Friday, December 31, 2010

melbourne's weird weather

click to see a larger version of the image.
we've had a pretty mild (and wet) summer so far this year. today it's suddenly jumped to the high 30s (supposed to hit 40C this arvo) with possible thunder storms later on. for the past 5 or 6 years new years eve has been quite warm even when the rest of the week has been cooler. really weird how it's always so warm for the night where a lot of people have plans to be outdoors (although last year i think the rain started before midnite and the lightning was more impressive than the fireworks that we watched from our friends second floor bedroom window). i like the hot new year's eve weather (but hoping the storms hold off til early morning). tomorrow is supposed to go back to being just mildly warm again.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

creamy pasta

i got the vegan yum yum cookbook for christmas. i didn't realize until afterwards that i have made a couple things from her blog and i have a lot of her recipes bookmarked (for some reason i don't actually have her blog on my feed reader-- i think i may have to add it). tonite i made my first dish from the cookbook: super quick tomato basil cream pasta. so yummy (anything with tomato and basil in it is gonna be good) and so easy. i liked that this cream sauce was made with cashews. next time zac makes his creamy sun dried tomato sauce with gnocchi i'm gonna try to convince him to try cashews (he usually uses a huge amount of tofu and soy milk or occasionally cauliflower and soy milk).
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grumpy's again

zac's adamant that every bar in north fitzroy and fitzroy are shut this week (even walking past all the open places didn't help change is opinion-- him and his co-workers had a hard time finding a place open christmas eve afternoon so he's sure everything is shut for weeks). we knew that grumpy's was open because we'd ended up there randomly the day before so we told some friends to meet us there yesterday (after first telling them the pinacle but discovering it was shut for the week). we ended up staying there for dinner (most of the time we just get snacks when we go there). i wasn't sure how vegan their mains are because the menu has changed since the last time we ate a meal there. turns out about half of the mains (not including the pizzas) are vegan. i got the tagine and couscous, zac got stir fry and the 2 friends who stayed to eat got pizzas (unfortunately i forgot to take photos). everyone said their food was really good. the pizzas came out on small wooden chopping boards and were piled high with veggies. zac's stir fry bowl looked really nice with the broccoli and other greens sprinkled with sesame seeds. my tagine and couscous dish came with the couscous in the middle with the really nicely flavoured tagine (chickpeas, pumpkin, zucchini and some other veggies) circled around the couscous. the only problem zac and i had was that our dishes weren't that big enough(not sure how our friends felt after their pizzas-- they weren't large but did look substantial). for $15 i'd expect a meal to fill me up a bit more than it did (especially when the section of the menu it's listed in is labeled "large meals". maybe in the future we'll just stick to the snacks (or eat a meal if we just want a lighter meal). grumpy's is great for their small, sunny back courtyard and lots of really good local beers (a friend pointed out too that on their extensive beer list it lists how many kms the beer travelled from the brewery to grumpy's).
Grumpy's Green
125 Smith St

Monday, December 27, 2010

christmas food

we had a really nice christmas lunch at my sister in law's place in their newly finished outdoor entertainment area. there were more vegan options than non-vegan options i think (everything in the photo except the dish of chicken/turkey--not sure which it was--was vegan). we made some sushi and some chickpea salad (from la dolce vegan-- it's easy and really tasty) and zac's mum made her vegan nut loaf that she always does (soooooo good-- tastes like stuffing which was always the best part of the meal even when i ate meat) and some potato salad (potatoes coated in fresh herbs from her garden). the green salad was also vegan (we went to a chirstmas thing last week where the 2 or 3 green salads all had eggs or cheese in them) with homemade vegan dressing too.
for dessert i decided to attempt a chocolate almond cheezcake from the ultimate uncheese cookbook.
i was a little worried the middle was never going to harden (we had to cook it 80 minutes instead of 60 and it was still kind of jello like but i think that's just the way our oven works). once it cooled it was perfect (i think the outer edges were slightly overcooked but not bad). i thought about making a chocolate sauce to drizzle over it but never got around to it. it's pretty amazing tasting too. the only sweetener in the cake is maple syrup (a LOT of maple syrup). the crust i made also had maple syrup in it. i decided to use the fake maple flavoured stuff for the crust and for about 1/2 the amount in the cake (that used up one entire bottle of the stuff). then i used some of our good maple syrup from canada to complete the amount needed. it worked out well (you could probably substitute the whole amount with the fake stuff if you wanted to). the teasecake doesn't have that cream cheese aftertaste that real cheesecake does but it did have an amazing chocolate and almond flavour (i may cut down slightly on the almond essence if i make it again).
we're still happily eating away at the leftover nut loaf and cheezcake.
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Friday, December 24, 2010


way back in november i won a mueslimixer competition for a $20 voucher. i was so busy i didn't actually find out i won until a week later because i hadn't checked the email account i used and i was really behind on reading blogs (where the winners were announced). i'd entered mostly to get zac some nice muesli since he eats it every morning and he has been trying to find one he really likes since he stopped buying uncle toby's muesli.
we finally ordered a couple weeks ago. i let zac go through and choose his ingredients. then i went and made my own mix with the left over voucher money and a bit extra.
i loved being able to customize my own muesli. i made my mix with the seeedalicious base, mulberries, blueberries and flaked almonds (soooo good with yogurt). Zac's mix was the 3 grain base, cranberries, blueberries, apricots, gojiberries, toasted almonds and coconut. each of our mixes come in a resealable plastic bag and includes the nutrition facts and the individual mix identification number for easy reordering. it's a bit expensive to do all the time. our 2 450g mixes plus shipping (which i didn't realize at the time but i happened to order during a 4 day $1.99 shipping anywhere in australia promotion, usually shipping is between $5.49-9.99 depending on how many bags you order-- orders can also be picked up from a place in Carlton for only $1) cost about $25. it was a really nice treat though and we'll probably order from them again.

never again

most years my work gets a live tree for the kids to decorate during their last few weeks of kinder. after the year is done one of the staff usually takes it home. nobody else in our room wanted our tree and i did so i ended up taking it home. zac was very against this mostly because it involved him getting the work car to help me transport it home (2 years ago a few of us walked the tree and some giant pot plants 250m up the road to a workmate that lived that close to kinder. the car is a much better option, especially cuz its 1500m to our house). a few days after getting the tree home (and yes, it is leaning to the left because whoever put it in the base for us put it in crooked and i couldn't be bothered to fix it at work or at home) i noticed a spider web from the star to branches near the top. when i had a closer look i found hundreds of little baby spiders crawling up and down the line. i took the star outside with a lot of spiders on it and then sprayed the top of the tree with soapy water and a mix of water and eucalyptus oil (not very vegan of me). there's a lot less spiders now but i'm sure the first time we turn on the central heating in winter dozens of spiders are going to shoot out of the vent next to the tree.
i also had issues with the lites. i have 2 sets that i use on our tree. a couple days after i put up this live tree (and took down the fake one i already had up) one of the 2 lite sets blew up so only half the tree was lit. i managed to find a new set of just plain yellow toned fairy lites after looking in kmart and a few $2 shops. i took apart the tree (the second time i've taken apart a tree at this point) to get the new lite set on. i carefully put all my delicate ornaments along the wall near the tree. as i was taking the other ornaments off a little wooden duck ornament fell and landed directly on my favourite ornament (a large ball painted with maple leafs and "canada" written on it-- my mom gave it to me the year she was here for christmas)and smashed the back out of it. i've managed to tape the 5 pieces back on but they don't fit nicely in the hole and i'm scared that if i push to hard i'll completely smash it. my mom spent yesterday trying to find me a new one in the tourist-y shops (she can't remember which one she got it at).
next year i'm going to stick to my fake tree which is less likely to have baby insects living on it, and won't require me to re-decorate multiple times and i'll have less chance of breaking special ornaments (but i won't have that nice pine smell in the house).
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Saturday, December 18, 2010


we finished for the year yesterday!!!! 6 weeks off!!! of course i managed to wake up with a cold on the last day (it was our clean up day though so at least i didn't have to deal with children when i wasn't feeling 100%). it meant i didn't get to celebrate the end as much as i wanted. we were all exhausted at our end of year lunch at C.E.R.E.S. (and probably really quiet for a table of 12) and the one beer i had made me want to just go to bed (i struggled keeping my eyes open walking home and curled up in bed as soon as i got home). i never even opened my mini bottle of sparkling wine i had been saving for yesterday.
after i recover from the end of year work stuff and this cold i'll have lots of time and energy to make some of the good food i've been waning to make for a while (vegan cheesecake, some ethiopian foods, more homemade cheeze, salsa, refried beans and other foods i used to make all the time until i got too tired from work).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eggless nog

Eggnog isn't really big in Australia. Most people have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention it. You can get it in some supermarkets over Christmas but it's not vegan so I have to make my own without the eggs and cream. Fortunately there's a good recipe in how it all vegan. Tonight I made my first batch of the season. It does have a bit of a soy taste from the tofu but I think I remember from last year the soy taste was less the next day. It is really good though even with a bit of soy taste.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


last weekend we went to mallacoota with zac's mum (she has been raving about it for ages so we finally made the effort to get out there-- soooooo worth the long drive).
wombat had the best weekend ever! she has never been able to run so free on a beach before usually when we let her off near barwon heads we play sort of "pig in the middle" fetch with her and we're constantly watching for other dogs. here there were beaches enclosed by high cliffs with only one set of stairs coming down and rocks going out into the water to keep her from running off forever. she got to run and chase crabs and swim.

(click on the photo to see it more clearly-- the top left picture of wombat is pretty funny)
we found a great, warm river to swim in at one beach so we took wombat in there and discovered she can swim better than we thought she could but she is pretty top heavy and struggles a bit with it. she would go swimming for a stick though.
i love pelicans:

so amazing something that big can actually fly (and do it gracefully).
we stayed at the adobe mudbrick flats. zac's mum had stayed there several times before. it's a pretty amazing place. we tried to get the penthouse but it was already booked so we stayed in one of the other units. floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean with a large bird feeder and tons of seed. the mudbrick walls had bottles embedded in them to make great designs.
wombat enjoyed spending her time watching the wildlife (the place is very wildlife friendly as well as pet friendly). she loved the watching the brown antechinuses (a marsupial mouse). she also enjoyed bird watching.

just some of the many birds we saw from our window:
wombat was exhausted after her weekend of running on the beaches, swimming and animal watching. i came back feeling much more relaxed and ready to face the few busy weeks of work before i have 6 weeks off for summer.
only annoying thing that happened was my camera lens decided it was no longer going to auto focus for me (i think it's the motor in it) so it made it really hard to take action shots (i have lots of great shots of wombat running but she's blurry). fortunately i have an old (not quite as nice) lens from the camera zac drowned a few years ago so i can use that until i can find out how much it's gonna cost to fix the better lens.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

coffee chocolate

zac found this chocolate in the IGA on brunswick street the other day:
can't get much better than coffee and chocolate mixed together. it didn't last very long. it was on sale 2 for $5 (i think regular price was $3.50). zac chose a mint chocolate one for the other one of the 2 we bought. i don't really care for mint and chocolate though so he'll probably have that one for himself. there was an orange chocolate one available too. i may have to somehow find time to go back there and get the orange chocolate one and another coffee one. soooo good.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

random dinners

i found a few pictures on my camera from the last couple weeks. the first (not very good one) is a really good Asian inspired soup that zac makes when he doesn't feel like cooking:
it always involves dried mushrooms, noodles (often the fried ones) and tofu puffs or dried soybean chunks. he sometimes adds in seaweed pieces and mushroom fluff. he serves it up in massive bowls with a fork and a spoon.

i finally remembered to take a photo of my fajita filling (but not the finished wrap or table layout):
the picture above was the first time i'd tried tempeh in the mixture. i usually use imitation chicken or tofu. i really liked the tempeh though. i base my fajita filling on this recipe. we use either homemade sour cream (from La Dolce Vegan) or tofutti and then have salsa and sometimes guacamole to top our fajitas with. they're great served with margaritas.

i also found a picture of our lazy-ass, couch hogging dog:
now that it's warming up she likes to sprawl across the whole couch (kicking us with her back legs if we're in her way) instead of curling up in a little ball in one corner. she's lucky she's cute.
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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Loving Hut and Cheesecake

when we heard this afternoon that loving hut had opened yesterday we decided to head down there for an early dinner. being newly opened, the staff were a bit confused about what they had available but they did produce a picture menu with about 10 items to choose from and told us about a couple other choices available. we chose 3 items then we were told we could also get dumplings so we added that. my photos aren't great because i kept forgetting to take them until after we'd put the food on our individual plates and started eating.
first we had crispy delight (a mock seafood dish that was really tasty):
we had to order the dish called "happy dance" (how can you go past a dish with that name plus it involved sesame and seaweed and you can't really go wrong with that):
we had a large plate of dumplings with sweet chili sauce:
and a plate of seasonal vegetables (cabbage, carrots and mushrooms seasoned with salt and pepper)

i was full when we finished (zac wasn't but its gotta be an extra large meal to fill him). the meal (with green tea) came to $49 for the two of us. we will go back again once they're more settled in (shop 10, 242 victoria st, richmond).
yesterday zac wanted to get a tuna wrap from yong green food (i think it's his favourite thing about brunswick st. right now). i'd already eaten so i decided to have some dessert: raw blueberry cheesecake.

it had a nut and seed based crust and the "cheese" part was coconut based. it was soooo smooth and creamy. they also have strawberry, chocolate and coconut cheesecakes.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010


i just found this photo on my phone from a couple weeks ago (not a great photo either). we hadn't been to vege2go for ages cuz i find the food kind of bland (except the garlic tossed broccoli, i really like that) and it seems a bit pricey for what it is. we were walking past one day and zac decided we needed to have lunch there (he really likes it). he got the vegan lasagne and i just got a serve of the celery and bean salad (i'd had a big breakfast). they messed up and brought both items on one plate with a spare plate for us to share with. this worked out well cuz i ended up having a small part of zac's lasagne (and he got a bit of salad). i don't know if they've changed something about the lasagne but i really liked it. the bean salad was really nice too with lots of flavour. we didn't get any dessert (i didn't really care for the vegan tiramisu we had once) but i just looked at their online menu and noticed they have a vegan cheesecake. i think i have to try it. i'm glad zac convinced me to try the place again. now i might be more up for it when he suggests it for a quick dinner (i thought he might offer to get something from there tonite since he'll be nearby and we need to have something quick and easy). he didn't say anything so i decided use the coriander pesto that i made last week and we'll have pasta with a bit of salad (if i get around to throwing the salad together before he gets home).
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Sunday, October 24, 2010


i think i've found my favourite quesadilla ingredients: refried beans using cannellini beans, homemade fresh salsa, vegan nacho cheeze and avocado to top it off. sooooooo good.
i make refried beans using a simple recipe from Hot Damn and Hell Yeah:
3 c canned beans (1 can has 1 1/2 cups so i either half the recipe or use 2 cans, if i use cooked dried beans i usually add a bit more salt)
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt (slightly more if using cooked dried beans)

simmer all ingredients uncovered on stove until most of the water is gone then mash with potato masher
my fresh salsa is:
3 tomatoes (seeded and diced)
small amount of onion (yellow or purple)-- about 1/4-1/2 an onion
about 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
salt and pepper to taste
lemon or lime juice
1-2 cloves garlic minced
optional chilli

mix all ingredients and let flavours blend for at least an hour or so before using.
the cheeze is from happy herbivore. i found the printed off recipe in my recipe book but i'd never used it before until a couple weeks ago. i'm really liking cheezes that use miso in them right now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


we went to empire cafe for lunch yesterday to try out some more of their new vegan menu. i did take a couple photos but we were in the back room and it was dark and i didn't put the flash on so i have a couple dark blurry photos of sandwiches which i won't bother putting up. i got the vegan pumpkin sandwich (roasted pumpkin strips, vegan cheese and spinach-- there were supposed to be pine nuts as well but the supplier hadn't arrived yet with them. it was still really good even without the pine nuts). it was exactly what i wanted for lunch on a cold, wet day. zac went with the vegan blt and a side of wedges. he really enjoyed that. it ended up costing us $33 for lunch and 2 coffees (and one was free with the last free coffee on my punch card they no longer do). seems a bit pricey for a couple toasted sandwiches, a side of wedges and coffee but it was really filling. and really good.
we were at the supermarket later in the afternoon and i saw this:
i wonder how many people actually buy "halloween pumpkins" for $3.98/kg (there was a kid begging his dad to buy one as i was taking this photo. dad wouldn't give in though). i said to zac, if this was north america it wouldn't just be 8 pumpkins on a little table display but it would be anywhere from 3-8 gigantic (hot tub sized) boxes out front of the supermarket where you could get pumpkins of every size (and i'm sure they must cost a lot less-- i never really priced pumpkins in canada). halloween does seem to be getting slightly bigger here (even over the past 7 years i've been here).
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Friday, October 15, 2010

fear of germs

i don't know why but for some reason advertisements for cleaning products annoy me more than any other ad. on tv. especially the ones where it's a mother saying how she doesn't want her children exposed to germs that may be on the kitchen counter, the sofa cushions or, heaven forbid, in the toilet bowl so she likes to spray chemicals which claim to kill 99.9% germs on these things and let her family be exposed to those instead. i don't know why those ads bother me more than other ads which are also using fear of something to get people to buy a product but they do. why don't people realize, most germs aren't going to harm most people and that breathing in or ingesting chemicals from cleaning products is likely to have some negative reaction in a person's body (even if it does happen slowly over many years)?

rain. and more rain.

somewhere under all that rain is melbourne and 128km of it's surrounds. so much for the great spring weather we've had most of the past 2 weeks. zac and i did have plans to spend our friday off doing something fun. i kinda just wanna curl up on the couch with movies and food now (and zac's still in bed).
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010


zac insisted we go to yong green food for lunch the other day because he had gone there earlier in the week and had the tuna wrap and really wanted another one cuz it was so good. they've changed their menu a bit since the last time we were there (i think it was at least a few months ago). i wasn't that hungry when we got there so i just got a light lunch of rice paper rolls. they were really nice. for some reason i really didn't like the smell of the chili dipping sauce they come with but the flavour was nice. zac got the tuna wrap that he was craving (i think it replaces the fishball wrap they used to have on the menu-- i don't think that was still offered). i managed to get a bite of it and really liked it. lots of flavour with a slight "fishy" sort of taste. they've got a good selection of dishes of all sizes at yong green and most are vegan (or can be made vegan). it's a good place for a snack or meal on brunswick street (and much healthier/tastier than the chips we would end up getting if we stopped at a pub for a drink and snack).
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Thursday, October 07, 2010

munster haus

we've been going to munster haus (on the corner of barkley st and st. georges rd.) for lunch pretty much any time zac has a day off when i'm working. there's always lots of good choices for food. some days have more vegan choices than others (today the only non-vegan things were pizza and a quinoa dish that had some butter in it). i skipped getting rice in the bottom of my bowl since there were so many other things i wanted to try today. i got an eggplant miso dish (on the bottom of my bowl so it isn't in the photo). on top of that was some marinated tofu with salad, a rice dish (i can't remember what was in it), a sweet potato noodle dish with sesame dressing (my favourite dish-- can't go wrong with sesame flavour) and some broccoli and marinated tempeh (i think i've had the broccoli dish every time i've been there-- it's good). all the dishes are so full of flavour. i usually get the $8 bowl for lunch and it's a good, filling lunch. zac either goes for $8 or $11 bowl depending how hungry he is.
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Saturday, October 02, 2010


the first homemade magarita of the spring is always done in style with a proper glass (i LOVE these glasses, we were given them at our wedding. i'm so scared of breaking them though). after we get more into the warm weather home made magaritas will likely be served from the pastic-jug-with-a-handle-style cup it was blended up in.
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yesterday i made bagels for the first time. i followed theresa's recipe. they're pretty easy and they taste really good (i think better than the ones that i've been buying). i used molasses instead of treacle (some websites say they can be used interchangeably in recipes, others say they can't). it worked fine. i just added a few sunflower seeds to this batch during the mixing/kneading process in the bread maker. next time i might coat them with toasted sesame seeds or maybe dukkah (which theresa recommends). i like my bagels fairly plain because i make sandwiches with them (today i had avocado and homegrown sprouts).
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Friday, October 01, 2010

belly tanning

wombat enjoying some belly tanning time in the backyard (that pink belly will be black soon):

i think spring has finally arrived (only a month late)!!!
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last weekend i decided to make crêpes. they were so good i made them again this morning. i got the recipe from here. i've been filling them with things like berries, jam, chocolate spread and almond butter. we had a norwegian nanny for about a year when i was little and she used to make norwegian pancakes (which are basically crêpes). we would fill them with jam or a spoonful of sugar or some fruit canned in syrup and top them with whipped cream. it seems really funny to me now that we used these fillings when we had them served for breakfast or a breakfast-at-dinnertime meal but they were SOOOOO good (and we only had them every once in a while).
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Thursday, September 30, 2010


that's our stack of phone books for last year and this year (not sure why last year's are still around-- this year's have been sitting by the front door since they were delivered several months ago). most of the ones that came wrapped in plastic are still wrapped (i think i unwrapped last year's white pages to look up one number probably before we got our new computer and the old computer took up to 30 min or more to get it started). i finally took 2 seconds to see how i could stop getting the phone books delivered and it's sooooooo easy. wish i had done it a long time ago. just go to this link. you just need to fill in your details and mark the phone books you want to stop delivery of (i stopped them all). hopefully i've done it in time to stop the delivery of the 2011 books. i feel bad about just chucking them all in the recycle bin but so far i haven't come up with any other use for them.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


i got a phone call this morning from someone claiming to be from microsoft trying to tell me there was something wrong with my computer and he needed to fix it and would walk me through the steps over the phone. sounded completely ridiculous to me cuz i'm pretty sure no where have we listed our home phone number with any sort of registration of our computer. i was pretty sure it was a scam when he said something like "...and it will shut down your whole computer. you don't want that, do you?" he started to tell me to press some buttons to help fix the problem but i just hung up on him. after doing a bit of a google search, turns out it was a scam. here's an article from the age a couple months ago. if i did think there was something wrong on our computer i would be either getting a friend in IT to help or taking it to a computer repair place, not taking advice from someone who called me. i guess there are people who would just assume it's legitimate though.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

chick cheez

i decided to make a cheeze spread yesterday. i opened up my uncheese cookbook to the front section where the spreads are and this was the first recipe i saw. on the side panel it's described as a "tangy" cheez with a "sharp, cheddary flavour." sounded good so i made it. it is amazing. most homemade cheezes i've tried are fairly mild. this one has a really nice sharp flavour (like aged cheddar) from the miso in it. vegan guinea pig posts the recipe here. the recipe also suggests making it into a sauce by thinning it with some nondairy milk-- it'd probably be really nice over broccoli or other veggies. i think this cheeze may end up being something i make often.
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