Archive forMarch, 2009

Mollymook Tacos, or how to eat in a small beach town

Still at Mollymook Beach and enjoying the ability to make meals at my leisure and an oven that works, after the frantic pace of seeing Sydney and an inoperational oven at Smuck’s. Luke had been talking up his specialty dish, Mexican Chicken, which to Smuck’s delight he was planning to make during our stay here – apparently Mexican food is fairly rare in Australia and good Mexican is practically nonexistent – and since I would obviously not be partaking in that endeavor, I thought it would be sporting to have a Mexican meal myself. In the tiny grocery in Mollymook, I was amazed to find several different kinds of vegan canned “meat” and quickly decided that along with a taco kit and some chopped veggies, I’d have myself a nearly instant Mexican meal I could make quickly without getting in Luke’s way or fighting for use of kitchen appliances.

Ironically, although I found the canned meat I needed, Luke did not! Turns out Luke’s recipe calls for tortilla chips, Ro-tel tomatoes, Velveeta, and some product called “canned chicken”. Luke had already come to the conclusion he was going to have to buy a fresh jalepeno to add to his tomatoes because Ro-Tel does not exist here, and I guess he was planning to use real cheese instead of that Velveeta crap, but what tripped him up was the non-existence of canned chicken in Australia. Talking about the recipe in the car with Smucky’s mum, she said no such thing existed in Australia and had no idea what he was talking about. I also had no idea what he was talking about. I had no idea they put chickens in cans. Faced with the fact that he was able to procure just about none of the ingredients of his much-hyped dish, Luke gave up. He ended up – and I’m sorry to have to report this – grilling kangaroo meat instead. He and Smucky both liked the kangaroo meat (Smuck hadn’t had it in ages; it’s really not very popular here); I found it quite disgusting (though I obviously didn’t eat it). I still made my tacos though. It’s rare I make dinner in all of 10 minutes, but I did and it was not bad!

Mollymook Tacos

1 taco kit containing taco shells, taco seasonings, and taco sauce
1 can vegan “minced meat”
2 leaves lettuce, torn or shredded
1 small tomato, diced

Remove the “minced meat” from the can and place in a microwave-safe bowl.

Add the taco seasoning and stir well. Heat in microwave for 3 minutes or until warmed through.

For easier application of taco sauce to tacos, remove from foil pouch and transfer to another vessel. I found this little plastic shot glass, or as Luke assessed it, “old-fashioned eye wash cup”.

Heat the taco shells in the oven for 5 minutes or until warmed and crisped. I think the box said to use a 190 degree Celsius oven – I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit and as I’m typing this up at the beach without internet, I can’t check – but I just stuck it in the already-warm oven at whatever temperature Luke had just baked frozen chips (fries to you Americans).

To assemble the tacos, fill first with the “taco meat”, then top with the lettuce and tomatoes and finally the sauce.

This isn’t something I’d make at home very often, if at all. I usually avoid “kits” of any sort in preference of making my own seasonings and sauces. It’s also not something I’d ordinarily risk insulting your intelligence in regards to by posting as a “recipe”. The point of this post has really been to demonstrate that it’s possible to make a easy, cheap, convenient vegan meal in a tiny beachside town in Australia.

In regards to the “minced meat”, I’m pleased to announce it was actually pretty good. In fact, both Luke and Smucky tasted it and gave it their approval, Smucky’s enjoyment of it coming as a total surprise as he is quite scared of fake meat and vegan food in general. Luke said he would be willing to purchase and consume this product, and coming from a man who’d just eaten kangaroo for dinner, that’s saying quite a bit. I’m a bit skeptical of canned vegan “meats”, myself, but I’d buy it again, although at home I’m more apt to make something myself using whole foods.

I leave you with images of something I’ve never before witnessed. Smucky doing dishes!

He was so very intent on it! I found it hilarious!

I spent the day after making these tacos swimming in the ocean and lazing on a sunny beach while Mark was at home shovelling what he described as “a foot” (but what I believe was a few inches) of snow from our driveway at home. I felt a little bad about that…but not so bad that I didn’t think it was great! The water is so clear here that standing in it chest-deep you can see your feet. I can’t see my feet in inch-deep water at home!

After enjoying some time on the beach, I went for a walk around the neighborhood and took these pictures:

I wanted to swim in this pool, located at a hotel called Bannister.

There is, of all things, a small rain forest that overlooks the beach just down the road from our beach house. Halfway through there is a park bench situated on a clearing overlooking the beach. Pig enjoyed the view.

Mollymook Beach.

I don’t know what this is.

On the return home, about 20 rainbow lorrikeets flew out of this bush (which I happen to be obsessed with). I wasn’t quick enough to capture their flight and they refused to come back.

Just outside the house, I found another native animal:

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Mollymook Sandwich

After staying overnight with Smucky’s mum and dad who live about half an hour outside Sydney, his mum drove the three of us three hours south to his family’s beach house on Mollymook Beach. The first thing we did was stop by the small neighborhood grocery store and buy a few provisions, including sandwich ingredients. Here is the sandwich I made:

Mollymook Sandwich

2 slices multi-grain or wholemeal (whole wheat) bread
sliced beetroot (beets)
sliced tomato
sliced cucumber
salt and pepper, to taste

Spread one side of each slice of bread with hummus:

Top one slice with lettuce and beetroot:

Top the other slice with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper:

Add the cucumber slices atop the tomatoes:

Close the sandwich:

Enjoy, preferably while listening to waves crash on the Australian shore!

Americans may be surprised to see beets make an appearance here, but it is a very common sandwich topping in Australia. In fact, though he hates most vegetables, Smucky always buys tinned beets when he stays with me and Mark and puts them on his turkey sandwiches. It’s strange to me because beets are such an (unfairly) maligned vegetable in the States. Personally, I think putting beets on sandwiches is brilliant! In fact, this sandwich was unusually tasty dispite its simplicity.

After lunch, Smucky’s mum took Luke and I for a walk around the neighborhood and down to the beach. On a hill overlooking the beach there is a small rainforest, with which I was enchanted.

Smucky’s mum pointed out a kookaburra in a nearby tree:

Shortly after espying the kookaburra, she a bit nervously gave a wide berth to this creature, the name of which I can’t remember (if you know, please tell me!), identified by its long legs and yellow beak. They should be avoided because they very aggressively protect their young and will attack humans.

Here’s Mollymook Beach in all its glory:

Down on the beach, we found hundreds of the bluebottles I’ve heard so many warnings about. Apparently their sting is extremely painful. These were washed ashore – likely in such plentiful numbers due to the earlier rain – and were waiting for the tide to take them back in.

The neighbors have a brick oven that I want badly:

Hanging out on the porch of the beach house a little while later, Smucky’s mum pointed out a couple of rainbow loorikeets on the neighbor’s deck:

The next day, Smucky, Luke, and I took a walk along the beach and watched the waves crash on the rocks:

Here is some round thing that looked a bit like a coconut covered with shells:

Me and Pig:

Backtracking a bit, here are some shots I took of the lovable Max Powers as we were waiting for Smucky’s sister to come pick us (including Maximillian, who is staying with their parents while we are at the beach) up.

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