Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Just a minute... in September

I've decided to join in "Just a minute" hosted by August Street. After sitting back for a couple of months and seeing some of the other players in this meme - and wondering where on earth this month has gone! - I thought it would be a great idea to join in.

Reading... I'm hooked on the Narnia series. I'm up to book five: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And then there's my neverending pile of scientific journal articles to get through at work, which have been my main focus this month. It's so refreshing to exercise my mind with so much information, and I've actually been excited to read too. I guess that's kind of handy if I want to get my PhD completed in a sensible period of time!

Eating... lots of dumplings while catching up with good friends. There are so many good dumpling houses near home and in the city, and I've had lots of friends and family who I needed to catch up with who also enjoy dumplings, so it's just been dumpling month for me. And I still can't get enough! (I'm going again on Thursday!).

Courtesy of ulysses68
Listening... to eastern spine bills, currawongs and magpies first thing in the morning. Mmm and I have been really getting into Sigur Ros again recently. And more generally, Triple J have been playing some quality stuff of late. I'm finding I'm tuning in more again.

Planning... my trip to Tassie in October. It's not long now but many preparations are required. For the first few days Gib and I will be in Launceston doing some karate training, and it's going to be tough both mentally and physically, so we've been covering the physical side by upping our training over the past 6 weeks. My parents are now planning on coming along with us for the "recovery" part of our holiday, where we're heading down south to Hobart - that too could be physically and mentally exhausting (I have to lay down ground rules with my mother not to plan 1000000 things to do in 5 days)... we may need a holiday for the holiday!

Surviving... the flu in 36 hours. I was death warmed up for a day and a half, and woke up the next day with barely a sniffle. I've had the flu vac the last two years, but didn't this year, but I think my previous ones helped speed up my recovery dramatically. Phew! That was a close call. Note to self: get next year's flu shot.

Enjoying... Spring. All of the new flowers come out, early morning jogs with sweet smelling breezes and warmish winds. Gardening. Snuggling with the ratties while I read. Baking. Gin and tonic. Playing games of 500 that nearly cause domestics. Evening walks with Gib, chatting away. Nothing at all to complain about here!

I'll leave you with this photo from a party Gib and I attended, a Hadron Collider party, to celebrate the end of the world because, you know, the world was going to be swallowed up by a giant black hole! It pretty much sums up this month: not so much crafting, lots of friends, a few parties, hanging out with Gib... and work...

(The "dork glasses" were purchased for $2 from the Reject Shop, just in case you want to rush out and purchase some for yourself...)

Go check out August Street to join in!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Recipe review

So I've been doing a bit of baking recently, not only for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary celebration which was yesterday, but also just generally over the past few weeks. Unfortunately my camera's batteries ran out yesterday and my camera didn't like its new replacement batteries so I'm waiting on other people's photos to come back to me before I can show you what my mum and I made.

Sweet miso stir fry sauce
From cuisine.com. I just made the sauce for a general vegetable stir fry (I didn't use eggplant) and it was a success in tonight's dinner. I replaced the sugar with honey and added a 2.5 cm piece of ginger, 2 cloves of garlic and chili to taste and it was terrific. I was concerned that it was going to be too salty, which is always my concern whenever I use miso paste, but it was fine once it was tossed through everything. I love using miso paste as a base for stir through sauces as it gives a really nice, almost creamy consistency.

Blueberry and almond slice
I have been dying to try this sanitarium recipe for ages but I find it hard to justify baking slices when there are only a few people around to eat it, so I love big occasions (like yesterday) so I can finally try out all of these cake and slice recipes I've always oggled. This slice is very visually appealing, with the little blueberries poking through. It's moist and there's a great contrast between the almond meal base and the berries that burst in your mouth as you eat it. The recipe was easy to follow and no adjustments for time/temperature had to be made. It came out looking just like the picture on the website. The base was made a day ahead of time and still worked out fine.

From Sanitarium

Rhubarb muffins dusted with cinnamon sugar
Ok, ok, soon I will get over rhubarb recipes. I'm almost through the box of frozen rhubarb bits now. In an effort to try to use up the last of the rhubarb, I made these rhubarb muffins for Gib to take to work. Muffins freeze well and are a convenient snack for hungry men at morning tea time. Myself, I found them a little boring. They were very light and fluffy but a bit too sweet for my liking, and reminded me more of cupcakes with rhubarb than muffins. I prefer my muffins to have a more interesting texture, so maybe I'd make it with part wholemeal flour next time and perhaps add walnuts to the mix. That's just me though. Gib's mum loved them as they were and... well... they didn't last very long with Gib.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad
We've actually made this one a few times over the past month, sometimes making the whole thing, othertimes just roasting up the cauliflower on its own with the spices. It has become a favourite and I foresee it will be made many times in the future. We have learned not to go overboard with the lemon because it gets a bit too zesty with the capers mixed in too. A great side dish, I reckon this would go down well at a summer barbeque.

Stencil-along with Hoppo Bumpo

The wonderful Hoppo Bumpo is having a freezer paper stencil-along, and now that I have some freezer paper (thanks Liesl!) I can join in! I have my noodle bowl design that I made for applique a while back that I want to stencil up and I also want to do a robot too. It appears it's hard to find a cute simple robot stencil these days. Stencils have progressed a lot since I was a kid, and robot stencils have now progressed to stuff like this:

Thank you katutaide

I think I'll have to make one myself.

I think I'm being way too ambitious, but I'm the sort of person
that rushes in head first and thinks about how it's actually going to be done later. I like to think this is a good thing, otherwise I wouldn't have attempted nearly so many things that I have (but no, sky diving is never going to be one of those things).

So tonight I'll tinker with my designs and hopefully I'll get some time to stencil them up over the next few days. What fun!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

This is: Show off time!

What an exciting topic for this week! I had been looking out my parents' kitchen window, admiring our garden in all of its spring glory and thought, how can I not boast about this?! A few years ago my parents gave Gib and I full reign over the garden, so I'm pretty stoked with the results. Although some of them, as you'll see below, are the result of the lady who owned the house many decades ago. I've only included some photos - there were many more plants looking very pretty, but I've decided to hold out for just a few more weeks so they are looking even more impressive -- and so I don't use up all of my useful post material (not that I have much trouble with that, it's more a matter of finding time, of late!). I should mention that this garden is not a high maintenance garden and only has plants that can look after themselves with very minimal watering (we have water tanks, but it's more a case of remembering to water!)

We have some lovely kangaroo paws that are growing in some sandy soil, westward facing. The yellow and red ones are absolutely thriving, so much so that they are almost falling over from the weight of the flowers. We also a planted a black kangaroo paw species, Macropidia fuliginosa, which hasn't taken off as well as the others (it's a fussy one) however the photo of that one didn't come out so well.

I've blogged before about the plight of my poor Downy Star Bush (it's still alive!), however we've had much more success with another Asterolasia cousin, however I can't remember exactly which species this one is. The flowers, leaves and way the plant grows are virtually the same, except that the leaves aren't quite as furry. I love the cute little pale yellow flowers, so sweet.

This is a bulb that randomly popped up in our front yard. I don't know what it is. The woman who owned our house back in the 70s used to have a magnificent garden full of bulbs. So occasionally we'll have stuff like this just come up. Sucha pretty purple.

Here are some gorgeous fresias. I love their bright pink colour! So happy. About 10 years ago they came up, randomly, like the one above, and they have been flowering annually ever since. We have trained my dad not to mow over them now.

Many times Gib has planted boronias and they have died. This is the first one we've managed to keep alive... and have flower! It's in partial shade, eastward facing, in poor quality soil and is regularly leaned on by Monty the Cat.

This Monty. In a pot. A rare species. Prefers full sun and does not like to be watered.

Thanks to Katie at May the Cloth Be With You for choosing this week's theme, and to Handmaiden who is doing a lovely job filling in for Three Buttons while she's a way.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

150th post giveaway... winner!

This morning, at about 3am when I couldn't sleep, I decided to mess about on the computer and, most importantly... select a winner of the giveaway! I listed all of the comments from 1-11 (minus Katie's double comment - sorry Katie, no double chances! :-( ) and then went to random.org to select the winner! And the winner is... *drum roll*

Lucky #1 - Sarah! Hooray! Congratulations Sarah!

Oh boy, I loved hearing all of your baked goods! I'll be doing quite a bit of baking this weekend which I'll share with you tomorrow, or perhaps the day after depending on how much time I get. It's my parent's 30th wedding anniversary, so tomorrow they're having a big party. I'm about to head off now to start with some of the food preparations!

Thanks again for all of your kind comments! I just can't believe how much I've got out of blogging since I started!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


Sorry I'm a bit late in reporting this, but I was very excited to hear from a.s.h. who commented on my blog a little while ago to say that she'd made her very own axolotl cake! It looks terrific. You can see the final result here. I love sharing knowledge and ideas and hope that other people can learn from my successes and failures. It's one of the reasons why I started this blog, so to see things like this really makes me happy.

I love giving birthday cakes to my friends each year. It's fun for me and it means that my friends don't have to find space for more junk in their small living spaces. But as time goes on, my friends just seem to want aquatic animal cakes. And now it seems as though they're competing for the strangest aquatic animal cake. The fish cake was fun and easy, then there was the call for an axolotl cake, then an octopus cake and now... a nudibranch. I started wondering what on earth I have started (and what is wrong with my friends?!). I suggested to my friend that perhaps she would like star fish instead, but no, a nudibranch it is. I do love nudibranchs, they are totally stunning little creatures. However how on earth do I turn it into a cake?! The cake itself should be easy (a loaf cake of some sort should do)! But I suspect I'll be needing a lot of food dye. I've got about two weeks to work it out.

A collection of nudibranchs

1. By CW Ye
2. By Doug.Deep
3. By The Sprain
4. Also by Doug.Deep (don't you think this one looks like Mr Blobby?)
5. by d0c3nt
6. by Nick Hobgood

Sunday, 21 September 2008

This is... what I want to be when I grow up

One of my pet rats has recently developed a chewing habit and I've now lost not one, but two mouse cables in two days. So I'm typing this using my keyboard only. I think I'll leave adding pics until tomorrow.

Ever since I was a little kid I have always been fascinated by biology. I mentioned in a previous This is post that my favourite book as a kid was "The Body and how it works", and things haven't changed much since then. My dad is an incredibly functional person, an inventor in his spare time, always questioning how things work and how they could be better, and my mum is nurse, so it's really not surprising that I wound up in the field I'm in. I've always been fortunate enough to know what I've wanted to do. By midway through high school, when people asked me what I wanted to be, I'd say that I wanted to research things, like the brain and behaviour (not as a psychologist though). I never realised that what I wanted to be was a "scientist": I thought scientists were people who spent all day in lab coats in white, strerile laboratories doing chemistry-like experinments. I didn't realise "scientists" could be from the natural sciences too. I also didn't know until the end of my first year of uni that the name of the field I was interested in was "physiology". After a few years of working in the physiology field I've tried out quite a few things and I discovered that research is a really exciting thing to be a part of. I can't discuss too much of my research here, not because it's super top secret or anything, but because it'd compromise my semi-anonimity. However I will say that it seems almost criminal that I get paid to be fulfilling my childhood dream of studying the nervous system. I know, I know... I'm young and in a few years I'll be bitter and jaded from the lack of funding and the grant chasing etc etc, and I'll read back on this and laugh, but for now I think it's awesome.

I also want to be a mum... but not quite yet (I'm not grown up yet!). There were so many wonderful things I got to do while I was growing up, and there were some pretty awful things too, but I wouldn't be without those experiences either. I'd love to be able to guide my own children through those experiences too. I don't know what to do with babies, they're a complete mystery to me, but toddlers and children - at least other people's - I enjoy. Children provide such a fresh outlook on everything.

When I grow up I want to be still challenging, understanding, questioning, keeping that fresh outlook. Gib's grandma is like that. At age 89 and going to her grandson's rock concerts, going out walking every day, always learning new things and always positive. That's how I want to be.

Thanks to Cindy at bugandpop for this week's wonderful theme and Three Buttons for hosting This is...!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Blogger ire...

Does anyone else's draft posts keep reverting back to older versions? Blogger keeps eating my drafts and it makes me cross!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Autumn Sassy Apron exchange

Sorry it's taken a while to post this one! I haven't had anyone to take a photo of me wearing my lovely new apron til now! The last couple of weeks have been quite hectic: busy writing up some stuff for my PhD, organising a trip to Tasmania in October. I'm heading to Launceston for a weekend long karate seminar and then taking the rest of the week to explore the south of the state, unwind/recover and eat delicious food.

I received my apron from the lovely Amy last Saturday. It had been sitting at home for a few days before I was able to come and pick it up. Oh boy, what a surprise! Amy was asking on her blog which side people liked better, and I can say I love both sides! It's a beautifully made apron, I love the colours and it fits so well too. I've already been wearing it around in the kitchen heaps. Amy was unsure about the pot holder she sent and included an extra potholder and towel (also adorable - I think acorns are so cute!), but I think the one she made s perfect and I have been putting it to great use to rest my pot of tea on.

I honestly don't know who was more excited, my mother or me but Amy had included a copy of The Monster at the End of this Book! My mother loved reading it to me as much as I loved hearing it! Our original copy, passed down through many family members, is now old, faded and falling to bits. It was so wonderful, and so completely unexpected, that she included this book! It has new additions, like flaps and pop ups, and it's just wonderful that I'll have a new copy to share with my own children (whenever they eventually arrive) and just enjoy it for myself in the mean time. Even Gib read it and had a laugh. Thank you so much, Amy, you're a star!

Also last Saturday I got the opportunity to give my swap partner, Hoppo Bumpo, her apron in person! Of all people in the world that could have been my swap partner, and it was someone whose blog I follow and someone just a short drive away from my house. I guess I felt the pressure though, given how lovely all of the Hoppo Bumpo creations are (she can even sew velvet!). I take photos of virtually everything, including everything I make, but silly me totally forgot to take a photo of this apron! Oopsies! That's ok, you can see her photos over here.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

(un)healthy obsession with cranberries

I go through fads of favourite foods, but right now it's cranberries. Cranberry juice, cranberries, craisins (especially craisins)... it really doesn't matter. I can't get enough of their sharp, tarty, tangy flavour. Gib even bought me some real, unsweetened cranberry juice from Macro a few weeks ago - you know, the sort that make it feel like your face has been punched in if you try it straight. Cranberries are good for you too!

I spotted this recipe at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody for Pumpkin Cranberry Bars. I had a spare hour up my sleeve before going to training and had everything on hand, so I thought I'd give it a go. I used dairy free margarine, walnuts instead of pecans and I steamed and pureed some fresh pumpkin we had in the fridge. Because I'm lazy I made it in the food processor, leaving the walnuts and craisins until last.

The outcome was fantastic: as proof I've made 2 batches in 4 days! (Ok, so there was a book club being hosted at our house, and there were lots of people to share with). The walnuts and craisins gave the bars a lovely texture. This recipe goes into the "favourite recipe" pile.

The theme at Meet Met At Mikes this week is "A week of baking". Go check it out!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

150th post giveaway - let's celebrate!

Sorry all, I haven't much real content on here for a while, other non-blog related things seem to have intruded. I missed out on doing a 100th post giveaway too. So to make up for it all I'm doing a...

150th post giveaway!

The whole reason I started a blog was so I'd have a central place to keep track of my sewing, cooking and gardening projects and hope that maybe some other people could learn from my successes and failures. But I never imagined just how many cool people are out there with such great blogs and amazing ideas and how inspirational they are for me! So to celebrate my 150th post and to thank all of those lovely people out there with wonderful ideas and kind comments, I have a pink-themed giveaway.
  • Two handmade pot holders (with a pink packing)
  • Pink fabric: two larger pieces with floral prints, one smaller piece with white dots
  • Two Golden Hands magazines
  • How-to-knit instructions, by Patons

It doesn't matter if you're a regular or have been lurking about, if you're local or international (I'm happy to post anywhere), all you need to do is leave a comment by Saturday September 27th and mention what your favourite baked treat is - sweet or savoury. I'll select the winner over the weekend. Thank you all for popping by!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

This is... what I do with a spare 10 minutes

I'm quite industrious and like the concept of efficiency (that's not to say that I ever actually achieve it, but I do aspire to it!) and there are lots of things I like to do with a spare 10 minutes.

Food "research": Definitely my favourite 10 minute filler is flicking through cooking magazines, books and websites. I could look at food-related material for hours.

Housework: I actually made a list about 6 months ago called "Things you can do around the house in under 10 minutes". It was to encourage Gib to do more housework because he has this idea that housework takes an immense amount of time and therefore never has time for it. The list had things like taking out the rubbish, stacking/unstacking the dishwasher, putting on a load of washing, putting clothes away, tidying the desk. It was moderately successful, but I had to keep changing the colour of the sign so he would notice it. I'm always amazed at how much housework can be achieved in 10 minutes.

Stretching out: waiting for my lunch to finish in the microwave or for the kettle to boil, or when my head is aching from too much new information at work, I like to stretch. I'm all for incidental exercise, and stretching in my spare moments is so refreshing! There are a few that I can do that don't make me look like a complete idiot, such as discrete calf stretches, pec stretches, hip flexor stretches... Maybe, for ultimate efficiency, I could stretch and work at the same time?

Courtesy of fuzzy squid

Thank you Hoppo Bumpo for a very practical This is... theme (I can't wait to see other peoples' ideas for 10 minute fillers!), and to Angela at Three buttons for hosting This is... (head here to join in)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Recipe reviews, chasing lyrebirds and more octopus cakes

I've come down with the flu. I spent the day reading and sleeping (mostly sleeping) and now it's 2am and I'm wide awake. Needless to say I'm now regretting not getting my flu vaccination this year - I'd forgotten how horrid it is! So I thought I'd share some adventures I've had in the kitchen the past week.

Edit: Oops in a haze of flu, I forgot to add the bit about lyrebirds... see below!

Recipe review #1: Beer baked beans

I finally gave the Stove-top sweet and spicy beer baked beans a go (as mentioned in a previous post). After making the recipe exactly as it said, I found it was far too sweet. I ended up adding 500 g chopped tomatoes to the pot as well to make it less sweet. I'd probably halve the amount of sugar and add a 400 g tin of tomatoes in future. I could not find navy beans, but great northern beans were the best substitution (they're virtually the same size and shape anyway). And I decided on Coopers, a nice strong beer taste. I've been taking it to work and getting some envious looks in the lunch room.

Recipe review #2: Maggie and Simon's mushroom and leek calzone

Calzone are delicious. Often I'll make up a batch of 6 for Gib and I to take to work during the week, or for a quick, filling meal after training. When I saw this recipe featured on the Cook and the Chef last week, I had to give it a go. Mushroom and leek a favourite food combination of mine, and I was intrigued to see how the non-pizza bread dough turned out. I made the dough in the food processor, and the dough was quicker and less messy to make than pizza dough is (which sped up the calzone making process substantially). I substituted the fontina for gouda. Oh boy, it was delicious. I'll definitely be making this one again.

Sarah's octopus cake
Friday night I helped my friend Sarah bake a blue ring octopus cake for her friend who she goes scuba diving with every weekend. Sarah doesn't bake very often and we were a little pressed for time having to do it all in the one evening (usually I make my cakes in advance) so we decided to go with the classic packet chocolate cake and ice with butter cream icing. We discovered that Betty Crocker's chocolate cakes only make 8 cups, and the octopus cake is a 10 cup tin. The cake mix just filled the legs but not the base of the tin. It still worked out fine. The blue rings are made from candy necklaces and the eyes and beak (Sarah, like me, clearly also has an appreciation for anatomical correctness, even in cakes) are made from mini licorice all sorts. Congratulations to Sarah for her first ever character cake!

Chasing lyrebirds

I took the day off last Thursday to hang out with Gib to coordinate with his work hours, and I worked Saturday. We took a picnic lunch and headed for the Dandenongs. From Grant's picnic ground in Kalista we took the eastern loop (about 7km) and on the way spotted four lyrebirds! The first was a female just scurrying across the path and scratching about. We heard lyrebirds the whole way around though. We started picking their calls by thinking "Gee, that kookaburra sounds a little close to the ground" and then "Hmm.. that bell bird sounds a little flat, don't you think?". About half way around the track we spotted two males hanging out together (brothers?), practicing and strutting their stuff. Then another male came along and started up this massive repertoire, much more impressive (better mimicry). The three of them proceeded to have a bit of a sing off until the two boys scurried away. This is a poor quality video I took with my camera, but I took it for the sound. You can hear the more impressive male and see the other two scratching, strutting about and then finally scurrying away. The only bird you can hear on the video is the lyrebird, but my favourite is when he does the kookaburra. Exciting stuff. Lyrebirds can be very hard to spot so we were extremely fortunate to see not one but four of them!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

This is... my absolute favourite band of all time

"My absolute favourite band of all time" has changed over the years. When I was a teenager, my absolute favourite band changed pretty frequently and each were going to be my absolute favourites forever... until another one came along.

My first CD
The first ever CD I bought was Grinspoon's Pushing Buttons EP, back in 1998, in my second year of high school. I still remember the moment so clearly: I bought it from a little CD shop in Oakleigh Central and it was thrilling, liberating to buy it, with my own money. I remember clutching it all the way home in its little white paper bag it came in. I could now choose to listen to whatever music I wanted, without being constrained to only my parent's music collection. A little step towards independence. Although my dad's music collection was pretty hot: Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, The Beetles, Queen... I was fortunate to grow up on that!

My first absolute favourite band
I got hooked Placebo. They were angsty and different and I loved it - and my parents hated it. I thought the androgynous Brian Molko with his unusual voice was pretty damn cool. I guess it wasn't so much that I liked their look (tight pants have never done anything for me, nor have men in mini skirts, no matter how cute they are), but they just represented something different that I identified with at the time. They remained my favourite band for ages, until they released a bunch of dud albums. Placebo toured in 1999 but I was too young to see them play at the Prince of Wales. But then my brother told me that they were doing a CD signing at Gaslight Music! I actually got to meet them. I was shaking. The signed CD is still sitting happily on my shelf.

Present "absolute favourite bands"
Now my favourite bands are Lamb, followed closely by Massive Attack. I first discovered Lamb back in 2001 when I overheard some people at a bus stop discussing them and I thought they sounded like my kind of thing. Lou Rhodes is a beautiful singer and I had the fortune to see her play last year. It was chilling. She's one of those people who exude balance, calm and serenity, but intense passion at the same time, and it comes through in their music. Lamb's music is uplifting (even their "darker" stuff on their latest album is uplifting) and soothing to the soul. Very earthy.

Massive Attack's albums are on the same level (same genre too), although they have a terrific balance of dark, grittiness and beautiful, joyful songs.

Thanks to Curlypops for this week's awesome theme (so much reminiscing!) and to Angela at Three Buttons for hosting This is...

Thursday, 4 September 2008

I wont miss it for my life: Focus on Jim Henson

Words escape me when I try to describe the absolute respect and admiration I have for Jim Henson, the people who now carry on his work. Not just all of their amazing creations and how they've helped revolutionise puppetry, but also the education they have provided to people of all ages as well. So you wont be able to hold me back from going to this exhibition:

Focus on Jim Henson

Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Thursday 4 September - Sunday 14 September 2008

"Muppets(TM), Music and Magic! Jim Henson's Legacy is celebrated in a special season ranging from rarely screened experimental works to the pioneering puppetry of Sesame Street.

Fondly remembered for his charismatic characters who resided on that most famous of streets, and trod the boards of The Muppet Show, Jim Henson has had a profound effect on contemporary culture.

His fun-fur freakshows achieved global fame, but until recently his many incredible experimental works were rarely seen.

Henson's counter-culture sympathies informed all of his works and are mirrored in the work of animators who followed in his footsteps. We explore this legacy, and peek behind the curtain to see how his special brand of magic was created."

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Low GI rhubarb, apple and strawberry crumble

Tonight I had a punnet of strawberries that needed using up fast, some cut rhubarb in the fridge and a couple of apples sitting merrily in the fruit bowl. And then I found this recipe for rhubarb, apple and strawberry crumble. It's low GI too.

I love crumble. Any type of crumble with any type of fruit. With a little ice cream, custard or just on it's own. It's a cold weather thing and something that I look forward to each winter.

For this recipe, I just chopped the apple and put all the fruit in the baking dish, tossed through the sugar and cinnamon, put it in the microwave for 3 minutes, put the cumble mixture on top and baked for 30 mins. Too easy. Ok, so the photo makes it look ugly (need to improve photography skills) - I was in a rush to gt out the door - but it tastes so good, lots of tang.

After two hours of training I was absolutely ravenous and all I could think about in the last quater hour was that delicious crumble waiting on the bench for me when I got home. And boy it was good when I finally got to eat it.

Food links

Love food hate waste is a website so full of useful tips. Food wastage is something that really makes me bristle. Knowing how to use up leftovers and produce at the end of its shelflife saves you time and money in the future. Simple things like stewing fruit or turning them into muffins - both of which are quick to make and can be frozen - mean you have a quick dessert or snack on hand. Knowing how to make dinner out of whatever is in the fridge or making an entire spare meal to freeze for later not only cleans out those vegetables but means you don't have to cook dinner next week. Or even buy lunch for next week. And don't even start environmental effects of food wastage... it's great to see these sorts of websites and people talking about these issues again, putting out suggestions. Take a look!

I've been dying to make this recipe for Stove-top sweet and spicy beer "baked" beans. I have been oggling this recipe for weeks now, dreaming about what sort of beer would go best. Something rich, like a Coopers, or maybe something a little sweeter like Beez Neez...? I've decided that it's a physical impossibility to buy navy beans - canned or dry - in Melbourne. I think SPC and Heinz must buy out every single little navy bean that comes into the country. So I've decided that cannellini beans it is.

Ever since I embarked up on my gyoza making fad, I just can't get enough of dumplings. Steamed buns, steamed dumplings, lightly fried dumplings, bought, home made, snack or main meal. It really does not matter to me. I have found little links like this one, by Alton Brown (commentator on Iron Chef), and this one featured on (where else but) the Cook and the Chef.

I realised that I haven't read anything from Smitten Kitchen for about a month. Oh my... what I've missed! Reading her website makes me so excited, my heart goes all a-flutter reading her recipes. Everything she cooks is totally divine and her photos are so inspiring.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Taste Sensation: failure.

Gib and I have been playing the Taste Sensation game for some time now, many successes and many failures. These two go into the failure category for me.

Roasted green tea pumpkin seeds:

They taste great, but only eat if you eat one or two of them. The nutrition information says 2050mg sodium per 100 g: that's a $#@%load of salt! Even me, who puts salt on everything and whose favourite food in the world are those giant, warm doughy pretzels with massive chunks of salt on them, could not get past the saltiness in these little bombs. After a few seconds, a kind of sweetness from the seeds comes through and they're quite pleasant. We'll eat them, but it'll take us a while to get through them.

Salted and spicy apricot:

Um, I don't know where to start. They are sweet, salty and spicy, all at the same time. They remind me of fruit mince pies... but salty, which, as you can imagine, isn't a whole lot of fun. When you just get a taste of the sweet and spicy it's ok, but then I'll get a massive wham of salt and my stomach flips. And now we have a whole bagful.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong. Maybe they're not snacks and all and you're supposed to cook with them or something. That was my next thought.

Sunday roast... veg style

I've been playing a bit with tofu. Tofu, I have decided, really is an acquired taste, and now that I've acquired a taste for it, I want to test exactly what I can do with it. It's quite versatile, mouldable, absorbs all flavours, comes in a all sorts of textures. I've tried it in stir fries, in miso soup, in curries,
recently in veggie patties and for dinner last night I decided to try a tofu roast. You can buy Sanitarium vegie roasts but they are rather expensive ($7 each), so I figured there must be people out there in the world who make vegie or tofu roasts and I went hunting. The total cost of my loaf was $5 ($4 for the block of tofu, and about $1 for everything else, since I had dried the herbs from my garden)

I was prepared for failure: I was expecting it to be bland and unexiting, but I was pleasantly surprised. The taste reminded me of stuffing but with a more kick and with a meatloafy texture. I'd love to play with different recieps, but I was extremely happy with this recipe, from The Common Ground, which I borrowed heavily from as the basis for my creation.

Beth's surprisingly tasty tofu roast
  • 1 slice sprouted wheat bread, processed to bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup Massel vegetarian stock
  • 1 large onions, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 g firm tofu
  • 45 ml soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp each dried basil, sage, oregano and rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
Combine bread and stock. Fry up garlic and onions in olive oil until soft. Put bread mixture, onions, garlic and all remaining ingredients in a food processor. Process for about a minute until all ingredients are combined, but still kind of chunky. Place into a greased loaf tin and bake for 30 mins. Set aside for 15 mins to cool. Slice into 8-10 slices.

  • The pumpkin, beets came from the farmer's market.
  • The roasted cauliflower was inspired by Maggie Beer's roasted cauliflower salad (we just used the first three ingredients)
  • The green/purple leafy side is actually beetroot leaves. I have never cooked with these before, but I followed Maggie Beer's instructions to cook them like silverbeet in a bit of butter in a pan until wilted. The leaves were exceptionally fresh and they tasted delicious. Slightly bitter, reminded me of English spinach.
  • Served with gravy, of course.