Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fruit & Veggie Co-op

This semester saw the start of a fruit and veggie co-op on campus, run by the Student Association. My friend Jacqui, who is also the welfare support worker, saw the need for cheap and healthy food for students who are often struggling to study, work, and afford rent, housing, and other necessities of life.

The way it works: you pay a $2 membership fee at the start of the semester, and then every Friday you place an order for the following week. Jacqui takes the money for that week’s orders and buys as much as she possibly can from a local wholesaler (produce comes from within ~300 km at most), and then splits it up evenly between the orders. For $12.50, I buy the smaller of the two options (the other is $25 I think, for a big box).

This week, my $12.50 got me this order, which is more than enough to sustain me for a week on produce-filled meals.

There is a red coral lettuce, 4 bananas, 6 tomatoes, an avocado, a bunch of carrots, 4 mandarins, 4 apples, a pumpkin wedge, 4 onions, 3 potatoes, half a cucumber and an ear of corn which didn’t make the photo.

When I supplement this with tofu, dried beans, and some veggies that we stuck in the freezer a few weeks ago, this order means that I don’t have to go grocery shopping, which is fantastic!

Plus, the amount of food in the small order fits perfectly (though heavily) inside of my backpack so I can bike it home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


As per Groover’s request, I am posting my recipe for pierogies. It’s based on the recipe from Vegan Planet, but we got bored with the plain filling and now jazz things up. So be warned: these are not at all authentic. As long as you keep basic amounts the same, any veggies will work in the filling. It helps to have a large proportion of the filling be a mash—potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, or yam. But there is definitely room for some grated zucchini, shredded spinach, or minced mushrooms. We like to play around with different herbs and spices as well. (I talk about pierogies here and here.)

This recipe is fairly involved, and has a lot of steps. But, it doesn’t need to be done all at once. I usually make the filling one day, then put the pierogies together on another day. And if you double or triple the recipe, the pierogies can be frozen. I’ve found they work best when frozen after boiling but before frying.

These are best served up with a plate of sautéed cabbage and some sort of sauce that suits the filling flavours—anything from tomato to sweet chilli to yogurt.

Happy pierogie-ing!


3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt


1 ½ pounds vegetables—mostly potatoes, but carrots, pumpkin, yams, zucchini, etc. all work well too.
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, or to taste, minced

To make the filling, peel and chop the potatoes and other very hard vegetables. Boil until tender, then drain and mash. In a skillet, sauté onions and garlic in the olive oil, along with any softer vegetables like zucchini, spinach, or mushrooms. Add the onion and veggie mixture to the potatoes and stir well, then season with salt and pepper to taste (and herbs, if you’re feeling like it). Set aside.

To make the dough, place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add water, oil and salt, then mix until combined. Knead the dough until it’s nice and smooth, then divide it in half. Cover with a tea towel and let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out half the dough into a rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 10 x 10 cm squares.

Place a heaped tablespoon of filling onto the dough, then moisten the edges and fold over into a triangle. Press the edges with a fork to seal. If there is a whole lotta edge, cut a bit off so it's not so doughy. Repeat with the remaining half of dough and filling.

Boil a large pot of salted water, and cook the pierogies in small batches for 2 to 3 minutes, until they float. Drain well and set aside. Once all the pierogies are cooked, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the pierogies until they are golden on each side, and serve warm.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Vegan's 100

Originally posted by Hannah at Bittersweet, and currently taking the vegan blog-iverse by storm, is the Vegan's 100--a list of 100 food items every vegan should eat before they die. There are plenty of vegan food items I expect I wouldn't love, but I am a firm believer in trying everything twice, so I refuse to say I'll never consider eating anything--unless it has animal products in it, but that's not the point of this list! Here's how to play:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen--the queen of all fruit, it really is worth seeking out because it is good!
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite--love.
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes--the beauty of living in North Queensland is the tropical fruit wineries which offer free tastings at local markets.
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas--I actually think wasabi peas are very overrated.
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly--I'm assuming this is the Australian definition of Jelly (jello), and not Jam's cousin.
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee--Never Jamaican, but PNG Highlands organic and fair trade coffee is pretty good!
100. Raw cookie dough

I scored 64 out of 100 items. What's your score?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Notice anything strange?

I picked this up a while back from Plant Essentials in the city. At the checkout counter, I noticed something funny about it. That's actually a sticker over the top of the regular "Liquid Aminos" label. The cashier said she hadn't noticed, but thought maybe it had to do with their troubles getting through customs.

I kind of like "Liquid Amigos", though it sounds more like an alcoholic beverage of some kind than a type of soy sauce.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Good news.

I know I mentioned a few posts ago that I had good news to share with you all.
Andy and I are engaged.
As a feminist, marriage is a concept I’ve struggled with. On the one hand, something about weddings has always appealed to me. They are pretty, it’s nice to celebrate love, they bring together family and friends who don’t often see each other. On the other hand, marriage is an institution with a pretty tarnished history. It isn’t exactly a pillar of equality. Weddings themselves are imbued with patriarchal and religious symbolism, and the language of traditional weddings is really abhorrent (honour and obey? Fuck off). And contemporary weddings have become a huge profit-making industry—I read last week that the average Aussie wedding costs $40,000.
However, not all weddings and marriages have to fall into that model. There are a lot that don't. I think that if both individuals are aware of the problems, they can be overcome. And for that reason, I felt comfortable saying yes when Andy asked me to marry him (in a very non-traditional manner). He gets it. I’m not saying our relationship is perfect—if it were, we would probably both be pretty bored. But, over the past four years we have both been challenged, and we’ve worked together to achieve what I think is a pretty egalitarian relationship (of course, we’ll have to keep working together as the years progress!).
I’m over the moon about this new turn our relationship has taken. We’ve made no plans yet (and probably won’t for a while, given our schedules until December—he’s away for 6 weeks, then I’m away for a week, then his parents are here, then he’s away for a month, then I’m away for two weeks), but I’m looking forward to doing things our own way.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Free Stuff

Regular readers of this blog are probably aware that I don’t like to spend money. Mostly because I don’t make much. But, rather than buy the cheapest junk, usually full of animal ingredients and produced in socially-abhorrent conditions, I’m willing to pay a bit more for good products—I just buy less of them.

Luckily, there are a few great, affordable, vegan companies that sell ‘personal’ and cleaning products in Australia. Unluckily (for me), the store which consistently sells them is a bit out of bike range from where I live. So before he left, Andy and I took the Subaru in that direction to load up on things like sun cream, aloe vera, and tea tree bug spray for him, and hair and skincare products for me.

I came home with more than I expected to—not because I was overwhelmed by choice and bought as much as I could, but because I scored some great free stuff.

In the orange box is the facial cleanser I use, which was packaged with a free bottle of toner and priced cheaper than the cleanser alone. A’kin skincare products, along with Al’chemy haircare products, are produced by The Purist Company which is vegan, organic and Australian. Their mandarin shampoo smells good enough to eat.

I also grabbed a bottle of facial scrub from Sukin (another vegan, organic Aussie company) for less than $8.

When we neared the counter, there was a display advertising a free bottle of hand wash with every purchase of any Purist Company product. There were two flavours available: Tea Tree & Eucalyptus, and Lemon Myrtle. Rather than choosing between the two, Andy and I split up our purchase and each got a free bottle. As I was checking out with my half of the gear, the cashier told me about an unadvertised promotion with Sukin as well—meant to be with any purchase of lotion, but since they had so many they were giving them away with all Sukin products. So I got a free rehydrating spray.

Free, vegan and organic? Hell yeah.

Later in the week I scored some more free stuff. There is a fruit & veggie co-op starting on campus (I signed up this morning) where you order a small or large box of produce and get whatever is in season. It comes from Bowen, which is less than 200 kms south of Townsville (about 120 miles for the metrically impaired). It’s not usually organic, because the idea is to ensure that poor students are eating nutritious food.

Although I hadn’t signed up in time for the first delivery, my friend Chris did. In her box she was given a head of lettuce, and since she’d already bought one earlier in the week, she passed it on to me. Free local lettuce!

A bit beat up from being stuffed in my backpack on the bike ride home, it still made a lovely salad.

I mixed it with carrot, alfalfa sprouts, black eyed peas, avocado, and a dressing of hummus, raw garlic, fresh dill and lemon juice. Yummy!

And I've just spent the past day and a half at a conference, which was ridiculously expensive but which I got into for free! The conference was timed to coincide with Townsville's huge, annual Cultural Festival (which I think is interesting in the ways it promotes 'consumption' of culture rather than real engagement) and was attended by people from around Australia and the world. I heard some very interesting speeches and met amazing people--all for free!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Food Round-Up

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting many photos of meals lately. I’ve had a few major ups and downs recently, but overall I have some good news coming soon. Anyways, I thought I should update you all on what’s been happening in my kitchen to keep you interested. Also, because Andy left this morning (at 5 am, ew.) for 6 weeks in Papua New Guinea so I thought I should get rid of the cooking-for-two images and get back into single-gal food while he’s gone. I noticed last time he went away that I eat very differently when it’s just me in the house.

First up is a beetroot risotto. Andy was very sceptical that this would be good, but after one bite he was convinced. It also had spinach, zucchini, and a few other things.

Here we have a nice wintry oven meal. Jerk-spiced tofu chunks, orange beetroots, and a mix of roasted veggies. The combination of sweet potatoes, onions and kalamata olives is an amazing one. If you haven’t ever tried baking olives, I highly recommend it (whole, not pitted). They get super sweet, and sort of melt off the seed. It’s very good.

We haven’t been eating much Indian-inspired food this winter, but there has been some. Like this dhal and eggplant bharta.

This is a lazy Sunday lunch we have every now and then to go with tea and the newspaper. Veggie burgers (pre-made and frozen) served on homemade bread with salad, sautéed onions, and slightly wilted Ceylon spinach from the garden.

Another oven meal: baked mushrooms with more olives, a bread roll, cannellini bean cutlet and roasted green beans.

This is a time-consuming meal to make but it is well worth it every now and then—Pierogies. They were filled with some mix of potato, onion, carrot and spices, and served with lightly sautéed green beans.

And I can’t leave you without dessert. These are makeshift strawberry shortcakes. ‘Yella Cake’ from La Dolce Vegan, but cut in half and turned into cupcakes. Strawberries soaked in sugar for a day to get super juicy. And fresh yogurt. The combination was sooo good. Somehow the tang from the yogurt was much more satisfying than custard or cream, and it feels vaguely healthy too.

Those are all the food photos I have for now. And yes, as The Little One has pointed out, I’m not shy about filling up my plate. I'm not really a snacker, I ride about 40 to 50 minutes a day (which really isn’t much) and I'm a major fidgeter, so I eat big meals. And if you think mine are big, you should see his!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More growth.

Some of you may remember from my container garden post last year that Andy and I try to grow things in our little back patio. We're not doing terribly well, because it's a very small space and it's quite shady. But, we've gotten a handful of cherry tomatoes in the past few months and our herbs save us a lot of money. Nacho is ambivalent about the catnip plant we got for her, but she does enjoy the cat grass. We've recently gotten creative and reclaimed the decorative garden beds at the front of our unit to plant chillies and thyme (where they actually get sunlight).

One plant that we've managed to keep alive for about two years is our pineapple. When we lived in the share-house we stuck the top of a pineapple into the ground to see what happened. When we moved out of that place we stuck the pineapple into a pot and brought it with us. It came with us to our first unit, and then it made the move again to where we are now. This is what it looked like last August, when it was one year old and still fruitless.

Just a few weeks ago Andy said he was thinking of chucking the pineapple plant so we could use the pot for something else. It's big and spiky and doesn't even give us any fruit.
That threat must have been some good motivation because shortly after that conversation I looked outside and saw some pink leaves. Well, you can imagine my excitement when I saw this in the centre of our pineapple plant...

A tiny fruit! I don't know how long pineapples take until they're ready, but in just a week it grew noticeably.
Okay, maybe it doesn't show so well in the photo but it has grown considerably. Hoepfully it won't be too long until it's ready!