A Simple Salsa

This is a super quick post, as I think my laptop charger just blew and I don’t have much battery left. It’s a race against time!

I just wanted to share what we ended up doing with those Late July cornchips we got the other day. As we had a bunch of tomatoes left over from the markets (possibly back in Mackay even?!) starting to look a bit sorry for themselves in the heat of the van, we decided to make a simple salsa to accompany our chips.

This is how it turned out (excuse the dodgy pics)

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The corn chips were good – nice and crunchy and you could definitely taste the chili. Not sure they are something I could regularly justify spending $6 on, but definitely worth trying (and a bit fancier than your average corn chip).

The salsa recipe is super simple, but I’ll share it with you anyway. Ordinarily I’d add some fresh coriander, but we are being super frugal at the moment as our travel expenses are high.

Simple Salsa
(makes about 2 cups)

1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp oil
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
3/4 cup corn kernels
1 red chili, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp lime juice
Salt, to taste

Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat and add onion. Cook for a couple of minutes, until slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring frequently.

Add ground spices and chili, and sauté until fragrant, about another 30 seconds – 1 minute.

Add the capsicum and tomatoes – this should deglaze the pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes break down.

Add lime juice and corn, and cook for another couple of minutes until heated through. Season to taste. Serve and enjoy! We topped ours with some avocado mashed with lime juice, salt and pepper.

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We had plenty of leftovers, so the next day we had a salsa salad topped with avocado. This was so good, possibly even yummier than with chips the night before. I think Mexican style food always tastes better the next day though, must be the flavours all oozing into one another…mmmm….

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Townsville to Mission Beach

I’ve missed the last couple of days as we’ve been on the move and haven’t stayed in places with any reception. We are now just north of Mission Beach, which is about halfway between Townsville and Cairns.

But man oh man we’ve had an awesome two days.

Yesterday, after camping out at Balgal Beach, we woke up to some markets setting up around us. While they weren’t officially open, we managed to pick up a few veggies from one of the guys there, who grows all his produce locally at Rainbow Gardens.
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Next we headed up to Little Crystal Creek, which is in the Paluma National Park, not far north of Balgal. It was a short drive from the highway, and my goodness was it worth it. Check out the beauty we stumbled upon…(and crocodile free, too!)
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It was seriously just stunning. It’s unbelievable how many little beauties like this there are in this country.

After that we slowly made our way up to Digger’s Creek, passing through Tully and stopping for a chance to visit the Big Golden Gumboot.

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The Golden Gumboot pays homage to the ‘wet’ nature of the town, and the height of the gumboot (7.9M) represents the record rainfall for Tully, which was in 1950. Crazy huh? You can even go inside and climb the staircase to the top of the boot, hehe.

Today we got up early and started the day with a watermelon that we had been carrying around for a few days, waiting for the right time to eat. We actually picked this little baby up on the way to Townsville, when we saw a fruit and veg stall on the side of the road and stopped to take a look. When we got out, we realised this was not just any fruit and veg stall, it was surrounded by GIANT FRUIT AND VEGETABLES that we could take photos with. Hurrah!

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As the melon didn’t really fit in our tiny fridge, we decided it was best to eat it in the morning before the van heated up too much. It made a pretty good brekkie too!

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After filling our tummies we headed out to Mission Beach, which was a fairly short, but beautiful drive from where we had camped. We are now in croc AND cassowary country, and we saw countless signs warning us to drive carefully so as not to hit a cassowary. I was kind of disappointed that we didn’t see one, but also glad that none were playing too close to the road.

Mission Beach was stunning, and I think our first real ‘tropical’ beach that we’ve been to so far. The sand was so fine, the water crystal clear and the edge of the beach was lined with palm trees. And again, no crocs here! Wahooo. (only poison stingers and big stingrays, don’t worry).

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This picture doesn’t really even do it justice. It was just pristine and beautiful here!

We spent the morning walking the length of the beach and lazing around in the sun, before heading to town for a beer at the bar. In the afternoon, we simply went back to the beach, found a shady spot under some palms, and dozed and read books. Tough life hey? Of course now everything we own is covered in a layer of superfine sand, as you can never seem to get it all off. Oh well, I guess that’s the price you pay…

Tomorrow we should find out whether there is work for us in Townsville or not, and then we will be able to be a bit more sure of where we’re going – south back to Townsville or north to Cairns. It’s like waiting for a coin to land!

This wasn’t a very vegan MoFo-y post…there was a bit of food (and all local too!) but it has been more an update on my whereabouts….sorry! Tomorrow I promise to post something a bit more food-y. Hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend!

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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.

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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

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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..

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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!

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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…

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More Strawberries!

We were supposed to work all day today, but it was so quiet that we got let off at 1pm, which was a bit of a bummer. Hopefully tomorrow is busy enough to keep us on all day, same for Sunday.

We are staying in the showgrounds, which is where the expo we are working at is held which is super convenient. These showgrounds don’t normally permit camping for some reason, but they do for workers when there are events on. They have ultra new showers/toilet blocks which is like luxury after the mosquito cesspool bathrooms of the last place we paid to stay at.

Also, there is possibly a farmers market here tomorrow morning, which is AWESOME! When we got work I was pleased, but also kind of bummed that we wouldn’t be able to look for a farmers market for the second weekend in a row. Now maybe they will come to us! I say maybe, because no one seems to be 100% sure whether they are on due to the expo being on. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, today’s food related business comes to you courtesy of Emma over at Coconuts and Berries. Her theme for vegan MoFo is awesome – she’s doing an A-Z of ingredients, featuring a different one every day. This was way back at C for chia seeds!

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I love chia pudding. I also love overnight oats with chia seeds. I am also up to my ears in strawberries in Queensland! And while I have topped my brekkies with strawberries, I’d never thought to blend them into the milk. This was something I had to try!

Unfortunately, upon opening our strawberries we discovered they had begun to grow mould from the inside out, so I salvaged what I could but it definitely could have done with a few more. In saying that, this was a delicious change to my usual vanilla or chocolate version. Emma calls it ‘strawberries and cream’ and that’s exactly what it’s like – super creamy and sweet.

I recommend checking out this recipe (and all her other wonderful ones) here on her blog!

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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).

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Grilled Polenta Cakes with Ratatouille

Today’s recipe comes to you courtesy of my little pocket of backlog posts that I haven’t gotten around to posting yet.

Luckily, it still fits with my theme of local produce, as the capsicums and zucchini I used were sourced from the local market in Gympie, as was the basil. The tomatoes could maybe be included – they were locally sourced from a bin at the Gympie Muster site. Well, they weren’t yet in the bin, but they were left in boxes by a bin. I can’t verify their location before that, but we saved them from a sad fate of decomposing at a rubbish dump.

I really love polenta, it’s so creamy and versatile. I find it to be filling, without being too heavy either. I haven’t had it in ages, and just got a hankering for it, so I whipped this baby up. We had enough to feed us a few times over too, so we happily munched on leftovers the next day.

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Grilled Polenta Cakes with Ratatouille
(serves about 6)

Polenta

1 ½ cups polenta
4 cups water
1 veg stock cube
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp fresh basil, torn
2 Tbsp olive oil (I used basil infused) (or non-dairy spread) + 1 Tbsp extra for grilling
¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ cup non-dairy milk (optional extra creaminess – may need more water in the beginning though if not using)
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring water and stock cube to a boil in a medium to large pot. Once boiling, slowly pour in the polenta, whisking as you go. Whisk continuously for a couple of minutes until the polenta starts to thicken and bubble. Be very careful as one has been known to be burnt by spitting polenta.

At this stage you may like to change to a wooden spoon or spatula. Turn the polenta down to low and continue stirring, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Add thyme, basil, oil, yeast flakes and non dairy milk and stir to combine. Continue to stir for about ten minutes. The polenta should be becoming less grainy, and firm enough that it comes away from the edges of the pot when you stir it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn off heat and spread polenta into a greased or lined 11×7 inch (28x17cm) baking pan and put in the fridge to set.

Once firm, cut polenta into pieces. Brush a cast iron grill skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. You can do this on a barbecue grill, or simply shallow fry it in a pan if you’d prefer…I’m simply utilising what I’ve got. Cook cakes until a bit golden, and charred grill lines appear. Flip and do the other side. Serve with ratatouille (recipe below).

Ratatouille

1 medium eggplant, diced 1 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
6 tomatoes, diced
¼ cup basil, roughly torn
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and thyme and saute for another minute, until fragrant.

Add the eggplant and saute for about five minutes, until it is beginning to feel tender.

Add the capsicum and zucchini and saute for another minute, before adding tomatoes and basil. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the tomatoes to break down a bit, and all the veggies to be nice and tender.

Add lemon juice and stir through, season to taste.

Serve warm over grilled polenta (or whatever you want! – Stir through pasta, eat on top of quinoa, top a leafy salad with it…anything goes).

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