8

A Merry Christmas Newtonmas Family Lunch

A very happy December 25th to you all! I hope your weather was better than Melbourne’s– we had a top temperature (in the Melbourne metro area) of 35.5C (95.9F). Adelaide was worse with a top temp of 40C (104F). That’s Adelaide’s hottest Christmas since 1945. We’ve had some ridiculous Christmas weather over the years, about four or so years ago it was in the 30s at lunch time then the temperature dropped rapidly and we ended up with a massive hail storm that smashed many windows and damaged many cars across Melbourne.

We spent a quiet Christmas Day at my sister and her partner’s house, about an hour drive outside Melbourne. Just us plus mum and dad. It was too hot to go for a walk after lunch like last year (we had jackets on in 2015 because it was cold!) so we chilled out in the nice cool house.

So, Christmassy food! On Christmas Eve I try to honour the food requests in the house. The kids asked for home made pizza followed by lemon self saucing pudding. My absolute favourite recipe for the pudding is from Veganissimo! by Leigh Drew. It’s a never fail recipe. This time I doubled the sauce so it would go all lovely with the So Good vegan ice cream:

For Christmas Day I made Leigh’s Cashew Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Smoked Paprika, also from Veganissimo! This is my new favourite baked nut cheese:

We always have roasted vegetables at family gatherings:

I made a simple green salad with cranberries, avocado and cherries using the lime tahini dressing from Green Gourmet Giraffe. I would have added toasted pistachios but I forgot them on the stove this morning and burnt them all:

A couple more salads including mum’s usual garden salad and some simple coleslaw in the back. My sister also made a separate coleslaw with a sesame oil dressing:

And because we clearly didn’t have enough salad for the five salad eating eating adults, my sister made this delicious quinoa watermelon salad:

My main meal contribution was a loaf, using the Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen as the filling. The filling was great but assembling the loaf with the pastry braid in a hot kitchen on a hot day was close to impossible. The pastry all stuck together and was a nightmare to work with. So I did what most fancy chefs do and cut out pastry shapes to cover up all the hideousness. I also made the Silky Chickpea Gravy from Appetite For Reduction to go with it:

We also had this vegan Greek pita by Irene’s. It’s sold in a blue packet as ‘vegan nistisimi pita’. Remember folks, we’re Greek here and six adults and two kids means you cook for fifty times that amount:

We agreed we wouldn’t be making dessert this year. Clearly this means something in cake like form because mum made a batch of amazing veganised kourabiethes, also known as Greek shortbread. They’re actually made with oil instead of a vegan butter. When I find out where she got the recipe I will link it here:

I suppose one good thing about summer is summer fruit. We had this platter with some banana peanut butter nice cream we whipped up:

It was great to have such a nice quiet Christmas just hanging out. My sister put up some Christmas decorations including some little retro-vintage decorations from when we were little:

   

And here’s Punky doing something totally ridiculous with his fang. I don’t understand it. Maybe he did that thing where you bite your lip which is why his face is all screwed up looking?

I hope you all had a fantastic day, full of good cheer and great food (and hey, we don’t need Christmas-Newtonmas for that!)

 

14

Christmas Family Lunch In Central Victoria

christmas2015decorating2

Another year almost over, another Christmas-Newtonmas behind us! December appeared out of nowhere and with a family holiday to Warrnambool in the middle of the month, I ran out of time (and a little steam) to get the house remotely Christmassy. I’m happy to pass on the decorating but the kids wanted something. I don’t want a plastic Christmas tree and I don’t want a real one either (have you read The Little Fir Tree? SO SAD) and so this year we had this (and what’s in the top pic. Christmas-Newtonmas!). Ho ho ho:

christmas2015decorating1

Our relatives all had plans, so this year we did nothing whatsoever on Christmas day and I loved it. The kids got to do whatever they wanted but as it was a stinking hot day (I think it reached 37C/98.6F) that mostly involved all of us hanging out in the cooler part of the house reading or playing computer games. In the evening we watched The Santa Claus and the sequel. We’ve actually watched the first movie the previous two years but the kids forgot. Anyway, I asked Arthur and DeeW what food they wanted me to make (sausage rolls, apple pies). Our Christmas Day lunch and dinner were nothing special. The kids wanted toasted vegan cheese sandwiches for dinner and I was happy with their no-fuss request. So breakfast was when I gave them something healthy to eat (well, there is an unnecessary application of icing sugar on the strawberries but it’s SNOW, which makes it okay):

christmas2015breakfast

Christmas Day for me involved a lot of meal prep and having the oven on (blergh). Boxing Day (today) was to be at my sister and her partner’s home in sortof-central Victoria, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Fortunately the temperature dropped way down to a beautiful 22C/35.6F this time. There were to be eleven people for lunch so naturally we made enough food to feed sixty million.

I decided to take some cashew cheese and crackers. One of my favourite recipes is by Cate from A Traveling Cook. I attended her cooking classes and a great recipe was included in her class notes. I made one batch but created two flavours from it. The first is Cate’s recipe for extra sharp cheddar style. The second is the same but I added sundried tomatoes and truffle oil:

christmas2015cashewcheese

My sister made awesome roast potatoes tossed in semolina and rosemary:

christmas2015roastpotatoes

My contribution was a salad made with freekeh, broccolini and smoked almonds. I loved the similar dish we had at the Maha vegan degustation and I’ve been experimenting with my own version but mehhh, something is missing. Gotta work on it some more but it was still okay:

christmas2015freekehsalad

My blurry lunch plate! I made a Tofurky roast which I really liked. Unfortunately I had misplaced my oven timer when it was cooking, and then got distracted talking to a neighbour so the poor Tofurky was a little bit of burnt. I made some gravy using the Silky Chickpea Gravy recipe from Appetite For Reduction by Isa Chandra M. My sister made tabouleh and the roast sweet potatoes and we threw in some garlic bread:christmas2015lunch

Dessert! I made the gingerbread cheezecake from Where’s The Beef? I had tried this cheezecake when Cindy from Where’s The Beef? brought it to a vegan potluck and I loved it. I’m very greedy when it comes to cheesecake crust so I doubled the crust ingredients. If you use a gluten free ginger biscuit, the whole cake can be gluten free:

christmas2015rgingerbreadcheezecake

Mine!
christmas2015rgingerbreadcheezecake2

More over zealous food preparation by me in the form of Black Forest Cherry Ripe Ripple Cake. I’ll be posting the recipe very soon. I made a few of these in trifle cups (Aldi had a packet of six for a few bucks recently) but figured that because we had so much food and other sweets, people could just spoon out a portion for themselves. Good call:

christmas2015cherryblackforestripplecake

My mum and sister made Saraili, though this time with more orange flavour to the syrup. Soooo good!

christmas2015saraili

We really need to walk all that food right off. My sister lives in such a great location. They currently have a neighbour’s horses on their land and some magpies that adore my sister’s partner because he feeds them. They come right up to the door looking for him. There are also lots of noisy cockatoos and other beautiful birds and kangaroos too, though they weren’t around today.

christmas2015day1

It’s a great area for post-food blowout walks:

christmas2015day2 christmas2015day3

Many hours later and I’m still so full! We had that nice rainbow up there on the drive home to cap off a wonderful day.

And pssst! I’ve started a Veganopoulous page on Facebook too if you’d like to follow me there.

Best wishes to you all for all for a great holiday season, and may whatever you’re doing be full of awesome!

12

Vegan Eats In Warrnambool: Day Kitty, Brightbird Espresso, Fishtales Cafe, Brown Grain Thai

Day Kitty Warrnambool

We had a short holiday down in Warrnambool, thanks to a gift voucher we received for some accommodation. Warrnambool is a former port city on the south-west coast of the state of Victoria and about a three hour drive from Melbourne. I haven’t been there since I was kid, about thirty years ago I’d say. Of course I did all my veganny research last week and was pretty pleased to see I’d have quite a few vegan friendly places to eat. A shout out goes to Natalie from the vegan blog Appetite Affliction for recommending places to try.

Let’s go Warrnambool!

DAY KITTY

52B KEPLER STREET

WARRNAMBOOL

First up is Day Kitty. I can’t find a Facebook page for them but here’s an article. There was a bit of a queue which I was glad about because I was having trouble deciding what to get. There was a good amount of vegan/vegan option meals on the menu but fortunately at the last minute I noticed a little daily specials board on the counter with what is one of my favourite meals ever (no matter from where): crumbed tofu curry don. I didn’t need to look at the menu after that, but I did look at the desserts cabinet and chose the raw banana peanut mesquite cheesecake (there were about three raw vegan desserts if I remember correctly). The crumbed tofu was excellent and I decided I’d go there again and cross my fingers that they’d have this special running for the week. That’s the meal up there in the top photo. Really, really good. Warrnambool, we were off to a most excellent start!

I was a little dubious about the cheesecake and wondered if it had been in the cabinet a little too long, but it tasted great. I forgot to ask if the desserts were made on site or purchased from a supplier but regardless, this was delicious:

Day Kitty Warrnambool

I went back a couple days later hoping I’d see the crumbed tofu curry don one last time but alas! Devastation. It was about 10:15am and I didn’t feel like anything that wasn’t more brunch-y (apart from the tofu curry don, which had been nice and light and not heavy at all). The only brunch option that appealed was the smashed avo on toast which I admit disappointed me a little. See, I’m a bit biased again smashed avo on toast lately. I kinda feel like it’s everywhere, you know? But I ordered it anyway because I was starving. There was a nice dollop of cashew cream and I was told it would be buttered with vegan butter. Nice! I noticed some Half Pint Vegan Dairy butter being sold there so perhaps it was that. Anyway, I really enjoyed this and have now done away with my smashed avo on toast bias. I think when it’s done well, it’s thoroughly enjoyable and Day Kitty did this really well:

Day Kitty Warrnambool

I decided not to get a sweet treat. Aaaaand then I saw ‘vegan wagon wheels’. I never liked the well known marshmallow-chocolate of the same name but since becoming vegan I love the vegan versions of stuff I formerly hated. Like gravy. Anyways, I got myself one of these raw vegan wagon wheels.I was expecting it to have the marshmallow-jam filling like the famous round chocolate bar version, but it wasn’t. Fine with me, I don’t mind what it was because it was delicious!

Day Kitty Warrnambool

Day Kitty stock a range of products catering to different dietary requirements and many ingredients common to my vegan pantry. The fridge section had Half Pint Vegan Dairy butter (Butter Me Up), tofu, tempeh, falafel and (I think) some coconut yoghurt. As well as a menu there were also other items in a cabinet like chia puddings, salads, noodle boxes and wraps. If I’m ever in Warrnambool again, I’m heading straight for Day Kitty. Service was great too.

 

BRIGHTBIRD ESPRESSO

157 LIEBIG STREET

WARRNAMBOOL

For another brunch, I checked out Brightbird Espresso. The friendly staff there told me what could be veganised. I settled for the slow cooked white beans with toast. Great choice, this was incredibly filling and really tasty. I wanted to have a second visit to Brightbird but ran out of time. This dish rekindled my love of slow cooked white beans and I would happily order this again if I went back:

Brightbird Espress Warrnambool

 

FISHTALES CAFE

63 LIEBIG STREET

WARRNAMBOOL

With a name like Fishtales Cafe, you’d be forgiven for thinking this sounds like a regular old school fish and chip seafood family restaurant kinda place. Except they have a big colourful board out the front boasting a huge vego, vegan and coeliac range. I’d heard about Fishtales Cafe from a few vegan sources and was confident it would be a good place to eat with the fam, where we’d all find something we like. We stood in the doorway for a while looking at the menu. There’s no set vegan menu (or vegetarian), so vegan options are peppered throughout the pages making it a little overwhelming (it would be better if everything veg*n was in one section). I gave up and decided to ask for help once we sat down. Staff were helpful with pointing out what I could have. I chose the veg satay and asked for tofu to be added and they were happy to do that. This came with rice underneath and was really tasty and quite a good serving size. Really enjoyable and a lesson not to judge a restaurant by its vegan unfriendly name!

Fishtales Cafe Warrnambool

Again I was impressed by another cafe offering raw vegan desserts in their cabinet. There were truffle/bliss balls, a mint chocolate cheesecake and this Snickers style cheesecake. Once more I forgot to ask if they make their own raw vegan desserts or get them in but I was too busy stuffing my face to care:

Fishtales Cafe Warrnambool

The family all enjoyed their meals and this would be our first stop to eat out as a family if we find ourselves in Warrnambool again.

 

BROWN GRAIN THAI

190 TIMOR STREET

WARRNAMBOOL

I got to have dinner on my own because the fam went off to a pizza place. I’d heard that Brown Grain Thai can veganise meals for you and I was told by friendly stuff that the curries (red, green, jungle, Penang, yellow curries) were (or could be made, I don’t remember) vegan. I went with the Penang curry as I wasn’t in the mood for anything too hot. This was excellent and probably one of the nicest Thai restaurant meals I’ve had.

Brown Grain Thai, Warrnambool

I tried to check out as many vegan friendly looking places as I could (by looking at menus in windows). I didn’t have a chance to eat at The Liebig at 76 Liebig Street, but here’s a photo of the menu in the window:

The Liebig Restaurant Warrnambool

* * *

We took a short day trip to Port Fairy. I had a list of places I’d found online that were listed as vegan friendly. Unfortunately they were all busts. If you’re going to advertise yourself as having vegan options, that should mean you have genuine vegan options. Not one lonely “we can remove the eggs” avo on toast meal where the staff seem surprised that you ask if something else is added in place of the eggs they will remove. So it was pretty disappointing to drive around to these ‘vegan friendly’ places only to see they didn’t have anything. Sad (and annoyed) face.

SLITTI CAFE

10 BANK STREET

PORT FAIRY

Slitti Cafe did tell me they could make me a falafal wrap/sandwich which I would have ordered, had it not been for me eating falafel and hummus back at our holiday cabin. I love falafel, I love hummus, but I very quickly get hummus-falafel overload. Staff were friendly and pointed out which of their chocolates on display were vegan (dark chocs, chocolate bark with hazenuts) as well as being able to make me vegan hot chocolates. Tempting, but I went for the raw vegan mini chocolate covered Christmas pudding. This was so thick I could barely stick my fork through it but in a good way! Loved it and I would definitely stop in again if we pass through Port Fairy in the future.

Slitty Cafe Port Fairy

The family had morning tea at Clonmara Tearoom. There wasn’t anything vegan available though I had done my research and ate beforehand. DeeW enjoyed a huge scone she proclaimed as “the greatest scone I’ve ever tasted” with raspberry jam (she’s vegetarian). Staff were really friendly and we browsed around the gift shop for a while. It’s a lovely little place (Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe has blogged about her visit there in 2013) with a small tearoom inside and courtyard seating out the back. I loved the garden view through the window. While the family I ate, I entertained myself by thinking up what I would serve in an all-vegan tearoom:

Clonmara Tearoom window

 

We did some of the touristy things in Warrnambool, like visiting the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village and museum. We went on a weekday and there was nobody there so we had the 1870s (and ducks!) to ourselves.

Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Warrnambool Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Warrnambool Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Warrnambool Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village Warrnambool

We took a drive to Hopkins Falls Scenic Reserve:

Hopkins Falls Scenic Reserve

and spent a bit of time at the beach. Beautiful sunny weather, a cool sea breeze and fortunately the awful weather started on the day we were leaving!

Warrnambool beach

I was really pleased to see that Warrnambool has a number of vegan friendly places to eat so if you’re heading there, you’ll be alright if the above places appeal to you. Just check opening and closing times as Fishtales for example said they were open til late, but when we went out on a Thursday evening they were closing up before it was what we’d consider late. If we had more time there I would have contacted the Clovelly Restaurant in advance (as recommended by Natalie in her blog post mentioned above), gone to The Liebig Restaurant and Cactus Jam. There were a few pizza places too where I’d guess some of the pizza bases are vegan.

All in all, a nice holiday with lots of good vegan food!

29

In My Kitchen October 2015

In My Kitchen is a monthly blog link up hosted by Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and I’m submitting this blog post of mine for October 2015. It’s not a vegan event but anyone can join in and you can also discover new blogs, products, etc!

In My Kitchen this month we have a new little chalk board. It was one of those “don’t really need it but it’s cheap” Ikea suck-you-in brainwashy jobbies. I thought DeeW would like it as her slate, seeing as she loves Anne of Green Gables. She wants me to call her Carrots so she can hit me over the head with it. She thought this message was pretty funny (Anne of Green Gables geeks may find this amusing):

chalkboard

The marble slab in the photo above belong to Husband’s grandmother who passed away when Husband was fifteen or so. Husband’s grandfather passed away in 2003 and when the house was being emptied of all his grandparents’ possessions, Husband chose to keep the marble slab. I’ve been using it for photography recently and love it, though there are some stains you can see which don’t want to come out.

In My Kitchen we have this strange looking thing which is actually a dried banana. It cost me 65 cents and tasted a lot like dried figs. I’ve never had dried banana aaaaand never will again:

dried banana

White balsamic vinegar is one of those ingredients that always, ALWAYS pops up in recipes I like the look of. Then I track some down and buy it, then forget where I saw the recipe. In fact I forgot I already went through this process previously and had bought a bottle of white balsamic. So now I have two bottles and no recipes. With the horseradish, again that appears in a few recipes I want to try so I thought I’d get some while I remembered. The Australian Wild Fruit in syrup was a gift and I’m going to crack it open soon:

kitchenstuffz

I bought this book called I’d Rather Be A Cat from a fundraising stall. The kids find it funny and this is my favourite page:

idratherbeacat

In My Kitchen I have my herbs and spices cupboard. I call it the vegan food cupboard, even though all my cupboards are pretty much vegan. But this one gets used the most because of the spices, nutritional yeast etc:

pantry

In My Kitchen my dining chairs are those retro vinyl ones. Unfortunately one of my cats (Punky) decided they made good scratching posts so they’ve been destroyed. I didn’t mind tooooo much because I was going to reupholster them anyway, before realising the cat would use the reupholstered chairs for his scratching post and not use the actual cat scratch post which is right near the chairs. I bought some cheap pillowcases from op shops and covered the chair backs. The good thing about this is that I can change the pillowcases for the seasons, if I can find something cheap and cheerful for another fifty cents and am in a seasonal decoration mood. Punky still scratches at them and the pillowcases are showing some wear, but it looks better than shredded chairs:

pillowcasechair

In My Kitchen is my good boy cat, Malteezies. He doesn’t scratch up furniture like his cheeky brother. He’s a good boy! Yeah you’re a good boy aren’t you? You’re a good widdle boy! Good widdle boooooy! Yes you are! Yes you are!!! yeshyouraremygoodwiddlebooooyyyyy:

goodlittlecat

Happy October!

 

14

Happy Cat Day To Us

punkymaltesers1

A year ago today we adopted our two cats through Melbourne Animal Rescue (MAR). We decided to get two, so they could keep each other company and maybe not feel alone in a strange new home! We’re most definitely cat people so we began browsing animal rescue websites before finding two little brothers who were being fostered not far from us.

From the same litter, these two brothers were about six months old. We had arranged to meet with the foster carers and a rep from MAR and of course, the two cats. Although the meeting wasn’t a guarantee we would be adopting, we spent the week beforehand kitten proofing the house. We were asked to take a cat carrier in case the foster carers, cats and MAR were happy to have us adopt them. Arthur and DeeW got immediately attached and truthfully, so did Husband and I! The cats were so friendly and had no problem being around strangers and so we were able to take them home the day we met.

lazy cat good life

The adoption process was pretty straightforward, we spoke with the MAR rep about what had been done to date (desexing, microchipping and such). Paid the adoption fee, signed some papers and that was it. I was a bit nervous that, for some reason, we wouldn’t be seen as suitable but it all went really well. The foster carers were sad to see the cats go and really, I can completely understand why because they’re adorable, funny and very loving.

Arthur and DeeW were so excited to name the cats (or rather, just giving them a new middle name). DeeW was really in to watching Punky Brewster at the time, so she named one Punky. Punky (and one other brother in the litter) was born with a stubby tail. Believe me, this does not affect his ability to get up to mischief. To be honest, Punky’s stubby tail is actually a really handy thing because he has a habit of just flopping down on the floor in our tiny kitchen when I’m cooking and if he had a long tail I’d be stepping on it a lot. When Punky is startled by something and his fur fluffs up, his tail turns in to a pom pom:

punkymaltesers2

Arthur got to choose a name too of course and he chose the name of his favourite chocolate which at the time was Maltesers. Maltesers is the big lazy of the two and if you ask him to lie down, he flops his head down first, lies on his back then sticks a back leg up in the air. So much time has been spent asking him to lie down because it’s ridiculously entertaining. He has the loudest purr I’ve ever heard in a cat and (like his brother) is just super friendly. He’s definitely the big boofhead (speaking in the fondest way of course) of the two and tends to lie around all lazy like. Until you call him for brushies, and he comes running to get brushed. He currently has a scratch on his nose thanks to over enthusiastic feline Wrestlemania. Here he has taken over the human’s beanbag:

punkymaltesers3

The foster carers warned us that both cats like to ‘help’. Oh boy was that an understatement… they (especially Punky) are in EVERYTHING. If I’m emptying the washing machine, they have to sit in the basket. If I’m cleaning the litter trays, they have to see what’s going on. Punky has the magical ability to conjure up a new turd when I change the litter, even if he’s taken a dump half an hour before. One of their favourite things to do is jump in to DeeW’s doll pram and be taken for a ride up and down the house.You will get this look, possibly a meow, until you take them for a walk:

Cute cat in pram

I’ve spoken to some people working in animal rescue and I think people who do this are champions. On a daily basis they’re dealing with abused, neglected, sick and hurt animals. They are constantly seeing how truly disgusting some people can be towards animals. One was telling me about having to constantly wash out the car, because blood, pus, dirt and faeces would be all over the animals. We had a chat about the mental health impact of rescue work. It was a real eye opener and I hope that more people become aware of the importance of Adopt Don’t Shop, as well as supporting animal rescue organisations and in general, being more responsible with care of animals.

melbourne animal rescue banner
Image source: Melbourne Animal Rescue

Melbourne Animal Rescue is a registered not for profit charity, no-kill foster care network and entirely volunteer run. They do great work saving animals and since July 2010 they have rescued and re-homed over 800 cats and dogs. They fund raise through donations and stalls and are often faced with huge vet bills thanks to their life saving work. They have a donations page here: http://www.melbourneanimalrescue.org.au/index.php/donate

Our adoption process through MAR was straightforward and easy. My friend has also adopted through MAR and we both happily recommend you look at MAR if you’re interested in fostering or adopting!

Thank you to MAR for all the work you do. We have two beautiful cats enjoying a very spoilt life, but Punky and Maltesers have been so good for us all!