Archive for Food & Health

 

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From City To Surf To Hamburger (Then Bed)

12 September 2014

My friends and I participated in the recent Perth City to Surf!

This year the running event celebrated it’s 40th year, but for me, this year was my first time running in it… so I was pretty excited!

However, two weeks before the event, I was down with the flu, fever and dizziness, and it threw my running training out of whack (ie. I didn’t do a training run for 10 days). And it was only the day before the event, that I felt 90% back to normal and I decided I would still run – BUT I had to promise myself to take it easy.

Perth City2Surf 2014

This is my friend Pippa and I, about to run the 12km distance, while our other friends ran the Half Marathon (21kms).

We were pumped up at the start!

Perth City2Surf 2014

Off we set. I took this photo (while running!) as the runners left the starting line and made their way up the first hill. There were 45,000 participants this year!

Have you been in a running event before? I’ve run in a few events. It’s pretty spectacular. There is a very cool and energetic atmosphere in the air. But it is really, REALLY crowded.

I won’t lie. I didn’t like the crowd. As a running experience, I didn’t find it relaxing or therapeutic. It was highly distracting! I spent the whole time looking at everyone’s gear / clothes / shoes / hats / hair / body shape / elbows / calves / backs / bums! I couldn’t help it! It was everywhere I looked!

I was also overwhelmed with a sense of frantic urgency, a feeling that I HAD TO HURRY UP! It felt as if everyone was rushing towards the Christmas city shopping sales and I had to follow the crowd or I would miss out! Or get RUN OVER! DON’T THINK JUST KEEP MOVING!

There were a lot of hills and I quickly found myself a bit breathless and wheezy and unable to sustain a good running pace. I was a bit grumpy that my health wasn’t up to it. I lost Pippa at the 5km mark… and I ended up walking A LOT after that.

Perth City2Surf 2014

I finished the 12km with my slowest time ever!

I pretty much WALKED the distance more than I ran. I was quite embarrassed! Look at me. I don’t even look like I’ve been running. I didn’t even break a sweat. Some of my friends were running a half marathon and I looked like I went for a Sunday stroll haha!

My average pace was 7:06m/km and my overall time was 1:30 – which is pretty slow for me. That pace is like a brisk walk, not a run. Ooooh well. I guess I stuck to my promise of taking it easy.

I looked at my running app and it told me that I had burned 724 calories in the 90 mins. Which was cool and all but…

Grilld Burger and Chips

…we headed off to an inner city pub for drinks and lunch.

I was STARVING. I DEVOURED this lamb burger (611 calories) and chips (252 calories) in 5 minutes flat.

724 calories OUT, and 863 calories IN? Er. I definitely didn’t think that one through very well. Oh well! It was freaking delicious.

When I got home, I had to take a nap. My husband let me take a 2 hour nap, bless him! I was so tired and sore. And for the next few days, I think my health dropped back down to 80%.

Soooo… looking back, I probably should have just stayed in bed, so I could recover that extra 10% in the first place!

But at least I did it.

And there is always next year.

And another hamburger.


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Simple Cheese and Bacon Scones

8 September 2014

Simple Cheese and Bacon Scones

I woke up one morning and I was SO SICK OF MAKING SANDWICHES for my children’s lunch. So I found a new recipe and made some very simple cheese and bacon scones. They were so delicious, tasty and soft. I ate two for breakfast. They were just like what you’d get from a fancy cafe, I was soooo pleased.

They really are best eaten hot and fresh from the oven!

I modified the recipe of course, so here’s my version.

Cheese and Bacon Scones
400g of self raising flour
50g of regular butter (with salt), diced and left at room temperature
250ml of milk (I just used low fat, because that’s what I had in my fridge)

Flavouring
125g of tasty cheese, grated
75g of rindless bacon, chopped and fried until crispy

Or
125g of smoked salmon
2 tablespoon of chopped dill

Method (Makes 12 scones)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Fry the chopped bacon and let it cool.

3. Put butter and half the flour into a large food processor. Process on low speed until butter and flour are combined and there are no lumps. Pour in the rest of the flour and process again. This took me 2-3 minutes. Or you could do this all by hand. Add the cheese, bacon, milk and mix on low speed until it turns into a dough. Don’t over mix or the scones will be tough and dry!

4. Plop the dough onto a floured bench top and flatten it with your hand to a thickness of 3cm. Cut the dough into squares (looks a bit more cafe style this way!) of 5 – 7 cms. Put the scones on a lined baking tray and brush the tops with a bit of milk.

5. Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes until golden!

Simple Cheese and  Bacon Scones

Ta da! I also added 1 tablespoon of chopped chives and about 100g of grated zucchini.

Simple Cheese and  Bacon Scones

Serve hot with a smear of butter.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Architects and Heroes

28 August 2014

The other day, I dropped my aunty off in Subiaco for a doctor’s appointment. While I waited for her phone call (to be picked up), I found myself with 2 hours to spare.

Trying to avoid the mall-type shops on Rokeby Road, I wandered into the local op shop… and bought myself 3 awesome books (total of $9).

Then I found a secondhand bookstore and found another 2 books (total $4)! I was so delighted with my buys, that I needed a coffee and snack to celebrate.

Architects and Heroes

I stumbled across Architects and Heroes, a new cafe that I’ve been hearing about in the local social media circles.

It was my ah ha! moment, as there’s always something magical about discovering a treasure by accident, rather than researching it and then seeking it out with intent.

Architects and Heroes

With a cool mural stretching across the whole cafe, a laid back vibe, the smell of quality coffee, smiles from the staff, lots of seating (indoor and outdoor) and lots of fancy-wacky specialty coffee instruments… this place was a winner for me.

Architects and Heroes

The menu looked pretty good, featuring a seasonal menu of eggs, mushrooms, smoked salmon, crusty bread, French toast, cinnamon muesli. There were also lots of delicious baked goods on display too.

But I just wanted a quick snack, so I settled on a ham and cheese croissant.

Architechs and Heroes

My croissant was tasty and fresh. My soy flat white was gorgeous and smooth. My sunny spot by the window made me glow with happiness.

I pulled out one of my book finds – a double edition of The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Despite initially feeling a bit self-conscious (PRETENTIOUS NERD ALERT!), I stuck my nose into it, became oblivious to the rest of the world and read until I received the call telling me I had to leave.

I’ll definitely be back again to try out some of their meals. And I promise to be a bit more social and bring a friend next time!

Architects and Heroes
25 Rokeby Road
Subiaco, WA
Mon – Sat: 6:30 am – 6:30 pm

Architects and Heroes on Urbanspoon


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Running With Friends

13 August 2014

Run 10k
I’ve joined a running group!

It’s not really a group group. It’s not formal. We’re just a bunch of friends (girls and guys) who are all running freaks! We all know each other through our children’s school and we all live and run in the same area, which makes our “group runs” infinitely easier to organise.

Thinking about it, I never thought I’d join a fitness group. Because, I usually like to exercise by myself. I like the peace and solitude. I like to meditate, arrange my thoughts and focus on the mesmerising beat of my feet hitting the pavement. It’s quite important for me to have that quiet space for myself.

Exercising in a large classes – in a room full of strangers – is also very solitary. Which I like. I feel no obligation to interact with anyone. And I just get lost in my own little bubble.

But what do you know, I discovered that exercising with friends is so much fun.

It adds so many new levels to my exercise routine – motivation, inspiration, sharing knowledge and a social aspect. I’m loving it!

Following people’s (ie. stranger’s) exercise updates and fitness inspiration on instagram and facebook does not compare.

Anyway, I tried out a new running route this weekend. The weather was just gorgeous. It was the first time I tackled so many hills.  I ran 10kms and felt amazing. I might try to work on my time/speed next time. I’m feeling inspired!


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Nine Fine Food, Highgate

11 August 2014

I organised a sort-of birthday dinner for myself with a few of my girlfriends at Nine Fine Food in Highgate. It was only a sort-of birthday celebration, because my actual birthday happened weeks ago. So really, it was just an excuse to have dinner with my girlfriends.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

This was the second time that I have eaten here. The first time, I forgot to bring my DSLR camera, and my iphone snaps just didn’t do justice to the food and ambiance. The food was delicious, the price of the meal was great value and I had a lovely experience. So to come here the second time… my mouth was watering with anticipation!

Nine Fine Foods specialises in Japanese cuisine with a kind of modern Australian fusion.

As well as their regluar menu, they have a special set menu called Tokutku (3 courses for $55 pp) or Osusume (4 course for $66 pp). And you can choose from a selection of entrees, mains and desserts. The only catch is that everyone on your table has to agree to have the set menu (but you can each choose your own dishes).

We decided to go with the Tokutoku. And can you believe it, between 5 of us, we all chose similar dishes.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

For my entree, I chose the Beef Tataki with fresh herb salad and yuzu ponzu dressin.

I picked up a roll of beef between my chopsticks and dunked it ungracefully into the dipping sauce. Little bits of spring onion, herbs and vegetables were still stuck to it but they added a great crunch to the beef as I slurped it all up. The beef was tender and wonderfully soft. It was delicious! The flavours were a wonderful balance of fresh, tangy, sweet, salty and it was just full of punch.

I really liked this dish. It was already my winning pick of the night!

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

My girlfriends chose the Agedashi Toothfish, with Patagonian toothfish, tofu, mushrooms, wakame in Agedashi broth.

The soup looked so warm and comforting. I ate this the last time I dined here, and it was my favourite dish. The mix of a crunchy skin layer and soft fish flesh… was just divine.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

For my main I chose the Barramundi and Prawn with Barramundi fillet, garlic chili prawns, vegetable pancake, plum miso and chilli sauce.

The fish was very soft and juicy. The prawns were fresh and tasty too.

Although the texture was great, I found the overall dish to be a bit salty and overwhelming to my senses after eating the Beef Tataki. It just had too much flavour, and I felt that I needed to clear my palate with (oh god) some plain white RICE?

I was a little disappointed, but I wouldn’t rate it as a terrible dish. It was just “ok” compared to the other dishes I have eaten at the restaurant before.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

My girlfriends had the Confit Duck, with a duck leg, grilled Scallops, tempura onion, potato mash, and duck jus.

I had this dish the last time and omg the duck just fell off the bone and it was amazing. I was thinking perhaps I should have ordered this dish. The mellow warm flavours would have gone a bit better with my beef entree? I also loved the way it was styled, with all the bits and pieces placed around the plate like an artwork.

After my main, I was left feeling a bit… well, I was craving PLAIN WHITE RICE! So to move immediately onto a rich and sweet dessert, kind of threw me off.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

I ordered Creamy Tiramisu with Bitter Espresso.

It didn’t look like much. It looked very underwhelming and a bit small.

But once I started to eat it, all was forgiven. It was very yummy indeed. The sponge was perfectly soaked with coffee. The cream and crunchy topping rounded off the dessert and gave me my ice-cream dessert fix. The portion was just right too. Not too little, not too much.

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

My girlfriends had the Green tea mattcha custard brulee.

I’m not a fan of mattcha, so I didn’t really enjoy my tiny taste of it. I did however, enjoy my grilfriends’ chuckles as they cracked the sugary caramel to reveal the mattcha green colour that makes everyone so excited!

By the end of the evening, I was suitably full. Not stuffed like a turkey. Just comfortable and content from having a good meal and a great chat to my girlfriends!

We had a few Entertainment cards between us, which offered us a discount to our bill. So in the end we paid around $46 each. Which was insanely affordable for a 3 course meal, considering the food and ambiance felt like a fine dining experience.

Would I go again, for a third time? Absolutely. I’ll take my husband and I might even take my kids too, as an introductory to fine dining (without having to worry about whether I’d be wasting a lot of money on food they won’t eat). Plus it wasn’t overly posh or awkwardly fancy. It was dark, intimate and cozy. I really liked it!

Overall, it was good value for money. It’s fine dining, without the eye-watering price tag!

Nine Fine Food
227-229 Bulwer St, Cnr Lake St Highgate
www.ninefinefood.com.au

Nine Fine Food on Urbanspoon


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Raspberry and Apple Tart (with no refined sugar)

4 August 2014

Raspberry and Apple Tart

I am on a baking frenzy at the moment!

I’ve been making my no-refined sugar tarts at least once a week, each time experimenting with different fruits.

I’ve made Peach and Pear, Apple and Almonds, Strawberry and Pear, but today I’m going to share my Raspberry and Apple Tart recipe (because my kids enjoyed this flavour combination the most).

A few weeks ago I shared my sugar-free basic vanilla pastry. This recipe can make two small 20cm tart bases, so you only really need to make HALF the portion. But I actually have a nice flan tin that is 25cms. So I make the whole pastry portion, I use about 3/4 for the tart and I freeze the rest for next time.

Basic Vanilla Pastry
270g of cold butter, chopped
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 cup of ice water
2 1/2 cups (225g) of plain flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Raspberry and Apple Filling
4 Pink lady apples, cored
½ cup of dried cranberries
2 cups of frozen raspberries, at room temperature
Handful of almond flakes

1. Dice the apples. Roughly chop the cranberries. Place them both into a heavy based saucepan. Simmer on a medium heat. Give it a good stir every once in a while. Take your frozen raspberries out of your freezer and pour them out onto a plate to defrost.

2. Prepare the pastry. (I think you are supposed to process the butter and flour first. Then add water + vanilla. But I’m not very precious with my pastry.)

I throw all the pastry ingredients into the food processor (with pastry blade) and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Let it mix some more until it starts to clump together.

3. Pour the dough out onto your counter top and give it a good knead. 2 minutes is long enough for me.

4. Throw it into the fridge (just in a bowl with a plate on top, why waste plastic cling wrap?) while you clean up your counter top and wash your food processor. I only ever leave it in there for 5 minutes tops.

5. Roll the dough out between one or two sheets of baking paper. Try to get a nice round shape that will fit into your dish.

6. Grease your pie or tart dish with a bit of butter. Place pastry base into the dish. Work the pastry base into the dish so the edges look nice.

7. Your apple filling should be dry and you shouldn’t be able to see pools of liquid at the bottom of the pot. Pour the apple filling into the base and spread it out evenly.

8. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C. Take the tart out of the oven, spread the raspberries all over, and sprinkle with the almonds.

9. Put back into the oven for another 10 minutes, until the crust is nice and golden brown. Eat hot! With cream or ice cream!

Enjoy xxx

 

 


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Cinnamon Sugar Waffles

24 July 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Waffles

The other day I had some left over waffle batter in the fridge. I don’t know how was that even possible, because we LOVE eating waffles.

Anyway, the batter was all thick and gluggy, so I added a bit of water to it and then it became a bit too watery.

I cooked it up in my waffle maker anyway. They didn’t rise very well, but OH MY the results tasted a bit like crispy, crunchy pancakes with that soft, spongy moistness.

They were incredible to eat.

I ate like 4 (!!), which is more than I’ve ever eaten in one sitting.

My waffle batter recipe has no added sugar to it, but that’s kind of pointless since I ended up sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on top haha!

Cinnamon Sugar Waffles

My Basic Waffle Recipe

65g of butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 cup of water
2 cups of SR Flour
pinch of bicarb soda
pinch of salt

I used to separate the eggs and beat them separately. But now I can’t be bothered.

So I literally just mix all the wet ingredients.

Then stir in all the dry ingredients, until smooth. Takes 2 minutes.

My waffle pans take ¼ cup of waffle batter. Cook them up until golden brown.

Cinnamon Sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top while hot, and my god, try not to eat too many!

Enjoy!


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Right, left, right, left… Do you love Body Combat too?

14 July 2014

I’ve been going to a few Body Combat classes lately.

It’s kind of fun. A bunch of ladies punching at the air, while a fitness instructor shouts at us over the roaring music. It feels a bit silly.

But after the class, my biceps, triceps and muscles on my shoulders and back GLOW with a pain that promises my arms to look like Michelle Bridges, so that makes it worth looking silly, right?

The last time I tried Body Combat was 10 years ago. I was horrifically unfit and halfway into the class, I wanted to curl over and puke. But this time I am much fitter, so I manage to keep up pretty well.

I go at it pretty hard. There’s no point in doing weak pathetic punches, so I try to give my punches some power.

My coordination is so bad though!

Geez I’m terrible at the steps, the fancy foot work and trying to remember the routines.

I managed to PUNCH MYSELF IN THE FACE during the class! Who does that?!

Right jab, left jab, right jab, left hook, right hook, left upper-cut, right upper-cut… TRICKY RIGHT?

I got my right upper-cut mixed up with a right hook, so I klonked myself in the cheek.

I stood there for a moment, imaging cartoon stars coming out of my left ear.

I’m sure the instructor saw me.

Then I spent the rest of the class trying not to laugh.. at MYSELF!

I guess I need to practice my WAX ON and WAX OFF technique :P


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Gorgeous Apple Pie (with no refined sugar)

11 July 2014

Apple Pie

I have been experimenting with different pastry recipes over the last few months… and I have found my winner!

I’m no pastry expert, but this one ticks all of my boxes:

It is easy to prepare, easy to roll, robust and elastic, it cooks well, it has a gorgeous buttery taste, and it has a lovely crunch!

Plus when I pile on tonnes of fruit, it doesn’t get gluggy and remain uncooked where the fruit sits on the pastry.

I have since made 4 or 5 pies/tarts with this recipe and the pastry always turns out perfect!

The recipe is based on a Donna Hay recipe, but I have omitted all the sugar. Still tastes amazing! Especially when it is filly with stewed fruit, which is crazy sweet!

Green Apples

Apple Pie Filling
10 green apples, cored and quartered
1/2 cup of dried cranberries, chopped

I grated all the apples in my food processor. Actually my 9yo son did it. It took him 3 minutes!

I put the apples and cranberries into a pot and simmered on low/medium heat for 30 minutes while I made the pastry.

The resulting apple mush should be dry and you shouldn’t be able to see pools of liquid at the bottom of the pot.

Rinse out your food processor.

Basic Vanilla Pastry
270g of cold butter, chopped
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/4 cup of ice water
2 1/2 cups (225g) of plain flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Extras:
Extra butter for greasing your pastry dish
1 whisked egg for brushing on top of the pie

(I think you are supposed to process the butter and flour first. Then add water + vanilla. But I’m not very precious with my pastry.)

1. Throw all the ingredients into the food processor (with pastry blade) and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Let it mix some more until it starts to clump together.

2. Pour the dough out onto your counter top and give it a good knead. 2 minutes is long enough for me.

3. Throw it into the fridge (just in a bowl with a plate on top, why waste plastic cling wrap?) while you clean up your counter top. I only ever leave it in there for 5 minutes tops.

4. Halve the dough. Roll it out between one or two sheets of baking paper. One half is for the pie base and the other is for the pie top.

5. Grease a 24cm diameter pie dish with a bit of butter. Place pastry base into the dish. Work the pastry base so it looks nice.

6. Pour the apple filling into the base and spread it out evenly. Cut up the other rolled pastry into 1.5 cms strips and place neatly over the apple filling.

7. I like to brush the top pastry with whisked egg, to give it that golden glow.

8. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 180C. Or until golden brown!

Eat while hot, with ice cream!

Enjoy xxx


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Running With My Boys

10 July 2014

I have been doing a bit of running with my boys, aged 11 and 9.

They seem to like running, and I like running. So it works for all of us.

Basically, I see it as a fun, free and easy way to entertaining the kids (and wear them out), while I get a good workout too haha!

I take them out to random and fun places to run… we call it “training”. I tell them that one day we are all going to run a marathon together in Paris or London. I don’t think they really know what that means, but they like the idea anyway.

Running 4 Feet

While running, or preparing to run, I like to talk to them about running techniques, enjoying the run, working on your own personal best times, setting goals, working towards your goals and doing a little bit more day by day. But I almost never talk about winning.

I feel that I shouldn’t fill them up with false hope or set any unrealistic dreams or expectations.

You see, my kids are short. Like, really short. With short legs. I don’t expect them to win running races.

There are SO MANY kids that are taller, stronger, fitter, and who have longer legs… which give them a huge advantage over my kids.

So when my boys say they want to try out for a running race, or join a running team. I’m so nonchalant and casual about it, I just shrug, “Oh ok. That’s cool. Have fun. Try your best.”

And that’s about all I’ll ever say to them. I don’t want them to have unreasonable expectations that get crushed.

Champion Boy Cross Country

Anyway, can you imagine my utter shock (bordering on disbelief) when my eldest son came home with this?!?

He won first place in his school’s Cross Country event. And he received a Champion Boy medal for Year 6!

Whoa!!

My other son came in 5th place for his year group, which was equally impressive!

I was *bursting* with pride for the both of them!!

They have certainly taught me a lesson… that limits are in the mind (in this case, mine), as much as in the legs. :)


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Simple Vegetarian Dinner: Grilled Zucchini and Pesto

29 June 2014

Grilled Zucchini

I had a delicious, quick and simple vegetarian dinner the other day.

This is what I did…

I sliced up some red onions + spring onions and soaked them in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar + olive oil for a few minutes.

I thickly sliced half a zucchini into thirds and threw them onto a hot griddle pan. Threw other random veggies (beans, broccoli, mushrooms) on the pan too.

(Here’s a tip: Don’t leave the veggies on the pan for too long. You don’t want to over cook them.)

I smeared zucchini slices with bought pesto in a bottle (I used sundried tomato pesto).

Then drizzled the onion dressing over everything.

Eat!

So quick and easy. I love my griddle pan!


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Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

24 June 2014

One chilly morning, my girlfriend and I met up at Harvest Espresso, in Victoria Park.

Over a cup of hot coffee and breakfast we gossiped about our great loves… kids, fitness and food.

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

The cafe is nestled between a used car yard, a boxing studio and a tattoo parlour along Albany Highway. It only has 8 small tables that sit 2 or 3 people, and there was not much room to stand – it was pretty small.

The couple sitting at the table next to us were so close to us (like 30cms!) that I didn’t dare to tell my girlfriend my hilarious story about “one of my children puking on the floor”, in case I put the couple sitting to us off their breakfast. It was a shame, because my girlfriend, as a mother, would have appreciated that story and possibly topped it with a better one!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

Anyway, yes the place was pretty squishy.

But you know what… I LOVED the intimacy, the quirkiness, the warmth, the attention to detail, the understated casual atmosphere, the sense of uniqueness that you don’t find in large, cold, echoing, global franchise cafes.

These cafe owners were certainly doing something a little bit different. And doing it WELL.

So for me, there was a bit of the whole “I have to suffer for my amazing coffee and food” attitude!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

These fresh banana breads were calling out to me like tiny swaddled babies in a nursery. Pick me pick me!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

I have to come back to try one of these! My eyeballs are licking the screen as I type this.

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

My soy flat white arrived. It didn’t look pretty… but then again, frothy soy NEVER looks pretty.

It tasted great, that was the main thing!

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

I ordered the House-cured salmon gravlax – two poached eggs, watercress, potato hash, yuzu kosho hollandaise, togarashi croutons ($22.50)

Gravlax is a Nordic dish made from sliced raw salmon, a kind of sauce and served with bread or potatoes. It have tried it before, when I was Copenhagen, but it was nothing like this! Harvest’s interpretation of the dish, using fresh, local WA produce and some Japanese flavours… was simply delicious.

The salmon was beautifully fresh. The potato hash was yummy and rounded the dish off. I loved the watercress. And oh my, the hollandaise sauce was the hero that brought it all to a whole new level.

Such simple, unfussy food was a real joy to eat.

Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

My girlfriend ordered the Seasonal winter vegetables – Pan roasted beetroot, squash, beans, fennel and radish, two poached eggs, walnut pesto ($19.50)

Just when I thought that it was a potentially boring dish, she let me have a spoonful and I swooned. The veggies were warmed and cooked to perfection, and were doing magic things to my tongue with the walnut pesto. I almost had a When Harry Met Sally moment. That would have really upset the couple sitting next to us, or possibly have made their day?

We left with happy bellies, caffeine and a good dose of girlfriend therapy… it was such a fabulous start to the morning.

Harvest launches a new menu every season, which is a great idea, because it means I will definitely make an effort to come back at least 4 times a year :)

Harvest Espresso
629 Albany Hwy
Victoria Park
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 6100
(08) 9355 5884
Open Tuesday to Sunday 7:00AM – 4:00PM

Check them out on their website or stalk them on Facebook

Harvest Espresso on Urbanspoon


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Motivation is a Bitch

19 June 2014

I’m trying! I’m really trying to work at this exercise thing!

Most evenings I go to bed thinking, “OK! Tomorrow is the day! I’m going to run in the morning!”

I lay out my running clothes, my socks and shoes and everything.

Alarm rings at 6am, do I get out of bed? Nope. Nadda. Not happening.

It’s too cold. It’s raining. I have a meeting in the morning. My lower back is a bit sore. I stayed up too late last night.

Repeat for 5 days, and I end up feeling incredibly shitty with myself.

I know I’ll feel better after a run. I know it’ll make me happy. I just have to get up and do it!

But do I?!

Running Biatch

Well, today was finally the day.

It was 5pm in the late afternoon. It was cold, it was raining, it was windy, I had a slight headache, I spent all day in front of the computer, I was feeling stiff and sore, I had period cramps, and feeling fragile and emo. Yet somehow my self-loathing / self-motivation trumped big time and slapped me across the face. I smashed out a quick 5km while my kids were at after school sport.

Omg I felt so happy. SO SO SOOOOO happy.

I was freaking GLOWING WITH HAPPINESS.

I felt so good about myself. I even went home, ate really well and felt so fresh and energetic for the rest of the day.

Now if only I can do this more regularly…!


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Cross Country Running

15 June 2014

Cross Country Run

I had a beautiful morning run with my big boys this weekend.

We’re exploring our own cross country running route!


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Basil and Cashew Pesto

6 June 2014

My basil plant was going crazy the other day and it needed a trim… so I decided to turn it into pesto!

Pesto

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup lime juice

Pesto

Blitz it all in a food processor.

I think you’re supposed to add the oil in gradually, but meh, I got no time for that.

Pesto

Serve it up with salmon and roast vegetables. Or you can stir it through pasta, or spread it out on flat bread, garlic bread, or with bruschetta and fresh tomato salsa.

It can be stored in an air tight container for 3 days or you can freeze it for 6 months – apparently. I don’t know, because I finished it in three nights :)


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A taste of Malaysian food

28 May 2014

When I was in Malaysia, there were SO many famous dishes I wanted to try. But since I was only there for 1.5 days, I had to settle for what I could get!

I mentioned in my earlier post that I attended my sister’s wedding celebration, then after that we went out for supper til 2am. This is what we ate.

Taste of Malaysian food

Top left is a pink drink called, bandung. My mother used to make this for us when we were kids! It is made from rose syrup, condensed milk and ice.

Top right is Teh terik, a hot, sweet, milky tea drink. It’s made from black tea and condensed milk, which has been “pulled” or poured back and forth, from jug to jug in order to froth up the drink.

Bottom left is Roti Tissue, a paper thin and flaky flatbread, sprinkled with sugar and served in a cone shape. Sooo yummy!

Bottom right is Roti Planta, which is the same as Roti Canai but it is stuffed with margarine and sugar. It’s sooo bad, but sooo goood.

Taste of Malaysian food

The next morning, after only 4 hours of sleep, I woke up with a sore head and staggered downstairs for the buffet breakfast. I ate noodles in a fish ball soup, with deep fried tofu, vegetables and fried onions. The broth was so delicious and comforting.

In my early morning haze, I didn’t catch the proper name of this, so could someone help me out? Unless it’s called, Fish Ball Noodle Soup?

Taste of Malaysian food

For lunch, my sister’s Malaysian family took us out to Big Nyonya, a restaurant specialising in authentic Peranakan cuisine, or nyonya food.

During the 15-17th centuries, traders and immigrants from China came to the Malay peninsular (Melaka being the most prominent trading port) and inter-married with the local Malays in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Their descendants are called Peranakans. On of my uncles is Peranakan!

Peranakan cuisine is often called Nyonya food and is a unique blend of Chinese and Malay cusine. It’s pretty hard to find authentic nyonya food in Australia, so I was licking my lips with excitement.

Going anti-clockwise from the top. I ate… Pongteh (a chicken and potato stew), Ikan Cili Garam (fried fish with chili), Telur Cincalok (an omelete with shrimp) and Udang Lemak Nanas (a pineapple prawn curry). It was all so delicious and tasty!

Taste of Malaysian food

But this was my favourite. Nyonya Cendol is a dessert made from finely shaved ice, gula melaka (palm sugar), coconut cream, jelly bits and beans.

Oh my god, I was having multiple foodie orgasms. The ice shavings were sooo unbelievably soft, like snow, but creamy and smooth, the taste was mind blowing, the gula melaka was amazing. Oooh, it was heavenly.

I ordered another bowl, because I’m that kinda girl.

Back Scratcher

Lastly, this isn’t really food related. But it does show a cute picture of me and 9 of my aunties and uncles, in the Nyonya restaurant, crammed together, Asian style, waiting patiently for our lunch to arrive.

While we were waiting I entertained my table with hilarious stories of me (the day before, while touring Melaka’s streets) being chased out of antique shops by a lady with a feather duster, me almost being knocked over by a truck… and how I found the coolest souvenir for my boys!

A retractable metal back scratcher!! My boys have been stealing my salad forks from my kitchen drawer to scratch their backs at night… and I never know if they have washed it before putting it back (very unlikely). So now they can have their own back scratcher, that even comes with a little side pen clip.

Randomness aside.

I didn’t get to taste these dishes I was hoping to try out.

Asam Laksa (spicy curry noodle soup), Otak Otak (steamed fish with spices wrapped in a banana leaf), and Har Mee (Prawn noodle soup).

Oh well, maybe next time. Thanks for having me Melaka! That cendol was the bomb, I’ll definitely be back for more :)


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My Yummy Banana Bread

21 May 2014

Banana Cake

I have been using this recipe for years! It’s always a winner. It usually gets eaten up in one afternoon… because it’s so delicious and moist.

I actually wrote up this recipe last year. But every time I make it, people keep asking me for the recipe :) So here it is again!

I don’t add any refined sugar to this recipe. The result is that it tastes like a “crumbly bread” not a “sweet cake” . If you’re not used to it, you might think it tastes a bit “bitter”. So feel free to add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey or brown sugar to the recipe.

My kids will often slice it up, spread butter on it while it’s hot and drizzle maple syrup on top.

Below is the original recipe, but nowadays I’ve been using half self-raising flour and half almond meal, to make it extra moist and less gluteny :)

Banana Bread
75g of butter
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
450g ripe banana, weighed with skin on
2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey (Or you can just omit the sugar altogether).
¼ teaspoon of bicarb soda
pinch of salt
100g chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups (225g) self-raising white flour
Handful of sunflower seeds and pepitas

*I use 100g of self raising white flour and 125g of almond meal.

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 11cm x 22cm loaf pan. Line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper.

2. Melt the butter and let it cool. Mix in maple syrup or sugar (if you’re using it).

3. Add eggs and combine well.

4. Mash the bananas and add it to the mixture.

5. Add the chopped walnuts. Give it all a good stir!

6. Sift in flour, bicarb soda and pinch of salt. Stir slowly until *just* combined.

7. Pour into the loaf tin. Sprinkle with seeds and pepitas. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for a few minutes then cool on wire rack.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Taste of Perth Food Festival 2014

6 May 2014

Warning: Contains explicit images of amazing food!

On Friday night, I went to check out the Taste of Perth, a 3 day food festival happening in the city.

Originating 10 years ago in London, the Taste Festival has made its way around the world with the simple concept: they choose the city’s best and hottest restaurants to create 4 signature dishes in “taste” sized portions, allowing festival goers to pick and choose their own ideal degustation menu.

You have to pay an entry fee to enter the festival ($40), which featured cooking demonstrations, cooking masterclasses, cocktail making classes, and non-stop live music.  Then in order to purchase the “Taste dishes” and drinks, you have to buy “Crowns” -  the currency at the festival. $1 = 1 Crown.

I was invited as a “media guest” so I was given a complimentary ticket to the event, but I purchased $40 worth of Crowns for me to eat my way through the menu.

Taste of Perth 2014

Apparently I didn’t read the invitation properly – it was an outdoor event, and it was 7°C outside. So of course, I wore knee high stiletto boots with leather shorts, Isabel Marant silk and a Witchery blazer. What was I thinking?! Yes, I was a bit cold. and I was making holes in the grass with my stiletto heels, stumbling around like a drunk girl at the horse races.

Plus I went to the event by myself, so I was hanging around like a loser loner.

This year, 10 of Perth’s top restaurants participated in the festival: Bib & Tucker, Bistro Guillaume, Co-Op Dining, El Publico, Greenhouse, Lalla Rookh, No 4 Blake, Nobu, Print Hall and Silks. All big-name, popular restaurants, and I have only eaten at a few of them. So it was an excellent opportunity to browse!

Taste of Perth 2014

This was the scene at the stall by Bistro Guillaume Restaurant, well known in Perth for amazing, classic French dishes.

On the menu was Chicken Liver Parfait with pear chutney, croutons ($8) and Amelia Park Lamb Cutlets Ratatouille ($12).

Taste of Perth 2014

Decorated like a fancy Chinese restaurant, the Silks stall charmed the socks off me. It looked like a set of a Hong Kong ganster film, with dramatic back-lighting and two huge pots of water pumping steam into the air, making the atmosphere mysterious and seedy.

Taste of Perth 2014

However the food was far from mysterious and seedy. This is the Braised Pork Belly with lohan fruit and a steamed hollow bun ($12).

The queue was pretty long for this stall. There were 10 or so people waiting in the line. So I wiggled to the front of the queue (with my big camera in hand) and I found a lady who ordered this pork belly dish and I asked if I could take a photo of it.

It looked amazing. I could see the hot, juicy layers of fat sitting in the syrupy sauce. She poured the contents of the cup into the hollow bun, picked it up in her fingers and took a bite. I gave off a little gasp of envy, obviously it was my stomach speaking.

Taste of Perth 2014

I wiggled my way to the Nobu Restaurant stall, again the queue was very long. And again, I stalked a young guy, “Can I take I a photo of your pork belly?”

Yes, those were my exact words. And yes, he knew exactly what I was talking about.

Pork Belly, Spicy Miso Caramel ($12).

Taste of Perth 2014

Eventually I got tired of taking photos of OTHER PEOPLE’S MEALS, so I hoped into the queue at No.4 Blake Street and ordered a plate of Lamb Belly with pomegranate glaze, charred eggplant, fava bean tofu ($10).

Can you see a trend in the photos I’ve been taking? I was craving some belly in my belly!

The lamb was exquisite. It was soft and succulent, bursting with the smooth, sweet flavour of the lamb infused with herbs.

I was very inspired to try making some slow cooked lamb belly in my slow cooker now.

Taste of Perth 2014

This was another dish from No.4 Blake Street, the Chocolate Garden made with edible soil, macadamia rocks, salted caramel and peanut dacquoise, ($16)

It looked so cute. Lots of people were walking around, eating from their ceramic pots. I didn’t order it, because I didn’t want to eat dessert yet.

But again, I really wanted to try making this at home!

Taste of Perth 2014

I think the most popular stall for the night was Bib & Tucker (I did a review of their restaurant last year). I was itching to try their iconic dish (pictured above) Charcoal Roasted Fremantle Octopus, with Kipfler potatoes, ajo blanco, witlof and roasted almonds ($22).

But the queue was soooo long, and when I came back after 15 minutes, it was still long. So I huffed a bit and attached myself to the end of the line. I counted how many people were in front of me. Answer: 24. I pulled out my phone and after about 2 minutes of finger pecking, I looked up and hey, I was at the front of the line. It all moved along faster than I imagined.

Alas, they had just sold out of the octopus dish… noooooo! I gave the lady my sad face :( If I had tried this on my husband, he would have immediately, somehow, produced the octopus dish. But, in the rough and tumble of the food festival, I was just another hungry foodie… waah!

But she did noticed that I had a camera around my neck, so she let me take a photo of the last roasted octopus dish for the night (pictured above), before it went off to its lucky eater. I guess I’ll have to go back to Bib & Tucker to try the chargrilled octopus.

She also suggested that I could try the trout and I reluctantly agreed, only because I had lined up (for a grand total of 2 minutes), and I was really hungry.

Taste of Perth 2014

This is my Ocean Trout Tartare with harissa aioli, sourdough wafer, and crunchy capers ($12)

It was actually really delicious! The trout was so fresh and soft and juicy. The aioli was wonderfully tangy and smooth. And again I was quite inspired to try cooking this at home. Try, is the key word here.

Taste of Perth 2014

I wandered over to the Greenhouse stall, and made my third order.

Black Valley Beef Cheek with malbec braised beef cheek, bush tomato chutney, and saltbush leaves ($10). It was yummy, but not as soft, juicy or tender as the lamb belly. I was a bit disappointed. I probably should have chosen a dish that was “lighter” and more “salady” after eating the lamb and trout.

Truth is, this was actually a food purchase made based on cost. I had $18 of Crowns left on my card… I chose this Beef Cheek dish only because it was $10, BECAUSE I wanted to save my last $8 for…

Taste of Perth 2014

…this epic Salted Caramel Macaroon with salted caramel filling ($8)!

I walked back to the Bistro Guillaume stall and prayed that they didn’t run out of their dessert. Thankfully they had a lot stocked up! It was sooo large and soooo goood. It was delicious, even though I had to NOT think about all the sugar and butter I was ingesting.

As I walked towards the exit, full of good food, munching on my macaroon, I had a big smile on my face, and I concluded that yes, I had a great and fun time – even though I was by myself.

The food was fantastic! I loved trying the new and modern dishes from local chefs, knowing that I could try out more of their dishes at any time. For me it was a very culinary and artistic appreciation which inspired me to be more experimental with my own cooking.

For the total cost of the experience (it would have been $80), I think it was worth the money. I will definitely come back next year. But I’ll organise to go during the day, try out a cooking masterclass, sample a few more offerings at other stalls, and I’ll go with girlfriends who share my love for good food!

It’s also inspired me to book a table for dinner at some of the restaurants that I haven’t been to. And I suspect that might have been their marketing plan all along :)

If you check out the Taste Festival website, you might find out when the festival is coming to your city.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake + Ice Cream

3 April 2014

Almond Chocolate Cake

I am so in LOVE with this chocolate cake recipe! I’ve made it before, in this blog post, Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake.

I don’t use flour. I use almond meal instead.

I also have been experimenting with the recipe by using less and less sugar each time. I’m down to 70g of sugar, it still tastes amazing and it’s still a winner every time I make it (original recipe asked for 100g).

In this picture, I served it with homemade ice cream, mixed berries and roasted pistachios.

OMG soooo yummy!

Ingredients
100g unsalted butter
140g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
70g of brown sugar
3 eggs separated
140g of almond meal

Toppings
vanilla ice cream
mixed berries
pistachios

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

2. Slowly melt chocolate, butter and brown sugar, until smooth. Then let it cool for 5 minutes.
(You can melt it in a bowl over hot water, or melt it in the microwave. I just melt them in a small pot on the stove, on VERY low heat!)

3. Whisk the egg whites until you can make firm peaks when you lift the whisk up.

4. Add the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then stir in the almond meal. Mix until well combined.

5. Fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, until well combined. Pour into cake tin.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until your skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for another 10 minutes. Turn the cake onto a plate to cool completely.

7. Add toppings and serve immediately!

Enjoy!!!


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Sushia Izakaya and Bar

28 March 2014

My sister (who lives in London) was in town last week, and I took it upon myself to organise a dinner for 12 of her/our girlfriends. It wasn’t a hen’s party, it was just a simple dinner and gathering where we all could catch up.

She loves Japanese food, so I wanted to find a place that had great food, suitable for large groups, and was a bit special.

I asked local food blogger, Michelle, and she recommended I try out Sushia Izakaya and Bar in Brookfield Place, Perth City. It was perfect!

It was new, modern, stylish, lots of tables and room to move, a great capacity for large groups, and it had a big open kitchen.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

I’m actually not sure what this cold dish was called. See? This is why I’m not a pro food blogger heh.

It was a platter of mini salmon and chicken tacos, and salmon and avocado entrees. And it was yummeh.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

Although there were 12 of us, we kind of split ourselves into 3 groups of 4, and we ordered a few dishes to share between the 4 people. It just made things easier for us to share food.

The Tuna Tataki (Seared tuna, miso aoli and Japanese dry spice – $23) came out and I almost squealed with delight. I love cold Japanese dishes and this looked amazing.

The tuna was so soft and fresh. Its flavours were delicate and delicious. The miso aoli was heavenly!

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

This was the Gyu Tataki (Seared beef with garlic chips, chives, momiji oroshi scallion, ponzu sauce) $21

The beef was aaaaamazing! It was also soft and fresh, and it almost melted in my mouth. There was a bit of crunch from the scallion and a burst of salty and tangy flavours. It was such a joy to eat.

I wish I had to confidence to serve up raw beef at home.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

Then we shared a Gindara Saikyo Yaki (Cod in saikyo miso marinate – $38) which was quite nice. I was told this was one of popular dishes.

However, the fish was not as soft and “fall-aparty” as the previous dishes. I think it could have been due to the fact that the girls and I were talking and talking, that we forgot to eat it straight away, and instead left it on the table (for a good 10 minutes) and it got a bit cold. Nonetheless, I could taste the infused miso flavour and it was really nice.

When all the food arrived, I was afraid that we didn’t order enough, but it was fine in the end. I even had lots of room for dessert.

We shared a Sushia Dessert Platter (which was a nice way to sample a lot of the desserts at once. I didn’t get the names of all the desserts, there was tofu cheesecake, ice cream, red bean pancake, mochi ice cream, chocolate mousse – $35).

I also had a non-alcoholic cocktail, Green Tea Punch (Lemon grass, fresh green tea syrup, fresh lime and apple juice -$14).

Overall it was excellent and I would definitely come back!

Sushia Izakaya and Bar, Perth
Brookfield Place, Basement Laneway
Website:  www.sushia.com.au


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Netball Diaries

18 March 2014

Netball

Last November (four months ago) I started playing NETBALL for the first time in FOREVER.

I used to play in primary school, and I was pretty good. That is, until everyone else hit puberty first and started to GROW TALLER – then I had no chance. In a matter of months I was dropped from the Division A Team (The cream of the crop! All the cool girls!) and plonked in the Division C Team (with all the book nerds…). Sigh, there went my dreams for a top class netball career. Haha just kidding.

So a couple of months ago a bunch of girlfriends asked me if I’d like to play netball with them. They were all beginner level players and just wanted to get together for fitness and fun. I had just spent nine months of cycling training towards a “Cycling 100km for Charity” event, which, I have to be honest, is a very male dominated sport… so I thought WHY THE HELL NOT, I need some SPORTY GIRL TIME.

So that’s how I found myself standing on a netball court, totally clueless and totally petrified on my first netball game in a gazillion years.

I haven’t mentioned anything about my netball adventures on my blog prior to this, because the only thing I had to say back then was:

“I’m short. I’m crap. I have no ball skills. I don’t know how to play in a team. I can’t remember the rules. My arms are weak. I can’t throw. I have no sense of balance or personal space. I have to play against someone? I’m not very good at being aggressive. I don’t like aggressive players. Why are they standing so close to me? I have to jump and throw at the same time? Oh god the coordination requirements are beyond me! OMG I have to cut my fingernails before I play?!?!”

But you know what? I really enjoyed it. My brain loved it.

Even though I was sooo crap at playing netball…. each week, my brain felt like it was growing bigger. It was making new connections and new pathways. The game was so fast paced that literally every 10 seconds, there was a brand new situation in front of me that I had to solve and make my body respond accordingly. It was SO different to cycling, running, weight training and pump classes. It was awesome.

Now?

It’s four months later and I LOOOOVE my weekly netball games.

It’s such a great workout, such a fun thing to do with my group of girlfriends, and it makes me feel awesome. Yay for team sports.

OH and one week I was actually chosen (by the umpires) as the Best Player on the Court!! I was so so so proud of myself!! I zoomed home and squealed at my husband and kids! They thought I was a bit crazy, but they were happy for me because I was beaming!

I have improved a lot over the months. I’m a bit obsessed about it now. I’ve been watching Olympic netball videos, training videos and reading coaching tips online. I’m very motivated to run more during the week, to work on my core and upper body strength… just so I can play better netball hehe.

I even train in the house at night, standing in front of the TV, by jumping up to see if I can touch the ceiling… and I can now! A bit distracting for hubby though.

So here’s to learning something new, working at it bit by bit and totally smashing it!!

Hope you all have a fantastic week!


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Jamie Oliver’s 6-Hour Slow-Roasted Pull-Apart Pork

24 February 2014

Slow-Cooked, Pulled Pork

This is an adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s 6-hour slow-roasted pork shoulder, recipe here.

The original recipe talks about cooking pork and roast vegetables. But I wanted to make some kick-ass, slow-cooked gravy too! So I threw in some finely diced vegetables which caramelised and melted into an exquisite puddle of deliciousness – perfect for making gravy.

Ingredients

2 kg shoulder of pork, skin on.
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon of fennel seeds, ground

Gravy Vegetables
1 red onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 garlic clove
4 bay leaves
600 ml water

Roast Vegetables
1 red onion, cut into chunky wedges
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
3 celery sticks, chopped into chunks
5 potatoes, quartered

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C

2. Get a sharp knife and make scores in the pork skin and fat, about a centimeter apart (but don’t cut into the meat). Rub a few pinches of salt, pepper and fennel seeds on the skin and underside of the pork.

3. Put the pork in a roasting tray (skin-side up) and surround it with the gravy vegetables, garlic and bay leaves. Pour in 300ml of water and put the tray into the hot oven.

4. Roast for 30 minutes, until the skin of the pork has started to puff up and you can see it turning into crackling.

5. Turn the heat down to 170°C. Wrap the pork and tray in foil and put back into the oven for 4.5 hours.

6. Take off the foil. Baste the pork with the oil that has dripped into the tray.

7. Then add the roasting vegetables. Toss them around into the tray to coat with the pork oil.

8. Keep the tray uncovered. Put back into the oven for 1 hour.

9. Move the pork to a serving dish. Be careful, as the pork might fall apart! Cover with the foil, and leave it to rest. Also take out the chunky roast vegetables out of the pan.

Gravy.
What’s left in the pan will be the reduced, diced vegetables, pork drippings and oil. Carefully skim off ALL of the oil floating on top. There will be a lot! Pour everything that remains into a blender and whizz it all up (you might need to add some water) to make a rich, sweet gravy that tastes like caramelised onion and carrots. Season to taste!

Cooking Notes:
My crackling didn’t work out very well. I think I didn’t blast it in the hot over for long enough, so it didn’t puff up and go crispy. But in the end, I was so disgusted by all the fat and oil (saturated fat is really bad for you!), that I cut off ALL the crackling and fat and refused to serve it to my family. I threw it all in the bin, haha!


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Chocolate Chip Scones

10 February 2014

Chocolate Scones

My 8 year old son (almost 9) made these the other day. He was bored and hanging around in that really annoying, bored, pre-teen kind of way… so I decided to give him a cooking task – Make some scones for afternoon tea.

He took my basic scone recipe and threw in a bit (a lot!) of chocolate chips and came up with these YUMMY scones! They were such a hit, too bad he only made 12.

Chocolate Chip Scones

225g self raising flour
50g butter, melted
¼ cup of milk (enough to make a soft dough)
¼ cup of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 230ºC oven.

2. Rub butter into flour. Then throw in chocolate chips.

3. Add milk and mix to make a nice soft dough. If too sticky add more flour. If too crumbly, add more milk.

4. Throw onto floured surface. Knead a bit. Press flat with hands, thickness of 1-2cms. Cut out with a scone cutter. Place on oiled baking try.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Enjoy!!


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Running on Empty

25 January 2014

Over the Christmas and New Year break, I fell off the exercise wagon. Again!

I had sporadic bursts of exercise here and there, driven by all my pigging-out and over-eating, but I didn’t have a routine. So finally, I’m now very keen to hit my new year running and exercise targets.

I’ve been waking up around 6am to get a run in before the rest of my family gets up, and to avoid the heat of the day. Usually I eat a small breakfast of fruit and muesli, brush my teeth, put on suncream, drink a glass of water and have half a cup of tea before my run. My runs only ever take me 30-40 minutes. But I’ve found it to be a bit problematic, because I feel sluggish in my tummy, and I have a heaviness in my bladder and a that irritating feeling of possibly needing to pee soon.

6km run - 5:30am

TODAY I decided to do something different.

I literally stumbled out of bed at 5:30am… put on my running clothes, drank half a glass of water, ate one sugar lolly and ran out the door. THAT’S IT!

I felt really stiff, I had a few pangs in my joints and I was so irritated that I hadn’t brushed my teeth and that my breath smelt bad, ugh.

But after I ran about 3kms, I suddenly felt brilliant.

I felt magically fluid and oiled and full of energy and power.

I ran 6km with ease. It was the longest distance I’ve ever run (without resting). I wasn’t hungry or thirsty. I felt sooooo goood. I was really surprised. I think I could have kept going but I needed to get home and get ready for my day.

I’m aiming for 10kms!

Follow me on instagram if you’d like to keep tabs on my exercise adventures – @karenlycheng


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3kgs of Squeamish

13 January 2014

My father enjoys going to the market to buy fresh meat and fish.

He will often come over with gifts (bless him!) of my favourite fish – salmon fillets, conveniently frozen in perfect family-sized portions.

I am always sooo happy and grateful for his gifts, because salmon is not cheap and it is so nice to eat on a weekly basis.

Salmon

However the other day, my dad came over and he bought me a WHOLE FREAKING SALMON.

WOW thanks dad!

Salmon Chop

At least it was already cut up – but not frozen.

As I laid the fish pieces in a dish, I must admit that I was suddenly all squeamish, yet fascinated. I couldn’t look the poor fish in the eye. It seemed to be pleading with me not to eat it. And yet, at the same time, I was imagining all the different ways I could prepare fish head curry.

After sorting some pieces, bagging and freezing them, I tried to slice the rest up into sashimi.

Salmon Sashimi

This is my first try at being a sushi chef. Not bad at all!

Just look at the colours of the fish, its texture, freshness and its delicious-ness.

It is amazing how the fish suddenly looks like food you can eat, without the accusing gaze of the fish eyes, the fins or tail!


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Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

7 January 2014

I’m getting back into a routine of exercise and healthy eating!

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I’ve been making these fresh Vietnamese spring rolls for my family. Sometimes I make them once a week because my kids just LOVE eating them! So fresh, light and flavour-some.

I marinate some meat (beef slices, chicken slices, or port mince) with a bit of garlic, soy sauce, seasame oil and ginger for 30 minutes.

I cook up the meat, throw it on a plate.

Then I lay all the vegetables and rice noodles out and my family just make their own rolls. Too easy.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

As for ingredients…I don’t really have a recipe. I just use whatever vegetables are in my fridge.

But usually I like to use lettuce, spinach, sprouts, thinly sliced zucchini, cucumbers, capsicums and carrots. Also I use mint, coriander and chives.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I also like to make my own dipping sauce with soy sauce and chilli.

I love it that the boys like them so much that they often have two or three. The rice paper skins are pretty robust, so even my 8 year old can soak them in warm water and roll it all up.

Yay for happy and healthy tummies!


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What is SMASHED PAVLOVA?

18 December 2013

Hi everyone!

Woolworths are sponsoring me to chat about their new Gold range on my blog. So to test out some of the products in the range, I decided to throw a kick-ass, super-special, Christmas high tea for my girlfriends – a total girl party!

I particularly wanted to make the classic Australian dish – the pavlova (named after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova!).

Woolworths Gold

The Gold range featured this pre-made pavlova base – a hand-finished Vanilla Bean Pavlova. This was going to be the centerpiece for my Christmas table.

Woolworths Gold

These were some other indulgent items I bought: After Dinner Chocolate Collection, the Truffle Salami and the Smoked Wagu Beef.

Woolworths Gold

After a few hours of being a DOMESTIC GODDESS… my Christmas high tea party was about to begin.

(I didn’t actually have to do much cooking. I just had to do a lot of “putting things together”, which was perfect for a big, party spread.)

My girlfriends and their children arrived, and we all sat down to a fabulous party!

Woolworths Gold

This was my antipasto platter with cold meats, olives, soft cheese and crackers.

Woolworths Gold

I made little chocolate mud cupcakes and decorated them with the After Dinner Chocolates. I found the cute little cupcake cups from a specialty cake decorating shop.

Woolworths Gold

I put together a huge platter of summer fruits. Too easy.

Woolworths Gold

And ta da – my crowning glory! This was the vanilla bean pavlova, topped with fresh figs, strawberries and pistachios. I got the inspiration from the “serving suggestion” photo on the box!

It looked totally indulgent and incredible :)

I also had some boring ham and cheese sandwiches and sausage rolls for the kids, but that plate didn’t make it to my fancy table spread haha.

Anyway, not long after the party started, the kids were SO SO SO excited about all the free chocolate on the table that… one particularly hyperactive kid (my 4 year old!!) reached across the table aaaaaaand…

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Woolworths Gold

MY SON knocked over the cake stand and SMASHED MY PAVLOVA!!!

It was as if the music of life had screeched to a terrifying stop. All the children were horrified. Their little eyes widened like dinner plates and they slowly crept backwards out of the room.

It was tragic, but it was also soooo funny. I had to bite my tongue and stop myself from laughing, and then I DID laugh. Then my girlfriends also laughed, and everything was okay again.

I rushed to grab my camera to capture the wreckage. I thought it was quite beautiful and artistic in a strange, accidental way.

We carefully scooped it all up, and someone said “We can still eat it, right?”

So we did. And it tasted just great! The fresh, sweet, fruit flavours and textures, with the popping pistachios chunks, the silky whipped cream, and the soft, long crunch of the meringue. Yummy!

The children were still so scared that they might get into trouble, that they didn’t bother us for the rest of the tea party. Everyone had a great time.

So that’s my contribution to the great summer pavlova tradition – smashed pav!

All Woolworths Gold products are currently in store or you can purchase from the website here.


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Amazing Chocolate Bark

27 November 2013

Chocolate Bark

A few months ago, a friend from the US introduced me to Chocolate Bark. I have never heard of it before!

But the idea was sooo deliciously simple, that I KNEW I had to try it out.

It is basically – a biscuit base, melted chocolate smeared on top, and LOTS OF YUMMY STUFF thrown on top.

In fact, you don’t even need the biscuit base. You can just make a slab of chocolate with all kinds of bits and pieces on top. Like rocky road, I guess!

Personally, I think the magic secret to tasty chocolate bark… is to mix sweet and salty toppings together.

Chocolate Bark

Chop a handful of pistachios, half a packet of Oreos, half a Crunchie, a handful of salted pretzels, a handful of mini chocolate bits and coloured M&Ms.

Chocolate Bark

I used 300g of premium dark cooking chocolate.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of hot water.

Chocolate Bark

I bought some rectangular shaped biscuits called “Malt O Milk”. I was actually looking for “Milk Coffee” biscuits which are similar to the “Milk Arrowroot” biscuits, but I couldn’t find any.

Lay the biscuits out on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.

Chocolate Bark

Smear the melted chocolate over the top of the biscuits, and create a nice thick layer.

Chocolate Bark

Sprinkle all the yummy stuff over the top.

Make sure you get an equal distribution of all the goodies!

Chocolate Bark

Doesn’t it look amazing?!?

Pop it into the fridge for 5 minutes… and then break it into bite size pieces to serve!

If you want nice rectangular-shaped chocolate bark, you should make cut marks with a knife in the chocolate BEFORE you place it in the fridge.

And try it with white chocolate too!

Enjoy :)


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Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013 – Two Days of Sweat and Tears

10 November 2013

A few weeks ago, I took part in an amazing charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer. We cycled 220kms over two days and raised funds for cancer research.

1336 riders took part in the event, and in total we raised an incredible $5.2 million dollars!!

For my own fundraising efforts, I raised $8,350 with the help of friends, family, my community and my wonderful blog readers – thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

So this is me at the start line. I woke up at 4am and was all geared up and ready to go by 6:30am.

I was feeling relieved that the day had finally arrived. I was happy and excited to be part of such a significant event. I was proud of myself for doing something so worthwhile. And I was emotional and humbled by the touching speeches. The organisers pushed a rider-less bike through the crowd to symbolise all those lost to cancer… and seeing that empty bike being wheeled towards the start line made tears well up in my eyes.

We set off at 7am.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

About an hour in, my riding buddy had a flat tyre! She rode over some broken glass and we had to pull over on the side of the road.

Oh man, I felt so bad for her. If that were me, I would have been in a fumbling mess… and would have lost all my confidence in riding the rest of the way. But instead, I joked around to calm her/our nerves.

Thankfully, a volunteer bike technician arrived in 3 minutes. He fixed the tyre, pumped it up and we were off again in less than 10 minutes! Amazing!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

THEN. The weather hit us.

Look at the storms clouds rolling towards us! The wind was strong. The rain poured. It was cold. It was a pretty miserable day to be riding.

Riding INTO the wind was difficult. It was bloody hard work! I struggled. I was in pain. It honestly felt like 5 hours of agony.

I wanted to cry and give up. My shoes were filled with water, my arms were shaking from the cold, my muscles were screaming in pain… and there was a moment where I thought to myself – WHY THE HELL AM I DOING THIS??!

But then… I’d see a rider pass me, with a yellow flag tied to his bike, indicating that he was a cancer survivor. Yup he was here on his bike too, struggling with the wind and rain, just like I was. Then another yellow flag would pass me. And another.

And yep, it put my own struggles into perspective.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

This is me, with my new attitude. Just cheer the hell up and enjoy the ride Karen!

There was so much rain and wind, that it was almost comical.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I managed to finish the first day’s ride with a smile on my face. I rode 103km.

Man that was hard. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.

I wasn’t very talkative that evening. I just wanted to have a hot shower, get changed into some dry clothes, put on some dry socks, eat some hot food, then go to bed.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I was a little worried that other people’s snoring would keep me awake.

But there was so much rain throughout the night, that the sound of rain drowned out all the snoring. I slept very well!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

The next morning, the sun was shining! HOORAY!

But it was cold – I think it was 6°C or something.

I went to collect my bike from the bike racks and I felt – surprisingly – excited!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

Me again. All rugged up and ready to go!

The weather warmed up and the day turned out to be sunny and spectacular. It was perfect riding weather.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

My poor riding buddy had ANOTHER flat!

Same tyre.

On the last 20kms of the ride, I took it easy and enjoyed the ride to the finish line.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

WOOHOO I DID IT!!!

No words can describe the feeling when you choose to do something really difficult and you conquer it.

I know that I did this charity ride last year. But this time around, it was definitely much harder for me, because I was not as fit as I was last year. I had a few tears in my eyes the moment I crossed that finish line. It was hard work and I did it.

And just like when you watch a movie a second time around, I was much more aware of the little details… the people, the stories and the purpose… it really brought the whole experience to life. And I was so much more thankful for that.

I really want to thank the organisers, the volunteers, the riders, my team, and everyone who donated to this wonderful cause.

Thank to you, my readers, for following and supporting me on this journey!

xxx


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The Biggest Rainbow Vomit Ever…

3 November 2013

The Color Prun Perth 2013

I attended The Color Run with a bunch of girlfriends this weekend!

If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a 5km run… where you just have a fun time getting covered in colour. It’s not a race and it’s not actually about running.

There were THOUSANDS of people at the event, children of all ages, scooters, prams, even wheelchairs… so there wasn’t much running happening. It was more of a walk :)

Along the 5km course, there are different colour stations, where coloured powder-dust is thrown at you. The event volunteers (who are throwing the colour) try to aim at your white clothes, but the dust just goes everywhere – your face, hair, ears, arms, legs, shoes.

Everyone was very keen to get completely covered in colour, so by the end, some people were rolling on the ground and sliding around in the coloured dust. It was crazy and fun!

The Color Prun Perth 2013

I took these photos approaching the end of the event: coming up to the finish line and at the concert – where the organisers got everyone to throw their packets of colour into the air. It looked awesome!

I stood back to take these photos, because I didn’t want my phone camera to get stained or clogged with the colour dust.

The Color Prun Perth 2013

This was me, covered in colour and dancing away in front of the stage :)

Yes I had a great time!

After I took this photo, someone nearby threw a packet of dark green dust in the air. So I had dark green colour on my face, which outlined my sunglasses, so I looked like I had green eye bags, nice! I had also wiped under my nose and gave myself a purple moustache! And I had orange hair!

By the end of it, I had an old-lady moment, where I looked at myself, completely covered with dusty colour… and I felt really irritated and precious, “Ugh, what am I doing here?! I don’t actually like getting dirty! I’m disgusting! Now I have to go clean myself!” Haha.

Anyway… overall, the whole event had a really fun and happy vibe. It was great for kids too.

Would I recommend the event? Yes. But get a big bunch of friends, get dressed up in some silly outfits (crazy coloured socks and tu-tus) and really get into the colour craziness and dancing – while raising money for charity.

xxx