Nov 30, 2011

November Wrap-Up

November is over today!  It seems like the months go faster and faster the closer you get to the end of the year!

Thanks to everyone who supported Kommoner this month.  So far we have raised $35 through the Raffle for Bat Conservation and Rescue QLD.  They are also my charity for next month and will receive 10% of all sales for December!

Altogether we raised $36.50 for Nothing But Nets, enough to get 3 mosquito nets to families in need!  Yay!

This month I tried out 4 new recipes: Sausage Rolls, Potato and Gravy Casserole, Lentil Lasagne and Zucchini Bread.  I also reviewed a couple of books and movies and got to talk to two other crafty folk: Megan from Cubies and Josh from Ruffbat Creative.

I also brought out a whole bunch of new designs:  Piglet, Todd and Fredrika, plus a whole heap of brooches and bookmarks!

Nov 24, 2011

Zucchini Bread

*1 medium zucchini, grated  $0.63
*1.5 cups self raising flour   $0.16
*1/4 cup water
*1.5 tsp cinnamon
*1/2 cup raw sugar               $0.10
*1/2 tsp salt
*1/2 cup vegetable oil         $0.57
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
*1 tsp vanilla

1.  Mix all the ingredients together.
2.  Pour into a tin.
3.  Bake at 180C for 25-35 minutes until top is golden brown.

Makes:  8 slices.

Total:  $1.46 or 18c/slice.

Calories: 2176 or 272/slice.

Protein: 24.8 or 3.1/slice.

Nov 23, 2011

Christmas Menu Ideas

I don't celebrate Christmas, but I know that a lot of people do, so I've gone and looked through the internet and compiled a list of cruelty-free recipes and ideas that you can use at home for your Christmas celebrations.  Make it a day of love and life!

Barnivore is a great guide if you're looking for vegan alcohol to sip on during the day.


Instead of eating a turkey, how about adopting one?  They'll love you for it!

I hope that this has given you some ideas on how to celebrate your Christmas without harming animals and while lowering your environmental impact.

Do you have a favourite vegan recipe that you use for Christmas?  Leave a comment to share it with everyone :).

Nov 22, 2011

Lentil Lasagne

I have not had lasagne once since I became vegan.  Total bummer.  Also, I am laaaaazy when it comes to trying out a new recipe and a lot of the recipes out there require nutritional yeast which is out of my grasp financially.  I found this recipe up on the Sanitarium website and played around with it a bit.  I also looked at about 10 different white sauce recipes in order to make a vegan one.

*2 cans brown lentils            $3.10
*1 large carrot, grated           $0.24
*2 medium zucchini, grated  $1.26
*1 onion, sliced                     $0.54
*1 can diced tomatoes           $0.69
*1.5 tsp curry powder
*2 cloves garlic
*pepper and salt
*dash of oil

White Sauce

*3.5 cups non-dairy milk   $2.20
*6 tbsp plain flour             $0.06  (use gluten free flour if that's how you roll)
*2 tbsp Nuttelex                $0.43  (this is vegan margarine)
*dash of salt

*1 pack lasagne sheets   $2.19  (gluten free $4.26)

Optional:  Add some celery and if you have nutritional yeast, add about 1/3 cup of that to the white sauce.

1.  Mix together onion, a dash of oil, zucchini and carrot and saute for ~10 minutes.
2.  Mix in the rest of the filling ingredients and cook.
3.  Make white sauce by first melting the butter in a pot then adding the milk and flour - stir as it thickens.
4.  Layer lasagne sheets, then filling, then sauce.  Repeat til you run out.
5.  Spread any left over white sauce on top.
6.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180C or until lasagne sheets are soft.

Makes:  6 serves.

Total:  $10.65 or $1.78 per serve.

Creator Profile: Cubies

My latest blog interview is with the lovely vegan behind the adorable Cubies!  I found them on facebook (somehow) and they were so cute that I just had to tell you all about them!  Then it turned out that Megan is also rad!  Read on to find out about this awesome person and their creations.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Megan, I like to sew. I'm the crafter behind Cubies. I'm vegan and I am dedicated to helping animals any way I can. I am a fully qualified Veterinary Nurse, working in a Vet Clinic by day and crafting by night. I am a bit of a nanna, I like to stay home and craft instead of going out and doing young people things. I have three fur babies; a diabetic Silky Terrier named Sam and two cats Baxter and Bruce.

What do you create?

I make Cubies. Which are cube shaped plush toys! I also make cushions and I am in the process of developing a new line.

Are your products vegan friendly?

Absolutely. Being vegan myself, I make sure to source only vegan materials.

How long have you been making things?  What was the first thing you made?

I have been making things since I could hold a crayon. I initially spent all my time drawing as a kid. Then when I was given a very old sewing machine that belonged to my grandma I began sewing. I made clothes for my dolls, plush toys and all sorts of fabric goodies. Then into my teens I flittered between drawing and sewing. Drawing will always be important to me but lately I am just crafting as I do not have a lot of time to draw. I don't have a photo of the first thing I made but I do have a photo of the plush that Cubies originated from. It was a flying tofu cube with wings. Then after that I made the first ever Cubie who was pink and had a bandaid on her head.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from a whole host of places. My fur babies, animals at work, horror movies, friends, family, my surroundings and other plush artists. I try to always carry paper and a pen with me because you never know when inspiration will strike. I have a lot of little scraps of paper with sketches on them all around my sewing room.

How can people contact you?

My email:
I also try to frequent the Unwrapped Markets as often as possible. They work tirelessly to help creative people get their businesses off the ground. They run these markets a few times a year.

Nov 21, 2011

Book Review: The Life You Can Save

Australian philosopher Peter Singer writes this brilliant book explaining how it is the responsibility of all people to help all other people.

Singer starts off slowly by giving examples of situations in which a person would immediately jump to save another.   He then explains the plight of billions of people living under the poverty line each of which could be saved by the intervention of one person.  He outlines the stark differences between people struggling to live and those who have millions of dollars they don't know what to do with.  So why don't people help?

Photo Credit: Sarah Lee/Guardian

According to Singer, some don't because they believe they have earned to right to do what they want with their money, regardless of the country, class and situation that they were born into (others do not have these advantages).  Others are disheartened by the corruption that can be found in some countries where welfare money ends up lining the pockets of governing bodies instead of the people in need.  Yet others believe that the Government is already giving enough money (in 2011-12 Australia will give 0.35% of the Gross National Income to foreign aid).  Singer lists many other reasons and explains their flaws.

He then explains the psychology of why people don't give more.  Ever wondered why I am always telling people about my giving to charity?  Well it's because people are more likely to give if they hear about other people giving.  People also give more if they think that others are.  So don't be afraid to toot your horn!  Singer lists other reasons why people are less inclined to give; they feel disconnected by distance, they cannot relate to the problems, they are waiting for other people to help.  He goes into all of these in depth and I really enjoyed learning more about the human mind.

The last half of the book is dedicated to showing how we can change our society to one that cares about giving and sees it as a good thing.  Singer explains that we can give, but that we also must look after ourselves and our families.  I really do suggest reading this book and passing it on to friends.  It is what got me thinking that I could make a difference in the world.  And look, I've already raised over $2,500 since I started Kommoner, I give money monthly to Oxfam and I've made 53 Kiva loans so far!

Nov 19, 2011

Movie Review: Born Into Brothels

I was lucky enough to watch Born Into Brothels in my Culture, Community and Enterprise tutorial.  It is one of those documentaries that is both sad and inspiring.  It is about a group of children in the red light district of Calcutta in India who learn the joy of photography and a woman who attempts to save them from being trapped in the industry.

Briski originally went to Calcutta to do some documentary photography and ended up becoming close with the children of the prostitutes that worked there.  She became rather attached to them and decided to teach them how to take photos, hoping to give them a better future.  The photos that they took were amazing and helped the children to gain confidence and also hope.

Briski helped to organise exhibitions for the children in order to raise money for them.  She worked with their families to try and get them into schools and away from the red light district.  However, a lot of them were refused places due to their past and some ended up returning to their families.

This movie was both saddening and inspiring.  I was sad to find out that this was still going on in the world; that women were born into prostitution and forced to continue on in their mothers footsteps.  I was inspired by the fact that this one person, Briski, was able to see this problem and raise enough money to get a lot of these children an education.  Not only that but this documentary sparked the creation of Kids With Destiny, which is aimed at providing an education and safe housing for children from the red light district.

Nov 15, 2011

Potato and Gravy Casserole

I made this recipe up based on what I had available to me at the time.  The sauce that I made ended up being like gravy which is why this is my Potato and Gravy Casserole :).  To make it cheesy instead of gravy-y, I'd use 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast instead of the beef stock cube.  It was very delicious!

*3 medium potatoes       $1.02
*salt and pepper
*2 tbsp Nuttelex
*2 tbsp flour
*1 cup non-dairy milk   $0.49 (for gravy)
*vegan cheese (optional - can make some out of nutritional yeast)
*~1/2 cup non-dairy milk  $0.25 (to fill dish)
*1 tsp each paprika, basil, parsley
*1 cube Massells beef stock  $0.24

1.  Peel and thinly slice potatoes.
2.  Melt butter on stove.  Add milk and stir, then flour, stock and spices.  Stir occasionally until thick enough.
3.  Layer potatoes and sauce until all ingredients used up.
4.  Sprinkle with vegan cheese.  I used Notzarella.
5.  Fill halfway with non-dairy milk.
6.  Bake at 200C for ~45 minutes.

Shred up some vegan cheese (I used Notzarella) and sprinkle on top.

Options:  Add some onion, nutritional yeast and garlic.

Makes:  4 serves.

Total:  $2.49

Calories:  982 or 246 per serve (without cheese)

Protein: 38.9 or 9.73g per serve.

Nov 13, 2011

Movie Review: The Dark Side of Chocolate

The Dark Side of Chocolate is a documentary about the child labour, slave trade and horrible working conditions that are part and parcel of the cocoa harvesting that goes on in the Ivory Coast.  Ever wondered what fair trade was about?  It's about stopping this from happening.

Children as young as 10-14 are taken across the country to the Ivory Coast to work on cocoa farms.   Their families send their children off to get paid work and the traders entice them with lies about money.  Some children are taken without their parents' knowledge.  These are the children that harvest the beans from the plants that fuel the chocolate craze in first world countries.

This film was created in 2010, only last year and yes, this is still happening.  What can you do?  Support fair trade, express your concerns to the relevant chocolate companies and sign petitions.

Book Review: No Impact Man

Colin Beavan was the kind of person who tells others that they need to change their ways to prevent global warming without really doing anything themselves. Colin decided one night that this had to change and took their family on a journey to find out if a person can live with no impact on the environment.

In a world where people are told that they must earn more money, get the right job and, quite simply, buy their happiness, are people actually happy?  Colin does not claim that people should give up on their needs or eschew material goods, he simply believes that one must, well, live simply.

"The people most satisfied with life, it turned out, had strong social connections, found meaning in their work, got to exercise what they considered to be their highest talents, and had a sense of some higher purpose." - Colin Beavan p.26

I am sure that many of you have noticed the importance of these things in your own lives. How dull is your life when you have no joy in your job and it consumes your life completely?

Colin starts off looking at the problem of global warming and helping the environment from a position of achieving self-fulfilment rather than from a position of helping humanity but then start to realise just how important it is. The book is filled with practical advice for people wanting to start the journey on their own; switch from tissues to hankies, from disposable nappies to cloth, make your own food, ride a bike and buy secondhand.  There is also information on global warming and how much waste people produce and, to be honest, the figures are scary.

Photo Credit: How Stuff Works

On their journey, Colin faces a lot of stumbling blocks and learning curves but tells about all of them with complete honesty.

This book had a few too many bits of religious and spiritual insight in it for me*, which have nothing to do with ethics (based on logic) and more to do with morals (being told what is wrong and right).  That said, it was a book about one person's experience rather than a researched academic paper on what one must do to help the environment.

As someone who claims to love the environment myself, I can say with honesty that I do not always walk the walk; sometimes I buy food from takeaway places or eat out at restaurants. Sometimes I'll buy a bottle of water because I forget my metal drink bottle.  The average Australian generates over 2,000kgs of waste each year.  In 2007, 21.3 million tonnes of waste went into landfill (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Photo Credit: debabrata

I have found this book to be inspirational and I will look out for more opportunities to lessen my carbon footprint and try not to destroy the environment, our planet, as much. Part of the reason I went vegan was to lower my carbon footprint and environmental impact.  Now I am going to buy a hemp bag for carrying my groceries and maybe some of these Fregie bags to use instead of those plastic bags at shops.  Colin also emphasises that creating a positive impact is important too, which I already try to do through the fundraising events at Kommoner.

"My life itself is a resource.  How shall I use it?" - Colin Beavan p.205

What do you do to help the environment?  Do you think the government needs to step in more?

*I am a person who enjoys logic, not stories about the meaning of life, but I am sure that people would enjoy them and possibly find meaning in them.

Nov 11, 2011

Fact Sheet: Iodine

I found out the other day that iodine is important and that it's another one of those things that some vegans don't know about.  Although apparently most Australians, regardless of diet, don't know about it.  However it used to be available in milk and meat thanks to cows so they got away with it.  A decrease in the amount of iodine in soil has meant that it's also a problem for omnivores.  Apparently pregnant people need to make sure they have a lot of it.

"It's used by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone - one of the important hormones that drives our metabolism." - Lavelle, P 2005

Photo Credit: Medicine Net
A lack of iodine can cause people to be tired, have skin problems and lose their hair.  It also increases your chances of getting thyroid cancer.   

"A lack of dietary iodine can cause an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre) or other iodine deficiency disorders including mental retardation in children." - Better Health Channel

The Australian Government realised this problem and made it so that all bread makers had to use iodised salt instead of regular salt.  Which is fine and dandy, but what if you don't eat bread, or you eat organic or locally made bread?  Well, you can go buy yourself iodised salt and add it to your meals!  I did this but some other vegan sources of iodine include seafood and kelp.

Photo credit: Salt by Kristian Niemi
Nutrition Australia has a handy table that tells you how much iodine you need each day.  In order to make sure that you get this amount, Kathleen Alleaume recommends that "a small pinch per person of iodised salt each day is a simple way to ensure your family’s diet contains iodine".

If you want to find out more information on Iodine, just check out the links, especially the last one by Kathleen Alleaume as there is more than enough information.  I hope that this has been informative and useful!

Nov 9, 2011

Creator: Josh Rufford & Ruffbat Creative

I've always loved checking out the art by Josh and the items for sale at Ruffbat Creative.  Now I have finally been able to interview Josh.  Do yourself a favour and check out his stuff!

Tell us about yourself

Hello I am Josh Rufford. I like to make things. I enjoy using paints and pens and drawing on stuff. I also like lots of coffee and lots of beer. I made a website:

What do you create?

I make drawings, doodlings, sketches, little animations, sculptures, sandwiches, illustrations, stickers and paintings and etc. I'm also one half of the creative collaboration me and my fiance like to call 'Ruffbat Creative'. And as 'Ruffbat Creative' we make all sorts of badges, earrings, artworks, gift cards and bookends. 

Are your products vegan friendly?

I guess if vegans don't mind getting a few splinters from the recycled timber we use they - could chew on our bookends? Um, actually I think most of the arts and crafts I do would be vegan friendly, I really like to try and use recycled materials whenever I can and don't use any animal products that I know of.

How long have you been making things?  What was the first thing you made?
Ever since I could hold a pencil or crayon I've been hooked on drawing and my Mum always says she had to limit the amount of crap I would bring home from kindergarten after we'd spent the day making things from tissue boxes and toilet rolls. Here a recreation of the kind of stuff I reckon I would made:

Where do you get your inspiration?

Coffee and beer. And stupid videos on YouTube.

How can people contact you?

Find me here:
or here: RuffoArt on Facebook
or here: Ruffbat Creative on Facebook

Nov 8, 2011

Charity: Nothing But Nets

The charity that I chose to fundraise for in November is Nothing But Nets.  They combat malaria in Africa by providing children and families with mosquito nets and educating them about their proper use.  The United Nations Foundation is also involved in this project as part of their trying to achieve their Millenium Development Goals.

"Every 45 seconds, a child in Africa dies from a malaria infection."  This statement cuts me to the core.  No child should be dying from something that is so easily preventable.  If you would like to purchase a net for just $10, click here.  Let me know if you do!

Nov 7, 2011

World Vegan Day Brisbane

Yesterday (Sunday 6th November) was World Vegan Day celebration time for the folk of Brisbane.  It's the first time that there has been a World Vegan Day celebration this large (that I know of) and it was all thanks to the efforts of Steven from the Vegetarian and Vegan Society of QLD (VVSQ).

I was volunteering there at the Animals Australia stall so I didn't get to browse around too much as we were kept quite busy by people wanting awesome shirts and soft toys.  I did, however, score myself a sample of Notzarella, made by a local Brisbanite.  I shall review it soon.  On nachos!  I also got some free samples of Sweet William chocolate, which has to be my favourite chocolate ever.  I was going to save them for my friend, but I could not resist!

I got to say hi to the awesome folks at the Animal Liberation QLD stall and saw some other awesome organisations including Sea Shepherd, Animal Rescue QLD, Charlie's Angels Horse Rescue and World Society for the Protection of Animals.  While the day was over pretty fast and was a bit smaller than I expected, I have hopes for the future, that it will continue to grow with more food stalls and people coming along!

Apparently a child won my dinosaur plushie, pawprint brooch and stegosaurus brooch that I put into the cent auction, which I am quite happy about.  I plan to give something to the cent auction each time if I can!

Another awesome thing to come out of this: I met a lot of people who I interact with only online and some of them talked with me and I've been inspired to create the Brisbane Animal Activists group on facebook so that we can have stalls for Animals Australia at various markets around the city.  I'll keep you updated on how that goes and feel free to join!

Nov 3, 2011

Sausage Rolls

*2.5 cups of TVP                       $2.90
*1.5 tbsp gravy mix, prepared  
*2 cubes beef stock                   $0.40
*1 onion, finely chopped          $0.54
*1 carrot, grated                        $0.34
*1 zucchini, grated                    $0.84
*5 sheets frozen puff pastry      $3.58
*1/4 cup bbq sauce                    $0.41
*garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme, paprika, pepper, salt to taste

1.  Fry up the onion in a pan.
2.  Prepare carrots, TVP, stock, zucchini in a pot.
3.  Prepare gravy.
4.  Mix all together except puff pastry.
5.  Cut pastry into squares, fill with mix (1-2tbsp) and wrap.
6.  Bake at 200C for 20-30 minutes.

Makes: about 20.

Total:  $9.01 or $0.45 each.  I have 3-5 per sitting, so about $1.35- $2.25 per meal.

Calories: 3358 or 167.7 each or 503.1 - 838.5 per meal  (2628 of which is the pastry haha).
Protein: 57.8g or 2.89g each or 8.67 - 14.45 per meal

This is my first post where I've bothered to list the calorie and protein content.  Would you like me to revise all the old recipes and also add this to future recipes?

Nov 1, 2011

World Vegan Day and the 30 Day Vegan Easy Challenge

November 1st is World Vegan Day!  A day for all vegans to celebrate their inherent awesomeness!  Not sure what a vegan is?  A vegan is someone who does not use animal products in their food or their life.  Want to try some vegan foods?  Check out my recipes!  I try and list more each month and VegWeb is also a great resource.

Did you know that...?
*beef requires 15500 litres of water per kg1
*it takes 6.5 kg of grain to make 1kg of beef1
*vegans have a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke2
*it takes 5000 litres of water to make 1 kg of cheese1
*the milk industry supports the veal industry3
*the egg industry causes the death of male chicks4
*vegetarian diets use 4x as much energy as vegan diets5
*omnivorous diets use 8x as much energy as vegan diets5  
*it is possible to raise your child vegan healthily6
Want to know more?  Check out the references and head to Animals Australia to learn more about the issues.  Today is also the first day of the Vegan Easy Challenge!
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