October 25, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Persian love cake

October 8, 2016

Recently two of our friends got married, and they held a vegan potluck reception. We are enthusiastic potluckers under any conditions, and a wedding celebration predictably set us into overdrive. We brought a double batch of sausage rolls with barbecue sauce, mango & coconut rice salad, mango & coconut splice jellies, and finally, this cake. I'd seen it earlier in the week on Around the World Vegan - I liked that it was already vegan and gluten-free, and I had a stash of rose petals in the pantry that I was keen to make use of. Best of all, a dessert named Persian Love Cake would be perfect for the occasion.

The cake, even though it has two layers, comes together in one bowl without need of an electric mixer. Based on almond meal and polenta, it has a sandy texture but none of the chalkiness that I often notice with commercial gluten-free flour mixes. I'd consider trading some of the polenta for more almond meal if I baked this again, aiming for a softer and probably denser crumb. Keira made both a syrup and an icing for her cake, but instead I tried to combine their best elements into a single glaze flavoured with lime juice and rosewater. It tasted fabulous but its consistency was a bit too thin, and I used up all the icing sugar I had on hand.

It's the pistachios and rose petals that elevate a quite plain-looking cake to an absolute stunner, but they provide complementary flavour as well as good looks. This is a cake that demands it be seen and shared and celebrated, and we did just that.

Persian love cake
(a recipe from Around The World Vegan,
which itself was adapted from CERES)

1 1/3 cups almond meal
1 1/3 cups polenta
1 cup brown sugar
120g margarine
2 tablespoons cornflour
1/3 cup water
250g soy yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon rosewater

1/3 cup pistachios
2 tablespoons rose petals

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a cake tin with paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, polenta and sugar. Add the margarine and combine it all, using pressing motions with a fork. Press half of this mixture into the base of the cake tin.

Whisk together the cornflour and water in a mug. Pour it into the remaining mixture in the bowl, along with the yoghurt and the spices. Stir everything together until well combined, then pour it into the cake tin. Bake until set and golden, 30-35 minutes. Cool the cake completely to room temperature.

Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and whisk in the lime juice and rosewater. Spoon the icing over the cooled cake and sprinkle it with pistachios and rose petals.

Posted October 25, 2016 06:56 AM by Cindy

October 24, 2016

vegan about town

[singapore] well dressed salad bar [chinatown]

I'm in Singapore at the moment, on a three month residency. I've totally been failing at keeping you updated, but I promise I have been eating a lot of amazing vegan food.

Well Dressed Salad Bar is an all vegetarian, mostly vegan cafe on South Bridge Street, down near Kreta Ayer end. It specialises in salads, of which I've had zero. It is, however, about half an hour walk from where I'm based, so I've been going there a bit.

On my first visit, I was all by myself. I chose the curry with rice and 'chips'. The curry was spicy and excellent. The rice was fine (I smushed it all into that bowl of curry). The chips are nori strips coated in what I think is besan, and then fried. I must eat them all, immediately, and plan on making them ASAP (ie, as soon as I get to my kitchen in Australia). I had with this a fresh watermelon juice, and I took home a slice of chocolate brownie cake. They have a window of cakes at the entry, and it's full of terrible temptations that I can never move past.

On my second visit I brought a friend. I was feeling under nourished, mostly due to the large amount of stir fried noodles I tend to eat for breakfast and lunch (more on that in a subsequent post about my love of hawker centres and the fact that Singaporeans don't use their kitchens), so I had the udon noodle bowl. This was a really simple bowl of udon noodles with fresh soy beans, purple cabbage, carrot, lettuce and shredded nori. To go with this I had a juice that contained beetroot. Long time friends (and new friends, in fact), will note that I loathe beetroot, but I talked myself into this juice and it was actually really beautiful, a combination of apple, beetroot, carrot and something else that I can't quite recall at the moment.

I finished the meal off with this AMAZING avocado, brownie and choc chip ice cream cake, which was served with a chocolate sauce and a few small pieces of fruit. When this ice cream was described to me, I was expecting more of a chocolate thing, and so when it came out I was very worried about it. Whenever I hear about ice cream with avocado in it, I think about that time Cindy and Michael made avocado ice cream and I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to . So I was concerned! However it turns out I needn't have worried, as this was delicious and I would DEFINITELY eat it again. My only wish is that there'd been more fruit to go with it.

On this occasion I took home a slice of passionfruit cake, which was light and lovely with a tart passionfruit syrup on the top. A++ would eat again.

On my third visit it was specifically to pick up a box of donuts. Once a month Zenna takes orders (over instagram) for donuts. They're six to a box, minimum six for an order, $2 per donut. The flavours vary every month. I went for 2 x dark chocolate almond, 2 x oreo, 1 x blueberry and 1 x dark chocolate cranberry. Every mouthful was a delight! I hope I'm here still for my final order. Because they're mini donuts, it was no trouble for me to polish them all off, and they made up slightly for missing World Vegan Day in Melbourne over the weekend.

Since I was there anyway, and I'd been tortured by two hours of family time with no actual food I can eat (My Auntie told another vego the popiah were vegetarian; spoilers, he spat it into the bin cos there was prawns IN POPIAH), I paused for dinner. The all day breakfast comes with coconut waffles, housemade sausages (containing rosemary), housemade vegan feta, avocado, tomatoes, AMAZING mushrooms, and totally unnecessary alfalfa. It's accompanied by a juice or soup. Obviously I went with juice, because it's the best, and obviously I chose watermelon, because watermelon juice, freshly squeezed, in Southeast Asia, is one of life's true joys. The waffles were savoury, the feta was pleasantly salty, and the mushrooms were juicy, pan-fried portabellos, and oh how I have missed them. So that was very nice, too.

Well Dressed is a little pricy by Singapore standards, but the service is fast, everyone is friendly, and there's lots of vegetables served in raw and interesting ways, which is not necessarily how you get vegetables in Singapore. I probably shouldn't eat there twice a week, but it is very nice.

Well Dressed Salad Bar
282 South Bridge Road
Chinatown (South of Sri Mariamman Temple)

There are a variety of buses that stop on North Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street, or the Chinatown MRT is about a 7 minute walk. There's a step to enter the shop. The unisex toilet is down the back of the shop but from memory it's accessible. Takes credit card yay.

Posted October 24, 2016 11:56 PM by steph

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Plum and rhubarb jam, a fete and a birthday

This weekend's weather was not kind with wintery temperatures and far far too much rain but it takes far more than that to keep me from the school fete and my sister's birthday party.  I had volunteered to make jam and used what fruit was given to me to make a couple batches.

When I began this blog, I had very little experience of jam making but now I am far more confident about working out how much sugar, when it is done and how to sterilise the jars.  Even so I was a little freaked out when I took a large bag of frozen plums and found how soft they were when they thawed.  I had to use them then and there!  Well, almost.  I actually chopped them as soon as they thawed, put them in the saucepan with sugar and then too another 24 hours to find time to make the jam.  By then I had been given some rhubarb that I threw in the pot with some extra sugar.

I had planned to get to the jam making earlier but I was busy getting my Christmas parcels in the post to Ireland and Scotland.  It was a rude shock to find that Australia Post is only doing seamail for parcels over 2kg and if you dare to attempt it they had a long form to fill out.  Apparently people don't send enough parcels seamail these days.  Hurrumph!  I still love seamail to keep the cost of Christmas parcels down.  Am I the only one?  I guess not many people make jam these days either.

So after posting parcels, doing body balance, making dinner, finding jars in the back of the cupboard , going to my singing group, and fitting in some work hours too, it was evening when I finally made the jam.  Far too late.  Even later than I meant as I had run out of lemons and had to buy some before I started.

I used a bit more sugar that I usually do as I wanted to make sure the jam kept well.  I had added some water and left this in the recipe below but I do wonder if it was really needed as there was so much juice that seeped out of the thawed plums and I was waiting for ages past when I wanted to sleep for the jam to reach the right consistency.  I would have loved to taste the jam but not enough to eat a whole jar so I contented myself with eating some of the scrapings from the pot.

Once the jam was made it sat in the kitchen for almost a week until I got labels printed off.  Far more professional than my usually hand writing!  Before putting them on I dunked the jars in a bowl of hot water to wash off the jam spilled down the sides.

Finally I was given some gingham and rubber bands to top the jars.  Again it really looked quite smart.  I also took along some strawberry and rhubarb jam.  Towards the end of the fete I checked the jam stall and was pleased to find none of my jars left.

The reason the fete was held on the weekend was that we had local council elections and our school is a voting booth.  Incidentally apparently very few of the councils across the state chose to have voting booths.  So you came into the fete through a barrage of how to vote leafleteers and in the middle of the fete was a long queue of voters.

When I arrived it was sunny and I was hopeful that the weather forecasters got it wrong.  Sadly, it did not take long to find that 90% chance of rain really does mean it will rain.  By the time I had voted, the weather was on the turn.  And my voting didn't take long at 9.30am.  But in my rush to leave the house, we had forgotten Sylvia's rides wristband.  A friend was heading home to get the car because the rain was so bad.  I drove her home and got the wristband while Sylvia stayed with a friend.

Sylvia was very excited about the rides.  Buying a rides pass was good value and let her walk into whatever rides she wanted.  Actually "rides" is misleading.  On offer were a chair swing, a bouncy castle and a rock climbing tower.  (The cup and saucer ride did not work as it was waterlogged.)  I was pretty impressed that Sylvia got herself into a harness and climbed up this tower.

It was a great shame that the bad weather meant that the rides were only available in bursts of sunshine.  It gave kids less opportunity and the school less fundraising.  Yet the kids did seem to enjoy it when they were able to get on the rides.  Though Sylvia did once hop on the chair swing as the sky became grey and halfway through her ride it started raining.

We also enjoyed walking around the stalls.  I made a few purchases at the jam stall.  After putting out quite a few books for the second hand bookstall, I was pleased to walk away with only one book (a Clementine Rose novel for Sylvia).  We went to the toy stall where Sylvia insisted on buying a soft panda toy (giving me visions of Peppa Pig at the funfair) who is her latest best friend.  I got some dodgy out of date eye serum in an adult lucky dip (do people use eye serum?).  Due to the weather, a lot of kids activities like hair spray, face paint, tattoos and craft were moved indoors.  It didn't take long for the books to follow. 

I had a vegie burger from the sausage sizzle but Sylvia would not eat them.  There was also a coffee stand and a cake stall.  I was rostered on for the plant stall but there seemed lots of people helping out there already so I offered my services to the cake stall.  I spent almost two hours of constantly telling people cake prices and taking their money.  My contribution to the cake stall was the grubs (truffles) above.  They sold rather quickly.  Yay!

I was really impressed with someone who bought lots of op shop plates and arranged bakes on them and wrapped each plate of cakes in cellophane.  They looked really attractive and would make great gifts.  In fact I might steal the idea for Christmas presents.  And the cellophane was good when gusts of rain blew over the cake stall.  It was no fun mopping water off a few plates of cakes.

The rain came on and off so that the hay bales that would have been a lovely place to eat on a sunny day looked soggy and sad.  When E performed with his uke in this area, he had one brave soul sitting on the bales but I could hear girls buying cakes humming along.

I felt sorry for those who were queuing for up to half an hour when it rained.  One burst of rain was so heavy that everyone in queue looked really shiny wet with coats plastered to them.  I imagine some of them just wanted to head for home once they had voted rather than to spend time at the fete.  But then I also expect some people might have made a sympathy purchase because it was just so sad to have made so many preparations and have the weather turn on us like that.  But that is Melbourne spring weather and we soldiered on as best as we could.

I was ready to go home and curl up after hours at the fete.  But my sister had a significant birthday party in Geelong.  So we headed home to pack our bags and head down the freeway to the party.  It was a great party.  Indoors of course.  She had also dreamt of a lovey spring evening outdoors but it wasn't to be.  The flower-topped two-tiered cake was gorgeous and my family brought along some sweet food.  My contribution was a plate of watermelon.

My sister's partner is great at BBQs and had pork and coleslaw buns for everyone.  We had some vegies sausages with our buns and coleslaw.  I was glad of some decent savoury food for Sylvia.  She wolfed down a couple of sausages accompanied by cheezels and then headed out to the trampoline.

My sister looked gorgeous and I really enjoyed catching up with family and some of her longtime friends.  Sylvia was excited to have a late night but I was glad to collapse into bed at the end of the day.

More jams on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Mixed berry jam (gf, v)
Peach and pineapple jam (gf, v)
Plum jam (gf, v)
Plums and raspberry jam (gf, v)
Rhubarb and strawberry jam (gf, v)
Strawberry chia seed jam (gf, v)

Plum and Rhubarb Jam
Makes about 10 x 250ml jars

2kg plums
350g rhubarb
6.5 cups sugar
1 cup water 
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)

Stone and chop plums.  Chop rhubarb into 1cm pieces.  Place in large saucepan/stockpot with rest of the ingredients.  (At this point I left mine for 24 hours because was busy.)  Bring to the boil.  Simmer at medium heat (reducing to low heat once it thickens a little) until it passed the saucer test or falls off the spoon like jam.  Mine took about 90 minutes.  Perhaps next time I leave out the water!  Ladle into sterilised jars and screw lids on tightly.  I turned mine upside down for about 5 minutes to encourage the lids to seal.  Cool and keep in a cool place until ready to open.

NOTES: To sterilise jars:

While jam/chutney is simmering, sterilise your jars and lids.  I bake mine for 30 minutes in the oven at 150 C and boil the lids on the stovetop for 10 minutes, then driy them on a rack.  I find it easy to put all the jars in a roasting dish so I am not having to handle them individually.

On the Stereo:
The very best of Edith Piaf

Posted October 24, 2016 09:43 PM by Johanna GGG

October 22, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Grand Trailer Park Taverna

October 4, 2016

Almost every time Cindy and I eat in the CBD we wind up heading to Shandong Mama or Shanghai Street, so we were delighted when Hayley suggested a pre-movie meal at Grand Trailer Park Taverna. Melbourne's obsession with dude-food is getting a bit tiresome, but even the most committed dumpling-heads need a change sometimes. Grand Trailer Park Taverna exploded onto Melbourne's burger scene a few years back, with queues out the door and inordinate amounts of buzz (see the blog round-up below). Things appear to have mellowed slightly, and we had no trouble getting a table early on a Tuesday night.

It's a beautiful setup, with tables nestled inside wooden caravan cut-outs and little cabins, chandeliers on the ceiling and a bright, cheerful vibe. The menu is a glorious paean to junk food, featuring ridiculous boozy milkshakes, a selection of burgers, loads of fried sides and mad dessert dishes like an ice-cream donut sandwich or the menacingly titled 'chocopalypse'. Vegans are basically going to be stuck eating chips and onion rings - it seems a shame that they haven't come up with an option or two burger-wise, but they're clearly focussing on the meaty end of the market.

The drinks menu is fantastic - we couldn't stomach the idea of boozy milkshakes, but the cocktails provided an excellent fallback option - the apple collins ($18) and dark and stormy ($18) pictured above were both superb.

Food-wise, we kicked things off with a mac 'n' cheese croquette each ($4.50). We all expected something small and spherical, so these giant squares of fried came as something of a shock.

A delicious, gooey shock.

There's just the one vego burger on the menu - the Shaquitta (chickpea patty, cheddar cheese, tomato, butter, lettuce, special burger sauce and mustard on a brioche bun, $12.50). We added a serve of the fries ($5.50) and the onion rings ($5.50) to round out the savoury portion of the meal.

The burger was adequate - heavy on the cheese and sauce, which covered for a reasonably unexciting patty. I was moaning about the brioche buns as we ordered, but this one was surprisingly okay - far from the sickly sweet mess that some places serve up. The chips and onion rings were crispy fried and salty, which is a recipe for success (and a second round of drinks).

One of the main reasons we'd ended up at Grand Trailer Park was Cindy and Hayley's shared excitement over the dessert menu. The ridiculousness is typified by the $38 giant waffle stack and the aforementioned chocopalypse (described thusly, "Look. Feel. Hear. Smell. Taste. At the end??? Have a goodnight"), but even the smaller options are a bit mad. We went for a regular waffle stack - a pair of waffles sandwiching Nutella parfait, whipped cream and strawberries all drowning in a Nutella sauce ($10).

I'd over-committed on the savoury round, so I only sampled a teeny bit of this. It was as rich and ridiculous as it looks, but that's what we were there for. This would surely be impossible for anyone to finish on their own, but split a few ways it worked well, with the strawberries providing at least some respite from the choc-creaminess of the rest.

We had fun at Grand Trailer Park Taverna - the staff were friendly and efficient and the vibe of the place was lovely. I imagine things get a bit more hectic on a Friday night, but it was a surprisingly relaxed place for dinner on a Tuesday. The food is junky and the vego options are limited, but it's worth a visit for the ridiculous desserts and great drinks.

Thoughts of a Moni provided a rare review of the vego burger, while there were very positive meaty reviews at Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Dreamer, For Food's Sake, I'm so Hungree, The Very, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Olive Sundays, New International Students, De-Briefme, Big Picture Stuff, MEL: HOT OR NOT, confessions of a little piggy, Bauble, Bubbles and Bags, Hashtag, The City Walker, Eye Eat, Dang It We Love Food, The Melbourne Glutton, Team Cheeseburger, trading plates, Gastronomical Ramblings, Foodie Melbourne, The Domestic Traveller, Fun Date Ideas, Lips Temptations, BLK's Food Blog, Eve Lovelle, Crushing on Food, Food Comatose, Mango Macarons, Ichigo Shortcake, Melbourne Vita, Kit and Kafoodle, Burgers of Melbourne, Andrew's Food Adventures, Good Food Good Karma, Eat My Words, The Food Society, Eat Like Ushi, delightfully tasty and Foodie About Town.  

The Burger Adventure, Linnie Eats all the Food, Snow Crab Nebula, Journey from Within, DonutSam, Gastronomic Gems and Wandering Mint were all a bit less excited, but nobody was hugely negative about their experiences at Grand Trailer Park.


Grand Trailer Park Taverna
Upstairs at 87 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9972 3699
food, drinks

Accessibility: The only way in seems to be via a set of stairs, which isn't ideal. Inside, there's a mix of high and regular tables. You order at a high counter and the food is brought to your table. Toilets are gendered and not notably accessible.

Posted October 22, 2016 03:30 PM by Michael

October 21, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls

This is not a Halloween post.  However Sylvia is skipping with joy at the thought of Halloween so we have lots of Halloween food props and ideas and plans.  (Though I have said no to trick or treat.)  I am still trying to think what would be the best way to use some candy eyes I have saved from Christmas in July.  Today I made these bliss balls and thought that you could do far worse than to make healthy recipes like this and put some eyes on them for Halloween treats.

But honestly I don't want to talk about Halloween.  I just want to post some good food.  Life is busy with Vegan MoFo preparation (sign up deadline is today), school fete preparation (am going to make grubs after work tonight),  my neighbour asking me who are the candidates in the local elections (thanks Catherine), a busy week with only one night where I am not heading out, birthday celebrations, and other stuff I can't even remember.  Above is a photo of the mac and cheese I made last night.  Perhaps I should call it a Mac and Cheese bowl.  So good.  But it was a dairy one that wont make it into November when my blog goes vegan for Vegan MoFo.

This photo also wont make it into my vegan month of November.  It was a very good afternoon tea birthday spread for my dad recently.  My mum did an amazing job of it.  I loved the guiness chocolate cake and the scones with jam and cream.  I will be telling you about my latest version of vegan sausage rolls.

I haven't done much of my own baking lately.  Yes, I have been trying to eat healthily.  Doing my best but could do better.  However, even if this was not the case, I still have baking the freezer and little time to bake.  Today I just wanted to make these bliss balls.  The combination of tahini and chocolate reminded me a bit of some favourite recipes.

It also seemed a good opportunity to use up some of the maca powder.  Apparently all its powerhouse of nutritional benefits is more potent when uncooked.  I am still a bit scared of the powder after the packet says not to eat too much at first but they say it makes you feel good and I could do with some of that feeling right now.  I am not that sure how much influence the maca is having but I can tell you that they taste great and that makes me happy.

And did I mention that they are nut free which is great for school snacks (if your kids aren't too fussy.)  I found them rather sweet and enjoyed them more when rolled in cocoa.

I took the above photo of some blossoms in Brunswick yesterday.  Look at that blue sky.  It was a wonderful warm spring day.  Today the sky is blue and tomorrow, the day of the school fete, is forecast to be cold, windy and wet with a chance of hail and thunderstorms.  Wish us luck and I will tell you about the jam I made for the fete soon!

I am sending these to Gluten Free Fridays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, We Should Cocoa and Treat Petite

More bliss balls on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Almond, date and cranberry truffles (gf, v)
Almond energy snacks (v)
Chocolate bliss balls with banana and oats (v)
Cocoa bites (gf, v)
Coconut almond balls (gf, v)
Wattleseed cashew truffles (gf, v)

Chocolate tahini maca bliss balls
Adapted from Wholefood Simply via goodfood.com.au
Makes 20-24

1/2 cup hulled tahini
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
2 tbsp maca powder
2 tablespoons cocoa
Pinch of salt
1 cup desiccated coconut
extra 1/4 cup cocoa, for coating

Mix tahini, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, maca powder, cocoa and salt to make a paste.  Mix in coconut.  Roll into walnut sized balls and coat in cocoa powder.

On the Stereo:
Amsterdamned: Tom Waits

Posted October 21, 2016 01:06 PM by Johanna GGG

October 18, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Street Art in Melbourne: Chapel Street, Fitzroy and surrounds

Life continues to be busy and so I bring you some street art photos from July 2014.  They were taken at Chapel Street in Fitzroy where it comes off Johnston Street and turns into Elliot Street.  When I was there, I was impressed at all the street art. 

The street sign has a second sign saying Juddy Roller, a street art company (I didn't know they had street art companies!!!) so I assume they have done some of it.  If I had the time, I would look it up. 

Hope you enjoy the pics, particularly The Hamburgler (does anyone else remember him?)

More street art photos can be found under Street Art in Melbourne in my Reflections and Reviews page.

Posted October 18, 2016 11:20 AM by Johanna GGG

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Annual lab culinary competition

October 3, 2016

Early October heralds the longest-standing tradition of my workplace - a culinary competition coinciding with the birthday of a beloved colleague. We had more entries and eaters this year than we've seen for a while! I've collated as many dishes as I can in the slideshow above. In the inclusive spirit of the event, it's the one time I allow photos of meat on the blog. 

That said, this might have been the most veg-friendly year yet. Lovely dips, fritters and finger foods... the black bean chipotle burgers were a highlight for me. There were not as many salads as usual, though I did my bit by submitting Ottolenghi's cauliflower, grape & cheddar salad. Sweets were variously fruity, fancy and far from traditional (check out the dumplings!). My own deviation from the norm was a ketchup cake, and it earned me a prize in the 'tastes better than it sounds' category.

The grand prize winner was a new entrant, who made some lovely olive bread sticks. The judges praised the dish for its classic style, superlative flavour and hipster-rustic presentation.


You can also check out competition entries from years 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Posted October 18, 2016 07:23 AM by Cindy

October 16, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Tofu in lemongrass broth

September 25, 2016

On our return from Western Australia we wanted something quick and healthy to ease ourselves back into the non-holiday routine - this tofu in lemongrass broth was the perfect choice. We've been making it regularly since we first posted about it back in 2008, so we figured it was time to finally put the recipe on here rather than relying on the old post at Nourish Me staying up forever. It's a really simple recipe, but a really great one (it's already featured in our where's the best list!).  It's all about the broth - fragrant and spicy and carrying the simple veggies and tofu to new heights. A great dish for Melbourne's cold spring nights, but only if you're pro-coriander!

Tofu in lemongrass broth
(based on this recipe at Nourish Me)

2 stalks of lemongrass, roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, cut into 2-3 chunks
6-8 makrut lime leaves
1 large bunch of coriander, washed thoroughly, leaves and stalks separated
1.5 cups water
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 medium brown onion, sliced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chilli, seeded and sliced finely
a big handful of green beans, trimmed and halved
1 small bunch broccolini, chopped up
300g tofu (Lucy uses silken, but we prefer something firmer), cubed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
200ml coconut milk
fried shallots

Start cooking some rice before you get started on the rest, it all comes together quite quickly.

Put the lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves and coriander stalks in a saucepan with the water and a big pinch of salt. Bring the mix to the boil and then simmer uncovered until the mixture has reduced by half (about 15 minutes). 

Sieve out the bits and pieces and then stir the tamari and sugar into the liquid.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions, garlic and chilli, stir-frying for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Add the beans, broccolini and tofu and keep stir-frying for another few minutes, until the vegies are just cooked. 

Pour in the broth and the coconut milk and simmer for a few more minutes. Stir in all of the coriander leaves and cook for a final minute, until they've wilted down a bit. 

Taste and add more salt if required. Serve over rice, with a generous sprinkling of fried shallots on top.

Posted October 16, 2016 01:07 PM by Michael

October 14, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Carrot, feta and cashew dip

It is busy times here and I am trying to spend time working on writing a few Vegan MoFo posts in advance.  So instead of telling you about some of the wonderful vegan food we have been eating, I am sharing a carrot feta and cashew dip I made last year in August.  Oh dear that is over a year ago.

I really love making dips.  The reality at the moment is that Sylvia is not keen on trying new dips.  She loves hummus but will not eat it when it is homemade so we buy a big bucket of hummus and go through it rather quickly.  It is a treat to make an interesting dip for E and me.

Sylvia does love it when I chop up lots of vegies to serve with dip and crackers.  She enjoys choosing what she wants.  As you can see in the photo she often goes straight for the chips or crackers.  But she also will eat vegies.  I love these sort of relaxed meals too.  Not too much work.  Not too many dishes.  And a nice healthy meal.  

I wish I could remember the dip better.  It was a bit more creamy than I usually have but had a nice flavour.  I wrote a list of ingredients in my notes but not much more.  There is this spinach pesto with almonds and feta link and a note to say "Blend and spread".  Does this mean I didn't cook the carrot?  I am not sure but I think I would cook the carrots before making it.  If nothing else it would give a little looseness to the dip which was pretty thick.  I have made a great raw feta for Vegan MoFo so if I use it to try making a vegan version of this dip, I will report back!

More dip recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Beetroot hummus (gf, v)
Buffalo hummus (gf, v)
Finnish green bean paté (gf)
Hummus (gf, v)
Roasted pumpkin and garlic hummus (gf, v)
Spinach hummus (gf, v)
Vegan salmon pate (gf, v)
Voracious vegan pate (v)

Carrot, feta and cashew dip

130g cashew
130g (2 medium) carrots 
100g feta
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 small garlic clove

Cook carrots.  Blend all ingredients until you have a smooth spread.  Keep in the fridge in an airtight container.

On the Stereo:
On the Road with the Wiggles

Posted October 14, 2016 09:32 PM by Johanna GGG

October 12, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


September 20-23, 2016

After our time in Perth and Fremantle, we headed down the south coast to spend the rest of the week in sleepy Busselton. We'd imagined a beachy holiday, but WA's weather didn't really oblige. Instead, we had a quiet few days lounging around our apartment reading books and eating treats and generally kicking back. We didn't come to Busselton for the food, but we took our chance to explore what was on offer.

We started off by checking out The Fire Station, a bar and restaurant in a gorgeous old building.

It's cosy inside with a fire going and a steady stream of customers. You can swing by to try the impressive array of craft beer and local wines, or settle in for a meal. We had no trouble getting a table on the two nights that we stopped by, but I'd guess things would get pretty hectic when summer rolled around.

The menu is very gastropub, with a selection of pizzas, pastas and some meatier options. There are enough vego options to go around, but vegans will struggle.

Cindy ordered the pan fried gnocchi with Swiss brown mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, burnt butter, sage & goats cheese ($24).

It was a lovely meal: plump fluffy gnocchi with lots of earthy mushrooms and a few bursts of freshness from the tomatoes. 

I took on one of the vego pizzas, with parsnips, honey, goats cheese and a rocket and horseradish pesto ($22). This was another success - a crisp, light base with an inventive combination of toppings.

The Fire Station really impressed me - it had classy pub food in a charming setting, with friendly staff and a great selection of booze. We stopped by for a drink on one of our other evenings in town just to enjoy the atmosphere - it's definitely worth a visit.


The other noteworthy place we ate at in Busselton was Mana Kai Cafe, an almost-vegetarian place (there's one salmon dish I think) tucked into a little arcade. They're a daytime eatery, with a range of made-to-order breakfast and lunch options, plus a stack of pre-made goodies in the display cases. There are plenty of vegan options. 

We started out by sampling their fancy drinks - a detox juice (celery, mint, parsley, cucumber, kale and pear) for me and a citrus blast (lemon, lime, orange, apple) for Cindy. At $9 a pop these aren't cheap, but they're refreshing and delicious. 

Cindy cobbled together a lunch by combining a savoury muffin ($5) with handcut potato skins with a combo of chutney and garlic yoghurt dressing ($6).

I tested the kitchen out a bit more with the Asian bowl - marinated tempeh, rice noodles, kim chi, carrot, sprouts, corn, red cabbage and greens with a miso and ginger dressing ($15.50).

This was a delight - loaded with fresh vegetables and bursting with flavour thanks to the kim chi and the miso dressing. A perfect counterbalance to all the pizzas I ate over our holiday. 

Mana Kai was heaving on our visit and they seemed to be equally popular with locals and tourists. It's great to see a vego place doing so well outside of the big cities. I'm sure it's a haven for vegan visitors to Busselton. 

We had a nice quiet few days in Busselton, enjoying a day tour around the Margaret River area and sneaking in quite a few visits to the wonderful birdhide on the Vasse River - some photographic highlights are below.

Posted October 12, 2016 03:44 PM by Michael

October 11, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Dal with haloumi and mint

Daylight savings has struck, spring rains are quenching our gardens and the nights are getting lighter.  Just not quite enough light for when I am rushing to make dinner on a weekend after gymnastics, lunch, op shopping and a garage sale.  So today I bring you this gorgeous but far from traditional dal that is served with golden brown haloumi and handfuls of mint from the garden.

I remembered the dal when looking for ways to use my mint that is flourishing after the recent rains.  I had planned to serve it in a fancy plate and take some tempting photos.  It is a dal after all that looks beautiful.  It is not at all traditional.  I took a recipe that used haloumi instead of paneer cheese.  I gather that the advice not to colour the haloumi was to make it look more like paneer but I like my haloumi golden brown so I dud as I pleased.

However I was rushing not just to beat the fading light but also to get dinner finished so we could eat with Sylvia who already had started dinner.  This, of course, did not stop her rushing out to help chopping mint from the garden with E and helping him to strip the mint leaves from the stalks.  She took great enjoyment in tossing a handful of mint leaves on the dal.

The next day I served the leftover dal and rice with some onion, cabbage and carrot that I fried with a scattering of mustard seeds. The dal was delicious but I did love it even more the second day when the mint flavour shone through and it had the vegetables on the side as well as brown rice.  Last night we finished it with the leftover cabbage and pasta.  It is a lovely dal to welcome in spring.

It was also really nice to have a good home made meal.  The first week of school term is always busy both with Sylvia and work.  This term has had a few challenges - technical errors at work, medical appointments and Christmas shopping for overseas relatives - that made me feel quite wrung out by the end of the week.  Then yesterday we heard that our accountant had died.  This week is looking better with a birthday brunch, Italian day at school and hopefully some time to tidy up the house.

I am sending this dal to Meat Free Monday; Eat your Greens hosted by VegHog this month; and My Legume Love Affair hosted by Cooking with Siri which is in its 100th month in October.

More red lentils recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe 
Creamy lentil and vegetable soup (v, gf)
Curried red lentil and apricot soup (gf, v)
Green dal (gf, v)
Red lentil dosa (gf, v)
Red lentil koftas (gf, v)
Red lentil loaf
Sweet potato and red lentil soup (gf, v)

Dal with haloumi and mint
Adapted from Karen Martini in goodfood.com.au
Serves 4-6

2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced*
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups split red lentils
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp chilli paste
1 tsp salt flakes, or to taste
180g haloumi, cut into cubes**
10 fresh curry leaves
2 handfuls mint leaves

Fry onion in 1 tbsp olive oil* for a few minutes until it is translucent.  Add 2 cloves of garlic* and stir for a minute or two until fragrant and then stir in turmeric briefly.  Pour in water, stock, red lentils, peas and season with chilli paste and salt flakes.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentil are soft.

About 25 minutes into the simmer of the lentils, fry haloumi in another tbsp of oil* over medium heat on a frypan until it is golden brown on both sides.   Scatter onto the dal once the lentil are cooked.  Add another 1/2 tbsp of oil* and briefly cook the remaining 2 cloves of garlic* and then cook the curry leaves (about 20 seconds) until starting to wilt.  Arrange over the curry.  Scatter with mint leaves and serve.

**NOTES:  To make a vegan version of this, you could try Rosalie's vegan "haloumi".

On the stereo:
Music From The Motion Picture Once: soundtrack: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Posted October 11, 2016 10:33 AM by Johanna GGG

October 09, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne

Bread in Common

September 17 & 19, 2016

The eating highlight of our time in Fremantle was Bread in Common. It's a converted warehouse with long communal tables and a no-bookings policy that reminded me of Garagistes, and we took a punt on it for a fancy dinner.

The sharing menu is a good one for vegetarians, and solid for vegans too (we overheard one sitting next to us and he seemed to be a regular!). Gluten-free folks also have plenty to choose from but the severely allergic may wish to proceed with caution - this restaurant is clearly proud of its bread and operates as a flour-dusted bakery as well as a restaurant.

We were in the mood for cocktails - Michael enjoyed a negroni ($17) served with a huge ice sphere and I tried their burnt lime mule ($18). Unlimited bread comes with a $2 per person price tag, and the first section of the menu is an array of little foods that complement it. Although we ordered the sweet garlic butter with fennel salt ($2), we strongly suspect that we received the unflavoured butter - it was still pretty good. Even better was the vegan-friendly white bean puree swirled with rosemary and saltbush ($4).

A plate of orange and purple carrots ($19) was made sweet and sour with compressed rhubarb and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Late season mushrooms ($20) were much more savoury, flavoured with shallots, miso, edamame and blue cheese then crowned with mustard leaves.

Our favourite was the sweet potato dish ($21) with artichokes, macadamias, capers and verjuice - it captured sweet and savoury equally and expertly.

For dessert, Michael took a rare trip into cheese platter territory ($32), gleefully picking his way through a Cambray Farmhouse cheddar, Onetik Bleu de Basque, Auvermont Bleu, Le Marquis Chevre, toasted breads and a glass of Hekate Passito ($13).

I skipped over the chocolate and strawberry desserts I'd usually go for to try their bread and butter pudding ($18). The promised ginger wasn't as strong as I'd hoped, and the condensed milk was fun but not striking; I was neither thrilled nor disappointed. (I later learned that they make their own Oreos and have a twinge of regret for not trying the chocolate dessert.)

While these were certainly special-occasion prices, we were satisfied that we received a special-occasion experience, from the service and setting to the vegetarian dishes and the extravagent extras.

When our hopes of visiting vegetarian cafe Juicy Beetroot fell through a couple of days later, Bread in Common was an easy fallback breakfast. To our surprise, the prices at this time of day were no higher than we'd paid for breakfast at other Perth and Fremantle cafes. I tried their version of the ubiquitous avocado smash ($17), which came with a lemon sliver, abundant fresh peas, a few purplish-green leaves and some sadly burned and too-tough-to-cut sourdough toast. I found the perfect smoothie to drink with it ($8), a slushy pale green glass of coconut, apple and lime.

Michael decided to reprise the mushrooms ($21). In the morning they're served richly with taleggio, mushroom ketchup and wholemeal toast.

Michael easily convinced me to pick something from their sweets list. The jam and chocolate hazelnut (read: Nutella) donuts ($5 each) were just fine, nothing special. I really should have ordered one of those housemade Oreos, huh?

It was probably lucky that we entered Bread in Common ignorant of the widespread hype (see blog posts below, for example). Their incidentally-veg dishes were bright and tasty, and their high-end-but-casual style wasn't too pretentious. Eating out in Perth is frequently expensive, and in this context Bread in Common feels like even better value.

Reviews are more mixed on BLK's Food Blog and FoodPorn Journal, then distinctly disappointed on MorselsWenY Wonders WhyPerth Food Blog and Taste Test - Food.Life.

Bread in Common
43 Pakenham St, Fremantle
(08) 9336 1032
dinner, breakfast

Accessibility: They've been mindful in their design - wide flat entry and clear corridors, although tables can be densely packed. We ordered at the table, also paying there for dinner but paying at a high counter for breakfast. Toilets were gendered but included a third fully accessible option.

Posted October 09, 2016 12:54 PM by Cindy

October 08, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Crafternoon: Brunswick cafe

At the beginning of the school holidays, Sylvia and I had an appointment in Brunswick so I wanted somewhere to eat beforehand.  I had always meant to visit Crafternoon in North Carlton and was pleased to find there is now a Brunswick cafe.  (Seems they moved in November and the North Carlton store is now closed.)   We had lots of fun and a nice lunch too.  And after a return visit today, I still think Crafternoon is a great place to take kids.

Upon entering the store, we were enthusiastically greeted and led to a table.  I was struck by all the craft and indeed it does seem to focus far more on craft than on food.  Which is not to say we didn't have some good vegetarian options.  But first look at all those pictures.

As well as pictures hanging from the ceiling, the floor is an appealing collage of magazine pages and the walls have displays of all the craft options such as badges, bookmarks, masks and crowns.

Upon entering we were greeted enthusiastically and given a menu.  The first page of the menu is a list of craft activities available.  Sylvia chose the playdough which came with a box of playdough toys.  She set about making a fruit and waffle ensemble while I drew with the pens and paper offered to us.

She had a cheese and vegemite toastie ($5) for lunch, accompanied by a baby hot chocolate.  The toastie was great but the hot chocolate was a small glass of lukewarm milk with not much chocolate flavouring.  I am guessing it for for toddlers rather than school age kids.  I think she woudl have prefeered an adult hot chocolate.

I chose the Roasted Pumpkin toastie ($9), which came with pumpkin, seared haloumi, baby spinach, and cashew dressing on mutligrain sourdough.  It was very nice.  A cut above the average toastie with lots of nice vegies.  I was surprised that the pumpkin was toasted in thin slices with the skin on but it seemed nice and soft.

Sylvia spied the Decorate-A-Cupcake on the menu but we did not have time for it.  So we returned later in the afternoon.  It was quieter than at lunchtime but we received a warm welcome as though we were old friends.  I really liked the little pain palate cum plate that the cupcake came on.  It had an art and craft feel to it and lots of options for decorating.

Here is Sylvia's finished creation.  I would have used more of the sprinkles but it seems that, unlike me, she knows that less is more.  The eyes are pretty cute!  It is such a fun idea for kids to decorate their own cupcakes.  It did mean a lot of icing to give kids a large canvas but I liked that it was as much about craft as food.

Despite being advised that the chocolate cake was great, I went for the carrot cake.  The cake was lovely and moist with nuts, pineapple and sultanas.  Sadly it was let down by the cream cheese frosting being a bit dry.  I tasted Sylvia's frosting which was soft and perfect so perhaps I was unlucky.  I ignored the cream and was happy just to eat the lovely cake.  Though I wish I had remembered my earlier plan to order the scones with jam and cream.

Meanwhile we doodled with the pencils and paper that is provided to every customer.  I love being able to scribble while I wait for Sylvia to finish.  And I thought it cute that she drew an owl to accompany mine.  I enjoyed it being quiet though it lacked some of the energy of the earlier visit but it was quieter than our visit today.

Today Sylvia and I returned with E in tow.  Sylvia was set on having the Billie Jean.  This is a bowl of mixed rice bubbles and coco pops with a jug of milk.  Sylvia didn't touch the milk because she does not like dairy milk so next time I would get her soy milk.  She also had a cheese and vegemite toastie.  Bargaining with Sylvia about menus has become even more complex since she started to read.  This meal was a bit much for her and half of the toastie came home with us to be eaten later.  I think she was more interested in her playdough activity!

I ordered the Crafty Amigos (which is gluten free and vegan.  The menu described it as "homemade toasted cornbread, topped with corn, capsicum, tomato beans, baby spinach and avocado.  I had imagined it as a fancy fry up but it was more like a tex mex meal.  I really loved it though it was very filling (and worth the $15).  It seems my eyes were bigger than my stomach.

I had also ordered the mini vegie rolls off the kids menu for E and I to share.  They were made with vegetables and marinated feta and really good.  E also enjoyed a soy latte and a poached chicken sandwich which came with an interesting cranberry and pistachio roulade.

I really loved visiting Crafternoon.  The idea of craft activities while eating out really appeals.  The craft and food on offer is quite overwhelming but there are lots of good options and an awareness of dietary options.  It is an entertaining place with lots to do and look at, newspapers and books to peruse, and fun names for meals like "Happily Ever Crafter".  I'd still like to try the pea fritters and the mushroom mountain. 

As we were leaving, two of the staff were dressed as fairies in preparation for  a party and clearly enjoying themselves.  When Sylvia asked for a different colour of playdough, they were happy to oblige and when they saw she did not like her dairy milk they offered soy milk.  I am sure we will be back and will be warmly welcomed when we return.

718 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(near the corner of Albion Street)
03 8777 0125

Crafternoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted October 08, 2016 10:06 PM by Johanna GGG

October 04, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Carrot, onion and poppyseed bread

I really loved experimenting with some different flavours in bread baking.  Sylvia response was to ask when I was going to make her some of the white sourdough bread she loves.  Though I love my white loaves, I yearn for something a bit fancier.  And that was why I made this carrot, onion and poppyseed bread when Sylvia was staying with my mum for a couple of nights.  I made two different loaves and will share more about the fruit loaf soon.

I was inspired by the onion and poppyseed bread at Bakers Delight but then I decided to add carrot because I could.  I ran out of onion flakes so I fried some onion.  Good move!  Yet I could barely taste the onion in the warm bread.  Once cooled, it was a bit more prominent but still subtle.  Maybe more onion next time but I really loved this loaf.

When Sylvia came home from my mum's, we had a lovely lunch of fresh bread with cheese and chutney.  A couple of days later  Sylvia had been trampolining at Bounce with a friend.  They came back to ours for lunch.  I made them a pretty platter of bread, crackers, cheese, bikkies and hummus.  They left the bread and headed for the crackers and hummus.  Sigh!  They took their plates of lunch outside to a little tent they had set up as a house.  I stayed inside and enjoyed the bread and vegies!

I am sending this to Healthy Vegan Fridays

More savoury baking recipes from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Carrot and poppy seed dinner rolls (v)
Cottage cheese and chive bread
Russian Vegetable Bread (v)
Sesame and Lemon Bread (v)
Sprouted green lentil and bulgar bread (v)
Yeasted Zucchini Bread (v) 

Carrot, onion and poppyseed bread
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

200g sourdough starter
275g water
10-12g salt*
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 medium onion, finely chopped*
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
15g poppyseeds 1 1/2 tbsp
4g onion flakes*
400g plain white flour
100g wholemeal flour
maize flour to dust surface

A few hours before making the loaf, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly. 

About an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) fry onion in oil on medium high for about 4 minutes until they start to char around the edges.  Add carrot and fry on medium heat for about 1 to 2 minutes until the carrot changes colour which indicates it it cooked.  Mix everything together.  It is easiest to mix everything except flour first and then add flour.  Use hands to mix if required.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute.  Cover with greased clingwrap and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Very gently without punching the air out, fold the dough in three.  Shape into a loaves.  Place on a floured surface and cover with the lightly greased clingwrap.  (Maize flour is great here.)  Set aside to rise for 30 minutes.  While the loaves rise, preheat oven to 240 C, with casserole dishes heating if you are using them.

Slash the loaves and put in the heated casserole dishes with lids on (or on a tray or in a tin).  Bake for 20 minutes with lid on.  Remove lid and bake another 20 minutes.  Then reduce oven heat to 180 C and return to oven for another 10 minutes to make sure the crust is crispy and golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

* NOTES: For more extensive notes on this method, go to my post on overnight sourdough bread.  I added more salt than usual (12g) because I was concerned that the carrot would make my savoury bread taste too sweet.  It was fine but I suspect you could get by with 10g.  I only used 1 onion but in future would use 2 onions to give more onioin flavour.  I also ran out of onion flakes so might omit if I had more onion or experimenting with using all flakes rather than onions if I had a good tablespoon or two of them.  Though I think I prefer fried onion.

On the Stereo:
The Velvet Underground and Nico 

Posted October 04, 2016 10:04 PM by Johanna GGG

October 01, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

In My Kitchen: October 2016

September has been a big month.  Flooding rains, Father's Day, The Melbourne Show and school holidays.  And now October has started with a bang with an nail biting AFL footy grand final that saw the Western Bulldogs win their first premiership in 62 years.  The kids will be back to school on Monday and the gardens are green.  And it is World Vegetarian Day!

We have had some good breakfasts lately.  The one above is on Father's Day.  We decided a fry-up would be the thing for E.  It was overnight sourdough bread (inexpertly cut by Sylvia when I turned my back), chickpea scramble, veggie sausages, baked beans and sriracha.  It was lovely.  Since then Sylvia has been keen on beans and sausages for weekend breakfasts rather than pancakes.

We visited my own dad on Father's day in Geelong.  I took some coconut ice along.  My mum made pizza, and lots of desserts including macarons, caramel tart and chocolate cake.  I was so full after it.  And we also had a birthday, just in case you noticed the candles on the cake and though it was an odd Father's Day custom in my family.

Sylvia asked for sausages and beans on another weekend morning.  I had a bright idea to use up some potatoes in some potato scones.  Breakfast was a lot later but oh so yummy.

Spring has meant more visits to Coburg Farmers Markets.  Here is what we bought a few weeks ago.  Kale, new season asparagus (for this salad), pesto, a beeswax candle, caramel sauce (used in these chocolates), potato and rosemary sourdough bread, a jam tart, pretzel and Cocoa Rhapsody's fantastic salted lime chocolate.  Happy days!

We love our bread but don't always have it in the house.  One day coming home for lunch I wanted a healthy sandwich.  I remembered Ricki's brilliant Toronto Sandwich which is made with a chickpea flour wrap and lots of salad fillings.  It is so quick to put together that I really should make it more often.

This Women's Weekly Easy Party Cakes book was an impulse purchase from the supermarket.  It is  for those who want fun party food but don't want to cook.  Most recipes either suggest you buy the cakes or use fruit or are no-bake.  I like that it has some fun healthy options and hope it might give me some good inspiration.  I would love to make the camper van on the cover.

In my kitchen is some home cooked jam.  Actually the strawberry chia jam has been eaten and then mixed into ice cream.  The strawberry and rhubarb jam is for the school fete.  One of the jars did not seal so I have had to give it a test run.  I am glad to report it is really lovely.

It would be lovely if our strawberry plant produces some fruit.  Little flowers are opening up and giving us hope.  I'd love to have enough strawberries for jam but I suspect Sylvia would eat them before I had the chance.

During the school holidays, Sylvia went to stay at my mum's for a couple of nights.  She and her cousins decorated cupcakes while she was there and she brought some home.  Aren't they pretty!

On a visit to the farmers market, Sylvia and I tasted Peach Chutney.  We both liked it.  I was so impressed that Sylvia had found a chutney to enjoy that I bought it.  Since then she has not eaten any of the chutney.   E and I have been enjoying it.   Perhaps the sweetness drew in Sylvia and the odd idea of eating chutney pushed her away.  Or maybe it is just that kids are a mystery.

At the Melbourne Show, I bought a Super Food Ideas magazine showbag.  It has so many good things in it, including a copy of the magazine.  Lately I have been very disciplined in not buying food magazines.  I enjoyed flicking through the magazine but haven't had much more time for thinking about making any recipes.  We really liked a Costo Rica clementine anti oxidant infusion drink by Bai and will look out for it in future.  The Lindt chocolates are great too but have been saved while Sylvia eats through the Oreos from her showbag.

I was really pleased to have a small pack of Vegemite flavoured Bagel Crisps in my showbag.  I bought them for a swimming snack for Sylvia a month or two ago and have not seen them in the shops since.  Which is a shame.  They were so delicious that we were fighting over the last ones.

Another interesting addition in my showbag was the Macabella Choc Macadamia Spread (Crunch).  It reminds me a lot of Nutella, which is not surprising as according to its ingredient list it has a lot of sugar and has whey powder.  However it is different because it has crunchy nuts in it (like crunchy peanut butter).  I really liked it on some home made fruit bread.

We were tempted by these Infuzions Veggie Straws with Sour Cream and Herb Flavour.  The straws - in spinach, tomato and beetroot flavours really are hollowed out straws, which gives them a lightness and the flavour is very moreish.  However with all the added flavours, they will probably not be a regular with us.

I bought this reusable beeswax food wrap from BeeKeep at the farmers market this morning.  I have read about them and was curious.  It will be good to use less clingfilm if they do work with bread though I rely on seeing how much the bread is risen through the clingfilm so I need to see how these work.

We finish as we started with breakfast. We had a huge brunch yesterday because it was a public holiday.  It was one of those rare days which I ate more for breakfast than tea.  Baked beans, veggie sausages, fried cherry tomatoes, spinach, carrot onion poppyseed bread and zucchini slice.  The last two recipes are coming to the blog soon.

Next month (November) will be Vegan MoFo, a month when bloggers sign up to post often and vegan.  I am on the verge of signing up.  That means I have almost convinced myself to do it but am nervous about finding the time for frequent posting.  It means that I am keeping some of my vegan posts for then.

Meanwhile we have a new host for the In My Kitchen event, that invites bloggers to share a peek into their kitchen.  Maureen, who had taken over from Celia, has decided to pass the baton over to Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.  It is great that Lizzy has agreed to keep the event running and I wish her well.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Lizzy by 10 October.  Or just head over to her blog to check out all the posts.  They are always fun.

Posted October 01, 2016 10:40 PM by Johanna GGG

September 30, 2016

Green Gourmet Giraffe

Gremlins in the machine - an IT update

Recently all sorts of odd things have been happening to Blogger and other online software that I use.  I understand that online software develops at a rapid pace and often when I have been frustrated at the a change, I find that the developers are paddling away like a duck's legs and soon it is fixed and often (but not always) better.  However I do find it frustrating when I spend time making sure that my social media accounts look attractive only to have the look thrown up in the air by a new design.

Here are a few changes I have noticed lately:

Blog Feed
Today I found that my blog feed on my side bar had disappeared.  Fortunately my blog was backed up by the National Library's Pandora database in March this year so I can refer to the lists there.  I have started to add a few names but it may take me some time to do this.  It will slow me down in visiting other blogs.

So seems like an opportunity for a review of the blogs on my feed.  It makes me sad to see so many bloggers I love to follow become inactive.  Occasionally I am gladdened to find that they are back online.  So when bloggers on my feed become inactive, I am reluctant to delete them as I hope to hear from them again.  However it does make my feed a bit stale.  I also have the issue of trying to keep up with new blogs I discover as there are many so I add new blogs to my feed reader sporadically when I have time and energy.  This means that many others fly under the radar.  I am still unsure of how to address inactive bloggers and new bloggers on my feed but will give it some thought as I recreate the list.

Search this Blog function
In the last day or two, I have found that the Search This Blog function, which has been useful for producing a list of relevant posts on my blog, has started to produce a feed of relevant blogs.  It is so much easier to run my eye over a list than to scroll through full blog posts. 

This search function has been slightly awry for a while because instead of going to the most relevant posts, it seems to produce a list of posts in an order that makes no sense to me.  (Eg, if I search sausage rolls, it wont bring up sausage rolls recipes posts but instead the posts that happen to link to my sausage rolls recipes!)  I have used some alternative code before that is not quite so useful as it produces a list of links on a non-blog page but I may need to revert to this.

Planet VegMel
My blog has been listed on planet.vegmel.com ever since early on in my blogging days (2007 or 2008?) and it has been a great way to link up with other vegan-friendly bloggers in Melbourne.  I was sad to see my blog had disappeared from the Planet VegMel aggregator feed recently and was told by the manager that my blog had been crashing Planet VegMel.  I really don't want to crash the site but do love being part of it.  I was relieved when they tried again and couple of weeks later my blog was behaving again.  Don't know what happened there!

When I joined Pinterest, it took me a while to get the boards looking nice on my own home page.  For a while I could set the right picture as the "face" of each board.  Then they changed it so I couldn't work out how to set the photo.  But a while back I noticed that they had changed the shape of the pictures and now all the nice square photos I chose look really silly because they are now a widescreen landscape shape.

I had spent a while finding a decent header photo for my Facebook page and setting it up.  Recently, Facebook, has changed the look of the headers.  It is more like a website than a page.  It is unsettling rather than looking really horrid but it meant trying to find some of the features I regularly use.  And I wonder where this is going?

A Few Positive Final Notes
  • And I have a few more positive IT updates.  
  • At work we have been using Slack for team communications.  While not perfect, it has been quite helpful.   
  • I have had my 100th photo accepted on FoodGawker.  It felt like an achievement after all the photos I have had rejected.  FoodGawker is still a mystery.
  • I have moved up to a Level 8 Super Foodie on Zomato.  Another little victory!

I am now off to get my blog feed list back up and running.  Meanwhile any feedback or advice on these issues is welcome.  I guess it is a timely reminder the back up my blog too!

Posted September 30, 2016 10:39 PM by Johanna GGG

September 25, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


September 16-20, 2016

After my work duties were done, Michael met up with me in Perth so that we could enjoy a week off together. We spent the first half in Fremantle - here are six places we ate while there.

After setting down our gear, we walked down to the Little Creatures Brewery by the water for dinner. They've been bought out by Lion Nathan since I last visited nine years ago, and the food had a 'gastropub for the masses' feel that echoes that history. To their credit, food service was startlingly efficient - each dish was presented to our table less than 10 minutes after we'd ordered it.

We shared a large slice of grilled haloumi ($9.50), a so-so beetroot salad with spiced yoghurt, walnuts & freekeh ($12) and a wood-fired pizza topped with mushrooms, garlic & tallegio ($19). If we'd stopped there, we probably would have been satisfied. Instead we requested a couple of regrettably large desserts: for me, an enormous triplet of icecream sandwiches ($14) studded with chocolate cookies and top'n'fill-style caramel; for Michael, a too-sugary apple strudel ($14) with vanilla curd.

The brewery remains enormously popular, we suspect with tourists more than with locals.


Saturday morning was our best chance to wander the Fremantle Markets, sipping juices and picking up whatever we fancied for breakfast. We loved the vegetarian arepa ($11) from Kachapas, which was golden-fried and stacked with black beans, melting cheese, shredded veges, a fried plantain and several sauces (psst - they do a vegan version too). Again we were over-ambitious and subsequently struggled to finish a golden-layered feta borek for second-breakfast.

Sunday breakfast at Moore & Moore was, in spite of the name, more measured. This charming, artsy cafe adjoins a gallery and cobbles together comfy pre-loved furniture in little nooks, sneaks through a moody warehouse passageway and spills out into a ramshackle sunny back garden. It was here, out the back, that Michael feasted on The Avocado ($18), which in addition to its namesake featured grainy toast, grilled haloumi, poached eggs and a lovely broad bean and olive salsa.

Meanwhile I had eyes only for the Grilled Potato Cake ($19), which was crowned with asparagus spears and a citrus dressing. The staff were kind enough to exchange the standard eggs for mushrooms on my request. If we lived in the neighbourhood, we could see this cheery, relaxed venue becoming our local.


After a day dining with quokkas, we stuck our head in Run Amuk Hotdogs for a quick, early dinner. They make their own vegan, gluten-free sausages analogous to their meat-based bratwursts and they'll stick one in any of their hot dogs for an extra $1. The sausages taste great and have a firm crust, but their inside mushiness gives away that there's no meat here.

I went traditional and ordered my hotdog with just onions, tomato sauce & mustard ($10.50), while Michael tried their formula for Mischief ($14): tomato relish, guacamole, cheddar, baby spinach, tortilla chips, jalapenos & sour cream. The fries ($4) and coriander-lime aioli ($1.50) were on point, and the house-made lemonade ($5 each) was a good choice - I had no hope of tackling their Reese's Peanut Butter Choc Shake after all this!


Michael's google skills happened upon a Monday night food truck gathering Under The Bridge. Although the evening was chilly, a live band and 3 trucks drew plenty of families, students, holiday-makers, and - to Michael's delight - their dogs.

We carefully selected one sample from each stall. Flying Falafels fry their flagship food well and pair it with a nice tahini dip ($10). Comida do Sul had a hearty Prato Feito Vegetarian plate (~$14) of bean sausage and roasted yam, black beans, rice, pan-fried kale and fresh tomato salsa. The street-food star was Eat No Evil's crunchy-skinned crushed potatoes ($8) with chipotle mayo and some herby-sprouty sprinklin's.


On our last morning we hulked our luggage to The Attic and gamely left it out front while we ate breakfast upstairs. Though they have folks order and pay up front at the counter, the ambiance fits with Melbourne's exposed-brick coffee roastery scene.

Michael took on their smashed avocado with feta, cherry tomatoes and mint ($17.50) with a poached egg ($2). I slowly chewed my way through a lovely bowl of grain-free cacao & nut granola, coyo, strawberries and kiwi fruit with the help of a little almond milk ($14)... best served without a side of nutritional nonsense.


As you can see, we ate handsomely in Fremantle! Though specifically vegetarian restaurants are limited (and completely absent from this post), we noticed many places with thoughtful options and even welcoming notes to vegans. It had us feeling right at home.

Posted September 25, 2016 04:14 PM by Cindy

September 21, 2016

Thoughts Of A Moni

Kustom Burgers

OK, I’m calling it. I have a new favourite vegetarian burger. I thought nothing could beat a vegetarian patty made with minced mushroom, but Kustom Burgers have taken it up a notch or seven.

It was Sunday evening. I was exhausted after having gone on a 32km training run in preparation for the Melbourne Marathon, my legs could no longer move, and all I wanted was a burger. And so it was decided, burgers for dinner. Given how tired I was, we decided to go somewhere close, and so we decided on Kustom Burgers.

I had seen Kustom Burgers on a few ‘Melbourne’s Best Burgers’ lists, so I figured they would be worth trying. Their menu showed that they had a vegetarian option, so it was all systems go, and off we went to satisfy my burger craving.

Kustom Burgers is a smallish shop on High Street in Northcote. Quite strangely, a large section of the shop is taken up by a parked pick up truck with a race track in the tray. Whilst it’s pretty cool, I’m not sure whether it’s worth sacrificing so much seating space for it, especially when tables and chairs are already at a minimum. It’s obvious that the owner has a passion for cars, with all the décor relating to the automotive theme.

We took a seat at the counter, overlooking the kitchen, so we had a clear view of the chefs at work. The speed and efficiency at which they worked was impressive. The orders were coming in at a constant rate, and the kitchen remained calm and in order. It wasn’t long before our burgers arrived, and given how starving we were, we really couldn’t wait to dig in.

Whilst there was only one vegetarian option on the menu. It was bloody amazing. Entitled the Combi Southern Fried Mushroom Burger, it was exactly as described. Firstly let’s start with the mushroom. I love mushrooms and a deep fried mushroom only makes it better, but when it is coated and crumbed with herbs and spices it takes it to a whole new level. Think southern fried chicken, but in mushroom form. This was then topped with cheese, jalapeños, chipotle mayo and a slaw, and all together, it was without doubt the best burger I’ve had. A big call I know, but definitely deserved.

The other half had the FJ Holden Aussie Burger. Like all good things Aussie, the burger had an egg, beetroot and a generous slather of tomato sauce. Unlike the Americans who cook everything to charcoal, the burger was cooked medium, and the usual suspects of cheese, onion, tomato and lettuce completed the burger. The other half was impressed.

The only slight let down was the chips. Whilst they were inoffensive (deep fried potato is rarely offensive), they were just generic McCains fries. I knew this because I could see the bags being emptied, and it was a little disappointing. I would have definitely preferred hand cut chips, with rosemary salt.

Still, you can’t have everything, and given how good the burger was, I’m willing to forgive their downfall on the chips. Will I be back? If they serve me another spicy crumbed deep fried mushroom I definitely will be!

Kustom Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted September 21, 2016 03:58 PM by Moni

September 17, 2016

where's the beef? Vegetarians in Melbourne


September 11-15, 2016

After a week in Fukuoka, I'm now reporting from Perth! It's been 9 years since I explored this city in any meaningful way, although Michael stopped in just last year. My work commitments had me located right in the city centre, eating lots of in-house catering but allowing a bit of time to wander about and seek more exciting veg options. Here are four of those.

I had Sunday to recover from my travel and prep for a busy week ahead. Most of Perth seemed to be in recovery mode too - the streets were quiet, although a smattering of burger joints were well attended! I was tempted to join in when I saw haloumi burgers filing out of the Little Bird Cafe kitchen, but I satisfied myself with their more conventional brunch menu. It reminded me of Melbourne's Glass Den, where meat-based dishes sit alongside green brekky bowls, maca-spiked almond milk smoothies and raw vegan cakes.

I took on their signature vegan buckwheat pancake ($20), which was listed to include banana, coconut and cashew cream. I was thrilled to get a lot of other fruits besides, although I preferred not to eat the greenery. The pancake was lovely, just a little crispy on the outside and cakey in the middle, primed to soak up some maple syrup. Although there was a lot going on, the plate was lacking a little depth - I would have welcomed a hint of bitterness, sourness or charring to round everything out. Nevertheless I was very happy to be eating a variety of gorgeous fruits in a friendly, bustling cafe.

Michael recommended that I seek out Utopia in Northbridge for some mock meat and bubble tea. It's set back from the James St footpath, but once found proves to be an enormous cafe with dozens of menu items, as well as fridges stocked with mock meats and desserts that you can take home with you. The menu includes photos of every dish - noodles and soups, stir-fries, sizzling plates and, to my surprise, fish and chips.

Overwhelmed and seeking to narrow my options, I focused on the cheap Chef's Specials which come with a serve of rice. The sweet & sour chicken rice with crispy chicken ($11.50) was pretty standard and over-sweet, although there's always some illicit pleasure in eating a main dish with pineapple (*pulls face at Michael*). My lychee tea with aloe vera ($5) was equally fun and sugary - I really brought that on myself.

I noticed Indonesia Indah very close to my hotel, and promised myself I'd pay them a visit when I saw tempe listed on their menu out front. Unfortunately it was no longer included on their up-to-date manu inside, but there remained a dozen other veg-friendly dishes.

I picked out the sauteed tofu with egg ($11.90) and added some steamed rice ($2.50). The fried tofu pieces were served in a thin, tangy gravy the held wisps of egg, sauteed onions and tender green vegetables; it was all scattered with golden fried shallots. I was confused to see few other customers enjoying this great food, but perhaps it's more popular at lunch time.

On my final night in the city I walked beyond Utopia to Lotus Vegetarian, which I'd enjoyed in 2007. I unintentionally but fortuitously entered its sibling restaurant Sri Melaka, which serves Malaysia vegetarian foods. There's also a neighbouring vegetarian grocery, closed at night, to round out the business triplet.

Here I chose a small but rich plate of roti paratha and chicken kapitan ($11). The two rotis were piping hot and fried to flaky perfection, perfect for dipping into the oily curry. The medium-spiced curry bowl had plenty of diced mock chicken and just one wedge of potato. Sour pickled vegetables were a welcome contrast, although they added another layer of chilli. Thank goodness for aloe vera juice!

These Perth meals made for fun mini-escapes during my work week. It's been a relief to clock off entirely since then - stay tuned for holiday eats next.

Posted September 17, 2016 10:20 PM by Cindy

September 08, 2016

Thoughts Of A Moni

Vanilla Upstairs

Having grown up in the Greek capital of Melbourne, Oakleigh, the cafes along Eaton mall were a fixture of my childhood. Weekends meant that the patrons of the cafés spilt out into the mall, and the tables outside were full of Greeks, eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. These days, Eaton Mall has expanded further, there are many more eateries, and patronage is skyrocketing with the outdoor area full almost every night of the week.

Vanilla was one of the cafes from the old days, but they have recently expanded the premises to include a modern upstairs area, creatively (!) named Vanilla Upstairs. I was lucky enough to be invited to a media dinner there, where we were able to sample many of the foods and I was thoroughly impressed.

From the outset, what impressed me most was the friendliness of the staff. Like many immigrant cultures, family values were at their core, and this was evident in the way they ran their restaurant. Father Thanasi works the floor making sure everyone is happy, whilst his three children and their partners are responsible for the running of the restaurant. They also now have Chef Oresti at the helm of their state of the art kitchen, and is responsible for the amazing food they serve.

Our menu was designed as a sharing menu, which suited the Greek style of food perfectly, and it meant that we could taste a large range of dishes. Some of the dishes were old favourites, like the yemista, but Chef Oresti also took the opportunity to add some flair to some traditional dishes. One example was the Greek salad. Whilst typically this would involve tomatoes, cucumber, olives and fetta, our version had all of these ingredients but with a completely modern interpretation without any compromise on taste.

We were also lucky enough to taste a selection of Greek wines to match our food. I had never realised that Greece produced fine wine, so I was extremely impressed. Sommelier, Sheridan, shared with us her vast knowledge of wines, and by the end of the night, I’m sure most of us were convinced that Greek wines were comparable to their famous wine cousins in France and Italy!

Whilst Greek food may be assumed to be very focused on the meat, Vanilla Upstairs had no issues catering for me, the solo vegetarian on the table! I started with some beautiful pita bread and a trio dips. There was a tzatziki, a hommus and a baba ganoush. The hommus was a clear highlight, beautifully smooth and creamy and with the perfect amount of garlic flavour.

I also enjoyed the dolmades that were wrapped in a conical fashion and filled with a creamed rice. The creative flair on these enhanced the flavours, and despite loving the traditional dolmades, I was really impressed with these.

As a cheese lover, I had my eyes on the saganaki. In a new twist for me, the saganaki was pan fried and drizzled with honey and black sesame seeds. The honey added a lovely sweetness to compliment the heavy creaminess of the cheese, and it certainly was an unusual but very clever combination. I will be trying this one at home!

Obviously the meat eaters were also well looked after, and most of the table was busy eating all the delights presented to us.

The desserts we were offered were also quite impressive. We tasted a kazan dipi, which is a Greek take on the crème brulee. It was smooth and creamy, and served with kaimaki ice cream.

We also got to taste one of the chef's dessert experiments, a tahini mousse with sesame toffee crisps. It was very interesting to have sesame as the dominant flavour in a dessert, and for those that don't like their desserts sickly sweet, this would be perfect.

The evening was a fabulous one, mainly due to the warm hospitality, the delicious food and the lovely venue.  Vanilla Upstairs has certainly raised the bar in the Oakleigh dining precinct and there is no doubt that the patrons are flocking.

Note: I was invited to dine at Vanilla Upstairs as part of a media dinner and did not pay for my meal. I have however returned on subsequent occasions where I have paid the full price.

Vanilla Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted September 08, 2016 08:30 AM by Moni

August 10, 2016

quinces and kale

I’m taking a break

I’m sick and I will be taking a break from my blogging for a bit to have surgery, treatment and then to recover. I hope to be back in about 8 months.



Posted August 10, 2016 09:39 AM

August 07, 2016

vegan about town

[canberra] a bite to eat

I was skeptical about the menu at A Bite To Eat, until I got to the little bit about almost all dishes being able to be made vegan on request, and I decided to take them up on that offer.

I ordered the Raja, a mild coconut curry, eggplant, broccoli, sticky rice, with chilli, coriander and crispy onion. It comes with poached eggs but I don't remember what they replaced it with, in part because I was so distracted by the rice - it's a crispy sticky rice. It's sticky rice that I think has been compressed and lightly fried, and it is the greatest rice side I have ever experienced, please let me eat it again immediately.

The hash brown on the side is house made and vegan, which is so unusual and also delightful and delicious.

The coffee (2 x soy flatties) was smooth and delicious and perfectly warmed (not burnt), and the service was lovely, and my friends enjoyed their meals (meaty, both), and we sat in the winter sun for three hours and didn't get kicked out, and everything was delightful.

A Bite To Eat
Shop 8, Eggleston Crescent, Chifley
Our Nation's Fair Capital

I was driven there by a friend
Ramp to enter
Eftpos available
I didn't check the toilets

Posted August 07, 2016 10:00 PM by steph

August 06, 2016

vegan about town

[Maylands] Little Shop of Plenty

This is my first ever entry in Maylands! That's because there's never been really great vego options in the area, though, so I'm super excited that I can make this post!

This afternoon I met my cousin near his house and we ventured in the rain to the Little Shop of Plenty, this lovely-sized cafe on Railway Parade directly opposite from Maylands station.

The Little Shop of Plenty is vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. The menu is very paleo and raw heavy, which is fine but it was raining and the weather made me want something more hearty and warm. So I was excited to discover Huevos Mk II ($18.50) on the menu. This defaults to egg, but the staff told me that the specials are almost always veganisable. So my huevos rancheros featured tempeh (to replace the eggs), spiced corn meal hash, black beans, corn, tomato salsa, avocado cashew cream sauce, fresh chilli, fresh coriander, and it was so delicious I ate all the coriander despite hating coriander. It was so good. SO GOOD. I only wish there was more avocado cream, but I suppose I can't have everything I ever want.

I also drank a beautiful almond matcha latte ($6.50, I'm in Perth, that's totally reasonable). I don't think they were using a whisk, but it still had a beautiful smooth flavour.

The staff was really lovely and friendly and delightful; the cafe sells metal and glass straws about which I am chuffed; and I will definitely meander back through on my visits to Perth.

The Little Shop of Plenty
217 Railway Parade, Maylands

Get there on the Midland Line to Maylands Station
Ramp is default entry
Eftpos available
Didn't check the toilets
Well lit (day visit only)

Posted August 06, 2016 11:02 PM by steph

July 19, 2016

quinces and kale

the glass den 2


After arriving home from Europe, I caught up for brunch at the Glass Den with my friend who had been housesitting while I was away.

I chose the Glass Den because I love it and it caters to both vegans and non-vegans alike.

The food is modern, delicious, beautiful to look at and a cut way above your average cafe.

I chose a vegan “chicken” burger and my friend had the porridge. Both were great. The porridge was so beautifully decorated with fruits and flowers. The burger was enormous and I foolishly fell for the “Would you like fries with that?” up sell and ordered the sweet potato fries which were excellent. The tomato relish on the burger was swoon worthy.

vegan chicken burger with sweet potato fries

I’ve also included a photo of a breakfast udon noodle dish that I ate on another visit that I didn’t blog about. It gives you an idea of the range of creative food that they do. Udon noodles with kale and crumbed mushrooms. For breakfast. Delicious.

breakfast udon noodles with kale and mushrooms

The coffee is great too.

I really cannot fault the Glass Den, it remains high on my list of favourite places. I have never had a disappointing meal.

15 Urquart St,
Coburg, 3058
(03) 9354 5032

Posted July 19, 2016 10:46 AM

March 26, 2016

Challenge Accepted!

Renghan Lothiu

I don't know about you, but a while ago when I was watching Gordon Ramsay's Best Restaurant series, I was cheering on tiny vegetarian family restaurant Prashad.

I knew that they had a cookbook out, but I have so many cookbooks it's sometimes hard to justify buying new ones, especially big beautiful (and expensive) hardbacks. So I was super happy to find their latest cookbook, Prashad at Home, in my local library.

I might have mentioned before what a fan of eggplant I am, so I was intrigued by a dish I found in the book for spiced chickpea flour coated fried eggplant slices. Tonight I made the dish, named Renghan Lothiu, for dinner.

First the eggplant slices are soaked in water with one teaspoon of salt. Then while the oil heats in the pan, the chickpea flour is mixed with chili powder, salt, turmeric, cumin seeds, asafoetida, ground coriander and ground cumin. Then the eggplant slices are coated in the flour mixture and fried in the oil, turning regularly to cook evenly. I think my burner plates may be too hot, as many of my slices burned a little despite my turning the heat down lower. I'd recommend a medium heat.

I served these with some white rice and mango chutney. They were spicy and crunchy and the eggplant had cooked perfectly in the centre, to a gooey soft texture. Yum!

What are your favourite eggplant dishes? 😊

Posted March 26, 2016 08:00 PM by Kate

November 18, 2015

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Loving Hut Northcote


Loving Hut
377-379 High St
VIC 3070
(03) 9077 1335


order online

Opening Hours

Tue-Sat: 11am-10pm
Sun: 4.30pm-10pm

Loving Hut is an all vegan restaurant chain with over 200 stores worldwide, each offering different menus and qualities of service, but all united in the goal of bringing affordable vegan meals to the public. 

Behind the sect-like glowing signage, yellow walls, plastic bamboo, and tv screen illuminating Batman cartoons (on mute thankfully), Northcote Loving Hut is a damn good place for a consistently delicious meal, and it's huge interior makes it an easy choice for last minute dining if you have a big group to feed.

The menu offers a boundless array of everything that seems non-vegan at a glance. We're talking about dishes such as 'Southern fried chicken' ($16) (or 'The volcano' ($17) if your partial to smothering said dish in hot sauce), 'Lemon chicken' ($14), 'Katsu duck with plum sauce' ($14), 'Pan fried tuna fillet' ($13) and the list goes on and it's all vegan.

My favourite dish of the moment is 'Bambam' ($15), which is deep fried eggplant or prawns with creamy sriracha infused mayo on top, and puffed tofu. Loving Hut also do an authentic vegan 'Silken tofu pad thai' ($13), a classic 'Curry laksa' ($12) and various rice, noodle and vegetable dishes. There are almost 50 items on the menu, so I won't even attempt to list them all, but I will let you know that many can be ordered as gluten free, onion free and garlic free.

Desserts are also an option, with Zebra dream organic coconut ice-cream scoops, banana fritters, and an array of cakes and La Panella Bakery style baked goods, such as lemon tarts and caramel slice.

Head to the big freezer to secure a bulk pack of vegan hot dogs or bacon (these ones aren't classified by the World Health Organisation as being group 1 carcinogens - yay!), and there's usually a good supply of veganpet and v-dog (which is hard to find) pet food to snap up for your fur kids.

 Loving Hut Northcote Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Also visited by: the lentil institutionwhere's the beef?, veganopoulous

Posted November 18, 2015 06:54 PM

September 03, 2015

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

perfect borscht

Borscht. That gleaming red blood soup. Blood building soup. I lost a lot of blood this year through a couple of different surgeries and needed to rebuild my blood. I have not stopped eating borscht. It is so incredible. I studied Chinese medicine and Shiatsu last year, full time, and it solidified a lot of other teaching I had sought through out my life. So I went

Posted September 03, 2015 10:15 AM by Carla

August 17, 2015

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

kimchi buffalo cauliflower with simple slaw

Wow well December 18, 2012 was the last time I posted a recipe on this blog. How time flies. It's close to 3 years later - how ya been? Things are well with me. Crazy as ever. I've been cooking up a storm the past year and experimenting with lots of different things. Mainly making everything from scratch. Stock, pasta, sauces, preserves - I've been getting my inner

Posted August 17, 2015 10:03 AM by Carla

July 08, 2015

Vegan Bullsh*t

Have Batter, Will Travel

I've recently come back from Adelaide, land of a surprising variety of vegan goods. One of the places I discovered is Sushi Train - what it sounds like; a sushi train. But they have vegan options! And plenty of them! (Except the usual vegan mainstays - the vegetarian roll and the inari both contain dashi. But are marked veg on the menu. SIGH.)
But I fell in love with this little bastard, the kakiage nigiri:
It's just a fried mixed veg tempura served over a ball of sushi rice with a little nori. But it's AWESOME. To get them without teriyaki and mayo (not vegan) I had to order them fresh, and the crispy nori against the fritter is delicious. Also, it was so nice to go to a sushi train and be able to eat something other than a) cucumber rolls and b) inari (WHICH I COULDN'T EVEN EAT HERE).
I'm gonna miss that place. So I pulled out the deep fryer and recreated the abomination at home.

DIY kakiage nigiri:
Surprisingly, they came out pretty close! The mixture of veg is grated butternut pumpkin, potato and zucchini with minced onion mixed through. Stirred in some tempura batter until veg was coated, formed into rough quenelle shapes on a spoon and dropped into the deep fryer. Perfecto.

And seeing as we're frying stuff, let's do tempura!
Carrot, butternut pumpkin, new potatoes with the skin left on and zucchini (AMAZING). Blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, dredge in flour, dip into your batter, fry. Super easy, super delicious. And so crispy! These stayed crispy for AGES. Look at this crunch! I am stoked.
Oh and corn was cheap too so what the hell, let's make Japanese corn fritters.
Same jam: batter, fresh corn kernels, nothing else. I like to eat these with squares of nori for the sushi-esque flavour. Yum.
I really, really need a salad now.

Tempura batter:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup ice-cold water
1/2 tsp. salt
(if you want to flavour this, go ahead! it's sturdy stuff. Serious Eats suggests curry paste.)

Sift plain flour into a bowl. Add salt and any other flavourings. Just before using, pour in ice cold water and gently mix together with a whisk until just combined. Lumps are fine! Let them be.

For the kakiage (mixed veg fritters):
makes about 10 kakiage
1/3 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 cup butternut pumpkin, grated
2 small new potatoes, grated
One small onion, minced
tempura batter

Combine in bowl. Mix in spoonfuls of tempura batter until all veggies are covered, but there is no excess batter pooling in the bowl. Heat a deep fryer to 180 degrees (or fry in a pot - whatever works). Form quenelles or long croquettes with two spoons and carefully lower into fryer. Fry for around 3-5 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. If you want to make nigiri, make sushi rice (this recipe is great), form a rice ball and pop your kakiage on top. Cut a strip of nori, wrap it around and dampen the ends to make it stick. Done.

For the corn fritters:
makes around ten medium-large fritters
one fresh ear of corn, shucked
tempura batter

Remove kernels from corn cob. Collect in bowl. Add spoonfuls of batter until kernels are covered, but not to excess, Heat deep fryer to 180 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of batter into fryer and fry for 3-5 minutes until batter is lightly brown and crispy to touch. Drain and serve.

Actual tempura:
fresh veggies of choice
tempura batter
plain flour - maybe 1/3 cup?

Pour plain flour onto a plate or shallow bowl. Slice vegetables of choice into 4mm or less slices. Blanch vegetable slices in boiling water until cooking process has just started, about two minutes. Drain and pat dry. Heat deep fryer to 180. Dredge slices in flour, then in batter. Drop into deep fryer and agitate basket so they don't stick. Fry for around three minutes until batter feels solid to the touch and vegetables are cooked. Remove, drain, repeat as necessary. Easy!

Posted July 08, 2015 07:29 PM by L

June 30, 2015

Vegan Bullsh*t

Smith and Deli

Smith and Deli is possibly the most exciting thing to happen to the Melb vegan scene in, well, ever. This visit actually happened over a week ago, but I've been in Adelaide (plenty of eats, will blog) since so haven't had time. Smith and Deli is just off Brunswick St in a nondescript looking building. The main feature when we went was the piles of people waiting out the door - passersby kept wandering past, stopping and staring at the commotion. Hilarious. The Eat Vegan cross is standing proud over the door:

Inside is adorable, with an old-school deli feel. There's plenty of pics around - and it was far too busy for me to snap any - so here's one quick counter shot. I love the pastel balloons and hand-written menus - it's obvious the whole place is well-thought out and the overall effect is cheery and welcoming. The deli cabinets are full of homemade cheeses and meats, as well as some premade (biocheese and Daiya), as well as an array of baked goods. Away from the counter, there's a wall of Mexican dry goods, one of fresh bread, organic veg and a fridge with more house products - vegan cream cheese and caramel sauce, just to name a few. There's also a wall of coolers with some commercial vegan products (some things I hadn't seen before - well played!), S&D house pizzas (margherita and pepperoni) and premade meals like lasagna, as well as drinks.

Our wait took - oh god, probably 45 minutes at least at 12 pm Saturday (we kind of deserved that). When we got our food, it was sealed with adorable Smith and Deli custom stickers:

Finally. Onto the food! My better half went for the Parmageddon ($14), chicken parma, napoli sauce, pesto and housemade mozzarella on a roll: 


This was an incredible sandwich. The napoli, pesto and cheese worked perfectly together. The house mozzarella is pretty tasty, up there with the better vegan cheeses - I'd love to see them selling this outright so I could experiment with it myself. This is one of the simpler sarnies on the menu, but it's utterly genius.

After scoffing a LOTF big brekky burger, I wasn't as hungry as I should have been and just got a pie - the pepper steak pie, $7:

It was a good pie. The pastry was flaky and the pie held together well. The filling was quite mild and I wasn't the hugest fan of the mock meat - it tasted like the mutton from Vincent's which I don't love. But that said, better half loved this pie. I did like the mild flavour of it, and had it been filled with something like lentils, I would have been proclaiming my everlasting love.

We couldn't leave without sweets! There were so, so many options. Brownies, popcorn-topped donuts, challah sticky buns.. enough to almost be thankful for the wait time so we could deliberate. Better half chose a vanilla slice ($5), where I went for the apricot danish (didn't catch the price): 

Both were perfect bakery renditions of the non-vegan originals. I'm not really a fan of vanilla slices - probably because I never ate them in childhood. But this one was legit, with the proper custard wobble and sweet icing. But the danish! Holy crap, this was good danish. Sweet and flaky with a lovely thick custard and tart apricot half. Divine. It was enough to make me wonder where vegan danishes have been all this time and why haven't they been in my stomach? It's going to be really hard to try something new next time, but I think I can make that sacrifice.
To nobody's great surprise, Smith and Deli are doing amazing things. Their attention to detail is impressive and every single item on the shelves is intriguing. Its popularity is entirely justified, and it's fantastic to be able to pick up a few groceries and an amazing meal at the same time. I know I'm heading back very soon for a shop and another crack at the menu. And another. And another.

Posted June 30, 2015 04:57 PM by L

June 24, 2015

The Good Hearted - Vegan Food in Melbourne

Smith & Deli


Smith & Deli
111 Moor Street,
Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9042 4117

sandwich menu

Opening Hours:
Tue to Sat 8am–7pm

Smith & Deli is an all vegan, New York style deli bought to life by our friends from Smith & Daughters. This is the place to stop by for bread, pastries, coffee, cheeses, meats (all vegan remember!), salads, soups, pies, meals to go and an incredible array of over 25 sandwiches.

Sandwiches are king at Smith & Deli and the menu may stun you with the sheer amount of options of available, so check it out before you go. The 'Rubenstein' ($15) is a good pick with pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles and Russian dressing on rye; or go for a 'Buffalo the Vampire Slayer' ($12) with buffalo tofu, ranch, shredded iceberg, carrot, onion and celery in a roll. Next time I think I'll channel Kevin and try the 'Home Alone' ($15) made up of turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potato & gravy, all on a roll. Gluten free bread is available for all sandwiches for an extra $2.

Some lighter options that are more in the breakfast camp are also on offer, including a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches ($8-$12), croissants, and chef Shannon Martinez's take on a popular fast food breakfast item with the 'Egg McMartinez' ($7) including egg, bacon and cheddar on an English muffin with your choice of sauce.

Meals to go, such as pizza ('pepperoni' $16), lasagne, pies (four different flavours everyday, in both single and family sizes), sausages, schnitzels, tofu and tempeh are all available.

The cabinets are full of sweet treats too, where (with options rotating daily) you might find 'Maple Bacon Donuts' ($5), 'Vanilla Slice ($6), 'Apple Pie Bars' ($5), 'Lemon Tarts' ($7) and much more.

Black coffee is $3.50 or $4 with non-dairy milk – or add an extra $2 for Smith & Deli's own fresh nut milk. The chai soy latte sweetened with agave nectar ($4) is great.

As their slogan goes: Thank you for being a friend, Smith & Deli!

 Click to add a blog post for Smith and Deli on Zomato

Also visited by: veganopoulouswhere's the beef?, quinces and kale

Posted June 24, 2015 06:11 PM

April 08, 2015

Challenge Accepted!

Yummy tom yum and savoury samosas

This weekend I was out with a friend and we had some vegetarian tom yum soup from an Asian noodle place and it was delicious, so I decided to try making it myself. What could be more warming and happy than spicy soup in cold weather?

I didn't manage to get the taste exactly like I remembered it, but it was still pretty tasty! I used this recipe and substituted what veggies I had, which were carrots, red pepper and bok choi, and some chick'n pieces. I also added some vegetarian fish sauce in place of half the soy sauce, and a couple of tablespoons more lime juice because I like it sour. :-)

Earlier this weekend I also made some sweet potato curry samosas to freeze for my bento lunches. I found this great simple recipe and substituted sweet potatoes because that's what I had on hand. I also added some peas, corn and carrots. The pastry was relatively easy and they turned out delicious! Definitely making again, and may adapt for potato pierogies. I had some in my bento lunch today (pictured below).

The best foods for warming the soul in Melbourne pre-winter!

Posted April 08, 2015 08:28 PM by Kate

October 03, 2014


Vegan/vegetarian resources in Spain (in Spanish)

It's no secret that Spain is not a vegetarian paradise. Nonetheless moving here two weeks ago has brought home just how much I will need to embrace home cooking. (Well that and my bank balance dwindling without a salary!) Asturias in particular has lots of great produce, like beans, so I am excited about trying to make some vegetarian versions of local dishes.

I just bought Cocina vegana mediterránea by Laura Kohan. It is the first veg*n recipe book in Spanish I have seen that specifically has Spanish style food. [Although I think Mediterranean is rather distinct from the northern Spanish style, but whatever, it's a start.] Also the author studied in Spain and is presumably Spanish, so it isn't just a translation of an English cookbook, which is common from what I've seen in my quick visit to a library and a few bookstores.

It's not necessarily a great cookbook, it persists in devoting 45 pages to general information like "benefits of veganism", "table of animal product substitutes" and "what season do these herbs grow in". But I thought reading that probably-familiar information is probably OK Spanish language practice, so eh. It also doesn't have tonnes of recipes, it has 60 to be precise, but to be honest, the most different recipes I have ever followed out of a single cookbook would be like 5 or 6 at the max, so having hundreds is not really an advantage.

What I think is likely to be most immediately useful to me, and maybe other veg*n auxiliares outside major cities, is a page of resources from the back. I'm listing them here without the commentary from the book. They are:

Online vegan supermarkets in Spain
· http://www.vegamercat.com
· http://www.laboutiquevegetariana.es
· http://www.biomanantial.com
· http://www.foody.es (love the url)
· http://www.recapte.com
· http://naranjasecologicas.com

I also found this site listed on a fb group:
· http://www.planetavegano.com/

Posted October 03, 2014 12:28 AM

July 07, 2014

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

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

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 18, 2014

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 Celery

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

February 02, 2014

vegan food – Ramblings

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 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

October 22, 2013


Goldilocks Lunchbox

Last week my boss ordered us all Goldilocks Lunchboxes for our monthly staff meeting. We'd been talking about having the option to order them once a week after one of my coworker's daughter was raving about them. They are amazing. Each week has a theme (last week was a literary theme, the week before was French). They contain something big, something small and something sweet and are hand made and hand delivered to your workplace. She offers a vegetarian option and is able to cater to vegan and gluten free diets. The lunchboxes are presented beautifully (last week's box was tied up with some fancy string and had a pencil included). The sandwiches were wrapped in a quote from Tom Robbins (taped around with some of that decorative sticky tape). The were 3 sandwiches, each on a different type of bread. One had roast veggies, one was cucumber and hummus. I can't remember the third now but they were all amazing. There was a bamboo tray of fresh berries and a bamboo tray with an apple pie/crumble dessert (the non-vegan lunches contained fresh made scones with cream and tiny jars of jam). Everything,including the container and the cutlery, are recyclable or compostable. The lunches are $15 each (or 4 weeks for $55).   They are worth the money. Right now there's only a few suburbs that she delivers but she seems to be expanding a bit (I think the business is run by a woman and her father? and has only been around for just over a year). This week is a Thai theme-- I'm very excited for lunch tomorrow.

Posted October 22, 2013 05:32 PM by shawna

October 17, 2013

Veganise This!

Around the world - Stopover 33 - Zimbabwe

African countries have had a low profile during my random virtual travels so far. Madagascar and South Africa are the only destinations I've covered to date so I was pleased when Zimbabwe was the next country drawn. Zimbabwean food is mainly based on traditional recipes although there are also some influences from British and Portuguese cuisines. Most of the Zimbabwean population rely on a handful of staple foods - cornmeal, rice, beans, peanuts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, a selection of green leafy vegetables as well as some meat and sardines. 

When I began my hunt for recipes I was drawn to some Zimbabwean sweet potato biscuits/cookies with lemon icing on food.com. These biscuits were simple to veganise using dairy-free margarine in place of butter, agave nectar instead of honey and a flax egg. Another minor modification I made was to halve the amount of ground nutmeg as I feared that the full amount may be too strong. I was happy with this decision as the nutmeg seemed to be perfect in this quantity, any more and it would have overwhelmed. The original recipe stated that it made 60 biscuits although they must have been tiny morsels, I used a slightly larger quantity of mixture from my half batch which resulted in 16 small biscuits with a lovely soft interior. Prior to being iced they weren't terribly sweet and after topping them with lemon icing they were perfect. I found them to be very moreish and polished off more than my fair share.

African peanut stews have filled me with fear for many years. Due to allergies with some of my family members, I grew up in a nut-free household and never consumed nuts until my adult years. Although I adore most types of nuts these days, I still find the flavour of peanuts to be quite strong and have never embraced peanut butter. As there was a recipe for a Zimbabwean peanut stew called Huku ne Dovi in my copy of World Vegetarian Classics I figured it was time to be brave and try out this type of meal.

The stew contained chunks of sweet potatoes and carrots, onions, chillies, okra, tinned tomatoes and spinach - some green beans that needed using up were added to the mix as well. I reduced the amount of ground peanuts from 150g to 100g and didn't find the peanut flavour to be overly strong this way. The stew was very flavourful given it didn't contain any spices apart from the chillies and the ground peanuts made it thick and extremely hearty. The leftovers held up well which I happily devoured for a few days in a row afterwards.

The man generally dislikes stews as well as most meals containing sweet potatoes, so to make this meal more enjoyable I whipped up a batch of African baked tofu from Vegan Eats World to have as an accompaniment. The tofu was marinated in orange and lime juice, garlic, ginger, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and a Persian spice mix called Baharat prior to being baked in the oven. We've enjoyed all of the baked tofu dishes I've made from Vegan Eats World and this was another wonderful recipe I would be happy to make again. It packed a decent amount of heat and paired well with the peanut stew.

Zimbabwean sweet potato biscuits/cookies (Adapted from food.com)
Makes approximately 16 small biscuits

70g dairy-free margarine
30g sugar
1½ teaspoons ground flaxseed
1½ tablespoons water
zest of ½ a small lemon
40g agave nectar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup grated sweet potato
1¼ cup plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt

¾ cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon dairy-free margarine
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 to 3 teaspoons (or more) water

Preheat oven to 175C.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk the ground flaxseed with water in a small bowl then mix it thoroughly into the butter and sugar. Add the lemon zest, agave nectar and nutmeg and beat well. Fold through the grated sweet potato then add the plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Place tablespoons of the mixture onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned, then remove the tray from the oven and allow them to cool down completely.

Mix the icing sugar, dairy-free margarine and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Drizzle in enough water to make a spreadable icing. Top the biscuits with a generous dollop of icing.


Did you know?

There are 16 official languages in Zimbabwe. English is one of the official languages but only 2% of the population is fluent in it.

Posted October 17, 2013 07:04 PM by Mel

October 08, 2013

Veganise This!


Succotash has reminded me of Sylvester from the Looney Tunes cartoons and his famous catch phrase "Sufferin succotash" ever since I heard of this one pot wonder. This simple dish originated in New England, USA prior to becoming popular in the southern United States and it was also a common meal in the Depression era. Succotash is essentially a meal of corn and lima beans although there are variations aplenty with additions such as tomatoes, capsicums/bell peppers, okra, other types of beans, butter, margarine, lard, bacon, fresh and dried herbs.

With some freshly harvested broad beans (also known as fava beans) from the garden begging to be used and corn and okra in the fridge I decided to make a version of succotash. I didn't follow a particular recipe, instead my broad beans, corn, okra and tomatoes were plonked into a pot and stirred every so often. It had been a long day labouring in the garden and we were tired and hungry so I didn't bother with double peeling the broad beans to save on time. Finely chopped basil and parsley along with margarine and seasonings were stirred through in the final minute before serving.

We really enjoyed the succotash and I was particularly fond of the addition of basil in my version. I could envisage this becoming a semi-regular side dish over the summer months when corn is at the height of it's season. It was a perfect accompaniment for our extra spicy buffalo tofu and oven baked potato wedges. The leftovers were just as lovely when eaten cold the next day which leads me to believe that it would also work well as a salad.


4 small corn cobs
1 1/2 cups broad/fava beans (or use fresh lima beans)
100g okra pods, sliced into 3cm pieces (optional)
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine
12 large basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground cracked black pepper, to taste

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and place into a medium-large saucepan with the broad beans, okra and tomatoes. Simmer over a medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and the vegetables are tender. Stir through the margarine, basil and parsley then season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Posted October 08, 2013 06:58 PM by Mel

September 22, 2013

vegan food – Ramblings

Awesome grilled tofu marinade

The other night I made this marinade with some tofu (pressed in a TofuXpress to get more water out).

The recipe for the marinade is:

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

I marinated the tofu (I used a really firm tofu – which is also really high in protein) and fried it in a really hot skillet (which gave it a lovely colour). It was delicious. I served it with some broccoli (quickly fried with garlic and ginger and a tablespoon or two of the marinade) and some cous cous.

Actually… I think I’ll have to make this again soon. Really simple to do (although pressing the tofu and marinating takes time, but time you can do other things) and really tasty.

Posted September 22, 2013 12:59 PM

September 03, 2013

Happy Go Fruity

Quickie pasta sauce

It's Monday (groan) - perfect for a quickie recipe. Quickies are so useful for those rushed evenings when you have only a little time to cook, and you've already eaten through the leftovers. And for those lovely summer evenings when you want to be outdoors, not slaving over the stove. 

This recipe uses canned beans and tomatoes. I usually don't use tinned food but they're handy for when you want a quick and healthy meal. This recipe takes about five minutes to get together.

You'll need:
A sliced onion
A cup of sliced mushrooms
1-2 cups of chopped broccoli
Half a cup of sliced capsicum
A 400g can of diced tomatoes
A 400g can of mixed beans
Chilli flakes (to taste)
Dried oregano (one teaspoon or to taste)
Minced garlic (optional - only coz I don't like garlic)
Leftover cooked pasta or rice, or instant rice/vermicelli noodles.

Heat a large frying pan on the stove. You can use oil to coat the pan but it's really not necessary. While this is heating, slice the onions and throw them into the pan.

Let the onions cook for a few minutes, until they start to brown, then add in the chilli flakes and garlic (if using). 

During this time you can chop the broccoli, mushrooms, and capsicum (keep stirring the onions so they don't burn). If you're using instant rice/vermicelli noodles, put them in a bowl with boiling water.

Put the broccoli into the pan along with a third of the tinned tomatoes. The tomatoes will help stop the onions and broccoli from sticking to the pan. Cook for one minute, then add the mushrooms, capsicum, oregano, and the rest of the tomatoes, and stir. Cook for one minute and then add the drained beans, and stir. By now the vegetables should have softened and the broccoli should be turning a vibrant green colour. Serve immediately on top of leftover cooked rice or pasta, or onto your drained noodles. 

You could use this as a dip for corn chips, or as a topping for a baked potato. Or, add two teaspoons of ground cumin and use as a filling for taco shells or burrito wraps. 

Posted September 03, 2013 12:11 PM by Raw Food Brain

September 01, 2013

Happy Go Fruity

Choco-chai shake

It's the first day of spring! And the start of vegan MoFo, in which I'm very excited to be participating!

I seriously love spring. Because it means the hot weather is right around the corner. Late sunsets. Lunch breaks in the sun. Lazy weekends at the beach. Warm nights. And of course....mangos. Hooray.

While we wait for mango season, it's time to stuff ourselves with as much winter fruit as we can. Mandarins, grapes, pears, oranges, kiwis, and apples. And of course the humble banana.

I heart bananas. I could eat them every day. Actually, I do eat them every day in various forms - smoothies, "ice cream", fruit pudding, or just straight out of the peel.

I'm going to kick start vegan MoFo with my kickstart for the day - a chocolate chai shake. It's sweet, spicy, and creamy. Kind of a cross between a chai latte and a chocolate milkshake. I used to be seriously addicted to chai lattes, but that little habit can get expensive. And some places use those chai mixes, which are probably not healthy anyway. With this shake, I can get my chocolate and chai fix using basic ingredients from home. 

You'll need:
4 bananas
A heaping tablespoon of carob powder
A teaspoon of ground cinnamon
A teaspoon of ground cardamom*
Vanilla (optional)

* you can grind your own cardamom or you can buy it pre-ground. If you have a high speed blender, you can throw the whole seeds in without grinding  (DO NOT throw the pods in, make sure you open the pods and extract the seeds). Please don't omit the cardamom because it really punches up the flavour of this drink.

Put the bananas and spices into a blender, and then add water. Use enough water so that around half the bananas/spices are submerged. Blend until smooth and any whole spices are ground. Add vanilla (if using) and give a quick blend to combine.

The consistency should be somewhere between thick and thin. Whatever you prefer, really.

This recipe made one litre of shake. Perfect for a snack, or if you want a meal-sized shake you can double or triple the amounts. 

Throw in some whole ice cubes, if you like. And head outside with a hat and a good book, and dream of summer!

Happy Father's Day to all dads!!

Posted September 01, 2013 01:04 PM by Raw Food Brain

August 26, 2013

crosslegged on the front lawn

VegMel 4th Birthday Picnic

Given I just renewed the domain name again, VegMel is four. Can you believe that? Anyway, we should have a picnic potluck to celebrate.

Hopefully the weather will be nice, and we can have it at Curtain Square again. Otherwise we'll make other arrangements.

Please bring a veg*n plate to share. Bonus points for gluten free, yeast free, low-fructose or any other of our diverse dietary requirements.

Open to all vegos, not just VegMel bloggers. Come join us, we're not scary!

12pm @ Curtain Square, Carlton North.

Facebook event

comment count unavailable comments

Posted August 26, 2013 10:30 PM

May 20, 2013

Salad Days

warming winter miso broth aka "ghetto soup"

When I first moved out of home, as a wee little tacker, I had no idea how to cook. You see, my mother never trusted me to not burn the house down, so I was unofficially banned from the kitchen up until I had my own to mess about in.

And whilst I'm yet to blow anything up or incinerate it to the ground, I've definitely had my fair share of kitchen disasters...but that is another story for a different blog - right now I want to talk about a longstanding success story - my "ghetto soup".

Ghetto soup was the go to dish for myself and my sharehousing friends in the early part of this decade. Whether hungover, broke or hunched over the computer speeding through an assignment with little time to spare, this soup ticked all boxes - quick, cheap, easy. Granted, we used to make it with mi goreng noodles, scrappy (usually dumpstered) vegetables and something containing MSG, I've given it a bit (lot) of a makeover, and may I present my results?

Still quick, cheap and easy this soup is now nourishing, healthy and filling. I like it as a light afternoon lunch after a brisk walk in the fresh air, preferably consumed in front of a heat source - the ginger, garlic and chilli amassed will surely warm you from within as well.

(Not so) Ghetto Soup

serves 2.

1 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp coconut oil
1 litre water
1/2 salt reduced, vegetarian stock cube (I like Rapunzel or Massell brands)
1 thumbnail sized piece of ginger, minced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 chilli (I used a red habanero), minced
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tamari
1 "fold" of brown rice vermicelli (fold? what is the word for them?!)
1 medium sized head broccoli, roughly chopped including stalk
2 heads bok choy, roughly chopped
handful shiitake mushrooms (fresh or dried), sliced
1 tbsp miso paste

1/2 block marinated organic tempeh (I use Primasoy) sliced in strips
1 tsp coconut oil

In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut oil on medium heat and sautee the onion. After five minutes, at which point the onion should be nicely browned, add the litre of water.

This is where it gets really easy - when the water reaches boiling point, turn the heat down. All together add the mushroms, garlic, ginger and chilli, sesame oil and tamari. Turn down to a low heat, and after a couple of minutes add the noodles. Wait two more minutes and add the broccoli and bok choy. After a minute (you want your veggies to be still crisp and the brightest green in colour) turn off the heat completely and stir in the miso paste until it has been combined.

Leave to sit whilst you cook your tempeh in coconut oil, a small frypan will do the trick.

Use tongs and a ladle to arrange in a bowl, top with tempeh and a squirt of Sriracha if more heat is required.


You can add most any other vegetables to this dish as well - I've ladled the soup onto a mixture of raw, grated carrot and zucchini, which was a great move!

Posted May 20, 2013 09:27 PM by Lidia

May 13, 2013

Salad Days

lavender, lemon and white chocolate cheesecake - raw, vegan!

I do love a bit of witchy kitchen dabblings, and even better when it leads to decadent desserts! This recipe involved quite a bit of foraging in order to obtain the lavender required; although I use tincture of Lavendula officinalis frequently as a naturopath and herbalist in clinical practice (wonderfully soothing and relaxing), getting my hands on the real deal proved a little difficult at this time of the year. Eventually, I stumbled upon some whilst nerding out at the Ceres medicinal herb garden and the rest, as they say, was history. 

This raw cheesecake was created for a friend's birthday, who reacted incredibly well upon spying it in the green bag I handed it to her in (there was squeals, hugs). 

Have fun creating this for a friend, for your family...or for yourself! If you experience difficulty finding fresh lavender from a reliable source (ie. you know it has not been sprayed with chemicals), you can substitute with 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil (depending on how floral-y you want your cheesecake to taste!). 

Lavender, Lemon and White Chocolate Cheesecake



1 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup goji berries
1 cup dates (soaked for at least two hours, water discarded)
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or essence
1 pinch salt


2 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least 8 hours), rinsed
1 young coconut - inner flesh and juice separated (you'll need 1/2 cup of coconut water and all the flesh!)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup melted cacao butter 
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup liquid sweetener - agave, coconut syrup or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
3-5 fresh lavender flowers, stem and fibrous green bits removed (taste as you add to ensure your final product doesn't end up tasting like an old lady)
1 pinch salt

How you go about it:


In a food processor or high powered blender (hello, Thermomix!) blend everything until sticky and crumbly, with no big chunks or lumps. Press the contents into a 9 inch spring-form pan evenly and put aside until you are ready to fill it.


Once more, blend everything until smooth and creamy - this took approximately two minutes in my Thermomix. You may have to scrape down the sides now and then, but perservere until you get that wonderful, silky texture. 

Place the filling into the pan and distribute evenly over the crust.

Place in the freezer for approximately 6-8 hours (or longer) and remove about 1-2 hours before serving. Decorate as you like - some coconut shavings, hazelnuts, strawberries or whatnot would look adorable! 

Give to people and watch them fuss over it, and you. 

Posted May 13, 2013 09:49 PM by Lidia

February 19, 2013

Vegan Melbourne Eats

Maha Bar 21 Bond StreetMelbourne CBD Located in a sub-basement...

Maha Bar

21 Bond Street
Melbourne CBD

Located in a sub-basement venue on Bond St in Melbourne’s CBD, Maha pays homage to Middle Eastern hospitality, encompassing this through emphasis on its food, service and ambience.

They’re signature dining experience is the soufra, a banquet style that is basically a 6 course degustation.  They are big on fulfilling dietary requirements and actually open up with ‘What are your dietary requirements’ as a standard opener – which is a delightful thing to hear for a vegan (I’m used to being treated like a bit of a freak when I mention the V word).

An amazing special occasion restaurant – and I’m amazed by the flavours in all of the dishes.

Too much detail to write the descriptions of all the meals I had – and seeing they change all the time- I thought the photos would have to do.  A must for that special occasion night out. Go for it!

$95 per head + drinks

P: 03 9629 5900


Posted February 19, 2013 04:01 PM

February 05, 2013

Vegan Melbourne Eats

Colonel Tan-229 Chapel St  - Prahran - hard to find - its next...

Colonel Tan-229 Chapel St  - Prahran - hard to find - its next to ‘Revolver Upstairs’ - on Chapel Street near Greville St.  Book on 9521 5985

My current fav mid week quick dinner out south side.

Started with sweet pot dumplings - amazing and def the choice entree here.

Then yellow curry with sweet pot beans eggplant and mushroom. Rice (inc) comes with a side of smokey eggplant relish.  Great curry.

Also had the cashew salad- warning quite spicy.

One vegan dessert - so we ordered it, the 'black sticky rice with plum sauce and lychees’. Not ideal - will prob leave this one out next time - but had to give it a go.

$37 per head

clsoed Sunday - Mon http://www.coloneltans.com.au/

Posted February 05, 2013 02:42 PM

February 02, 2013

The Fat-Fueled Vegan

Hunky Dory's, Newport, Wales

Ha! I bet you all thought I would never blog again?

I went to Newport today, which is about a 40 minute bus ride from Cardiff. Hunky Dory is a short uphill walk from the Newport bus station and despite the name and pic of the Bowie album cover on their menu, it has little to do with Bowie. They were playing Elvis Costello and Tom Waits while I was there.

Heading in the right direction
Can't remember what the soup was exactly. Had coriander and lentils in it.

The salt and pepper shakers are little tea pots

I wasn't expecting something that looked like this when I ordered the mushroom pot pie. Mushroom and gravy with a rectangle of puff pastry. I don't know if it really meets the requirements for a pot pie.

Mushrooom pot pie

The cherry cake was my second option as they had run out of gingerbread cake. It was nothing special and a little bit dry.

Cherry cake
Meal cost about £9 all up. It's decent enough food and I'll give their burgers a try next time I'm in Newport.

Trip was totally worth it after I found a spiritualist church a few doors down from the cafe. Didn't think they still existed.

Hunky Dory

17 Charles St, NP20 1JU 01633 257 850
Newport, South Wales


Posted February 02, 2013 12:36 PM by Veganator

December 30, 2012

crosslegged on the front lawn

vegan "meat" pies mk 2

It was decided that today would be a good day for a vegan picnic in Carlton North, and people were right! Absolutely lovely weather for it. Had a really pleasant ride across to Carlton with a picnic packed into the panniers.

I decided to do the "meat" pies I previously did for roller derby.

This time I used dry TVP mince which I picked up from Anikee at Radical Grocery. I added the TVP (3 cups) to the directed amount of water (6 cups) in a big pot that I put on the boil. As it was coming up to the boil I added a dash of red wine, light soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce (the Spring Gully brand is vegan). Also added some dried chinese mushrooms.

Once it was boiling I added a bit more light soy, dark soy (for the colour), salt, and a whole lot of Massel beef stock (also vegan) and Massel gravy powder. Once it was nice and thick and not watery, I took it off the heat, left it to cool and then put it in the fridge for morning.

mini vegan

The next morning I defrosted some prerolled puff pastry, which I cut into quarters and squished into low muffin tins that I'd sprayed with canola oil. I then spooned in some cold mixture and cut off the triangular edges of the quarter to make a circle of pastry around the top. I put all these triangles together and rolled them back out to make a top, which I crimped on with a fork. Sprayed the top with a light coating of canola oil.

Baked in the oven at 180°C for about 23 minutes, but check on them after 20. Consider rotating the tray(s) in the oven so they brown equally.

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Posted December 30, 2012 07:24 PM

December 22, 2012


Hellenic Republic

This year 2 women at my work who have been there for 30+ years decided to retire at the end of the year so we had a big celebration at the Hellenic Republic.  Our group of 18 booked the spartan table at the front of the restaurant in a semi private area and had a 4 course banquet.  My boss had given them a heads up that I was vegan (and there were a couple vegetarians and pescetarians too). The confirmed all dietary restrictions and allergies before we began.  One of the servers came out to confirm whether honey was ok with me.  I was impressed that I was asked and obviously they have a good understanding of vegan (I'm assuming that people who eat plant based diets for environmental or health reasons would just say "vegan" in a restaurant and would then say honey was ok with them).  I was brought my own separate dishes when necessary.
To start with we had flat bread and I had my own hummus (we assume the other hummus had some sort of cheese that normally wouldn't be in a hummus in it).  The next course I had 2 tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs.  I don't care for parsley (which was very strong in this dish) but I still liked them.  I also got a small Greek salad (made vegan) in lieu of on of the other dishes.  There was also an amazing salad with lentils, pomegranate and coriander (I had my own with no yogurt on top).  By the time the main course arrived we were all very full.  Mine was eggplant with tomato and some amazing flavours.  I was so full I couldn't finish the last couple bits.  A server came to confirm with me that I'd had enough food to eat during the night at this point.  Dessert was amazing. It had a long Greek name and was basically 2 small plates of preserved fruit- I think one was citrus and the other was watermelon.  The watermelon was amazing.  It looked nothing like watermelon.  It was 2 orange/clear, jelly looking blocks on a plate.  They did not have jelly texture at all though- it was a very firm watermelon like texture.  They were amazingly sweet but so good. 
I was very impressed with the service and the food.  I'd heard good things about the vegan food there (but for some reason I can't find the posts to link to them now....) so I was excited when we were told that's where the end of year/retirement dinner would be.  We all left completely overfull but the food was amazing and it was great having a semi private area where we were all at one table and could move around to chat to each other between courses.

Posted December 22, 2012 09:09 AM by shawna

October 22, 2012

Louise, by Degrees

Spinach Fatayer (aka Lebanese Spinach Pies)

A recent discussion with a Lebanese coworker got me hungry for spinach pies, or fatayer. There's no going past the ones sold at Tabet's on Sydney Road, but I thought I could give making them a go. These turned out great - not quite as flavourful as the ones in Brunswick, but a great snack none the less.

Makes about 6 pies.

Ingredients for the dough:
  • 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1.5 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/6 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
  • some olive oil

Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in about 1/3 cup warm water and let sit for about 10-15 minutes. Blitz the flour and salt in a food processor and, once the yeast has sat for awhile, add the oil to the yeasty water. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry while mixing on slow speed with a dough hook attachment.

After about a minute, test the dough with your hand. If the dough sticks to your hand, sprinkle it with a good couple of tablespoons of flour, then grab it out of the mixer and knead for a couple of minutes by hand, until smooth and elastic. Set aside in an oiled, covered bowl for about 90 minutes.

While the dough is sitting, you can make the filling.

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2/3 cup brown onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1/6 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sprinkle the salt over the spinach in a large bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then squeeze all the juice out, if juice exists. Mix in the onion. When you are ready to fill the pastry, mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Once the dough has sat for a good 90 minutes, cut the dough in half, and roll the first half out onto a clean surface. Cut into shapes, as circular as possible (but, as you can tell from my non-triangular attempts, it doesn't really matter!) Fill with a couple tablespoons of filling, and pull the outer edges in, pressing the sides together so no filling can escape.

Place the pies onto an oil-sprayed baking sheet, brush with a bit of olive oil and put them in a 175'C oven for about 10 minutes. Check on them, turn them around if necessary and bake for another 5-10 minutes. They are done when browned on top.

Serve with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.




Posted October 22, 2012 05:00 PM by Louise

October 21, 2012

Louise, by Degrees

Cheese and Chicken Pizza

A broken tooth, a broken computer; my third week of Vegan Mofo did not go so well. I am going to try to get back into it, but we shall see how it goes...

Anyway, after last week's success with "Better Than Ricotta", I had a bit extra that I thought to use as pizza sauce. It was okay, but the texture turned a bit chalky, so it probably needed to be mixed with some Nuttelex to make it more creamy.

Warning: This pizza dough should be left for an hour or so to rise (you can cheat with 45 minutes) so make sure you know this before you think to make it as a quick dinner. That said, the dough is very easy to make, and is probably the best pizza dough I have made at home.

Ingredients for the dough:
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • large pinch of salt

First, dissolve the yeast in a large mixing bowl with the warm water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Blitz the flour and salt in a food processor (all my instructions will include the use of a food processor, but can certainly be mixed by hand as well), using the dough hook. Add the oil to the yeasty water and slowly dirzzle these wet ingredients into the food processor, while on low speed. Mix until just mixed and a dough has started to form.

Pull out the dough and hand-knead for about 3 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and put aside in an oil-coated mixing bowl. Cover with platic wrap and set aside to rise for 40 minutes to an hour.

Spray your baking sheet(s) with oil and dust with cornflour or all-purpose flour. Cut the dough in half and shape into whatever shape it will allow you (I aimed for circles but that just didn't happen!)

My toppings included:
  • a sauce of "Better Than Ricotta" mixed with fresh, chopped oregano (on one half)
  • a sauce of ready-made pizza sauce (on the other half)
  • roasted pumpkin
  • Redwood Mozzarella Cheezly
  • Redwood chicken-style pieces, previously cooked in a frypan then chopped
  • sliced mushrooms
  • diced tomato
  • diced green capsicum
  • finely diced red onion 


I put on all the ingredients bar the cheese, cooked the pizzas in a 250'C oven for about 10 minutes, then added the cheese and cooked some more until the crusts were clearly baked, and the cheese melted. Grind some salt and pepper over the top and it's ready to go!



Posted October 21, 2012 04:44 PM by Louise

October 17, 2012



I received an email from Humane Research Australia, asking for help on an issue regarding innocent lambs being sent to slaughter, after being subject to university testing. I have copy and pasted the information below - we need as much support as possible to save these poor lambs!! It’s outrageous that even with the offer from Edgar’s Mission; the university is still planning on shipping these lambs off to the abattoir.

So please write an email to the people listed – I did, it took me 2 minutes!!


LaTrobe University students have been using lambs in a study to determine the effect of different feeds on wool growth. (Animal Nutrition AGR2AN)
Humane Research Australia has concern for the wellbeing of these animals. We have been informed that the lambs are kept indoors with limited space and on grated floors. It appears from the photos that one lamb is biting on the pen bar suggesting they are displaying stereotypic behaviour. Such housing, together with handling procedures, including weighing and ultrasound measurement of weight gain, is likely to have caused distress to these animals and it would be highly questionable whether any potential benefit from this research will have outweighed the harm caused.

One of the lambs in the study

The lambs are due to be sent to slaughter any day now, so time is fleeting. Edgar's Mission have volunteered to adopt the lambs and pay for transport, but this is not being received well by the university as they are still considering sending them to an abattoir for slaughter.

"We asked nicely, we organised everything, we wrote petitions, we argued at meetings - but this wasn't good enough for La Trobe! There is NO reason why these animals should not be given a home at Edgar's Mission, or indeed any of the MANY places that volunteered homes to these sheep.

And even after all our reasonable arguments, the University still refuses to even improve the experimental conditions for future years! This is appalling and insulting coming from a University that 'cares for animal welfare' and 'respects the views of students'. Come one and all - help us tell the University that we MUST be taken seriously!" - Allison Drinkwater, NAPS executive.

Timmy & friends at Edgar's Mission - these lambs could join them

Please email the following to voice your objection and to urge them to surrender the lambs to Edgar’s Mission.

Prof. Andrew Brennan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research) A.Brennan@latrobe.edu.au

Ms Leia Demtschyna, Senior Coordinator, Ethics L.Demtschyna@latrobe.edu.au

Chancellor, Prof Adrienne Clarke  Adrienne.Clarke@latrobe.edu.au 


I received an email with good news this morning! Looks like the email campaign and protesting worked! So thank you if you emailed, passed on the details etc - we can make a change!!

Further to our recent emails calling on assistance to save lambs used in LaTrobe University research, the university has listened to your concerns and have agreed to provide the lambs to one of three parties who have expreseed interest in taking them.

Whilst we do not know who they are at this stage, the university has stated they have "made inquiries to ensure that the three offers it received are from credible agents, and that none of them intends killing the lambs or sending them to slaughter."

Thank you to everyone who has contacted the uni to express their concern, but most importantly thank you to Allison Drinkwater who alerted us to the problem and for fighting to save their lives.

Posted October 17, 2012 11:31 AM by EssMick

October 05, 2012


Food Porn Friday – October 5

Wow. Last night I was one of the lucky few who secured tickets to see P!nk at an exclusive one off gig at The Forum last night (thanks to the lovely Litha). I will post more details next week, but we had such a blast!! I took my gorgeous friend Madi with me, and we rocked out. A lot of people are not fans of P!nk (L-whack is one of them!) but she really is a true entertainer, and puts on an amazing show – she’s awesome!!

Here’s just one pic that I took last night.

This was taken during the song 'Try', P!nk's new single

Now onto the food porn!


Thai red curry

Who doesn’t love a Thai curry? When I was there, I would have a different coloured curry every night – I couldn’t get enough of them!

Well this is Vegie Head’s own recipe. She recently came back from a holiday over there (lucky duck!) and she did a cooking class, so she’s sharing some of her wisdom by creating a vegan-friendly version!

Photo: Vegie Head


Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 30. A lot of people say itis stressful turning 30 – I don’t agree. I’m welcoming my 30’s with arms open wide, looking forward to the challenges and adventures ahead!

So one of my requests for my family birthday celebration (which we’re having tonight) was a vegan birthday cake! My mum was happy to bake one, but she’s been busy with clients lately so I asked for a Mister Nice Guy cake! So we’re going to enjoy a ‘Betty White’ cake for dessert tonight (not Betty Crocker as my mum called it when she was double checking what I wanted… haha!). I ummed and ahhed over which flavour to get.

A few weeks ago, they posted a picture of one of their cakes on Stalkbook Facebook, and I am sharing the love. Behold the Double layer Berry Boom cake!

Rich dark chocolate cake filled with blueberries and covered with creamy vanilla bean frostingPhoto: Mister Nice Guy

I cannot wait. Bring. On. Cake!!

And lastly, this week is World Animal Week.  I came across this story about an orang-utan and a dog that became best friends (scroll down to the second story). It’s a heart-warming, and lovely story – with some hilarious pictures!!

Posted October 05, 2012 12:01 PM by EssMick