Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Animal Activist Forum 2016 Day 1

This weekend just gone, I attended the annual Animal Activist Forum. This was my second time attending. Last year I visited Melbourne for it, but this year it was at the Gold Coast. This meant that I could drive from home each day to attend. I'm going to go through the talks that I went through, as well as the food (it was all provided!). CW: There will be some references to some distressing things, and be careful before clicking on any links. There were three talks going on at a time, so I had to pick carefully between some great speakers. I'm splitting this into two posts, though there aren't as many food photos as usual.

But to start off, some cupcakes! This beautiful array of cupcakes were available for purchase during the day, for if you needed a sugar hit. I didn't have one, but they look gorgeous.

Cupcakes at Animal Activist Forum

The first talk I attended was by Michael Webermann from FARM, speaking via Skype, on 'Moving the masses towards compassionate vegan eating'. This was a great talk (and included a surprise visit from his puppy), which included some great information on how to best attract new vegans and also how to prevent recidivism.

Then it was time for morning tea! The forum had a few sponsors providing food for us. Morning tea included Fry's nuggets, lots of fresh fruit, doughnut holes, dried fruit, soy crisps and gingernuts! Excuse the reaching hands in the first photo, vegans be hungry!

Fry's and Fruit Morning Tea at Animal Activist Forum

Morning Tea at Animal Activist Forum

My next talk was by political scientist and academic Peter Chen, and was called 'Lessons from history for animal activisits'. Peter was a very entertaining and engaging speaker. I discovered that pre-WW1, Australia had a burgeoning vegetarian and animal rights scene, that just vanished. He also discussed different campaigns from the past, and how lessons learned can inform future campaigns.

Then it was on to Chris Delforce from Aussie Farms (CW, Aussie Farms has disturbing videos). Chris is responsible for a huge amount of undercover footage coming to light of the horrific treatment that goes on in piggeries, hatcheries and other 'production animal' places. His talk was 'An update on the Aussie Farms initiative: Combating the myth that it doesn't happen here'. Too often Australians dismiss vegan concerns with 'that doesn't happen here', but the footage that Chris has managed to obtain proves that it does. He also has put together the Thousand Eyes video (CW: graphic images in video), that is used as a pay-per-view initiative all over Australia.

I have to say, I wasn't feeling too hungry after the footage in his talk. But lunch was provided, and with only 45 minutes for break it was eaten quickly! Lunch was provided by The Cardamom Pod. It included a kofta ball, some curry and rice, and a tofu and spinach salad. The curry was a bit on the spicy side, so thankfully they had soy milk out on the tea and coffee stations to help cool us down!

Cardamom Pod Lunch at Animal Activist Forum

The first talk after lunch was 'David vs. Goliath: The story of SAFE's campaign against NZ's sacred cow of dairy' by Mandy Carter (from SAFE). I didn't realise that dairy was such a major industry in New Zealand, nor that they export their milk all over the world. The campaign run by SAFE (including undercover footage collected by Farm Watch) has threatened the industry so much that they are trying to revoke their charity status.

The next talk was titled 'Sustainable Activism: Developing resilience of heart and mind (meditation for vegan activists)', by Tamasin Ramsay. Self care and prevention of burn out is so important in the activist community, so I was really hoping that this would be a helpful talk. Unfortunately it was mostly a tale about Tamasin's life, which was interesting but not really practical. It did end with a short meditation.

Afternoon tea was a selection of sweet things! More doughnut holes, chocolate chip cookies and Leda's choculence (aka vegan Tim Tams). Nothing like an afternoon sugar rush!

Afternoon Tea at Animal Activist Forum

The final talk of the day that I went to was by Anna Ludvik and called 'Domestic violence and animal abuse - International perspectives and intersectionality'. Anna is the founder of Lucy's Project, a foundation that aims to help human and animal victims of domestic violence by encouraging safe shelters for both people and animals. Keeping families together, and hopefully preventing people from feeling like they cannot leave an abusive situation because there is nowhere safe for their animals.

The first day was harrowing, though very thought provoking. To sustain me on the drive to Brisbane, I stopped by Kuan Yin Tea House in Southport and picked up a Taro Soy Milk Bubble Tea... aka cookie drink!

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


Sahara spent all evening yesterday tucked up in the pink fluffy bed. I had to go and get her out of it to take her up to proper bed!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Eating Out: Vegerama West End

I spent this weekend just gone at The Animal Activist Forum, and will be doing a write up about that (including food) shortly, I just don't have my notes with me at the moment. It was a pretty intense and heavy going weekend, but thankfully I was able to balance it out by spending a lovely post-forum day with my friend, eating all over Brisbane. But more on all of that in a later post. For now, let's get back to Leigh and J's visit!

I have actually skipped over where we went for our Sunday dinner, but I am saving that for a VeganMoFo post! On Monday, the final day of their visit, we went to Vegerama in West End before I dropped them off at the airport. You can see my previous posts about Vegerama here.

We shared some starters, including the Raw Tasting Plate ($15), which had nut cheese, chipotle salsa, crispy kale chips, seeded crackers, raw sour cream and a side salad. We were a little underwhelmed. We all enjoyed the kale chips, and I enjoyed the crackers and the side salad. The raw sour cream basically just tastes like coconut fat and must be avoided at all costs. The nut cheese was tasty, but mostly tasted like walnuts.

Raw Tasting Plate at Vege Rama West End

We were much happier with out choice from the specials board, the vegan Arancini. These rice was mixed in with veggies and cheese, and they were hot and crisp.

Arancini Special at Vege Rama West End

I decided to try the Vege Burger ($17), which had a black bean patty, kipfler fries, saffron mustard aioli and beetroot relish. Sadly they were out of kifler potatoes, so replaced then with sweet potato. I love sweet potato, but they made them taste really oily. They also had inexplicably put sweet chili sauce on the burger, which made it a bit too spicy for my preference, and also was an odd choice flavour-wise.

Vege Burger at Vege Rama West End

I love silly juices, and this time grabbed the Iron Enhancer ($8: Kale, spinach, kiwi, parsley, spirulina, blueberries), which was actually pretty nice. You can see Leigh's Bloody Mary in the background, which she said was not good and she didn't finish (sorry, I can't remember the exact issue with it).

Iron Booster Juice and Bloody Mary at Vege Rama West End

J got the Linguine with radicchio, shiitake & enoki mushrooms, vine ripened truss tomatoes and nut parmesan ($17), which was enjoyed. And Leigh got the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with king brown mushrooms, sugar snap peas, cold press olive oil and chive cream ($17.50). They had cooked the mushrooms much better than the time I had it!

Linguine at Vege Rama West End

Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Vege Rama West End

We also picked out a chocolate cookie cake from the counter, which wasn't the greatest. The taste was OK, but the texture was so dry. It improved greatly after a couple of days in the freezer to allow the cookie layers to soften up!

Cookie Nut Cake at Vege Rama West End

Vegerama West End - Shop 2a 220 Melbourne St, West End, QLD - 07 3255 3388

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post


This is Unis, and her blurry face. She gives amazingly good snuggles, and loves to bop you all over with her head while you lie on the ground with her!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Recipe Round-Up: Appetite For Reduction

This post marks the 500th post for this blog! Mind you, this is over eight years... some years have been more productive than others! But the last couple of years I have been trying to post more consistently. Anyway, thank you to everyone who takes the time to read and comment on my ramblings here, it means a lot! I am so grateful for all the wonderful blogging friends I have made throughout the years as well!

On this special numbered post... a recipe round up! And one of my favourites as well. Appetite for Reduction, by the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz, is a glorious cookbook. While the recipes are all lower in fat compared to Isa's other cookbooks, they are bursting with amazing flavour. You can see what else I have made from this book here.

Pasta de los Angeles and Chili-Lime Rubbed Tofu: I always enjoy angel hair pasta when I have it! I have never been able to find wholewheat angel hair, so it is regular wheat for me (but that is fine). The pasta is tossed with shallot, garlic, coriander, tomatoes, lime, black beans and spinach. Although the beans make it a full enough meal, it is suggested to pair it with the Chili-Lime Rubbed Tofu. To make this less spicy for me, I used paprika with a bit of chilli added, and I only used half the rub ingredients for 250g of tofu.
Rating: Pasta :), Tofu :)

Pasta de los Angeles; Chilli-Line Rubbed Tofu

Bhutanese Pineapple Rice, Green Beans with Thai Basil, and Red Thai Tofu: This is a great combination! I had been waiting to use my red rice for something, and this was perfect. For the rice, I used half the amount of red curry paste (to keep it mild). This dish goes nice and crunchy on the bottom, and was pretty delicious with the pineapple all through it! The green beans were amazing! They went crisp and the flavour was just so delicious (though so simple). The tofu was also fantastic! Again, I used half the amount of curry paste, and I just left out the red capsicum that was meant to be in it. Such a wonderful dinner!
Rating: Rice :), Beans :D, Tofu :D

Bhutanese Pineapple Rice; Green Beans with Thai Basil; Red Thai Tofu

Mac & Trees, Cool Slaw, and Buffalo Tempeh: Mac and Trees is mac and cheese with broccoli. It is nice, but the cheese sauce in this book is not the best (I far prefer cashew based sauces to roux-based sauces). Still it is a good mac recipe and makes four big servings. For the tempeh, I cooled it down by combining V8 juice with the Frank's hot sauce to mellow it out. It was still just a bit too spicy, so next time I must increase the V8. This is the way I make buffalo sauce recipes mild (though you could always ditch the buffalo all together for BBQ sauce). The Cool Slaw also helps bring the heat down, with a delicious cashew based dressing. I replaced the chopped onion in here with onion powder. The dressing calls for 5 tsp of apple cider vinegar, and at first the vinegar taste was a bit too strong. But it mellows with time.
Rating: Mac :), Tempeh :), Slaw :)

Mac & Trees; Cool Slaw; Buffalo Tempeh

Spicy Marinara Sauce: The book contains a number of variations on a marinara sauce. The spicy one is just the regular recipe chili flakes added. I served it with some spinach linguine, and some tofu meat balls.
Rating: :)

Spicy Marinara

Lentil Bolognese: I love red lentil pasta sauces. This cooks up so quickly, and you add the cooked lentils into the marinara sauce. It is very saucy, and made a very good coating for my pasta.
Rating: :)

Lentil Bolognese

Eggplant Marinara: For this one, you saute the eggplant first and then add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Lovely with some white beans added as well to bulk it out.
Rating: :)

Eggplant Marinara

Marinara with Peas: This blog post is the marinara edition! Heh. In this one, you just add peas to the marinara recipe! I served it mixed through cooked penne with some kidney beans.
Rating: :)

Marinara with Peas

Tortilla Soup: Moving on to the soup chapter! Tortilla soup isn't something that I am used to, but it is kind of fun! In this one I left out all the chiles and capsicum, which was fine. It is also full of beans, corn and coriander, so I wasn't missing out on flavour!
Rating: :)

Tortilla Soup

Cauliflower Pesto Soup: This is a lovely soup! Basil and cauliflower give a wonderful pesto flavour, which is highlighted by the toasted pine nuts on top (these are optional, but do it). Serve this with a grilled cheese sandwich!
Rating: :)

Cauliflower Pesto Soup

Yam and Black Bean Soup with Orange and Cilantro: This is a really fun soup, the orange and yam (I used sweet potatoes) make it a little bit sweet, and it is also packed full of black beans, coriander and tomatoes.
Rating: :)

Yam & Black Bean Soup with Orange & Cilantro

Cute Kitty Photos of the Post

Dim Sim and Sahara

And of course, my reasons for everything! This photo was taken this morning. Sahara had found the tiny sunny corner on the cushion, which meant Dim Sim had to walk right by her to get to her sunny spot on the window sill. As you can see, Dim Sim is not impressed. My loves!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Eating Out: Mandala Organic Arts Cafe and All-Time Coffee Co Doughnuts

After our big day of eating many things, we decided that the best way to follow that up the next day was with more eating!

We headed to the Gold Coast to sample some of the delights down there. Normally, I head straight for yum cha. However J is not the biggest fan of yum cha (I know, I am shocked). Instead we went to Mandala Organic Arts Cafe. I'd actually been keen to try out some of their brunch options for a while, but I kept on getting distracted by yum cha. But it is good to try out some other places every once and a while!

Because it was brunch time, we all had brunch things! J had the Tofu Omelet ($16), and Leigh had the Brunch Burger ($14). I chose the Benedict ($16), which had mushrooms, spinach, coconut bacon and hollandaise. It was nice!

Tofu Omelet at Mandala

Breakfast Burger at Mandala

Benedict at Mandala

Mandala is well known for their pizzas, so we ordered a small Margherita ($16) to share. Yum.

Margherita Pizza at Mandala

We had also pre-ordered some doughnuts from All Time Coffee Co to take back with us. We got an assortment of flavours, but my favourite is the jam and then the Notella (both pictured here).

Notella and Jam Doughnut from All Time Coffee Co

Afterwards, we headed back to Brisbane via Daily Hill State Forest to see if we could find some wildlife for J. While Daisy Hill does have a Koala Centre, we are not about seeing animals in captivity. We took one of their walks to see if we could see any furry friends out and about. It wasn't looking promising, but right as we got to the end of the walk we saw two cute wallabies! One was shy and hopped off behind some bushes, but the other was quite brave. We didn't try to pat them, of course, but just enjoyed as they came a little closer doing their Wallaby things.


After all that excitement, it was back to Brisbane to spend the afternoon hugging my cats before thinking about dinner.

Mandala Organic Arts Cafe - 2558 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach, QLD - (07) 5679 1762

All Time Coffee Co - 1/2478 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach, QLD

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Dim Sim Toes

Dim Sim has black beans for toes!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Recipe Round-Up: American Vegan Kitchen

American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes is a fun book full of delicious, diner food classics. Growing up in Australia, our version of diner food was very different to America's diner food. And to be honest, I think that America has us beat! One of my favourite places to eat when I was younger and still a pregan was an American-style diner at a shopping center near us. I was very sad when it closed. This book is even better, it has so many more delicious treats than anything I experienced. As well as the individual recipes, Tamasin also includes a list of 'Blue Plate Specials', where you combine a few recipes to create a fun and complete diner meal.

Blue Plate Special: Tuna-Free Noodle Casserole; Bistro Broccolini: Chickpeas take the place of tuna in this yummy casserole, that also has a lovely cashew-artichoke sauce. I used fettuccine for my noodles, left out the capsicum, and added in extra leek and mushrooms. The broccolini was simply done, with pine nuts, garlic and lemon.
Rating: Casserole :D, Broccolini :)

Blue Plate Special: Tuna-Free Noodle Casserole; Bistro Broccolini

Blue Plate Special: Seitan Goulash with Kraut; Rosemary Carrots; Parsleyed Noodles: I had some sour cream that I needed to use up, and goulash was just the ticket. I did decrease the sauerkraut from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups, as my dad isn't a fan of too much kraut. I also left out the capsicum. Other vegetables included celery, mushrooms and carrots. Yum! It also has beer in it, I used Coopers Pale Ale. For the noodles, I just made a half batch (using 250g instead of 1lb). They have vegan butter and parsley mixed through. The carrots are very quick and simple, with a tasty taste. I used fresh rosemary, but a whole teaspoon instead of just half because I like rosemary.
Rating: Goulash :), Noodles :), Carrots :)

Seitan Goulash with Kraut; Rosemary Carrots; Parsleyed Noodles

Blue Plate Special: Spaghetti Pie with Arrabbiata Sauce; Roasted Broccoli and Carrots: The spaghetti pie recipe was super saucy, I ended up with sauce leftover... it wouldn't all fit in the baking pan! But that is OK, because it is a tasty sauce and you can freeze it for later. The pie was tasty, with a tomatoey TVP sauce and a yummy topping of blended tofu, sour cream, cream cheese, lemon, nooch and others. I also topped it with the optional grated vegan cheese. The vegetable side was meant to be broccoli and capsicum, but I roasted carrots instead of the devil vegetables.
Rating: Spaghetti Pie :), Roasted Broccoli and Carrots :)

Blue Plate Special: Spaghetti Pie with Arrabbiata Sauce; Roasted Broccoli and Carrots

Noodle Omelet: This was tasty, though I managed to burn my hand making it. Ouch! Tofu and chickpeas are blended up with seasonings and then poured over cooked angel hair pasta to make a thick omelet. I used a small saute pan to cook it in, and it took a little while given the thickness to cook through. It was still a bit mushy in the middle, but warm. I forgot to put the parsley in, so mine isn't as pretty as it could be. It also keeps really well, and then cuts up nicely into wedges.
Rating: :)

Noodle Omelet

City Skillet: Roasted potatoes, mushrooms and tofu are the base for this tasty fry-up. I used extra mushrooms because I had them and mushrooms are great. I would suggest cooking the tofu first to get it nicely seared, then putting it aside until it is called for later in the recipe. The sauce is meant to be a blended capsicum sauce, but I just skipped that step and used good old ketchup.
Rating: :)

City Skillet

'Big Soup' Minestrone: I used the white bean option in place of tempeh here, as my dad prefers beans. I also couldn't find vegan lemon pepper (why do people put milk products in it?), so I used some lemon juice and black pepper. This is a hot and satisfying soup for cold weather, with vegetables and pasta and beans. Served with a side salad and some crusty bread.
Rating: :)

'Big Soup' Minestrone

No-Tuna Melt Paninis: This uses soy curls, instead of the regular tuna stand ins, which gives it quite a tuna-like texture. I really enjoyed this tuna salad mix, both on the sandwich or on its own. The sandwiches are also spread with some delicious cheezy mayo, and are layered with a slice of tomato. I used the panini press to cook these, rather than buttering them and cooking in a skillet.
Rating: :)

No-Tuna Melt Paninis

Tempeh Stroganoff-Stuffed Potatoes: The tempeh is roasted before being added to the other stuffing ingredients, but I found that I needed to increase both the time and the temperature to get the tempeh to absorb all of its roasting broth. This was a very satisfying meal!
Rating :)

Tempeh Stroganoff-Stuffed Potatoes

Italian Big Bowl: This pasta is full of garlic, sausage, tomatoes, capers and olives. I used some of the fancy Sanitarium/Vegie Delights sausages (these aren't the greatest sausages). I decreased the pasta from 1lb to 250g, which gave me 4 smallish serves.
Rating: :)

Italian Big Bowl

Italian-Style Seitan with Linguine: Instead of making seitan for this, I used a package of Fry's Chick'n-Style strips (the old variety). The pasta (I used 12oz instead of 1lb) is tossed with seitan, garlic, mushrooms, peas (standing in for capsicum), spinach and has a white wine and lemon sauce. I would have liked more lemon in the sauce!
Rating: :)

Italian-Style Seitan with Linguine

Cute Kitty Photos of the Post

Sahara Toes

It is well known that cats have toes like beans (thanks Pusheen), and here is Sahara demonstrating her little pink toe beans.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Eating Out: Boundary Street Markets and The Green Edge

After our lunch at Loving Hut, the three of us headed into South Bank for a wander around (and I taught J how to play Pokemon Go, and Leigh then started playing as well, and then we all played). After working off our lunch, we were ready for some early evening dessert before dinner! We headed into the Boundary Street Markets for ice cream.

I have mentioned I Should Coco before, this trip was actually my maiden voyage. Even though their soft serve is a coconut base, it is not a gross make me sick coconut base. It is great! I chose the Super Dooper in a cone, which had maple syrup, seed mix and fresh fruits. Leigh got the Cherry Merry in a cup (chocolate sauce, sour cherries, coconut), and J got the Salted Caramel Pretzel in a cup.

Super Dooper Cone from I Should Coco at Boundary St Markets

Cherry Merry Sundae and Caramel Pretzel Sundae from I Should Coco at Boundary St Markets

There are quite a few stalls selling other vegan food options there (I am actually going back tonight, and will have a chance to report more fully!), though we had dinner plans elsewhere. We did decide to pick up some BBQ seitan skewers from a grill stall there. Unfortunately I can't remember the name, but there was only one there doing it. Avoid it at all costs. The sauce was lovely, but it was basically raw seitan dough thrown on a grill and slightly heated. So gross. We just ended licking off the sauce.

Icky Skewer

For the main event, we went to The Green Edge for dinner. To be honest, I don't eat at The Green Edge very often because I find the food to be quite expensive and often just OK. But J was keen to try their famous Epic Burger (all the different proteins on a burger, served on a moat of fries). Leigh got the Satay Tofu burger (I used to love this when they first started making it, but they have changed it now and it isn't as good), and I got the Meatball Sub (which is one of my preferred options from there... I just wish the bread was a bit better). We had also ordered some garlic bread, but when it came out they had accidentally drizzled it with agave nectar rather than white balsamic reduction, so it got sent back. Sorry for the crappy lighting in the photos!

Epic Burger from The Green Edge

Satay Tofu Burger from The Green Edge

Meatball Sub from The Green Edge

We had vague plans that we might go to the new vegan bakehouse for dessert, but we were all so full! (Don't worry, I have since been there many times and I have a blog post about it coming up). Instead I dropped them back at their hotel and headed home to rub my belly, as we had more eating adventures planned for the next day!

The Green Edge - 229 Lutwyche Rd, Windsor, Brisbane, QLD - (07) 3861 1132

Cute Kitty Photo of the Post

Sahara steels my doona

Sahara loves it when it is sheet washing day, because it means that my doona gets thrown on the floor at the foot of my bed. She loves to snooze on it down there!