Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck Picnic

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

Vegan potluck picnics with themes!!! On the weekend I went to a potluck with other veg*n bloggers-and-friends where the theme was Celebrity Chef. I dutifully went and borrowed some library books for research (Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, though I forgot to go pick up my reserve of a Margaret Fulton cookbook in time). Nothing really appealed to me. The theme was optional but my mind went straight to Adam Sobel, author of Street Vegan and famed Cinnamon Snail and all round groovy dude. And I thought BINGO because the Cinnamon Snail is known here on the other side of the world and I put Adam’s recipes in rock star category. Plus I always feel better about making recipes for others where I’ve made them before so I know how they’re supposed to turn out.

I’ve made the Maple Mustard Glazed breakfast seitan strips from Street Vegan before but changed it up a little this time to use tofu and make it gluten free. I also LOVE the milk recipes in Street Vegan and went for the Pistachio Clove Rosewater milk (cutting way down on the rosewater, cos I don’t like anything more than a subtle hint of it) and the Chamomile Pine Nut milk.

The food everyone brought along was great. Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe made a sourdough pizza with vegan mozarella, tamari chickpeas and some aquafaba chocolate macaroons (you can read more about her picnic recap here). Michael from Where’s The Beef? braved the ‘terrifying Paula Deen archives’ to bring us mini cheeseburger puffs (you can read Michael’s recap here). Steph from Vegan About Town made a Simple Rainbow Salad by Ian Parmenter. Other delicious foods included some corn (also wheat) tortillas stuffed with spicy goodness (the corn version fell apart but still tasted great), a casserole/stew with mushrooms and veg, rice paper rolls with a home made satay sauce, nori handrolls (a.k.a. vegan sushi rolls) and a pasta bake made by K and Toby from In The Mood For Noodles. There was a little more food when more people arrived but I’d put the camera away by then (and stuffed myself too much):

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

I went a bit silly with desserts though. We had some gluten free folk at the picnic and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make my Mousse Your Own Adventure Cake not only gluten free but also with different flavours. I used a packet mix mud cake, flavoured the mousse slightly with coconut essence and I used coconut cream on top with toasted shredded coconut. This cake is supposed to be made with a lighter cake, and the dense mud cake made it more fudgy. Fine by me though, it still tasted good!

I’ve had a packet of gluten free flour in the fridge for ages and figured I’d do something with it too. The Gooey Salted Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars from Street Vegan were perfect. Of course, I misread the recipe and thought it would make a small batch. Ah, no. It actually makes one bigass tray. I also had the fun of making a caramel that didn’t thicken and was pretty much a milky consistency. You’re supposed to pour the caramel over a cooked biscuit base (which I made gluten free). I had a brainwave and used a can of that new coconut condensed milk to thicken it all up. It was more a brainfart, because the condensed milk just melted and the mixture stayed runny, with the added bonus of a tonne more sugar and fat. So I added a heap of cornflour and fortunately it thickened well and turned out. Really sweet though!

I had told some people on the guest list that I would make a family recipe from my blog so I chose my Saraili. This was another near disaster because after defrosting my filo pastry (which was purchased from the freezer section), all the sheets were stuck together and would tear to bits when I tried separating them. This meant I had to move everything to a smaller pie dish rather than the big round tray it’s supposed to be cooked in, and luckily it all worked out in the end. The edges were a bit too dry though.

In the pic below (of the sweets), we have some awesome lemon curd tarts and blueberry tarts. Across is the pumpkin spice cheesecake made by Cindy from Where’s The Beef? using a Martha Stewart recipe. The tarts and cheesecake were great. Also shown are Johanna’s biscuits (more info on those on her recap!) and I had quite a few of them ūüôā

Celebrity Chef Vegan Potluck

I couldn’t face taking my cakes home and tried to palm them off to everyone. I did manage to take some home to give to my sister but I ate so much at the picnic that my mind started turning to juice fasts. Still,¬†I’m looking forward to the next themed potluck!


Week In Review And A Potluck Picnic!

sleepy kitty

Aaaaand another week has flown by (and where I realise my last blog post was a week ago and think how did that happen?)!

Up top here we have our cat Maltesers (Malteezies, Maltshitskis, etc etc) who lists sleeping and eating as two of his favourite habits. Like me, really.

So I’ve just waddled back home after going to a potluck picnic hosted by Cindy and Michael from Where’s The Beef? to celebrate 2000 blog posts and over eight years of blogging. Great weather, great company and of course great food! I got to catch up with some fellow veg*n¬†bloggers and meet others I’ve followed for ages but never met in person. Check¬†out the awesomeness:

Banh Mi made by Cindy and Michael’s friend Clamps. Faaaaaaantastic!

vegan banh mi

Linda and her daughter from The Lentil Institution made these chocolate cupcakes. I took one with the plan of taking it home to share with the kids. But I ate it:

choc cupcakes

Angie made a chocolate ripple cake. Is this cake known outside Australia? I’ve always thought of it as an Aussie icon. Plain chocolate biscuits sandwiched together with cream (vegans can use whatever cream alternative they favour), left in the fridge overnight and the next day the biscuits are all soft and awesome. Many people consider leftover chocolate ripple cake a perfectly suitable breakfast food:

chocolate ripple cake

Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe brought these chocolate zucchini brownies topped with coconut bacon. Johanna and I did a swap with our leftovers and even though I’m really full, I still snuck a piece in because I love the coconut bacon with the chocolate:

choc zucchini coconut bacon

Rosalie from Quinces and Kale made brownies too, I did manage to sneak a piece back home to share with the family but I’ve already eaten half of it and tempted to eat the other half and not tell them:

rosalie brownies

Someone (I’m sorry Someone, I don’t know who you are!) made this awesome salad:

tofu salad

I made¬†the Chive and Cashew Creme Cheese recipe from Leigh Drew’s Veganissimo! but used dill instead as that’s all I had. This is a great recipe with either chives or dill and there wasn’t much left!

dill cashew cheese

I also made my vegan Greek no-honey walnut cakes (‘Melomakarona’) and you can find the recipe for those here:

vegan melomakarona

Look at all this food! I wish I could have tried everything but I was so full. I did have the famous Where’s The Beef? sausage rolls, some dips,¬†salads, caramel slice and chocolate covered coconut bars (like Bounty bars). So much good food that I’m doing that regret thing of “okay so I was really full but WHY didn’t I try this and this and that and that”!

picnic potluck

Melbourne and Victoria News:

The Mantra Lounge are hosting a four hour cruise on March 29th! Food! Entertainment! Speakers! Are you going?

– A new vegan friendly wholefoods store has opened in Sale! The Nutrition Pod also provides prepared meals, including prepped meals for competitions. Check out their Facebook page for more info and photos.

– And we have a new bulk store in Brunswick! The Source Bulk Foods have opened on Sydney Road and I’m hoping to get there soon to check it out.


– For all my plans, I ended up doing nothing for St. Patrick’s Day as I had forgotten Husband and Arthur were going to be out. Well, I did have a green smoothie and DeeW had some broccoli… anyway! I love this Potato and Facon Pie recipe by Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe.

– I really need to use up the dried bean curd skin that’s been sitting in my pantry forever. I love the roast crispy mock duck from Divine Realm in the city but when I bought a prepackaged version from a supermarket I didn’t like it much. I might try this recipe for Buddha’s Roast Duck with Yuba by Bryanna Clark Grogan.

From Other Bloggers:

–¬†I really enjoyed reading this recap by Cadry from Cadry’s Kitchen about winning a Gardein competition. What a fabulous prize! We don’t get Gardein products in Australia but I see them mentioned all the time on blogs from North America.

– Have you all heard about making vegan meringue from canned chickpea or bean liquid? WHO THOUGHT OF THIS??? I shake you warmly by the hand. There was some discussion at the potluck today about the beany aftertaste, though perhaps some flavourings can be added to kinda overpower the beany taste?

Articles and Other Interesting Stuff:

Study finds that scrunchies are being used to keep wildlife from being killed by cats. Personally, I think it’s great for cats¬†who¬†wished they live in Elizabethan times.

We Should Do More For Pets That Need Our Help. So many animals are put down and not enough time or effort is given to try and find them homes ūüôĀ

–¬†Lynch syndrome carrier speaks out as Australians are urged to become aware of family cancer history.

РI bookmarked this page for a gorgeous magnetic spice storage idea. I still want to do it one day.


– not as much this week, it seems the days have flown by. I did pick up a bunch of home decluttering/organisation books from the library, but they’re hidden underneath piles of stuff I need to sort…

Listening to:

– whatever’s on the radio. It seems like the same songs are playing every time I switch it on! Previously I was listening to one of the oldies stations, with music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. You’d think with such a huge catalogue I’d hear something other than We Didn’t Start The Fire every day. Gahhh!


I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, with a better one ahead!


Marbled Halva and the A-Z Bookish Survey

My parents visited this week to bring a bookcase over for Arthur’s bedroom. ¬†Which meant lots of funtastic book sorting FOR ME, wheeee! ¬†And dusting, boo.

My parents have always had the store bought halva, which is the grey variety made with tahini and sugar. ¬†It’s popular around Lent as it is free of animal products. ¬†A special treat when I was young was ‘halva sandwich’, which is as you may guess, a piece of halva between slices of bread.

‘Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free’ by Ricki Heller contains a much better halva recipe so I made it for my parents. ¬†By the way, have you ever eaten halva followed by a mouthful of soft drink (fizzy drink like Coke)? ¬†Do it and tell me if the sensation in your mouth is completely weird. ¬†I’ve only tried this with the grey store bought halva. ¬†DO IT DO IT.

So in case you can’t tell, I am really in to this cookbook and marbled halva was one of the top three recipes I just had to try. ¬†It’s very simple to make (food processor, woo!) though the really difficult part is two fold: 1) not eating the mixture from the bowl and 2) not going to the fridge to ‘trim the edges’ when you know you will be serving it to guests the next day.

My parents really liked it even though they never buy the chocolate swirl halva.  I want to make this as part of Christmas gifts for people but I have to be able to keep it cool, which might not be easy in an Australian Christmas!  Looks like some people will be getting ice bricks and miniature cooler bags for Christmas too:


Now truthfully, I’ve made this twice. ¬†The halva above was made with the runny tahini. ¬†It was runny because I didn’t realise that at the bottom of this big tub was a solid ball of tahini. ¬†Whoops. ¬†So I made it a second time using the Tahini Blob, to see how it would go. ¬†The first batch with the runny tahini came together in a ball in the food processor, as the recipe states. ¬†The second recipe, made with the big solid blob of tahini, did not come together in a ball. ¬†It was still okay enough to pat in to a rectangle shape for chilling, but it would crumble more than the runny tahini version when I picked it up. ¬†No difference in the super taste though!


And now for something fun, thanks to Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe who dobbed me in on her blog for the A-Z Bookish Survey (of course I don’t mind as this was fun thinking about and I got to take photos of books so it’s all super). ¬†Oh, ‘dob’ is Australian slang isn’t it? ¬†To dob on someone is to tattle. ¬†You know how Cindy Brady was called a tattle tale? ¬†In Australia she’d be called a dobber. ¬†If you want to tell your parents that your big brother has made a face at you (heaven forbid) you’d say to him “I’m dobbing on you”. ¬†Okay cool, now you’re all Aussies.

Survey time!

Author you‚Äôve read the most books from:¬†Enid Blyton, both as a child and to my children. ¬†And I know this isn’t one author but as a kid I read all the Choose Your Own Adventure books and the Trixie Beldens. ¬†Does that count? ¬†Is this where I admit to having read all those Sweet Dreams books and trying to work out which cover was the most insipid? ¬†Jeepers! That honour goes to Laurie’s Song:


Best Sequel Ever: The Harry Potters!

Currently Reading:¬†Nothing apart from cookbooks, which I like to read cover to cover when I first get them. A new cookbook means I find some quiet time and lie on the couch. ¬†Though I’ve just been sorting out all the bookcases today and found stuff I want to read.

Drink of Choice While Reading:¬†Nothing, I don’t want to risk spilling something on my book.

E-reader or Physical Book? Physical.


Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:¬†I don’t know about high school but boy that Julian from ‘The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor’ books sure made an impression when I was a youngster. I wonder if he’s the reason I always ended up attracted to the brainiacs?

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:¬†‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman. ¬†A long time ago it seemed everyone I knew was telling me to read Neil Gaiman and I was all yeahhh whateverrr your hero worshipness is FREAKING ME OUT. ¬†So I never bothered. ¬†Then one day I picked up American Gods cheap and really enjoyed it and other Neil titles since. ¬†See, we’re on a first name basis now.

Hidden Gem Book:¬†‘The Potato’ by Larry Zuckerman. ¬†Yay for potatoes!

Important Moment in your Reading Life: Reading ‘The Snow Queen’ when I was a child. It made me wonder how many people had slivers of glass in their eyes and hearts. ¬†When I was older, I read ‘The Bell Jar’ and it really affected me. ¬†Negatively, ha ha…

Just Finished: I recently finished ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ by Joan Didion. ¬†I found this so moving and was astounded at reviews saying Joan Didion writes in a cold, clinical way and doesn’t show emotion. ¬†I was shocked that these reviewers couldn’t see and feel the emotion, particularly grief, flying off the pages and smacking the reader in the face. ¬†I’ve read a little of Joan Didion’s work and love the way she writes.

Kinds of Books You Won‚Äôt Read:¬†Romance novels, detective/CSI style books, goth horror type stuff, vampire stuff (I won’t watch those vampire tv shows either, I just got so sick of the whole Twilight vampire cashing in thing), books about war/war experience (too sad) or celebrities who consider themselves experts on parenting and publish a book after having their first child.

Longest Book You‚Äôve Read:¬† Not sure, probably the Lord of the ¬†Rings books one after the other ūüôā

Major book hangover because of: probably Harry Potter. I loved the interviews with JK where she spoke about the feelings of loss she felt when she finally finished and I thought lady, I feel like that as the reader!

Number of Bookcases You Own: Quite a few: a¬†bookcase that holds all my educational stuff (photo shows half of it as I’m moving furniture around):


One small bookcase in DeeW’s room:


I have a book display rack, as I’m moving books and games around this surface is all messy like:


Then there are two large ones in Arthur’s room. ¬†We started off with one, then my parents decided they didn’t need the matching one dad had made yeeeears ago (hence the colour, grey would not be up there (or down there) in my choice of bookcase colour). ¬†So this week we got the matching case and I had to move books around the house to fill it:


Arthur’s shelves contain a lot of my books from when I was young. ¬†Only a few of the Trixie Beldens are mine, I always borrowed them repeatedly from the library. ¬†Years ago I found an almost complete set on eBay. ¬†That was a fine day, let me tell you:


Then a big wall length lot of book cases we had built. ¬†I’ve been going through these books in the last few days working out what to keep and what to move to Arthur’s bedroom.Please forgive the mess, I’m still sorting all these shelves:


Then there are the cookbooks in my kitchen dresser. ¬†My sister has a few of my vegan cookbooks so I’m missing some:


Four mini bundt tins I found for a few bucks at Savers recently.  Did I need to buy them?  Of course not!


One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: Oh this one’s easy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ¬†Years go by and then I’ll read it and laugh all over again. ¬†Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is another I enjoy.

Preferred Place To Read: In bed or on the couch with complete quiet, so I either have to be home alone or the kids have to be asleep.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you‚Äôve read:¬†I don’t often remember the actual quotes but I remember how I felt and for this I don’t think I can go past Anne of Green Gables for so many things but this is the stand out: ‚ÄúIsn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.‚Ä̬†¬†I was often told to stop talking so much when I was little, and I do have the kind of name where I have to say “with an E”. ¬†So I’m like “Anne with an E” and would have loved a kindred spirit bosom friend like her!


Reading Regret: I read the first few pages of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. ¬†ONLY because some friends were forcing me to see just how bad it was. ¬†It was worse than I imagined and I feel robbed of those ten minutes I’ll never get back.

Series You Started And Need To Finish:¬†Probably the rest of ‘The Eyre Affair’ by Jasper Fforde.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: The Hobbit, Stig of the Dump (Arthur loved both of these when I read them to him) and HHGTTG.


Unapologetic Fangirl For: Vegan cookbook authors!

Very Excited For This Release: MORE HARRY POTTER.  Please?

Worst Bookish Habit: borrowing stuff I never end up reading.

X¬†Marks The Spot: (go to a bookcase and select the 24th book across) My cookbooks shelf is the closest to me right now so I’ve selected ‘Vegan on the Cheap’ by Robin Robertson. ¬†From Arthur’s bookcases I randomly chose a starting point then ended up on ‘Thimble Summer’ by Elizabeth Enright.

Your latest book purchase: Some sewing and craft books for DeeW’s birthday present. ¬†My latest cookbook purchases are Ricki Heller’s ‘Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free’ and ‘Vegan Food Gifts’ by Joni-Marie Newman. ¬†I always order from Book Depository.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): Oh man… that would have to be *cough* ‘The Da Vinci Code’. ¬†It was a case of “just one more chapter… just one chapter more…”

Thanks again to Johanna, it’s been fun reading other responses too. ¬†It seems Harry Potter is a popular response!