Opposite day: International Foods

So y’know that risotto recipe I posted the other day? It got a mention on the Tofutti website!

I was just a wee bit excited when I found out, I felt a bit star-struck to tell you the truth – I couldn’t believe someone from Tofutti had been to my blog, hehe. You can see the post they did about it here. Thanks for sharing my blog Tofutti! I love you and your creamy treats!

There are also some super mouthwatering recipes to check out on their website, like apple cinnamon crème brulee cheesecake. Yeah I know, YUM.

Now, in terms of my MoFo theme, today is opposite day. Remember opposite day? When you would insult your sibling/friend/enemy only to get the reply “ha-ha it’s actually opposite day, so that means I’m really cool!” And then there was the confusion about whether opposite day applied to that statement, and if you are saying it’s opposite day on opposite day then maybe it isn’t opposite day after all…that’s when it kind of spirals out of control.

So I know my focus has been on locally sourced food, but I stumbled upon this Asian/Italian grocery in Mackay and I couldn’t help but walk out with a few things, and that’s why I proclaimed it opposite day.

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I grabbed some chickpea flour, black beans, Arborio rice, red curry paste, dried basil, asafoetida, barbecue chips and Bear got some coconut water. These chips were on clearance as apparently they weren’t selling which is a major bummer. They are made up of potato, sweet potato and taro and the flavour is great! The different textures are amazing, from a softer thinner crispy chip to a thick crunchy one. So good! We went back and bought a couple more packs on the way out of Mackay.

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Taro chips, yum.

I’m looking forward to busting out the black beans in some burritos or something soon, I haven’t had black beans in sooooo long. In Australia they are only really available in health food stores, international food stores or specialty shops – they aren’t on the shelf in the supermarket. So yay for getting some black beans! I’m sure you’ll see them featured on the blog some time soon.

veganmofo

Picnic in Townsville

We arrived in Townsville this morning at about 8.30am. It was already close to 30 degrees. Crazy!

First thing we did is head to one of the skate parks for Billy to have a roll around before it got too warm. Then we went on an epic journey trying to find a health food store, called Sprout. With some poor map reading skills and unfamiliar road, we made a ten minute trip take about forty-five, but hey, we got there in the end.

We were planning an antipasto style picnic for the afternoon, and had heard that Sprout stocked Vegusto cheese, which we haven’t had since Katoomba. Sprout was a big store with friendly staff (despite what many of the online reviews said) and they had heaps of cool vegan items. Because we are trying to be modest with our purchasing, as we have a huge trip to the Northern Territory ahead of us (which is gonna cost us plenty in petrol), we were pretty reserved with our purchases, selecting four things to enjoy. Vegusto, some Tartex herb and garlic pate for our picnic, soybean chicken – which we like to put in Caesar style or super salads, and some Late July jalapeno and red pepper corn chips, because I’ve never seen these in store before and really wanted to try them.
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Last night in preparation, Billy made some grilled eggplant slices, by cooking our farmer’s market eggplant from the other day on the cast iron griddle plate with basil oil, garlic and salt. He was pretty proud of himself. I was proud of him too, they were so good!
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We also found a new brand of hommus at the supermarket, called Obela. They had a few different kinds – this one was roasted pine nut, with little bits of red capsicum in it too. It was really yummy, a nice thick creamy hummus – just how I like it!

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We went down to the Strand, which is a popular place for picnic-ers, exercisers, swimmers, tanners and so on. It’s a lovely spot on the water, which has a long stretch of grassy park areas, beach, cafes, exercise equipment, playgrounds, barbecue areas and so on. It’s really quite nice. We found ourselves a shady table and set up our spread with our hommus, eggplants, garlic chili marinated olives, semi-dried tomatoes, rosemary crackers, celery, carrot, Vegusto mild-aromatic cheese, potato, sweet potato and taro chips and Tartex pate. Ooh la la…
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We looked across the waters to Magnetic Island as we enjoyed our lunch. It was beeee-a-utiful.
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After lunch, we went for a walk along the length of the Strand, swapping between the footpath, grass, and dipping our toes in the water. The water temperature was so warm…and it was winter two weeks ago right? Yeah….

We found some cool sculptures along the way, a favourite being this little guy – a dugong! He was so cute. I got some strange looks from passers by when I started cuddling him but I couldn’t help it. Look at him!

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What a cutie!

We strolled back down to the other end of the Strand, before heading into the edge of the city for a bit of a poke around the shops and cafes. We walked down Flinders St, which had some interesting bars and shops, and if we end up picking up some work here we’ve noted a few places to come back to.

In the heat of the afternoon, we bumped into the Perc Tucker regional art gallery and went in for a look. It was so nice to be in somewhere cool, it gave my body temperature a bit of a chance to drop back to normal. The gallery was small but had a really nice range of pieces. Downstairs they had a really cool exhibit on solastalgia, which is to do with the mental distress or impact on people caused by environmental change or degradation. It was really interesting, and apt too – there was one piece showing the impact of mining in the Hunter Valley, just after I was reading an article about creeks there being affected by acid leaching from abandoned coal mines. It’s crazy the environmental and social price people are willing to pay for a quick buck.

After that, we went into an absolutely gorgeous Eco store, called Plant Essentials, which was full of beautiful things from jewellery to clothes, homewares, skin products, toiletries and foods. I got some pau d’arco lotion, some lemongrass soap, as well as a little gift. I saw the most beautiful ring which I promised myself I would come back and try on if we end up getting work here. It was stunning. I could have had one of everything from here, it was all so lovely and natural – no petrochemicals, synthetic colours, flavours or preservatives and of course, no animal testing. The company is from Queensland, and their slogan is ‘made fresh locally’, which is awesome.

We also got two Clif bars to try, as I had started seeing them pop up and heard that they were completely vegan. Billy spotted them and chose white chocolate macadamia nut and crunchy peanut butter. We shared the white chocolate one which was nice – I liked the texture, it was much lighter than I expected.

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After that, we returned to the Strand and lazed about on the grass for an hour or so, before setting off to a free camp spot for the night.

It was such a great day! The little part we saw of Townsville seems really nice…while it is a big city, there has obviously been a lot of effort put in to make it accessible and appealing to locals and travelers. Check out this man made waterfall along the strand. I’ve never seen one like this in a city before!

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Sprout Greener Grocers

36-48 Kings Rd, Townsville QLD
Mon-Fri – 9am – 6pm
Sat – 9am – 4pm

Plant Essentials
2/271 Flinders St, Townsville QLD
Mon-Fri – 9.30am – 5pm
Sat – 9.30am – 3pm

veganmofo

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto

Okay, so as promised, today I’ve got a recipe for you!

As I said yesterday, we made it to Bowen in the afternoon. Aside from the Big Mango, Bowen is also known as ‘the Mural town’, due to the (you guessed it) murals painted on the sides of many buildings around town. We took a little wander and saw some of them, I think there were upwards of 20 in total though. They all told a little about the Town’s history, or the community which was pretty cool.

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Afterwards, we went down to the foreshore, where they’ve obviously done some recent upgrades. There was a killer new skate park that Billy enjoyed, and also this amazing waterpark/playground that was free for all. Every couple of minutes, the big bucket at the top would fill up and then pour over the whole playground. It was pretty spectacular.

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We decided to cook up a feed before travelling a further 45km to a free overnight stop north of Bowen, on the way to Ayr.

This recipe was adapted from a Donna Hay magazine, and truth be told, my mum was actually the first to veganise this one last time we were in Melbourne. I really enjoyed it, the mint brings a nice fresh flavour to the risotto.

This time I made it slightly different, as I got a bunch of snow peas at the farmer’s market the other day and used them in the place of sugar snap peas. The original recipe also calls for snow pea tendrils for serving, which would have given it a bit more oomph, but we were just using what we had available to us. We got the lovely big bunch of mint from the markets too, and it had been picked just the night before. It smelt and tasted amazing. Anyway, here’s the recipe!

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*note: when we had this at my mum and dad’s, mum used a mortar and pestle to grind up the mint leaves and salt. We don’t have one in the van, so I gave it a few pulses in the food processor, and then used the back of a spoon and a bowl to mush it into a paste.

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto
(serves 4-6)

2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
1tsp sea salt flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 L hot chicken flavoured stock
3/4 cup frozen peas
200g snow peas (or sugar snap peas), trimmed, blanched and halved
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp Tofutti cream cheese, plus extra for serving
Snow pea tendrils for serving (optional)

Put the mint and sea salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until a rough paste forms (see note above). Add 1 Tbsp of the oil and stir to combine. Set aside.

Heat the other Tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the wine and cook off for another 2 minutes, before adding the rice and cooking for a further 2 mins, stirring frequently.

Add the stock, 1 cup at a time, allowing each to absorb before adding the next, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in yeast flakes, Tofutti, snow peas, frozen peas and salt and pepper (to taste). Serve with a dollop of Toffuti, and if you like, drizzle with a little olive oil. Chuck on some snow pea tendrils too if you have them! I didn’t..

veganmofo

Travel day: Mackay to Bowen

We packed up and left Mackay this morning, bidding farewell to the showgrounds and our little flower friend that we found hidden away near our camp.

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I love getting to places, but I also love leaving. When we are back on the road, it’s exciting to find out what the next place will be like…it’s all an adventure! On the way out of town, we made a last minute decision to stop at an auto store to pick up a few things.

It was obviously meant to be, as we stumbled across this giant chair that we got to sit on.

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It was like being a kid again, when you sit on a chair and your feet can’t reach the ground.

Next stop, Airlee Beach.

First thing we spotted on the way into town was a skate park, so Bear had to get out and have a roll.

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Next we found a nursery with this dude out the front, which of course meant more stopping for photo ops.

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Airlee Beach itself was a little overrated. The town bit was quite commercial, and the ‘beach’ or bay beach was not even that nice. Perhaps especially because the tide was out, which always kind of makes the front part of the bay look like a wasteland.

We made salad and sat on the grass by the water anyway and enjoyed our lunch.

Then, onto Bowen. Bowen is about 200km north of Mackay, so we didn’t do a HUGE amount of travel, but we like breaking it into smaller doses, especially when it’s hot.

Bowen is a fruit and veggie growing region, and is also home to the Big Mango. We had to stop there, obviously.

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While there, we sampled some of the local delicacy in the form of some mango ‘sorbet’ (pure frozen mango).

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Truth be told, I’m not the biggest mango fan, but this was pretty yum. Also, you can’t go wrong with frozen treats when the weather is warm.

I made a yummy risotto for dinner tonight using some of the farmer’s market produce from the other day…I’ll share it with you tomorrow. We are now about 45km north of Bowen, and we’ll be heading not far up the road to Ayr tomorrow (and possibly onto Townsville). These bears are on the move!

veganmofo

The day I woke up at the Farmer’s Market

This post is a day late.

But by the time we’d finished work yesterday, cleaned up, walked to the Laundromat, waited for our clothes to wash, walked back, made dinner…it was bed time and I was ready for it! I just didn’t have it in me to blog.

Everybody who kept their fingers crossed that there would be a market on – thank you! We woke up at about 6.30 on Saturday morning and there was a little market set up about 100m from where we are camped. Hooray!

We started the day with a super duper smoothie of frozen banana, cacao, choc protein powder, peanut butter, vital greens, chia seeds and milk before heading over to take a poke – POW! Hello day!

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The markets were set up along a concrete pathway, in a kind of modern, refurbished part of the showgrounds. It’s kind of a shame it wasn’t on the grass, but it may well have usually been where the camping and caravan expo was on. Who knows.

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It was the biggest or the best market that I have been too, but it was very welcome. It also had some interesting fruits and vegetables – ones that we aren’t really used to in our neck of the woods. I keep forgetting that we are reaching tropical regions (how could I with this weather?!) which have some pretty amazing natural treats.

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There were some really lovely stallholders too. We bought some tapioca, or cassava root of these two men who showed us how to peel it (we had never seen the root before) and told us we could use it just like a potato, or make a sweet porridge type dish. We ended up eating some savoury style with our dinner that night which was different – it was super starchy but not in a bad way. The only way I have ever really known tapioca before is in pearl form – as a sweet dessert or in a bubble tea drink.

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I only had twenty dollars cash on me so we had a bit of a budget to stick to, but we managed to come in under. Take a look at our haul…

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Eggplant ($1!), bag of tomatoes ($2.50), bag of mixed lettuce ($2), bunch of mint ($1.50), red capsicum ($1), bag of little avocados ($3), bag of snowpeas ($2), tapioca ($2), black sapote (or CHOCOLATE PUDDING FRUIT -$2).

I was super stoked to find some black sapote. I’ve only ever had it once before – in Mullumbimby – in a smoothie. These four aren’t ripe yet, but the man selling them gave us an extra one which was ripe and had been squished a little. We ate it yesterday…so chocolatey! It’s hard to believe it’s a fruit…although I suppose chocolate is derived from plants too. Mmm chocolate.

Anyway, we finished up our work stint and got paid some cash moneys to keep rolling with, so we’re going to be leaving Mackay in the morning, heading up towards Airlie Beach.

I’ve got a (hopefully) delicious plan for some of the above veggies, so stay tuned…

veganmofo

Cheesy Spaghetti in Mackay

We are now in Mackay, the sugar capital of Australia!

We were going to just pass through as we were told there wasn’t much in the way of work here at the moment, but I guess we lucked out and checked gumtree at the right time, as we managed to snag three days cash work working a stall at an exhibition at the showgrounds. Awesome! This kind of thing is super handy when you are averaging $70/day in petrol money.

So we will be working here until Sunday, after which we’ll head north towards Townsville.

Mackay seems nicer than the last few towns we’ve stopped in, definitely more lively. The weather is crazy though! I can’t believe we are only a couple of weeks out of winter…it’s averaging 30 degrees every day! My driving arm has got a serious tan going. Also I am too scared to swim because of crocodiles….I’ve never been in croc country before so am super paranoid.

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We managed to take a little peek at the town yesterday, visiting ArtSpace, the contemporary art gallery here which was pretty cool. It had this amazing exhibition called Two Islands, One Home: A story of belonging, which commemorated the 150th anniversary of the arrival of South Sea Islanders in Queensland. It was a really heartbreaking history of South Sea Islanders being brought to Australia (either tricked, kidnapped or lied to about their prospects) to work in the sugar fields (under slave-like conditions). After some time of being here, many were subject to the nasty White Australia policy and deported. Those who stayed faced harsh discrimination. This was really educational for me, as while I know a lot about Australia’s history (past and present) of racism and discrimination towards Aboriginal people, the stories of the South Sea Islanders were new to me.

Today we ran some errands and got ourselves organised, used a movie voucher we’d been carrying around for MONTHS (we saw a pretty lighthearted movie – R.I.P.D, it was pretty good. I love Jeff Bridges so y’know.) When we got home, we prepped some hummus for sandwiches tomorrow while we have to work, some brekky for tomorrow and then just wanted something quick and easy for dinner. Enter cheesy pasta!

I’m not really doing a great job of sticking to my theme, although all the salad ingredients bar the red onion were locally sourced (either here in Mackay or on the way here). We bought the nooch yesterday at the health food store, and it was a type I’d never seen before. Most stores here seem to stock the Lotus brand, but this shop had their own packaged nooch so we decided to give it a try. It was much paler and when I tasted it dry it almost had a smokey flavour.

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However, when I used it to make cheesy sauce, it didn’t quite stand up to the test as well as the Lotus brand. It didn’t thicken as well, and the flakes didn’t completely break down – there were specks through the sauce. Nevertheless, it satisfied our need for a quick ‘cheesy’ dish.

I just kind of threw this one together…this is my quick cheesy sauce when I want something easy. It’s sort of based on the one in Sarah Kramer’s Vegan A Go-go, as well as the Mac n Trees from AFR. I don’t suppose you really need the recipe, but here goes anyway. I usually use onion and garlic powder, but we don’t have a huge herb/spice collection as we don’t have the spare space in the van.

Cheesy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp flour
Half a Massel veg stock cube
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pot over medium-low heat and sauté garlic until golden.

In a separate bowl, mix yeast and flour together. Add water and whisk to combine.

Add liquid mix to the pot, add stock cube, and bring to a boil while stirring continuously. Once bubbling, turn down to a simmer and continue to stir for another couple of minutes, until sauce thickens.

Turn off the heat and add mustard, lemon juice and salt and pepper and stir through. Stir through pasta and top with cracked pepper and smoked paprika (or hot sauce, of course).

veganmofo

High Tea in the Hamptons

We left Gladstone yesterday (gladly – that town had nothing that made us want to stay there. It was overrun by the mining industry and seemed very bleak). We stayed overnight abouorkt 30km north in Mount Locum at the showgrounds there. They were pretty shabby, with swarms of mosquitoes in the bathrooms, which were kind of gross anyway. But, it was a place to stay.

We headed out early this morning, driving another 80kms or so to reach Rockhampton before 9am. We did a bit of a ring around to see if there was any work, didn’t find any, so agreed to keep going.

But first, we thought we’d have a look at one of the local attractions, Mount Archer.

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Boyfriend Bear was set on the idea of having high tea, as we still had leftover cucumbers from a bunch of them that we picked up in Bundaberg (locally grown of course!) He really wanted to have some cucumber sandwiches, so we got some Tofutti, salt, pepper, cucumber and soft white bread and headed to the ‘highest’ place we could to have our tea.

ZZ managed to chug his way to the top of the mountain, albeit very slowly. It was beautiful and serene, with a few little picnic tables.

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Billy was very satisfied.

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We even had some wildlife come and join us, in the form of two kookaburras who sat above us hopefully. I don’t think they would have been too excited about cucumber sandwiches though.

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We’ve actually had a really wildlife filled day – waking up to kangaroos munching on grass in the showground, seeing two hawks flying above the van, plus a snake slid across the road in front of us on the way up the mountain. Not to mention all the bugs and spiders that have been landing on us over the last hour or so, hehe.

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Afterwards, we went for a walk down a trail towards a lookout, which looked out over some other mountains and the city of Rockhampton. It’s from there that this blog comes from you today! Pretty cool, huh?

Hope everybody is having a wonderful day!

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veganmofo

Sort-of Sausage Rolls for my Nan

Yesterday we set off from Bundaberg and drove up to Agnes Waters on the coast.

We were going to stay on a property belonging to Billy’s second cousin, but it didn’t work out as the floods earlier this year had washed away the driveway and we couldn’t get our van onto the property, and we accidentally went onto the wrong property and got confronted by a scary dog so we decided to abort that mission. Instead we looked around the area during the day, and kept heading north towards Gladstone in the evening. The area we stayed in had no reception, so I wasn’t able to blog yesterday…ba bowwww.

My family had some sad news the other day (I found out yesterday) – my Great Nanna passed away in her sleep. She was in her nineties and was the last living great-grandparent of mine. When I was born, I had four great grandmothers and three great grandfathers. At a young age, I didn’t realise the significance of this, or how lucky I was to have so many generations of my family in my life – it was just normal. I remember being shocked to find school friends didn’t have great grandparents, some didn’t even have grandparents!

While I moved away from Perth, where Nanna Wilson lived, when I was about 11, I still have fond memories of her from throughout my early childhood. She was a tough lady, and one thing in particular I remember about her is that she was always looking after everyone (usually through the provision of food). It just wasn’t a special occasion without Nanna Wilson’s homemade sausage rolls or one of her jam and cream sponge cakes, or a pavlova. I also still have intricately patterned cardigans in a cupboard at my parents’ house that were knitted by her when I was a little one.

While none of this suits my present vegan lifestyle, I still enjoy the memory. As a tribute to my Nan, I wanted to enjoy some of the foods that I associated with her, but this was surprisingly difficult to do in the van, without an oven. In an attempt to enjoy some (vegan) sausage rolls, we bought a box from the Linda McCartney range and tried to cook them on the stovetop. I realised that this would not allow them to puff like a normal sausage roll, but still I tried, and they were still edible. We had some Bundaberg vegetables on the side.

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They didn’t turn out quite like sausage rolls, but it’s the thought that counts.

So here’s to my Nan, a strong and wonderful lady who will be missed greatly by all who knew her. X x

veganmofo

Raw Choc-Mint Mousse

Happy Vegan MoFo everybody! Wahoo!

This is my first time participating, which is a bit exciting for me. I was umming and ahhing over whether or not I was going to do a theme as I thought posting every day as I travel around might already be quite a challenge, but hey, I love a good challenge – so I’m hitting the ground running and doing a theme.

I’m opting for what I am hoping will be quite a simple one, which is ‘locally sourced’. This means that I will be aiming to use at least one locally sourced (from wherever I am local to at the time) ingredient every day, which as well as a fun theme is a great way to support local farmers and industry. As we are in quite a big veggie growing region at the moment, it shouldn’t be too difficult. And it’s an excuse to visit more farmer’s markets too! I know, tough gig right?

So we’ve moved on from Gympie – we left today and are currently in Bundaberg, as I have picked up a week of work selling jewellery at a stall starting tomorrow. Billy finished up his labour gig yesterday, so it was perfect timing.

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Before we left though, I had a chance to go on a little trip of my own to Eumundi to visit the infamous markets there. Eumundi is about half an hour south of Gympie, and a little closer towards the coast. It’s a really cute, funky little town and it is buzzing on market day.

The markets were awesome – a diverse range of arts, crafts, food, clothing, jewellery, instrument, handmade toys and so on. I had just eaten brekkie before arriving, which was a bit of a bummer as there were a few different vegan options on offer including momos, smoothies, raw sweets and a Hare Krishna café. I just couldn’t justify buying food for my already full tummy.

I did grab some organic veggies though – some local garlic, salad mix and a big bag of avocados. How I love cheap avocados!

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Afterwards, I decided to travel a little further to the coast as it had been a while since I’d seen the ocean. I drove through Noosaville to Sunshine Beach, where I was able to enjoy the last day of winter under the sun (not that Queensland could call this ‘winter’….29 degrees! That’s summer in Tassie!)

Anyway, enough talk, more food!

Last week I made this deliciously creamy mousse with some avocados that I got in Nanango….being well stocked in the avo department I thought it would be a great start to MoFo to share this simple and sweet recipe.

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Raw Choc-Mint Mousse
(serves 2)

2 avocados
3 Tbsp cacao powder
1-1.5 Tbsp stevia or other sweetener (depending on taste)
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp virgin coconut oil

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge before serving, and garnish with extra mint leaves.

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That’s it. It is sooo easy and I just can’t get over the creaminess..it’s amazing. It’s also super versatile, as you can easily alter the flavours – I’m thinking Mocha, Raspberry and Jaffa next. Mmm…

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A weekend of country at the Gympie Music Muster

Yeehah! We are back from the Gympie Music Muster, and what a weekend!

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The Muster is a country music festival held in the Amamoor State Forest, which provides a really beautiful setting. We stayed on site from Wednesday, with the festival officially running from Thursday to Sunday. Apparently there had been people camping, drinking and having a good old time there for at least a week already though.

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The site had been completely transformed from the first day I dropped Billy off to work – there were marquees, lights, flags, food stalls, bars, and camps galore. There were some pretty impressive camp sites, I rode my bike around for a squiz and saw big wooden house structures, and many people opting to build their own bar at camp, just for those times when you need a break but can’t bear to leave the bar.

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The actual festival was really fun. I wasn’t exactly sure what I would make of it all (not being the hugest country music fan), but I had a great time. There was certainly some music that was not really to my taste (teen girl country pop), but with about seven different stages there was always something you could find to enjoy. And no shortage of cowboy hats or boots either.

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My personal favourite was the Blues and Roots stage, with heaps of funky stuff happening there. One guy in particular who played three or four of the days was amazing – Juzzy Smith. Not only did he have a lovely manner and an infectious smile, he was an incredible talent – playing his ‘one man band’ of guitar (of which he had multiple – lap steel, cigar box, etc), harmonica (of which he had a utility belt of about ten), stomp box and juggling maraca balls. The coordination was outrageous! He even played a harmonica through his nose at the same time as he played one with his mouth.

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We worked the bar every evening, which was pretty fun. I got hit on by countless cowboys, young and old which was kind of funny. The majority were harmless and even quite charming, the odd few pushed it a bit too far (into sleazeville).

I had a few great lines, like “you broke me darlin’, I shoulda married you so I’d have an excuse”, and “there’s a Bob Dylan song called ‘what’s a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?’, just thought it was relevant to the situation”. Actually the song is called ‘sweetheart like you’, but I’ll forgive you cowboy because it was a pretty good one. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been called sweetheart and darlin’ as many times in my whole life as I did this weekend.

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The bar we worked at was the Muster Club, which was pretty neat. Quite a few of the bands that I wanted to see played there while I was working, so it worked out well. The layout and setup of the festival and each area was really cool – it was well thought out and you could tell a bit of effort had been put in.

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I forgot to take a picture of the actual bar, I guess I was always on the wrong side. But there were some great decorations, and we had an awesome path to walk from our camp to the festival, which was lit from above and wound through the forest and over little footbridges.

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A few disappointing factors included the lack of recycling bins (even behind the bar, where 99% of our waste was recyclable), portaloos instead of composting toilets, the price of drinks ($6 beer, $9 spirits, $10 Jack Daniels) which remained the same after 12am when we were no longer allowed to sell full strength drinks (so people were expected to pay $10 for a mid-strength Jack Daniels), which was just ludicrous…and made us very popular.  Also there was no free water available, and a bottle cost $4, which is kind of poor responsible service of alcohol, as there should always be water available for punters. But anyway, I won’t let that overshadow the good stuff.

There was a pretty big variety of food stalls – the first few days we cooked our own, but once our fridge ran out of juice we bought a few meals. Billy fell in love with these Hungarian breads called Langos, which were these puffy deep fried breads, coated in garlic oil, a tomato red onion and basil mix, sour cream, cheese and sauce. I will have to try and recreate a vegan version…for days ‘Langos!’ was the last thing he said before falling asleep and the first thing he said when he woke.

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There was a neat mexican place too that had some vegan options – I got some soft tacos with beans, coriander, hot sauce, guacamole and lime juice.

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We had them twice, but only took a picture the second time at the end of the festival, when they obviously didn’t put quite as much effort in – the first lot looked beautiful! They were still good though – fresh compared to a lot of the other fried food available.

I guess that’s about it for my weekend roundup, I’ll finish with my musical highlights: Juzzy Smith, The Perch Street Family Jug Band, The Round Mountain Girls, the songwriters session we saw at the Blues & Roots tent (not sure the names of the three on stage but they were awesome), The Bushwhackers, hearing Darryl Braithwaite sing ‘Horses’ while I was in the middle of a queue at the toilets….and this lovely lady, Tami Neilson, and her band.

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Now I can proudly say that I am no longer a Muster virgin, a title I will gladly shake. Billy is back at work, packing down the festival so we will be in Gympie for at least another week, with plans to head north after this.