Friday, 25 April 2008


I've been in Tokyo for a week and it's just an amazing place. I am in love with Tokyo. The metro wasn't nearly as scary as it looked. However I have tried three times to find the shops recommended by floating world and asking for trouble and have failed dismally. I have explored Shibuya quite thoroughly now (awesome clothes shopping if you're short -- like me!) but could not find Marunan or Loft at all. Tokyo is indeed a crazy place and we have attempted to navigate our way to a few things now and totally failed. Roads and addresses are very confusing and it's been hard to find anywhere without a map but the best things we have found have been totally by accident.

For example: today, on the way back from Meguro Parasite Museum (sorry, yes, I'm a scientist) we stumbled across this amazing little fabric shop run by a very friendly elderly couple who still use an abacus and cash register from 1917! (Photos to come of this. They let us have a play with their cash register.) When I get back I'll be sure to post a map of where this place is. It's worth it just to see the cash register and chat to the happy couple. My desire to buy Japanese fabric is finally satisfied.

Once I get to a place with slightly faster computers I'll post some photos of my very exciting purchases... and taste sensations!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Japan - here we come!

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Japan for 3 weeks so I'm not sure how much blogging will be done in that time. Hopefully I'll have a lot of content for this blog once I come back with regards to food (sushi trains and all manner of taste sensations), gardening (traditional Japanese gardens, wasabi farms and cherry blossoms) and sewing (I'll be looking out for cute Japanese fabric!). While I'm there I will also finally get to fulfill my long time dream of doing karate training in Japan! I'm totally excited about the whole thing. So today I shall leave you with some of my favourite Japanese and Japanese-influenced fabric prints that can be purchased from Kitty Craft and Superbuzzy.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Miso-Glazed daikon, asparagus & okra, tossed with sesame seeds

Okra doesn't seem to be a popular vegetable in Australia, but I've always seen tins of the stuff down at my local mediterranean-influenced markets and have wanted to try cooking with it. Gib was also curious to try it after playing World of Warcraft and saw dropping of monsters in Westfall. So while browsing a local Indian grocery store, we decided to buy a bag of it and see how it goes. I've heard people say that okra has an unpleasant texture, as it tends to be quite gummy, but this did not offend me in the least. I adapted the recipe followning from here. We also roasted up a couple of leeks and served them with the wasabi-lemon sauce (the sauce was very tasty, I'll keep that in mind for the future) but it wasn't nearly as good as the okra dish:

1/3 cup yellow miso paste
1 1/2 tsp kewpie mayonnaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 daikon
2 carrots
2 bunches of asparagus
200 g okra

Mix miso paste, mayonnaise and soy sauce until combined. Set aside.

Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan for ~1 minute until golden brown. Peel daikon and carrot and cut into 1" chunks. Snap off hard bottoms of the asparagus and cut pieces in half. Wash okra and allow to drain.

In a steamer, cook daikon and carrot for approximately 10 minutes or until just tender (do not overcook!), and place in a large mixing bowl. Steam asparagus and okra together about 5 minutes, or until just tender and the vegetables are still a vivid green. Add okra and asparagus to carrot and daikon. Add the miso mixture to the hot vegetables, and mix thoroughly so that the sap from the okra binds with the miso. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top.

Serve with rice. Serves 4.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Hand knitted slippers from Turkey

My dear friend Özlem has recently returned from a trip to Turkey, where many of her relatives live. Her elderly great aunt had given her some hand knitted slippers, but unfortunately they were too small and so Öz, knowing how child-sized my feet are, gave them to me. I'm absolutely tickled pink! Check it out! I just can't wait for more cold weather now!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Early Anzac biscuits

Next Friday I leave for Japan for 3 weeks, which will be very exciting, but it means I will miss out on Anzac Day. April 25, 1915, was the date that the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops landed in Gallipoli, Turkey. It was the first Australian and New Zealand involvement in World War I. During this time I like to bake Anzac biscuits. There are several ideas about how Anzac biscuits came about, but basically they're crunchy, well keeping biscuits that were eaten - and later sold by - the Anzacs.

This is my mother's recipe for Anzac biscuits:

75 g rolled oats
125 g sugar
70 g desiccated coconut
120 g wholemeal flour
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
40 ml boiling water
125 g butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 160 C.
  • Mix oats, sugar, coconut and flour together.
  • Combine the golden syrup and boiling water. Add the bicarbonate of soda, followed by the butter. Stir until frothy and then add to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  • Spoon onto greased baking sheets, making sure there is plenty of room for them to spread. Bake for 15 mins.

Friday, 11 April 2008


The walnuts have been falling from our walnut tree and I'm still very excited! Walnuts are definitely one of my favourite foods and I generally just eat them as is. I'd love to cook more with them, but as a young boy Gib ate so many he made himself ill on them and doesn't really like eating them now...

I love roasting nuts though. I get a bag of mixed nuts (about 250 g) and put them in a bowl. I mix in 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp brown sugar or honey and then select some spices to add depending on whether I want to go more sweet or savoury or both: Cinnamon, mixed spice, cumin, chili, paprika, tumeric or some other generic spice blend that I have in the pantry at the time (Moroccan, Mexican, Indian... they all taste good). You can't really fail with this: no matter what combination of spices you put in it's going to taste great. Quantities are approximate, but I tend to use 1/2 tsp of each spice (or 1/4 tsp chili), or if I'm using a spice blend, 2-3 tbsp. Roast on a tray at 180C for 15 mins, giving them a bit of a shake/turn over with a spatular half way through.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

A delicious dessert

This recipe came out of the Herald Sun City Style lift out yesterday. (Much to my delight, the liftout also also featured meet me at mikes and other "cool crafters" around Melbourne!).

It worked out quite well, but was a little mushy on the bottom. A small portion was left the next day, and some of the gooeyness on the bottom had seem to be absorbed. Maybe the cooking temperature needs to be adjusted for next time?

Apple roll cake

1.5 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 small egg, whisked
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 400g tin of pie apple (but I used 200 g pie apple and 200 g tinned strawberries)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to moderate.
Cream butter and sugar until pale & fluffy
Add egg, beat well
Sift in flour, mix alternatively with milk.
Turn mixture out onto a floured bench and kneed until smooth
Cut in half and roll out one half onto baking paper in a rectangle, 5 mm thick. Spread with the fruit and cinnamon.
Roll out remaining pastry and press, particularly around the edges.
Bake for 20 mins or until the pastry is golden brown (see below!).

I should probably have got a photo of the insides too, but I was too busy eating it and forgot... oopsies... but you can get an idea if you look at the bottom left corner and see a bit of apple poking through... delicious. Will definitely make this one again.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Look what we found!

I was helping my mother clean out her craft room. It's a large task, as there are many years of crafting and craft books to sort through (as is always the case when you decide to organise a craft room). We're making considerable donations to the local Salvos and Freecycle!

Here are just two of our great finds so far:

The Golden Circle 'Tropical recipe book'.
I couldn't belive my mum owns this book. It was published in 1962 and I think it was my grandmother's originally. This meal has whatever meal you can possibly think of and adds pineapple to it. There's spaghetti with meat sauce tropical (which is literally spag bog with... pineapple.) Rissoles with pinepple. Kidneys with pineapple. Liver and bacon with pineapple. Macaroni cheese and pineapple. Shepherd's pie with pineaaple. And then there's a recipe called "Sweet and pungent lamb". It just never ends! But some of the desserts sound intrigueing... I'm tempted to try some out, like the frangipani pie, which appears to be like a lemon meringue pie but with a coconut cream layer (ohhh yum). The pineapple chocolate cheesecake doesn't do much for me though... hrmm.

The Three Golliwogs - by Enid Blyton.
Oh yes! It's certainly politically incorrect in places, and most of the stories seem to revolve around the same plot of people getting confused because all three gollies look the same. This one will be a keeper. Love it!

Friday, 4 April 2008


I really hate washing. Well, it's not the washing I hate, it's the bit where I have to hang stuff on the line, and then unpeg them again. It's just that you have to have your arms up in the air all the time: walk over to the peg basket hanging on the line, grab some pegs, peg your clothes, walk back again... I feel like a gibbon! And my arms get tired! So I can give my arms some relief I made a peg apron with some cute fabric I picked up at the Salvos in Oakleigh today. I got the fabric free with a bunch of other stuff I bought. In the photos below, it's quite obvious just how short I am!

To make your own peg apron:
  1. Cut out three rectangles of fabric for the backing, lining and pocket: 12" x 24". Cut 2 x 28" long strips of twill tape for the ties. I cut my backing from a canvas drop sheet I bought from the local hardware store.
  2. From the pocket material, get a large dinner plate and trace around 1/4 of the plate on each side to mark the pockets. Cut the pockets out and sew bias binding along these edges.
  3. Layer your fabric pieces: lining, pocket piece, canvas. Insert the twill tape 1" from the top of each side, so that they are pinned between the lining and the canvas. Pin down the rest of the sides, leaving a 10cm gap along the bottom edge, where you will turn the aprong the right way out.
  4. Sew along all 4 edges, except for your 10cm gap. Clip the corners, turn your apron the right way out.
  5. Iron your apron, particularly along the edges so that they sit flat! Sew up your 10cm gap with an invisible stitch and you're done!

Here is another apron I finished off a bit earlier in the week. It's for a friend's engagement present. She does karate and loves cooking (much like me!) so I thought I'd go with a bit of an oriental flavour for her apron. It's reversible too (pattern from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing book). I'm in the process of making her some matching oven mitts to go with it. The chopsticks are machine appliqued, the noodles are white ribbon with a stitch down the middle to keep them in place, and the pocket is lined with a white, light cotton fabric, and then zig-zag stitched around the side and bottom of the bowlto keep it in place.

With all of this apron making, I think I should sign up for the next sassy apron swap...