Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Lime and banana cake

For another baked treat for Gib to take to work, I combined this fantastic coconut banana bread with lime glaze recipe.

A very happy worker snacking on a slice of his Sticky banana, coconut and lime loaf for morning tea

It was fine stored in an airtight container for up to a week. It was moist, zesty and filling, and we'll definitely be making this one again to take to work.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Brain Awareness Week

This week is Brain Awareness Week! (although, I don't feel particularly aware of my brain right now... another coffee needed...). And so to celebrate, I'm going to share with you some more crafty + brain stuff that I've found.

The Brain Hat. I love how it's half way between a brain and Princess Leia. That is cool.

Purkinje Cells, burnt into watercolour paper, by Nuredduna. Purkinje Cells are my most favourite cell in the entire body (massive claim, I know). They are very beautiful.

The tunic and artworks above I have eyed off for some time. They are absolutely amazing. They are by etsy seller, NeuralNetwork. She's a great artist, but also a student of neuroscience. I love it!

And also, while I'm at it, anyone for a brain jelly mould?

Purchase from here!

If you're in Melbourne, you can check out what events are on here. There are still more events on if you're keen to get your neuroscience fix.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

I think I need to visit...

... Tessuti fabric shop in Melbourne. Why haven't I been there before??!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Peach and almond slice

I used up some of my preserved peaches to make delicious snack for Gib to take to work. I used this very quick and easy Peach and Almond Slice recipe, with my peaches that I had preserved in a light cinnamon infused syrup.

It went from this:

To this:

The hard part was making sure Gib didn't eat it all at once! It kept well for about 5 days in an air tight container. Yumyumyum.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Pickled eggy weggies and other things

Today I teamed up with some friends for another pickling day. I decided to keep my list of things to pickle nice and simple, just a pear chutney and some pickled eggs. There was an attempt at preserved rockmelon, which I personally wouldn't recommend...! The others from the day might have different thoughts on that. But we also made brandied peaches, tomato salsa, chili pickled onions and some of our own pineapple sweet and sour simmer sauce: our "Kan Tong" blend.

"We were/making Kan Tong/doesn't take long/to make your own!"

I can't wait to try my pickled eggs. Not the best photo, only taken on a phone, but I reckon they looked really ace in the jar. In a week or so I'm going to try them. I followed the recipe on this website, which had some great recipes, but the one called 'British pub pickled eggs' sounded most appealing to me.

The recipe for the pear chutney I picked up from a feature on pears in The Age's Epicure section a few weeks ago. I've heard a few references to pear chutney recently and how amazing it is, from all sorts of odd places, so I was itching to give it a go. The pears have been great these last few weeks, it was really hard not to just eat them instead of making them into chutney.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Drawtism: Play Pictionary and raise some $$ for autism!

My karate club will be hosting a Pictionary game for the Drawtism fundraiser, maybe you'd like to host one too? The go is that you organise a bunch of people to play a game of Pictionary in May to help raise money for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. ASDs include autism and Asperger's Disorder and affect about 1 in 100 individuals in Australia (although there is still ongoing debate over its true numbers). I reckon this is a pretty fun way to get involved, increase awareness and raise some funds. The game can be as big or small as you like: maybe with family and friends at home, or a session around lunch with your work colleagues.

Alpha is managing the fundraiser on behalf of state autism bodies in Australia and the money raised in each state will go to supporting services in that state. If you're interested, go here to register!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Chilling out with kiwi fruit sorbet

Last weekend I had a bowl of kiwi fruits just sitting around looking unloved. So before they went to inedible mush, I mashed them up and converted them into a delicious, fizzy sorbet. This was the day before the ridiculous hail storm we had in Melbourne, in which we personally experienced golf ball sized chunks of hail. It was quite scary.

> golf ball sized chunks of hail. Crazy!

I kind of made it up as I went along, with a basic sugar syrup and some lime and cointreau to give it a lift. The cointreau also helps to keep it slightly soft to make it easy to serve. I reckon limoncello would go very well too. The key to making sorbet is breaking up all the little ice crystals so it's all smooth. I don't have an ice cream maker, but I do have a stab mixer that blends ice.

How I make delicious Kiwi Fruit Sorbet without an ice cream machine

8 kiwi fruit
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp cointreau
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch salt

  1. Dissolve sugar in water in a saucepan, bring to the boil for 1 minute, then set aside until cool.
  2. Peel kiwi fruit, blend in a food processor until they are an even slushy consistency.
  3. Add cointreau, lime juice, salt and syrup, process until smooth.
  4. Transfer into a container (I used an old ice cream container) and place into the freezer for 1-2 hours.
  5. Using a stab mixer, blend up your frozen kiwi fruit puree until all the ice crystals are broken up. Smooth over, re-freeze for another 1-2 hours (or overnight, as I did) and blend once more.
  6. Allow to refreeze, and eat when desired.
I'd recommend consuming this within a week. Although eating it all in that space of time should not be a problem, I'd say!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

It's all about the little stuff

Here are photos of some neat little bugs I found on our adventures over the past few months. I have no idea what most of them are, but I thought they cool.

We found this little guy in Sydney, wandering along a path at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

A native wasp? on a hike in Macedon

This little critter at Phillip Island. I thought he looked kind of cute with his head tipped upside down.

Some unknown but groovy looking bug at Cathedral Ranges

And here's the same bug now waving his butt at us. I'm not sure what that means... perhaps he doesn't like us?

An unusual find: We spotted this hawk moth at Cathedral Ranges, just sunning itself on a rock

The hawk moth, from all angles

This was a cockroach we found on the beach on the east coast of Tasmania. It did not look real at all, like it was a boy's toy made entirely out of metal, complete with little "rivets" down the side. Absolutely amazing find. We've never been able to ID it.

Enjoy! Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Peach chutney

We had a few leftover peaches last week, so I chopped them up and put them in with a bunch of other ingredients and left them to "marinate" overnight in vinegar, sugar and spices. I've done this in the past with mango chutney, and it improves the flavour... and because I was feeling tired and lazy, but the peaches needed to be chopped up or they were going to go nasty. The peach chutney is a refreshing change to mango chutney.

I adapted this recipe over at the ABC website:

75g brown sugar
70ml red wine vinegar
6 -7 large firm peaches cut into chunks
2 tblsp sultanas
1 chopped onion
1 small diced capsicum
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
1/4 teasp mustard seeds
1/4 teasp salt
1/4 teasp pepper

1. Combine brown sugar, red wine vinegar, peaches, sultanas, onion, capsicum, lemon juice, ginger, curry powder, mustard seeds, salt, pepper. Leave over night.

2. The next day, bring mixture to the boil in a saucepan and boil rapidly for 15 - 20 mins until the mixture is thick and syrupy

3. Transfer to sterilised jars and process in a water bath to seal.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

We drink tea with a yellow submarine...

A friend linked me this the other day and of course, I had to share. Hilarious. Can be pre-ordered from here.

Saturday, 6 March 2010


Next Saturday 13th March, my mum and I are pooling our resources and are having a stall a CAR BOOT SALE! My parents have recently sold up their place and are moving down to Gippsland, so they are doing The Big Clean Out. That's 25 years of fabric, teddy bear fur fabrics, books, magazines and crafty stuff my mum is clearing. If you happen to the in the area, come by and say hi!

It's at East Doncaster Baptist Church
47-53 Tunstall Road
Doncaster East
9am - 1pm

You can find more details here!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Strawberry delight!

Yumyumyum. My little $3 strawberry shrub has been producing perfect strawberries that look like this:

And smell and taste divine! I just have to get out there before the blackbirds do...

Monday, 1 March 2010

Cathedral Ranges: Just a hike over a few boulders

We took a day trip out to Cathedral Ranges on Sunday, with my friend Jocelyn. It's about 100 km north east of Melbourne, between Taggerty and Buxton, near Marysville. It's been just over a year since the Black Saturday bushfires, so it was a fascinating trip out to the area. Everything is a contrast of charred black with new bright green growth.

Please click on the photos to enlarge them!

Hues of green and black

I spoke to Jocelyn on Friday night and let her know we were thinking of heading out to do some hiking at Cathedral Ranges, and she said she knew of this great walk out that way, she'd been there only a few weeks ago. Her words were: "Oh, the track isn't too bad, but you need to climb over a few boulders along the way". By "climbing over a few boulders" she actually meant "do a near-vertical ascent up the entire rockface right the way to the top". Not that we minded at all, it was heaps of fun... just not quite what she'd described!

We started at Sugarload Saddle, took the Wells Cave track to Sugarloaf Peak, then along the Razorback to The Farmyard, with a detour to the South Jawbone Peak, to the Jawbone carpark and around back to the Sugarloaf Saddle carpark via the road (refer to this map). It took the three of us almost exactly 6 hours to complete, with breaks and time to take photos. Much of the track has had to be re-marked recently, as many of the rocks have shattered due to the fire and there is a lot of debris along the track. Apparently (I've only just read this then!) the track is for experienced hikers only... and that was before the fires.

The ascent to Wells Caves is very steep from the outset, and in some parts you need to throw your pack up first and then pull yourself up.

Near vertical

"Just climbing over a few boulders" says Jocelyn

The cave itself is steep but great fun. However I wouldn't recommend this track if you are overweight or claustrophobic. Wells Cave is quite narrow, fine for little runts like me, but Gib found it to be a bit squeezy (he's not overweight, but tall and broad). Again, you can't do this with your pack on, there isn't the room.

Wills Cave: a bit squeezy

The view after the cave is fantastic and well worth it.

The next section up to Sugarloaf Peak is a bit hairy in some spots, but there are lots of solid hand holds and solid foot places. It's more of a mind thing than anything.

View from Sugarloaf Peak along the Razorback

We made our way from Sugarloaf Peak along the Razorback, where we stopped part way for lunch. The Razorback is a fairly comfortable walk for most of the way. There is a made walking track in some parts, and only a small amount of awkward climbing with narrow ledges, and some parts of the flatter track are quite sandy and with a lot of loose rubble. Most of it is fine though. There are some great views along the way.

While making our way to The Farmyard (so named because there are lyrebirds that live nearby that make farmyard noises! We didn't spot any though) we stumbled across the most amazing patch of cherry tomatoes. Maybe someone dropped a tomato there one day and now there is this huge patch? The smell of it was absolutely divine, and we rummaged through and picked all the ripe ones. They were super sweet. I would love to go back there in a week or so I can gorge myself silly on all the hundreds of now-green tomatoes.

Like kids in a candy store: The enormous patch of tomatoes

The walk up from The Farmyard to South Jawbone Peak is relatively easy and offers lovely views. I didn't sit out on the edge like the other dudes I was with, and thankfully they didn't tell me what a long drop it was below until after we'd walked down the hill a bit.

The view from South Jawbone Peak

We took the track from South Jawbone Creek back to the Jawbone carpark, which is a pleasant descent via a creek and through cool ferny forest.

We then walked along the main driving track (uphill most of the way) back to the car.

Aftermath of Black Saturday, just over 12 months ago

Uphill home

Taste Sensation: Durios

We were walking past our Asian grocer and spotted this: The Durio

Our last Durian Taste Sensation was completely vile, but we thought, given how popular durians are around the world, maybe it was just a bad one? Perhaps if we had them in the form of a durian-filled Oreo it would be better? And for only $1.90, how could we go past that?

Opening the package made us all dry reach. But Gib took it upon himself to give it a go. Or at least try to...

Even after we had put it in two plastic bags and left it on the bench, you could still smell the stench of the durios. The smell of urinal cakes, sewerage and rotting mangos permeated throughout the kitchen, until finally Gib's mum cracked it and threw them in the bin.

Lesson: Do not eat durian flavoured anything.