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Meatless Monday: Leon’s Superfood Salad

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Post Australia Day weekend  I was nostalgic over Leon‘s salad and not the quintessential Australian meatpie. Leon is a chain of great food in London, and one of the places that the London Stitch and Bitch used to frequent. I used to order their Superfood Salad multiple times and their recipe book is one that I tend to frequent now and again. If interested to see their other recipes, the Guardian showcased a number of their recipes from their cookbook “Leon Ingredients and Recipes” here. I am also excited that the great folks at Leon will be releasing a vegetarian cookbook this March, and I will definitely be ordering it.

This recipe is the vegetarian version of their Superfood Salad, replacing the suggested grilled chicken with fetta as its main source of protein. One thing I do have to say is you just have to make their aioli. It is so much lighter and fluffier than your typical variety thanks to the whipped egg white and yoghurt. One tip if you want to bulk up this salad you can always have it with some brown rice. Read More…

Meatless Monday: Ottolenghi’s Kosheri

Kosheri

Starting Meatless Monday with this recipe from Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.  This is a completely unfamiliar dish for me, so cooking this felt a bit like reading a choose your own adventure book.

So what is Kosheri? According to Wikipedia it’s:

Kushari, also kosharykosheri or koshari (Egyptian Arabic: كشرى, [ˈkoʃæɾi]), is an Egyptian dish of ricemacaroni and lentils mixed together, topped with a tomato sauce, some add spaghetti garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. A sprinkling of garlic juice and hot sauce are optional.  Read More…

Finding flow by knitting Owls by @KDaviesdesigns

Owls by Kate Davies

I have the luxury of a few days of staycation, playing with the cat, unwinding several balls of yarn and just readjusting my head space for 2014,Without realising how, I managed to rediscover my groove or “Flow”.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, wrote a book in the 90’s about Flow titled appropriately “Finding Flow”, he was also featured in a Ted talk about “What makes a life worth living?”, the link is here. Flow is essentially:

complete immersion in an experience could occur while you are singing in a choir, dancing, playing bridge, or reading a good book…Moments such as these provide flashes of intense living against the dull background of everyday life.  Read More…

Life lessons from baking a gingerbread tardis

‘Twas the day before Christmas Eve, and all through the house harsh words can be heard as a lone baker struggled with the impossible task of keeping cool during a searing 36 degrees Sydney summer  day. The baker realised, that much to her dismay that there was a reason why ginger bread dough needed to rest in the fridge prior to shaping. Wrestling with a warm dough pregnant with 185 grams of butter was rather like wrestling with a melting eel; slippery and impossible. 

Nevertheless, a promise was made that a tardis will be delivered come Christmas Lunch. Sighing the baker continues on. 

Gingerbread tardis

Read More…

Vegetarian laksa – Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday - Vegetarian laksa

Five months later and I finally managed to get my life back after disappearing into a black hole. Uni and work took most of my time and energy, and though I continue taking photos, having time to upload them is  a whole different issue. In any case, without further ado here is my recipe for vegetarian / vegan laksa. This recipe came about after being frustrated in not finding vegetarian laksa that is close to the real deal. Most of the vegetarian laksas in restaurants are either watery or don’t have the right balance of laksa paste that’s sweet, hot and rich all at the same time. This recipe serves four people.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 jar of lamyong laksa paste
  • 50g of vegetarian belachan – chopped
  • 1/2 packet of puff tofu
  • 2 quorn fillets cut into large chunks
  • handfull of bean sprout
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 packets of egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup of coriander
  • 350ml of coconut cream
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 200g of vegan hot pot mix
  • 1/4 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Heat the laksa paste in a pot, slowly add the coconut milk. Add the kaffir lime leaves and chilli to the pot
  2. Add the vegetarian belachan to the mix, continue mixing. Add salt to taste
  3. Add the fillets, the vegan hot pot mix and puff tofu
  4. Squeeze a bit of lime, taste and add sugar as required. Take the pot off the stove.
  5. Boil some water, pour into a large bowl. Drop the noodles into the bowl for 3 minutes. Drain the noodle and serve in separate bowls.
  6. Pour the laksa mix into each bowls
  7. Serve topped with bean sprout and coriander with a slice of lime

There is a fair bit of trial and error to make this recipe, but the result is worth it!

If you’re wondering where I got my ingredients from, check out the following places:

While you’re at it enjoy some photos from Vivid, because Sydney is pretty awesome.

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Vivid

Vivid

#Meatless Monday – warm lentil and beetroot salad straight

Warm lentil salad

The end of the wettest Australia Day weekend on record (not official), also marked the quiet deflation of the giant duck in Darling Park. Got to say, I rather missed seeing its gigantic inflatable yellow butt as I walk down Pyrmont Bridge.

Today being Monday, I finally have the time to whip up a Meatless Monday meal and blog on the same day. Today’s Meatless Monday is brought to you by the recipe from the back of McKenzie’s French Style Lentils and it surprisingly, amazingly awesome on a cold, rainy Monday!

Just a giant duck floating around Darling Harbour #sydneyfestival #quack

Warm lentil salad

Ingredients for warm lentils and beetroot salad

Ingredients
3 cups water
1 cup McKenzie’s French Style Lentils
1 Bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
1 minced garlic clove
To taste salt and pepper
1/2 finely sliced red onion
1 tin whole baby beets, drained and cut in half
1/2 cup chopped italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 cup crumbled fetta cheese

Directions for warm lentil and beet salad

In a medium saucepan bring the lentils, water and bay leaf to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain off any excess water and remove the bay leaf. 

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, seeded mustard, minced garlic and salt and pepper. Pour over warm lentils and lightly toss. Have a taste, I ended up adding an extra tablespoon of mustard, olive oil and lemon as the dressing gets completely lost otherwise. 
 
In a serving bowl, lightly toss the dressed lentils together with the red onion, baby beets, parsley and coriander. Top with crumbled fetta. Serve with warm crusty bread. 
Definitely something I will make again in the future and I can use this recipe as the base for other salads. The lentils are incredibly filling and the combination of salty feta, juicy beetroot and earthy lentils was incredible.
In other food related news I am looking forward to my first mix box from the awesome people at Food Connect. I found them last year when wandering around farmer market sites. Food Connect is about sustainable produce coming direct from local farmers and about eating what’s in season. There are a couple of organic markets within fairly close driving distance, but what really got me was the fact that they have a subscription grocery model that delivers! Oh they do have drop off point where you can pick your box, but the chance of me getting out of work and picking up grocery on a weekday is pretty much nil. Stay tune for grocery box shots.

Summer, strawberries and the quest for digital awards

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Blogging to me is like exercising. They both take a while to get back into rhythm and once I do get back in the rhythm inevitably flu will kick me back into bed and shatter another resolution.

They cycle starts and stops, starts and stops.

The only time both have any chance of lasting is if I have a goal and award at the end (warrior dash anyone?), oh and it helps if I gather points along. Maybe it started with owning my iPhone and started the downward spiral of tracking inane actions such as meals I had (foodspotting), places I visit (foursquare), exercises (fitocracy) and my spending (iexpense) to name a few.

In short wordpress, congratulating me when I post is just not enough. Where is my fanfare, my medals, my quests, props from my legions of fans and my dashboard? Creating content is no longer its own reward, I need my ego to be stroked with each post. It could be so easy, create quests based on subjects and whenever a certain topic is reached every nth time I receive a medal or some credit or…something.

While I put away that minuscule first world problem aside, one thing that does give with every effort is my little patch of dirt attempting to grow and bear fruits.

My first real harvest was literally a handful of strawberry lowana grown from seedling during spring until now. This little plant was surprisingly fruitful considering the amount of rain it received during its flowering period. Taste wise I was expecting juicy summer drenched fruits, but aside from the additional crunchiness it is not noticeably sweeter than the store bought variety.

My dwarf beans were growing beans, but the harvest was somewhat pitiful with only 1 bean being harvested and only a single bean within the pod. My kale was growing until a sudden attack of conscience when spying two green caterpillars meant leaving them alone until they grow fat and big and reduced my entire crop into twigs. Caterpillars are cute, yes they grow into butterflies, but butterflies lay eggs within a surprisingly short period of time.

Beginning of the end

Unfortunately no birds decide to feast on my caterpillar family while they feast on my kale. What was a surprisingly effective natural predator was the humble lady beetle. During early spring my Japanese maple was completely covered with aphids, so much so that you can shake the tree and handfuls will just drop. A few weeks later small troop of lady beetles arrived and ate their way within two weeks.

Lady beetles I heart you.

In hindsight there were a number of things I should and shouldn’t have done. Such as completely rejigging the soil and adding a truckful of manure to revitalise the soil. 1 bag of compost, 1 bag of potting mix does not a healthy garden bed make, nor does an imaginary green thumb medal create a harvest, but you can always like this post and make me feel warm and fluffy for all of five seconds.

Lady bettle hoovering


2012 in review

A clever little summary of my non blogging year last year, the only thing I can aim for is to do a wee bit more!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hello 2013,

New Year 2013

Dear 2013,

As the first day of your year ends, I wonder what the other 364 days will bring. If it was anything like your first hour, watching the city skyline burst gloriously into frame accompanied by good company then I hope that this new year will continue in this vein.

All I want this year is a bit more stability, less surprises of the nasty types and having the tenacity to stick to at least one thing this year, whether it be blogging more, cooking, gardening or giving back to the world.

Love you already and looking forward to many more days to come.

xxoo

New Year 2013

Meatless Monday – Pear & Raspberry Bread and I wish you hadn’t asked

Art & About 2012

It is wet. I am standing inside a room dripping with water from its roof. Inside this little cottage, the smell of wet woollen rug and the metallic sound of water hitting metallic surface was overwhelmed by the sense of quiet that blanketed the room. I am in a dream, someone else’s or mine or ours meeting in this other worldly space it’s difficult to tell.

They say that a picture tells a thousand words, but I dare say experiencing an art work is a hundred thousand more. The Art & About installation work “I wish you hadn’t asked” is one which will likely haunt me in odd moments and several future dreams (rain coats optional).

I wish you hadn't asked

There is a moment in a relationship when something is said, or done, that can’t be taken back; then the rot sets in. Step inside this ordinary house where rain pours inside its walls, slowly destroying the private world within. Raincoats provided.

A word of advice for those who turned up expecting fireworks on the first day of Art and About, don’t. There are things around, but the programme on the first day felt a little bare compared to the lists of exhibitions and events listed in the catalogue handed out by helpful volunteers. Some of the exhibitions are so subtle you are likely to miss, like the smiley road signs posted close to Hyde Park. What you should do is come back multiple times and see all the facets of the Festival.

Art & About 2012

And now back to our usual Meatless Monday program. Today’s recipe being Pear & Raspberry Bread. The original recipe comes from Coles, and can also be accessed here.

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Ingredients

  • 825 g can pear halves, drained, juice reserved (1 large Coles can)
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C or 160 °C fan. Grease a 15cm x 25cm loaf pan and line with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Puree half of the pears and chop remaining. Measure pear puree in a jug or measuring cup and add enough reserved juice to make up to 1 cup.
  3. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add egg, oil, raspberries, pear puree mixture and chopped pears. Gently fold together until just combined. Fill prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 mins until cooked when tested. Cool bread in pan. Store in an airtight container.

A few notes about this recipe. This bread is incredibly moist, so much that I wonder whether adding another 1/2 cup of flour will not go amiss. Next time, I would try not pureeing the pears, I don’t think it’s actually necessary as the canned pears are quite soft. I will definitely recommend pureeing fresh pears though.