Sunday, 31 May 2009

Recipe reviews!

I'm just doing some cataloging of some cool recipes I've tried over the past month, and using my blog as a bit of a scrap book for them all. Maybe you will like them too?

Roasted onions: from the Cook and the Chef. I think anything slow roasted is delicious. Reheats well.

Madhur Jaffrey's Swiss Chard, tomatoes and chickpeas. Made with fresh Swiss chard and amazingly sweet cherry tomatoes from the market, this tasted amazing. I really should have used freshly cooked chickpeas rather than tinned because they really let the rest of the meal down. It was so quick and tasty, but the simplicity of this dish means that the ingredients have to be super fresh.

Falafel: I have tried many falafel recipes, but this is without a doubt the best one I have found. Just like a bought one! It seems as though where I've been going wrong all this time has been using cooked beans instead of just soaked beans. I used parsley and mint instead of parsley and coriander, because Gib has a very strong aversion to coriander, even in minute quantities.

Best ever mudcake recipe: this is, in fact, the best ever mudcake recipe. I've had so many mixed results with mudcakes in the past, but this one is fantastic. I love how adaptable the recipe is too!

Eye spy... a morning ritual

I am a big fan of routine. It keeps me sane when there's so much going on in and so many things to fit in, and my mornings are particularly sacred. I have both a pre-work and work routine that goes something like this...

7:30am: wake up. I seem to wake up at 7:30am regardless of how early/late I went to bed or whether it's a weekday or weekend. Boot my computer.
7:35am: shower. I have now perfected the 4 minute shower. Check the weather on the bureau of meteorology. Get changed.
7:45am: breakfast. Porridge, or weetbix with a sprinkling of muesli with soy milk. Check whether the rats require breakfast as well, or if their water needs to be changed. Ignore the cat despite his pathetic pleas, because he is likely to have conned other members of the household into feeding him two breakfasts already.
7:50am: out the door for work!
8:00am: Arrive at work. Make a coffee. Spend the next 20-30 mins catching up on news, a few blogs and anything else that is exciting and non-work related.

Thankfully Yarra Valley Water gave us one of these cute electronic shower timers, and not one of the dodgy hour glass ones (I have often wondered how much water went into the manufacture of those dodgy ones!)

And then on the weekend...

7:30am: wake up. Laze in bed, looking out the window.
7:45am: shower. I have now perfected the 4 minute shower. Get changed
7:55am: breakfast. Porridge, or weetbix with a sprinkling of muesli with soy milk.
8:00am: Dawdle. Make a to-do list for the weekend (there's always something on the go). Read the news, a few blogs and anything else that is exciting and non-work related. Start some baking, or work on a sewing project, put on a load of washing, do general cleaning and tidying until Gib gets up. It's always easier to clean when he's not around.
10:00am: Coffee! at one of the local coffee shops.

Thanks Angie for this week's theme, and Cindy for hosting Eye Spy!

Just a minute... in May!

Things have been a little quiet around these parts. It's because, I have to admit... I haven't been doing all that much sewing, gardening or noteworthy cooking. The garden has been looking after itself, the sewing has been kind of non-existant (Gib has taken over my sewing space - grr!) and cooking has just been same old for the past month. So what have I been doing this past month?

Listening... to Max Tundra, a guy that only uses Commodore 64 sounds to create his music. Then there are the old favourites: Daft Punk, Flaming Lips... oh and then yesterday 'Heart go boom' by Apollo 440 jumped into my head randomly. I love that song!

Waiting... to get my wisdom teeth out. It's finally happening tomorrow!

Reading... ethics applications (so I can say that I'm not harming anyone/anything and they give me a big tick to start on my experiments), exciting research papers (at least I think they're exciting) and product information sheets for exciting new equipment I'll be purchasing for the lab.

Watching... Mary and Max, a claymation movie made by the same people who make Harvey Krumpet. Go and see it. You may need tissues. They sampled a beautiful song, Perpetuum Mobile, from one of my favourite groups, Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

to Queensland for the first time ever! It was the only Australian state that I hadn't visited. It was Gib's cousin's 21st birthday, and so there was a massive family reunion to celebrate. It was quite an amazing trip up to Hervey Bay: we were fog bound in Melbourne the morning we were supposed to leave, so our first plane was canceled, the replacement plane couldn't land, so eventually we had to go from Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Brisbane, and then a 3 hour bus trip to Hervey Bay. 14 hours after checking in at Melbourne airport, we finally reached our destination! When we finally arrived there I just couldn't get over how thick and green and carpet-like the grass was. I kept saying to Gib "Look how green it is!" and I kept feeling the need to touch the soft, spongy grass. We just don't get that down here any more. I got to meet members of the family I've never met before and spend a day on Fraser Island - heaps of fun!

Eating... porridge (I never get over eating porridge in winter). Fresh vegetables from the market. Discovering an amazing Thai restaurant just minutes walk from home. The satay sauce that goes with the roti is out of this world. Also, here is the best recipe I have found to date for making falafel from scratch, with a great video tutorial to go with it.

See who else is playing over at August Street!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A classic mother's day!

Sunday I went out with Gib and his family for the Mother's Day classic, which was fundraising for breast cancer research. Gib did the 4km run, I did the 8km, and then we joined up with his parents (his mum is a breast cancer survivor) for a "cool down" walking lap - they did the 4km walk. Unfortunately my mother couldn't join us. As much as she would have liked, unfortunately she has polymyalgia rheumatica which makes it difficult for her to walk up hills (she can walk for miles on flat ground, but up hills is bad). It was an amazing event though, so many people in such good spirits! For my friend who I did the run with, it was the first time she had ever run 8km! And she did it so easily too. We worked out that from all of our walking to and from the car park to the meeting point, and then to the start of the track... we probably would have walked/run about 16km for the whole day! No wonder by about 3pm I was ready for a nap.

From here

To date, the Mother's Day Classic has raised $4.1 million for breast cancer research.

For lunch, after the run, we went to an Indian restaurant and had a lovely combined mothers day feast with both our families. I hope all of you mothers out there had a lovely mothers day!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Recipe Box Swap: No theme month!

This month I baked macaroons!

Macaroons have terrified me for ages. I don't even know why. I think it has something to do with heating the egg whites and then fear of burning them in the oven. But now that I decided have a go I'm sitting here going "What was all the fuss about?!". They were easy, turned out perfectly, with a light crunchiness on the outside and soft, chewiness on the inside. So good with a cup of peppermint tea. This is my grandmother's recipe.

Beth's grandma's macroons

¾ cup blanched flaked almonds
3 egg whites
140g caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 140°C fan-forced.

Toast almonds in a small, dry pan until golden brown (be careful to watch them, don't get distracted!!). Allow them to cool, then blend until finely ground.

Combine egg whites, sugar and tartaric acid in a medium bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Beat the egg mixture with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer until mixture has tripled in volume and has cooled. Gently fold in almond meal. Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe small rounds of mixture onto baking paper lined trays (looks cute with a star end too). Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a golden colour. Remove from oven and allow to cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

I have photos, but unfortunately my camera cable has gone missing. If I get organised (ha ha) they'll be coming later. But mine looked like this:

Courtesy of here

What did you make this month?
Why not post in on the Recipe box swap?

Just a minute in April

Umm... where did April go? And why did I have this post sitting in my 'drafts' folder and forget to post it? Here's what I did in April:

Sewing... or at least trying to. I picked up my overlocker from the serviceman the other day, so hopefully everything will be back and running smoothly.

Eating... mostly healthily during Easter! Amazing but true. It does help when you live with someone who is lactose intolerant and another who is diabetic. I am also thoroughly enjoying the new autumn fruits... mandarins, and the absolutely delicious, crunchy fuji apples (they are my favourites). The cold weather is kicking in and all of my favourite winter recipes are coming out... porridge, baked rhubarb, risottos, soups. Yum!

Enjoying... my local area! I'm training for the Mother's Day Classic and jogging around my neighbourhood. I love looking at people's gardens, the local parkland, seeing the other regular joggers as well. Oh, and I spotted these school kids in these awesome costumes, I suspect for some sort of school project. I didn't get a chance to compliment them as they hurried off in the other direction, so instead I'll give them credit on the internet. I hope they got A+. And there is a new Italian cafe that has recently opened too... brilliant coffee. I do love my community!

Reading... 'Irresistible Forces: Australian Women in Science', by Claire Hooker. It's actually listed on Google books but I picked mine up on sale for $5! So often I sit in my cosy office with my office buddy, a mature age student with two children, and is now doing her PhD. We have an office to ourselves and we both have fantastic supervisors who encourage us to have a good work/life balance and always want to hear the ideas and new findings we have. For women in Science, my situation is not the way it's always been, and still isn't for many women, and I enjoy reading about the women who helped pave the way so that I could do what I'm doing today.

Wanting... to find my routine again in May.

Feeling... the coziness of autumn and the approach of winter. This is definitely my favourite time of year.

Thanks to Jen at August Street for hosting Just a minute!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Nude and native gardening

On Saturday, May 2nd, it was 'World Naked Gardening Day'. I missed it. It would have been good weather for gardening in the nuddy in these parts, but somehow I don't think my family or neighbours would have appreciated it. They have 'days' for everything these days!

However, I was in a garden. I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne. I'd never been there before and I was seriously impressed. We visited their Australian Garden, which features a variety of examples of native Australian gardens, as well as examples of plants from all different native habitats. I really liked their visual representation of different native gardens and how much water they need: 6 big red watering cans for a low-water garden, 10 yellow watering cans for a moderately watered garden and 14 cans for a water intensive native garden. One of the highlights was getting to see the Sturt Dessert Pea in bloom:

Photo courtesy of RGB Australian Garden blog

They have a display creek bed there as well, with a section where you are invited to take your shoes off and go for a paddle. There was a father there with his two young boys, and one of them was in awe: "Are you sure we're allowed to play in the water, dad?". A sign of the times: playing in water is such a rare and special treat these days.