My Weekend: World Vegan Day and Pots of Herbs

My aims for this weekend were twofold: to attend World Vegan Day, and to finally tidy up our rather disgraceful back porch (I’d do a before and after post, but I am far too ashamed of the before state to provide photographic evidence).

Well, I did have one or two other aims, mostly involving singing practice and sleeping a lot, but those are pretty much my main goals every weekend so they don’t count.  I achieved them, by the way.

Today was the World Vegan Day event down at Princes Park.  I had made tentative plans to meet up with friends from work to go there – which is to say, someone else had made plans, and I had made tentative noises about joining in about them.  I’m a bit nervous about vegan events – notwithstanding all the absolutely lovely vegans I’ve met in person and online, I always expect people at these events to show me pictures of mis-treated animals and yell at me for eating meat.  (Andrew did point out that they would have no way of knowing this, but this was not relevant to my rather paranoid self.  And this has certainly happened to me in the past.)

To make matters worse, I am not good with groups of people I don’t know.  While I’m not as bad as I used to be, if I’m having a bad day, I still expect people to dislike me on sight.  In fact, that’s one reason I taught myself to bake – people tend to at least give you the benefit of the doubt of you are bearing cake.  But you can’t really bring cake to a random festival where people are selling food.

Anyway.  I woke up this morning with a severe case of the terrors.  Scary, scary people were going to be at this event and they would all hate me.  Not an auspicious start to the day.  I lurked at home for a while, and then decided that I was being silly, and left for the event, intending to arrive a bit later than my colleagues.

It was actually a beautiful day for a festival, and I think if I had been either vegan or not in terror mode, I would have enjoyed myself.  Unfortunately for me, I was neither of those things, and within five minutes of arriving, I realised that I had another black mark against me – I work in medical research, and they had several stands about how horribly medical researchers treat animals.  And just when I’d managed to ignore those, someone with a loudspeaker started talking about vivisection.  Which, incidentally, is not something that is commonly practiced as far as I am aware, and is certainly not something our ethics committee would stand for.

I decided to wander over to the tent where they were giving cooking classes, but nothing was going on, so I decided that now would be a good time to seek out the vegan chocolate.  Vegan chocolate is indeed good.  I got five kinds.  It seemed like the only logical response.

Chocolate with raspberry and coconut, with orange, with lavender, with dried cherry, and with mandarin and ginger. Also salt and vinegar almonds and vegan condiments

Vegan cakes seemed like a nice idea too, but were disappointingly dry.  I don’t understand why this would be, actually – it is entirely possible to make non-dry vegan cakes, and the vegan melting moments from a different stall were really excellent.  And the salt and vinegar almonds were lovely.

I went back to the cooking tent, but the presenter was running late and nobody knew when she would be there.  So I closed my ears to the vivisection talk, and went in search of liquid smoke and nutritional yeast, both of which seem to be essential for vegan cooking, and not easy to find.  And then I slunk off to get eggs on toast for lunch, without having managed to find any of the people who I knew had planned to be there.

I feel like I’ve given this festival a bad rap.  If so, this is not my intention.  I honestly can’t judge at this point whether it was friendly or welcoming to people who are vegan-friendly or vegan-curious but not actually vegan, because I was in such a state that I was never going to be able to tell.  Everyone I saw seemed to be having fun, so I suspect it was actually a pretty good festival, even if they probably did not have their facts straight regarding medical research and vivisection…

Onto more cheering things!  I did, indeed, get the porch tidied up.  Moreover, I dug up all the pots of bulbs which had died back for the year (and divided with terrifying enthusiasm – I have five times as many jonquil bulbs as I started with), and put in herbs and edible flowers of diverse kinds.

Heartsease, chives, marigold, oregano, chilli, tarragon, and more marigolds.

Aren’t they pretty?  I’ve never tried growing tarragon or chillis before (though I have frequently failed at capsicums), so we will see what happens.  And I am terrible at keeping oregano and chives alive, so their odds aren’t good.  On the up-side, if you look closely, you will see one of our diligent gardening overseers hard at work.  I’m sure she’ll see that the plants are kept healthy.

Heartsease, which can apparently be candied or used in salad, and chives

I wanted some pretty things to go with my herbs, but if they aren’t edible, they aren’t really fun, hence the heartsease.  I’m really bad at chives, so we will see if they survive.

Yet more marigolds, rosemary, quarantined cactus, and coriander.

The cactus and rosemary were pre-existing residents.  The cactus is in cactus hospital, because it was sick and our brother in law didn’t want it to infect his other cacti.  This was about five years ago, and it has been absolutely thriving under a hearty regimen of total neglect.

Chilli, tarragon and, surprisingly, marigolds.   I like marigolds.  Also, they come in punnets of six.

Tarragon is notoriously difficult to grow, so we’ll see how we go there…

Behold, the porch!

It looks pretty good, really.  I do hope I can keep those herbs alive though – there isn’t a single one in that lot for which I have a good record.

Out in the garden, things are progressing nicely, though I still don’t have the beans and potatoes in.

The borlotti beans are coming up.

Looks like I’m only going to get one asparagus pea plant, but maybe they are all just biding their time…

So very tiny… come on, little seedling – grow, and bring your friends – I want to know what you taste like!

The tomatoes aren’t dead yet!

Except for the one Mystery sat on, that is.  I have carefully kept the evidence out of this picture…

My radishes and salad greens seem to be coming along nicely, and my basil and parsley are still alive, too.

And look! What’s that up in the front of the shot? Could it be… another three marigold plants?

And my heirloom zucchini varieties have all come up!

If I put three in a shot, they all end up too tiny to see, so you will have to take my word for it that there are three seedlings, and I think they are of three different varieties.

Altogether, a promising start to my gardening season.  And now I have my liquid smoke, I can start playing with my vegan slow-cooker book, to assuage my guilt about not really enjoying today’s festival!


This time last year…


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3 comments for “My Weekend: World Vegan Day and Pots of Herbs

  1. November 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    you bake such lovely vegan cakes that you shouldn’t feel worried about being in vegan company – though I think I wouldn’t feel comfortable to hear someone going on about vivisection either. I have been buying exactly that braggs nutritional yeast from the local health food store if you are looking locally when you run out – I love the stuff – and apparently you can get liquid smoke in carlton. Good luck with your garden.

  2. Catherine
    November 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Thank you. You are lovely. I was mostly having an attack of the insecures, I think, but the medical research thing hadn’t even crossed my mind until I got there, and I was rather unprepared for (what felt like) an attack on that front!

    But there was a whole cookbook on confectionery sitting on my desk when I got to work on Monday, which as anonymous gifts go is pretty much the ideal thing for cheering up Catherines… and speaking of which, I have some agar jellies to go cut up now…

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