Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eating Out: Brisbane Vegan Day Out, Buddha's Birthday Festival, and Loving Hut

A few weeks ago The Cruelty Free Shop organised a Vegan Day Out in all the cities where they have a shop. This takes place over a Saturday and Sunday, and we got out first one in Brisbane this year! The Cruelty Free Shop organises with local businesses in the area for specials and deals on vegan goodies, and you get a map that has coupons you can use. I'll be honest, the Brisbane one was not really all that exciting, lots of things on there for non-food things like a percentage off yoga classes and what not. But it was still fun.

I was working on the Saturday until the afternoon, so headed in to West End from there to check it out.

My first stop was of course The Cruelty Free Shop itself, to pick up my map and to buy some goodies. As part of the weekend they had huge sales on items across the store. Here is my haul.

Cruelty Free Shop Haul


Right next to The CFS is Downunder Chocolate, which has a vegan range and had special going, so I picked up a little selection of treats for myself.

Down Under Chocolate


The Boundary Street Markets are always on every Saturday (and Friday) evening, with some good vegan options so I headed there next. Not sure of the name of the stall I got this from, but it was a pretty peach iced tea drink made from some sort of special magic tea.

Peach Pea Iced Tea from Boundary St Markets


I thought I'd try a gozleme from the Gozleme Universe stall. They had a coupon in the VDO brochure, but it was really just their regular vegan gozleme and their regular price. This was a let down for me, it was just kind of flavourless and smooshy. Sometimes they have had vegan cheese in the past, but not today. I think they probably more do that for when they take part in the Brisbane Vegan Markets, but you'd think they would have had it for VDO as well. Also the person after me ordered a dead cow kebab, and they sure did just plop all that dead cow flesh perilously close to my gozleme on the grill.

Vegan Golzeme from Golzeme Universe at Boundary St Markets


Happily my next stop was a delight. I've spoken about my love for I Should Coco before, the very best soft serve ever! They had an actual proper special for the VDO, a $5 cone. I got mine covered in sprinkles and it was as delightful as it was pretty.

Cone with Sprinkles from I Should Coco at Boundary St Markets


I also picked up a doughnut from The Organic Frog, which makes vegan GF hot cinnamon sugar doughnuts. These are only good if you get them fresh and hot straight from the stall, let them go cold and they go a bit funny. But they are so good when they are fresh. Next time I am going to get a doughnut and take it to I Should Coco and get them to make it a doughnut sundae!

Doughnut from The Organic Frog at Boundary St Markets


I headed home for the night, but with plans to return the next day. In very exciting news, Jojo and Nick were in town! I got a chance to hang out with them in Austin for VVC in 2015, but they have come to Brisbane to do some volunteering at the nearby Farm Animal Rescue. They had two days in Brisbane before heading out there, so we got to catch up.

Our first stop (after another trip to The Cruelty Free Shop) was VegeMe. There weren't any specials for VDO here, but it is a good spot to get a few tasty little share plates. We had big eating goals. We ordered some edamame, radish cakes, deep fried suji, and corn fritters. It was my first time trying the corn fritters, and they are a bit too deep fried for me! Also my first time getting the edamame here, which I really enjoyed. They were tender and the salt and pepper seasoning was just spot on.

Edamame from VegeMe


Radish Cakes from VegeMe


Corn Fritters and Deep Fried Suji from VegeMe


After this we took a little stroll around West End and ended up using some coupons at Insane Acai Bar for juices and smoothies. I can't remember what we had. My juice had beetroot in it. But pretty colours!

Juices and Smoothies from Insane Acai


Then we headed into South Bank for the Buddha's Birthday Festival vegetarian food markets. First we took a lovely stroll around to see the river and the parklands, it is really very pretty. Then it was onto food! It was fun having the three of us so we could share food together, it meant we could try more than if we were just eating solo!

First up was this amazing Asian food stall, and I can't remember the name! They sadly do not have a restaurant in Brisbane, though. Not everything at the festival is vegan, so you need to ask, but they had a handy chart they checked to confirm and happily everything we wanted was vegan! We got some steamed BBQ buns, dim sims and duck with rice. The steamed buns were phenomenal. So giant and soft and fluffy with so much saucy filling.

Mock Duck and Rice, BBQ Buns and Dim Sim from Buddha's Birthday Festival


Next up we went to the Langos stall, where they had vegan dairy options available! So we were able to get one with garlic, sour cream and cheese - all vegan. It was delicious.

Vegan Cheese and Sour Cream Langos from Buddha's Birthday Festival


Finally we hit up the Vegerama stall. Jojo and I shared a wonderful savoury mushroom pie, and we all got dessert. I enjoyed my peach and apple crumble, Nick got chocolate mousse and Jojo was excited to find a tiramisu.

Mushroom Pie and desserts (Peach and Apple Crumble, Chocolate Mousse, Tiramisu) from Vegerama from Buddha's Birthday Festival


After that we said our good nights and toddled off home with full and happy bellies. But that is not where it ended, the next day was a public holiday, so we met up for lunch at Loving Hut. We ordered summer rolls, BBQ buns, peking duck pancakes, Beijing Blackbean (my favourite) and Char Kway Teow (which I hope they take off the specials board and turn into a regular because it was very good).

Summer Rolls from Loving Hut


Char Kway Teow, BBQ Buns, Beef & Black Bean, Peking Luck from Loving Hut


Peking Luck from Loving Hut


I am looking forward to more fun adventures with them during their stay here! We already have plans, so stay tuned.

A final note, one of the things I got from my Cruelty Free Shop haul was this locally made vegan smoked sesame cheese by Fenn Foods (which has no coconut oil in it, I am thrilled!). This was really nice, and I enjoyed it on crackers, with cucumber and spread on toast. Unfortunately the non sale price is $17 (eeep!), so I am not likely to be buying it at full price. But if you get the chance to, I definitely recommend.

Fenn Smoked Sesame Cheese


Fenn Smoked Sesame Cheese


Cute Cat Photo of the Post

Dim Sim finds the sun


Dim Sim always knows how to find the sun.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

ALQ Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale at The Green Edge

I organised another bake sale for Animal Liberation QLD on the 7th of May as part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. It happened a week after the official fortnight for the WWVBS due to public holidays, school holidays, work rosters and family events, but such is life. Once again, we held it at The Green Edge.

As usual, first here are the new things that I made for the bake sale. While I have a couple of tried and true favourites, I don't test everything before I make it for a bake sale. Live on the edge! There are too many recipes out there to try.

Banana Bread French Toast Cupcakes from Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater. These banana bread cupcakes are topped with a maple buttercream frosting, which makes for a lovely combination. The frosting has the bonus of not being too sweet, and has a very rich maple flavour thanks to both maple syrup and maple extract. It also makes a good amount of frosting, I had about one cupcake worth of frosting left at the end, so if you just give an extra swirl with your frosting bag it should come out even for the twelve.
Rating: :)

Banana Bread French Toast Cupcakes


Pepita Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars from Oatrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester. I love oatmeal and raisin cookies, and these bars were just delicious. The pepita gives them a nice crunch as well. This recipe is baked in a 9x13 inch pan for 16 squares, though I cut them into 12 big squares for satisfying bake sale goodies. Though I confess I kept two, one for taste testing and another to cut and freeze for work day snacks. They freeze great!
Rating: :D

Pepita Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars


Caramel Nut Barley Squares from Wholegrain Vegan Baking by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes. These tasty squares have a baked barley base topped with a caramel nut micture (almonds, cashews, pepitas) and a final sprinkling of chocolate chips. Mine turned out a lot flatter than the photo in the book, even though I used the specified size pan (an 8x8 inch pan, I cut them into 8 slices for the bake sale), but they still looked pretty nifty and they tasted good. I was a little lazy and used raw slivered almonds (instead of dry roasted almonds) and unsalted pepitas (I added a little bit of extra salt to the caramel). I needed to bake my caramel for a few extra minutes in the oven to get it to set up.
Rating: :)

Caramel Nut Barley Squares


Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownie Bites from Naturally Lean by Allyson Kramer. These cute little bites are gluten free and have no flour at all, instead they are based on black beans, peanut butter and cocoa! The recipe says it makes 16 servings in mini muffin cups, so I pulled out my mini muffin/cupcake pan but I ended up with 28! So I guess her mini muffin cups are a bit bigger than mine! I reduced the baking time from 30 minutes to 25 minutes due to the smaller size. On a practical level, the batter was super sticky to get into the cups! I had to use wet hands and wash them a lot. But they were a nice, rich little morsel. Soft on the inside and crunchy on top.
Rating: :)

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownie Bites


Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes with Hot Candied Pecans from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I'll save talking about these cupcakes for a future recipe round-up I am going to do from this book. They were part of a little self-challenge I am doing to cook one recipe for every holiday in the book. The bake sale was the 7th of May, so I made these from the Cinco de Mayo chapter. Stay tuned!

Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes with Hot Candied Pecans


Carrot-Pineapple Sunshine Muffins from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. OK, so I have made these before. But the last time I made them was so long ago that I wasn't taking any food photos. So I remade them. This was not a problem at all, as these are delicious! I used a mango-peach flavoured yoghurt in them this time, which gave a nice flavour. They have crushed pineapple, shredded carrots and raisins in them. I was using some larger-sized muffin cups, so I made 7 rather than 12 this time. However, the cookbook says to fill them right to the top, as they don't rise much. This was a lie (or perhaps due to the larger volume), because they did rise and some of them dribbled down the side of the cups, so be cautious!
Rating: :D

Carrot-Pineapple Sunshine Muffins


Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Another remake to get a photo of, these cupcakes are delicious and taste so much like doughnuts! I used a plum jam in them, which was lovely. You drop the jam on top of the batter and they are meant to rise and cover the jam all on their own, but you can see that a lot of mine did not (perhaps be a bit less generous with the jam?). But I think they still looked cute. I did have to top them up with a bit more jam before serving to get it right up level with the top of the cupcake.
Rating: :D

Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes


Triple Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I make a variation on the GF chocolate cupcakes from this book every bake sale. This time I went simple. Chocolate cupcakes topped with the Oh-So-Rich Chocolate Glaze from Naturally Lean by Allyson Kramer, and pressed into some chocolate sprinkles.
Rating: :)

Triple Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcakes


Lemon Olive Oil Cookies. I've made these GF cookies several times before as well, the recipe can be found on Allyson Kramer's blog here. They are so lemony and yummy.
Rating: :)

Lemon Olive Oil Cookies


Here is what other people made!

Chili Chocolate Slice. As well as my final contribution, the famous Berry Patch Brownies from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Chili Chocolate Slice/Berry Patch Brownies


Scones.

Scones


Double Chocolate cookies, Oatmeal Raisin cookies, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies.

Chocolate/Oatmeal Raisin/Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Cottage Pies. These were ace!

Cottage Pies


Chocolate cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes


Sausage rolls.

Sausage Rolls


Rocky road. This was pretty amazing. It had honeycomb, biscuits, nuts and jellies in it.

Rocky Road


Peanut Butter Fudge.

Peanut Butter Fudge


Gluten Free Brownie.

GF Brownies


Now for some table shots!

ALQ Bake Sale


ALQ Bake Sale


There were also some jam drops and some fancy baked doughnuts that I didn't get photos of.

It was a bit slow at times, but we raised just over $700 for ALQ to use towards their campaigns. The next one will be in a couple of months, and I already have a list of new things I would like to make for it.

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara


Yesterday was three months without Sahara. I miss her so much.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cruelty Free Shop May 2017 Vegan Mystery Box

Time for another addition of what's in the box?! The box being the Cruelty Free Shop Vegan Mystery Box.

2017_05_VeganMysteryBox


  • Nature's Charm Jackfruit Confit: I am curious to try this. I have enjoyed cooking with jackfruit, and this looks like a quick and easy way to have some jackfruit fun.
  • Pur Cinnamon Chewing Gum: While I like cinnamon flavours, I don't do gum. So this will be gifted on.
  • Tartex Shiitake Pate: I love Tartex, and this mushroom one is my favourite. Now comes in a cute little tub!
  • Luvsum Cashew & Caramel Pick-Me-Up Snack Ball: I never say no to a snack ball!
  • Miss Sweetie Dark Chocolate Coconut: I already ate all of these. They were OK, the chocolate wasn't the best. Also not listed on the FEP website and I couldn't see anything on their website, so I suspect not fair trade.
  • Billy's Farm Wheat Syrup Waffles: I love these, they are so tasty and fun. And with cooler days here, can't wait to soften one up over a cup of tea for a gooey treat.
  • Cruelty Free Shop Scrambled Tofu Mix: I do love scrambled tofu, and trying all sorts of recipes and combinations, but this will certainly make it easy to whip up without much thought. They also provided a recipe for using it to make scrambled tofu, which uses silken tofu. I prefer to stick to my firm tofu scrambles, thanks!
  • Orgran Rice Crispibread: These are handy to have around. I have had them before, and they are a bit stodgy, but good for spreading pate or cream cheese on and topping with some tomatoes!
  • Wheaty's Spacebar Pumpkin Seed: I really like these bars. Savoury snacks aren't as common compared to the sweet variety, so they are always a welcome change. Also cute to slice up for making mini pizzas as well.


All up I am pretty stoked with this month's box!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Gizmo and Sahara


My angel girls. Early this week was the adoption anniversary for both Sahara and Gizmo. One day I went back in my diaries I realised that I adopted both Gizmo and Sahara on the exact same day, two years apart. Gizmo in 2001 and Sahara in 2003. Clearly it was an excellent day. They loved each other. I will love them forever.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Recipe Round-Up: But I Could Never Go Vegan

While I've posted about specific recipes in other blog posts before, this is my first full round-up from But I Could Never Go Vegan, the first cookbook from Kristy Turner. This is a fun book, with the chapters broken up into excuses that people give for why they couldn't be vegan. From lack of protein, to lack of ice cream, to family events, this book has you covered. Let's see what I've made!

BBQ Baked Tofu, Honey Mustard Kale Slaw, and Chickpea Fries: This was a fun combination that I made when a friend was coming over for lunch. The slaw uses lacinato kale (cavolo nero), rather than curly. My tummy can get a bit funny with raw kale, so I massaged it for a minute and then chilled the salad for about six hours, and it became quite soft. The dressing is agave (or you can make the Happy Bee Honey recipe from the book), lemon and mustard. I made a half batch of the chickpea fries, which I chilled overnight before baking. I needed to bake for an extra 10 minutes to get them crispy, though even then they were still a bit soft. The mix on the stove was a bit hard to whisk smooth, but it worked OK. The tofu was lovely, I feel it is hard to go wrong with BBQ tofu. I did end up baking it for quite a bit longer to get it to my preferred consistency (40 minutes on the first side and then 20 on the second, instead of 30 and 5 minutes called for in the recipe). I used the BBQ sauce recipe from the book, which is AMAZING. So delicious!
Rating: Slaw :), Tofu :), BBQ sauce :D, Chickpea fries :)

BBQ Baked Tofu, Honey Mustard Kale Slaw, Chickpea Fries


Tofu Bravas: I was a bit underwhelmed by this in general. The sauce just didn't quite meld together for me, perhaps it would be better having some time to sit for the flavours to mingle more. If I did this again I would also heat the sauce prior to serving, as it was just kind of lukewarm and then cold on top of the hot tofu, which then also lost some of the heat.
Rating: :|

Tofu Bravas


Chickpea Omelets: These came together quickly, and I appreciated that they have a lot of veggies in them as well (mushrooms, greens, tomatoes, green onion). I did find them maybe a tiny bit bitter? But topped with some diced tomato and cucumber and a drizzle of tahini, all was good.
Rating: :)

Chickpea Omelets


Savoury Overnight Oatmeal: I love overnight oats, and I love savoury breakfasts. This certainly lived up to its name, and was a delightful savoury start to the day. Plus very filling! It is a mix of quinoa, oats, chickpeas, nooch, sun dried tomatoes and olives. And you can top it with whatever you like. Avocado is a must, obviously.
Rating: :)

Savoury Overnight Quinoa Oatmeal


Roasted Broccoli & Apple Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing: This salad was such a delightful mix of flavours. The broccoli is roasted in tamari, maple and nutritional yeast! The salad itself has greens (the recipe calls for baby spinach, but this was right after the recent rains and flooding so all I could get was a bag of mixed greens), apples, celery, almonds and dried cherries (I used a blend of cherries and cranberries). I left out the raw onion. The tempeh bacon is listed as optional, but it adds such a lovely savoury, salty, smoky hit that I just don't think you could leave it off.
Rating: :)

Roasted Broccoli & Apple Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing


Mexican Bowl with Quinoa, Farro, and Amaranth Trio: This recipe says it serves 2-4, so I made a double batch and got about 4.5 serves. As well as the three-grain base (which ended up a little mushy), there was also seasoned black beans, a chopped vegetable salad, greens, queso, and avocado. The salad is meant to be tomato, corn and zucchini, but I do not like raw zucchini much, so I used cucumber and I also left out the raw green onion. I added some extra nooch to the cashew queso because I like things cheesy. Overall, a very nice combination.
Rating: :)

Mexican Bowl with Quinoa, Farro and Amaranth Trio


Roasted Garlic Hummus and Broccoli Bowl: This simple and healthy bowl is great if you have recently been overindulging. The roasted garlic hummus is made from scratch, using a head of roasted garlic, but to be honest I would probably double the garlic as I couldn't taste much of it. I would also suggest cooking the quinoa in broth to bring a little more flavour to the overall dish.
Rating: :)

Roasted Garlic Hummus and Broccoli Bowl


Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Gizmo on her 15th birthday


All the time I am missing my Sahara, I am also missing my Gizmo.