Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Cooking


Hope you had a nice Christmas if you celebrate it, and a lovely day anyway if you don't.

I cooked lunch for my family this Christmas and thought I'd share some pictures of what we ate.

As soon as I saw this Double Stuffed Christmas Log recipe by Mouthwatering Vegan pop up online, I knew I had to try it. It looked so good, and it was. It tasted delicious and was pretty easy to make {though I had a bit of trouble rolling it up with out making a giant mess}! The rest of my non-vegan family liked it too so I would definitely recommend this recipe. This is what mine looked like:

{Not quite as pretty as Miriam's!}

It's double stuffed with a curried lentil mix and a hazelnut/herb mix. I really liked the hazelnuts - I think they were the perfect choice.

Then for dessert I decided to try making one of Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life's raw desserts. I chose this Chocolate Mousse Tart with Lemon Cashew Cream because it sounded delicious.  And it was. The avacado-chocolate-cashew-lemon filling was awesome.

This was my first time making a raw dessert, but I was happy with how it turned out. I had a bit of an issue with the cashew cream, I think because my blender is so old it wasn't as smooth as I wanted it to be so I strained it through I fine sieve. I also found that some of the hard skins from the dates I used didn't blend up - I'm not sure if it was the dates or my terrible blender - but next time I would soak the dates first to soften them up. I was amazed by how sweet it was without added sugar!

And finally, I also made some vegan shortbread using the non-vegan recipe from the back of the rice flour packet and substituting the butter with Nuttelex.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Holiday gift ideas

I think I am a little late in writing this as the Christmas holiday is fast approaching - but time has gotten away from me and I wanted to share this list I've been making in my head over the past month or so.

I wanted to make this list because, as much as I love things (I really do), I also think that we as a society have gotten a little bit carried away when it comes to consuming. Cheap, disposable, products & the waste we accumulate is hurting our planet and it's animals, hurting our pockets, and hurting the people who make them. Heck - it's probably even hurting our souls because we're always wanting more instead of focusing on what we already have.

I know I would like to buy less and live more simply.

So in that spirit, here's some ideas for ethical/eco friendly gifts these holidays...

1. Donate to the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan relief appeal on behalf of a loved one: Oxfam & Red Cross have relief funds you can donate too and many others including Food For Life International who provide vegan food relief.

2. Book: 'The Gift of Kindness' by Pam Ahern full of inspiring quotes and true stories of rescued farm animals at Edgar's Mission. All proceeds from the book go to Edgar's Mission. In fact, books in general make great gifts don't they!

3. LUSH Handmade cosmetics: I don't normally like promoting or up-selling products of big companies - it feels, in the words of Enid from Ghost World, "pretty sleazy" - but I do like LUSH products because they are cruelty free and many of them are vegan. So I guess I'll sleaze about their good qualities. Some products I would recommend are:

4. Wilderness Cards: Give someone the gift of environmental protection by purchasing a Wilderness Card - a donation of $15-100 to the Wilderness Society. In return you receive a cute card to give to your loved one in recognition.

5. Fair-trade clothing: Etiko make fair-trade clothing and converse-style sneakers. They also sell gift vouchers if you would like to let your loved one choose.

6. Sponsor a rescued farm animal: You can do this via many animal sanctuaries including Edgar's Mission through their 'Best Buddy' program and Brightside Farm Sanctuary where you can virtually adopt and animal.

7. Donate to an Animal Shelter: Donate money to an animal shelter on behalf of a loved one and help animals in need. Some animal shelters & rescue groups you can support in Melbourne are:

8. Fair-trade chocolate and coffee: Oxfam sell fair-trade coffee & chocolate. Visit their website.

9. Charity calendars: Many charities bring out a calendar each year for their supporters to buy. The Wilderness Society have calenders as do Edgar's Mission, Ingrid's Haven and no doubt many others.

10. ZINES: Zines are cheap, unique and quirky. Gift zines to your loved ones and support DIY culture/art/writing. Sticky Institute in Melbourne sell zines. You can also buy zines on etsy and from online zine suppliers such as Pioneers Press. OR you could make a special zine just for them!

11. Eco Undies! Thunderpants sell eco friendly undies made in New Zealand.

12. Goodwill Wines: Purchase your festive wine stock through Goodwill Wines and give back to a charity of your choice. 50%-70% of profits go back to your chosen charity. Or you could buy charity wines all year round...!

13. Second hand books: Buy your loved one a second hand book through Brotherhood Books - where all the proceeds go towards helping people living in poverty. Or just buy them a second hand book from your local second hand bookseller - you'll be helping to reduce waste! Plus you can find some real gems in old bookstores.

14. WWF Animal Adoption: Adopt an endangered animal through WWF and help fight

15. WSPA Really Wild Gifts: Donate money to help improve the lives of bears, donkeys, dogs and other animals through WSPA's really wild gifts.

16. Sponsor a child: Unicef, Plan (who are secular) and World Vision offer child sponsorship. While The Smith Family allow you to sponsor disadvantaged children within Australia.

17. Handmade gifts: Make your loved ones handmade Christmas edibles like shortbread or cookies or craft them a gift like handmade decorations. You could also write them a poem or paint them a picture! I think there's something really beautiful about homemade gifts.

18. Second hand or vintage homewares: One of my personal favourites! They can make special, one of a kind gifts and help reduce waste!

And I'm sure there's more!
I have made a slightly different, more extensive list on my pinterest account if you're interested.

~ Happy holidays ~

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A whale of a day

Yesterday I finally took the plunge and saw Blackfish. I've been wanting to see it for a while, but it has only just come out in cinemas here, and I had been feeling a little trepiditious about watching it because I knew it would be sad. And it was. I got very emotional at the end thinking about all the whales that are still imprisoned there. Like Tilly, floating alone and depressed in his isolation pool.
But I'm also glad because I feel this film has the potential to change things - I think it already is! - and it's getting  a lot of publicity. Joan Jett recently filed a cease and desist order against SeaWorld when she discovered they were playing her song during there shows - go Joan! I just really hope this film will bring an end to SeaWorld, I really do. When I watch the footage of those shows it makes me sick to my stomach. Having read Death At Seaworld recently I already knew everything that was covered in the film - in fact the book covers it all in much greater detail. Keeping whales in captivity is so wrong on so many levels and they are such amazing, smart, beautiful animals. If you haven't seen this movie you totally should, it is devastatingly eye opening.

Then today, I traveled down to Williamstown to meet one of the Sea Shepherd crew - and I got to go onto the Steve Irwin ship - I had never been on any of their ships before, so I was super excited to be able to. It was amazing. Everyone there was getting ready and making preparations for when they set sail next week to do the amazing work they do protecting whales.

I took some photos of the ships and also some of the stunning view of the city across the bay - but they were on film so I will have to wait to get them developed.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Ode to the tee vee

Next week analog tv channels are closing down for good where I live, to be replaced by digital. They have already been shut down in NSW and some other states. I think Melbourne is one of the last to go.

It didn't really hit home to me until today when I came across this article - about an old tv collector who owns about 100 old televisions - in the morning paper, that this really is the (abrupt and sad) end of an era.

I've always wanted to buy an old television, I guess it has been on my 'To do someday' list for quite a while. And let's face it, if you own an old television it would be great to be able to use it. But now alas, that will not be possible. I have a soft spot for old televisions, like many other mid-century modern gadgets (radios, record players, cars etc.), because they really are just beautiful incarnations of design - they were designed to be beautiful. Whereas now most things seem to be designed for functionality, or to a sense of beauty that I do not understand. I certainly would not describe today's flat screen tv's as being beautiful.

But I think what really get's to me is the sense of finality. It is doubtful that analog will ever be brought back, because most people probably won't notice it's absence, and the one's who do, the nostalgics and collectors of this world, are drops in the ocean of new modernity. So this is it for the original tv. It is over.

In the article, Mr Lawson, the tv collector points out about one of his tvs that, ''It saw the very first TV broadcast, the parts are dated one month before that,'' - that it was in fact, probably bought to watch the first broadcast. And now it will also see it's last.

Goodbye old tee vee. You will be missed.