulging in meat, was through black bean burgers. In fact, I made these several times during the past week and perfected my own spin on the classic bean burger that’s cheap, easy, healthy, and most importantly, tasty.


      Serves 4

      2 Cups Cooked/Canned Black Beans, rinsed
      1/3 Cup Instant/Quick Oats
      1/4 Green Pepper, minced
      1/4 Yellow or Sweet Onion, minced
      2 TBSP Ketchup
      2 TBSP Mustard
      1 TBSP Garlic Powder
      1 TBSP Onion Powder

      • Preheat oven to 200C.
      • Mash the beans in a large bowl until they reach a smooth consistency.
      • Stir in Ketchup, Mustard, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder.
      • Fold in Oats, Green Pepper, and Onion until mixed evenly.
      • Form into 2 cm thick patties (roughly 10cm in diameter) and place on greased baking sheet.
      • Bake for 10 mins.
      • Take out and turn over patties gently (bean burgers are very fragile).
      • Cook for an additional 8-10 mins, or until crispy on outside.
      • Optionally, sear each side for one minute in a skillet over medium heat with olive oil.
      • Add toppings to taste (I like spinach and mustard on 12 grain bread) and enjoy!

      About the Author:
      Scott Marquart is a writer and the founder of One Week Without. You can follow his adventures at oneweekwithout.com and on Twitter @scottmarquart. He also has a Facebook page.


      Click to read the blog posts Scott wrote about his experience (1, 2 & 3). If you’re vegan you may feel uncomfortable reading some of it, but please don’t judge – I have nothing but encouragement and support for anyone who tries to better themselves and this world, regardless of the perceived significance.

      Thank you, Scott, for sharing your experience and a tasty veggie burger recipe! I tried it out myself and the only thing I’d do differently next time would be lightly sautéing the onion & capsicum before adding it to the burger mix to help it stick together – and maybe a bit of salt. These were otherwise a winner and I can’t wait for Mr. AA to try them out.

      *Photos taken by Nat/Appetite Affliction.

      Posted March 18, 2014 10:00 AM

      March 15, 2014

      Appetite Affliction

      Another Veg Garden Update!

      Overall Garden

      Are you a little shocked..? I am. Seriously, just… WHAT HAPPENED? 0_0

      Our humble little veggie garden has had some considerable growth lately. We’ve even been harvesting more than just lettuce which is lovely!



      No matter how many I pick or how many the mice (I suspect) eat, this chili bush continues to grow and is constantly bearing new fruit. Win!

      Tomato 2

      Some teeny weeny tomatoes are starting to grow, but my late planting means they’re prone to frost so we’re going to have to try to make some kind of improvised/temporary hot house for them this weekend. The plants are nearly taller than me!


      I’ve had a steady supply of kale from the garden and have been sharing it with some local vegans! 3


      It feels like the celery is taking forever to grow! It’s by far the slowest thing in the garden. It probably hasn’t helped that I’ve been picking leaves off it for our rabbits (Winston & Miso) every few days. I might be stunting its growth…

      Rocket Seed

      The rocket & cos lettuce are going to seed now. After I’ve collected seeds this week I’m thinking of removing them from the garden and trying for a second round of broccoli (this time with Mr. AA’s special mesh box over it for protection!).

      Cucumber Escape

      I totally underestimated how much space the cucumbers would need. They’re climbing and creeping EVERYWHERE, despite my attempts to tame them. We’ve harvested 5 cucumbers which were SO beautiful and crispy, but it’s a lot of plant for very little food. Mr. AA & I are considering removing them and starting up a dedicated cucumber and/or pumpkin patch. All in good time…

      Golden Beet
      Golden Beet.

      This baby is about ready for picking and there’s a few more that are also close. Looking forward to eating my first ever golden beet in the near future!


      There’s quite a few jalapenos growing. I’m quietly hoping the garden gets bombarded with them because I really want to pickle them and give them away to friends who are fans of them.

      Red & White Stripy Beet
      Red & White Stripy Beet

      I think this bugger is ready to be picked, but I’m leaving him there for a few more days, until I decide on what to do with him. Raw beet ravioli? Something else? Ideas anyone??

      Capsicum Bell Pepper
      Capsicum / Bell Pepper.

      I eat A LOT of capsicum and they cost a fortune to buy organic, so I really hope these mature & survive. There’s only one cluster of them so far, but there’s several capsicum/bell pepper plants that have potential.

      Potato Tyres

      These bad boys were rogue plants that grew from my not-quite-finished compost. To keep them growing and producing more potatoes, you need to keep building up the soil around them. Friends of ours (Adam & Airlie!) suggested using tyres for this and stacking an extra one on top each time soil needs to be added. So far, the plants are looking pretty healthy and they’re 2 tyres tall. I hope I have a crapload of potatoes to eat when we finally knock it down. Potatoes are awesome.

      So there you have it – one hefty garden update. I’ll keep y’all posted as more happens!

      Posted March 15, 2014 09:53 PM

      March 04, 2014

      Vegetarian Life Australia

      Zucchini and pumpkin slice

      Zucchini and pumpkin slice

      Zucchini and pumpkin slice

      I’ve been messing around with frittata recipes for a while now and just can’t seem to get it right. Whether I cook it on the stove top and transfer to the grill or oven to finish off, or cook it completely in the oven, my frittata inevitably comes out too soggy. Maybe I am overloading it with veggies that add too much moisture or not getting the ingredient ratios quite right. I’m not sure but something is going wrong.

      Despite recent disasters my desire for a tasty vegetable and egg based meal that is easy to throw together and have with a salad for lunch or dinner has not waned. So I decided to change the recipe slightly and cook more of a vegetable slice. And hey ho, it worked a treat.

      This recipe can be varied with different vegetables and the addition of fetta or sun dried tomatoes for a bit more tang. It is also delicious cold the following day. Perfect for school lunch boxes or a picnic.


      • 5 eggs (free range)
      • 1 cup self raising flour
      • 1 cup grated cheese
      • 1 chopped onion
      • 375g grated zucchini
      • 200g grated pumpkin
      • ¼ cup refined coconut oil


      • Preheat the oven to 180′c.
      • Beat the eggs in a large bowl.
      • Sift the flour in to the bowl and stir through the eggs gently.
      • Add the remaining ingredients and mix through.
      • Pour the mixture into a glass baking dish (approx 25cm x 25cm) and flatten down.
      • Bake for around 40 mins until the slice is set and lightly browned on the top.
      • Let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

      Posted March 04, 2014 10:36 AM

      February 26, 2014


      What’s red and terrified Europe for centuries?

      fresh tomatoWell, ‘terrified’ is perhaps a little bit of an exaggeration, but for many years after the Spanish conquistador Cortes bought seeds back from Mexico, tomatoes were only grown as a curiosity. People were warned that they were an unhealthy fruit and some even considered them poisonous due to their bright red colour.

      The Aztecs, on the other hand, thought the tomato so special that they offered it to their gods of healing. And nowadays, cancherry tomato you imagine a world without tomatoes? No splash of red to colour our salads, no piquant sauce to caress our pasta and no spicy hangover cure nor canned kitchen staple to save many an ‘I don’t know what to cook’ night.

      Varieties of tomatoes
      There are literally thousands of varieties of tomatoes, ranging from yellow through red to blackish. Spain and Italy would be lost without them and see if you can name a cuisine that doesn’t feature the tomato in some way or another.

      feature2Hydroponic tomatoes
      The majority of tomatoes sold in supermarkets and greengrocers are hydroponically grown, and while they look good they often don’t have as much flavour as those grown in soils – nor according to some studies as much vitamin C or other nutrients. 

      If you can, buy tomatoes from a farmers’ market or grow some yourself. Don’t be put off by their nobly bits – you’ve not tasted a tomato until you’ve eaten one grown in soil and virtually off the vine.

      Health benefits of tomatoes
      Fresh tomatoes are also wonderful because they contain the nutrient lycopene, which is the current buzz in the nutrition world due to its potent anti-cancer properties. Tomatoes are also alkaline and stimulate the liver to filter the body of toxic wastes – yay! In their cooked or canned state some of a tomato’s nutritional value is destroyed – but since they taste so good, I think the enjoyment of them increases whatever nutrients are left ten-fold.

      baked couscous

      Baked couscous with roasted tomatoes and spinach pesto

      This is a really simple, quick and light summer meal. My mum cooked this for me many years ago, so unfortunately I have no idea of the recipe’s origin. Roasted tomatoes are a whole other ballgame – roasting creates a sweet and more complex flavour. If you have time, slow roast them for a few hours as the flavour will intensify even more.

      bakeroasted tomatoes
      400g cherry tomatoes (or 10 roma tomatoes)
      olive oil
      2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
      sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
      300g (1½ cup) couscous
      300ml (1½ cup) vegetable stockspinach pesto

      spinach pesto*
      60g baby spinach leaves
      ⅓ cup toasted cashew nuts, chopped (or pinenuts)
      ½ cup olive oil
      2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
      sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to tastesprinkle the couscous

      • Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
      • Cut the tomatoes in half and put in a baking tray. Brush with olive oil, then sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft.
      • Finely chop the spinach and put all the pesto ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.adding the stock
      • When the tomatoes are ready, pour the couscous evenly over the tomatoes, then add the stock, making sure all the couscous is wet.
      • Cover with aluminium foil and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.
      • Serve topped with the pesto.

      * if you eat dairy, you can add ⅓ cup of parmesan to the pesto

      baked couscous cu

      Posted February 26, 2014 06:52 AM

      February 05, 2014

      Vegetarian Life Australia

      Banana and spelt muffins

      Banana and spelt muffins

      Scouring the internet for healthy ways to use up a couple of browning bananas I stumbled across a number of interesting spelt muffin recipes. I decided to take the best of a few to create my own yummy variation.

      These muffins make a really tasty lunchbox snack but are definitely at their best warm straight from the oven.

      They are low in fat, high in protein and B vitamins, and have a good dose of omega 3 essential fatty acids – nutritious and delicious!



      Ingredients for approximately 10 muffins

      • 2 large ripe bananas
      • 2 cups spelt flour
      • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (can be replaced with oat flour)
      • 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
      • 3/4 cup light milk or soy milk
      • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
      • 1 tsp cinnamon
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • 1 tsp baking soda
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • Sprinkle of raw oats


      1. Preheat the oven to 150 ‘c and line a muffin tray with paper cases or lightly oil to prevent sticking.
      2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
      3. In a separate bowl mash the banana and mix through the milk and yogurt.
      4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet bowl and stir through until combined.
      5. 3/4 fill the muffin cases and sprinkle the top with a few raw oats.
      6. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Check that the centre is cooked with a skewer.
      7. Let cool for a few minutes before enjoying :)

      Posted February 05, 2014 08:44 AM

      February 02, 2014

      Ramblings » vegan food

      The accurately named “best tofu dish ever”: Mapo Tofu

      I have been having a craving for Mapo Tofu for a few days now and I finally could be bothered attempting to make it for the first time. It’s odd that for a dish I really do quite like, this was my very first time attempting to make it.

      Well… I was googling around and found this recipe: http://www.kitchenriffs.com/2011/03/best-darn-tofu-dish-ever-mapo-tofu.html. I didn’t have fermented black beans, so I left that out. I used the broth from the dried shiitake mushrooms (with a tiny bit of Massel stock added) and did take the option of adding pepper (chilli) flakes.

      It was absolutely delicious and really quite simple to make.

      The simmering of the tofu (I just used the Woolworths Macro Classic Tofu that you can pick up at any Woolworths store… because I’m often just plain lazy when it comes to acquiring tofu) was something I haven’t done before. It turns out that makes the outside of it more likely to keep its shape, which it rather did. Neat trick!

      Did I mention this was delicious? I wish there was more!

      Posted February 02, 2014 10:08 PM

      January 29, 2014


      Turkish-style eggs: menemen

      menemenCats laze on empty chairs, stylish 50s furniture populates the spacious room and plants faintly swing to the chilled jazz music that floats through the air. This is one cool-cat cafe.

      Just two blocks away, police fire water-canons into a peaceful but determined crowd; for now they are giving tear gas a rest. One block away police are lolling on the footpath with their riot gear at their sides, waiting to be called back in. If I hadn’t have just walked past it, I wouldn’t have believed that chaos hummed mere metres away.

      Iistanbul catt’s June 2013 and I’m in Istanbul. In the bohemian and delightful Beyoglu area to be specific, which is filled with antique stores, galleries, stylish cafes and currently an array of people who are moving in and out of the protests in Taksim Square above. The bristling excitement of the square is lessened here, but you can feel something momentous is happening, something that is being portrayed by the government as terrorism, but from what I can see is a people unifying in peace to say, ‘we’ve had enough’.

      Istanbul menemen

      My first viewing of menemen

      Why is this relevant? Because looks can be deceiving. I am in a place that’s being judged as violent and dangerous to outsiders, but I know it isn’t. I am about to order a meal and judge it to be disgusting and it’s not. (Something many people fall victim to when they travel.)

      Back to the cafe. It’s gorgeous – and gives Melbourne a run for its money for its unassuming coolness. I’m writing in my journal and my friend Bea is drawing her spectacular drawings. I order what I think is baked eggs and I’m a little surprised by what arrives. Actually, my first thought was: have the cats I see in every corner just regurgitated on the plate? Oh yes, I’m all class.

      But I’m hungry, so I close my eyes and have a taste.


      raw ingredients


      I’ve been waiting until tomatoes came into season to make this recipe. They’ve been late this year due to Melbourne’s erratic weather, but they are very much worth the wait.cook the onion

      I’m not sure if this recipe could be made vegan – silken tofu may work but more seasoning would be needed: paprika, chilli flakes, up the oregano. Without the eggs it would make a simple but tasty addition to baked or roasted potatoes, a light pasta sauce or a topping for bruschetta (with the tomatoes just heated rather than cooked for long).

      100ml olive oiladd the capsicum
      ½ small onion
      2 green capsicums (peppers)
      2 large, ripe tomatoes
      4 eggs
      sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to tastecook 'til soft
      1 tsp dried oregano

      • Beat the eggs with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
      • Heat the oil in a fry pan and add the onions and oregano, cooking for two minutes.
      • Add the capsicum and cook for five minutes, making sure they don’t brown.
      • Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and cook until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has mostly evaporated.stir in the eggs
      • Add the eggs and quickly stir through, making sure you keep the eggs moving so they don’t cook solid.
      • You can either stir them a few times and remove (the eggs will be quite soft) or cook for a minute or two, stirring continuously until you are happy with the texture.
      • Serve with crusty bread and don’t be put off by how it looks!





      Posted January 29, 2014 07:01 AM

      January 27, 2014

      Vegan travelling adventures

      Melaka Malacca Malaysia

      After hightailing it out of the meat filled concrete jungle of Ipoh two days earlier than planned due to the distinct lack of edible food ( must be the only town in Malaysia where finding bananas is a chore) I jumped on a bus and headed straight for the very touristy former Dutch colonial town of Melaka.

      Some of the sights in Melaka

      Some of the sights in Melaka

      FO KWANG

      I arrived at my hostel hungry, tired and more than ready to sample some of the vegan food that this town had to offer. Upon check in I was directed to this restaurant by the friendly man who owned the guesthouse I was staying in. It was about a 10 minute walk from the tourist hub of Jonker st and is located right in the heart of the old Chinese quarter near to Bukit Cina (old Chines grave yard).

      While it may not be the most amazing vegan food I have ever had at RM2 (70 cents) for a large plate (or should I say a basket lined with grease proof paper) for rice and 3 choices of veg it’s definitely got to be one of the cheapest.

      Cheapest lunch ever

      Cheapest lunch ever

      I was quite surprised just how much food was shovelled into my basket, it’s amazing they can actually stay in business for that price. Little English was spoken by the guy behind the counter but everything is vegan anyway. All the food was quite fresh considering it was well past lunchtime and not quite dinner time yet (I ate here at 4.30pm). Well worth a visit!

      117 Jalan Temanggong


      A fellow vegetarian staying at the same place as me suggested this vegetarian friendly restaurant conveniently located right in the middle of Jonker st so figured it was worth checking out.

      I ordered the Straights of Malacca salad which had an assortment of grated veggies and rice cubes with fried tempeh and tofu and a spicy curry dip. At RM9.90 I was expecting a reasonable sized plate of food so was quite disappointed to see  that it was merely more than a few mouthfuls. It was quite tasty though.


      83 Jalan Hang Jebat


      I had read good things about this restaurant on other vegan blogs so was looking forward to trying it for myself. I ordered the fresh veggie rolls, fried curry tempeh and the veggie raman noodle soup.



      I enjoyed the tempeh, it was coated with curry powder and sprinkled with roasted curry leaves and it had a nice crunchy texture. The veggie rolls were alright, although as much as I like spicy food I wasn’t a fan of the very large chunks of raw red chilli throughout, especially since it came with a spicy dipping sauce.

      The raman noodles were even more disappointing, or should I say disgusting. They had no flavour at all aside from the overpowering taste of salt and there were large chunks of some revolting tasting and overly chewy brown thing in it. Not sure if it was mushroom or some kind of fake dead thing but it was rank. So despite being quite hungry I left the bowl mostly full and forked out the rather hefty RM22 for my meal which did not include a drink because all the drinks were so outrageously expensive (RM10 for fresh juice when they cost max of RM4 everywhere else).

      41 Jalan Melaka Raya


      Another of the places suggested by the guesthouse owner, this cheap and relatively cheerful Chinese buffet restaurant is 100% vegetarian but some dishes did have egg. I piled up my plate with as much fried tofu and vegetable curry as could possibly fit and it still only cost RM7 ($2.50). They had quite a nice tofu dish that had big cubes of crispy fried tofu in a thin soy and chilli sauce as well as the usual Malaysian type curries and some stir fried greens.

      6B Jalan Laksamana 12


      I discovered this 100% vegetarian and organic restaurant whilst cycling past after my disappointing meal at Veggie Planet and after a quick stop to check out the menu decided it was worth a visit so headed back a day or two later for dinner.

      I had a fresh watermelon juice, a red bean steamed bun and the vegetable curry pot which also came with a number of side dishes including a cucumber and bean salad, clear thin soup, a tofu and herb pickle type thing, a bowl of brown rice and also a slice of watermelon.

      Yummy dinner at Simple Life

      Yummy dinner at Simple Life

      This was easily the best meal that I had in my few days in Melaka, the vegetable curry pot being a particular standout. Although quite similar to a traditional Malaysian laksa minus the noodles, it differed in that, rather than having a coconut milk base it was made with cashew nut milk instead which gave it quite an interesting and unique flavour.

      The other side dishes provided the perfect contrast to the curry which was very spicy and as much as I enjoy strong curries it did leave me with burning lips and a sweaty brow.

      The only thing I didn’t like about this restaurant were some of the staff. Despite being quite polite and friendly, they seemed completely shocked that I (a western tourist) would knowingly order a rather spicy curry and then also decide to use chopsticks rather than a fork to it with. One particular staff member at Simple Life literally sat there at a table on the other side of the restaurant almost the entire time I was eating staring at me and making comments in Malay to the other staff as I ate my spicy curry with chopsticks which made me feel quite uncomfortable and a little irritated. Thankfully some more customers came in and otherwise kept her busy. I would still go back and eat there again though as the food was worth it and it was quite good value for money at RM21 for everything.

      150 Jalan Merdeka Taman Melaka Raya

      Posted January 27, 2014 02:47 PM

      Around the World Vegan

      Vegan Savoury Shapes

      Today I’m supposed to be packing and cleaning, so naturally I procrastibaked instead.

      I was trying to come up with some interesting snacks for the big road trip, and decided to try my hand at some savoury biscuits. I’ve been making a lot of Italian christmas biscuits lately (little twists and rings flavoured with fennel and pepper), so I thought I’d meddle with the recipe to turn them into vegan knock-off Savoury Shapes.

      The result was good enough for me to want to bring the blog out of retirement (temporarily) to tell you about them.

      The recipe is as follows, but please be aware that I’m not the most diligent measurer at the best of times, and today is not the best of times. They could be a little saltier in my opinion, but the amount in the recipe below should suffice for those who aren’t salt-fiends.

      A pile of vegan savoury shapes.

      A pile of vegan savoury shapes.

      Vegan savoury shapes

      Makes about 30.

      • 1/2 tsp flaky salt
      • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs (I used basil, sage and oregano)
      • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
      • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • 2 tbs sesame seeds
      • 3 tbs olive oil
      • 1 1/4 cup plain flour, plus more for dusting and rolling
      • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of water (a little at a time, I’m not sure how much)
      1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
      2. In a large bowl mix together the salt, herbs, nutritional yeast, baking powder, sesame seeds and olive oil until well mixed.
      3. Add the flour and rub with your fingers until it resembles crumbs.
      4. Add the water a little at a time and mix until a soft, but not sticky, dough forms. Don’t over knead or you’ll make chewy gluten strands.
      5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, until it is about 3mm thick.
      6. Cut the dough into shapes, using cutters or a knife, and prick the shapes with a fork.
      7. Bake the shapes on a tray for 10 minutes? (this bit is sketchy – watch them and take them out after the bottom is getting  little brown, but before they burn).
      8. Cool on a wire rack and either eat immediately or store in an air-tight container.

      Posted January 27, 2014 01:30 PM

      January 26, 2014

      Vegan travelling adventures

      Cambodia- Battambang, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh


      I had to wake up at 5am in order to get the first train to get to the bus terminal in time for 7am bus to the Cambodian border. I arrived 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time to find the bus was almost full already. I scrambled on board and squeezed into my assigned seat (literally, the seats were tiny). Despite being only 5’3″ I found myself almost unable to move my legs due to the near non existent leg room. The sun may have only just risen but I knew it was going to be a very long day. There is also a train that goes from Bangkok to the border but after lots of internet research I decided to fork out the extra 150 baht for the bus instead as it was supposedly faster and more comfortable.

      It turned out to be quite a strange and eventful bus ride, due to my considerable lack of Thai language skills I wasn’t able to find out what was going on most of the time, 30 minutes before the scheduled arrival time of 11.30am we stopped for a break at a petrol station. It took about 5 minutes of trying to ask various people if this was the border or how long we would be stopping for. I eventually managed to find out we were just stopping for about 15 minutes and that the border was still another 2-3 hours away. I joined the extremely long toilet queue and by the time I got out I turned to see my bus  slowly driving away in the direction of the road. Panicking, I bolted back and virtually had to throw myself in front of the bus to get them to stop and let me back on. About an hour or so later the bus was stopped by two men in army uniforms on the highway (in the middle of nowhere), they boarded the bus and wanted to check everyone’s ID before escorting a middle aged women with a small baby off the bus (still no idea what that was all about).

      At 1.15pm (2 hours after the scheduled arrival time) we finally reached our destination. I’d read that there was a lot of corruption in this area with many immigration officials trying to rip off tourists so to be on the safe side I got my visa online several weeks prior to my trip. Next to the bus stop is a white building where you are herded into to get your “Cambodian visa”, this from what I read was the place to be avoided as you have to pass through Thai immigration first before you can officially enter Cambodia. I walked a few hundred metres down the road to the Thai passport control then proceeded to the Cambodian immigration office to get my visa stamped. This whole process took around 2 hours, after which I was finally officially in Cambodia. By this time it was too late to get a public bus to my final destination of Battambang, so I walked passed the “free tourist shuttle” to the bus station (apparently taking unsuspecting tourists to a bus station with extremely inflated bus ticket prices). Instead, I continued walking down the road through the hideous border town of Poipet.

      Although it was hot, humid, dusty, smelly, noisy and full of people hassling me I was glad to be getting some exercise and have the opportunity of moving my legs again after the arduous bus ride. All the bus companies operating in Poipet have offices along the main street, so to find a bus you have to walk along the road and stop in at all the small desks in every office to check on bus times and prices.  There weren’t any buses going to Battambang for several more hours so I walked back towards the beginning of town to where I’d seen a shared taxi office. It cost $8 for the 3 hour journey and we left straight away, picking up and dropping off other passengers along the way.

      At 6pm, 11 hours after leaving Bangkok I finally arrived in Battambang just as it started to get dark.

      Despite Battambang being the second largest city in Cambodia it has a very laidback, non touristy small town vibe and is easily small enough to walk or cycle around. There are two 100% vegetarian restaurants in town so after a well deserved sleep in I ventured out to check them out and explore the area.


      In Battambang they’re not really into naming streets or having street signs for that matter, so to find particular places requires you to count how many streets away from the river you are and then find a landmark or prominent building in order to figure out where you are. Thankfully this was quite easy thanks to the town’s small size and the fact the two veg restaurants were both located across the road from each other near a well known hotel.

      Te Kucha a is the better known and slightly classier of the two, it was the first one I found so decided to stop in for breakfast/brunch. The menu had lots of pictures and was written in English and Khmer. Enough English was spoken by the friendly staff for me to find out which items were egg and dairy free. I ordered a fresh watermelon juice and the teppenyaki tofu with rice. I wasn’t really sure exactly what teppenyaki was but it turned out to be a good choice. It’s a sizzling stir-fried tofu and vegetable dish with black bean sauce, very tasty and quite a lot of food for $2.


      La Ha rd (opposite Asia Hotel, street has no sign but it runs diagonally north from Phsar Naht market).

      I spent the remainder of the day exploring the town and chilling out at my hostel. Whilst walking around one of the more residential areas and trying to find a shop where I could buy some snacks as I was starting to get hungry, I saw a small street stall selling banana kebabs so walked over and bought a couple for my lunch. They were the best banana kebabs ever, they’re were lightly sprinkled with brown sugar, then roasted on an open fire until they became crispy and caramelised on the outside and mushy on the inside. Each kebab has 4 small bananas on it and cost only 1000 riel (25 cents), total bargain.

      Delicious banana kebabs

      Delicious banana kebabs


      For dinner instead of going to the other veg restaurant which was more of a breakfast place I decided to try a veg friendly restaurant near Phsar Naht market that I’d checked out earlier in the day. I’d chatted to the friendly owner a bit while I was looking at the menu after my breakfast who was a vegetarian herself and spoke quite good English, I explained that I was vegan and didn’t eat tomato. She was very happy to accommodate these requirements and offered to customise whatever I ordered off the menu. For dinner I ordered a mango shake and the masala veggie wrap with side salad, which I expected to be just curried veggies in a baguette etc. So I was quite surprised to discover in was in fact a savoury stuffed pancake somewhere in between an Indian dosa and a French crepe but with a SE Asian twist. Although it was a little on the oily side the wonderful flavour more than made up for it, even the salad was full of flavour.

      Savoury stuffed crepe

      Masala veggie wrap

      opposite Royal Hotel west of Phsar Naht market


      My last full day in Battambang already, for breakfast I went to Café Jirah, they didn’t have many vegetarian options on the menu but when I enquired they, like most of the other restaurants in Battambang the overly friendly staff were only too happy to accommodate my dietary needs and change anything on the menu to suit. I ordered the sweet potato noodles with stir-fried veg and no egg or meat.

      Sweet potato noodles with a side of rice

      Sweet potato noodles with a side of rice

      It was very nice but not amazing by any means, I was a little perplexed as to why a noodle dish would come with a side of rice though. I think they just wanted to make sure I had enough food since I didn’t want the two main ingredients, it also came with a small plate of pickled veggies that I wasn’t that keen on.

      street 3 south of Phsar Naht market

      For the afternoon I had booked a sunset and bat caves cycling tour through a small local company called Butterfly tour. Started up just a few months ago by a lovely university student named Sopheap. I was picked up by tuk tuk surprisingly on time  (I was expecting Asian time) and taken to the office down a very picturesque rural laneway to get our bikes. Myself and another girl from Belgium and our guide Sopheap then set off for the relaxing 11km ride through farmland and rice paddies.

      Sundried rice

      Sundried rice

      We had a short stop about half way for a drink and then continued on until we reached a very steep hill/cliff jutting out from the otherwise flat landscape. It was a 10-15 minute walk up to the top of the hill which has a Buddhist temple and a number of caves. We found a spot to sit in the shade whilst Sopheap told us a little about Cambodia’s history and current political situation which was very interesting to hear about from a  locals perspective. Afterwards we had a look around some of the caves, many of which were used as prisons and torture chambers during the Khmer Rouge era, which although was shocking and rather depressing it is also important to better understand the current political situation and the issues Cambodia faces today. We took a few photos of the large gold statue of the sleeping Buddha and then walked back down the hill towards the bat cave just in time for sunset. We stayed for around 15 minutes and watched the thousands of bats flood out of the cave before grabbing our bikes for the ride back into town.

      Sleeping Buddha

      Sleeping Buddha

      Bats, bats and bats

      Bats, bats and bats

      The whole tour was very well organised and professionally run, Sopheap is a very lovely guy with a genuine passion for making Cambodia a better place for everyone and educating foreigners and tourists alike on the history and politics of the country. The 5 hour tour cost $11+ a $3 cave entrance fee which was fantastic value for what you get and well worth the money. Tours can be booked in advance on their website.



      Before my midday bus ride to Siem Reap I went for a walk around the corner from my guesthouse to the less touristy part of town for breakfast at a café called the Green Mango. I ordered the Asian salad with sesame dressing and the trio pita small plate which consisted of some freshly baked pita bread with hummus and black bean hummus and pesto (I did ask for mine to be pesto free with more of the other two instead but that request got lost in translation somewhere I think). The salad was much larger than I expected and fairly tasty. The black bean hummus was very nice and although the hummus was very hard and crumbly making it difficult to spread it did have a nice flavour.

      Asian salad

      Asian salad

      Trio pita plate

      Trio pita hummus plate

      The Green Mango had quite a large and varied international menu with plenty of veganisable veg options (if you can get that point across to the staff) and also serves as a training school for impoverished girls from the area to give them a start in the hospitality industry.




      I arrived in Siem Reap on New Year’s eve in the early afternoon after a 5 hour bus ride. After checking in to my guest house I grabbed a map to see where the closest place for lunch was, Peace café turned out to be just down the road and since it was one of the top picks on my list I wasted no time in getting there as I was pretty hungry by then. My guesthouse were all out of rental bikes so I went to the one across the road, which were surprisingly laid back about the whole rental process. They didn’t want a deposit, nor did they even ask me for I.D or my name etc and they said I could pay the $1 per day hire fee when I brought the bike back. So off I went, arriving at the tranquil garden setting of Peace café just 5 minutes later.


      Peace cafe garden

      Peace cafe garden

      Most items on the menu were vegan aside from the ones listed inside the front cover as containing milk. Peace café is 100% vegetarian and also egg free. I ordered the taro fries, lemongrass tofu with brown rice, a mango shake and for dessert I was excited to discover that the banana and raison stuffed chocolate crepe was vegan so obviously I had to get one.

      Lemongrass tofu

      Lemongrass tofu

      Taro fries

      Taro fires

      Very delicious stuffed chocolate crepe @Peace cafe

      Very delicious stuffed chocolate crepe @Peace cafe

      Well everything was absolutely delicious and it was such a peaceful and chilled area to relax in after the tiring bus ride. They had a book shelf with lots of books that people have donated so I grabbed an old Lonely Planet on Cambodia and found a comfy couch to sit on.

      Peace café also run a number of community classes/workshops including yoga, pilates and some language lessons, English and Khmer. most of them are for a donation, the yoga costs $6.

      I also returned to Peace café the following day (New year’s day) for lunch after my marathon bike rice around Angkor Wat and ordered the Green Goddess smoothie, the vegetarian shish kebabs, fresh spring rolls and a small Bong Chum salad.

      Bong Chum salad

      Bong Chum salad


      The shish kebabs were very tasty, with about 5 or 6 different vegetables and tofu and had an unusual spicy flavour that I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. The Bong Chum salad was also nice and very fresh but not as quite as good as it sounded on the menu.

      My third and final visit here was on my last morning, after a mix up with my bus ticket to Phnom Penh I had an extra hour to spare and as I was getting a little hungry and knowing that I had a 7+ hour bus ride ahead of me raced over to grab some take out for the road. I got stir-fired tofu and veggies and what turned out to be a particularly yummy brown rice salad with dates, raisons, ginger, walnuts and celery. I also had a delicious papaya shake while I was waiting for my food.

      st 26 between river rd and Wat Bo rd

      After my lunch I cycled into the town centre to check out the touristy area where the majority of NYE celebrations were taking place. I wasn’t really expecting there to be much happening since Cambodia is a mostly Buddhist country that follows a different calendar, but as it turned out Siem Reap is one of the most touristy towns in the country and I arrived on the aptly named Pub st to a sea of people, a mix of tourists and locals filling up several blocks dancing enthusiastically to some very very loud and bad 90′s dance music.

      NYE in Siem Reap

      NYE in Siem Reap

      I parked my bike in one of the side streets and then spent the next  hour exploring all the quaint and very Parisian looking laneways around the night markets and old market areas,then it was time for the circus. I had heard about a Battambang based organisation called Phare Ponleu Selpak which offered free performance and visual arts programs as well as free schooling and medical treatment to under privileged and at risk children and young people. As it so happened they were performing in Siem Reap when I was there so went along to watch their show which was a lot of fun. For further info on this organisation check out their website http://www.phareps.org/

      After the performance I went back into town to join in with some of the celebrations, shortly before midnight I decided to head back as I was very tired from all the travelling and was a bit over the crappy music and crowds of people. It took me a while to find my bike since I wasn’t yet familiar with the town and couldn’t quite remember exactly which street I had parked it on, I eventually found it about 40 minutes later and cycled back while watching the midnight fireworks.

      The plan was to get a few hours of sleep then cycle the 11km’s out to Angkor Wat in time to catch the sunrise. Unfortunately, though I was kept awake most of the night by the guy in the room next door who’d obviously over-indulged in the NYE celebrations and was up retching and vomiting at an horrendously loud volume for most of the night. Turns out the walls of my $4 a night hostel were paper thin.

      I’d literally just dozed off when I was greeted with the joyful sound of my alarm blaring out into the dark silence at 4am. I scrambled out of bed and jumped on my bike heading towards Angkor Wat. It was quite a pleasant and easy ride out there, with hardly any traffic and the cool early morning air gently waking me up. About 30 minutes later I reached the main entrance where I bought my ticket then carried on to the bike parking station under a tree, and followed the growing masses of people along the path to the lake in front of the temple.

      The long wait for the sun to rise whilst constantly having to defend my much sort after second row position from the hoards of over excited Japanese tourists that surrounded me was enough to make me consider moving somewhere a bit less touristy, but as the rising sun slowly began to reveal the incredible beauty of Angkor Wat I decided to stay and join in the elbow fight.

      Sunrise @Angkor wat

      Sunrise @Angkor wat

      Once it was light I wandered off to explore the inside of this vast temple complex. I spent the best part of an hour walking around the seemingly endless labyrinth of tunnels, staircases and stone carvings, before consulting my map and cycling on the see some of the other buildings and ruins of this once mighty city.

      Eager crowds awaiting the new years day sunrise

      Eager crowds awaiting the new years day sunrise

      Unfortunately due to time constraints I only had 1 day to see this area, which although sounds like a long time it isn’t anywhere near enough (a 3 day pass is optimal to visit the majority of sites). At the time Angkor was built it was thought to be one of the largest cities in the world spanning an area of approximately 1000 square km’s. There are distances of 1-5km’s between each building so cycling from one to the next was quite time consuming and tiring as it had turned out to be quite a warm day. I filled up on mangos and bananas at the numerous fruit stalls along the way and spent the best part of the day sight seeing.

      One of the many amazing sites @ Angkor wat

      One of the many amazing sites @ Angkor wat


      By around 3pmish I was getting a little templed out and exhausted from being constantly bombarded by cute little kids trying to manipulate me into buying some souvenirs and then trying to me feel guilty when I said no, and also having cycled an estimated 60+kms on next to no sleep I decided it was time to head back into town. I had planned to go to the vegetarian friendly Butterfly Gardens restaurant for lunch but after looking at their boring sounding menu I ended up heading back to the tranquil garden setting of Peace café a block away to spend the afternoon relaxing in their garden with a book.


      My evening was spent strolling around the various night market and getting a well deserved $2 hour long foot massage. I also stopped in at The Singing Tree restaurant for a bite to eat. Located in a trendy little laneway full of bars, restaurants and fashion boutiques you could be mistaken for thinking you’re in Paris or London. I ordered a fresh coconut juice and a veganised version of the national dish, the tofu Amok which is a mild and very coconutty curry served with veggies and of course rice. I enjoyed the Amok although it wasn’t quite spicy enough for my taste. The Singing Tree serves meat but has a large vegetarian menu with vegan options labelled with a “v”.

      Tofu amok curry @the Singing Tree

      Tofu amok curry @the Singing Tree

      The Passage (near Old market)

      Realising it was my final day in this very touristy but charming little town I was adamant on doing one thing, finding the vegetarian restaurant that had thus far alluded me Chamkar.


      This tiny hole in the wall restaurant located in the same laneway as The Singing Tree is rather easy to miss as it is not that well signed, but my persistence finally paid off. It only has room to seat about 10 people at a time so eating here often involves a wait of up to 1 hour, especially at dinner time, but it’s totally worth it. After eating here twice (in one day) I would go so far as to describe Chamkar as one of the best and most inventive vegetarian restaurants in the world, easily up there with Millennium in San Francisco which is a pretty big call. For lunch I ordered the pumpkin and basil curry stuffed tofu which a number of reviewers on happycow.net had raved about and a mango shake.

      Extremely delicious stuffed tofu from Chamkar

      Extremely delicious stuffed tofu from Chamkar

      The tofu was served with a spicy mushroom and onion gravy that complimented the other flavours perfectly and a big bowl of organic brown rice. I couldn’t quite identify which spices were used in the gravy as it had such an unusual and distinctive flavour but this is one dish I would happily eat every single day.

      For dinner I returned feeling the need to make up for lost time as there were so many things on the menu I wanted to try. I got an iced lemongrass tea, the creamy mushroom dip which was recommended by staff and came served with slices of toasted baguette and the root vegetable fritters. Unfortunately the battery of my camera died during the afternoon so no pics of dinner but it was easily as good as lunch if not better. The dip was recommended to me by the staff and is a Chamkar specialty and very delicious. I not usually a massive mushroom fan but this dip was more of a thick coconut curry more than anything. The fritters were also quite unique, being made predominantly of mashed cassava which was then dipped in a yellow curry paste batter, rolled in panko break crumbs (I think) and then deep fried. It was served with a spicy green mango chutney and the chutney of some other exotic fruit I can’t remember the name of, but it was yellow and tasted somewhere in between a squash and a pear.

      I couldn’t leave without dessert, unfortunately they were out of my first option of the traditional Khmer yellow bean cake so I opted for the banana in warm coconut milk with crunchy toasted yellow split peas, yum yum yum!

      The Passage (Old Market, opposite end of laneway to The Singing Tree)

      In between my indulging at Chamkar on my last day I also went on an organised group tour to the floating village, well that’s where we were meant to go but due the low water levels and the fact that the village had floated to an inaccessible part of the lake, we were told that we’d be going to Kampong Phluk, the stilted village instead.

      It was a 30ish minute drive from Siem Reap and then a further 40 minute boat ride on one of the dodgiest looking boats I’ve ever seen. Thankfully it didn’t capsize on the way and as it sailed around a corner we were greeted with the fascinating first glimpse of the stilted village. It was much larger than I had expected with everything from a school, restaurant and even a police station and medical clinic, all perched on top of stilts up to 10-15m above the water it was quite a spectacular sight, they even had a boat that had been converted into a greenhouse to grow veggies.

      Kampong Phluk

      Kampong Phluk

      As we reached the far side of the village the stilted houses gave way to an immense and beautiful flooded forest. The boat moored at a restaurant so we could have a look around and we were also given the option of taking a small dugout canoe through the forest for an extra $5 which I decided to do.

      As we paddled deeper into the forest the noise of the village gave way to a serene silence and an incredibly peaceful atmosphere. At the far end of the forest there was a huge treetop walkway that allowed villagers to go from their houses to their fishing nets without having to use a boat, we glided under it into a clearing and then slowly drifted along as the sun set over the water which was a truly breathtaking sight.

      The serene flooded forest

      The serene flooded forest

      We paddled back to the bigger boat to join the others then set off for the centre of the lake to continue watching the sunset. Once it was nearly dark we turned around and made our way back up river to our waiting van. Unfortunately my camera battery died from taking so many forest and sunset pics so I missed the stunning scene of the silhouetted stilt houses with the backdrop of the red and purple sky with the setting sun glistening on the water. It was an eerie yet incredible sight.


      After dinner at Chamkar I walked around the markets once again to stock up on snacks for my 9 hour bus ride to Phnom Penh the following day then went back to my hostel to pack.


      Although I didn’t actually get a chance to eat here I did drop in to get a drink and take a squiz at the menu. Located about a 15  minute walk out of the town centre in a very residential area, this place offers lower prices and a more authentic Khmer dining experience than restaurants in town.

      The staff seemed quite shocked when I walked in and asked for a menu, I got the impression that “tourists” don’t eat here that often and that they assumed I was probably just lost and after directions. I had an iced jasmine tea with coconut milk with was just the thing for a hot afternoon. Mains were all around the $2-3 mark and were quite generous sized servings. The restaurant is set in a large and relaxing garden with low tables and cushions on the floor to sit on.

      Iced Jasmine tea

      Iced Jasmine tea

      st 7 (Makara) next to University of SE Asia Wat Bo area


      Despite the distance between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh being only around 200km, travelling between these two cities requires an arduous 9 hour long bus ride. I had booked the 10am bus thinking I’d arrive with enough time to go for a walk around the city before bed time but due to some complication with my booking (the guy who booked my ticket got confused with the date and accidently booked me on the 10am bus the prior day) I ended up having to get the midday bus instead which left 1 hour late.

      The journey seemed to take forever, not helped by the really weird (and bad) 1980′s B grade Chinese zombie action movie that was being played on the bus over and over again at an ear piercing volume, not even my mp3 player at maximum volume provided an adequate escape. Also due to the extremely underdeveloped infrastructure in Cambodia, the roads are in such a terrible condition that the maximum speed of most vehicles is around 30-40kms an hour. I eventually stumbled weary eyed into my hostel near the central market at around 10pm.

      I had heard from Sopheap (bicycle tour guy in Battambang) that there were anti government protests happening in the capital but didn’t think to check exactly where they were when finding a place to stay. They turned out to be literally right across the street, I wasn’t too concerned though as they seemed to be very peaceful and appeared to be more like a giant picnic than anything else with the majority of the protesters being families with young children, monks and the elderly.

      The following morning on my way out to buy some fruit from the markets for breakfast I took a detour through the park and stopped to chat to a few of the protesters to learn a bit more about what was going on.

      After breakfast myself and another girl from the hostel decided to share the tuk tuk ride out to the killing fields. I had been in two minds as to whether I wanted to go here or not, but a number of other travellers I’d met said it was really interesting and not as bleak and depressing a place as the name might suggest. I also thought the idea of turning a place with such an horrendous history into what is essentially a commercialised for profit tourist attraction to be rather distasteful to say the least, but I wanted to learn more about Cambodian history in order to better understand the country and the political situation that was unfolding across the street from my hostel. I also thought it would be better to see it for myself before deciding whether to be for or against this kind of “tourist attraction”.

      Whilst I wouldn’t exactly agree with the “peaceful” label that most other travellers I’d met had described it as, it was certainly interesting but still rather horrific. The entry fee gets you an audio guide which you can listen to at your own pace whilst walking around the area which was very informative, well done and included lots of personal stories of many of the victims and survivors of the Khmer Rouge and their friends and family members.


      Excavated mass graves

      Excavated mass graves, victims skulls and the killing tree


      Some things though I did have to skip as they were just far too gruesome and detailed, such as the documentary film that is played in one of the museum rooms every hour or so and some of the signs, particularly the pictures of victims around the killing tree where many children and babies were murdered by soldiers.


      A much happier sight @Kn'yay

      A much happier sight @Kn’yay

      After spending around 2 hours here I found my travel buddy for the day and our tuk tuk driver and headed back into the city. I asked to be dropped off at a vegan restaurant for lunch that I’d heard was good. As soon as I stepped out of the tuk tuk I was greeted with a sign that I was very happy to see: vegan ice cream!

      The menu

      The menu

      Located in a rather posh terrace guesthouse I felt a bit out of my comfort zone in such an upmarket environment but quickly got over that once I looked at the menu. As is often the case when eating at all vegan establishments, the option of being able to eat everything on the menu can be a little overwhelming. Eventually I ordered the sweet potato, and pumpkin curry, fresh spring rolls and a watermelon and chilli shake.



      The spring rolls were tasty but quite standard as far as Cambodian spring rolls go, the dipping sauce was the real stand out. Instead of the usual sweet chilli vinegar it also had coconut milk and finely chopped herbs, giving it quite a distinctive flavour.

      I also enjoyed the curry, the only downside being that the pumpkin was a bit undercooked.

      For dessert I got 3 scoops of ice cream: coconut, coconut ginger and chocolate.

      The Terrace @41 street 95 of Monivong Blvd

      After lunch I slowly made my way back towards Central market on foot, meandering through the many small laneways and street markets in the very Parisian looking BKK area.


      The closest vegetarian restaurant to where I was staying and one of the few that was not in the BKK or Independence monument area, I dropped in for dinner here on my way back from my walk.

      I got the fried yellow noodles with tofu which came to about $2 (tofu was 50c extra), it was quite substantial and fresh, definitely good value. A cheap filler if you’re in the area but not worth going out of your way for.


      109 street 130 (near the riverside)

      Just before dark I arrived back near my hostel and was surprised to find that the ironically named “Freedom Park” that had been bustling with protesters earlier that day was now completely empty, barricaded off and surrounded by hundreds of riot police who filled up the sidewalk for several blocks on every side of the park. It took around 20 minutes to convince the cops to let me through the barrier to get back to my hostel where I was met with a large crowd of stunned backpackers angrily discussing the scenes that had taken place during the day.

      I managed to get filled on what had happened, apparently about an hour or so after I had left that morning and despite the protest being extremely peaceful, the government (which in Cambodia is essentially a very corrupt dictatorship) who are very intolerant of anyone who opposes them sent in around 500+ riot police (the protesters in the park that morning were around 300), who started beating people with batons and rounded them up into a corner of the park. They then began to open fire in an attempt to deter the protesters from returning, 5 were killed and dozens of others were injured.

      Riot cops

      Riot cops

      For the remainder of my time in Phnom Penh the area around my hostel was blocked off every evening by hundreds of police who refused to let anyone in or out and every single park and public space in the entire city was filled with riot police armed with batons and automatic rifles under strict orders to not let anyone so much as sit in the park (including tourists). There was also a complete ban on anyone gathering in a group of more than 5 persons  which seemed to me like a rather pointless and impractical law to try and enforce.

      Given that no one was allowed to go out for the rest of the evening and the night markets having been cancelled due to the ban on large gatherings, I spent the night hanging out with and swapping stories with the other people in my hostel.

      After such an eventful first day in Phnom Penh I was hoping day 2 would be a little more subdued, and with rumours circulating of retaliation against police for their over the top brutality I decided to spend the day strolling around the expat enclave of the BKK district.



      My first port of call was a brunch stop at a cute little French inspired vegetarian café sharing my name located in the hipster central area of street 278.

      The menu was a bit of a mixed bag of dishes from all corners of the globe but with a particular focus on French and Cambodian staples. I ordered the mango, tofu and cashew nut curry, a bowl of mixed fruit salad and a watermelon juice.


      The curry was very yummy, the mangoes weren’t too overcooked as is often the case, still quite firm but also full of flavour having soaked up all those spices and curry paste. The crunchy roasted cashews and tofu also gave the dish some extra texture.

      22 DEo street 278



      I had come across a few other vegetarian friendly restaurants in one of the visitor guides that are in just about every shop in Phnom Penh. This place sounded like it was worthy of a visit but as I was a bit perplexed as to where street 2401/2 was it went to the bottom of the list.

      Having barely left Café Soleil I was surprised to find this place on the same street less than a block away, so figured I may as well make the most of it and try some of their raw vegan desserts.

      Although there were a few token meat dishes on the menu as seems to be the case with all the vegan restaurants in Cambodia, this café, that was packed to bursting point on both of my visits with fashion conscious expat hipsters and offered an interesting array of healthy vegetarian dishes with a large number of vegan, raw and gluten free options.

      I had a slice of the raw cheesecake and a banana and date smoothie, both were top quality.


      I also returned here for brunch the following day and had the very delicious and huge Angkor salad, the hummus heaven plate and a raw cacao and goji berry smoothie which were all incredibly delicious.

      Angkar salad

      Angkar salad

      The heavenly hummus heaven

      The heavenly hummus heaven

      The hummus heaven being a particular standout due to the yummy freshly baked walnut bread it was served with. Artillery is definitely one of my top vegan picks in Phnom Penh.

      street 278 (near the corner of street 63)



      After a few more hours of taking in the sights (and smells) of the area and a brief visit to Russian market I slowly started heading back towards the hostel. Figuring I’d probably get hungry later and wouldn’t be able to get out due to the riot police street blocks I decided to grab some food to go from another one of the veg places that were advertised in the visitor guide.

      I was surprised to discover that despite the name it wasn’t entirely vegetarian, but they still had plenty of vegan options for the wraps and sandwiches and also a well priced pick n mix salad bar at $3.95. I opted for the Tel Aviv pita (felafel) with avocado.

      I wasn’t really expecting much from it to be honest other than a cheap meal, but it was actually pretty good, probably some of the best felafel you’re likely to get in Cambodia, not that there’s much competition.

      21B street 294, also second location street 51 behind Wat Lanka

      My final day I decided to rent a bike to explore the more far flung corners of the city that were too far to go on foot. After my yummy brunch at Artillery I headed west around the outskirts of the city then along the picturesque river front past the grand palace which looked incredibly similar to the one in Bangkok.

      THE CORN

      By mid afternoon I was feeling the heat and the effects of the ungodly amount of traffic fumes and dust I’d been inhaling whilst cycling around so decided it was time for a rest and a bite to eat.


      I was surprised to find this restaurant was empty when I arrived even though it was in between lunch and dinner time, it is located down the end of a tiny little lane that I would have easily walked passed if it weren’t for the vegan sing and menu out front.

      I got a fresh coconut juice, the very tasty but rather uninspiring and disappointing looking roasted pear and pumpkin salad and the tofu, banana and sweet potato curry.



      I thought the salad was tasty but for $4 (quite a hefty price tag for an entrée in Cambodia) for a pile of pale lettuce leaves with a few token slivers of pear and pumpkin was quite over priced I thought. The curry was good but not great, aside from the banana it tasted almost identical to the curry that I’d had at Kn’yay, not that that was necessarily a bad thing.

      I also got some dessert here figuring it would probably be the last time in a while that I’d be able to order a vegan crepe with ice cream (raspberry) for $4.


      The crepe was nice if a little on the tough side but once the ice cream melted a bit it was pretty good.

      26 Preah Suramit Blvd


      Unfortunately I didn’t have time to eat a proper meal here but I did drop in for a drink and more dessert on my way back from The Corn. Prices were quite reasonable ($2-3 for mains) and the plates of food looked pretty huge. They offer the usual mix of veganised traditional Khmer and western dishes. I had a fresh papaya juice and a bowl of cashew and black sesame pudding.

      158 street 19

      Posted January 26, 2014 03:29 PM

      January 18, 2014


      “Everything In” Salad with Coconut Lime Dressing

      Even though Melbourne is having heatwaves this Summer, I am still struggling to get excited about salads. So today I decided I would start making them with even more reckless abandon. Meet my “Put everything in it” salad which worked a treat with a coconut lime dressing.

      Salad Ingredients (add measurements to your taste):
      Cooked quinoa
      Toasted cashews
      Capsicum / pepper
      Cannellini beans
      Fresh mint
      Fresh basil
      Coconut Lime Dressing Ingredients:
      ¼ cup of coconut milk
      3 tablespoons of lime juice
      1 tablespoon peanut butter
      1 tablespoon of honey / agave
      2 teaspoons of tamari / gluten-free soy sauce

      1. Chop up all salad ingredients and gently combine in a bowl.
      2. Mix up coconut lime dressing in a small bowl. Let sit for a few minutes. If it is too ‘gluggy’, heat gently on a low heat in a small saucepan. Let cool before pouring on salad.
      3. Pour dressing over salad or serving as a dipping sauce on the side.

      An original for Vegematarian.

      Posted January 18, 2014 08:00 PM

      15 Stir Fry Sauces

      It’s nice to mix things up and not stick to the same old recipes. So over the Summer I’ve been test driving some stir fry sauces posted by Jen on Food and Family. I’ve turned each sauce into a Vegematarian equivalent for your taste buds to enjoy. I always compliment these sauces with fresh herbs in my stir-fry like coriander, English Mint, Vietnamese Mint, mizuna, Italian Basil and Thai Basil.

      For all of these recipes – combine the ingredients in a small bowl, stir well to combine, then add to your stir fry. Don’t miss the tips at the bottom of each recipe as well.

      Lemon Stir-Fry Sauce
      1/2 cup of lemon juice
      2 teaspoons of lemon zest
      1/2 cup of vegetable stock
      2 tablespoons of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      1/4 cup of sugar / sweetener

      Lemon Stir-Fry Sauce II
      2/3 cup of vegetable stock
      1 tablespoon of cornstarch
      1 tablespoon of sugar / sweetener
      1 tablespoon of soy sauce
      2 -3 tablespoons of lemon juice (to taste)

      Soy Sesame Stir-Fry Sauce
      1/2 cup of vegetable stock
      1/2 cup of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      4 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar
      4 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil
      2 teaspoons of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
      2 teaspoons of sugar / sweetener

      Basic Stir-Fry Sauce
      2/3 cup of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      1/2 cup of vegetable stock
      1/3 cup rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
      3 tablespoons of sugar / sweetener
      1 tablespoon of sesame oil
      1 tablespoon of minced garlic
      1 tablespoon of minced ginger
      2 tablespoons of cornstarch

      Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce
      1/2 cup of vegetable stock
      1/4 cup of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
      2 tablespoons brown sugar
      1 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes (optional)

      Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce II
      1/2 cup of tomato sauce / ketchup
      1/4 cup of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      2 tablespoons of rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
      1 tablespoon of gluten-free cornflour

      Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce III
      1/2 cup of white sugar / sweetener
      1/4 cup brown sugar / sweetener
      1/3 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
      1/2 cup of water
      1/4 cup of pineapple juice (or an additional 1/4 cup of water)
      1/4 cup of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      1/4 cup of tomato sauce / ketchup
      2 tablespoons of gluten-free cornflour

      Hot and Sour Stir-Fry Sauce
      1/2 cup of vegetable stock
      1/4 cup of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
      2 tablespoons of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      4 teaspoons of sugar / sweetener
      1 teaspoon of chilli paste

      Thai Stir-Fry Sauce
      2/3 cup coconut milk
      2 1/2 tablespoons of vegan fish sauce
      3 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
      1 1/2 tablespoons of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      1/3 to 1/2 teaspoons of dried crushed chili (optional)
      2 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar / sweetener

      Peanut Stir-Fry Sauce
      (These ingredients will need a gentle heat on the stove in a saucepan)
      1/4 cup of rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
      1/4 cup of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      4 teaspoons of natural peanut butter
      1 teaspoon of honey / sweetener
      2 tablespoons of water
      1 teaspoon of crushed garlic

      Orange Stir-Fry Sauce
      3/4 cup of orange juice
      1 tablespoon of gluten-free cornflour
      2 tablespoons of gluten-free hoisin sauce
      1 tablespoon of vegan fish sauce
      1 tablespoon of rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
      2 teaspoons of of brown sugar / sweetener
      1 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest

      Orange Stir-Fry Sauce II
      1/2 cup of orange juice
      1/4 cup of water
      1/4 cup of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      4 teaspoons of brown sugar / sweetener
      1 spring onion, finely chopped

      Spicy Orange Stir-Fry Sauce
      3/4 cup of orange juice
      3 tablespoons of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      1 tablespoon of gluten-free cornflour
      2 teaspoons of finely grated orange peel
      1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger
      1 teaspoons of sesame oil
      1 large pinch of dried crushed red pepper (to taste)

      Orange Sesame Szechuan Stir-Fry Sauce
      1/2 cup of vegetable stock
      1 tablespoon rice vinegar or rice wine
      1 tablespoon of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
      1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
      1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
      1 fresh red chili, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)

      Spicy Szechuan Stir-Fry Sauce
      4 tablespoons of tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
      2 tablespoons rice wine or rice vinegar
      2 teaspoons of gluten-free cornflour
      1 teaspoon of sesame oil
      1/2 cup of vegetable stock
      2 tablespoon of sugar
      1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
      2 tablespoon of spring onion, minced
      1 tablespoon of fresh minced ginger
      1 tablespoon of minced garlic
      1 teaspoon of chili paste (optional but makes it spicy)

      Posted January 18, 2014 07:42 PM

      January 01, 2014

      Polka Dot Rabbit

      Time for a new blog...

      I'm no longer running my craft business Polka Dot Rabbit, haven't been for some time, and after a long hiatus, I've decided to do some blogging again.

      You can read my new blog, Consuming Cate over at http://consumingcate.blogspot.com/.

      What will I talk/write about:

      • Daily happenings and a few pics
      • new recipes, with an emphasis on plant based recipes
      • Travelling
      • The process of writing a novel
      • New workshops and creative projects.
      Maybe you'd like to join me? 

      Posted January 01, 2014 03:54 PM by Cate Lawrence

      December 30, 2013


      Sister of Soul, St Kilda

      I am super happy to report that a new vegetarian restaurant has taken up residence in Acland St. Consider it a Christmas present from St Kilda, something sorely missing since the departure of Soul Mama (the original and Mk II).

      On the corner of Acland St and Shakespeare Grove, Luna Park and the palm trees in the background and the beach not far behind, it is an open, light, airy place. The walls appear to be all windows that open, so you can practically sit on the street.

      The menu reads as being heavily inspired by Vegie Bar, something I am A-OK with. After staying with my family in Gippsland overnight I had unintentionally ended up with three meals in a row based around bread and the 'Green Sister Stir-fry' sounded like exactly what I wanted. I asked if the tofu could be swapped for tempeh and after some consultation with the chef this was approved.

      Green Sister Stir-fry at Sister of Soul, St Kilda

      This was a good-sized meal, not the impossible-to-finish overload typical of Vegie Bar. I'm not a fan of the bowls they use; I nearly tipped the entire lot out when trying to mix in the beansprouts. The base sauce was a relatively light and salty one. I thought my specified tahini sauce had gone missing and I asked the waiter about it half-way through. I am not totally sure from his response, if the kitchen had made a mistake or if it was in fact included but totally unlike what I was expecting. He brought a little saucer of tahini sauce for me and it was very salty and rather thin, not what I am used to with tahini, so possibly it was on the original and I got a double serve.

      Even with a generous serve of brown rice I still had room for more, so I ordered the raw berry cheesecake for dessert. I am not a regular connoisseur of raw food so I can't really judge how this held up. The tart berries overwhelmed any potential creamy flavour from the 'cheesecake'. I ate a little of it by itself and it did not seem to have a very strong flavour.

      Raw Berry Cheesecake at Sister of Soul, St Kilda

      The service was fairly good, but a little confused. Firstly with the tahini thing, but also, two different waiters tried to take my drinks order and then brought me spoons for dessert. I expect as the place becomes more well known and fills up that becomes a less common occurrence.

      Sister of Soul is in a great location and would be such a nice place to eat after a trip down south to visit the beach. As nice as Radio Mexico is sometimes you just can't beat a nice green stir-fry. Or sometimes you need something vegan, or sometimes they're full. ;) At any rate Sister of Soul is a great addition to Acland St and I sincerely hope they stick around. (I also note their breakfast menu has a scrambled tofu!)

      Sister of Soul are not yet listed on Urbanspoon, but I added them, so their entry is awaiting approval. :)

      Sister of Soul
      73 Acland St, St Kilda.
      Open 7:30-23:00, 7 days.

      Food menu
      Drinks menu

      Picture by Sister of Soul.

      Posted December 30, 2013 08:57 PM

      December 20, 2013

      The Radical Grocery Store

      The Radical is Closing Down


      Contrary to popular belief The Radical Grocery Store does not exist soley as a dealer of delicious vegan junk food. I created this store as a social enterprise with the primary (but not only) aim to make ethical grocery shopping more accessible by:
      - Doing all of the research and ethics interrogations of companies on my customers behalf.
      - Bringing all the most ethical products together in one convenient location.
      - Bringing down the price of ethical products by having lower mark ups, negotiating discounts with suppliers, buying in bulk and creating economies of scale.
      - Creating a retail environment that is accessible for as many people as possible including those who experience disabilities, face social stigma, shop with young children etc
      - Connecting and collaborating with other social enterprises and non-profits.

      The seemingly insignificant decisions made everyday in grocery stores collectively have a massive impact on the world and ethical grocery products should not be accessible only to a privileged few. One of my hopes was that if ethical grocery shopping became accessible to more people that together we could start having a massive impact on the ethics of our multinational corporation controlled, profit driven food systems and encourage the growth of ethical initiatives such as organically grown, fairly traded, sweat shop free, GM free, cruelty free, vegan, reuseable, upcycled, recycled, compostable and cooperatively grown/made/bought/traded products in Australia.

      However, this grand plan was dreamed up by an ambitious 22 year old with endless time, energy and enthusiasm on her hands and unfortunately, 5 years later I'm now more than a little jaded, burnt out and struggling with my mental health. It's now time for me to take an incredibly well earned break and let someone else step up and take over the role of Melbourne's favourite vegan junk food dealer.

      If someone has the time, energy, passion and funds to keep the Radical dream alive I would be overjoyed to pass it on to new owners. Selling/handing over a business involves a lot of work though so I wont be pursuing this option unless someone is really serious and ready to jump in straight away.

      As things currently stand the store will continue to be open usual hours, 10am-7pm weekdays & 11am-5pm weekends, 7 days a week, right up until Xmas eve then at 7pm I'll be closing the store for good.

      To celebrate being in business for 5 long years and to thank everyone who believed in the vision and made the extra effort to support it, I'll be throwing the very last 'Big Spender Sale' until the end of the month. As with past sales the discounts will be tiered: Spend over $100 to save 10%
      spend over $200 to save 20%
      spend over $300 to save a whopping 30%!!*
      So come on over for one last visit, stock your fridges, freezers, pantries and Xmas stockings and help us pay off all our bills before we leave.

      Many thanks,


      *Cannot be used in conjunction with any other discount, excludes gift voucher purchases, sale ends at 7pm Tuesday 24th of December 2013.


      Posted December 20, 2013 11:14 AM by Anikee

      October 30, 2013


      Spring Races and Sea Shepherd

      Lately we have been super busy baking cakes and finishing up the semester at uni but luckily that is all over (well uni at least)!!

      So now we have time to do more important things! Like volunteer at the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses! If you haven’t heard about this group please look at their website and facebook.

      These great people are doing amazing things and everyone that cares about animals should try and help them out anyway they can. Here are the details of some events coming up:

      Derby Day: Saturday 2nd November at Flemington Racecourse.

      Starts at 10.30am

      Melbourne Cup Parade Demonstration: Monday 4th November at Federation Square.

      Starts at 11.00am

      Melbourne Cup Picnic and Protest: Doc Root Reserve Park (opposite Flemington Racecourse/Corner of Epsom and Racecourse Road)

      Starts at 11.00am

      Please have a look at the events on their website to see more details.

      We shall attending all of the events and will have cupcakes for all the horse lovers at Derby day and the Melbourne Cup Picnic! So hopefully we shall see some of you there!

      On another note, the Sea Shepherd is having a bake sale on Sunday 3rd November and we will be donating some baked treats! So everyone should come and buy some cruelty free delights and help a very good cause!

      We leave you with a film about a very special horse called Track Wiz. Please watch and think of all of the horses that are mistreated and killed every year for the racing industry.

      (Sorry to do such a depressing post but both of these causes are close to our hearts)


      Katey and Mai

      Posted October 30, 2013 10:41 PM