Miscellaneous Updates

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's been a while since I've posted here, and a lot has happened! Well, two major things, really. For one, I got a job!

I was beginning to get nervous that employers were shying away from me as an American, because no matter how many times I wrote it (in both my resume and cover letter) there seemed to always be this assumption that I needed sponsorship. Luckily, I don't and was hired for an on-going full-time position. I start April 14th which gives me a nice chunk of time to enjoy Sydney without the pressure of job-hunting, and to spend some time with the kitty who comes home this Sunday!

The extra time also allows me to keep working on my latest project: vegaroo! Basically I've started it to be a hub for all things vegan and Australian. So it's a blog, a restaurant guide (which may look familiar to those of you who've used Veg Table), event listings, and hopefully more.

Right now Tim and I are the sole contributors, but we're hoping to recruit writers from all over the country so that it doesn't become too Sydney-focused. Either that or we need to start travelling, stat!

So what's to become of Vegan@Large? Good question... I sort of hate to abandon the site, but between my blogging on vegaroo and the personal site we've started to stay in touch with friends and family, it's hard to see what topics I might have left to cover here. Recipes maybe? Rants? We shall see.

Customer Service Fail at Wholefoods House

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I've been having a hard time figuring out where to buy, among other things, bulk foods in Sydney at a reasonable cost. So I thought I'd struck gold when I happened upon organic suppliers, Wholefoods House. After my experience there today, however, I will not be returning. Here's why.

So last week I signed up on-line for a Wholefoods House membership. Handy. When the form asked me which of the two locations I'd be shopping at, figuring I live equidistant to both, I checked both. After my form had been submitted, the screen said that my member card would be available in a few days for me at the store I signed up for. Hmm... in theory that's helpful, but now who knows which shop will have my card.

So I pressed my luck, and yesterday I walked to the Waterloo location and explained the situation. The clerk was confused but went to see if my card was in the office. She returned and told me that cards are now being mailed out. Now, given the fact that this was their screw up, any store with good customer service would have offered to give me my member points anyway if I shopped there today. But I was refused.

Figuring I'd already made the half-hour trek over there I figured I'll do some shopping anyway. So I asked the clerk if she could weigh the containers I've brought with me so I can load them up with bulk foods. She then informed that she could not do that, and rather that I'd have to pay for the extra weight.

So here's the deal. I've got five plastic containers with lids. Let's say they weigh 50 grams each, and I buy five items that average out to $12/kg (the cost of quinoa, an item I buy often). That's an extra $3 I pay per visit. And I go through a lot of bulk foods. So let's say I come in fortnightly to re-fill my containers. That's $78 I pay Wholefoods a year for bringing my own containers - a practice that's not only better for the environment but saves them money on supplying packaging.

Needless to say I walked out empty-handed today and do not plan to return unless this ludicrous policy is revoked.

Home Is Where the Beetroot Is

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There are a lot of "growing pains" that come with living in a new city. Basically, quadruple that when it's in a new country. All these different stores and brands to get used to. Having limited internet access hasn't helped matters. Even food differences are a little overwhelming.

I've yet to find kale in any of the markets here. This is a major dietary staple of mine, so if you have insight, please let me know. The closest I've found is chard, which they call "silverbeet" here. Here are some other crazy names Aussies use for foods:

peppers = capsicum (I think this goes for red and green bell peppers.)

zucchini/eggplant = courgette/aubergine (this seems to vary, but I believe this is the UK version sometimes seen here)

cookies = biscuits (which leads me to wonder what they call biscuits... dear god, they do have biscuits here, right??)

arugula = rocket (very common in salads and sandwiches here)

bacon strips = rashers (obvs I'm eating the soy kind)

beets = beetroot

Beetroot is also extremely common here on sandwiches. I've only ever cooked with it once, myself and that was in a chocolate cake of all places. It turned my whole kitchen pink, so I decided when working with it yesterday I'd used the canned variety.

I tried to make a hummus out of it, but without a food processor, it came out extra chunky style. So here's my non-recipe: One can beetroot, one can chickpeas, both rinsed and drained. Mash them up with a fork in a bowl with lemon juice (I used about 1/3 of a lemon), garlic, just a teaspoon or so of olive oil, salt, and lots of black pepper.

I served it with some baked wholemeal pita chips alongside some lemon-grilled asparagus and broccolini. There was a lot left over today so I took a pita, covered half of it with my beetroot spread, the other half with this yummy carrot dip I bought, and spread a bunch of cucumber slices on top, folded and i half, and boom: lunch.

Amazing how a simple home-cooked meal can make you feel less like you're house-sitting a stranger's apartment, and more like you're actually, well, home.