Thursday, September 25, 2008

A meme.

I’ve been tagged by Jewel to participate in a meme. I’ve done several like this before, but I love doing surveys and questionnaires of any kind so I’m happy to take part again!

1. I don’t have a television, but in the evenings I put the ABC tv channel on the radio, so I can listen to the news. Last night I switched over early and caught The Cook and the Chef. It’s usually fairly vegan-unfriendly, but last night Simon (the chef) made an entirely vegan laksa. When I heard him say the V word, I couldn’t help but make the ‘touchdown’ sign with my arms.

2. I like making lists. It makes me feel organised, and I feel like I’m accomplishing things when I cross items off.

3. Andy and I share a mobile phone. Neither of us uses it enough to justify having our own, though sometimes its inconvenient, like when we travel or we need to ring each other.

4. My favourite movie of all time is The Royal Tenenbaums. I love the other films by that filmmaker, Wes Anderson, as well—especially The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

5. I went to a funeral yesterday. I didn’t know the person who died, but I was still teary for the whole service. Most of the service wasn’t even conducted in English, because it was a traditional Torres Strait Islander funeral.

6. I’m left-handed. I also sleep on the left-hand side of the bed. My mum and sister are both lefties, too.

7. Last week I had my first refereed paper accepted for publication in a conference proceedings.

8. I have a minor allergy to cat scratches. Nacho is usually pretty gentle with her paws (she’s more of a biter), but every now and then she’ll accidentally get me. Instead of just bleeding, the scratch gets super puffy and itchy.

If you feel like joining in on this meme, consider yourself tagged. Just make sure you leave me a comment so I know to read your random facts.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back in the kitchen

It seems that blogging about my lack of motivation was enough to bring it back. After posting about the lazy meals I’ve been eating for the past several weeks, I finally got the urge to do some proper cooking.

Inspired by Monika and her simple pasta dish, I made a quick but delicious bowl of noodles. Chickpeas and broccoli from the freezer, noodles from the pantry and fresh chilli, green beans and carrots were tied together with a bit of oil and a tiny scoop of chilli-capsicum sandwich spread.

I also tried some new food. I felt like something seitan-ish, so I mixed crushed weet bix with gluten flour, peanut butter, soy sauce and water. Then I baked it. Served on a bed of lettuce with green beans and topped with a simple vegemite gravy, this was a really satisfying meal. The other side of the plate holds Soft Polenta with fresh corn, a recipe from Vegan Gourmet—this is the first time I’ve had soft polenta, and I really wasn’t impressed. The texture was not great and the flavour was almost non-existent, and considering the amount of stirring it took, I doubt I will make soft polenta again.

My good intentions in the kitchen were laid asunder by the weekend. Friday I had to scarf down some leftovers before heading out to meet friends and see Ash Grunwald—good, live music in Townsville is not entirely common, so I definitely wanted to take advantage of it. Saturday saw me out of the house for most of the day, first with meetings and then with a cocktail party. The cocktail party was really fun, though I couldn’t help but notice the irony of hosting a party in an aquarium while serving nothing but fish—fish burgers, sushi, fried prawns, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t eat anything until I got home at midnight (2 minute noodles with peanut butter and cumin. Yum). Mojitos have mint leaves in them, so they’re healthy, right?

Anyways, on Sunday I was decidedly not hung over (I suspect the free cocktails were made with half-shots) so I made cookies. Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance, to be exact. I had neither walnuts nor raisins on hand, so I left them plain.

But halfway through, I added some chopped dark chocolate for a decadent variation.

After lots of taste-testing, I was jonesin’ for some veggies, so I had both a salad and a stir-fry. Onion, carrot, green beans and seitan flavoured with fresh chilli and hoisin sauce made for a quick but hearty warm meal. The salad was crisp and light, with lettuce, cucumber, raw corn and apples dressed with avocado.

I’ve got my kitchen motivation back, so now I need to do the same for cleaning up the house...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lazy food

Last time Andy went away for an extended trip, I ate really well. At the start of his absence I went through some cookbooks and marked recipes I wanted to try for myself, and I made a point to cook good meals.

This time has been very different. I’m happy to blame a number of factors: I’ve been busy and have been getting home late. I’ve been living off of the fruit & veggie co-op, which is convenient but doesn’t deliver much in the way of inspiration (the focus is on staple foods). It’s getting warm again, so I don’t feel like putting the oven on excessively. Really, though, I’ve been ridiculously lazy.

About half of a weekly co-op order, freshly washed and drying in the dish rack. Not pictured (because they didn’t need washing) were two ears of corn, a head of lettuce, a bunch of avocadoes, pumpkin, oranges, bananas and onions.

My meal focus has been on quick and simple. So I’ve been eating lots of soba noodles, because they feel vaguely healthy and they cook up in 5 minutes. Sometimes I have them with nothing but a splash of Liquid Amigos, but sometimes I jazz them up. This time I used some broccoli from the freezer, cucumber slices and roasted peanuts.

I’ve also been having lots of eclectic meals, particularly on the weekend when I’m trying to use up veggies. Here we have a sautéed mix of potatoes, carrots, onions and green beans served up with rice, an orange, and some peanuts.

On evenings when I don’t get home until very late, I sometimes don’t eat much at all. Last Thursday I went to a clothing swap party, where everyone brought their unwanted clothes and dumped them in a pile, and we all dug through and found some new treasures. When I got home, it took all my energy to spread some avocado on a slice of kalamata olive bread.

I haven’t been lazy all the time. Every few days I resolve to get motivated and eat more healthily, and I’ll even summons the energy to put together something complicated, like this lasagne. The top and bottom layers were tomato-tvp sauce, and in the middle was frozen broccoli and spinach mixed with tofu. This was yummy, and garlicky and made enough for leftovers.

And every now and then I'm even inspired to try something new. After laughing about Bianca’s memory of Granny’s beer beans (and her family’s lack of a similar memory), I decided to do something similar, though on the stovetop. Hence BBQ-Beer Beans and Tofu on toast. I used up some overripe tomatoes which I mixed with half a block of crumbled tofu, a tin of beans, some bbq sauce, molasses and half a bottle of homebrew beer. The result was sweet and tangy and delicious. And of course I had to drink the other half of the bottle of beer.

When I’m really feeling lazy, though, I open the freezer. Before he left, Andy got me a litre of chocolate soy ice cream. I’ve enjoyed it with crumbled up gingernut biscuits, desiccated coconut, and peanuts, but it’s equally good on its own.

I’m not the only lazy one in the house.

Nacho likes to spend a weekend afternoon by the back door, watching the bugs and lizards, and watching the pineapple grow.

Andy comes home in a bit over a week, so here’s hoping my motivation finds its way back to me before he does!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cherry Ripe Slice

I haven't been blogging much lately because I've been keeping pretty busy. A lot is happening in my neck of the woods. You may remember about a year ago when I was very busy with the Hurley trial--a police officer charged (for the first time ever in Australia) with manslaughter after an Aboriginal man died in police custody. Well, that officer is back in court, trying to appeal the decision that sent him to trial in the first place. It's all a bit ridiculous--less than an hour after his arrest, Mulrunji was dead. And this police officer is refusing to accept any responsibility.

Of course we couldn't let the issue pass with no media attention, much as Hurley would have liked it that way. And what is the best way to get the media's attention? A 10 metre banner is a good place to start. Add in some local Aboriginal elders who have a lot to say, and you have a surefire way to make the news.

(There were more people than this before this photo was taken. All up, there were about 10 or 20 protesters, and an equal amount of journalists, photographers and videographers. This picture was taken after they had all gone into the courthouse.)

I have not been too busy to eat, although I've been eating pretty junky food. Think toast, ice cream, and noodles. One very good thing (though not healthy) I've been eating is Cherry Ripe Slice. I saw the recipe posted by wantingkneading and knew I had to try it. I was going to wait until Andy came home to share with him, but then I decided to make them for an animal rights group meeting. But the meeting was postponed, so I had to share them with others and eat a bunch myself.

Overall the recipe was fantastic, and really quite easy. There are three steps, but each layer is quick to assemble and has very little hands-on time. My only complaint was that there was too much base for my pan-size, so I had to eat a bit of it before it went in the oven (what a shame). Next time I'll chop my cherries more finely, but otherwise this was a real winner! Three cheers for wantingkneading! Mine didn't photograph as nicely as hers, but they were so delicious I didn't really mind.

Monday, September 08, 2008


As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I’m not really big on shoes. I go barefoot whenever possible, and my shoe collection reflects my dislike of foot-confinement.

But, I had to suck it up and get some new shoes recently.

I wanted some proper sandals, because my thongs were making me feel a bit under-dressed in certain settings.

And my biking shoes were in a pretty bad way. My heel pushed through and the sole flapped. And a rainy day left them with a terrible stink which no amount of newspaper, baby powder, bicarb soda and sunlight could fix.

I was left with a dilemma—where to get them from? I could get an affordable pair from a shop around town, but I would have to search out a vegan pair of shoes. Plus, affordable usually means not-very-ethical. So, after much hemming and hawing, I decided to pay a bit more to get shoes from Vegan Wares. They are non-leather (duh), and made in Melbourne, rather than in a sweatshop in Southeast Asia. They are handmade, which means they are likely to last a while. And they are comfy.

I got one pair of sandals, which I wear all the time and I love.

And I got one pair of closed-toe shoes, which are also comfy and totally cool.

I’ve gotten tons of compliments on them, and I haven’t gotten any blisters. I am very happy with my decision to spend up, especially considering that I absolutely hate shoe shopping and I don’t want to have to do it any time soon. I highly recommend Vegan Wares.

And, after throwing away my poor old stinky shoes, my collection has grown 20%.

From bottom to top, there’s my two new kick-ass pairs, my thongs, a pair of dressy shoes I got second-hand four years ago, and a pair of pregan Earth Shoes, which I never wear and should realistically donate. Not pictured are a pair of uncomfortable plastic sandals I leave at uni to wear in the shower.

Even with my rocking new footware, I still prefer to go barefoot.

Friday, September 05, 2008

I <3 my bike

I’ve had my new bike since January, and I must say, I’m in love. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs together, but on the whole we get along marvellously. Most of the downs have nothing to do with the bike itself, but rather the rides or other people. But considering we’re together twice a day (3x on Thursdays), at least five days a week, I think it’s a good thing we like each other. I’m getting better at things like using the gears, and I’m getting more confident in traffic. Plus, I’m totally super fast these days (and I’m totally super delusional, too).

The sucky things:

-the wind on the ride home.
-riding along the river means seeing lots of anglers and dead fish.
-broken glass.
-showering and dressing at uni means choosing clothes at home without seeing what they look like together… and occasionally bringing a patterned bra to wear under a white tee shirt. Oops
-asshole car drivers who don’t follow road rules.
-asshole car drivers who yell out their windows or honk their horns at female pedestrians.
-bumpy paths.
-my backpack makes my back disgustingly sweaty, even when I’m cold on the ride.
-riding on cold mornings. My fingers feel like they could fall off (luckily those days are gone now it's spring).

The good things:

+seeing all sorts of people using the river path. Dads running with prams, Mums teaching their kids to ride a bike, old couples going for a ride together…
+how physically hot my legs are when I get home. They are like furnaces.
+stretching after a ride.
+my bike ride is shorter than the bus ride to uni—and that’s not including the walk to the bus stop, the wait, and the headaches from whingy children. Plus, it saves me about $3 a day in bus fares.
+no worries about finding a parking space.
+getting into higher gears.
+all the birdlife along the river. Yesterday I saw a flotilla of pelicans!
+more productive mornings at uni following a bike ride.
+good sleep at night (most nights).
+learning how to do things like adjust the gear cables when I hear something clunking. I’ve never been mechanical in my life (and I’m still not, really), so fixing a noise is liberating!
+my appetite after bike rides. I eat so much.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Pinch and a punch...

It's not just the first day of the month...

It's also the first day of spring in Australia.

While I loathe the pollen and the sneezing that comes with it...
I am a big fan of warm weather and flowers.
Good riddance, winter!