Sunday 30 September 2018

Vegan MoFo 2018 - reflections and quicklinks

And so I reach the end of my sixth year doing Vegan MoFo.  I have just managed to meet the goal of 20 posts in a month of vegan food.  Which is pretty amazing given that lately I have struggled to get 10 posts in a month.  More amazing given what a crazy month it was.  I started the month away on a work retreat, then had a week of my computer not working and ended the month with a busy work week.  Thank goodness I prepared well before September started.

I took part in Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food) because I have enjoyed the challenges and connections of taking part previously.  Though I am vegetarian, I am far more confident in vegan cooking and baking thanks to Vegan MoFo.  We eat far less eggs now than previously and are more aware of vegan issues.  I am busier than I was in other years so it was more difficult to find the time for such intensive blogging this year and I struggled to find time to visit other MoFo blogs.  I also found that there are now less blogs participating (and disappointingly quite a few on the Vegan MoFo blogroll are not participating) and more people on other social media platforms, as the digital landscape changes.

Despite the changes, there is still lots of great reading.  A special mention to Go Vegga for giving me a warm glow when I read that she is a fan of my overnight sourdough bread recipe.  It was also great to see my chocolate pancakes included in the week 4 vegan mofo round up (a great place to check out other vegan mofo food). 

Apologies to those who needed a new login to comment - I just have too many logins in my life but I hope you will get some sort of pingback to this page to know I loved your Vegan MoFo offerings. 

Each year I list some posts that grab my attention and can inspire me for further cooking.  Here are some from this year. 

Interesting dinners:
Galaxy sushi bowl - Vegan Doll House
Rainbow pizza - Walks Talks and Eats
Chickpea gnocchi with faux pesto and raspberry sauce - This Vegan Lyfe
Vegan baked potato oup - Vegan in your city
Mushroom lettuce wraps - Plant Based Living

Tempting baking:
War cake (fruit cake) - Downright  Vegan
Potato and rosemary muffins - Just blogs vegan
Sunshine Spinach Pie - Just Blogs Vegan
Coca Cola cake - One Raw Bite
Fig and blueberry cake - Gonna Go Walk the Dogs

As well as the Vegan MoFo links, I would like to share a few links to interesting articles I have seen recently:

Coconut oil is pure poison says Harvard professor - The Guardian
Why do we keep calling things Buddah bowls - Healthyish
Food freestyling: how lateral cooking can turn soda bread into scones: The Guardian
Vegan kale chocolate: guilt trip or indulgence - The Guardian
Your farmers market is a library (ie a wealth of local knowledge) - Melbourne Farmers Markets
The compostable cup you can't compost: the trouble with our recycling system - The Age
With push from PETA, Animal Crackers bust out of their cages - US News

If you want a full list of my posts, check out my Vegan MoFo 2018 page (see below link).  I am pleased to have had some inspiration and wrote some fun posts but now I am glad to post at a rate more in keeping with my lifestyle.  However I still have plenty to share so stay tuned.

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in September 2018.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2018 Vegan MoFo posts.

Saturday 29 September 2018

Vegan lunches, Melbourne's inner north

When I go out to cafes I often snap a photo but these days I often wait til I have been back to blog it more.  So today I share some vegan lunches I have had recently when out and about.  Often I have been on the run so it can be carb-heavy rather than full of leafy greens.  Quite a few places are favourites and have made a few appearances on my blog.  (And yes I am doing you a favour if you are in the middle of watching the AFL Grand Final by giving you some distraction from the tension of the match!)

Cnr Roberts & Stewart Sts, Brunswick East 3057

We have been going to CERES for years and seen many changes.  Lately my favourite place to eat there has been the hole in the wall style cafe in the grocery section.  The top photo is some of the grocery shelves.  The above photo is a vegan cheese and spinach pastry I had there recently.  It was slightly lemony but very tasty and nice meal on the go.

Lord of the Fries
Shop A4 Barkly Square, Shopping Centre
90/106 Sydney Rd, Brunswick 3056

Lord of the Fries seems like it has been around forever though the first cafe opened in 2005.  We have been to many of their cafes since then and it seems to have become like MacDonalds for vegans.  (While it was once vegetarian, now I am told it is all vegan.)  So I was pleased to hear it is opening in Barkly Square.  Sylvia and I visited a the pop up store there a few weeks ago on the 30th birthday of the shopping centre we fondly know as Squarkly Bear (another institution that feels like it has been there forever).  We were able to sit with our lunch while watching young gormless kids try to follow an aerobics routine.  Sylvia had hotdog and fries.  I had the mini original burger and tried some French Canadian fries but I think I still prefer the fries plain.  The store will reopen in November.

Glass Den
15 Urquhart Street, Coburg 3058

Glass Den is another regular haunt of mine.  I go there more for hot chocolate with friends of late but we eat there every now and again.  I wrote about it in 2016, and have written updates since then.  The last time we visited it was really busy (at 10.30 on a Sunday morning) so we had to go on the wait list.  It was a shame that so much of their menu has moved to mock meat.  I miss their coconut bacon.

I wanted the bruschetta (with sauteed garlic, wild mushrooms and kale, grilled pumpkin, toasted nuts with toasted garlic ciabatta, Persian feta and beetroot dust - with a vegan option) but ended up compromising with Sylvia to have waffle chips so she could try some of my unicorn hotcakes (mine wasn't vegan but you can choose that option).  The chips were amazing but the hotcakes were too pretty to eat.   were really good but as we both got desserts, I think our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  Which is quite understandable at the Glass Den where the food is a work of art.

La Panella Bakery
465 High Street, Preston 3072

While passing by La Panella recently I remembered that vegan blogs used to rave about it years ago so I went in and had a sausage roll.  It is a very traditional style of bakery with meat pies, sausage rolls and slices.  It was a nice sausage roll but not amazing.  A bit like the bakery which is nothing flash but hits the spot.  A good place to eat on the run if you are in the area and want something simple.

Cornish Arms
163A Sydney Rd, Brunswick 3056

It has taken me a long time to get along to the Cornish Arms which has been a mainstayer of the vegan food scene in Brunswick for many years.  If you are a vegan wanting to eat a burger, souvlaki, parma or kiev this is your place.  To be honest, I haven't been so keen because I am not into mock meat but I have been curious.  Finally we had lunch there in April.  We had the vegan fried mac and cheese bites with aioli, nachos and chips.  A bit of fried starches overload but all very good.  I was pleased Sylvia ate the mac and cheese bites for a while.

Sand Witch @ Coburg Farmers Market
Coburg Primary School, Urquhart Street, Coburg 3058

I really loved the Colli-sour sandwich at the Sand Witch at the Coburg Farmers Market.  The filling of 'crispy cauliflower between layers of pickles, green salad and topped with preserved lemon tahini’ is surprisingly amazing.  Click on the link above for Veganopoulous' review where she also looks at the Hash Burger with a potato cake and fried eggplant.  I hope the Sand Witch will be back at the market soon with her innovative sandwiches inspired by her Israeli and Moroccan heritage.

5 and dime bagel @ Coburg Farmers Market
Coburg Primary School, Urquhart Street, Coburg 3058

We occasionally love to go home from Coburg Farmers Market with a a half dozen bagels from 5 and dime.  These are proper chewy dense bagels.  A couple of weeks ago I stopped and got the vegan cream cheese on a toasted pretzel bagel.  It was just wonderful with a dash of sunshine and good company.

Union House, Tenancy 603/604, University of Melbourne, Tin Alley, Parkville 3052

Mexican takeaway seems one of the easiest fast foods to get lots of vegetables into a meal.  Zambero does it well and I recently heard they have added vegan cheese.  So I went along and had a Classic bowl.  (Honestly I need a degree just to work out the difference between their bowls).  This comes with rice, refried pinto beans, cheese, tomato salsa, lettuce, corn salsa.  I subbed some cauliflower for the beans, black rice for jasmine rice and chose bbq for my sauce.  So many decisions.  But it was a most excellent lunch washed down with a bottle of kombucha.

Vegie Bar
380 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy 3065

The Vegie Bar is an iconic vegetarian restaurant in Fitzroy that was started in 1988 so it was there when I moved into my first shared house in Fitzroy and the Brunswick Street foodie scene was emerging.  I wrote about it in my 7th post on this blog over 11 years ago so I really need to update that because it has changed a lot since then.  Late last year I had this Better than a Big Mac.  It was really excellent.  Not only did it bring back memories of having a Big Mac but I agree it is better.  But it wasn't just the nostalgia.  I have had many conversations about inadequate vegie burgers in cafes and these patties were perfect tecture that had me raving in happiness!  I had sweet potato fries on the side but I keep dreaming of going back for another and getting regular fries just for old times sake!

Lunch from Home

Though it is lovely to eat out, I often bring in my lunch to work.  Lately I have been using some vegan waxed wraps.  An alternative to beeswax, they are made with candelilla wax, pine resin, jojoba oil and coconut oil.  I am still getting to used to the best ways to clean them and the scent of pine can infuse the food sometimes but they seem quite good.  The colourful fabric cheers me up at lunchtime.  The sandwich above is vegemite and whole walnuts in a seeded ciabatta.  Vegemite and crushed walnuts was a favourite sandwich as a kid but in a roll I think the walnuts need to be in bigger pieces.  I highly recommend this combination.
This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in September 2018.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2018 Vegan MoFo posts.

Friday 28 September 2018

Vegan fluffy chocolate pancakes: Vegan MoFo

We have had a really lazy morning today.  I am most grateful to Daniel Andrews for declaring a public holiday the day before the AFL Grand Final.  Footy is not really my thing but when you have had a busy week at work of an average 10 hours a day, a public holiday is indeed a godsend.  Sylvia and I have just watched tv and eaten chocolate pancakes.  Now that she is at a birthday party and E is at the MCG with my dad and brother, I have some time to relax and blog.

I really loved the pancakes, based on a favourite pancake recipe.  I didn't mean to make chocolate pancakes but when the only milk in the house is a chocolate one, there is not much choice.  They weren't very sweet.  They were great with maple syrup and strawberries (chopped up to make sure we didn't get any that maniacs have been putting needles into recently in Melbourne).  These would work well as a dessert with a rich chocolate sauce and lots of berries.  I would have loved one of the cooled ones spread with peanut butter but when we had no plain milk last night so I put the last of the peanut butter in my tomato soup. 

You might notice from this last comment that there has been no fancy cooking and no grocery shopping over the past week.  I am on holidays for almost two weeks so I have a chance to catch up.  How lovely to have some time to potter around the house.

More vegan pancakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana oat pancakes (v)
Nutella stuffed pancakes (v) 
Spinach pancakes  (gf, v)
Squeezy bottle vegan pancakes (v)
Vegan fluffy pancakes (v) 

Vegan fluffy chocolate pancakes
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

 3/4 cup plain white flour
1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate soy milk
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice bran oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
margarine, for frying

Mix all ingredients (except margarine) to make a thick batter.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Meanwhile heat frypan over medium heat.  Rub a little knob of margarine to cover the pan.  Drop heaped dessertspoons of batter on the pan.  It takes quite a while (5 minutes or so) until bubbles appear.  It should be golden brown.  Flip over and cook another few minutes until browned on the other side too.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Makes about 16-12 small pancakes.

NOTES: We used Vitasoy chocolate milk.  It is not overly sweet.  Either were the pancakes but were great with maple syrup and strawberries.  Next time I might add some walnuts as well.  I misread my recipe I adapted this from and used 1 1/2 tsp baking powder rather than 1 1/2 tbsp but it seemed nice and fluffy.  The pancakes were a bit firm around the edges but lovely and soft once cooled.  If you needed something to take to someone's house they would be a fine offering with a lick of butter/margarine and jam, if made on the same day and kept small like pikelets.

On the Stereo:
Fin de Siecle: The Divine Comedy
This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in September 2018.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2018 Vegan MoFo posts. (I had plans this week to have Out of the Kitchen as the theme but with the amount of energy I have had this week I am just pleased to post anything!)

Wednesday 26 September 2018

University of Melbourne Farmers Market: Vegan Lunches

It's seems everyone is doing it these days!  A few years back the University of Melbourne started a Farmers Market on the Union Lawn (that I have always known as the Concrete Lawns but may years before my time used to be a recreational lake).  It is only open during semester and is very popular and busy with students queuing for lunch.  There are lots of vegan options and I will share a few today.

The University of Melbourne can be quite tricky to navigate as it is a rabbit warren of buildings.  The Farmers Market is held between the Union Building and the fairly recently built Melbourne School of Design.  The history of the facade on the MSD is quite interesting.

It was originally part of the Bank of New South Wales (that became the Westpac Bank) in 1856 by Joseph Reed and based on St Mark's Library in Venice.  When the building was demolished in 1932, the facade was donated to the University and removed by the infamous Whelan the Wrecker.  I came by a few years back to see the Commerce Building behind it was demolished.  The bank facade was propped up waiting for the MSD to be built behind it.  To see what it used to look like, check out the photos in this university lunches post.  And speaking of lunches, let's talk about them.

I have been a fan of Gorgeous George's kombucha for a while so I couldn't wait to try his vegan poke bowl with tempeh.  Actually it does not have to come with tempeh but it is quite unusual to find tempeh in such dishes when out and about that I was quite excited.  If anything, there is too much choice here but this was a lovely healthy lunch.  From memory I had rice, chickpeas, kimchi, seeds, tomato, kale, tempeh, roast pumpkin and satay dressing.  And if you are anywhere near his stall, I highly recommend a bottle of kombucha.  We love the cherry pom.

I was also rather taken with the Himalayan Tibetan Tent's momos.  These dumplings have a lovely thick dough with a cabbage and - I think - tofu filling.  I had the 2 momos with salad and dipping sauce ($5).  The coleslaw had a vinaigrette dressing.  The dipping sauce I chose was the less spicy and still quite spicy for me.  Since then I have had the momos with soy sauce at the local farmers market.  They are such great comfort food I have found it hard to try different lunches.

I tried the Bao for something different.  It was possibly my first go at cooked daikon.  It is not high of my list of vegetables but was quite nice.  I really liked the fluffy airy bun but found the sauce quite messy.  When I asked for a vegan bao I was told they would do it without the mayonnaise.  This was another cheap meal but not terribly filling.

I quite like the juice place.  Sadly its rosti are not vegan (they include egg) but the mega samosa can be served with just the tomato sauce and not the yoghurt sauce.

I really enjoyed the crispy mega samosa though I was a bit less keen on the tomato sauce.  Though they are much bigger than a regular samosa, they are not a huge meal.  I had it with a Healthy Juice - carrot, apple, orange, beetroot and ginger.  It completed the meal nicely.

One of the ever popular places to eat is Shuki and Louisa (who run Very Good Falafel in Sydney Road).  Their falafel is amazing.  Crunchy on the outside and green with enough texture inside not to collapse into mush.  I managed to find a break from the queues and order one of their delicious falafels in pita bread which are all vegan. 

The pita bread is soft and pillowy, there are lots of vegies and hummus.  And it only costs $9.  I can see why their falafel is so popular.

You might have to wait a bit for your falafel.  If you do, you can watch the rhythm and drama of the falafels being made, you can watch all the people at the market or you can just admire the surrounding buildings such as the elegant 1930s chemistry building, recently seen in the Jack Irish tv series. You can also enjoy some music from the buskers at the market.

I didn't get as much time as I would like to try everything.  I can sing the praises of 5 and Dime Bagels.  I recently had one of their bagels elsewhere with vegan cream cheese that was delicious.  I meant to check if the thai curry was vegan or if you could adapt the korean plate.  And if you don't have time to queue for Shuki and Louisa, there are a few others places selling falafel.

Once you have your fill of savoury food, on a sunny day it is fun to sit in the sun and enjoy an ice cream from Ice Cream Social's very retro van.  This is the surest way to have your manager walk past!

While they are not a vegan company, they seem to have a vegan ice cream flavour most weeks.  I tried a chocolate ice cream the other day.  It was more on the sorbet end of the ice cream spectrum but a nice end to my lunch.

If you are on the run and need to take away I can highly recommend the fruit buns for Sourdough Kitchen.  They are so fresh and soft that it is hard to keep one in a paper bag long.  I also recommend Cocoa Rhapsody who have some amazingly delicious vegan chocolate.

And you might have noticed I am not quite managed to get the reuseable plates that have been introduced at the market recently.  Some days I am not quick enough to ask a stallholder for a plate but I will try in future.  It is great to see the market trying to be more sustainable.  Just another reason to visit the market.

The University of Melbourne Farmers Market  also had a few stalls selling fruit and vegetables but it more geared towards lunches than groceries compared to other farmers markets that I visit.

University of Melbourne Farmers Market
Union Lawn, Union Rd, near the corner of Swanston Street and Tin Alley
The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010
Wednesdays during semester - 10:30 am - 2:30 pm
Find it on Melbourne Farmers Markets website
This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in September 2018.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2018 Vegan MoFo posts.

Monday 24 September 2018

Handsome Her, vegan cafe, Brunswick

The was a buzz of excitement when Handsome Her opened last year.  It was the ultimate hipster Brunswick cafe.  They charged a 15% surcharge for men to reflect the gender wage gap and this payment goes to a charity.  Their meals were named after prominent women and were vegan and colourful.  And there was a wall of secondhand ceramic mugs for takeaway coffee. 

As always, it took me a while to get there.  I finally visited in November last year with Faye of Veganopoulous (follow this link for her write up). 

There was so much I wanted to try but we both chose one of the specials: The Kelis - a pulled jackfruit burger with smoky barbecue sauce, rainbow slaw, mayo, avocado, onion rings, grilled pineapple on a charcoal bun ($21).  I just don't have enough charcoal buns in my life.  And those onion rings on top were pretty cool too!

We enjoyed our burgers.  The pulled jackfruit was pretty saucy but I am a big fan of pineapple in savoury food so this was a winner for me.  Then we decided to go for dessert.  Faye had a peanut butter brownie and I had the peanut butter chocolate cake pop.  Rich but good.

The next time I was there was last month with my 9 year old Sylvia.  We sat in the window and ordered a home made lemonade and a kombucha.  They gave me a taste of the kombucha which wasn't that fizzy.  I like fizz so I went for the lemonade.  It was excellent and lemony.  With a bamboo straw.  We talked about politically correct cafes and had fun taking photos so the picture on the wall looked like it was drinking.

Sylvia was pleased with the kids menu.  There are very few kids menus that appeal to her.  This one hit the spot.  I loved the names of the dishes: I' don't know, I don't care and I'm not hungry.

Sylvia chose the crispy tofu bites and wedges and the pancakes.  The tofu bites were tofu in batter and most excellent.  Sylvia loved them.  In fact after toying with her pancakes she ordered another serve.  The only part of the dish that wasn't quite right was the seeds in the sauce.

Meanwhile I had the Bell Hooks ($18): Tofu benedict with home made organic tofu, kale, fresh tomato, pickled cabbage and carrot, smoky shredded tofu bacon and home made beetroot hollandaise sauce on two green pea fritters.  I chose it because I have never liked egg and never eaten egg benedict.  I am not sure this has much resemblance.  However it was a nice vegetable packed lunch.
I was really pleased they had coconut bacon.  I had always loved this at the Glass Den but they don't do it any more.  I had a chat to the owner/manager who said she used to own the Glass Den but her and her partner had gone their separate ways.  The creativity and beauty of the Glass Den meals is present here at Handsome Her.

However I was quite taken aback by the kids chocolate pancake with ice cream.  This was a rather fancy version of a chocolate pancake with ice cream.  It had a scoop of mango ice cream, a slick of chocolate cream with mango curd please some strawberries and blueberries.  Sylvia ate the ice cream happily but left me the pancake and other accompaniments.  It was lovely but a bit fussy for kids.

However I'd love to try other dishes (the breakfast burger, the big breakfast and the Spanish brown rice) and it is great to have a place where Sylvia can find tofu nuggets to please her so I hope we will be back soon.

Handsome Her
206 Sydney Road, Brunswick 3056
Open Mon-Fri 9.30am - 4pm, Sat-Sun 9am - 4pm

Handsome Her Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in September 2018.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2018 Vegan MoFo posts.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Apple turnovers and weekend colour!

Today I bring you some apple turnovers that were simple and delicious but not terribly colourful.  So to make amends I bring you some photos from a colourful weekend.

We were busy with Coburg Farmers Market and then Coburg Carnivale.  Above in the Coles Book Arcade from the Imaginarium tour that we went on.  It was quirky and fun to wander through the library with spoken word on headphones describing the wonders of Coles Book Aracde while entertained by some wonderful characters.

Sylvia and I went to the Gertrude Street Projection Festival in full expectation of amazing light projections on towerblocks but found it was the mini festival so more esoteric and quirky light snows on a smaller scale.  I liked the man with the sheet hung on play equipment in the park, a torch and some transparencies of local scenes.  Best perhaps were the refraction glasses that made light into rainbows.  Above is what the towerblocks look like at night through the glasses!

The school holidays start next week but I am busy at work with an event so I took Sylvia to my mum's for a few nights and then prepared for the event with the organisers and a vegan mojito at Father's Office.

But I was really here to tell you about apples!  Occasionally when we have too many apples I stew them.  It amazing how an old apple can taste awful when raw but great when stewed.  I just peel them, slice them and then bring to the boil with a bit of water, a spoon or two of sugar and perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice.  I simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until apples are soft.  Sometimes I do longer if I want it more mushy.

On a baking afternoon recently I stewed apples and baked them inside a few sheets of puff pastry that was lurking in the freezer.  Pampass light puff pastry is one of those ninja vegan products that make vegan baking that bit easier.  When I picked up Sylvia at school to take her to swimming, I handed her a warm apple turnover.  I think she might have swooned with happiness.  Now she keeps asking to make them again.  And I am happy that they are so easy that I can see them in our future.  Soon.

More vegan apple desserts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apple and mincemeat crumble (v)
Apple and pumpkin pastries with spiced red wine (v)
Apple rose tarts (v)
Apple sponge (pudding) (v) 
Rhubarb, cranberry and apple crumble (v)

Apple Turnovers

stewed apple
pre-rolled puff pastry squares
soy milk
raw sugar

Cut pastry into four squares.  Spoon stewed apple onto half the pastry, leaving a little space around it to press the pastry together.  Brush the edges with soy milk.  Fold the pastry over to make a rectangle (or a triangle if you prefer).  Use a fork to press around the edges to make a nice pattern and help the pastry stick together.  Brush tops with soy milk and sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake for 20 minutes at 220 C until golden brown.  Can be eaten at room temperature or reheated.

On the Stereo:
Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg 
This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) in September 2018.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more of my 2018 Vegan MoFo posts.