Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Breakfast, the first meal of the day! If I had a choice, I would most likely have smoothies every day…I love em, but unfortunately in the van it’s not always possible. As our blender stick uses more watts than our inverter can handle, we only get to enjoy our smoothies when we are plugged in to a powered site….or we happen to find a sneaky power point in a park somewhere. Enter overnight oats. This is a super simple recipe that is prepared the night before – just wake up and eat!

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Cinnamon overnight oats

(Serves 2)
 
1 cup oats
4 Tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp stevia (or agave or other sweetener)
2 cups non-dairy milk
Small handful of seeds or nuts (optional, I used sunflower seeds)
Your choice of fruit to top with
Place oats, chia seeds and seeds/nuts (if using) in a medium sized bowl. Add cinnamon and stevia and stir through.
Cover with milk – you may not need the full two cups, just make sure there’s enough to cover all the dry ingredients. The amount you put in will obviously result in a thicker or more liquid-y brekky. Add vanilla and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate over night.
In the morning, top with your favourite fruits and/or nuts. Some of our favourite combos are banana, strawberry and passionfruit; banana, dates, agave and flax meal; and strawberry/kiwi fruit. And it’s as simple as that! So easy, yet so yummy.
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Byron Organic Kitchen

While staying in Main Arm, we also took a couple of little day trips about the place, including to Byron Bay. There’s no denying that Byron is a beautiful area, and a mega popular tourist destination. The streets are jam packed with travellers (including us) and vans (including ours). While they are only 15 minutes apart, Byron is quite a contrast to the warm, laid back Mullumbimby. There are people buzzing left right and centre, shops and cafes galore and traffic everywhere (it didn’t help that it was school holidays when we ducked in) Unfortunately, with the huge influxes of people coming in and out, Byron has become somewhat commercialised to take advantage of the situation,  with big bright stores like Sportsgirl blasting their music at you as you stroll down the street. That’s not to say it doesn’t still hold some of its charm, with amazing buskers on just about every corner, beautiful beaches, smiling faces and lots of rainbow!We popped in to run some errands, and by mid afternoon we realised we were pretty hungry. Luckily, we happened to be outside the Byron Organic Kitchen! As it was a bit late, much of their stuff was sold out, but I managed to get my hands on a delicious homemade lentil veggie pattie packed with lots of lovely fresh salad in a spelt bun. Just what I needed!

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Billy ordered the soup of the day, which was full of cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, corn, capsicum, onion and thyme, and served with tosted spelt bread and hummus. He gave it his tick of approval, deeming it ‘delicious!’

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But wait, there’s more! The lovely ladies in the kitchen pointed us in the direction of their house made vegan tiramisu. How could we not?! We devoured the creamy goodness alongside some yummy kombucha.

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If you want delicious, wholesome food, reasonable prices, super friendly staff and a comfy environment to relax in a little way back from the the main action, I would definitely recommend the Byron Organic Kitchen! To take a squiz at their take away menu, head here and marvel at how cheap it is!

I’ll leave you with this piece of advice though – if you are looking for a good skate park, you will not find it here. We walked all over town looking for it, figuring it would be decent due to every second person riding a skateboard. This little patch of concrete is what we found….hmm

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Byron Organic Kitchen
Shop 4, 5 Byron St Byron Bay
Monday to Friday – 7.30am-4pm
Saturday & Sunday – 8am-2.30pm

Mullumbimby Farmers’ Market (CAKE) and Humble Pie Company

While staying in Main Arm, we were able to make two visits to the Mullumbimby Farmers’ Market, which is held every Friday morning at the showgrounds, just out from the town centre. The first time, we were even able to get into the spirit of the town and hitchhike down from Upper Main Arm as our van got bogged in. Seriously, everyone hitches around there – at one point we had a full house in our van, with a fellow helpx-er in the front, a dude we picked up down the road, then a couple we picked up further down with their dog.

I love farmers’ markets, and try to visit as many as I can as we travel around as I think they are a fantastic way to source a range of local, sustainable (and mostly organic) produce in one place, while supporting local farmers and communities. In the wake of a lot of issues regarding questionable growing/farming practices, it becomes important to consider where your food is sourced from and the practices used to produce it, and then determine where you are willing to put your dollar. I am very keen on the idea of cultivating your own veggie gardens and working towards a level of self-sufficiency, however this is not always possible – unfortunately there is little to no garden space in a travelling van! Anyway, I digress…the Mullum Farmers’ Market is a beautiful event – it has a very warm vibe, with live music throughout the morning and plenty of talented kids busking on each stretch. Not to mention some amazing stalls, from your standard veggie stall, to smoothies, to fermented produce, to sushi to raw food. The aromas as you wander about are incredible!

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Our host had recommended Raw Ecstacy, a small business from the Byron area that sells a variety of raw food dishes, including cakes, pizza, quiche, cheese and crackers, all at quite a reasonable price. She specifically mentioned the chocolate beetroot cake, so I was stoked to find it there on our first visit. I’m forever seeking new ways to introduce beetroot to my diet, as I simply DO NOT LIKE eating it – raw, roasted, pickled, in sandwiches, etc.

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Now I can certainly add cake to the list of acceptables. Billy and I had already begun munching this before I thought to take a pic, so here is the rest of the cake, in all its glory. What was truly amazing about this cake was the texture – I’m used to the dense richness of raw desserts, but somehow (with the addition of plenty of shredded coconut) this cake seemed almost fluffy! It definitely had an unexpected lightness to it. Combined with the fudgy icing, it was truly delicious!

Next visit to the market started with a visit to the juice and smoothie stall, where I had to try one of their black sapote banana smoothie, which was amazing. I’d never had a black sapote before, only heard rumours of this magical ‘chocolate pudding fruit’ but finally I was  able to taste it. It really is quit unbelievable! I look forward to more of these treats as we head further north. Next stop, back to Raw Ecstacy to check out their lemon coconut cake.

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As you can tell, this cake took a more dense form than the last, but was yummy and zesty nonetheless. I can’t fault it, but the beetroot was definitely my fave (what?! Beetroot? Favourite?! I know….)

While I’m here, I just wanted to quickly mention a pie shop called Humble Pie that our hosts took us to in Billinudgel, which was about a 20 minute drive north east of Upper Main Arm. This place was great, with a range of about six different vegan pies, including a few mock meat ones, with the rest being tofu/lentil/veggie based. Not to mention all of their pies are made with wholemeal pastry. Billy and I got the mock steak and pepper and mock thai chicken curry, both of which were awesome – we were starving so we woofed them down. We visited again when we were in the area and went for the classic curried lentil.

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This was crazy! The gravy they’d made was so rich and delicious, no wonder this is the most popular veg pie on the menu. Definitely worth checking out if you’re ever up this way.

Mullumbimby Farmers’ Market
Mullum Showgrounds, Main Arm rd
(Between Chinbible st and Coral ave)
Every Friday, 7- 11am

Humble Pie Company
1 Mogo Place Billinudgel
Open daily 8am – 5.30pm

Helpx-ing in Main Arm

Last time I was posting, we had just travelled up the coast to Ballina with no immediate plans. We spent a day in Byron Bay doing the old job ring around (avocados and macadamias in this area) but to no avail. We decided to camp out two nights at the Alstonville showgrounds (about 15 mins inland from Ballina) for showers and power (and only $10/night!). Alstonville was a lovely little town, and here’s a fun fact for you – it is the home of the Tibouchina Alstonville, a plant which has vibrant purple flowers around Autumn time. A guy who lived there developed the plant, and we were lucky enough to be there at the right time to see them in action.

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So while we were there, we decided to try the Helpx route while we continued on our search for paid work. We picked a host we liked the sound of, got in touch, and next thing we knew, we were on our way out to Upper Main Arm, about 15 minutes out of Mullumbimby. The Main Arm/Mullum area really is beautiful, and the minute we got there we were struck by the strong sense of community that is present there. Nowhere else in Australia (so far!) have we experienced something quite like it.
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Our hosts were a lovely couple who had a gorgeous property on which they had organic gardens, a little sub-tropical orchard, about 27 ducks and a handful of chooks (with names like Elton, Rob Zombie, Venus & Serena and Barry (White)) as well as two dogs, Possum and Peanut.

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The property is surrounded by bush and backed onto a creek that winds its way about the area. Oh and I almost forgot, over the neighbouring fence lived the most awesome bunch of cows, including (a super pregnant) Moonshine, her son Midnight, Little Brown Bull, Paddy and Madonna (also pregnant). Here is Little Brown Bull, Midnight and Moonshine.

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We really took to feeding the cows over the fence or in the paddock. Moonshine and Midnight were always the first to come running.

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While we were there, Madonna gave birth to a beautiful little calf with a heart shaped patch on his head, that we named Inca. Not long after we left, Moonshine had a little girl too….awwww. I can’t wait to see a photo. Baby cows are just so sweet with their long eyelashes and knobbly legs and the way they bound around.

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While we were there, we spent our days in the garden waging war on tradescantia (a creeping weed trying to take over the garden), mulching, transforming a circle garden and collecting stones from the creek to create garden edges (or barriers to prevent pineapples being squashed by duck bottoms). The beautiful circle garden we helped build/transform…

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Our hosts took us along to various outings – belly dancing lessons, winter solstice parties, social dinners at the local community hall, to the beach, yowie hunting in the bush and on missions to get delicious vegan pies. We met lots of lovely people, and our hosts were just the most awesome, lovely, funny, warm, generous people who really made us feel welcome and almost like part of the family! They cooked amazing vegan food too! I think they also taught us a lot and even inspired us to become more active in our communities. We had originally planned to stay one week, but ended up staying three, and then travelling with one of them to the gas fields in Queensland (more on that later). We already miss them!

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But our travels must continue! I’ve got some more catch up posts to come that I can hopefully get to this week, so stay tuned…

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Warming Pumpkin Soup

So I’ve been out of touch a while…we’ve been having some awesome adventures which I’ll talk more about later. We’re in country Queensland at the moment – yes! – we made it over the border at last. Just a quick post to say I’m still here – I had an awesome cannelloni recipe to share (my best one to date!) but I lost the paper napkin I wrote it on…I’m hoping it shows up in the van somewhere. I know, keeping information on a paper napkin is not ideal. Instead, I’ve got a quick and easy one for you – a pumpkin soup I made in the van last night. We were given a whole pumpkin a few days ago, so we used the opportunity we had being plugged into power at the Chinchilla Weir to whizz up this one. We only have one smallish pot, so we had to make do with whatever would fit. I know everybody has their own spin on pumpkin soup (I like a healthy dash of white pepper, or some red or green thai curry paste), but this one is a simple one that can be tweaked however you like.

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Pumpkin Soup
(serves 4)

Half a medium sized pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
Thumb of ginger (about one inch), minced
Vegetable stock (enough to cover veggies)
1/2-1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium to large saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat for a couple of minutes until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.

Add curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for about 30 seconds, before adding pumpkin and potato. If you have the space and feel like a thicker soup, throw a couple more potatoes in. Fill with enough veggie stock to cover the vegetables.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook until veggies are soft enough to mash. Add salt and pepper, then get your whizz stick and mix until smooth (or transfer to a blender – but remember to let it cool a little first so there’s no soup explosions!). And voila! Ready to eat! We toasted some garlic bread under the grill to dip in and topped with plenty of pepper and cayenne as I like it spicy.

Enjoy!

Travels up the coast

This post will be a little picture heavy, as we crammed so many cool things into the time since I last posted. We left Nelson Bay on the afternoon of Billy’s birthday and started heading north again, though with no intention of going very far that day. The weather had turned pretty sour, and I prefer to stay off the roads when there’s decent rain if it can be helped. We set our sights on Bulahdelah, managing to make a quick stop to take a snap with what we sort of considered to be one of the big things that Australia is notorious for. This might be the only ‘big thing’ we see that is not actually bigger than the real thing..

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After battling darkness and rain and roadworks which made it very difficult to tell which part of the road you were supposed to be on (unhelpful), we finally found the rest area we were searching for, cooked some falafels and ate some leftover birthday cake, and settled back into being on the road again. The rain made way for lush blue skies and sunshine the following day and we felt that ‘ahhh, it’s going to be a good day’ feeling. We set of for some exploring, first stop being the Grandis, which is the tallest know tree in New South Wales, located in the Myall Lakes National Park. On the way, we got a little sidetracked playing in this huge hollowed mossy tree stump…

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I was pretty excited to see the Grandis, as it is estimated to be over 400 years old and about 86m tall. To be honest, I thought it was going to look bigger when I was standing in front of it, but still, there’s no denying that the Tree is tall (and beautiful!)

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From there we made our way out to Seal Rocks, as several people had mentioned it as being worth checking out, and we were not disappointed. We entered onto this stunning little cove beach and immediately spotted three or four dolphins playing not even twenty metres from the shore. The water was sparkling and crystal clear, the sand was soft, the sun was out, it was perfect! We even did a little rock climbing

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Next we stopped in at Elizabeth beach for lunch and a cuppa, before heading further up the coastal route, which led us up a thin strip of land between Wallis Lake (to the left), and the Tasman Sea (to the right). We decided we would aim for around Taree that night as there were a few different rest stops to choose from, so we got a wriggle on and headed straight for it. We managed to get there in time to take a quick detour out to Old Bar, which Billy’s Nan had mentioned as being nice. We headed straight for the beach, and while it was pretty cold by then, we managed a brisk walk which revealed some lovely pebbles and stones to be collected. I’ve taken to collecting nice bits and pieces – stones, feathers, shells, beach glass, seed pods etc which I can incorporate into my jewellery making. Going into Taree gave us an excuse to tick another big thing off the list – the big oyster, or as the locals call it – the big mistake. I can kind of see why..

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We took this photo from the opposite side of the road, as we couldn’t be bothered crossing the road in peak hour traffic. As a result, we kind of look like giants here. We were actually way more excited by this fairy ring that we found on the oval across the road.

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Weeee so cool! Fairy rings form when the spawn of a mushroom falls, and a whole bunch of little underground threads spread from it in every direction, creating a circular subterranean network. Mushrooms develop above ground from these threads in a circular pattern. As the central spawn dies, the mushrooms up top keep growing, but without their little creator dude to hang onto, the diameter of the ring gets bigger and bigger until it eventually dies below and above ground. How cool is that? You can kind of see the imprint on the grass where this ring has probably partly died already.

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After staying over night near Taree, we zipped straight up to Port Macquarie the next morning. We spent most of the day there, as Billy found a skate park that he was quite taken with, and then we found a pool we could take a shower at (showers can be few and far between sometimes, so this is always a noteable event). We decided to venture a little further up before we bunked down for the night, and found a rest area near Macksville. When we woke up in the morning, these little chickadees were surrounding our van!

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We decided to go over to Nambucca Heads to have brekkie by the beach instead of by the side of the road. It was a gorgeous day and an awesome way to start it, with breakfast and coffee sitting on the rocks, followed by a walk along the beach – which was absolutely covered in shells and pebbles. I had a field day collecting them in the morning sun!

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We wandered around the little town of Nambucca, but not much was happening as it was Sunday. They did have an amazing mosaic along one of the walls in front of the police station that we spent ages looking at, it was just gorgeous.

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Billy was excited to find that Elvis even made an appearance…

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Next, Coffs Harbour as we had an old nemisis to check in with: the big banana. Now don’t get me wrong, we LOVE bananas, but a few years ago we stopped in and were disappointed by its size (not even that big), the weather causing the toboggan run to be closed, the hoards of shitty souvenirs, and the crappy frozen bananas on a stick. However, since we said we would stop at any big thing we were in the vicinity of, we thought we had better give it another chance. Also, the sky was clear and the toboggan run was open! I had never been on a toboggan before so it was pretty cool, but Billy berated me for using the brakes, saying it was against the rules. He also told me horror stories of people having their fingers cut off if they held onto the sides (BEFORE we went on). Thanks Bear.

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That was taken by a lovely lady who offered to take a photo of us. We acted happy to be at the banana again for the sake of her little girl. When she left, we set up the self timer and took this one, which expressed our feelings a little more accurately..

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Heading further up the coast, we stopped at more little beaches – Corindi Beach had a few more stones to add to the collection. We stayed at this weird rest stop overnight called ‘Little Italy’, which had a museum, cafe, gift shop, court yard and more…right in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately it was shut for the long weekend, so we missed out on poking around inside. Checked out Evan’s Head the next morning, before heading into Ballina to get supplies, get access to some wifi and get a picture with the big prawn, who is currently under construction in order to become more anatomically correct (seriously…the story of the prawn getting a tail was on the front page of the local newspaper).

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We also managed to pick up some cheap bikes while we were there, plus a bike rack to attach to the back of ZZ. They need a bit of work, but Billy is already onto it. I’ll leave it there for now, as this feels like a bit of a super post, but we are now in Mullumbimby, doing the helpx thing again which has been really great so far! More on that later I’m sure. Until next time…!

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Last days in the bay + Orange Chia Seed cake

We had a lovely last week in Nelson Bay, being able to get out and about a bit more than the previous few after my little accident. On the long weekend, Billy’s brother and his partner and two of their friends came up to stay, which was a nice opportunity to get to see them all one last time before we shipped out. We took a little trip out to Stockton Beach, which is famous for its sand dunes, which appear to just go on forever. Billy tells me they ship sand from the dunes there to beaches in Hawaii but I’m not sure if that’s actually true or not (sometimes he tells very convincing mistruths), so I cannot confirm this for sure. It was a gorgeous day, and we were lucky enough to see whales playing off in the distance from the shore which was cool. They are all migrating north for the winter, so it’s apparently really common to see them pass up the coast at this time of year. That being said, it was my first whale sighting so it was pretty exciting for me!

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The long weekend also coincided with the Bluewater Country Music Festival, which was happening all around Port Stephens, but predominantly in the Bay. I love it when things like this pop up unexpectedly, especially when it’s something that you might not have normally gone out of your way to attend. The little town of Nelson Bay came alive, with performers on every corner of the town, market stalls along the waterfront and gigs at pretty much every venue in town each night. There was even – wait for it – the longest line dance (for charity) down the main street on Monday morning. You better believe we were going to be there for that!
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It was amazing! I think the count was over 100 people, some of whom were very happy to have their photo with us. Billy even managed to get a few dancing tips…
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We spent the next few days repacking, reorganising, fixing little bits here and there, doing loads of washing and so on, preparing to get back on the road at last. We picked wednesday for a set of date, which also happened to be Billy’s birthday, so we had a nice farewell lunch with Billy’s grandparents and set off in the afternoon. I made an Orange Poppyseed cake (subbing poppy seeds for chia seeds as we had them on hand), which was absolutely delicious. You can find the recipe over at Veggieful’s beautiful blog – go check it out, there are loads of mouthwatering recipes accompanied by stunning photos. I just discovered this blog the other day when searching for the perfect cake, and am already hooked!
I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit, adding extra juice and zest as the oranges I had didn’t have the strongest flavour. I made about double the icing as well, so that I could do a middle layer. This picture doesn’t do justice to the deliciousness of the cake…not my best icing effort, but trust me – the taste made up for it.
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Billy rated it his third favourite cake, after this one that I made for his birthday last year, and the VWaV carrot cake. It’s definitely going to be added to the cake rotation!
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Sydney: the cake edition

The couple of visits to Sydney gave me ample opportunity to eat cake. And who am I to let something like that slip through my hands? On one of our trips to Newtown, Billy and I came across Vegan’s Choice, a little supermarket that stocked various pantry, refrigerated and frozen goods, as well as a large range of cakes, cupcakes, brownies and tofu ice cream.

 I think I actually cried a little the first time we walked in and looked at the cake display. Seriously. They had a great selection which included a couple of raw cheesecakes, plus about half of their cakes were gluten-free. I’m not sure what happened next – maybe I went into shock – but next thing I knew, we were walking down the street with a cupcake each. I can’t remember what the exact flavours were, but I think Billy got cookies and cream with vegan mint slice on top, and mine was along the lines of choc peanut butter with vegan tim tams. They were pretty yummy, though super sweet and almost a bit sickly by the time I’d finished it.
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The cakes and I had unfinished business, so we visited them again the next time we were in the area. This time I was able to quickly eliminate all but two cakes in my decision making process…it was either mocha or caramel cheesecake. I went with mocha, and the cheerful lady behind the counter asked if I wanted a scoop of ice cream with it. Why yes nice lady, I do. I got chocolate on the side, and Billy went with a choc walnut brownie with black sesame ice cream.
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I wish I could eat this cake forever, for it was a slice of smooth, creamy, silky choc coffee goodness. YUM. Now I had one more opportunity to visit Vegan’s Choice when I met up with a lovely friend of mine for a long awaited catch up. We ducked in for something sweet, and I was able to test the caramel cheesecake, while she went with the raw jaffa cheesecake. Both delicious, though I preferred the mocha. The raw cake was super rich and decadent, and while tasty, was difficult to finish in one sitting.
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My last Sydney cake escapade caught me by surprise. I went with Billy’s mum for a wander around the Glebe markets, when I noticed a cute little cupcake stand – Madhatter Cupcakery. I was admiring all the prettily decorated cakes when I noticed a sign saying VEGAN. Upon discovering that yes, the sign was telling the truth, we picked four little cupcakes to take home and share among us. I think these were macchiato, salted caramel popcorn, red velvet, and strawberry musk. The flavours of these were beautiful, the strawberry one being reminiscent of fairy floss, and the salted caramel had that real salty hit.
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Mmmm cake.
Vegan’s Choice
113 King st, Newtown
Open 7 days, 11.30am-late
Madhatter Cupcakery
Glebe Markets
40 Glebe Point rd, Glebe
Every Saturday 10am-4pm

Bibina

I’m kind of behind in terms of posts I’ve been wanting to do, as the lack of access to computers makes it a bit difficult sometimes. I’m determined to catch up though! The order of some of these will be a bit out of wack, but hopefully over the next couple of days I can get back up to speed with where I actually am now…real time.

Firstly, I wanted to do a quick post about this amazing place that Billy’s sister told us about called Bibina, because every vegan needs to know about this place. Bibina is a warehouse in Warners Bay – not too far from Newcastle – that imports a large range of international foods. There are aisles upon aisles of wonders, well organised by their country of origin.
You wouldn’t guess by just looking at it, but this place is a little slice of vegan paradise! While they do stock various animal products, they have an almost abnormally large amount of vegan (and gluten-free) stock. We spent over an hour inside, wandering up and down all the aisles and oohing and aahhing over all the foreign items. Here’s a picture of my bounty (NOTE: this was us being very reserved with out impulse buying).
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The incredible part is the price of a lot of this stuff. Some of these items I’ve seen in health food shops for more than double what they were charging here. I had never tried any of the Linda McCartney range because at around $8-12 a pop, it seemed like a rip off. Enter Bibina: $3.50 – how could I not?! I had tried Sheese once before but paid a ridonkulous $11 for it (and was not overly impressed by it anyway), but at a far more reasonable $5, I decided to give it a second chance. Also in this photo are; fairtrade soy cacao milk, GF self saucing choc pudding mix, Moo Free choc with banana chips, organic spinach noodles, GF chili pasta spirals, Massel stock cubes, Byron Bay habanero chili and mango hot sauce, tin of hummus (awesome stock to keep on hand in the van for when we need a quick snack), soy pepper pate, chili and lime peanuts, and speculoos biscuit spread (amazing…I had only heard the rumours about this magical stuff, having no idea it was available in Australia. We ate a whole jar with a spoon and had to go back for more..)
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This was our second time to Bibina, the first I didn’t take snaps but we got some similar bits as well as different items, like pepper tapenade, wholemeal roti breads and more. Seriously, this place is amazing. I really don’t think that I need to sell it any more than I already have, but if you need more incentive to get your butt down there, check this out – they have an ENTIRE ROOM OF CHOCOLATE. Yep.
Bibina
355 HIllsborough Rd, Warners Bay
Monday to Friday 8am-5pm
Saturday 8.30am-4pm

Nelson Bay + VWaV Ginger Macadamia Coconut Carrot Cake Recipe

So we’ve been hanging out in beautiful Nelson Bay for a couple of weeks now, staying with Billy’s grandparents. We have had to go into Sydney a couple of times to get to the hospital, but as the burn is healing well, I got the all clear the other day, and don’t have to go back again! Hallelujah! So now we can get our trip really kicking again, and we’re going to take off on Wednesday up the coast for some sightseeing and job searching. It’s really exciting to be on our way again, but there’s always a hint of sadness when we leave a place, particularly one where there’s been so much family (for Billy anyway).

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We’ve loved staying here, and have had beautiful weather for the most part, which has meant we got to have some fun in the sun. We borrowed some bikes off of B’s grandparents and went on a few rides around the bays and beaches here which was awesome. They are getting rid of one of their bikes, as they’re moving house, so we are going to lock it to the bullbars and take it with us, hopefully picking up another somewhere along the way. It’s awesome having bikes as we can just park the van somewhere and ride off, and cover a far greater distance than if we were walking. That being said, we have also been on a few walks, a favourite being up Mt. Tomaree. It was quite a short steep walk, with a well established pathway and stairs up to the top. Apparently people run up and down it for exercise, but that was a bit too keen for us. The views from the peak were just stunning!

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Mothers Day also passed while we were here, and I took the opportunity to make one of my favourite cakes for Billy’s Nan. This one comes to you from Vegan with a Vengeance, it’s the amazing Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake. Ideal for a special occasion (but also ideal for eating whenever you want to). In my experience, this cake never fails to please, no matter who the audience. It is just deeeeeelicious!! If you’ve never tried it before, do – trust me, it will seriously blow your mind!

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Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups carrots, grated

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease two 8-inch round springform cake pans, or if you prefer, one 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground spices.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in small batches and combine well with a hand mixer or strong fork. Fold in the macadamias, ginger, coconut, and carrots.

Divide the batter evenly between the two round pans, or spread in the rectangular pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let it cool in the pans. Allow to cool, before icing between the layers and on top with the following recipe. If you used one pan, you can either cut the cake in two or just leave it as a single layer. The double tier makes it just that bit snazzier.
Coconut Icing

1/4 cup nuttelex or other vegan margarine
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Cream margarine until light and fluffy. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and combine. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Add the coconut, mix to combine, and refrigerate until ready to use.

This usually makes enough icing to do the sides too, but I kind of like how it looks without. I also like to sprinkle more shredded coconut on top, just to make it look pretty and fluffy. Hope you enjoy it!

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