Friday, October 23, 2009

Meat... Now a Vegetable!

Am I the only one to find the photo below disturbing?

A few days ago, the local supermarket (and nationwide chain) decided it would be a good idea to sell more meat by putting it in with veggies. Judging by the photo, it seems to be working.

Surely I’m not alone in thinking there’s something wrong here. There’s a reason meat is normally kept in a different area of the store, right?

Tomorrow morning the local farmers market will be in town. Fingers crossed they have some good stuff this time!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

When Animals Attack

If you’re an outdoor exerciser like myself, at some point you’ve probably unexpectedly encountered an animal. A lot of the time, with me anyway, it’ll be a loose dog, or an unfriendly one trying hard to escape a leash. I’ve had dogs chase me while running, and others try to nip at my ankles or jump on me. Strangely, it seems to be the small dogs out there most ready to attack. Why is that, anyway?

In Australia, it’s not just the dogs you have to watch out for - it’s the birds! When spring rolls around (September-November down under), the nesting season for Australian magpies begins, and the birds get territorial. It’s a full on war in the skies for a good six weeks, with magpies attacking any bird within pecking distance. It’s not just other birds they’re after though, they seem to be particularly fond of swooping (and sometimes actually pecking) cyclists and runners.

This was all new to me when my husband and I arrived here a year and a half ago, I had no idea what to expect. A few weeks into spring last year, I stopped cycling outside and moved it indoors, even though I was training for a triathlon at the time. I stopped because one morning a magpie came after me. As soon as I turned around to face it, the bird backed off a bit (they like to be stealthy and attack when you’re not watching), but it continued to taunt me for about a block or so. I was shaken from the incident, and even though only something like 9% of magpies swoop, I was convinced they would peck my eyes out or something. Paranoid, I know. I continued running, but mostly avoided areas with large trees.

This year, I’ve decided to relax a bit. Now that spring is in full effect here, the magpies have returned. Just this morning two of them came after me while I was out running through a nearby park. I ended up having to run with my head facing backwards, hands in the air and shouting at them until I was out of their range. Basically, I looked like a complete fool, but I’ll be out there again tomorrow morning.

Kitchen Experiments: Kabocha Squash & Goji Berry Brownies

Last night while trying to figure out something to bake, I figured I’d give brownies a try. Of course, I decided to be a bit more adventurous by creating something without a recipe, something I like to refer to as my kitchen experiments. Sometimes it works out brilliantly, but other times it’s a big fat fail. Since baking is science, and I’m certainly no chemist, I had no idea how this would work out. Lucky for me - success!

Kobocha Squash and Goji Berry Brownies


  • 3/4c oat flour (blended rolled oats)
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup carob powder
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2T goji berries
  • 1/2tsp liquid vanilla stevia
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup kobocha puree (cooked)
  • 1T agave
  • 1T coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 200C / 350F
  2. Combine dry ingredients (except goji berries and walnuts) in a bowl and mix.
  3. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl and mix.
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry ingredient bowl and stir until mixed well.
  5. Add goji berries and walnuts to mixture and combine.
  6. Pour into greased 8x8 baking pan.
  7. Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through.
  8. Enjoy!
They’re so healthy you could even eat them for breakfast:

Oat bran with peanut butter, goji berries, kobocha butter and bits of brownie.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Veggie Patching

One of the challenges of where I live is finding some decent produce in local grocery stores. Finding any organic is difficult, and the general quality isn't the best. The farmers market in town is only around once a month(!). Perhaps I'm picky though, having grown up in Northern California.

Just over a week ago, my husband and I moved into a different house. I was particularly excited about this move due to the backyard. Unlike our previous little house's 12x12 concrete slab, the new place actually has an area for planting veggies! The previous tenant was nice enough to leave a few things behind:





In addition to the plants pictured above, there are a couple of olive trees and small lemon, lime and flowering peach trees, which may not be quite large enough to produce any proper fruit yet.

Once all our belongings were moved into the house, the first thing I did was visit a nearby garden store.

Since then I've planted the following seedlings:

  • Kale
  • Tomatoes (plain ol' red ones, yellow, green zebra and black Russian)
  • Mini red bell peppers
  • Long sweet yellow peppers
  • Rainbow chard
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Lettuce (red leaf and mignonette)
  • Apple cucumbers
  • Lebanese zucchini
Hopefully I'll be producing some of my own vegetables very soon. It's only been a few days and something has already eaten the leaves off one of the zucchini plants:

Time for some netting?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Bowl of Chili and Some Hot Weather

Tonight I had one of my standby meals. It can be doubled to last for days (it's just my husband and I in this household), it's filling, and most importantly, it's yummy!

It's vegan chili! Of all the chili recipes I've tried, this is my favorite, hands down. All it needs is a bit of avocado and tortilla chips on top for some crunchiness.

If you don't have this book, I highly recommend it. My great aunt gave it to me years ago, and I use the book all the time - there are tons of great recipes in this one. While the book isn't completely vegan (there are some recipes including eggs or dairy), most recipes egg and dairy free.

A few hours after dinner I headed down to my local gym for some intervals on the elliptical, followed by a few ab exercises. I had plans to go running this evening, but it was just too warm here. After a whole lot of rain and cooler weather the past several weeks, suddenly the sun was beaming down today, and the temperature was much higher than it's been in months. Summer is quickly approaching in the southern hemisphere.

Tomorrow is a day off work for me, so I'll be hitting up a spin class in the AM, and hopefully some sort of baking will take place in the evening.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hello, world!

So, I've finally started my own blog.

I'll be using this space to talk about two things I enjoy - vegan cooking and exercise. I'm constantly looking out for new recipes and ingredients to play around with in the kitchen. Unfortunately, living in a small country town in Australia (it's only temporary - I'm a CA girl) equals limited options, and the only health food grocer around recently shut down. For the most part I cook all my own meals, focusing on wholefoods.

Exercise is something that I'm very passionate about and try to incorporate into most days. For the most part I rotate between running, spinning, weightlifting and yoga, but I'll give anything a fair go.