Friday, December 16, 2011

Warung Agus

For our end of year dinner for work my boss booked us into the traditional Balinese restaurant Warung Agus (305 Victoria St, West Melbourne). Because we were a large group my boss had pre-arranged a set menu, including alternatives to the meaty dishes for the vegans and vegetarians in our group. I can't remember everything we ate (and I didn't take any pictures) but from looking at the online menu, our dishes included: Apokat Mebasa Santen Misi Oong (avocado with mushroom and coconut cream sauce), Krupuk Singkong (spicy vegetarian cassava crackers and peanut sauce), satay skewers (chicken for the meat eaters, tofu for the vegos), Toge (traditional Balinese gado gado - Mountain of steamed vegetables and bean curd with peanut sauce and cassava crackers), Tahu Istimewa (soya bean curd in lightly spicy sauce with crisp bean shoots, capsicum and cherry tomatoes), Temple Jagung (nutty flavoured soya bean morsels in sweet soy sauce with corn, spring onions and spices) and Mie Goreng (stir-fried wheat noodles with vegetables). Everything was presented amazingly and was really tasty. The servers were very friendly and made sure to point out which dishes were vegan as they brought them out. They also didn't make any effort to try to move us out even though I'm sure they were planning on turning off the lights and leaving long before we actually walked out the door. I'm looking forward to going back again hopefully in the near future.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Savi Seed

We fell in love with these when we were in Canada. They come in 3 different varieties but the cocoa kissed ones are the best by far. They taste like chocolate covered coffee beans. These amazing seeds (sacha inchi seeds) are large peanut sized, extremely high in Omega 3 and a complete protein source. We picked up several packets throughout our stay and for our trip home from Sarah's Place and Lifestyles Market. I'm hoping these soon get imported to Australia. We finished our last packet this afternoon (I'd been hiding it so we could share it with a friend). Now I've gotta wait until my next trip to Canada or hope that someone will bring some down soon (we've got friends coming down in a couple weeks-- I may have to ask them to bring some)
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Westgarth Books & Cooks

After reading Kristy's mention of a new veg place in Westgarth I mentioned it to Zac when he got up this morning and he decided that's where he wanted to eat breakfast so we walked up there around mid-day. It's only the 3rd day of serving food in this great little bookshop (we were just up here last weekend to grab a quick coffee while running to the train station, we didn't even realize they would soon be opening a vegan cafe). Only some of the menu items were available but there was a good selection of raw food, mains and desserts. All vegan! Zac ordered the Little Aussie breakfast ($9.50): toast topped with cashew cheese and sort of a fresh salsa made of tomato, red capsicum and onion, and a side of rocket and avacoado. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of his meal (it looked pretty good). I had eaten breakfast earlier so I decided to get the green curry

(I forgot to take a photo until after I started taking apart the rice pile). It was really tasty. The curry was just slightly spicy with a very coconut-y flavour, filled with vegies and fried tofu cubes. The greens on the side were really nice.
We'll be heading back again once they get settled and have their full menu available (there's a list of the menu on their facebook page).
Westgarth Books & Cooks is at 77 High Street in Northcote.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

almost back

It's been a while since I blogged. I have meant to do a couple posts in the past couple weeks but that hasn't happened. Soon I'll have the time an energy again.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


For my birthday last week I decided I wanted to go to Shakahari for dinner. Half way there my bike tire tube decided it no longer wanted to hold air and split open leaving me with a suddenly flat tire. We locked our bikes up and walked the rest of the way there (and then all the way home afterwards). Fortunately it was a nice evening for walking.
Dinner was really good (but the couple of photos we took on our phones where very dark and blurry so I just deleted them). The menu is available online (I'd pretty much decided what I wanted when I'd looked at the menu the day before). We started with the Avacado Magic and the mushroom shinjuku. I was still congested from a cold so I wasn't tasting a lot of flavour but the fact I could taste things ment they must have been flavourful. I got the green, green laksa for my main which I really enjoyed (nice and spicy- perfect for getting over a cold). It's description on the menu is: Green tea soba noodles (buckwheat/wheat ), spinach and bean sprouts cooked in a Thai krachai ( lesser galangal ) green curry coconut stock. This is topped
with a variety of fried tofu, tempeh and fragrant herbs.
Zac got the Shaolin Treasure, described as: The secret of Shaolin monks! Five grain mixed rice cooked with vegetable stock to a risotto like texture. This comes with a bowl of braised turnips,spiced tofu,gingko nuts, beancurd seitan, and bok choy.
At first glance Zac was pretty sure his meal wouldn't fill him but within a couple minutes of finishing he decided he was too full to have dessert. We ended up not getting dessert and just having some mini raw cheesecakes when we got home.
That was only the second time we've eaten at Shakahari but I think we do need to go there more often for special meals.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

new bag

For months (maybe even more than a year) I have been planning on making myself a hand bag. I finally chose some Ink and Spindle fabric I liked at a market last summer or autumn. I got around to buying fabric for the rest of the bag about a month ago. Last week I finally worked out a pattern for my bag and made a test bag out of some scrap fabric I got from work. I made a few adjustments (like decreasing the size by 3cm on each side), decided to add some pockets and then started sewing the bag yesterday. I needed to buy some different bias tape today and then I managed to complete my bag:

View of bag with front flap open:

(There are also 2 pockets inside the main compartment of the bag that line up with the 2 pockets shown in the photo above)
My sewing skills are pretty basic but somehow I managed to complete this with minimal errors and messes (you can see a few issues like not quite straight stitching and slightly wonky corners when you look closely but generally nobody but me will do that).
I also discovered it seems to be imposible to buy the pieces to make an adustable strap. Spotlight only had D shaped loops and I wanted square (rectangle) ones and Lincraft didn't seem to carry anything either (I just looked on their website but didn't think it would be worth the effort to go into the city to see if the store might have something). I found a website that carried the pieces I wanted but when I put together an order it only came to just over $8 and the site wouldn't let me complete an order for less than $15 and there was nothing else I needed or wanted from the company. I ended up just chopping the adjustable strap off the bag that I got this year from our yearly conference we go too (I just gave 4 other bags from that conferenence to the opp shop last summer) and sewing it onto my bag. I'm very happy with the results.
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hepburn Springs

Last weekend we went to Hepburn Springs for the weekend. It was kind of my birthday gift (even though it isn't my birthday until next week). We went to see Henry Wagons (of the band Wagons that played at our wedding) play a solo gig at the Palais in Hepburn. We stayed at the Hepburn Motor Inn which was right next door to the Palais.
I love how vegan friendly Hepburn Springs and Daylesford are.
Saturday night I was hoping we could have the banquet at the Hepburn Retreat Centre (formerly the Continental) but they didn't have enough bookings so it was cancelled. Instead we went to the Electric Sitar in Daylesford (4/27 Albert Lane). It's an Indian cafe/take away place. They only have a couple vegan items on the menu but the 2 we had were both really good (eggplant masala and a chickpea dahl).
Sunday morning we went to the Harvest Cafe and Organic Grocery (29 Albert St. Daylesford) for breakfast. We both had the scrambled tofu which was good although I thought it had too many olives in it (and I like olives).
Sunday afternoon we discovered a new pub that we had never been to in Hepburn (in a part of Hepburn we didn't know existed--where a lot of the locals live and go to school): The Old Hepburn Hotel. A Melbourne band (The Brothers Grim) was playing there in the afternoon so we thought we'd try to find it and check it out. The pub had both Coopers Dark Ale and Pale Ale on tap (but no vegan food other than the veggie toastie without the cheese). It felt a bit like we were in Portland, Oregan when we walked in the pub. It was a great place.
Sunday dinner was at Jasmine Thai (right across from the Palais). They have all their vegetarian items that can be made vegan clearly marked on their menu (the ones with the asterisk next to them in the photo below). The food there is good and soooo filling (and no doggie bags).
Henry's gig was really good (and the 20 of us that had pre-purchased tickets had couches and chairs reserved at the front). It comes second with only the time most of Wagons played at our wedding being a better gig.

Monday morning after a bit of a battery issue with our flexicar (which we're pretty sure wasn't our fault but possibly an issue with their swipe card thing which could drain the battery) we headed to The Chocolate Mill before heading back to Melbourne. We arrived just as their morning demo was finishing and a woman was explaining that the chocolate they use (Callebaut)-- also the brand my parents used in their chocolate factory-- has always been fair trade but at the start of this year the became properly fair trade certified. The dark chocolate is vegan (Zac discovered this a few years ago at my mom's place so whenever we're there we go looking for dark chocolate things left in the disused factory) and they clearly mark all their vegan friendly chocolates in their display. I got a chocolate orange piece and a chocolate covered candied ginger. Zac got 2 mint chocolates. We then stopped in their cafe and got a vegan hot chocolate (the photo was taken before I stirred the chocolate through the hot, frothy soy milk).

It was the perfect relaxing weekend away.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

sick kids

In past years we've had a lot of problems with parents giving their sick child Panadol or other fever/pain meds and sending them in to kinder. Then they try to act surprised when we call them at lunch time to inform them their child is miserable and has a fever. This year parents have been much better (with a couple exceptions). Yesterday a parent came in and stated that his child had felt like they had a fever (they didn't actually take his temperature but he said he felt quite hot) so he had given his child Panadol and brought him into kinder saying he was fine. Upon hearing this both me and the teacher tried to explain to him that his child can't be at kinder because a fever means your body is fighting an infection and there are some nasty flu type illnesses going around. He seemed quite surprised when we said he would have to take his child home and the look he had was one that made me think that today he would bring his child in on Panadol but know not to say anything to us. Fortunately he didn't do that and the child was away today hopefully having a good rest at home and recovering from his illness.
This morning we were chatting to a parent about illnesses and we said that we do get parents bringing them in on Panadol and we don't find out until lunchtime when the meds wear off that the child is sick. His response was "That's not fair!!" Finally a parent that really understands the importance of keeping sick children home (and was quite upset that others may not do the same). He had actually had to cancel a meeting at work today so he could go home for a few hours in the middle of the day to take care of his possibly sick child that they decided they didn't want to infect others at child care and his wife who was sick as well. They also called into kinder about midday to make sure their kinder child was ok and not showing any signs that he may be coming down with what the rest of the family has had.
I spent half my planning time yesterday researching children and illnesses to try to type up a nice email for families stating the importance if keeping an unwell child at home (and how sick is too sick to bring them to kinder). I'm sure it is hard for working parents to keep sick children at home but it is sooooo important for the child to rest and that they don't share their germs with the children and staff at kinder.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Chocolate mint mochas were the drink that started me on coffee (although they don't really have a a coffee taste at all). In grade 11 a friend convinced me to skip a class to come with her to starbucks to have this amazing mint mocha she'd had a few times. I went and fell in love (and generally I don't even like mint and chocolate together). I haven't had a mint mocha in years (mochas aren't really that big at all in Australia but most coffee shops back home serve them-- and they're usually much better than the coffee). Mr. Nice Guy had mint mocha on their menu when we were there for brunch yesterday so I couldn't pass it up. They served it in a Batman mug! (I messed up the cocoa powder on top before i took the photo). We also had the french toast (I had strawberries, Zac had blueberries) which is also blogged about here. I haven't had french toast that good in a long time.
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Friday, July 15, 2011

mallacoota again

Last week we spent a week in Mallacoota to celebrate Zac's mum's birthday. I took about 700 pictures (and now I have to get really good at hitting the delete button because there are way too many photos and a lot are very similar-- trying to get that really good shot). I couldn't choose just a few to put on here (I have about 90 of my favourites on facebook) so I made a few collages (click on the image to make it larger).
Wombat had the best time (and didn't get sore feet the entire trip-- a first for her. I think it was because we brought all her different meds for allergies with us so of course we didn't need them). She ran free on the beaches every day:

She spent her evenings charming everybody and getting fed way to much junk food from people. We had our own unit at the Adobe Mudbrick Flats (same place we stayed last time) and Zac's mum hired the penthouse for the week. We spent most of our time at the penthouse and just slept, watched the sunrise and had short quiet breaks at our unit. The penthouse has a huge balcony with an amazing view and a bird feeder on the rail where dozens of birds feed all day long (at our unit we had a bird feeder just outside the floor to ceiling lounge room windows and a small outdoor space where we could sit next to the bird feeder).
We did a lot of bird watching at the units and around the area:

The bird feeders attracted lorikeets, galahs, rosellas, red browed firetail finches, fairy wrens, king parrots (who would feed from your hand) and sparrows (and I'm sure I'm forgetting several other birds). At the beaches and in the inlet and up in Eden, NSW (we took a day trip up there) we saw lots of sea eagles and pelicans. It was pretty amazing seeing so many birds everywhere we went.
I got up for the sunrise 3 or 4 mornings while we were there (not something I usually do but I was accidentally awake the first morning and then after that I kept waking up and then didn't want to miss watching it. One of the rooms in the penthouse faces right out across the balcony straight towards the winter sunrise. The woman staying in that room watched the sunrise every morning with no chance of sleeping through it (there are no curtains on the floor to ceiling windows in that room). Even the morning it rained, the sun was pretty amazing when it broke through the clouds (the black and white looking images are from that morning-- I didn't actually alter the colour on the photos-- it was very grey and shots taken into the light look very greyscale). The colours of the sky during sunset were also amazing with lots of pink clouds. The rainbow in the bottom left of the collage was in Eden. Just as we finished taking Wombat for a short run on the beach there, the rain clouds broke. As we were getting into the car we noticed a double rainbow over the water so we had to stop and take some photos.

We spent about an hour a day at the beaches. I could have sat there all day watching and listening to the waves roll over into tubes and crash on the rocks.

On the way home we spent a night in Paynesville. I convinced Zac we had to make a quick trip over to Raymond Island before the sun set so I could take photos of koalas on the small island (there is about 258 according to a count done a couple weeks ago). We managed to find about 5 (including one really alert one that was watching us and the other people walking around the trail below her) in the half hour we were on the island. We spotted the kangaroos relaxing in someone's front yard at Gypsy Point (a slight detour on the way out of Mallacoota).

Mallacoota is totally worth the 7 hour drive from Melbourne (and the pub even has vegan risotto on the menu which was an exciting bonus when we went there for dinner one night). I'm glad Zac's mum lives at about the halfway point though so we can have a stopover night along the way. Wombat LOVED her holiday but was completely exhausted by the end of it (and I'm pretty sure she's gained a kilo or 2 from all the food people gave her even though she did a LOT of running at the beaches).
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Monday, July 11, 2011


We cooked dinner for ourselves only one night during our trip (every other night was at the penthouse with Zac's mum and everyone else or at one of the 2 places to eat in town). The night we (I) cooked Zac was sick so I got to eat most of it. It was the best chilli I've made on holidays (I often make it when we go to a holiday house because it's easy to bring all the ingredients for it). This one had about 1 cup of green lentils in just enough stock to cook them, a can of tomatoes, a handful of TVP, a can of cannellini beans, some chilli powder and cayenne pepper and a large clove of garlic (which I fried for about a minute in a frying pan before adding it into the chilli not long after I started cooking the lentils). The chilli was great served with with tortilla chips. I need to remember to make this at home instead of only on holidays because it's a nice easy dinner and sooooo good.
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

packaging free

I came across this article today: Zero Packaging Grocery Store to Open in Austin Texas. The concept is really cool. Some of the organic shops around here have bulk sections (and a lot of supermarkets back home have bulk sections) but I love the step forward in.gredients will take. They'll have a pretty big range of products and be mostly organic and local. Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers but compostable containers will be available. CERES shop works in a similar way. They do have a lot of packaged items but also have a big range of grains, dried fruits and household cleaning products in bulk. CERES customers can bring in their own containers and there are sometimes extra containers that people have left for others and small paper bags. We need more places like this around. Our little kitchen bin gets filled from plastic packaging that can't be recycled. Hopefully bulk purchasing will become more the norm over the next decade.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

mr. nice guy cafe

The Mr. Nice Guy cafe officially opened yesterday so we decided to stop in today. We didn't make it there until afternoon so they're breakfast menu was not available (Zac was a little disappointed) but I was planning on trying something tex-mex anyway. Zac got the taco ($7). He said it was really good but it wasn't enough (so he got a cupcake to go). I wanted to try the tostadas but they weren't available so I was asked if I wanted enchiladas instead ($12). They weren't listed on the menu so I don't know if it is a regular menu item or just a replacement item for the couple things they didn't have available. Enchiladas were exactly what I wanted and these ones were really good: a spicy mix of rice and beans inside and topped with melty vegan nacho cheese. It came with a side of corn bread that was really nice as well. My phone photo doesn't really make the food look that pretty but it was really good! Extras are available for the Mexican dishes like vegan sour cream and I think guacamole.

We'll definitely be heading back again for more tex-mex and cupcakes and maybe one day we'll actually get out of bed and be down there before the breakfast menu finishes so we can try that too.

Mr. Nice Guy Bakery Cafe is at the side of the Noise Bar (291 Albert St.) on the side of the Upfield bike path.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Wombat started doing this lip curl thing a year or so ago. It kinda looks like she's growling in the photo but she's not (she's hoping I'll hand her the treat I'm holing). She just sits there looking at us sometimes with her lip stuck to her teeth like that. Maybe she likes Elvis?
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Best Caesar Salad Ever

Caesar salad was one of my favourites when I was young (I think it was one of the only salads I liked since I didn't really care for lettuce). We got a head of cos (romaine) lettuce in our veggie box this week but no other really "salad-y" sorts of vegies. I figured some really nice dressing would make it into a good salad and then remembered Caesar salad. I googled vegan recipes for Caesar dressing and the one I ended up with was from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan (which I own a copy of). The recipe is on Dreena's blog. I skipped the agave nectar as suggested on this blog and used kelp powder instead of kelp granules (and used slightly less than the amount of granules in the recipe). The dressing was amazing!!! I made homemade croutons by cutting bread into small cubes, stirring the cubes around in a bowl with a bit of olive oil then sprinkling with salt and putting them in the oven for about 10 minutes). I also put some fake bacon chips in the salad as well. I don't usually eat salad in winter because I'm usually cold and only want warm foods at meals but I think I might make an exception with this one.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Winter has arrived- almost a month early. We turned on the heat for the first time last weekend. Yesterday morning I got out of bed and was FREEZING (it was not even 7am). I figured I'd warm up in a few minutes once I got moving (like I usually do) but could not warm up. I finally looked at the thermostat to see that it was only 5C inside our house. Once the heat was on I warmed up quickly (and then had to spend 2 1/2 hours outside in the cold at work first thing). Today actually felt colder outside first thing at work (at least we were inside by the time the rain came). One of my co-workers set the home page on the computers to a weather page that also shows the "feels like" temperature. She then watched it throughout the afternoon and gave us updates in the room every half hour (it was "feels like" 4C at one point then it started warming up again. I think it was about feels like 6 or 7C last time I looked). I'm really not ready for winter to come (although I don't think I'll ever be ready for it). I did manage to convince Zac that we need an electric blanket this morning though (I've been trying for a while but he's always been against it but I talked to a co-worker about it yesterday and how much she's been in love with hers for the past 15 years). I need it mainly to pre-warm the bed and then keep me warm until Zac comes to bed. I don't think I actually produce my own body heat- even with flannel sheets, 2 doonas and a Mexican blanket I'm still cold most nights in winter.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One more reason

If I wasn't already vegan for the animals I think reading The China Study would have turned me to veganism. I didn't realise there was so much research out there showing that a whole food, plant based diet is so beneficial to health (and how meat and dairy are connected to so many illnesses). It's unfortunate that drug companies and industries based on animal foods try to keep this information from being common knowledge. Even most doctors have very little background in nutrition and would rather push drugs (that don't actually seem to give that much hope) instead of encouraging a patient to change their diet. It seems ridiculous that there is a lot of research showing that a whole foods, plant based diet can actually reverse heart disease but doctors are unwilling to share (or don't even know) this information and instead a patient is prescribed drugs for their lifetime or surgery that may not be necessary if they changed their diet. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to know more about the relationship between diet and disease (heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and autoimmune diseases).


The other night we went to Zac's sister's engagement party. It was held in their backyard, using their outdoor entertainment area. The weather ended up being surprisingly good and not really cold until later in the evening (and I made sure to dress really warmly expecting to freeze). An hour or so into the party, the MC got everyone's attention to make a speech. He rambled on for a few minutes and then his mobile rang. It was Lea (neither Lea or Jay were standing up front with him) letting him know to pass on the news that their wedding was about to begin! Huge surprise (although Lea filled me in on the secret about an hour earlier since I was one of the official photographers and she wanted me to know what to expect)! The ceremony was short and personal and Lea looked absolutely amazing (and Jay looked good too 8)) Funny cuz earlier I had thought it was weird that her hair was done so nicely for the backyard engagement party and Zac had thought the DJ in the corner of the yard was a bit overboard but as soon as we realised it was their wedding it all made sense. It was a really great night and I'm so happy for the two of them. Some of us we're almost a little disappointed that we won't be having another Barwon Heads wedding in November but this was the perfect way to do their wedding and I guess we could still go to Barwon Heads even if there isn't a wedding happening.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011


We had a LOT of rain last night and this morning. So much rain that it's off the graph and over the next graph. If you look at the chart to the left, rainfall is the bottom graph. It goes back to 0mm at 9am each day. Overnight we had 47.2mm of rain. The graph only goes to 20mm so the maximum is way above the top of the graph. Look where I put the red star. That's where 47mm is (close up below). I'm pretty sure that I was taught you can't just do that with a graph (put your figures on a totally different graph cuz that's where your graph needs to end).

I was very glad that the huge downpours we had this morning were on and off. It stopped just in time for me to leave to work and get there on time. Just as I arrived and moved my bike under cover another downpour started. One of the office staff had a similar experience on the bus-- it was pouring while she was on the bus and then it stopped when she got off to get on the tram. I should have taken Wombat to the creek this afternoon to see how full the creek is with all the water running off into it.

A bit of downpour (fortunately it kept stopping just before the growing puddle reached the door each time):

Thursday, April 07, 2011


I'm so proud of Wombat. I think she's finally starting to understand that other dogs aren't a threat. Yesterday we went down to the creek at the peak time for people to be walking their dogs. We saw a small dog coming towards us so we went on another part of the trail and ended up with another small dog coming towards us. There was a small grassy area next to the trail so I just pulled Wombat over and figured we'd keep walking towards them as far as we could and when she got stressed I would just do the usual stop and sit her and scratch her under her collar (ready to grab her by her collar if she lunges forward). When we got to the point where Wombat started stressing, we stopped and I went to sit her but she dropped into a laying down position (she's NEVER done that around another dog-- she's even awkard about doing it when we command her to do it at home). I just did my usual scratch her neck and praise her for laying. She just lay there until the dog was a bit past us and she had to jump up to turn and to be able to see that the other dog really was walking away and not planning an attack from behind. Today we were heading down to the creek a bit earlier hoping for less dogs. While we were on the oval before getting to the creek trail a dog started running up to us from the trail. I called to the woman to call her dog but she ignored me (twice). I figured I'd get Wombat ready for meeting the running dog. I looked down to grab Wombat's collar and she was already laying down! I scratched her and praised her while the dog came up to see if it could sniff her. The dog even went out of Wombat's sight while it sniffed my leg but Wombat stayed laying down. The dog then ran back to it's person (who had started calling it by this point). I gave Wombat lots of praise for her good behaviour (I really wished I'd brought the treat that I had intended on bringing in case we had this event happen). Laying down is supposed to be considered a submissive position. Even though she's not rolling over on her back to expose her belly, I'm sure even the low position she's in makes her a bit vulnerable so I'm hoping she's doing this because she's starting to realise other dogs aren't really a threat and she's now starting to attempt to meet or play with them. Hopefully she'll keep up these behaviours when meeting dogs.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

nuts and seeds

I've been making lots of raw crackers in the dehydrator lately. I make them based on this recipe. The first batch I did with the Italian seasonings used in the recipe. The next batch I divided up and did some with garlic, some with a bit of sea salt and some with some Old Bay Seasoning. The second batch I also mixed in some chia seeds with the flax seeds. I really like them all and I'm not sure which are my favourite. Yesterday I decided I wanted to make some different dips to use for crackers and veggies (I usually just make some variety of hummus or a lentil dip). I decided I wanted to veganize tzatziki. There doesn't seem to be any plain vegan yogurt in Australia (they are all vanilla) so I needed to find something else to use. I thought about vegan sour cream (which has kind of a plain yogurt taste but then decided some sort of cashew cream base would probably work the best). I googled it and right away came up with this recipe (scroll down to the end of the post for the tzatziki recipe). I used a little more garlic than in the recipe cuz we love garlic. The dip is amazing! The flax/chia seed crackers and dip make a perfect snack.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

golden plains

I think this year's Golden Plains festival was my favourite of all the Meredith and Golden Plains festivals we've been to. There were so many good bands and we spent most of both days at the amphitheatre enjoying the bands (usually I spend almost half my time at the campsite when there's bands on I don't really care for). I'm not even sure which band was my favourite but The Hold Steady, Graveyard Train, Belle and Sebastian, The Besnard Lakes and Justin Townes Earle were some of my top picks for favourite.
The weather was almost perfect. It got a bit hot the first day and stayed warm overnight. The next morning started out fairly hot and just when we were thinking we would have to go back to the campsite for shade (there wasn't enough for everyone at the amphitheatre), the clouds came in and covered the sun. The cool change came and brought a little bit of refreshing rain. It got a bit cold overnight (glad we brought the "donkey blanket" which kept me extra warm at at night). I thought we would have to pack up a wet tent in drizzle on Monday but we woke up at 9:30 to the tent getting way too warm in the sun and everything was pretty much dry when we packed up.
We ate really well too. This was the first time in a few years that we've gone on our own, in our own (hired) car instead of packing a few of us into a friend's car with all our gear. We decided that we should take advantage of all the extra space and bring anything we want. We brought a LOT of food-- good food. For breakfast we had peanut butter and banana sandwiches (although Zac ended up having lentil dip sandwiches). For lunches we had Wolffie's black bean and lentil salad from La Dolce Vegan!

Snacks included lentil dip on vita-wheat crackers or bread, dried berry and nut mix, corn chips and homemade salsa, homemade tofu jerky, apples and chocolate. We also decided this year to take a thermos of coffee (don't know why this has never occurred to us before) so we didn't have to stand in massive lines to get our caffeine fix in the morning. It worked great (we were planning on having iced coffee but never put the thermos in the esky and it was still quite warm 30 hours after I made it). The only thing we could have done better on was the beer. It's always hard buying cans cuz that's not what we usually drink and Zac tends to get the cheapest cans possible. We've now realized that's a stupid idea and we should get proper beer in cans (I was a little jealous of all the people I saw with Asahi aluminium bottles and Heineken cans).
We had more than enough food to go without buying from the food carts (and I didn't even make the macaroni salad I was planning on making) but we like the food stalls so we bought dinner late each evening from the carts. The first nite we had burritos from the Mexican cart (Gringo Tacos, I think). It was ok but kind of bland compared to Trippy Taco. Their vegan version just involves omitting the sour cream and cheese which makes it a bit dry. You'd think they could add guacamole for free (normally $1 extra) considering they're dropping 2 other ingredients. The next night we got some dumplings after seeing someone walk past us with a plate of them. They tasted even better than they looked! The plate had white rice and a salad that had mint and aniseed-- it was amazing and so full of flavour. The dumplings were really nice too (way better than the frozen ones I've been buying) and the staff were very friendly and helpful showing us the vegan sauces.
Not sure how next year's Golden Plains could top this one.....
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Friday, March 11, 2011


i found a cheap dehydrator with adjustable temperature dial on one of those deals websites after i'd been looking into dehydrators for a few weeks. i'd been trying to find something on the cheaper end of the scale that had adjustable temperatures that i could try out to see how i like dehydrating and maybe eventually,if i'm using it a lot, i'll upgrade to an excalibur model. so far i'm very impressed with our cheap one (i think it was on special for $40 and free shipping-- it did take 2 tries at shipping it to get one that hadn't been dropped or had something fall on it though).
i decided to start with zucchini chips.
i sliced my zucchini very thinly (most sites i looked at said to cut it about 1/4 inch thick but i did mine much thinner using the slicing blade on my food processor). i lightly sprinkled mine with homemade Old Bay seasoning. they only took a few hours before they were dried. they're really tasty too. i've been eating them on their own and with lentil dip.
i also did some tofu jerky using sarah kramer's recipe from how it all vegan (the original pepper jerky)--- sooo yummy. again, i cut my pieces thinner than suggested and it only took a few hours to become tasty jerky (perfect for snacking on at golden plains!).
so far i'm liking my dehydrator a lot (and have a lot more things i want to try with it). i think it's going to be useful with our veggie boxes when we have things that are nearing the end of their life and we haven't used, we'll be able to dehydrate them to either eat them as dehydrated foods or save them for use in soups and baking.
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

beach trip

to celebrate our 3rd anniversary last month we went to the beach. we were sad to find out that the holiday house we've stayed at for the past 2 years in barwon heads doesn't seem to be available to rent anymore. we found another pet friendly place in our budget in queenscliff that worked our really well though. another sad thing was the vegetarian cafe place that we had our wedding reception in barwon heads has completely closed down (they were just mostly doing catering and take away on weekends from shortly after our wedding but now its a whole other cafe. we didn't really look at the food there but they did do nice soy coffees (with fair trade coffee).
unfortunately we can't seem to take wombat anywhere with out her sensitive skin acting up (we think she's allergic to the beach-- especially the beaches around melbourne because she's not nearly as bad in paynesville or mallacoota).
poor dog licking/eating her toes:

having fun in the water:

playing ball in the big yard:

being lazy:

yes, our anniversary trip (as always) ended up being about wombat but we wouldn't have it any other way.
it'd be nice if her skin didn't seem to react to everything new. we did bring her vet prescribed cream with us but i don't think it did much. we had some left over meds from last time that we started giving her as soon as we got home and she mostly cleared up in a few days. her back toes are still raw and gross but we're not sure if this is from the beach (almost 2 weeks ago) or if she's irritated them with something else.

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attack of the pumpkins

my garden was a bit neglected this summer. i planted some tomatoes, spinach and spring onion seedlings early in the season and harvested most of those by the end of december. then i kinda forgot about the garden. i haven't watered it or weeded it for a couple months. a couple pumpkin seedlings appeared (i'm guessing from the bokashi compost i buried since i've never planted any kind of pumpkin). soon the pumpkins took over. wombat can't get in the garden anymore. i can't get in the garden anymore:

somewhere under those pumpkins there's a low fence that surrounds the garden. i think the green bin is going to be a challange to get out on its next collection day.

there are also lots of tomatoes that i didn't plant growing amongst the pumpkins too (but i can't get to them to pick them when they ripen).
there's a couple varieties of pumpkins growing too:
i think we'll be eating a lot of pumpkin stews, curries and soups this winter 8)
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