Monthly Archives: January 2014

Australians just don’t do red velvet

So I was asked to make red velvet macarons for a friend’s hen’s night. So yes, play dough penises and drinking games abounded. The problem was, I loaned my piping bag to someone so they could ice cupcakes. Instead, I make red velvet cookies. I found the link here, but I warn you, it’s very spammy so you’ll need to exit out of a lot of ads.

I really don’t get the appeal of adding FOUR tablespoons of synthetic dyes when without the dyes, you would have had a perfectly fine white chocolate cookie, but that’s just me I guess. I now have a bottle of red food dye. Perhaps a non-edible dying project is in order?

They turned out a little fugly (ok, a lot fugly, but I was taking them out of the oven 5 minutes before I had to be there- I was rushed!) but I was told they taste like Subway cookies.

Complement? I think it was intended as such.

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January = wonder woman me.

So I’m doing The January Cure through Apartment Therapy. You spend the month getting some projects done and identifying housey-home* things that need fixing either this month or over the year.

If my desk area looked like this right now, i would be so happy. Planning to replace it with a cupboard big enough for the filing cabinet to go inside. Will just spin aimlessly on the chair in the centre of the room.

If my desk area looked like this right now, i would be so happy. Planning to replace it with a cupboard big enough for the filing cabinet to go inside. Will just spin aimlessly on the chair in the centre of the room.

So far, I have done things like: create a project list, vacuumed and washed the floors (ok, no I didn’t, Ben did because he said he would and they look awesome!), buy flowers, cleaned up the kitchen (but yet to tackle the pantry of dank, dark doom and forgotten corners. Doesn’t that sound like a Harry Potter book? Harry Potter and the pantry of forgotten corners…) and picked projects to tackle this January (fix the kitchen sink washers and re-hang my inspiration board which fell off the wall, oh I don’t know… 3 months ago?), choose a piece of art to hang (inspiration board). <– This is an appallingly long sentence. Sorry about that.

The lonely inspiration board that fell off the wall. Currently in that position because it hides a power point and cord nicely. Oh, and the fabulous lady in the photo is my Great Aunt, aged 92.

The lonely inspiration board that fell off the wall. Currently in that position because it hides a power point and cord nicely. Oh, and the fabulous lady in the photo is my Great Aunt, aged 92.

The 8th project is to plan a party or get together. Not sure on that one, although Ben’s birthday is coming up.

Another area I wish currently looked like this. it's far more crowded than this picture and the worst part is that I actually use it all regularly. Ben bakes bread, I like to bake everything else, we use random annoying foods like nutritional yeast, chia and spirulina and who doesn't like approximately 20 spices with which to cook?

Another area I wish currently looked like this. it’s far more crowded than this picture and the worst part is that I actually use it all regularly. Ben bakes bread, I like to bake everything else, we use random annoying foods like nutritional yeast, chia and spirulina and who doesn’t like approximately 20 spices with which to cook?

My Facebook status this morning was:

So I’m feeling quite superwoman today: I’ve jogged, I’ve eaten my raw chia cacao pudding with strawberries and homemade almond milk, I’ve yoga-cised, done at assortment on housey-home things and plan to go to Bunnings to get new light bulbs and washers for the kitchen. All I need to do is prison time for tax-fraud and I’d be a regular (granola version) Martha Stewart.

If I can get a handle on the desk and the pantry before I go back to work (whilst remembering to finish writing and editing an article and planning two more… sleep? what?) I will be a happy person.

Oh, and do my tax returns for the last 2 years. No really. I should probably do that.

 

*Housey-home came from this one time where Ben and I watched 100 episodes of Tobuscus playing Minecraft on Youtube. The term has stuck. No I don’t do drugs. Yes, I clearly needed a better hobby at that point in my life.

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Christmas doesn’t have to end yet- Chocolate bark

So I couldn’t fit this post in before Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy chocolate any time of year (amiright?). Obviously. I made these for colleagues for Christmas- my boss can only enjoy Gluten Free goodies and it’s easier to make something that’s gluten free for everybody. Last year I made fudge.

This was surprisingly easy to make. I got a bit nervous about working with chocolate, but it was not difficult at all. I found that a glass bowl helped (I bought one for the occasion but have been meaning to for years). If you want this to be GOOD, use the best possible chocolate you can afford. I used some cheaper white and dark chocolate, and thought it shows. The milk chocolate was divine and make the almond bark great.

It really is simple: Melt chocolate, spread into a pan lined with baking/grease proof paper (no oil or spraying needed). Press goodies on of your choice into the chocolate (I had one with almonds and the other with candy canes) and let set in the fridge. When firm (doesn’t take long at all) melt a second (different) chocolate and spread this over the top. Put back in the fridge. When set, break into large chunks.

Naturally, if you use vegan chocolate, it will be vegan and if you check your candy canes or other mix-ins are gluten free, then your bark will be gluten free.

I made a dark chocolate, almond and milk chocolate bark (definitely the best- the quality of the milk chocolate shone through) and a dark chocolate, candy cane and blogs of white chocolate “snow” one. I also made one serious “block” of chocolate, broke it in half and gave it to good friends at work. I gave these in little noodle boxes wrapped with curling ribbon. I would also try some different mix-ins. You could add mini marshmallows, coconut and glace cherries/turkish delight and make rocky road style bark, or lolly bananas and peanuts (yum!), or dried fruit if you want to be Christmas festive. Don’t you just think you could throw a chunk or two of this into hot milk?! Maybe when it’s colder!

I was hoping to make this for family as well as colleagues, but here’s the thing: it’s too bloody hot to make chocolate gifts in Australia if you’re not sure about refrigeration! Baking something is much easier.

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, luckily it’s still nice and cold and this will keep out of the fridge if you wish.

Enjoy!

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LADY MARMALADE

So in order to catch up with a friend before Christmas, I just HAD to go to Lady Marmalade at Stones Corner for lunch AND they just won map magazine’s best lunch 2013 award. Life is tough.

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The hardest part was deciding what to eat, as there were lots of vego options and even a vegan option with greens, sweet potato, black beans, tofu and dukkah. I ummed and ahhhed and went for the mushrooms with mojo verde (a tangy non-basil pesto?) on brioche with goats’ cheese. I ordered a potato and feta hash on the side. My friend was going to go for the haloumi (because obvious) but ended up having the herbed avo toast with tomato and a SIDE of haloumi. Genius. This is why I have such great friends. Because they piece together brilliant meals.

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The café was busy but not full and we got quick service and meals. My mushrooms were well cooked and came with spinach but didn’t appear to come with the goats’ cheese. Instead, there was a yoghurt looking but cheesy tasting sauce under my mushrooms. It was still delicious and as long as no one mayo-bombed me (I don’t like mayo [but like aioli]) I didn’t mind. The potato feta hash was really good- I find that sometimes the cheese taste gets lost but you could actually pick it as an ingredient and I didn’t want to add salt to it. My friend was really happy to discover her tomatoes were in a really nice dressing and although she couldn’t pick the herbs in her avo, I think there was mint, coriander and possibly basil.

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We paid less than $30 total for our brekkies including sides and my soy iced latte. I really liked the attention to the flavours in each item- whether it was a main or a side it worked well and didn’t need heaps of salt and pepper. We even got to see a guy ride past in a plastic canoe/bicycle thing. Value.

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Lady Marmalade Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Oh Snap!

I love a picnic, especially when I didn’t have to make the food! These mouth-watering quiches (olive and feta, and goat’s cheese) are from Pamela’s Pantry on Caxton Street and eaten in the city gardens.

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I could really get into quiche if it was like this every time.

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LITTLE LARDER

So when my sister recommended The Little Larder recently I was taken back to stories from my last job where a colleague would Facebook photos of her all day breakfast with lewd tomato sauce messages written on her plate by her friend the waitress. The waitress and the colleague have moved on, but the story remains and makes me laugh.

Even though it was the weekend and busy, we were served promptly and our meals didn’t take too long. My sister ordered pesto scrambled eggs with salmon, so I didn’t photograph it, but I ordered the mushroom polenta with avo and poached eggs and a beetroot, carrot and orange juice.

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The poached eggs were a little undercooked in my fussy opinion but the polenta was superb and with the balsamic, cherry tomatoes and hot sauce, was truly interesting and yummy. You’re going to pay New Farm prices here with most hot brekkies over $15 each. We finished with a stroll around New Farm, acting like complete tossers and behaving in a way that only sisters could probably understand. If you and your sister swear a lot and talk about Brisbane gigs, architecture, libraries and boys.

So exactly like you and your sister.

Little Larder on Urbanspoon

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New Year, New Job!

So if you’ve been following me for a little while you’ll know that in 2013 I went part time in pursuit of happiness. This was a tough, but fantastic decision. Did it increase my quality of life? You betcha. It was still a difficult year because Ben was diagnosed with a long term illness that compromises his life quality, but work improved through the roof. I can honestly say I’m happy and whole at work. I relaxed a lot and got to know the amazing (and frankly, fucking crazy) people I work with much better.

I ummed and ahhhed about whether to go back to full time this year. I decided part time, told the bosses, then found out I missed out on a short-term position because I was too hard to replace. Luckily, they’re awesome and let me change my mind.

I had a lot of good things lined up for 2014, it was tipped to be a good work year. Little did I know things were going to change before they even began. Just before we went on holidays for the year, I was asked (no expression of interest, I was just asked!) to fill a position for one year because a colleague is leaving. It will mean a busier schedule during the day, but much, much less take home work. It will mean more responsibility and decision making, will be amazing on my resume, is a very rare opportunity for someone in my field and most importantly, I will be working with people in an area I love and am passionate about.

To top it off, I’ll be doing some more academic writing, being a keynote at a local conference and hopefully will attend my field’s national conference to present a workshop- something I did last year when it was in Brisbane and loved.

I feel that my hard work is being recognised and am looking forward to kicking some arse this year- with work, with relationships and with happiness. Can you just feel the ridiculous happiness radiating from your computer?! Then go and have a green smoothie, because you’ve been at the computer too long 😛

What opportunities are you going to make the best of this year?

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Happy New Year!

So this will come out while I’m still away at Hervey Bay but:

Here’s to good friends

Here’s to good food

Here’s to good health

Here’s to good work

Here’s to good love

Here’s to happiness in abundance in the New Year and beyond.

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