Monthly Archives: September 2013

Riverfire with Ganeesh

So to end the Brisbane Festival in September, Brisbane celebrates with fireworks. Now, I’m not a huge fireworks fan. I can take them or leave them, but when you have friends who live in the Brisbane river and have front row seats to the fire works, you don’t refuse, even if it means fighting you way across town because they closed the footbridge over the river (this year it too had fireworks on it).

IMAG2753Please excuse all the photos from tonight. It’s hard to take a steady shot while you’re bobbing on a boat!

 

We settled in early- the jetty for the moorings closed at 6. This gave us plenty of time to watch the banks of the city gardens fill up with families and sample some wine. We also discovered that my hosts had a new addition to their boat- a nearly 2 feet tall statue of Ganeesh they they found floating down the Brisbane river. Ganeesh is lucky, so they brought it on board.

Nestled gently next to the propane...

Nestled gently next to the propane…

I also met Alissa and Bryce from A to B to Sea, a couple blogging about living their nautical dream of renovating a boat and sailing around the world. Alissa made a gorgeous cheesy garlic bread and blogs about cooking in her tiny galley, as well as the misadventures Aquabat throws at them.

Cooking in tiny kitchens, like this one. Mind your head.

Cooking in tiny kitchens, like this one. Mind your head.

The annual flyovers from fighter jets and helicopters did their usual thing. It was loud. Really loud.

Now Riverfire isn’t your 5 minutes of lights kind of deal. It’s a highly synchronised affair that takes place in several locations along the Brisbane river. The focus tends to be on the Storey Bridge (pictures above) but there are fireworks platforms set up on this river near it, at Southbank, on the Goodwill Bridge and on the rooftops of surrounding city buildings. During the event we were surrounded by fireworks.

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La Rejouissance.

 

 

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Leftovers rock- quick mexi potatoes

So I hate food waste. We throw out things like vegetables we intend to eat that eventually die in the crisper and last week’s dinner (which now looks scary so we sometimes turf the container too). We waste food for a variety of reasons (even if you don’t want to click the link, click the link because Dr. Karl wrote that piece and I love Dr. Karl). But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There’s one section of my extended family who don’t do leftovers. Food not eaten that night doesn’t get eaten. Either it goes straight into the bin or it goes into the fridge and then into the bin later. It’s weird. I love leftovers to the point where I plan for leftovers so I can have yummy lunches for the coming week or freeze portions to create a bit of variety at a later date.

Part of my planning for leftovers includes purposefully cooking a bit more veg than needed and the other night it was baked potatoes. I can’t stand turning on the oven for one or two tiny things, and maximising what you cook in the oven saves electricity and money. So cooking this recipe actually started about 2 days before I finally ate this dish when I rolled my spuds in foil and baked them in the oven until super soft.

This is not a recipe where you need ingredient amounts. You can even make LEFTOVERS SQAURED like I did here, where I added leftover beans to leftover potatoes. It’s a naturally gluten free recipe.

I added: leftover refried beans, tomato and cheese to a roughly chopped up baked potato in a baking dish of your choice. I added guacamole and spring onions to mine after it came out of the oven. Of course, you could add sour cream too.

I like this dish because it’s a little like nachos but uses less processed food. It’s great with sweet potato if you’re not a spud fan.

It’s also really nice done with Indian ingredients (leftover dahl and chopped veg with chopped coriander and a swirl of yoghurt on top after it has come out of the oven).

It’s not a gourmet dish by any stretch of the imagination but it’s solid food as healthy or revolting as you want to make it and is easy to produce in a big baking dish to serve as dinner or a side to something else.

Tuck in.

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Need this.

This might be a phone filter, but this is how I actually perceived the world around me this morning until I had a fresh juice, poached eggs and haloumi and a B vitamin. Better now.

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Thank you Pear Cafe & Bar!

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Cranking up My Breakfast: Are Eggs for Me?

So I don’t know about where you live, but in Australia a mid week breakfast tends to be toast or cereal. Maybe yoghurt or muesli or oats if you’re a bit fancy. A piece of fruit? Perhaps.

Upon selecting these photos, perhaps I’m a breakfast person after all.

We save cooked breakfasts for the weekend.

For a long time, breakfast for me was fruit or yoghurt. I couldn’t stand the thought of more in my tummy that early in the morning.

My trainer, however, had other ideas. He’s actually a guy from work and a bit amazing. He trains me and some other colleagues once a week. It was his idea for me to give up sugar. He’s also a protein advocate and not vegetarian. He knows that I am self conscious about my “grain belly” but is not an advocate of cutting wheat and grains from your diet- only refined, poor quality grains.

The other day he ask me, “How many eggs do you eat a day?”

I blinked. I was vegan for three years. I really don’t like eggs that much. Now cheese. Cheese I’m on board with. Eggs still freak me out.

“Umm… I have two a week. On the weekend”.

Cue eye boggling.

My trainer’s response? Eat 4-5 eggs a day. A DAY.

I get it. Protein is important. We all know that protein is needed for regenerating tissue in the body. But you don’t have to look far to find a vegan or vegetarian who will tell you that you don’t need animal protein in your diet.  More and more mainstream sources are suggesting we are careful about our animal protein intake because of the other health risks this can inflate.

So I told him I would try and went away to reflect and research it.

There’s more and more evidence to suggest that healthy adults (tee hee. I’m an adult) don’t need to worry about eggs contributing to heart disease or high cholesterol. So that’s good.

But 4 or 5 eggs a day?

If you read any of the links above, you’ll see that one, maybe two eggs were the recommended amount. Does that mean I should eat the rest in egg whites? What do you do with the spare yolk? I’m not chucking that out. What do you do with it (seriously, comments below appreciated).

Furthermore (and I know this link is to an Oprah article and therefore may not be as reliable as the Harvard or Mayo Center links) there’s the sensible idea that if you’re eating more eggs, you’re probably eating fewer wholegrain serves.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, the first thing is to get that one a day. And I have for the last four weeks. Here’s my new breakfast wrap (Parmesan is a good source of calcium, an egg cooked without oil and greens on a wholemeal wrap).

I like my whites solid (I hate uncooked egg white) and my yolks runny for a good dose of lecithin,

If I have the chance to eat another egg or eggs, then sometimes I take it, sometimes I don’t. I know that even though my weight hasn’t changed yet, my muscle mass is increasing and I’m getting lots of comments from people noticing (vain, I know). When I go to the doctor’s for a checkup next month, I’ll be sure to have a blood test and get my cholesterol levels measured to make sure daily eggs work for me and my body.

My trainer is not an idiot. He knows that I don’t have to worry about cholesterol from other food sources because, apart from a little dairy, my largely plant based diet is cholesterol free. I understand where he was coming from.

I don’t think I’m going to get to 4-5 eggs a day but for now my trainer will just have to live with that.

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Why vegetarians shouldn’t have to get over it or put up with it.

So I was reading an article the other day that was about someone preparing a dinner party for vegetarians and accidentally using chicken stock. You can read the full article here. His premise was that, just as you wouldn’t fill a Ferrari with inferior fuel because it’s, well a Ferrari and an amazing vehicle, you wouldn’t make risotto with just any stock if you care about food. You’d naturally make it with the best ingredients you have to hand- in this case, homemade chicken stock.

It’s all in the stock. Apparently.

There are so many vego and vegan foodies out there that I can’t even link to a few of them without doing an injustice to the others. But I thought we’d gotten over the idea that vegetarians and vegans can’t be foodies. I have crossed town for wanky spices, purchase stinky cheeses and keep saying “quinoa” correctly even when those around me don’t. I’m just going to say it: I am vegetarian and I am a foodie.

But it’s not as simple as that for the author of the article. He also argues that chicken stock contains less than 5% actual chicken anyway and his was a fancy organic free range chicken. Not even 5% cruelty.

I have to say, that I was not really angered by this article, just saddened. I have had numerous people cook for me over the years accidentally using chicken stock, soy cheese that wasn’t vegan (when I was vegan), Worcestershire sauce and other more or less sneaky ingredients that pose as culinary landmines for the vego and vegan. I get it. We all make mistakes. Even vegetarians. Especially vegetarians (There. I said it).

“I maintain that it is very impolite to straight-up refuse something someone has taken the time to make for you (and the other, probably carnivorous people present) because of your personal preference.” stated the author. I agree with this statement to a point. If a vegetarian or vegan wanted to eat his risotto, fine. If they didn’t and nommed on sides dishes or dip all night, fine. That’s not rude, that’s making the best of a situation that the host put them in. Gracious guests realise the effort made but should not have to compromise an important part of themselves. Gracious hosts should be aware of this too.

The author states “I am aware that those herbivores who possess a strange, almost metaphysical fear of contamination will remain impervious to my logic.” I thought about who those herbivores are. Are they the ones who don’t want to pick ham off their pizza, or send back a pasta covered in cheese? Is there anything wrong with that? If one was Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Jain or perhaps Buddhist, one would have dietary restrictions and recommendations which would also stop them from ignoring it or picking it off.

“This corn bread just tastes so much better made with bacon fat. I’m aware you can’t eat it for spiritual reasons but the fat is only a small percentage and it’s not gracious to the host if you refuse” said no one ever to a Jew or Muslim (I hope).

Just as religion is more than going to a house of worship once a week, being a vegetarian, for many, is a complete lifestyle. It’s a belief system. We are all in it for different reasons but we believe, based on either research, experience or emotions, that being veg is best. We’re not asking you to prepare our food using only unicorn-horn utensils (we’d hate that anyway) or facing east while doing a handstand, or even source kosher or halal ingredients, we’re just asking for no meat. Chicken is a meat, therefore chicken stock is a no-no. If you can’t do that, order out. Or make toast. We’re supposed to be your friend, we’ll eat breakfast for dinner with you.

But before vegetarians and vegans with veg-friendly mates relax and think “at least my friends are nice”, take stock (Ha! Had to use that somewhere) and note this from the author’s parting paragraph: “Which is why, in the end, perhaps the tried-and-true model of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is the best policy”.

Oppressive and secretive military policies as a strategy for cooking for guests?

What a gracious host.

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Oh Snap

Relaxing on the Gold Coast for the afternoon. Dumpers, surf club, sand in a ya undies*. Perfect.

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So Aussie.

 

*I’m glad to report that I didn’t get sand in my undies today. If you’ve ever been to an Australian beach, you might know what a feat that is.

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COMFORT AT MY TABLE

So for my first day of holidays, I went to lunch with two friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen in ages. I’m really not familiar with Milton because I’ve always been scared off by the terrible parking situation.

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If I’d known Comfort at My Table had been waiting for me all this time, I would have been there years ago. It looks like quite a small café from the front but opens into a large airy space with big white tables and mismatched chairs. The décor is decidedly girly- pale pink walls, floral bunting and a shabby chic feel, but this didn’t stop heaps of local businessmen from popping in for a meal or a take-away coffee while we were there, a good sign considering there are lots of other coffee places nearby.

Comfort specialises in breakfast but also serves lunch and sweet things. One friend ordered a sandwich and the other scrambled eggs with mushrooms. I ordered the avo toast with Danish feta and tomato relish for $10.80 and a poached egg on the side ($1.50). My first thoughts were “That’s not a cheap avo toast”. I stood corrected when a huge and delicious pink plate came out with a slice of roasted lemon and plenty of rocket as well as a really tangy creamy danish feta (I always thought feta had to be one or the other). You pay for care and things made at the café itself. It was divine.

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I also ordered a pot of chai which is supposed to be a specialty. It came out properly brewed in a pot with honey on the side (even though I stayed strong and didn’t have the honey). It was a lovely tea. I thought it might be T2 Chai, but it lacked the liquorish hit T2 has. The waiter didn’t know either- it’s a secret! He also said that he once guessed it might be T2 but confirmed that it wasn’t. Whatever it was, it was lovely as were the waiters who were present, very pleasant and attentive but never intrusive.

They also serve Krazy Lemonade, a local product I’ve had at the West End markets many a Saturday. All the baking is done in house. Overall, it was a well done: service, décor, food and pricing was all spot on. There really wasn’t any vegan options already on the menu, but the avo toast could easily be done without feta and there was toast and fruit toast available. If I wanted a hot vegan option, I’d be incline to order toast and then add some sides like thyme mushrooms, chat potatoes (yum), baked beans, avocado and roast tomato (providing everything was not cooked in butter of course). Soy milk and gluten free bread were available.

After one of my lovely ladies went back to work, the other and I wandered down Railway Terrace to Park Road. We discussed how the café would be lovely for a Kitchen Tea or Baby Shower- it was definitely feminine, but more Shabby Chic meets Happy Modern, and not over the top.

I know Comfort has been around for a while, but I really was delighted at how “correct” everything was and how much I enjoyed my breakfast for lunch.


Comfort at My Table on Urbanspoon

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Pity Party, or a solo resistance to my bad habits.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. ― Hippocrates. He knew how to roll.

So today I was going to review a cafe, but every time I began, I just couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t recreate the dishes in my head and why they gave me so much pleasure. So I stopped. Obviously, otherwise you’d be reading a cafe review.

Instead, I planned to go the gym while Mr. Ben and his sister swam. I mentioned the other day that I went for a huge walk that resulted in mondo blisters. And they’re not better. Not by a long shot. You know those pictures of zombie makeup people make with oatmeal and food dye? Yeah. Like that! I nearly screamed trying to put my shoes on and looked on jealously when the other two popped off to swim. Bastards.

I went and sat with my feet in the sun because according to my sister-in-law, drying them out helps. I can’t find anything online to support this, but “Heck! Why not?”. I started researching foods that help our skins heal to remind myself what I should be boosting in my diet.

A lot of articles these days focus on the beauty element, such as this one (which admittedly I found in Glamour magazine) but I’m happy to report that not all are focused on eating well simply for skin deep results. This article in particular had the approach that healing your skin can be about your whole body, not just your face.

In particular, zinc, vitamin C, E and K as well as taking serious steps to reduce stress were good elements for healing.

Normally if I was feeling bummed (I really hope this expression “means down and out”/ “mildly depressed” as it does in Australia and not something else!) I would eat poorly, not get off the couch and spend a huge amount of time on Pinterest. Then I thought: Meh. Meh to that.

And I decided to distract myself from potato chips with much better food.

My Challenge: To fix myself a snack that would be packed full of skin-benefiting nutrients.

Zinc: Nuts (almonds and walnuts) and homemade yoghurt in a smoothie.

Vitamin C: Pak choy and mixed frozen berries in my smoothie (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries).

Vitamin E: Almond and walnuts

Vitamin K: Pak choy.

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Bonus smoothie ingredients: Frozen banana, maca powder, spirulina, protein powder, water.

Final product? Yo’ ugly, but delicious.

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Bonus BONUS round: One leftover vegan maple quinoa hazelnut muffin made by a good friend on Saturday. Not the healthiest thing in the world, but a little quinoa never hurt anyone (except the Bolivians who eat it which I why I don’t buy quinoa or purchase meals with quinoa in them, despite this food being super awesome and arguments for and against eating quinoa being many).

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This muffin is also a bit of an ugly blighter, but so delicious and as well as real maple syrup, quinoa and hazelnuts, bound together using chia seeds, the weirdest, coolest thing to hit health food shops in the last 10 years.

So I’m been slowly nomming on these all afternoon and apart from coming to the obvious conclusion that your feet are important (really really!), I realised that I didn’t have to fall onto poor eating habits and eat my birth weight in salty snacks just because my “get moving” plans for the holidays have been set back by zombie feet.

And I felt a bit better.

 

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Street Chic – September

So I’m terrible at dressing for summer. I wear layers and jeans far too late and wonder why I’m boiling. I love this girl’s outfit near the Cotton Tree markets on Sunday. The trilby and the blue ballet flats are too cute and although it’s hard to see, her cats eyes sunnies are amazing and look great on her face shape.

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Cute and practical.

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