Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Toads, tots and tea

Australia has a serious problem with cane toads. The problem is that someone thought it would be smart to introduce them--when they introduced sugar cane, they accidentally introduced cane beetles, so they thought that introducing cane toads would stop the beetle problem. But, as with basically all well-meaning transplantations of wildlife, it was a stupid idea. Cane toads have no natural predators over here, and their poison tends to kill birds and dogs and things that try to eat them. (Though, I have heard that one type of bird, the ibis, is starting to flip them over on their back before they try to eat them, to avoid the poison. See how good nature is at correcting itself, despite human stupidity!)

They're everywhere, it's ridiculous. A lot of people kill them on purpose, even more people unknowingly hit them with cars, they are preserved and dressed in hats and sold to tourists...

The other day Andy and I came home to find a gigantic cane toad in a bucket of water on our back stoop. It's water from the fishtank, so all full of poop and brown from the driftwood, so probably really appealing to a cane toad.

This is a 22-litre bucket, to give you some idea of the size of this thing. Its body, not including its legs, was the size of my hand--not just my palm, but my entire hand. Because the bucket is deep, I don't think it could have gotten out on its own, even if it wanted to. So we gave it a boost, and it sat in the backyard trying to blend in with the surroundings until it got dark and hopped away. Even though everyone hates cane toads, and they're really bad for the eco-system here, I did not want to have anything to do with the death of this innocent guy. It's not his fault humans did something stupid.

Anyways, I just wanted to share that picture, to show how freakin' big that thing was! Last night for dinner we had lasagna. We used wholemeal noodles that were on clearance at Cole's. We layered those with tofu ricotta and veggie-licious sauce. It had onions, garlic, zucchini, carrot, green capsicum, red capsicum, mushrooms, black olives and a few capers. It was good. On the side we had tater tots, since the oven was on anyways. I realise this picture looks strikingly similar to the 'mexican lasagna' from last week, but the tastes were totally different!

And now for the tea. You may have noticed that, in a lot of pictures I take, there is a cup or pot of tea in the background. We are tea-drinking fiends. I've always liked tea, and Andy has grown up drinking it heavily. When his parents went to China a few weeks ago, they brought us some Chinese tea. It's called Concubine tea, apparently it was the favourite of some emperor's concubine. It's a black tea, but it has a naturally sweet flavour. It's not really a breakfast beverage, but more like an after-dinner drink. The trick is to let it steep for only a few minutes--then you can take the tea leaves out and even re-use them again. It just doesn't taste very nice when you let it stew for too long.

We have yet to try it with soymilk; we've only had it black so far. If you ever see concubine tea anywhere, give it a try!


Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Fascinating about the cane toads -- I would have let out a little yelp seeing that giant. They did a similar thing on Catalina Island off Long Beach CA -- introducing non-native animals for movies. Of course, this also messed up the eco-system... All your lasagnas look fabulous - cool idea to make it Mexican style! :o)

kristy said...

I've been vegan for about 5 years, and never made vegan lasagne. I've had it at restaurants but never made it myself although I always think about it. Did you follow a recipe?

Theresa said...

No recipe, I just read the back of the noodle box to see how long to bake for. Really, I just layered some tofu ricotta (crumbled up hard tofu with olive oil and herbs) and some spaghetti sauce with veggies. It's also good if you blend some soft tofu with some spinach, and use that as one of your layers--the green/red contrast is striking.

bazu said...

Oh my gosh, when I first saw the picture of the toad, I thought it was tea in one of those tricky cups where there's a ceramic animal hiding at the bottom... but it's real! and huge!

KleoPatra said...

Thank you for the info on the cane toads. i had no idea. People and their "bright ideas," - NOT!i can't believe how giant they are. Thank you for letting the big guy go and be free. Made me smile.

i'll be on the lookout for concubine tea. And i'm always up for some lasagna!!

Molly's mum said...

Hey there- just thought I would leave a comment.... I am Aussie living overseas, and wanna-be vegan. (Dairy still sometimes makes an appearance, then i am racked with guilt!). Love your blog. Also--- love your dinner plates! My family has those exact same ones, same colour and design! Very retro chic!

Thanks for the blog.... and for sharing your life.