Friday, June 29, 2007

The last of the Catch-up posts

More food!

Pot pie. Steamed veggies, smothered in vegemite gravy, baked in crust.

Some recipes from The Alternative Vegan. Sorry for the bad photo, I didn't take it :) On the black plate, starting at the top, Asian-roasted potatoes, which are super easy to make. Toss potatoes with sesame oil and sesame seeds (I also used a bit of paprika), put in the oven, then toss with vinegar. Next to it are two pieces of herby flat bread. Then at the bottom, a variation on Dino's 'QUICK Garbanzo Soup'. I added spinach, and left out the water so it wasn't soupy.
Some farmer's market bounty. Even though it's been freezing here (14C/58F inside my house this morning!), it is the prime season for produce. We got all this, and lots more, for less than $20.

A unique find from the market this week. Jaboticaba, or tree grapes. They grow on the bark of the tree; the farmer selling them showed us a photo and it looks so cool! They smell like red wine and taste like grape juice. The skin is quite thick and a little bitter, so we sucked out the insides and spat out the seeds. (We've also eaten dairy-free Jaboticaba ice cream, from Frosty Mango. Yummy!)
This mandarin was so fresh, it still had the tree attached to it!

Another recipe from Alternative Vegan. I call this one Eggplant Version 1.5, because it was a combination of Dino's 'Version 1' and 'Version 2'. Spicy, tomatoey eggplant on rice, topped with fresh thai basil.
A mushroom, spinach, and rocket risotto.
Pierogies, Poland's answer to ravioli. These are not super traditional, as they are filled with mashed potatoes, diced tomatoes, and a crazy mix of herbs and spices (some even had sweet chilli sauce inside!). Andy made a big batch a few weeks ago and stuck 2 meals' worth in the freezer. For a quick dinner, we thawed them out, and sauteed them with onions and purple cabbage.
Apple-cinnamon french toast. Or something like that. This recipe was loosely based on the recipe from Vegan Planet, but it turned out horribly. The batter was too thick, and the bread got mushy and stuck to the pan every stinkin' time. I blame Andy's variations rather than the original recipe. The topping was nice though!
Veggie hot dogs, pre-tomato sauce. I was jonesin' for some hot dogs and baked beans, so we picked up these Sanitarium dogs from Cole's.
Served with Old Fashioned Baked Beans, from Vegan Planet. These turned out way too saucy, probably because of something I did. I used tomato soup instead of puree, and added BBQ sauce instead of molasses. Maybe that led to the screw up?
Hot dogs and baked beans was followed up with apple cobbler, served hot with vanilla So Delicious ice cream.

I think those are all the pictures from the camera, so you can expect shorter posts from now on!

PS--Check out Veganista, a new Australian vegan blogger.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Palm Island

I think I mentioned that on Friday (15th) I was going to Palm Island for the 50th Anniversary of the strike. I know most people are completely unfamiliar with Palm Island, let alone with the strike of '57, so first, a bit of background...

Palm Island lies off the Queensland coast, and in the early 1900s it became a 'reserve' for Aboriginal people. Individuals and families from all over Queensland were sent there as punishment, usually for being disruptive or disobedient. Children were separated from their parents and forced to live in dormitories, everyone was forced to work for no wages, rations were paltry, and every movement was dictated by the white Superintendent of the Island.

In 1957, the people were tired of being jerked around. A few events can be credited with inspiring the strike, but it was really just a response to the ridiculous racism on the island and in Australia as a whole. So the people went on strike. Seven men were identified as the leaders, so they and their families were arrested in the middle of the night, loaded onto a boat, and taken off the island. And even though no major changes occurred as a result of the strike, the feeling was different on the island, according to a lot of people. Plus, all this occurred just before a huge civil rights push in the 60's and 70's in Australia, so things really did change pretty quickly.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Strike, Palm Island hosted a weekend of festivities. A dormitory reunion was held for the children (now old people) who were separated from their parents. There was music, dancing, food, and fun. It was rainy and freezing, but that didn't stop anyone from celebrating!

Here is everyone, gathered in the PCYC hall, the only building big enough to fit so very many people.

The DescenDance troupe, a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island dancers from all over Australia, started off the performance. They are constantly off on world tours--immediately after leaving Palm Island, they headed over to Africa, and next they'll be touring the former Soviet states. They're a big deal. Plus, their (white) manager is vegan, so we had some interesting conversation about vegan travel on the ferry boat across.

They encouraged the kids, and anyone who wanted, to dance along with them.

Half the performers that danced at this event are actually from Palm Island. After every dance finished, the applause was deafening, and people yelled "Deadly!"

The kids on Palm Island were gorgeous, and all had show bags full of little toys to play with all day.

Lots of dogs wandered around, inside and outside. This guy leaned on my leg and let me pat him for a good hour.

Aunty Kate, an elder from Palm, got up to sing a song.

Olympic gold-medalist Cathy Freeman, whose mum is from Palm Island, introduced her new Cathy Freeman Foundation. Someone donated bicycles, and they will be given as prizes to the school student with the best attendance record (one for each of two schools).

To finish off the day, there was a play written by the daughter of one of the strike leaders. For Willie Thaiday, this scene depicts the straw that broke the camel's back. The Palm Island Matron cut his daughter's hair because it was too unruly. Willy argued with Roy, the superintendent, and was thrown in jail and fed only bread and water for two weeks.

After the strike, the men and their families were rounded up by the police and taken to Townsville, and then shipped to distant reserves all over Queensland.

I'll be going back to Palm, hopefully on a sunny weekend. I would like to see more of the island, meet people (and catch up with people I met during the trial), and just spend some time there. Palm Island has a pretty bad reputation, but what I've seen of it so far has been nothing but wonderful.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Food that I made

This post will be much shorter than the last one, though now that court is done I've been cooking more often--but those pictures are still on my camera. Speaking of my camera, doesn't the new one take good pictures?! The thing I love the most is that it doesn't go through a pair of batteries in a day. Sony Cybershot, where have you been all my life??

Wholemeal spelt bread, with a rocket-pesto swirl. Rocket is a spicy Australian green, similar to (maybe the same as) arugula. Garlicky, spicy pesto inside of fresh hot bread is verrrry yummy.

Especially when served with a steaming bowl of split-pea soup. Andy was feeling sick, so I made some comfort food. Although I don't have a pressure cooker, this was still a pretty easy soup to make. Chop onions, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook. Add water, split peas, and barley. Boil, then lower heat and cover. Stir every now and then, and after about an hour it looks like this.

Another loaf of wholemeal spelt bread. This one is swirled with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and dried mixed fruit. A delicious breakfast when toasted.

Chocolate banana cake, fresh out of the oven. The stuff on top is chopped peanuts. Next time I think I'll swirl through a bit of peanut butter before I bake it.

Apple-cinnamon pancakes. We had a lot of apples from the markets, so I chopped them up in the mini-whiz chopper, and turned them into pancake batter.

All the steamy pictures are a good indication of how cold it was--last Wednesday, Townsville recorded its lowest daytime temperature ever. Thus, we have been eating lots of warming foods, lots of oven meals, and lots of heavy, carb-laden meals. I love winter food....


In the comments of my last post, a few people asked for the recipe to Andy's stuffed bread rolls. I asked him how he made them. "Water, flour, herbs, mix, voila". No leavening agent made for a really heavy, doughy bread roll. If I had to replicate them, I would take any old bread recipe, knead in some mixed italian herbs, and then roll out. In the centre, put a bit of leftover pasta sauce. Ours had borlotti beans, spinach, and lots of eggplant. Then roll the bread dough over, and seal up the edges with water. Then top with BBQ sauce smiley faces. Andy baked at "200 ish" until the outside was golden brown. Sorry I can't offer any more assistance, but good luck playing around with this 'recipe'!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Food that Andy made me

I have a fair few food photos from the past two weeks, and a lot of them are things I didn't actually cook. Because I was at court all day, and then at meetings until 7 or so in the evening, Andy did a lot of cooking this past fortnight. Here are some of the wonderful things he made me, because I looked like this at the end of the day...

Bread rolls stuffed with leftover pasta sauce. The dough was a made up recipe of flour, water, salt and herbs, and on the top were BBQ sauce smily faces.

Here I am, chowing down on the bread...

Spinach sauteed with heaps of garlic, ginger, and zucchini and capsicum. Served over jasmine rice. This recipe is based on a spinach recipe from the new cookbook printed by Tofu Hound Press, The Alternative Vegan by Dino Sarma.

Another recipe from Dino's book, Venn Pongal. Andy also added vegetables to this, and a bit of tahini since we didn't have any cashews.

The Venn Pongal was served with Indian spiced flatbreads, a mix of two recipes: Cumin-scented sesame flatbread from Vegan Planet, and Roti from The Alternative Vegan.

Tofu and watercress with lemon-caper sauce, from Vegan Planet. Again, more veggies were added, and he used lime instead of lemon. A really tart, salty, interesting flavour combination.

Andy didn't do all the work, though. I did the washing up...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Back to Normal...

I'm back. I think things are back to normal, at least for a little while. I have so many updates and so many photos, I barely know where to start. I guess I'll go with the trial, since it was the biggest thing for the past two weeks.

A bit of background, since most people probably are unfamiliar. In November 2004, an Aboriginal man was arrested for singing 'Who let the dogs out' (apparently offensive to the police) and for swearing. He was taken into the watch house, and an hour later he was dead. Mulrunji (his language name) died of internal bleeding, resulting from his liver being cleaved in two by his spine. The doctors all agree that a massive force must have been used, but in a small area, perhaps the size of a knee or a fist. Injuries like Mulrunji's are more commonly seen in vehicle accidents, or from hitting a tree while downhill skiing, according to the medical experts called during the trial. Though they knew the reason for his death, no one could say if the injuries were deliberate or accidental. Perhaps, when Mulrunji and Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley fell on their way into the police station, Hurley's knee was bent and landed on Mulrunji's abdomen. Or, Hurley deliberately knee-dropped the drunk, argumentative blackfulla. There are no witnesses, and though Hurley's original statements very clearly state that the two men fell side by side, he has since changed his statement.

A few investigations took place before it was decided that any charges should be brought against Hurley. So it was only 3 years later that he had his day in court. Or rather, seven days in court. Tony Koch, from The Australian newspaper, reported beautifully throughout the case. His opinion can be found here, printed only the day after the verdict came down. Look for other stories by him for a relatively objective rundown of the trial.

So, as a member of the Townsville Indigenous Human Rights Group, I was at the courthouse every day. I learned a lot about the justice system. They don't start court until 10 am, so every morning we would gather outside the court house for prayers, speakers, and dances to call on the ancestors and the spirits.

One day, a supporter from South Africa (now a nurse in Townsville) came dressed in her traditional gear, and requested support from her ancestors as well. Here she is, hugging one of Mulrunji's sisters.

Every morning, leaves and bark were burned for a traditional smoking ceremony, to cleanse the courthouse of bad spirits and negative energy. Here is Jai, doing the dance of the water eel, to call on the spirits in the ocean.

Jai and John played the didgeridoos. I love the contrast in this picture--Jai all painted up in his laplap, and John wearing track pants and a jumper.

Every day there was a small crowd, some traditionally dressed, others bundled up from the cold, but all sharing their strength and trying to bring justice to their brother who was killed.

Despite the seemingly rock-solid case of the prosecution, SenSgt Hurley was found not guilty of both assault and manslaughter. Although everyone was depressed about that fact, they recognise that the trial itself was a huge step. No police officer has ever been charged for a death in custody before in Australia, and that includes white people dying as a result of police brutality. So even though the white system let them down, these wonderful people are not giving up in their struggle for justice and equality.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Dear readers, I haven't forgotten about you. I've actually bought a new camera and have been taking wonderful pictures of the amazing food I've eaten. But my life has been a madhouse this week! Senior Sargeant Chris Hurley is on trial in Townsville for manslaughter, for the death of an Aboriginal man in custody in November 2004. I've said before, but it's worth mentioning again: this is the first police officer *ever* to be charged for an Aboriginal death in custody. So this is a big deal. And I have been in the courtroom watching it all go down.

This week is also the 50th anniversary of a big strike on Palm Island, a reserve where they sent 'troublemaking' Aboriginal people after colonisation up until... the 70's I think. They went on strike in 57 over their terrible living conditions and the control that was exerted over every aspect of their lives. Friday evening Andy and I went to a play commemorating the event; this coming Friday I will actually be going to Palm Island for the day. The play will be on again, and there will just be general merry-making. I'm hoping to meet lots of people, and I'm just honoured that I've been invited to such an important celebration.

I will post soon, and update you on everything. I'll have pictures from Palm, pictures from outside the courthouse (traditional dancers, media circus, etc), and most importantly, pictures of food. Talk to you soon!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hot Cocoa

I know everyone that doesn't live in the tropics thinks I'm whingy. But it has been cold here! This morning, it was 17 degrees (62 F) inside my house. Since it's usually so hot here, buildings are not designed to keep in warmth, and there are basically no heaters around. Andy's car doesn't even have a functioning heater.

Yesterday it wasn't just cold, it was windy and rainy as well. I was in my office watching it be wintry out the window, and daydreaming about hot chocolate. As soon as I got home, I made some. I don't have any photos (stupid camera batteries are dead yet again), but I think everyone knows what hot chocolate looks like...

I put 2 mugs worth of soy milk in a small saucepan with a cinnamon stick and a dash of nutmeg. A teensy bit of the milk was actually coffee flavoured, like maybe 1/4 of one mug. I put that on superlow heat, so the milk would get all sinnamon infused. Then we broke up the remaining dark chocolate bunny we had. He was headless, and we took a few bites before we chucked it in, so it was probably about 1/2 a chocolate bunny. It was 70% cocoa, so it was pretty chocolatey. I whisked the chocolate into the warm milk, along with a splash of vanilla and a scoop of brown sugar. When the chocolate melted, I poured it into mugs and topped it with ground cinnamon.

Holy yum! Rich, chocolatey, and spicy, this is a drink to warm you from the inside. It went quite nicely with the last two pieces of supa spicy carrot cake, chock full of nutmeg and ginger. If I was sophisticated enough to keep anything in the house besides cheap beer, I would have added some brandy or kahlua or something to the hot cocoa. Maybe next time.

I know it's very warm in the US now, but the few Aussies who are freezing their bums off might find this recipe useful...