Things that make me happy: Friday

I must make a confession. I’ve been keeping a secret from you all this week.

Over the past week we have had a couple of meet and greets and been organising ourselves to bring home a new family member.

Meet Ollie.

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He’s a 1 year old rescue dog. We met him on his first birthday last Sunday – coincidence? I think not!

He was surrendered as a lab x kelpie but there’s definitely something else in him as he’s quite big. I fell for him the moment I saw him.

And Zephyr gets along well with him.

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Mind you, she immediately claimed the new bed we got for him.

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He’s big, he’s clumsy and goofy, but he’s smart and loving. He slobbers all over everything, even Zephyr’s head because he’s so busy licking everyone who pats him. He’s wonderful. I can’t even imagine why he would be surrendered or why he was still waiting on a family but here he is and he’s ours.

Zephyr has been our only dog since we got her (she was direct from the pound) but she isn’t getting jealous and it’s hilarious watching them try and work out each other’s play style

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Dogs make me happy. Especially when it’s Zephyr and Ollie.

I’m aware that I’m supposed to be posting one photo a day for this weeks challenge but I couldn’t help myself.

Yoga with Zephyr

I did my yoga outside today, in the veggie garden and under the shade of our apple tree.

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Yes, our garden needs a little tidy up.

Zeph joined me, for the most part just happy to be by my side but there were a few interruptions for belly rubs or pats. I didn’t mind.

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It was really nice actually. There was a cool breeze, and every time Zephyr brushed against the tomato, basil or fennel I could smell the delicious herbs.

Not only that but I heard, and then spotted, the native blue banded bees that visit our garden each year to pollinate the tomatoes. They were the first ones I saw this year and I really like them.

Zephyr was pretty happy.

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Occasionally when she thought I was about to turn around to her she’d throw herself on the ground for a belly rub. She does this regularly. Just lies there watching you and wagging her tail hoping for belly rubs (and how can we resist?)

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It was great. I haven’t taken my yoga outside before but this morning was too nice to stay inside.

It was really pleasant, and at the end I basically just laid there with zephyr next to me, watching the bees and the ants busy in the garden.

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Very vegan trifle (and other Christmas food)

Great success!

My vegan trifle was a pretty big hit, apparently.

Check it out.

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I don’t know if other countries do this, but , in Australia a Trifle is pretty much mandatory for Christmas. In fact, the only time I ever make one is for Christmas. I’m fairy confident they have their origins in England but we Aussies seem to go nuts for Christmas trifles. A few years ago I had three Christmas meals (lunch, dinner, then Boxing Day lunch) with three different parts of my family. Each meal had a trifle for dessert.

There’s might be a few different versions, but the ones we’ve always eaten have been layers of cake (with sherry or other fortified wine sprinkled over), jelly, fruit, custard and cream. Generally it’s topped with fruit and/or chocolate flakes.

Not too vegan friendly as it is.
Gary loves trifles and I was determined that being vegan would not mean he misses out.

So I did a little label reading, moved a little away from traditional and made the trifle as follows:

Cake layer: I just made a vanilla cake using egg replacer and soy milk (cheap cake mix had no animal ingredients)

Jelly layer: the local health food shop had gelatin free jelly. I added some tinned fruit to it while it was setting.

Custard: quite a few custard powder brands are vegan, it’s the dairy in made-up custard that isn’t vegan. So I made up some custard with coconut milk (the kind for drinking, not for curries). It was delicious.

Cream: I made whipped coconut cream! It was so good. The first lot I tried, which I tried the morning of Christmas Eve, didn’t work. The coconut cream had emulsifiers so I’m guessing that meant it didn’t separate enough. I went to the health food shop and got organic, emulsifier free coconut cream and it was amazing. Decadent, yet light enough that I didn’t die after a spoonful.

Whipped coconut cream is so easy. Just pop a can in the fridge overnight (you need full fat too, not light). When you open it, it will be solid on top. Scoop out the solid part, and beat till fluffy. I added a small amount of icing sugar just for a tiny bit of sweetness.

Then stack it all up! I also put some of our muscat on the cake. I grew up in Rutherglen, a fairly well know region amongst people who enjoy fortified wines, particularly port, muscat, and tokay* so I like to use a local muscat in these sorts of things rather than the traditional Sherry.

In celebration of all that coconut, we topped it with strawberries, banana and mango.

The resulting trifle was creamy, but not too heavy, well balanced, and a bit hit amongst the animal product consuming crowd.

For dinner we went home (with our leftover trifle) and my brother David came round.

We had a BBQ feast.

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the meat you see is the venison steak Dave brought from home. Mum gets meat that a friend up in the hills hunts – far more ethical than commercialised farming! I didn’t mind throwing it on the BBQ for him, but we did joke about having to throw out the BBQ after

I marinated some tofu and veggie chunks in a store brought marinade for a couple of hours before skewering them and throwing on the BBQ (basting with more marinade as I turned them) with some home grown zucchini and eggplant, and some sweet potato.

I also made this potato salad:

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I’m kind of shocked now I’ve been making this salad for a bit. Old school mayonnaise based potato salads are so much heavier! This is light, perfect for summer, and delicious.

For the dressing I combine whole grain mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and sugar or a syrup and shake to mix, adding a little of whichever component I think it needs until it tastes good. I’ve found though that it’s good to make it with a little more mustard/vinegar bite than is preferred because it softens when you put it on the potatoes.

Toss through some fresh dill and spring onion and you’re done. Just because I could, I also added corn this time.

Christmas in Australia is actually pretty easy for vegans. It’s summer here so BBQ and salad is a common go-to. Very easy to make vegan options!

Bonus points: here’s a photo of our beautiful girl Zephyr getting all the attention she wants and loving it

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*fun fact: a few years ago I remember some legal issue meant that the Rutherglen region had to change the name of their wine varieties because they couldn’t use the same names as the other regions internationally used. So we now make wines like Rutherglen muscat and topaque

Remembering late spring.

… because it’s cold and dreary but I feel pretty darn cheerful right now.