Monday, September 26, 2016

Eating Out: Lost Boys

A few months ago my wonderful friend Nicole came for a visit from Canada. Nicole is originally from Australia, but has left our shores and is now being super awesome in Toronto. We had the chance to catch up for lunch with some other friends while she was here, and she decided to try out Lost Boys, a vegetarian/vegan cafe in Fortitude Valley. It was the first time any of us had been there, but I had heard a lot about them. They have vegan gluten-free waffles for breakfast that have been Instagrammed far and wide.

Lost Boys has a super cute interior, with a fake tree and fairy lights and bookshelves. The menus are pasted into the front of old books. I almost felt that I was not cool enough to be in such a place!

Lost Boys decor

The breakfast menu was over by the time we got there, but they had their lunch and snacks menu available (they also serve their avocado toast all day... though it has haloumi and I am not sure if they sub anything for the vegan option or if they just take it off). They no longer seem to have their menu online, so I will have to remember things as best I can!

We all started with some drinks. Brendan and Di both got their pretty Ice Teas, Nicole had the Iced Coconut Mocha, and I had a chai latte (acceptable, not brilliant).

The Iced Tea at Lost Boys

Iced Coconut Mocha at Lost Boys

Soy Chai Latte at Lost Boys

The menu is pretty small, and unfortunately they were no longer offering the root vegetable pizza I had my eye on. Nicole and I were the only vegans (the other two ordered vegetarian, so no photos of their food), and we both ended up ordering the veggie burger with no cheese. Unfortunately mine came out with cheese on it, and then there was a very long wait until they brought me a new one. The burger was very filling! The 'patty' was more like a semi-solid hummus that smooshed everywhere when you cut into it (it wasn't a pick up in your hands kind of burger), but it was tasty. It also had avocado, mushrooms and carmelised onions on it. Served with some corn chips drizzled in balsamic. We were all very full!

Veg Burger at Lost Boys

Unfortunately their dessert case was pretty sad for vegans, unless you wanted to eat a raw bliss ball (I did not). But thankfully there was a Doughnut Time near by that was attached to a little bar/coffee shop for us to sit in to chat for a few more hours. Finding a coffee shop open on a Sunday afternoon was surprisingly difficult!

I had a lovely time catching up with Nicole, who is now back in Toronto, and also with Brendan and Diana (who live north of Brisbane).

Lost Boys Fortitude Valley - 649 Ann Street, Brisbane - (07) 3172 8073

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Cat in a box

Cat in a box!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Menu: Spring from Vegan Planet (Original Edition)

It's been a while since I've posted a menu. I don't often have time to make them, but I do love putting together elaborate meals suggested to me in my cookbooks. It's fun! These are some more recipes from the original edition of Vegan Planet, which suggested that these would go well together as the Spring Menu. I made this menu ages ago! I still have many many many photos in my cookbook folders to share!

Cool Cucumber Soup with Cilantro and Lime: This soup is a cool and very refreshing start to a meal. Cucumbers and coconut milk (this was before my coconut fat sensitivity really ramped up) give a creamy finish, though mine never went completely smooth. Leaving it to blend the flavours for a few hours, as suggested in the recipe, is a must for the best taste. So be sure to plan ahead.
This recipe appears in the revised edition with some minor changes.
Rating: :)

Cool Cucumber Soup with Cilantro and Lime

Fennel, Pecan, and Watercress Salad with Orange Vinaigrette: This salad was fresh, juicy, crunchy and had a wonderful combination of flavours. The dressing made about double the amount that I needed, so if you are cooking from the original edition you may want to halve it or plan for leftover dressing for salads the next day.
This recipe appears in the revised edition with less vinegar and oil, so the dressing is likely going to be just the right amount!
Rating: :)

Fennel, Pecan, and Watercress Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Tarragon-Scented Artichoke and Wild Mushroom Strudel: This was pretty, and easy to make thanks to phyllo pastry. It is stuffed with mushrooms, tofu and artichoke hearts (I used tinned as I can't find frozen here) with some herbs and seasonings. Very pretty!
This recipe appears in the revised edition with no ingredient changes.
Rating: :)

Tarragon-Scented Artichoke and Wild Mushroom Strudel

Double Mushroom Sauce: The Double Mushroom Sauce is served with the strudel, and uses dried porcini mushrooms and sliced white mushrooms... you can also make it a triple mushroom sauce if you have any mushroom stock on hand (I did not). The recipe says it makes two cups, but I got closer to three, though mine was not as thick as I would have liked so maybe I should have reduced it for longer.
This recipe appears in the revised edition with increased cornstarch, so will likely be thicker than mine!
Rating :)

Double Mushroom Sauce

Key Lime Cheesecake: Key Lime flavour isn't something I grew up with in Australia. We were not much for lime things, except for Lime Coola cordial. This cheesecake is based on silken tofu and vegan cream cheese, and has a very strong lime flavour. Just using regular limes, I have never even seen a key lime. It has a gingersnap cookie base, which is nice. Just watch carefully when cooking, mine went from undercooked to almost overcooked very fast!
This recipe appears in the revised edition as 'Fresh Lime Cheesecake', and has a higher cream cheese to tofu ratio as well as a few other small changes in ingredients.
Rating: :)

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

The beautiful face of Gizmo

Resharing another Gizmo photo. I miss this beautiful face.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

BrisVegan Fest 2016, Vegeme and The Cruelty Free Shop Brisbane

Sunday the 4th of September saw the very first BrisVeganFest! Finally, we get our very own vegan festival! I went along to do a shift at the ALQ stall, and to eat all the food. When I got there, I found a stall selling Mac and Cheese, which was nice, and also tried Myk's FFF Kefir. I have been wary of kefir, because I don't do well with fizzy drinks. But they picked out their least fizzy flavour for me, and showed me how to reduce the fizz in it. And it was really nice!

Kefir and Mac and Cheese

I had planned to go and get lunch from one of the many food stalls, followed by some I Should Coco ice cream, after I finished my shift at ALQ. However the event was so successful that lines were giant and there was a very long wait for food (someone waited over an hour for their ice cream!). I am thrilled that the event was so successful, but my fair skin and hungry tummy couldn't manage a long wait in the sun for exciting food from the vendors.

So a couple of us walked to Vegeme for lunch instead. Sitting down, inside, people bringing us food. Heaven. We shared a bunch of their little plates for a yum cha-style lunch! This included the Salt and Pepper Suji (like chicken, always tasty goodness, we got a second plate), my favourite radish cakes, sweet potato balls (very sweet and creamy, oddly dessert like, very moreish), spring rolls (a bit pale, but nice filling) and some pan-fried dumplings. And lots and lots of water, we were dehydrated from the heat after being at the festival! Lines for drinks, also long.

Salt and Pepper Suji from Vegeme

Radish Cakes from Vegeme

Sweet Potato Balls from Vegeme

Spring Rolls from Vegeme

Pan-Fried Dumplings from Vegeme

After lunch, we walked across the road to check out the opening weekend of the new Brisbane branch of The Cruelty Free Shop. It was also quite busy, with a lot of people coming out to check it out. It is a beautiful shop, with lots of lovely products. I picked up a couple of things. I am excited to try out the Birthday Cake cookie! I still haven't eaten it yet.

CFS purchases

When I got home, I immediately took a shower to scrape of the seven million layers of sunscreen and sweat, then enjoyed a few goodies I was able to pick up at the VeganFest for afternoon tea. I picked up a yummy lamington from Foodmill, a great vegan bakery that is supplying a lot of cafes now as well, as well as some yummy chocolate truffles (PB&J, orange and hazelnut) from a stall... I forget their name, I'm sorry!

Foodmill Lamington and chocolate truffles

Even though I didn't get to experience (... eat...) as much as I would have liked at the BrisVegan Festival, I am beyond thrilled out the huge success of the day! So many people came out, and I know many of them would not have been vegan, just curious. I am happy to give up my ice cream cone to them, so they can see how wonderful vegan food is! I am looking forward to next year (fingers crossed it doesn't clash with OzComicCon!), where I will go as soon as they open and eat everything in sight. Hee hee.

Vegeme - 9/220 Boundary St, West End, Brisbane - (07) 3846 2723

The Cruelty Free Shop - 2/165 Melbourne Street, South Brisbane - (07 3255 0023)

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara Sleeping Dramatically

Sahara, sleeping dramatically against a cushion. She was just too tired to go any further.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Recipe Round-Up: Vegan Planet (Original Edition)

Oh wow, a recipe round-up... remember those? I barely can. But let's get back on that round-up train with the original edition of Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Another edition has been released, which I also have, but this post is recipes from the original one.

Pan-Fried Tofu and Watercress with Lemon-Caper Sauce: This is one delicious recipe, but just be careful because the sauce boils off very quickly once you take the tofu out of the pan, so I added a bit more wine and lemon juice to help it along. I served it with some herby roasted potatoes and a baked tomato.
This recipe appears in the revised edition largely unchanged.
Rating: :D

Pan-Fried Tofu and Watercress with Lemon-Caper Sauce; Garlic Roasted Potato (HIAV); Truss Tomato

Tempeh and Sweet 'Peppers' with Bourbon-Spiked Barbecue Sauce: Yeah, so I made this with zucchini instead of capsicum. The recipe for the sauce is also in the book, and comes together easily.
This recipe appears in the revised edition with a smaller quantity of tempeh.
Rating: :)

Tempeh and Sweet Peppers with Bourbon-Spiked Barbecue Sauce; Sweet Pepper and Balsamic Bean Salad (TGOV)

Black Bean Sauce with Jalapenos and Cilantro: This pureed bean sauce comes together quickly and tastes great as a sauce over rice, beans and corn. I had to add an extra bit of water in it to thin it out.
This recipe appears in the revised edition with more garlic and spices.
Rating: :)

Black Bean Sauce with Jalapenos and Cilantro

Tempting Teriyaki Marinated Tofu: The book includes a number of marinades that can be used for tofu, tempeh, mushrooms... the choice is yours. This teriyaki marinade is quick and and tasty.
This recipe appears in the revised edition unchanged.
Rating :)

Tempting Teriyaki Marinated Tofu

Three-Seed Lemon Tea Bread: This is a yummy, lemony loaf with flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds rounding out the trio. It is great toasted and spread with a little Nuttelex and strawberry jam.
This recipe appears in the revised edition unchanged.
Rating: :)

Three-Seed Lemon Tea Bread

Zucchini-Tahini Bread: This bread has an interesting flavour, but I did enjoy it. I needed to bake it for an extra 10 to 15 minutes for it to cook all the way through.
This recipe appears in the revised edition with several changes to ingredients.
Rating: :)

Zuchini-Tahini Bread

Spiced Apple-Walnut Muffins: These are dense little muffins, that benefit from the addition of sultanas as well I think! The spice comes from cinnamon and allspice. Oh, and also using pecans in place of walnuts because they are better.
This recipe appears in the revised edition with a few changes.
Rating: :)

Spiced Apple-Walnut Muffins

Pumpkin-Rum Cous Cous Cake: This sweet cake us unusual in texture, but very nice. It is made from silken tofu, pumpkin, rum, spices, apple juice and cous cous. Served here with ice cream on top.
This recipe appears in the revised edition without the tofu!
Rating: :)

Pumpkin-Rum Cous Cous Cake

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Gizmo's 13th Birthday

I miss my Gizmo every single day. This is her on her 13th birthday, several years ago.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Brisbane OzComicCon 2016

This weekend, my OzComicCon journey for 2016 ended in my home city of Brisbane. The food pressure was largely off, as I had my own kitchen for breakfast and dinner and could make my lunch, though I didn't need to make my lunch as the venue provided. Hurrah!

After the venue walk through on Friday afternoon, I had a couple of hours to kill before the cocktail party. I didn't want to go all the way home and then come all the way back and have to pay for parking twice, so instead and I took a short walk into West End and visited the new The Cruelty Free Shop to pick up a few snacks. Then I went down to the Boundary St Markets for some dessert before dinner!

I don't have an exact date for when I went vegan, I just know it was during September of 2000 (because it was when the Olympics were on), so I generally take the mid-point of September as my veganversary. This year, it was my sweet 16 years of being vegan! And what better way to celebrate than with a soft serve from I Should Coco? Yes, coconut soft serve. But it doesn't taste like coconut and it doesn't make me sick from coconut fat. It is magic! I have been there once before (I am posting things all out of order, I'll get to that first visit at some point...). This time I picked their Cherry Merry (vanilla soft serve with chocolate sauce, cherries in sour syrup and coconut flakes). And it was glorious. GLORIOUS! I got it in a cone, because as previously mentioned, I love cones! But you can get it in a cup if you want to.

Cherry Merry Cone from I Should Coco

After that I popped into the West End location of VegeRama for actual dinner. I had planned on trying out some of their pizza options, but then I saw they had lasagne on the menu. I love lasagne! I know it isn't that hard to make it at home, but I truthfully just don't make it all that often. It was good! The side salad was also really nice, crispy and with a great dressing. A nice change from the regular old garden-style side salad. I also had a turmeric shot.

Turmeric Shot from VegeRama

Vegan Lasagne from VegeRama

Walking back to the city, Brisbane was pretty at night.

Brisbane is pretty

Then it was off to the cocktail party, which was actually kind of fun now that I had already met Ksenia last week so it wasn't completely awkward. Just kind of awkward encouraging people to come up and talk! I also had an extra dessert of some rainbow meringues that I picked up from the CFS, made from aquafaba. My first aquafaba meringues and they were very nice.

Rainbow Meringues from CFS

Saturday morning I had some overnight oats (from the new Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook) for breakfast before heading to the venue, where I was supplied with second breakfast. I had chosen the vegan avocado and tomato muffin. It was as advertised, an English muffin with some avocado and tomato. But it was tasty avocado and tomato. I was still full from my oats, so I wrapped mine up to have as a nice mid-morning snack for later in the day.

Tomato and Avocado Muffin

For lunch I had picked the Vegan Chickpea Patty Burger. It was actually a nice patty, I think one of the Sanitarium ones, with a crispy coating and a softer inside. The burger was nice. It also came with a side of fries, which was a nice surprise, except that they were lukewarm by the time I got to them. I also had packed some veggie sticks from home so that I could get in extra veggies. Because veggies.

Chickpea Patty Burger for Saturday Lunch

The next morning was a similar pattern - overnight oats at home and then my second breakfast of an avocado and tomato muffin. This time for lunch I had the Vegan Baguette, which had salad and baba ganoush in it. It was delicious! The bread was fresh and so yummy, and there was a heft whack of baba ganoush in it as well that made it far more than your regular salad roll. Pictured on the side is a cup of vegan curry, which was a sneaky little gift from the green room from Ksenia. It was really nice.

Vegan Baguette and Vegan Curry

Dinner both nights was take away, though I don't have any photos for you. Saturday night I stopped off at Loving Hut and got the Beijing Black Bean and some BBQ Steamed Buns, and on Sunday night I had my favourite Falafel and Black Bean Salad from Charlie's that I had bought on Friday morning. I did plan on walking down to a Sea Shepherd fundraiser after finishing on Sunday to get another ice cream cone, as I Should Coco had a stall there, but I thankfully found out before I left that there was a $10 cover charge to get in because they had bands in the evening. I didn't want to pay $10 to walk in and out with an $8 ice cream, so I was extra glad I got my ice cream cone on Friday!

At the end of last year, I decided that one of my goals for 2016 would be to do all five OzComicCons, which I have done. And it was amazing! I am very aware that I am extremely lucky to have been giving the opportunity to become part of the OCC family for the past three years. I hope I can continue to be part of the team!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim and Sahara Sleeping

One of the nice things about doing the con in Brisbane was coming home to these two sleepy heads every night!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sydney OzComicCon 2016 (Part 2)

Sunday's breakfast was much the same as Saturday's. I had some oats and fruit in my hotel, but this time I was able to score two friands at the venue because they had sent an extra one. I also discovered that the barista in the greenroom, where I had picked up a terrible peppermint tea the day before, could do a lovely vegan soy hot chocolate. So I may have had two of those.

On a non-food note, check out this amazing T-rex cosplay. It was the greatest. You should have seen her run. I love that she has a little grabby stick.

OCC Dino Cosplay

OCC Dino Cosplay

For lunch a had selected the Falafel Wrap option. It was OK, decent amount of falafel. But a little dry and not as filling or as nice as the previous day's curry.

Felafel Wrap from the venue

After the con finished, I was exhausted. My original plan was to get something from Lord of the Fries, which is walking distance from the hotel, and then eat it bed. However, thankfully I was talking to Leigh on Twitter and she inspired me to get back on a train to Newtown for some actual good and fun food.

I relived my uni days with a heaping plate from the Green Gourmet dinner buffet. I can't even remember everything that was on here, but what I can remember was sticky rice, curry noodles, radish cake, steamed bun, steamed pumpkin cake, 'honey' (actually malt syrup) prawns (made from tofu skin twists, not gross mock prawns), BBQ pork, stuffed mushroom, stuffed tofu, stewed radish, mock duck, a few different veggie dishes and some pickles. SO GOOD!

Dinner Buffet Plate from Green Gourmet

And of course I had to go to Gelato Blue afterwards. This time I got a scoop of Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie and a scoop of Salted Belgian Chocolate. In a cone, of course.

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie and Salted Belgian Chocolate from Gelato Blue

On Monday, I didn't have to leave for the airport until 2pm. So I went back into Newtown to meet my friend Jen for brunch at Sadhana Kitchen. We both tried the Pumpkin Spice Lattes (on soy rather than coconut milk). My first one ever! It is like drinking slightly sweet pumpkin soup, which was a bit strange, but we decided we were both into it.

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Sadhana Kitchen

Jen had eaten earlier in the day, and wasn't all that hungry, so she just got a little doughnut. Sadhana's menu has changed quite a bit from the time I was there in January, and they now offer a vegan egg for breakfast options. However it is made from coconut and sweet potato, and I wasn't sure if it would be too coconut fatty for me, so I didn't risk it. Instead I had a Pulled Jackfruit Burger, that also had kraut and shiitake crackling (essentially dehydrated shiitakes) on it. I comes with red pepper mayo, but I had them just use their regular mayo. It also had a slice of cashew cheese, which was nice to try as cheese but didn't really mesh with the rest of the burger. Avocado would have been better.

Mini Doughnut from Sadhana Kitchen

Pulled Jackfruit Slider from Sadhana Kitchen

We had a little stroll around Newtown before Jen took me back to the hotel for me to go to the airport. And I finally got to see Pia! Pia is the puppy that belongs to the framing store on Enmore Road. Bonus puppy photo of the post!


Before leaving Newtown, I picked up a Vegan Roll from Allen's Bakery on Enmore Road so that I had something to eat at the airport, because my flight didn't leave until 4pm and I didn't get home until 5.30pm and I would need something. I love their vegan roll, some sort of vegan deli slice and lots of fresh salads!

Vegan Roll from Allen's

Then it was home and back to my loving kitties!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara Sleeping

Dim Sim sleeping

My two sleeping beauties!