Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Risotto hell.

Somebody please put an end to my misery. Why the fuck can't I make risotto?

3rd attempt last night to cook it and it still takes me twice the time (about an hour at least) for the rice to cook, and twice the stock as the recipe says.

After hours slaving over the stove last night I was THIS CLOSE to saying "FUCK IT THEN!!! I didn't want to eat you anyway!" and tipping it straight in the bin.

Instead I ate it crunchy and gluey and I can't bear to look at the leftovers in the fridge.

My stock is hot, ladleful at a time, stirring heaps, correct rice...

What am I doing wrong?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Atomica and vegan love

Did you see that post on Eat More Vegies about shoddy customer service?

It reminded me that I did have a lovely experience at Atomica that I better tell everyone because this particular nicety never happens!

Aside from the fact that their coffee rules, they had a few yummy veganiseable options on the menu for brekkie - and I opted for the mushrooms on sourdough toast, minus the feta and cooked without butter.

Brace yourself.

Upon serving me, the waitress told me she had taken the feta off the price of my meal. Voluntarily!

Amazing. After getting used to the fact that you always pay the same price no matter what you remove from the dish, and quite often then pay more on top to replace it with something veg I fell a little bit in love with her.

Yeah, they don't have a huge selection of vegan options, but if that extra bit of attention isn't good vegan-friendly service, I don't know what is!

268 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Popped in for my first meal at Cavallero last night. Having checked the breakfast menu before and finding it free of vegan options I have never really made it into the place despite living in Collingwood for 18 months.

Anyway, I had an idea it was a bit too cool for school. But I had no idea it was so pricey. Yeah it's nice, but, well, isn't it really just another cafe/bar/restaurant on Smith St with nothing, personally, that elevates it much beyond that...? To the point of spending $108 on a small veggie dinner for two?

My date and I shared some olives to start, followed by her main of overly salty Zucchini fritters with cavolo nero and something cheesey (goats cheese?), and my main of mushroom, leek and watercress soup which was delicious and the only vegan main available. A side of roast potatoes, and 3 glasses of red (we couldn't afford the cheapest bottle at $42!) brought the bill to $80! Our two average cocktails brought the bill to $108.

Is it me or is that pretty bloody obscene? Shared olives, two pretty simple veggie dishes and a side of potatoes, no desserts - which part of those ingredients or techniques cost so much?

Can you tell the gratuitous pricing irked me?

That aside, the food was fine, the wine was fine, the lighting and ambience fine, service fine... but in Melbourne there is a glut of places to go that are more than reasonably priced and better than fine.

300 Smith St
Collingwood VIC 3066

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nutritional Yeast, you rule.

I love this stuff - this must be my one 'freaky vegan' staple that I always keep a few packets of in my pantry.

For those not in the know: Nutritional yeast (also called Savoury yeast flakes, or 'nooch') is deactivated yeast flakes - a great source of B complex vitamins and complete protein. Many are fortified with Vitamin B12 (produced by bacteria just as the B12 in meat and dairy is) and you only need around a tablespoon or two to get a full whack of vitamins.

I only discovered yeast flakes when trying out Vegan Dad's Mac N Cheese recipe. And since then I have found it is awesome in adding a little cheesy creamy flavour to so many things. And then there's the 'superfood' health benefits to boot!

Also, being low on sodium I find it a great way to add a little more flavour without using salt. And, in my opinion at least, I find the flavour pretty mild - I was hesitant at first thinking it would be as strong as salt, herbs or spices where you would never add half a cup of it to your cooking. Being so mild I find I don't have to measure it or worry about how much I'm adding - I have never eaten anything where I thought I have overdone it.

I'm pretty generous with adding it to my cooking, adding anywhere from a tablespoon to half a cup of it to things like cheesy or tomatoey pasta sauces, soups, mashed potatoes, gravy, pizza topping, tofu scramble, marinades, french toast.. basically my rule of thumb is if cheese or salt would taste good in it, so would this.

I'm always interested to see what other things nutritional yeast is great in!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dried bean curd knots

Do you think that sounds vile and vomitous to non-veg*ns?  I thought it sounded fascinating and delicious until I typed it.

Anyway, I'm getting my mitts on some from the Asian grocer on Brunswick St, Fitzroy. From what I hear, you soak them for 20mins in stock then cook 'em up as a meat substitute, maybe in a stirfry or curry. Ideas??

BUT that's not the exciting thing - apparently they have that yummy stringy faux chicken texture you get in restaurants and never at supermarkets as they are made of lots of thin layers of beancurd skin.

Healthy people: these are meant to be not nearly as processed as other faux meaty things made from soy, woo!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meat & Depression?

Interesting study linking vegetarian diets to better mood.

Quoted from PCRM:

Vegetarians have lower instances of depression, according to a new study in Nutrition Journal. Researchers looked at 60 vegetarians and 78 meat-eaters in the southwestern United States and found that vegetarians scored significantly better on standardized mood tests. The mood tests measured depression, anxiety, and stress and were compared to food frequency questionnaires. The vegetarians consumed less eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid—all animal sources of omega-6 fatty acids—but reported higher mean intakes of plant sources of omega-6 and omega-3.

Who knows whether these claims are strictly accurate - I so often find there's some sort of bias involved or that it's not statistically viable so I'm a bit sceptical of these things now.

But if it is true WOOHOO! (that's my vegan good cheer speaking)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Food Inc. aka Doom & Gloom

I checked this out last night on my free tickets from Animals Australia (thanks!) and whilst there were lots of things I already knew I still found it fascinating viewing.

It was not all meat and slaughterhouses (which really would have been masochistic self flagellation for me to go watch for 1.5hrs) but had enough to make my non-veg brother realise it really isn't like the happy mini farm we grew up on anymore. And to make my already clued up vegetarian friend discover things like downer cows.

The stuff I didn't already know was equally heartbreaking:
  • the poor minorities who spend so much on drugs to manage their diabetes they can't actually afford food that doesn't cause diabetes,
  • Veggie Libel Laws mean that you can be sued by a multinational megacorporation for calling for an enquiry or criticising their food product, even if it kills a child, but the 'Cheeseburger' Bill means consumers cannot sue producers for health problems
  • that just a handful of megacorporations literally control all the food in America, and that in so many cases the industry IS the government
  • that the meat processors have buses set up specifically to bring illegal workers from Mexico to their processing plants,  
  • that Monsanto has patented GMO soybeans meaning farmers are no longer allowed to save seeds to plant again next year - they must continue to purchase from Monsanto or they get sued for infringing copyright
  • the poor farmers who get sued by Monsanto because some of Monsanto's GMO plants have contaminated their crops and they didn't pay Monsanto for them, 
  • the government subsidies that ensure fast food is cheaper than fresh food, 
  • that 70% of food in the US contains GMO ingredients and it does not have to be labelled, 
  • that cloned meat doesn't have to be labelled, 
  • that FDA and USDA aren't allowed to shut down any meat processors no matter how many times they produce contaminated meat that kill people, 
  • 5 billion other horrible things that display industries' contempt for consumers

When we walked home afterwards there were comments that thankfully it's not like that in Australia. No, I don't think it is. So should we continue mindlessly buying whatever is cheapest or yummiest on the shelf? Cos it's not our problem?

I just hope that the American scenario gives people the foresight to make sure Australia doesn't follow down the very same path - why wouldn't it when it's still the consumer dollar that votes?

Our food producers are huge and already have the power to lobby the government. We have Monsanto in Australia. Our highly processed products such as canola oil don't have to be labelled as GMO. And just like America, we want more for less. We want cheap food, fast. We want to have meat at every meal, and while we say we care, as a majority we don't want to pay even a dollar more for something that treats animals, people, or the environment better. Yep, I would go so far as to say that what happens in America IS our problem.

Edit: I hear you are supposed to finish up negative posts with something positive. So in good news, I had Lord of the Fries with cheese and gravy on the way to see that movie and it was divine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All the little things that were non-blogworthy in themselves

Uluru, Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta
Spent 5 days with the family doing the Aussie tourism thing, walking through rocks and desert and filling my eyeballs with things that aren't grey and concrete. Ahhh so good. Wish I could say the same about the food. Goddamn, they serve up some nasty shit at extortionate prices. I think the vego meals were actually better than the shrivelled up inedible lumps they tried to pass off as calamari. Guess you can't expect too much when everything has to be transported a billion miles to get there and there's nowhere else to eat. In unexpected and amazing news, Alice Springs had a vegan breakfast with tofu scramble. Woo!

Yum! Took the parentals out for dinner to my fave vego restaurant in Melbourne. Food was divine as usual, although the balsamic bok choy with gnocchi was sadly no longer on the menu, replaced by a chestnut ravioli with mushroom reduction which I didn't find as amazing as it sounds. Tofu caramel was drool worthy as ever. Swoon Swoon.

See, this is definitely not blogworthy, but how disappointed were you that that vegetarian challenge was based around goat's cheese? Who can't make something delicious with cheese? (Obviously Skye and Calum). I was hanging out for them to have to cook with tofu to see what miraculous inventions I have never tried they could come up with. Luckily Kylie Kwong made an awesome eggplant dish I'm going to try making tomorrow night.

If you aren't making these things you are missing out
Vegan Dad's Mac N Cheese - this has been a staple in my diet for a year now and I get cravings for it all the time. Rich, creamy, fattening, this is the ultimate comfort food. I change the proportions a bit, add a little soy sauce, drop the cornflour and sub at least half the tofu for smoked tofu (or add a couple of drops of liquid smoke) for a smokey bacony flavour. So good you will eat until you want to puke. My non-veg workmate just asked if he could pay me to bring him a container of this sauce.

Raw Pad Thai - after getting fat on the mac n cheese this salad is the perfect less-guilty option. And it's even better the next day which is rare in the salad world. Zucchini noodles rule!

Yasai Itame Soup - this is one of the few things I feel brave enough to serve at dinner parties, knowing it will make me look like a masterchef. It's got all my favourite things - lemongrass, coriander, chili, ginger, lime juice, coconut milk. It's delicious, looks great, and you can't fuck it up. This recipe uses fish sauce but I have subbed with soy sauce and it's just as good.

BBQ Tofu - this is my favourite and easiest way to prepare tofu and is great in a burger. Just marinate a few slices of smoked tofu for 10 mins or so in a mix of equal parts soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast, with a splash of maple syrup to taste. Shallow fry the tofu till browned, remove oil, then add the reserved marinade at the end to reduce into a sticky bbq sauce. 

Mighty Mite on toast - is there crack in this? I'm so hooked.

Chinese broccoli - my new fave Asian green. This pisses all over bok choy. What took me so long?

Friday, May 28, 2010

MFA - Dairy investigation

No doubt you have all seen, or at least heard of, the latest undercover video released by Mercy For Animals. I managed about 10 seconds of watching a guy jumping on a calf's head before having to push stop.

You want to go vegan but you could never give up cheese? Really? You still want to eat it after hearing about this??

If you missed this important undercover footage which has brought the cruelty of dairy into the public eye, here's the gist of it (quoted from MFA):

During a four-week investigation between April and May, MFA's investigator documented farm workers:
  • Violently punching young calves in the face, body slamming them to the ground, and pulling and throwing them by their ears
  • Routinely using pitchforks to stab cows in the face, legs and stomach
  • Kicking "downed" cows (those too injured to stand) in the face and neck - abuse carried out and encouraged by the farm's owner
  • Maliciously beating restrained cows in the face with crowbars - some attacks involving over 40 blows to the head
  • Twisting cows' tails until the bones snapped
  • Punching cows' udders
  • Bragging about stabbing, dragging, shooting, breaking bones, and beating cows and calves to death

After viewing the footage, Dr. Bernard Rollin, distinguished professor of animal science at Colorado State University, stated: "This is probably the most gratuitous, sustained, sadistic animal abuse I have ever seen. The video depicts calculated, deliberate cruelty, based not on momentary rage but on taking pleasure through causing pain to cows and calves who are defenseless."

Yep, nasty stuff.

In good news, there has been worldwide media coverage of this footage and one of the workers, Billy Joe Gregg, has already been arrested and charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty.

And you gotta hand it to MFA, what a horrific job having to go undercover and watch that shit in order to expose them to the world. I can't bear 10 seconds of it on a small grainy video on my computer, let alone in real life for a month. This video just makes me want to show everyone and yell out "This is why!! This is why I'm vegan! You see? You understand now?!"

If you want to keep posted, Erik Marcus of vegan.com is following the fallout of this investigation.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New political party - Animal Justice Party

Seeing as governmental policies regarding animal use and welfare are determined by private interests and Big Ag lobbyists, having a political party who puts animals over profits (there's a first) is exciting!

From Animals Australia:

Plans are underway to form the Animal Justice Party (AJP) — the first ever Australian political party dedicated wholly to the protection of the interests of animals. To learn more, you can see the AJP's charter and constitution at www.animaljusticeparty.org, and policy papers will be published soon.

As the AJP Steering Committee — a small dedicated group of animal advocates - states, 'much of the cruelty inflicted on animals in this country results from government policy decisions, ignorance, and inertia. The interests of animals have not been represented in the Australian electoral system and as a result governments have not given due regard to their plight'.

The AJP will first gather sufficient supporters to register as a federal political party, and in time stand candidates for election to parliament to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. The AJP will also seek to work with other political parties to ensure the adoption and enforcement of laws and processes to protect the interests of all animals, be they domestic, farmed or wild. The new party's mission is not surprisingly to seek genuine justice for animals.

Cool huh?

In some sort of rabid delirium I hastily downloaded and completed the form to show my support, before realising I don't even think I'm eligible to vote as I'm not a citizen. Exciting nonetheless!