Good for what ails you

It seems like there must be a lot of money in listing ‘conspiracy theorist’ as the primary occupation on your resume these days. There’s all the movie and book deals, plus surely the gifts of thanks from crazed fans. With this in mind, I’ve come up with my own conspiracy theory (royalties are accepted in cash). My theory is thus: the boy in the bubble never died. Instead, he moved to Australia, assumed the identity of a blonde girl named Laura and continued living despite the generally murderous intentions of the world.

This photo was actually taken at night. Laura is just so deathly pale that she emanates her own glow.

Anyone who knows our best friend Laura will be inclined to agree with me. She is quite possibly allergic to life. And to make matters worse, she’s too old and too tall to pass for a cute, sickly-looking child that Maury Povich would deliver a truck full of toys to during his Christmas special. Life is hard.

So, when I heard that Laura was off work sick for the week, I immediately thought to myself, ‘which ailment doesn’t she have yet?’. Diabetes, of course. And with that, a care package was created.

A care package of cookies and smut for our perennially ill friend

Containing, from left: espresso brownies and chocolate chip chai shortbread (both recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar), and chocolate/vanilla hypnosis cookies (from the shiny new Vegan Cookie Connoisseur). Not seen: DVD of zombie movies and Norwegian church-burning black metal documentaries.

Chadwiko has an aversion to hot drinks and anything resembling them, so the brownies and shortbread were both recipes I’d wanted to try but hadn’t for fear of a) his irrational rage at me baking a cookie that wasn’t chocolate, and b) subsequently making myself sick by eating them all myself. Sharing was a wise solution. As it was, I ate more chai shortbread leftovers at work yesterday than I should admit to anyone but a therapist.

This baking endeavour was also my christening of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. This book is so well-presented with so many delicious-sounding treats that I didn’t know what to try first. So I went with my usual method, and choose the recipe with the most pictures. I regret nothing, because these were a lot of fun to make and adorable to boot. And given that I successfully tackled probably one of the most fiddly recipes in the book with no problems, this definitely passes the ease of use test. This one is going in my suitcase when I go home later this month, to help with the Christmas catering.

Which gives Laura around three weeks to recover from this sugar coma and prepare for the next onslaught. She’d best get hypoglycemic in anticipation.

The new world.

In July this year, we packed our bags, whipped up some peanut butter and chocolate cookies, grabbed our friend Laura and got ourselves to Sydney to embark on a most excellent adventure to the slightly bewildering land that is the United States.

Chadwiko’s insistence on devouring a sack of napalm orange ‘cheese’ corn during a stopover in Chicago aside, we were pleased to find that American food was not entirely the deep-fried-heart-attack-on-a-stick fare of our nightmares. Vegan options seemed endless, and our feeble, Australian-bumpkin minds were sufficiently blown by the abundance of easily accessible treats, cheeses and double-down burgers.

Back in Canberra, I found myself yesterday wishing for two aspects of America: snow, and a decent meal from one of our many favourite restaurants. Quickly realising that I haven’t done nearly enough good deeds for either of these wishes to come true, I was faced with a choice. Do a lot of good deeds in record time, or just make something to eat myself. Ever taking the lazier option, I chose the latter.


We caught an overnight bus to Chicago from Toronto, and it proved to be one of the less intelligent decisions of our trip. We got in at 5am and only had the one day to explore before jetting off to San Diego for Comic Con. The day was a sleepless blur of rushed public art-viewing, and we collapsed into our bed (singular, we couldn’t afford our own) for a nap at 6pm. We eventually dragged ourselves out for something to eat, and found ourselves at Karyn’s Cooked, where we had a meal good enough to wake us  up and make us stop hating the world.

BBQ seitan ribs

This was where Chadwiko had BBQ seitan ribs, coleslaw and corn on the cob- a meal that he begs me to recreate for him with irritating frequency. I use this foolproof recipe from Fat Free Vegan, and to put it lightly, he’s a fan.

New York City

We had a more leisurely ten days in New York City, and each one of those brought us something new and delicious to eat. An obvious standout was Babycakes bakery, or ‘Laura’s second home’. I loved their lemon cupcakes, which aren’t featured in the Babycakes cookbook. Chadwiko’s favourite chocolate cupcakes, however, are.

Chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

These cupcakes are rich, and much denser than the cakes I usually make. The Babycakes icing is gloriously good, but melts easily. Since some of these were heading into work the next day and would have to be out of the fridge and in the sun on the way there, I went with a more well-behaved, basic cream cheese icing.

The recipe is available online at GOOP- I know. I find it insufferable, too. But all the more reason to buy the book, right?

Now, if only someone could point me to a recipe for Red Bamboo’s brownie-bottom cheesecake.

Oasis in a political wasteland.

We moved to Canberra from Adelaide in January this year, and for the first couple of hours living here we were delighted by the (approximately four) sights to take in. The novelty wore off pretty quickly, but in my time here I’ve been able to compile a comprehensive list of things that Canberra has over Adelaide. These include:

  • Actual career opportunities
  • Better bike paths
  • Question time as a spectator sport
  • 4dead
  • And Au Lac, the vegan Vietnamese restaurant.

Because celebration, as far as I’m concerned, is synonymous with ‘gorging until my sinuses are packed with food’, the latter was where we chose to have our anniversary dinner.  A slightly dodgy establishment (albeit with classy water feature, likely procured from Bunnings) housed in a building owned by Jackie Chan, Au Lac is home to vegan mock meat dishes that have consistently blown the minds of our omnivorous family and friends.

When I gave up meat, the only difficult goodbye was my parting with squid. So imagine my delight when we first walked into Au Lac in our first week here, after a long day of lake-admiring (or other such tedious tourist activity), and saw mock salt and pepper squid on the menu. And even better, it was delicious. ‘Canberra,’ I said to myself, ‘you’re okay’.

Chicken drumsticks

Roast duck

Lemongrass chicken

Salt and pepper squid

Thanks Au Lac, for a delightful anniversary feast and for generally keeping Canberra bearable.

Three years of abject stupidity.

Three years ago today I went on a date with some guy with ridiculous sideburns and an old man hat. In those three years I’ve been to ten countries, worked six jobs, lived in two cities, and that one guy has stuck around for all of it. He’s put up with a lot, and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps some kind of stunted mental growth. That would explain a lot. His contempt for pants and inexplicable love of action figures, for example. But whatever it is, I’m thankful for it.

Contrary to what the television continually tries to tell me, I don’t celebrate this Thanksgiving business. But occasions like the anniversary of something pretty special do make me reflect on how good I have it. I’m in the top 1% wealthiest people in the world. That’s something to be thankful for. Today I showed my appreciation for that by donating to Bahay Tuluyan, the street children’s rights organisation that I volunteered with in the Philippines shortly after Chadwiko and I met. I would be genuinely thankful to see others doing the same at this time of year, rather than complaining about the little things, like a family that doesn’t want to eat Tofurkey. If you have the choice to be vegan, rather than being forced to eat what you can to survive, that should be enough to be thankful for, too.

(Chadwiko was right to add the ‘rants’ subtitle to this blog. He knows me too well.)

And what does he have to be thankful for today, other than a belly full of vegan salt and pepper ‘squid’ and a little lady who loves him? A shiny new lightsaber.

It might not be as thoughtful as his gift to me, but I know what makes him happy. Thanks for everything, guy.