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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