Monthly Archives: July 2013

Loopy for Lentil Soup

So I love me some lentils. I think it comes with the vego territory. There are plenty of vegos out there that aren’t tofu or tempeh fans, but lentils are natural, store easily and are super cheap. I eat a lot of dahl, but thought this recipe from My New Roots looked zingy and interesting. Sarah from My New Roots calls it Four Corners Lentil Soup. I thought I’d check it out.

IMAG2058The big difference is that I used parsley as a garnish (way too much judging by that bowl in the back). I used the onion option instead of leeks as onion last forever in the fridge.

IMAG2061It was thick, warning, zingy, surprisingly quick and reinvigorated my love for lentils. If you need a lentil revamp, try it. I have never regretted using Sarah’s recipes, and I regret a lot of cooking experiments!

 

 

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Welcome Wagon!

So I love making homemade gifts. It’s a shame that not everyone appreciates them. I love getting a gift that I know someone has spent time on.

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For my birthday, I had one lovely friend make me snickerdoodles (cinnamon biscuits/cookies) that were to die for and presented in a repurposed tin! She had even made half crunchy and half chewy because she didn’t know how I like my biscuits (Chewy, in case anyone ever wants to make me more. Not that I didn’t eat the crunchy ones!). Delicious, frugal and eco.

I love receiving any sort of gift. Whether someone has spent time at a shop, online, in the kitchen or sitting on the living room floor covered in glue, they have spent time thinking about you and that’s awesome.

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I had a housewarming challenge recently, where some family members had bought their first house together. I was on a budget, I had a tight time frame and one of the couple has a gluten allergy. I wanted to buy a couple of new items for their new place, but, frankly, people remember a homemade gift more (for better or worse) and I wanted care factor, because they are important family to use (as opposed to all those unimportant family members running around…).

I wanted to make gluten free noms, because it must suck having to think about baked goods before you tuck in. Above are the peanut butter cookies and banana choc oat cookies that resulted.

And you know what? I lost BOTH recipes, so all that exists of my knowledge of the recipes are the pretty (obviously homemade) labels. Here’s the banana choc oat label, if you want to have a go reconstructing them:

IMAG1935And the finished cookies were put into glass jars I already had, tied off with my dorky labels and nestles into a baking dish with some jam and tea towels. Total cost: Less than $30 (sorry if said family members read this) but very pretty, in my humble opinion.

IMAG1939Yes, that’s my car. Like I said, tight time frame 🙂

Have you ever made someone a (edible or inedible) present? I’d love to know what it was- share the love!

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Blueberry Muffins

So this recipe was originally Strawberry Shortcake Muffins from Dashing Dish. I didn’t have strawberries, so ended up with blueberry muffins.

I love small easy snacks that I can freeze and take to work. I often make up cake, muffins or biscuit dough that I can either pull out of the freezer in the morning and take to work, or defrost a stick of dough and bake up biscuits (cookies) at a moment’s notice for morning teas.

I like these muffins because they were easy, less than 100 calories (about 93 depending on your berry) and not disgustingly unhealthy. You could easily use a sugar replacement if you don’t use sugar, and could very easily use gluten free oats to make this gluten free.

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In the reflection, you could almost imagine twice as many noms…

Makes 12

GET:

2.5 cups oats

2 eggs

.5 cup sweetener (I use sugar)

1.5 tsp baking powder

.5 tsp baking soda

1.5 cups berries (+.5 cup optional extra for the tops of muffins)

1 tsp lemon juice

 

DO:

  • Preheat oven (400 F) and prep muffin liners (I used foil liners without the paper so they didn’t stick. I use the paper liners to separate raw goodies, like raw brownies).
  • Buzz your oats in a food processor until they’re powdery. Add all over ingredients except berries and blend until smooth.
  • Stir in berries. Fill muffin trays (I made 12 small muffins).
  • Top with extra berries (optional). Bake 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve on their own, hot or cold, possibly with yoghurt.

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Enjoy!

 

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Poverty In Paradise

With a blue sky and a camera, everything seems like an adventure.

So it doesn’t matter if you have less than $70 to last two people the next fortnight (after rent and that huge bloody bill, damn you car insurance), you can still have fun in Brisbane. I can still have fun in Brisbane. Or any city. For free.

Yesterday was gloomy weather so I got a lot of cooking and laundry done, but today dawned bright and early. I was supposed to do some research and writing, but after my computer died (really truly, I was given the blue screen of death) I decided it was too good a day to mope about lost time. Whether you have a Ben or not, there are lots of indoors and outdoors things you can do  without spending a cent.

Watch Ben make, then help him eat sourdough bread with a poached egg for breakfast. Ben made the bread only, not the egg.

Watch Ben make, then help him eat sourdough bread with a poached egg for breakfast. Ben made the bread only, not the egg.

Organise those thousands of jars I collect for jams, sauces and drinks.

Organise those thousands of jars I collect for jams, sauces and drinks.

Admire my free flower from Coles (they were giving them away because it was "market day").

Admire my free flower from Coles (they were giving them away because it was “market day”).

Water my spring onions, which have been growing in a vase (my best and only) for about 4 weeks, are going strong and provide a little bit of green inside.

Water my spring onions, which have been growing in a vase (my best and only) for about 4 weeks, are going strong and provide a little bit of green inside.

Do laundry. Hey, it's not glamorous, but it's a good free thing to do on a sunny day. I've never had such happy, pretty laundry.

Do laundry. Hey, it’s not glamorous, but it’s a good free thing to do on a sunny day. I’ve never had such happy, pretty laundry.

Play I-spy on our walk. I love this renovated church (which is now a house) with solar panels. One day I'll find where it is at street level and have a good look.

Play I-spy on our walk. I love this renovated church (which is now a house) with solar panels. One day I’ll find where it is at street level and have a good look.

Enjoy the roof of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church (ok, roof admiring is not everyone's hobby but this is MY blog and I'll admire if I want to).

Enjoy the roof of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church (ok, roof admiring is not everyone’s hobby but this is MY blog and I’ll admire if I want to).

Wonder at the beauty that is Brisbane city. The green and the built.

Wonder at the beauty that is Brisbane city. The green and the built.

Check out the Regional Flavours food festival at Southbank. Also, check out those crazy bean bag seats. Bad asses of ass comfort.

Check out the Regional Flavours food festival at Southbank. Also, check out those crazy bean bag seats. Bad asses of ass comfort.

For more info on the Regional Flavours festival, click here.

More Regional Flavours at the Courier Mail Piazza. So pretty.

More Regional Flavours at the Courier Mail Piazza. So pretty.

Eat a beautiful lunch of rosemary polenta chips with chipotle mayo.

Eat a beautiful lunch of rosemary polenta chips with chipotle mayo.

I’ve blogged about how I make polenta. The chipotle mayo was cheater’s version: mayonnaise mixed with chipotle salsa. I have, however, made a scrumptious aioli that goes beautifully with polenta as well, which is in the same post as above. To make rosemary polenta, stir through a small handful of cleaned, de-stemmed rosemary leaves at the end of cooking. I also add a teaspoon or dried oregano for oomph.

Best Sunday morning, and the price was right!

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Enjoy your Sunday! Share your frugal adventure ideas below.

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Farewell MUD dessert restaurant

So someone told me that MUD in Bulimba was closed, and Urbanspoon confirms this (please tell me if I’m wrong, but the website is also down), so farewell MUD. I adored eating here with friends because you could try lots of different things easily. It could get crowded, they seated people in a little too tightly, but it had some beautiful desserts and packed a sugary punch. Here’s some of my MUD memories.

That’s restaurant life.
Mud Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

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Corn Fritters- Frit on!

So I am yet to perfect corn fritters. The problem is me. I can never decide whether I want a lot of corn or a lot of batter. It’s a fine balance between hanging all your kernels together and having a frying pan full of loose corn (damn that corn, can’t it keep it in it’s pants?).

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This is a recipe from the first cookbook I ever owned. I bought it on the first warehouse and sales shopping trip I went on with my mum. Some women had hired a bus and were going to all the discount factories in Melbourne. I think the cookbook was my first purchase on the whole trip. It was about $5 and water damaged, so I had to carefully pry apart each of the pages, some of which didn’t fare so well and needed healing. But I loved it and it went into my (sort of) glory box and there have been a few solid recipes I have turned to over the years- such as my first ever pasta sauce and my go-to carrot cake recipe that even impresses my lovely mother-in law- and, even now, I’m looking at some of the recipes and thinking “Hey, I’m gonna make that today”. Maybe I will even bother.

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So this is the recipe I’ve been using for a while now. It’s reliable and the fritters don’t fall apart. They refrigerate nicely and eve freeze well. I love them with tomato sauce or tomato relish. You could serve them with anything though: salsa, kidney beans in a tomato sauce, chili, poached eggs, guacamole, the list of delishiousness doesn’t end. When I was vegan, I would veganise this with egg-replacer- the equivalent of two eggs. You could probably also use corn flour. Obviously, you’d use the non-dairy milk of your choice, but I use soy.

GET:

1 1/4 cup plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp cumin (I use way more because I am addicted)

130g (4 1/4oz) can drained corn

130g (4 1/4oz) can creamed corn

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tbls chopped fresh chives (I have never used these, as I never have chives on hand)

Oil, for shallow frying (these days, I use a spray)

 

DO:

  • Sift all your dry ingredients together and make a well in the middle.

 

  • Add all your wet ingredients, and S&P t taste and mix until it’s all combines. Add a touch more milk if your batter is too thick.

 

  • Heat your oil in a frying pan and then drop spoons of mixture into the pan and flatten if need be. Let them sizzle until you can see the bottom and sides begin to solidify (~2 mins, depending on your heat) and then flip. Drain on paper towel if needed. Best warm.

IMAG2037Yum.

Bon Appetit (sorry to be so corny).

 

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Bar hopping

So last weekend I helped to host a group of interstate colleagues on a bar browse while they were at a conference.

We went to:

  • The Lyric Bar (attached to Queensland Performing Arts Centre) for firsties
  • Era Cafe, Bar, Restaurant for nibbles
  • Lock and Load for dinner
  • Sling cocktail bar for the hell of it.

Admittedly, not as many places as our practice run, which left me deciding to do the actual one drink free, but it was still a very good night all round.

IMAG2380Lots of little nibbles for vegos and their friends at Era. Unfortunately for this photo, that dish in the foreground is pork crackling, but the chips and aioli pleased the crowd.

IMAG2381Sweet Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Aioli and Lock and Load. $8.50. Can we say YUM?! And Lock and Load handled an unscheduled group of 14 with no sweat. Very cool, guys! I’ll be doing a full review of Lock and Load in the next couple of weeks (just gotta go back and eat a bit more of their food, gosh-darn-it!).

 

Happy Hopping.

 

 

 
Lock 'n' Load on Urbanspoon

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Look Up

So can anyone remember that science show Look Up from the early 90s? No? Just me then.

Anyway. I looked up in New Farm and this is what I saw:

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I know it’s blurry, but I don’t care.

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Topsy turvy.

What do you see?

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CHAMP KITCHEN and BAR

So I’ve been holding off on this post for a while. Why? Well, last year when Champ was very recently open, I went to Champ with two friends and an awesome baby for lunch. The decor and view are beautiful- very cool open air dining. Unfortunately, we found a few things a bit off, such as a ready-made pie taking a long time to come out and a meaty pizza coming out veg (which wouldn’t worry me, but it wasn’t my pizza!). We put it down to teething problems, smiled and got on with our day. It didn’t matter. I still had me a good iced soy coffee.

That is a nice pasty lid right there.

That is a nice pasty lid right there.

This year I went to Champ and had half an experience. I say half, because although we were seated, we decided to get up and move on. Embarrassing, no? By now, I had hoped that the first month jitters would be over with, and they are, but I guess I don’t like what Champ has become. Firstly, I’m not sure about it’s target demographics. Located opposite the Brisbane Eye, below the new(ish) Brisbane ABC studios and next to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the menu is decidedly expensive and high brow. This on its own is cool, but doesn’t fit in with its day crowd.

By night, people will want their menu– it’s posh and lovely looking and perfect for pre-show dining. During the day, however, I don’t see many people wanting to eat $12-42 meals, averaging at about $18 for a share plate and $32 for a main. There were a variety of fresh vego options to choose from. There were no baked good out when I was there, but the sweets menu was all $16. I just wouldn’t pay that for a coffee and cake experience. Their breakfast menu looks more affordable and aimed at people passing to go to work or tourists wanting a light brekkie, but I guess what I find “off” is the lunch menu.

Southbank is pricey, I totally get it, but if Champ could manage an affordable, approachable lunch menu and keep some of their more splashy fare for dinner, I think they’d fill the many empty tables I keep passing.

I hate to give a negative review, but I have to, and it seems that others on urbanspoon feel the same way. It’s such a gorgeous location, I would still pop in their for a drink and a view from time to time.

Good coffee, but great glassware and crockery! (Is it wrong that I notice these things?)

Good coffee, but great glassware and crockery! (Is it wrong that I notice these things?)

Have you ever felt this way about a restaurant or cafe? Please share!
Champ Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

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Raw Brownies

I love chocolate. A lot. Like, a lot. So when I discovered a super easy, good for you brownie, I knew life had changed. Rather than posting the recipe myself, I’m going to direct you to Sarah at My New Root’s brownie recipe. I’ve made it a dozen times now, it’s a killer Gluten Free offering, freezes well and really hits the spot when you need chocolate but don’t want to eat a whole block. Or maybe you do. Either way, go check them out and try them. You just need a food processor. I often make this recipe and make smaller balls (nearly 2 dozen) so I have a calorie controlled snack (because this many nuts can be very calorific).

Sarah is one of my favourite food bloggers (you’ll be able to see why from her funny yet informative writing and amazing photography) and is preggers, so wish her all the best while you’re there.

I have imagined this being pressed into a spring form pan as the base of a naughty cheesecake one day, but am not yet ready the take the plunge.

Enjoy! (And ‘scuse the toes in the picture!)

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