Act now: Help end Live Export

By now most of you would have heard about this week’s Four Corners report on Animals Australia’s investigation into live exports to Indonesia. The footage was nothing short of devastating to watch; one of the most difficult I have sat through up to this point. However, it has undoubtedly brought awareness of this dire situation to all corners of the world and hopefully through enough persistent action we can bring an end to this practice. It disgusted me to learn that as an Australian taxpayer I am unwittingly contributing to this atrocity. If you haven’t watched the video footage and would like to see for yourself what all the outrage is about, I urge you to proceed with extreme caution as it contains many scenes of animals in distress and dying horrific deaths. The video can be viewed here.

I urge you not to let this issue be swept under the carpet. If you feel strongly about putting an end to live animal exports, there are many ways you can add your voice to this campaign. For starters you can visit www.banliveexport.com where you can send a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and copy in Minister of Agriculture, Joe Ludwig.  You can also visit Julia Gillard’s Facebook and Twitter pages and leave messages or comments. The WSPA has recently launched a new Humane Chain website with a letter writing tool making it easy to send a personal letter to your local MP.

The GetUp! organisation is also running a campaign to air the ad below to help spread awareness.  To assist by making a donation, please visit the GetUP! website.

My utmost respect and admiration goes to Lyn White and the team at Animals Australia for their unfaltering dedication to this important work.

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Dinner at Heirloom

Drunken Heirloom Tofu

After reading a very favourable review for this restaurant by Nouveau Potato, I was keen to try out Heirloom and had high hopes for its vegetarian selections. With two vegetarians in our party of six, sadly the dinner menu was very lacking in meat-free options. I had read about a vegetarian menu in the review, but was quickly informed that this was a lunchtime only option. 😦  However, I still believed that they would be able to produce something delicious and was not put off at this point. Heirloom is a fusion of French / Japanese and being a lover of both cuisines, hoped for a memorable dining experience.

The atmosphere in the restaurant was one of cool elegance and low lighting (as can be attested to by my dodgy i-phone pics) 😉 The staff were welcoming and extremely attentive, displaying a good understanding of the menu and cooking methods employed in its creation.  When the Sake menu became all a bit too intimidating, Heirloom’s resident sake expert was promptly whisked to our table in an instant to assist in our selections.

So how was the food? First up was an amuse-bouche consisting of a shot glass of Mushroom Cappuccino. Quite a nice little teaser; light and fluffy and not unlike one I had sampled 6 months earlier in Auvergne, France. For entrée I ordered the Whipped Chevre, Beetroot Tuiles served with rye crostini. The beetroot tuiles were crispy, sweet and delicious complementing the baby daikon and beets nicely. The goats cheese at the heart of the dish was pleasant but nothing to write home about. I also took the opportunity of sampling Jayson’s Drunken Heirloom Tofu bathed in a marinade of sake and chilli. Once again the flavours were pleasant but just didn’t quite hit the spot.

Whipped Chevre, Beetroot Tuiles

The one and only vegetarian option for mains consisting of a selection of assorted wild mushrooms, quinoa with a “sea foam” looked elegant and impressive when delivered to the table, however was badly lacking in seasoning and any real depth of flavour. When the waitress noticed I had only eaten a quarter of my meal I explained that I had found it very bland. She was quick to jump to the meal’s defence, saying that it was meant to be very subtle… well considering it was the only choice available it really should have been a knockout in my opinion. Interestingly, my fellow diners who were eating the non-vegetarian fare also found their meals pleasant but not earth shatteringly brilliant.

Vegetarian main

Overall, Heirloom was pleasant enough but with the enormous array of restaurants to sample in Melbourne, I doubt I will return for dinner. I could however, be convinced to return for cocktails or sake…

Heirloom is located at:
131 Bourke St
Melbourne 3000
www.heirloomonbourke.com.au

Heirloom on Urbanspoon

Confession Time

Image by Josh Roulston

Over the last five weeks I have been posting fairly infrequently and in that time I also fell off the Vegan wagon…but wait, there’s more…for a brief while I was pregnant for the first time in my life. As swiftly and surprisingly as pregnancy came, nine weeks later it was all over 😦  In truth, a developing embryo only resided within me for at best, four or five weeks. However my body continued to believe it was pregnant, by (a) continuing to grow an empty gestational sack and (b) serving up the most hideous morning sickness I could have imagined for a further four weeks. OK, I wasn’t vomiting left right and centre; I instead developed an aversion for almost all foods except beige ones and the occasional bit of green, but could happily munch away on MSG laden snacks which seemed to be the only thing which temporarily reduced the nightmarishly unending nausea. There were exceptions to the beige tendancies; Jelly Belly beans could cure all ills on certain days. My sense of smell was also now off the scale and while everything which had previously smelled good to me was poison, bad smells were suddenly amplified by ten.

Image by Amber Nimmervoll

So someone who had previously prided herself on eating good, healthy (and more recently vegan) food, turned into someone who would eat whatever she could stomach. In short this is where free range eggs and farmers market hard cheeses re-entered my limited diet – but not without a struggle I might add. Before the morning sickness reared its ugly head, I marched off to a dietician who specialised in Vegan/Vegetarian diets for advice on how I could stick to my principles while still nourishing the child taking form within me. The news was good; a few nips, tucks and tweaks and he could see no reason my diet would not provide all the nutrients I needed for the journey ahead. However, when the morning sickness kicked in, I soon realised I would have to eat whatever nutritious foods I could stomach to supplement a fairly lacking and unbalanced diet.

After finally experiencing the phenomenon of pregnancy I really do have a new-found respect and empathy for pregnant women; the hormones coursing through body and mind literally take over the driver’s seat and suddenly every breath you take, every move you make (sorry Sting) is about what’s best for the baby. Hence my absence here. After working a full day sitting at a desk in my job as a graphic designer, the only activity I was capable of in the evening, was dropping like a sack of potatoes onto the lounge and drifting into the deepest, coma-like sleep imaginable complete with snoring (I never said it was glamorous) 😉

So now, it will be a period of re-adjustment and taking stock. We couldn’t grieve for the loss of a baby as he or she had left the building (so to speak) weeks earlier at the size of a mere dot. We had however, fallen in love with the idea of what could be and the amazing ride we would embark upon which would change our lives in all kinds of ways forever more.

Throughout this shortlived but enlightening journey, one of my favourite quotes rang true from the beginning and now from an entirely different perspective, still does:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
John Lennon

Let’s see what it has in store for us next.

Plastics…a reality check

I watch a lot of videos relating to animal welfare and environmental issues these days and sometimes feel like I’ve become a little desensitised, however when I viewed this incredible video via the treehugger website, the footage had a profound effect on me and I wanted to share it with you here. This short film documents one of the remotest spots on the planet, the Midway Atoll, situated around 1,800 kms from Honolulu, Hawaii and the massive impact washed up plastics are having on birds and marine life – it has to be seen to be believed.

Puffed apple pancake

Puffed Apple Pancake

Feeling like something substantial, delicious but also quick to prepare for Good Friday breakfast, I gave Bill Granger’s Puffed Apple Pancake a whirl. Later that morning we were heading off for a couple of days relaxation in Neerim (West Gippsland, Victoria) so we didn’t want to have to worry about a pile of dishes before we left. The beauty of this recipe is it only uses two dishes, a mixing bowl and an oven proof frying pan, although if your frying pan isn’t oven proof you could use a stove to oven casserole dish or just transfer the cooked apples from the frying pan to any baking tin/dish.

Ingredients (for the apple base):

1 tbsp butter/canola oil or vegan substitute
4 granny smith (or green apples) peeled, cored and cut into eighths
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice

Ingredients (for the batter):
3/4 cup plain flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp sugar
4 free range eggs or vegan egg replacer
3/4 cup of rice milk/soy milk

Preheat the oven to 220c. Melt the butter or oil in an oven proof frying pan or casserole dish. Add the apples, cooking for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and cinnamon, shaking the pan gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Mix the flour, salt, lemon zest and sugar in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and slowly add the eggs/egg replacer and milk, whisking lightly to combine – it’s Ok if there’s a few lumps in the batter. Pour the batter evenly over the apples – the apples don’t need to be fully covered.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until puffy and golden – if you are using a very shallow pan, you may want to place a tray underneath to catch any drips.

Serve immediately with organic yogurt or a splash of maple syrup. This will serve 3-4 people depending on how hungry you are 😉

Puffed Apple Pancake
This was a very satisfying start to the day and so quick and easy to make. If you wanted to pretty it up a little you could dust some icing sugar over the top. I plan to make some variations on this using bananas instead of apples and adding coconut and rum extract (yum yum), although you could always use strawberries or whatever berry is in season for an equally delicious result.