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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Culinary debauchery: Savoury baked brie!

So I have been seeing sinfully delightful things like baked brie on Pinterest lately (damn you, Pinterest!) and decided that one day, I would try that. Then some friends came round for seasonal jollies and I decided that, as part of a cheese plate, I would make a baked brie.

I got waaaay too excited about this and posted on Facebook: I’m baking a mother f***ing brie tonight. Kitchen and cholesterol bad-ass.

Yeah, I was excited. And lame.

But the problem was, I don’t really like sweet things with my cheese. I’m not a quince paste and grapes with my cheese kinda girl (although I don’t mind a slice of apple or pear) and so I thought I’d make this savoury. I studded the brie with cloves of garlic and rosemary sprigs, rolled that bad-boy in a sheet of store bought puff pastry, added pretty pastry leaves and left it in the fridge in cling wrap until I needed to bake it. It turned out great and between my recent dinner party, Ben’s amazing pizza dough that we took to a pizza party and the brie, I think we’ve established ourselves as kicking ass in the kitchen with these group of people.

If you ever want maximum effect for minimal effort, this is your dish.

Enjoy.

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Brisbane tries hard to be Christmassy in 30 degree weather!

So at Christmas-time, we might get sunburn instead of snow, but we still have an abundance of bright shiny lights and sparkly things. I haven’t gone to see Christmas light since I was a kid, but some amazing work friends who came over talked me into going to see the City Hall display and then local Christmas light winners and runners-up. It was a lot of fun, although waaaay busy in the city- tiny children as far as the eye could see!

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Christmas Eve Update

So I’m often at my happiest when I’m pottering around. As a vego, no one ever expects me to do anything for Christmas lunch (which is good because I couldn’t do meat) and so, with my gift wrapping done and a fair whack of my friends caught up with, I have time between now and Christmas Day to relax.

So today I’ve:

  • Done more yoga badly on the balcony. This is one of my favourite things.
  • Gone for a jog. When will my face stop looking like a lobster?
  • Gone for a walk with Ben (see photo below).
  • Spent far too long trawling through apartment therapy just because I can.
I can't believe this little pocket of green is in Highgate Hill opposite the University of Queensland. Brisbane really is an amazing, natural city!

I can’t believe this little pocket of green is in Highgate Hill opposite the University of Queensland. Brisbane really is an amazing, natural city!

This year, for the first time in over 6 years, I will be spending Christmas morning and evening with my parents. We will start the drive soon. Ben and I have traveled a lot over the Christmas breaks past- to New Caledonia, to Europe (how I miss Christmas in Berlin!) and twice to volunteer at Woodford Folk Festival- not to mention Christmases we spend with Ben’s family, so this is very special to me! We are still spending Christmas lunch with Ben’s family but the change to spend time with my mum and dad is precious.

I will be taking a blogging break between now and the New Year, although I can’t resist scheduling some posts with seasonal photos plus a delicious savoury baked brie I whipped up when friends came over for Christmas Eve’s Eve. Look out for them over the next couple of days. I have a couple of great restaurants to review and some recipes that sure, should have been posted before Christmas, but it doesn’t have to be Yule time to enjoy chocolate bark and other goodies. I also have some musings about the New Year and what that will have in store. Ben and I are also going away for three days to Hervey Bay with friends. This is the first time we’ve had a holiday since Europe, unless you count last NYE’s camping disaster, which we don’t. We really don’t.

I know that for many, Christmas is a stressful time, so I hope you grab any quiet moments that come by, breathe deeply and enjoy.

Ben and I don’t actually celebrate Christmas, so I will wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, a Super Solstice (summer, not winter down here!) and all the best.

See you in the New Year!

xo

Bris Vegas Vego

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All wrapped up- Quick and easy gift tags

So I prefer to create home made presents for Christmas. Ben has a lot of family and buying up to two dozen presents on one wage can be difficult. In the past we’ve made roasted garlic in olive oil, chutney, breakfast hampers with nice mugs, homemade preserves, homemade muesli and teas, and all sorts of things.

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Mum, Dad and my sister’s gifts just asking to be tagged (and some of my summer reading behind it).

This year, we ran out of time and energy and bought most of our gifts. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t have homespun wrapping. As well as salt dough ornaments, our gifts this year are wrapped with easy peasy gift tags.

There was no template or fuss, just chopping paper into slips and then trimming the edges to look like old fashioned tags and punching a hole in the narrow end. I used the same stamps as the salt dough ornaments to put some pretty on them. Yellow paper for Ben’s family tags and brown for mine.

I think they turned out nicely.

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What do you think?

Do you make any gifts from scratch?

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Morning Sunshine!

So I try to be healthy, but I am terribly lazy. Living in an apartment also means I don’t feel like turning on the blender or juicer at 6 in the morning. I want my neighbours to like me. So when I saw this raw cacao chia pudding recipe on Pinterest that requires no equipment besides a tablespoons and a jar, I knew I had to try it.

I’ve never used chia before. I knew that when you soak them, they swell up and go gelatinous. Well they certainly did! They reminded me of tomato seeds with the gel sack around them. My breakfast gets made while I’m asleep and I can eat it at home or take it to work. Chia is so darn good for you, I can’t believe I haven’t tried it before. I think I’ve found a good 2014 breakfast to obsess over.

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CHOC CHIA PUDDING

INGREEDIENTS:

2 tbs chia seeds (I used white chia, which is actually grey)

1 cup milk (I used homemade almond milk [always using Sarah B’s recipe] but you don’t have to be that committed).

I tbs raw cacao (I used two because I apparently can’t read recipes)

Sweetener of your choice (I used raw honey from Stanthorpe but of course you could use a vegan option)

Add-ins of your choice (I used banana and coconut, but will be buying blueberries and strawberries soon. I would also add sunflower or pepitas or chopped almonds, but I already added almond pulp, as you can read below).

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My other variation:

As I had just made almond milk, I added two tablespoons of the almond pulp leftover from that. It adds some bulk and nutrients and means that the almond pulp doesn’t go to waste (although it’s a great addition to hummus as well).

 

DO:

Stick everything but the fruit/coconut in a jar. Shake well (very well!). Leave in fridge overnight and then add fruit or other add ins of your choice. Use a bigger jar than me. I was adding sliced banana bit by bit. I’ll have to find a good sized jar to take this to work in.

What does it taste like?

Hmmm… well as I said, I added too much cacao, so it had this intense, dark chocolate flavour. The bitterness of the cacao was perfect with the sweetness of the banana. I’d use less cacao just to stretch it further next time. You can never hoard too much cacao.

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Enjoy!

 

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