Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gifts and other surprises

I’ve been a bit spoiled lately.

Just before I left for Brisbane, I got an email saying I had won last month's contest at aduki and I would be getting a book in the mail. It was waiting for me when I came home.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever won anything. Needless to say, it was exciting to get my free book and I look forward to a mythical future day when I have the time to read it. Thanks aduki!

Then Andy’s parents came up, and brought with them gifts from some of Andy’s aunties at home. A set of six wine glasses means we have enough to offer if we ever have guests (a big step up from our previous set of two mis-matched glasses). Likewise, a new towel set means that people who stay at our place don't need to use beach towels when they shower. And before they left, Andy’s mum and dad got us a juicer.

We ended up getting the last one on the shelf, which was missing its box and paperwork but had all of its parts—and it was $100 cheaper than it usually is. We downloaded the instructions from the internet and have been juicing all week.

Our first creation involved beetroot, carrot, orange, rockmelon and ginger. It was yummy but I forgot to take photos. Our next batch was similar—orange, beetroot, carrot, sweet potato, mint and ginger (though I don’t think the mint juiced very well).

In order to not waste the pulp from this batch, we decided to make Pulp Nuggets. Before they cooked, I thought they looked a lot like raw mince.

These are basically the recipe for chickpea cutlets, with pulp instead of chickpeas (we picked out most of the clump of orange pulp). Flavoured with korma paste and then formed into nuggets and fried, these were a really yummy way to use the extras from our juice, especially alongside some lime and coriander potato salad, and a mixture of raw corn, tomato and cucumber.

Our latest juice was very different from the others. Half a bunch of celery, a cucumber and two apples made for a very green juice. Andy didn’t love it, but I thought it was pretty good. Another apple probably would have made it a bit sweeter.

And and and, I checked the mail last week to find not one but TWO gift certificates from my family. For my birthday, they’ve treated me to two sessions at Plant Essentials, a vegan and organic spa in town. Wahoo!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Andy’s parents have just left after visiting for a week. Whether we were the destination, or just a stop on their trip is debatable—they’re taking two months to drive up here and back, about 3,000 kilometres each way. We were off our feet for a few days showing them all the sights in the area.

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On the first day of touring, we went north. From Ingham, we went to the coast at Lucinda to see the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere (I didn’t take any photos because we’ve already been). You can’t go out on this jetty—it’s only for moving sugar cane out to giant ships. We stopped for a cuppa and some jack fruit from the Sunday market.

Then it was back inland, 50 kms west of Ingham and up a steep and windy road. The temperature dropped 5 degrees as we climbed. The destination? Wallaman Falls—the longest single-drop waterfall in Australia.

We got a bit rained on, but the rain plus the heat made for some cool fog.

From Wallaman Falls, we went back to Ingham and headed south to the turn-off for Jourama Falls. After a steep and long-ish hike (3 kms return, which left the oldies a bit puffed), we got to the lookout and saw the many little falls that make up Jourama.

We also detoured off the main path down to the rock pools to see some cool little rapids.

We came home exhausted, ate takeaways for dinner and went to bed early. The next morning we had a bit of a sleep in before heading south. We turned off the highway into Alligator Creek, unsure if there would be water or not in the dry season. We found it lower than when we’ve been before, but still flowing.

We enjoyed the view for a few minutes before heading back onto the highway and further south, to Ayr. We stopped at a bakery for some fresh bread, and then drove out to the coast at Alva to have a picnic lunch. Vegemite, tomato and lettuce, plus rockmelon (cantaloupe) and bananas were easy and satisfying. Then we ventured out onto the sand, which was super-exposed thanks to the lowest of tides.

Back to Ayr, we were advised to visit the Burdekin Bridge, which is a LONG silver structure which apparently has no foundations. The cement pylons go 30 metres into the sand where they “float”.

Then it was out to Home Hill (the town across the river from Ayr) and up Mt Inkerman for some hazy but interesting views.

Close to Inkerman is Charlie’s Hill, where we had a look at some “igloos” leftover from WWII (they were used as radar stations).

After Charlie’s Hill we headed back to Townsville, where Andy and I cooked his parents a feast of chickpea balls (to which his dad said “I didn’t know chickpeas had balls”), roasted veggies, and spinach salad (no photos).

Throughout the week we did some other fun things with them, ate at lots of asian restaurants, cooked them a few meals, went swimming and otherwise enjoyed their company.

It was nice to see them, but to be honest, I’m glad Andy’s parents have continued on their journey. With a real estate inspection this week, a paper to write in the near future, and tutoring to be done, I prefer to have the fewest distractions possible.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finger bling

We went to pick up the engagement ring yesterday.

We were pleasantly surprised when it came up at the register with a 50% discount.

Then Andy's parents took us for dinner at a yummy Thai restaurant. We got spring rolls, vegetable salad (like Thai Beef salad but with sauteed veggies instead of dead cow), and tempura-battered veggies with peanut sauce. It was all very good--I think we've found our new favourite Thai place in Townsville.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Before and After

Apologies for my absence of late. I've been a bit busy. At the end of September, Andy came home. With only four days between his homecoming and my trip for Brisbane, we avoided uni as much as possible and stayed home to canoodle instead. A few short days after I came home, Andy's parents got into town. They're here for about a week, and the last few days have been full of sight-seeing, eating, etc. I'm at uni today because I'd signed up to sit at two different market stalls--one for Reclaim the Night, the other for the local Animal Rights group. After the in-laws leave, I have to write a conference paper, but after that things should settle down again, at least for a bit. But enough excuses. How about some food?

To welcome Andy home (that's how far behind I am) before I went to Brisbane, I wanted to make Cherry Ripe Slice. But, my slice pan is lost in the vortex of a friend's messy kitchen, so I had to make a Cherry Ripe Pie instead. It came out really well again, though it was a bit too thick in the pie pan.

Somehow we managed to find the time before I left to go engagement ring shopping. We had planned on skipping that tradition, but after getting hit on a few times I decided it would be easier to have some bling on my finger. To celebrate choosing one (which is being resized still), we got a bottle of champagne.
I love Yellow Tail products. They are local, and vegan, and relatively cheap, and they taste pretty damn good. Combined with a few overripe strawberries, it's the perfect way to celebrate.
Then I went to Brisbane. You read about that in my last post.

When I came back, my plane went at dinner time and I was pretty hungry (though I did get a free pass into the Qantas Club thanks to my travelling companion. Alas, the food they have available isn't too vegan friendly). Luckily, Andy thought ahead and had warm Apple Enchiladas waiting for me. They were based on the recipe from Hot Damn and Hell Yeah, but with much less sugar than the recipe calls for. It's a good thing, too. They were super sweet as it was. Instead of the syrup-y topping from the recipe, Andy made a orange-chocolate glaze.
Soon I'll have time to catch up on everyone else's blogs... but it looks like I'll have a lot to catch up on! VeganMoFo posts are abundant this year!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


I’m back from my trip to Brisbane. I spent nearly 6 days in the state capital. The plan was to attend a big rally on Saturday, and then to go to the first few days of a trial on Monday and Tuesday. Some unexpected events came up... but I’ll get to them. First, though, I had a nice day off on Thursday and Friday (not that I needed a day off. I’d just taken a few days off to spend with Andy who had just come home from PNG). Thursday was my travel day, and after getting in to the house I was staying at, I did some grocery shopping and then went into West End for some chocolate cake from The Forest Café.

On Friday I walked to uni, did a little bit of stuff in the library there, and then took the ferry into the city. I strolled around South Bank, the super-landscaped space just across the river from the city centre. This is the place where they held the (much protested) Expo 88. Leftover from that event is this Nepalese Peace Pagoda.

In the background is a BIG ferris wheel. I’m pretty sure that’s not usually there. Maybe it’s to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Expo 88?

The pagoda is set in a mini rainforest walk with a creek. When I walked through here, I saw ducks and a big lizard. That’s pretty cool, considering how urban it is.

After settling down near the river with a book for a little while, I made my way through a few art galleries, and then slowly headed towards New Farm, via the Brunswick Street Mall which has a very Chinatown feel to it.

In New Farm, I was meeting Amy, Cam, and some other Brisbane vegans for dinner. The plan was for vegan pizza, but the bar was packed so we opted for yummy asian food instead. Good vegan food and good company... what more could you ask for?

That was the good part of my trip.

On Saturday morning I put my red, black and gold shirt on, made myself a sandwich and headed in to the rally nice and early. The rally was in support of Lex Wotton, charged with inciting a riot on Palm Island following a death in custody. He is on trial as we speak (I'll talk about the trial soon). I walked through Musgrave Park, then went for a coffee with some other rally-goers. When we came back to the park just before the start of the rally to find police taping off a crime scene. There had been a murder in the park. And the location of the murder was the same place where I'd passed some people sleeping (at least I thought they were sleeping) earlier that morning. So I ended up completely missing the rally because I spent the afternoon in the police station giving a statement about details that I only vaguely noticed in the first place.

That was the bad part of my trip.

The rest was mostly good, but tiring, and really productive. Monday was the first day of Lex's trial, so there was a fairly large group of outspoken people with banners and signs.

We showed our support for Lex, who seemed to appreciate our presence.

I stayed for the first two days of the trial. We chanted and held placards in the morning and at lunch time, and in between we snuck into the court room to listen to the case. The trial is expected to last 3 weeks (up to 17 witnesses!), and we're all holding our breath and crossing our fingers that all goes well.

So anyways, I'm back now. Still exhausted from the trip, and still digesting everything that happened while I was there! Which is why this post is far less succinct and logical than I would like! But I'm getting my head back together, slowly but surely...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Flying south

Andy's home!

And I'm going to Brisbane for a week, starting tomorrow.

See you all when I get back...