Archive for Food & Health

 

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HBF Run for a Reason 2015

25 May 2015

So… I wasn’t really planning to do another running event this year!

I was just planning to work towards running longer distances and to increase my running stamina.

But the team at HBF asked me if I’d like to join in the fun at the HBF Run for a Reason and to do a bit of social media for them.

I accepted eagerly and committed myself to both the 12km distance and er… learning how to run and take photos at the same time??

Surely there’s an app for that.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

So this was me, the day before the event, picking up my participant running pack at the HBF Event Centre at the Perth Arena.

I asked a HBF Volunteer (a girl on her morning tea break) to take my photo… and I was trying to think of some clever way I could change the word REASON with my silhouette.

But all I could think of was TREASON and RANSOM… and decided they weren’t very appropriate haha. So I was just went with a kind of generic “Y”.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

On the morning of the run, I drove to my local train station and caught the train into the city. Participants were allowed free public transport all day. It was fast and easy.

There were thousands of other participants using public transport too, so the atmosphere of the city was buzzing with excitement.

The only downside of the early morning start was that it was so freaking cold!

I think it was 7-8C?? Thankfully the event had a special service where you can wear a jacket or jumper to the event, wear it for the 30-45 minutes while standing around soaking up the pre-event entertainment, and then leave it hanging on the railings at the start line, where it will be donated to charity!

For me, I clung onto every last bit of warmth from my jacket and waited till the *very last minute* to donate it.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

And we were off!

Unfortunately when I tried to run and take photos, they turned out terribly blurry.

So this is my “stand still and get into people’s way” photo.

 

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

One of the things I looked forward to during this event… was to run through the Northbridge Tunnel (1.6km).

I have never done it before and it was just one of my little running aspirations for my own city. Yay!

Again, I had to stop and take this photo, because I definitely couldn’t run backwards and take snaps.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

The whole event was dotted with photographers, TV cameras, cameras on cranes, camera drones… it was all quite exciting!

I spotted two of Perth’s coolest photographers (David Chong and David Broadway) camped by the side of the road. Ok yes, they were my mates, so I slowed down to take a photo of THEM at work.

In fact, I doubled back so I could do a silly slow-motion run for them to photograph.

I pretty much knew then, with all my stopping to take photos antics and uploading to socal media… that my running time for this event was going to be very average! Oh well!

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

The day cleared up and the sun came out.

It was such a beautiful day for a run next to the river!

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

I sprinted towards the finish line, but 10 metres before I crossed it… I stopped to take a photo haha!

Aaah in the end, it was so much fun. I really wasn’t concerned about my running time at all.

I was surrounded by so many people who laughed, cheered, skipped, sang. There were people in all shapes and sizes, young and old, all going different speeds, all getting out there, being active, raising money for a good cause – it was a really enjoyable day and a fantastic event to be a part of.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015
After the event, I was invited over to the corporate sponsor’s area for a VIP breakfast and massage.

That was veeeeery nice indeed! Thank you HBF!

For those interested in my running details…

I did a 12km running event in September last year (after I had a flu) and my running time was 1 hr 30 mins.

For this 12km run, including all my stops, my time was 1 hr 31 mins (which is a pace 7:35 min/km) – how funny!

Usually I run at a pace of 6:00 min/km, so it should have taken me 1 hr 12mins. So I have a small part of runner’s pride in me that is annoyed that these times are set in stone on the internet as my “official times” but as I said, I’m not too fussed about it.

In fact, I’m keen to do it again next year with my kids! And maybe we’ll dress up!

See you there next year :)

xxx


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Running in the cold

15 May 2015

Activewear
Hi everyone! How’d your week go?

I’ve been doing a bit of running in preparation for my 12km running event; fitting in a 5km here and a 10km there.

I’m a bit nervous about the event, even though I know I shouldn’t be. The competitive part in me thinks that I should SMASH all my previous running records, but the sensible part in me thinks I should just have fun, keep fit… and don’t hurt myself :)

Anyway, I want to talk about this jacket.

It’s a thick, fleecy jacket from Jeanswest’s activewear range. I’d say that it’s more of a coat, than a regular sports jacket (which is usually made from a thin and breathable fabric).

What makes this jacket different is that it has a really nice knit texture on the outside, so it looks stylish and versatile enough to wear over other casual wear outfits, like jeans and a t-shirt. It’s also warm, light and soft, so it feels lovely on the skin.

It’s soooo much nicer than the fleecy hiking jacket that I wear (from Mountain Design!), which is not particularly very insulating, nor is it very stylish haha!

Have a fab weekend!

xxx

Wearing:

Knit Fleece Jacket from Jeanswest
Sports Bra from Lululemon
7/8 Leggings from Lorna Jane
New Balance Sneakers from ASOS


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Learning How to Make Pretty Cupcakes

14 May 2015

I have always wanted to be able to make kick-ass cupcakes!

I guess you could say, it has been one of my “personal goals” for a long time.

Sure, it’s not saving the world. It’s not learning a new language. But cakes can be expensive these days, and I’d love to be able to make gorgeous looking cakes or cupcakes for my friends and family.

Yes I know I have been making cupcakes for years (especially since having kids), but they never turn out consistently pretty. Which is why I want to up my skill.

Here are some of my baking notes:

Mother's Day 2015

I made some cupcakes for Mother’s Day on the weekend. They looked really cute!

I tried out a new recipe, but in my opinion, they tasted too dry.

I also think that I didn’t put enough batter in the cupcake case, so there’s too much of the case showing.

And next time I won’t make fondant shapes to go with a batch using sprinkle decorations.

Oh AND I think I’ll try piping the frosting next time. This flat-style just doesn’t cut it.

Vanilla Cupcakes

My second batch!

This is the first time I’ve tried piping with a proper piping bag and tip. It was quite easy and fun!

But I didn’t make enough frosting to cover all the cupcakes. So after I covered 3 cupcakes, I realised that I had to pipe less frosting, oops!

The cupcake recipe was only so-so. Still not completely happy with it.

Do you have an AMAZING cupcake recipe you can recommend to me?

I also experimented with the baking time, just so I could get that lovely golden brown top. But at the same time I may have dried out my cupcakes.

AND I used the wrong baking pan, so the cupcake cases folded in a bit and make them a little wonky – not a perfect circular shape.

Haha it sounds like I’m totally trashing myself!

But I don’t think I’m being negative. I’m being critical, taking notes and being mindful of how to improve next time.

I’m a bit like that with my kids. I tell them to – Research, set goals, work on skills, re-evaluate, improve, and practice, practice, practice!

Be thrilled by the learning journey, be determined to improve and celebrate the sweet success at the end!

If that sounds like a Tiger Mum, then so be it :)


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Run for a Reason!

6 May 2015

Run For A Reason 2015

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@karenlycheng), you probably know that I’ve signed myself up for another running event, yay!

The HBF Run for a Reason is on the 28th May, offering 4km, 12km and 21.1km (half marathon) distances. They are raising funds for five charities, which is kind of cool – the Cancer Council WA, Diabetes WA, Heart Foundation WA, Lifeline WA and Telethon.

I was very tempted to sign up for the half marathon distance!

That would be an awesome challenge for me. I have no doubt that I could do it. I just need some training :)

But I knew my husband was going to be overseas and insanely-busy with his work during the first half of this year, and I wouldn’t be able to fit in all the training and juggle all my family/work/friend commitments.

So 12km it is!!

At the moment, my weekly fitness regime consists of a weekly 5-8km run, 1 netball game and 3 cross-training/weights/yoga/core workouts. I haven’t really pushed myself past a 12km running distance. But I have about 3 weeks to go, so I should be all good.

I’m looking forward to running through the Northbridge Tunnel, running along the river, enjoying the beautiful city, supporting some great causes and reveling in the atmosphere of the fantastic event!

 

 


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Fine Dining at No. 4 Blake Street, North Perth

30 April 2015

My husband and I celebrate our 13 Year Wedding Anniversary this year!

To mark the occasion, I wanted to have a fine dining experience… somewhere really, really special.

I chose No. 4 Blake Street, because I had heard so many positive things about their dinner menu. Plus I sampled a few of their dishes at the Taste of Perth Food Festival last year, and really enjoyed their food.

The degustation menu is $110 per person, with additional wine matching options – $70pp for the Classic Selection, and $110pp for the Cellar Reserve Premium Selection.

Since my husband and I don’t drink alcohol (him for health reasons and me for allergy reasons) we decided to just order the degustation dinner.

I was soooo excited!

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

We arrived at 6:30pm and were the first guests to walk through the door. The decor was modern, sophisticated and elegant. There was still light outside, streaming in from the big windows, and it was just lovely to see the colours in the restaurant change.

We were told that the dinner menu is tweaked every day, depending on the seasonal produce, or from feedback from the customers, or from whatever creations the chefs decided to add to the menu that day. I loved this idea! It sounded so exciting!

(I have to note, my husband is allergic to shellfish and we requested non-seafood meals for him, hence all the photos!)

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

AMUSE BOUCHE – Slow cooked black angus tendon, red bean puree, beef jus.

Anything crumbed and fried is a winner in my books. That beef tendon melted in my mouth and was utterly gorgeous.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

HOUSE BREAD – House made sourdough, served with smoked pork fat, fennel and spinach butter and black garlic butter.

We loved the bread! And the fermented butters were just divine.

I thought the pork fat (looks like ice cream in this photo!) would be delicious too, I mean, who doesn’t love some pork crackling?! But it tasted very weird and we didn’t like it at all.

When the waiter came to gather the plates, he asked us how it was.  Although I was trying to be polite, he probably saw my apologetic expression… so I told him the truth: That it wasn’t my cup of tea and I didn’t like it. He was so gracious and kind about the feedback, telling us that the chef had previously used duck fat but it melted too quickly on the plate. It was a very interesting snippet of info which led us to talk about the solidification of fats and lipids in cooking, human digestion and fad health diets (such riveting conversation, I know).

Anyway, I really appreciated that the friendliness and professionalism of the staff.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

ENTRÉE ONE – Charcoaled smoked tail of marron from Manjimup, marron claw flesh and shell emulsion, avocado puree, grapefruit supreme, coconut water blanket.

In terms of flavour, this dish was my favourite! The flavours were just so delicate, fresh and heavenly… and it all worked together so well.

There was a kind of coconut jelly over the top which gave it a fish eye lens visual effect… it was quirky, creative, so interesting and absolutely delicious.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

ENTRÉE ONE (non seafood) – Home made chorizo salame and house soured cream, matching preserved heirloom carrots, fresh lebanese cucumbers, baby radishes, carrot puree, soft herbage.

This was my husband’s favorite dish too. He couldn’t stop exclaiming how amazing it tasted.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

ENTRÉE TWO – Rabbit bacon with rhubarb and pinenut: pickled rhubarb matches rhubarb gel spaghetti and rhubarb puree, on a bed of pinenut paint and sponge with toasted pinenut to finish.

We were so intrigued by the name of this dish that we stopped the waiter to explain what he meant by “rabbit bacon”. He told us that the rabbit meat was cured in three different ways (hence the meat was in three different colours), made into a terrine (er, a French style meat loaf?) and thinly sliced to look like bacon.

It was a pleasure to eat. The combination of textures was so interesting – the soft sponge, the crunchy pinenuts, chewy rhubarb gel, the meaty rabbit. It what a wonderful dish.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

PASTA – Italian Carnaroli rice cooked with cauliflower puree, served with cocoa dust and charred cauliflower and burnt rice crisp

I love cauliflower anything, and this was a lovely dish, full of flavour and richness. The rice crisp gave the risotto a nice variation to its texture. The cocoa dust was unexpected, but a very delightful combination.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

MAIN ONE – Sous vide Rankin cod wrapped in fermented cabbage leaves, accompanied by braised witlof with a touch of anchovy emulsion, over slow cooked lentils from de puy, garnished with black fennel frond.

I really liked the witlof, but wasn’t too crazy about the fermented cabbage. The puy lentils and cod were cooked to perfection.

MAIN ONE (non seafood)- Slow cooked beef accompanied by caramelized onion lentils, charred onion petals and beef jus.

I forgot to take a photo of my husband’s beef dish!

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

MAIN TWO – Sous vide South Hampton homestead chicken roulade accompanied by parsnip bark and parsnip puree, puffed buckwheat and buckwheat jus.

By now, I was getting a bit full. This chicken dish was tasty and the flavours were well-rounded, in a warming good-for-your-soul kind of way.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

CHEESE COURSE – House made queso fresco infused with liquorice, served with fresh figs and fig blanket over a soil of almonds and olives, matching pistachio sponge and smoked tomato gel, finished with toasted walnuts.

Wow. This was so interesting and different. All the bits and pieces sounded delicious, but unfortunately I didn’t like the “olive soil” and so I pushed everything around the plate (like a naughty 3 year old) and ate everything separately. It was presented like a beautiful artwork on my plate, which I really admired.

I don’t usually like to eat cheese after my dinner. I like to go straight to the sweet stuff.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

PALATE CLEANSER – Compressed pineapple infused with mint, matching lime sorbet and goats curd snow.

I pretty much licked this plate clean. Never met a sorbet that I didn’t like! Goat curd snow? Love the description haha!

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

DESSERT – Kefir gel served with home made banana ice cream and banana brulee, with hazelnut meringue and hazelnut soil, finished with burnt miso.

Again I almost licked this dessert plate clean. I loved the weird and wonderful combination of everything – burnt miso with banana?Amazing!

I enjoyed everything, except the banana ice cream – I found it to be too sweet. I was so full that I couldn’t eat it and left it on the plate.

No. 4 Blake Street Restaurant

PETIT FOURS – Sesame and lime macarons, cheesecake.

Unfortunately I was so full that I only took a few nibbles of each item on this dessert plate. They were so well presented.

DONE! Phew what a journey.

My husband and I talked and laughed throughout the whole night. Of course, we mainly talked about the food: the combinations of food, the cooking techniques, the funny posh wording of the food, guessing the ingredients and describing the flavours.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

I have to admit that whenever I have a “fine dining” experience, I always feel a bit intimidated by all the over-the-top fanciness, snobbery and high brow French words. But I didn’t feel that here. It felt down-to-earth, friendly, warm, and I loved that they featured local produce. We joked around with the staff, who was very gracious, polite, quick to correct his mistakes, and easy going enough to realise that we were just engaging in some foodie banter.

Over all, it was a fascinating and fun gastronomic experience.

Even though I can honestly say that some ingredients of some dishes didn’t suit my taste, we applaud the chef for designing such a considered, creative, modern and incredible menu.

I definitely recommend it for a super-special occasion!

No4 Blake Street on Urbanspoon


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Chocolate and Raspberry Cake (Gluten Free)

16 April 2015

Chocolate and Raspberry Cake (No Flour)

I’ve made this chocolate cake many times before; it’s flour free and gluten free.

It is simply amazing, moist, dense like a brownie, but it still has a soft, cakey texture.

This time I threw in some walnuts and raspberries (the last crumbly bits at the bottom of the freezer bag!) and I served it up as dessert at a dinner party we hosted.

The raspberries and walnuts made it just divine!

Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

Ingredients
100g unsalted butter
140g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
70g of brown sugar
3 eggs separated
140g of almond meal
1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup of frozen raspberries, defrosted slightly and separated

Toppings
vanilla ice cream
icing sugar
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 and walnuts. Mix until well combined.

5. Fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, until well combined. Pour into cake tin. Sprinkle the raspberries evenly over the top.

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!!!

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

(This is what the inside of the cake looks like.)


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Sprolo, South Perth

2 April 2015

Sprolo, South Perth

I met up with my girlfriends for coffee and brunch at the much talked about cafe in South Perth, Sprolo.

I discovered that the word “Sprolo” turned out to be a completely made-up, combination of the words “espresso” and “YOLO” (you only live once)… which I thought was kind of cool.

The cafe was big, spacious and airy, with big glass windows and lots of natural light. There were lots of cafe table seating, high bar tables, and a little corner for kids (toy box, chalk board, mini chairs and a mat).

The food menu was quite simple and light – toasts, fruit breads, muffins, cakes, croissants, salmon bagels, salads, and waffles.

Sprolo, South Perth

I was actually dying to try out their Traditional Singaporean breakfast – which consisted of soft boiled eggs, eaten with a bit of white pepper and dark soy sauce, sour dough toast, and homemade kaya (coconut egg jam) – $12.

At first my heart sank at the thought of paying $12 for eggs, jam and sliced bread. This would cost what, $4 in Singapore?

But I had to remind myself that it’s completely normal these days to pay more for artisan, organic and homemade foods – so shut the hell up and just get over it Karen!

Besides, it made me feel happy that I was supporting a local business and concept (as opposed to spending $12 at McDonald’s!).

Sprolo, South Perth

The sourdough was fresh and crunchy. I don’t usually eat bread nowadays. And when I do, I always prefer to eat wholemeal, multigrain and rye. So tucking into a few slices of white bread, was very unusual for me. Thankfully, it was totally worth the indulgence! YUM!

The kaya was homemade and delicious. The soft boiled eggs were just lovely too.

Sprolo, South Perth

I’ve been back to Sprolo two more times, since my first visit and taking these photos. I really enjoyed the spaciousness, the light, and the ease in which I can pop in at any time and I’m pretty much guaranteed to get a table (I really don’t like queuing).

Oh and the coffees are great too!

Sprolo Espresso
138 Canning Hwy
South Perth WA 6151
Monday to Saturday 7am – 4pm
Sunday 8am – 2pm

Sprolo on Urbanspoon


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Best Value Japanese Bento in Perth: Kahmon

16 March 2015

For our recent dinner date night, my husband and I decided to do something a little different. Instead of going to a noisy, busy, trendy, hipster restaurant in the city, we felt like trying out a hidden “local gem” for a fabulous, cheap and cheerful meal!

We were told about a little Japanese Take-Away Restaurant that was south of the river, Kahmon in Shelley.

I’ve heard about this place before! A number of people have told me about it; it is quite popular with the locals; it is next to a Chinese noodle lunch bar that sells excellent Nasi Lemak and Chicken Rice; and it’s under new management by people we know!

That was enough for us to pay them a visit.

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

We traveled deep into the suburbs and arrived around 6pm.

Even though it was the size of a take-away shop, the place had an inviting, cozy feel to it. It felt more like a homey cafe. It felt like we went over to our friends’ house for dinner!

There were also proper table and chairs, nice crockery, nice cutlery, woody furniture, stylish cushions, and free green tea!

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

The menu was nice and simple. Bento boxes were priced between $9.50 – $13.50. There was also curry (with rice), udon (noodles), don (rice bowl) and simple side dishes on the menu.

I sat there wondering whether I would be biased about my review of the food, because I know the owners, and I silently prayed that the food would not be terrible and mediocre – omg what would I say to them?

By the time we ordered, there were lots of people coming into the cafe to pick up their takeaway orders. That was a good sign.

There was also another family group who sat down at the table next to us.

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

I ordered the Prawn Katsu Bento Box ($13.50) and Miso Soup ($2), which arrived promptly and without any fuss.

It smelt great. I was so hungry that I wanted to scoff the whole thing down, but I took some time to take some close up photos first.

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

The prawn katsu was delicious!  It was crispy, crunchy, fresh and full of flavour – yay!

The salad was lovely too. They used a mayo dressing in the cabbage instead of the regular tangy dressing and it went well with the crunchy prawns.

I ate everything! Including all the white rice! So naughty of me.

I liked that they served a bit of seasonal fruit with the box. It finished off my palate very nicely.

I can’t believe it was only $13:50!

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

My husband ordered the Chicken Katsu Curry ($11.50). I’m not a fan of Japanese curries, but my husband loves the stuff and he said it was great.

I stole a piece of his chicken katsu – because my weakness is deep fried chicken – and it was very yummy and fresh.

I think someone on the next table ordered Karaage (fried chicken nibbles) and I swore that I’d order that the next time.

Overall, the food was great, menu was simple, the prices were so affordable, the service was friendly, the atmosphere was lovely… it all speaks for itself, so I don’t think I’m being biased. I certainly haven’t been able to find simple and tasty Japanese Bento lunches for this price, which is why I rate it Best Value Japanese Bento in Perth!

Kahmon
Shop 5, 114-116 Barbican St, Shelley

Lunch: Tue – Sat 12pm – 2pm
Dinner: Tue – Thurs 5pm – 8:30pm and Fri – Sun 5pm – 9pm

Kahmon on Urbanspoon


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Maple Plum Crumble

21 February 2015

Plum Crumble

I bought a large bag of beautiful, dark red plums from the fruit markets, but when I got home, they turned out to be quite tart. No one was very keen to eat them, so I decided to put together a delicious plum crumble for my family.

The plums were pretty sour, so I had to use a few spoonfuls of maple syrup to sweeten them up.

Crumble
100g of plain flour
50g of diced butter, at room temperature
50g of rolled oats
50g dessicated coconut
50g slivered almonds
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)

Filling
10 medium sized plums, stoned (about 10)
2 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 green apple, finely diced
1 vanilla pod (seeds) or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Set your your oven to 160ºC/350ºF.

2. Whiz the flour and butter together in a food processor (with pastry blade) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Toss in oats, coconut, almonds, sugar (if using) and whiz until just combined. Set aside.

3. Chop the plums into chunky slices. Arrange in a large pie dish (25cm diameter). Finely dice the apple and sprinkle on top, along with the vanilla and maple syrup. Give the fruit a good stir with a big spoon.

4. Heap the crumble evenly over top of the fruit. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot, with ice cream, yoghurt or crème fraîche.

Super easy!

Enjoy!
xxx


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Anzac Slice Recipe for School Lunchboxes

9 February 2015

ANZAC Slice for School Lunch Boxes

OK so I woke up one morning and realised that I didn’t have any bread in my pantry for making my kid’s sandwiches!

In fact, I didn’t have much of anything in my pantry! It was one of those weeks. I did have flour, oats, coconut and lots of nuts and seeds though.

So I decided to WHIP UP an ANZAC Slice for my kid’s school lunch box. The recipe is actually for making ANZAC biscuits, but – sheesh – who’s got time to roll them into little balls and flatten them into biscuits?!

I just tipped the whole mixture onto a baking tray (with baking paper) and WHAM WHAM WHAM, I flattened it out with my hands haha.

I didn’t even use a mixing bowl; I just used a large saucepan for melting butter and mixing dry ingredients!

Anzac Slice

Ingredients
125g butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (or honey works fine too!)
2 tablespoons of water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
* optional 1/2 cup of pepitas

Method
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Line 1 baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, golden syrup and 2 tablespoons of water together over a medium heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. The liquid should froth up a bit.

3. Add in the flour, oats, coconut and pepitas. Stir well until all combined.

4. Tip the mixture onto the baking tray and baking paper. Press the mixture together, and flatten and shape it into a large rectangle (or square) with your hands or using the back of a spoon.

5. Bake for 15 mins or until golden brown.

6. Remove from oven and use a sharp knife to cut into pieces. Allow to completely cool before putting into lunch boxes.

Enjoy!


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May Street Larder, East Fremantle

3 February 2015

May Street Larder

I was invited to the launch of May Street Larder, a brand new cafe in East Fremantle, by the same people who founded the beachside restaurant Bib & Tucker : Eamon Sullivan (the Olympic swimmer) and chef Scott Bridger.

The cafe is focused on clean, healthy eating – right up my alley! Think raw, vegan, organic, paleo dishes with lots of salads and superfoods – but with a few kitchen favourites like slow cooked pork, slow cooked lamb and house smoked salmon. Yum!

They make everything from scratch (or sourced locally) using old-style cooking techniques, like fermenting, pickling and preserving, but with a modern twist. I saw homemade pickles, jams, breads, tomato sauces, sweets, sodas, honey, cured meats and smoked fish.

May Street Larder

I turned up to the event early and managed to snap a few photos of the interior before the guests arrived.

The cafe was lovely and spacious! There were lots of tables and seating, and even a little lounge area with a cute couch and lounge chairs for maximum chillaxing.

May Street Larder

There was tonnes of natural light streaming in from the big windows, bouncing off the subdue colour palatte and casting a modern freshness into the space.

May Street Larder

I loved the eclectic mix of antique collectables, natural surfaces, and random kitchen objects with old-world details.

May Street Larder

During the launch, the kitchen offered us a special kind of menu sampler, where we could mix and match various proteins and salads. They had all the food lined up at the counter, we could select what we wanted and it would be piled onto our plate – mess hall style! This is not the usual menu and eating format though.

When it was my turn to choose my food, I apologised FIRST to the waitstaff (which is never a good sign for them, I’m sure)… then I asked them *ever so* politely if I could have TWO plates and if they could arrange TWO meals nicely, so I could photograph them. Or maybe I could arrange it myself? With a spare fork? Could you please get a spare fork for me? Can you put that piece of trout just off the centre of the plate? Can I have THAT potato instead of this one, because that one looks nicer? Oh you put too much green on the plate, it looks off-balanced, could you take some off?

I’m sure she was thinking – CURSE THESE BLOODY FOOD BLOGGERS!

Thankfully Scott, the head chef, realised what I was trying to do, so he cut in and worked his cheffy magic. He plated it up beautifully! Thanks Scott! The dish looked great – balanced, not too fussy, neat but still with an accidental cool to it, haha!

I chose the house smoked trout and some kind of kale salad and root vegetable… Not sure exactly what I had, but it tasted really good! So fresh, tender and “clean”.

May Street Larder

This was my second plate.  The slow cooked pork and CRACKLING was amazing!!

The roasted veggies were lovely too.

May Street Larder

May Street Larder is the first and only place in Perth to offer CocoWhip. It’s made from natural coconut water and a coconut probiotic (that’s it!), and churned into a creamy, silky, smooth, cold, kind of soft serve. It tastes a bit like a mild coconut sorbet, but much lighter, smoother, and with significantly less sugar than any sorbet I’ve ever tasted.

It’s sugar free, 99% fat free, gluten free, dairy free and lactose free. It’s also served with goji berries, cacao nibs and a lupin granola.

It’s the hippest little vegan soft serve I’ve ever seen!

May Street Larder

Big thanks to Eamon and Scott for the invite.

I’ll definitely be bringing my girlfriends back for brunch!

May Street Larder
155 Canning Hwy (Corner of Canning Hwy and May Street)
East Fremantle
Open for breakfast and lunch.

You can find them on May Street Larder Facebook


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Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

26 January 2015

I made a Vietnamese-style rice noodle salad for an Australia Day BBQ with friends! Nothing says Australia Day like a table full of cuisines spanning from all over the globe!

Australia Day 2014

I served the salad with crushed peanuts on the side, as I wasn’t sure if there were kids at the party with nut allergies. I also left out the chilli because I wanted it to be kid-friendly.

There is a LOT of slicing with this recipe!

In fact, there is so much slicing that I wouldn’t have made this salad if I did not have my julienne peelers.

My julienne peelers look like simple potato peelers, and they cut vegetables into fine matchsticks at a quick swipe of my wrist! I don’t think my salad would have looked the same if I had “finely sliced them into matchsticks” with a knife. I don’t have enough patience!

I bought my peelers in Asia (3 different sizes at $3 each). Unfortunately I can’t find any Australian stockists of julienne peelers… so I found these similar Titan Peelers (from the US) which ship to Australia for free – you might have to wait a few weeks for the delivery though! Same goes for these Zyliss Julienne Peelers or Tovolo Julienne Peelers.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

250gm of rice noodle, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, drained
1 large cucumber, remove seeds, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, finely sliced
1/4 of a small white cabbage, finely sliced
1/4 of small lettuce, finely sliced
1/4 of small red onion, finely sliced
big bunch of coriander, pluck leaves and chop roughly
1/2 cup of mint, chopped roughly
3 cups of bean sprouts
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, roasted, chopped roughly
1/2 cup of Asian fried shallots

Dressing
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of ginger, grated
2 teaspoons of finely chopped chilli

1. Mix dressing ingredients together.

2. Toss all the noodle ingredients and vegetables in a very large bowl. Keep aside a small bunch of coriander and mint for garnish. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly.

3. Place noodle salad in a nice serving dish. Scatter garnish, fried onions, crushed peanuts on top and serve!

Enjoy!

xxx

 


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Sticky Date Pudding Recipe

19 January 2015

Stick Date Pudding

This sticky date pudding is an euphoric, eyes-roll-to-the-back-of-your-head-delicious indulgence :)

I have been using this recipe for the last 10 years and it’s an absolute winner every time. It’s so simple to make too.

I haven’t made it the last few year though, because the recipe asks for a lot of sugar, and I’ve been trying to cut back on making super-sweet desserts for my family. However last week I pulled out the recipe from my archives and made it with NO ADDED SUGAR.

It still tasted delicious! Especially when we ate it, hot, with a *small* dollop of ice cream.

I’m not sure where the original recipe came from, as I scribbled it down many years ago.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Sticky Date Pudding

200g chopped pitted dates
1 1/4 cups of water
1 teaspoons of bicarb soda
60g butter
3/4 cup of castor sugar (or use none at all!)
2 eggs
1 cup of self raising flour

Caramel Sauce
100g brown sugar/maple syrup/honey/rice malt syrup (or use none at all!)
100g butter
1 cup of cream

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Combine dates and water in a medium sized saucepan, bring to boil, remove from heat, stir in the bicarb soda and stand for 5 minutes.

2. Add butter (and sugar, if you’re using it) to the date mixture and stir it until the butter has melted. Blend/process until smooth (I use a hand blender). Leave the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

3. While waiting for date mixture to cool, grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

4. Beat the eggs into the date mixture, one at a time. Then fold in the sifted flour. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes.

5. While waiting for pudding to bake, make the caramel sauce by gently heat the butter and cream (and sugar, if you’re using it), without boiling, and stir for 3 minutes.

6. After 50 minutes, take the pudding out and pour 1/2 the caramel sauce all over the top and put the pudding back into the oven for 10 minutes.

7. Serve the pudding – warm – with the remaining sauce and ice cream!

* I make the whole mixture in the large saucepan. No need to transfer into a mixing bowl – it saves washing up!

* One time I made this sticky date pudding with no added sugar, but smeared a 2 tablespoons of maple syrup over the top as a sweet glaze. I found that it was just enough to add a lovely sweet-stickiness to the pudding.

* By the way, dried dates (even the organic types) are 68% sugar. Even though it’s a natural sugar, that’s still a huge amount. So if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, maybe you should make yourself a banana bread?


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My Summer Workout!

15 January 2015

My Summer Fitness Workout 01

For my 25 Day Fitness Challenge in December, this was the workout routine that I frequently used.

I compiled the workout from several lists that were passed around instagram; it seemed that people were tweaking the list slightly (to suit themselves) and sharing it with others. So yep, I took the liberty to tweak it myself too, swapping some exercises with ones that I prefer to do.

This workout really gets my heart rate up!

My arms, legs, back and core feel amazing! My whole body feels tighter, stronger, and leaner for doing them.

At first I started off doing HALF the amounts.

But since I’ve been doing them for 3 weeks, I can I do them all, 3 times, no problem. I do them every day or every second day now.

My kids love to join in too – which is annoying because I have to wait for them to keep up, but it’s also kind of cool because I feel that I’m passing down some good habits for their future.

Feel free to save the image to your phone and refer to it any time you have a spare moment (which is how I first got started with it!).

You can follow me on instagram and grab the photo from there to – @karenlycheng

Enjoy!

xxx


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To To Vietnamese, Perth

7 January 2015

To To Pho

Vietnamese food is one of my favourite cuisines in the world. And no matter what the weather is like outside, I just *love* catching up with my girlfriends over a hot bowl of Vietnamese beef pho!

I have a few favourite Vietnamese restaurants that I like in Perth. One of them is called To To, in East Victoria Park.

The decor is modern and quite classy… that is, it doesn’t have plastic tables and chairs, and plastic plants! The place is pretty noisy, cramped and the service is not that great though. During peak hours, you could be waiting outside for 15-30 minutes to get a table too.

But it’s unfussy, quick and easy. And most importantly, the food is pretty great.

Actually, I’ve been coming here for YEARS and I only ever order the Cooked and Raw Beef Pho and Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls… so I don’t know about the rest of the menu!

To To Vietnamese
875 Albany Hwy
East Victoria Park, WA

To To Vietnamese on Urbanspoon


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25 Day Fitness Challenge – Done and Dusted!

30 December 2014

Running and Pink Nails

(Me pausing mid run to notice that my nails match my shoes haha!)

This December, I gave myself a kind of challenge where I had to do some kind of exercise every day, for 25 days.

You can read what I got up to during my whole 25 Day Fitness Challenge.

Monday – Day 22
Netball game. We played against a newbie team and we lost by 2 points. We were all “off our game” and we made a lot of silly mistakes. Honestly, I think we were all in party mode and ready for Christmas! Oh well, the other team were a bunch of lovely girls, we were happy for them and it was a great workout for everyone!

The best thing about playing netball every Monday night is that it’s a fantastic way to start my week.

Tuesday – Day 23
My kids and I spent 4 hours at the beach, where I did some light swimming in the surf. Although I didn’t do anything extremely active all day, I was really tired and lethargic from sitting in the sun. I did a slow jog in the evening.

Wednesday – Day 24
I did my routine of strength and floor exercises in the morning. I can now do 20 push ups and 10 burpees! My arms are starting to look hot!

I spent the whole day on my feet, cooking and cleaning. We hosted Christmas Eve dinner at our house, for my family.

Thursday – Day 25
We went to my sister-in-law’s house for Christmas Lunch. I felt pretty crappy after all the over-eating, so I smashed out a 5km run in the evening and felt soooo good.

So that’s my 25 days done and dusted!

I’m so happy that I did it.

Most of it was relatively easy, because I had announced it to the internet haha! I felt accountable and that I needed to stick to my word! I had very few excuses after that, hence I just got on with it. That was really my whole plan – and it worked :)

I was aiming to do at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise each day – which to me, meant that my heart rate had to go up, I had to sweat, I had to push myself, and I had to feel my muscles burn. In my mind, the idea of “vigorous exercise” meant running, cycling, pump classes, weights sessions, strength exercises, netball, or swimming.

But realistically… some days were hard for me to fit in THAT kind of exercise. I was busy, I had a lot on, I was stressed. Exercise was the LAST thing I wanted to do at the end of the day.

So instead of vigorous exercise each day, sometimes I did a light yoga stretch session, or took a gentle walk in the park.

As long as I set aside some time each day to move and stretch, I felt that I stayed true to my challenge :)

For the new year, I am definitely going to continue with my challenge and keep myself active every day.

Wishing you all the best for your new year goals!


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25 Day Fitness Challenge – Day 8 to 14

15 December 2014

Workout!

As I’ve mentioned before, I have dedicated the month of December to getting fit again. For 25 days, I’m going to try to do some kind of vigorous exercise each day.

See all the past activity for my Fitness Challenge here.

This is what I’ve been up to this week:

Monday – Day 8
Netball game. Super high intensity workout!

Tuesday – Day 9
Went for a quick 3.5km run around the block.

Wednesday – Day 10
Strength and floor exercises. Lunges, squats, burpees, planks, mountain climbs – the lot!

Thursday – Day 11
Weights workout. Just used 3kg dumbbells and tried to target my upper body.

Friday – Day 12
We left for a camping trip, so I missed out doing exercise for today. But if you count frantically running around, trying to pack camping gear for 5 people for 3 days, then I was burning calories ALL FREAKING DAY!

Saturday – Day 13
Sand boarding, climbing up sand dunes, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding! We had the best time!

Sunday – Day 14
Played beach cricket and went for a jog on the beach (this was a killer!).

Writing it all down like this has been great for me! It’s nice to know that I’m pretty active each day, yay!


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Simple Baked Salmon with Lemon and Butter

13 December 2014

Baked Salmon

Simple Baked Salmon with Lemon and Butter

I love cooking simple, fresh, and healthy meals! Using fresh salmon, a couple of ingredients (mostly from my garden) it is one of the easiest dinners that I make. It’s also one of my family’s favourite dinners.

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Rub the base of an ovenproof dish with a bit of butter. Lay the salmon fillets on top.

3. Place lemon slices and slices of butter over the salmon.

4. Throw some vegetables (tomatoes and mushrooms work really well). Sprinkle a bit of fresh thyme or chives on top.

5. Pop into the oven for 13-15 minutes until the salmon is to your liking. I like mine to be a little raw in the middle.

6. Serve with steamed vegetables like baby potatoes, broccoli, long beans and asparagus.

Baked Salmon

This was dinner for my husband, 3 kids, my father in law and me!

Then we each had a bowl of fruit salad for dessert.

Healthy and yummy!


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25 Day Fitness Challenge – Day 1 to 7

8 December 2014

25 Day Fitness - Dec 2014

My daily fitness challenge started off with a bang!

If you missed my blog post here, I’ve dedicated the month of December to getting fit again.

For 25 days, I’m going to try to do some kind of vigorous exercise each day.

Monday – Day 1
Woke up at 5:30am and went for a 5km run. Netball game in the evening.

Tuesday – Day 2
6km run at 5:30am.

Wednesday – Day 3
18km bike ride.

Thursday – Day 4
Strength and floor exercises.

Friday – Day 5
3km run. Yoga in the evening.

Saturday – Day 6
Slow 5km bike ride (with my 5yo). Upper body workout.

Sunday – Day 7
2 hours of gardening. Mowing and raking the lawn gives a great ab work out!

Have a fantastic week everyone!

xxx


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A Sparkling Date Night at C Restaurant

4 December 2014

C Restaurant, Perth

C Restaurant is Perth’s only revolving restaurant. It is 33 stories up and has amazing and sweeping views of the city.

The restaurant was built in the early 80s and has changed its names, management and chefs many, many times. Understandably, with each changeover, the owners have tried to do something different, reach a different clientele, bring in a new eating concept and new menus. So over the years, I have heard many different reviews and conflicting opinions about the place – and I’m sure everyone who has lived in Perth feels the same!

I was invited to try out the new midweek menu, and took the opportunity to have a date night with my husband!

I have previously been to C Restaurant for dinner (about 10 years ago) and for a fashion show (3 years ago). I was very keen to put aside all the reviews I’ve heard, come to it with fresh eyes (and taste buds), and just have a lovely evening with my husband.

We enjoyed a 4 course meal from the Midweek Summer Menu at $99 per person, available Monday-Thursday only. However on the website, I notice that it is now 3 courses for $99.

C Restaurant, Perth

We arrived at 6:30pm and the view was AMAZING!

(more…)


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25 Day Fitness Challenge – Day 1#

1 December 2014

Fitness Challenge
I try to avoid “fitness challenges”.

I’ve looked into some (and tried some) especially the silly ones like – “Get toned abs in 30 days”, “Guns and butt workout for July!”, “6 weeks to shape your booty”… but in the end, I get bored, disillusioned and it’s all a bit disappointing, and I feel lame and stupid that I even thought the results might be instant. Because I know they’re not. So I’ve never really admitted to anyone that I do fitness challenges of any kind!

But just yesterday I’ve been very inspired by the activity happening on Instgram. There’s a few ’24 or 25 day challenges’ happening around the place, where you work through the month of December, leading to Christmas Day.

It’s kind of like a fitness advent calendar.

I think, honestly, I just needed a little spark of inspiration to get me going. Instead of working on my arms, or core, or legs, or butt… I decided that I was just going to do my own thing, my own way. It was a nice idea. It seemed to work for me, and now I’m inspired, motivated and feeling a bit excited for this month.

It’s December 1st today. For 25 days, I’m going to try to do some kind of vigorous exercise each day.

I’m not really asking you to join me, in case it sounds lame.

But I’m going to share my fitness dairy anyway, hoping it sparks something in you!

(Feel free to follow my updates on Instagram! You can find me at @karenlycheng)

25 Day Fitness Challenge – Day 1#

Yesterday I set my alarm for 5:30am, with the intention to go for a run. This morning it went off, but I woke up and I felt soooooo bad. I was literally cursing the world, I needed more sleep, and felt like freaking sh*t. What a cheery way to greet the day huh?! I felt achy, I had stiff muscles, sore legs, my neck and shoulders were stiff. I switched my alarm off and went back to bed! Haha! Hello Fitness Challenge!

Ergh, but I felt so guilty. I KNEW that I’d feel like crap for the rest of the day, so I got up at 5:50am, got into my running gear, drank some water and just went out the door. I still felt stiff and sore AND I felt gross for not brushing my teeth. I was in such a foul mood.

But hey, I did it. I ran 5kms and yes, I felt awesome after that!

Tonight I have a netball game. 40 minutes of super fast-paced, action and running. At the end I’m always red-faced, drenched with sweat and feeling sooooo good that I could fly.

Maybe it’s the oxygen in my brain, the endorphins in my nerves, or just the knowledge that I have disciplined myself to do this?

Look out December, I’m going to blitz it!


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Meal Prepping for Lunch

10 November 2014

Meal Lunch Prepping

Look what I did on the weekend – I feel so clever! This is the first time I’ve done any kind of lunch prepping… that is, create an entire lunch for myself for the whole week ahead and then freeze them into packs.

I work from home most days; but sometimes I will go out for meetings or run errands, so my lunches are usually very small and spontaneous (like a muesli bar) or hastily put together (left over chicken with a piece of fruit?). Sometimes if I have a big breakfast, I’ll skip lunch and end up eating at 3pm. Or if I eat a small breakfast at 6:30am (because I ate too much the previous evening) I get distractingly hungry by 10am.

So I’m trying to manage my eating portions a little better… starting with these set lunches.

On the menu is grilled ginger soy chicken and mushrooms, with green beans, cabbage and baby spinach.

My biggest mistake when putting these together is that I didn’t have enough containers and I made too much food. So when I distributed the food, my lunch portions were a bit too big – more than I usually eat for lunch!

Also I didn’t have the RIGHT KIND of containers (I’m not a fan of plastic containers, I would prefer glass. Although I do take the food out of the plastic and put it on a glass dish to microwave anyway).

Another factor I was concerned about was getting bored of the same lunch each day? I like soy chicken and mushrooms, but for 5 days in a row? Now that I mention it, I don’t need lunch packs for the weekend, why did I make 7 lunches? I didn’t think it through very well!

The whole thing was pretty time consuming. I had to plan what to eat, buy the ingredients, marinade the chicken, cut and wash the vegetables, wipe down the containers, divide the vegetables, cook the chicken, cut it up and divide it all up, let it cool down, THEN lastly I had to make room in my freezer. Thankfully I had room in there! I actually made 4 more lunch packs for my husband, so I had ELEVEN containers to freeze all together!

It took me about 2.5 hours on a Sunday.

Which if you think about it… is not that bad when you think about how I’ll benefit from it during the week. Right??

Phew, it was hard work. Don’t know if I could keep it up :P


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Chocolate Coconut Granola

5 November 2014

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Um, the other day I was craving to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So I had a crazy idea that I would make some chocolate coconut granola to eat the next morning?!

I found a recipe online, I modified it a lot to suit my tastes – and HOLY CRAP it is AMAZING. It is like eating chocolate crackles!!

The only sweetener I used was maple syrup, and I didn’t use very much.

I think it’s healthy! I think I’ll use raw cacao powder next time.

Chocolate Coconut Granola

4 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of desiccated coconut
2 cups of mixed seeds* and sultanas (pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
1 cup of almonds, roughly chopped in a food processor
1 cup of cashews, roughly chopped in a food processor

2/3 cup of coconut oil
2/3 cup of cocoa powder
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

(Makes about 9 cups of granola.)

* I buy a packet of mixed grains called “Pura Veda” and it has buckwheat, sunflower kernels, raisins, sesame seeds, millet, pumpkin seeds, linseed, poppy seeds, chia seeds, amaranth. It’s pretty expensive!

1. Pre-heat oven to 130C. Line 4 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Put coconut oil, cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla essence in a small saucepan and stir slowly over low heat until smooth.

3. Mix the oats, coconut, seeds, almonds and cashews in large bowl. Pour in the chocolate mixture in and stir until all the dry ingredients are well coated.

4. Divide the mixture up onto the 4 baking trays. And bake for 45 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the granola in the hot oven for another 30 minutes.

6. Take the pans out of the oven and without stirring the granola, let it cool completely in the pan. It will harden and crisp up as it cools.

7. Store in a large, air tight container and enjoy for breakfast, snacks and dessert (served with ice cream YEAH!)

Enjoy!

xxx


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Starting to run again, again.

3 November 2014

Run 10km

I went for a spontaneous run the other morning. It was my first proper run in 8 weeks!!

I pushed myself to run a steady pace and went for 10.5kms – which I’m so happy about. I had no sore feet, knees or muscles – yay!

I ran the distance in 1 hour 5 minutes, but I had to slow down to walk a few times, and I had to stop for water. I ran at an average pace of 6:15/km (that was according to my sports tracker, but mathematically, I think my average should be 6:20?)

Anyway, I’m not too fussed about numbers. It’s a great comeback for me!

I’m aiming to be able to run 10kms without slowing down to walk.

And I’m aiming for an average pace of 6:00/km, which means I should run 10km in 1 hour. Baby steps!

Here’s to feeling like I’ve emerged from a slow rut and feeling fantastic about my health again!

Cheers everyone and have a great week :)


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Dinner Inspiration: Salmon and Salad

27 October 2014

Salmon + Salad

I made this for dinner the other night; and as I sit here, editing the photo, my mouth is watering again!

I made a really simple Asian style dressing with 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce.

(I like this dressing recipe, because I don’t have to finely chop garlic or ginger, and it has no sugar! Haha I’m so lazy!)

I threw together some snow pea sprouts, bean sprouts, sliced cucumber, sliced carrots and sliced zucchini, spinach and coriander.

I pan-fried some salmon fillets. Piled them together. Drizzle the dressing on top. Crush some cashews and sprinkle over the top.

All done!

For my husband and kids, I mixed in rice noodles with their salad. But I’m trying to eat carb free for a while, so I skipped the noodles and had another portion of salmon. Best dinner ever!

 


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We raised $5.2 million for cancer research!!

22 October 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 - Photo By Ze Photography
(Photo By Ze Photography)

It’s over for another year!

I volunteered for a 2 day cycling charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

I’ve participated in this event for the last two years and it involves over a 1000 people riding a distance of 200km over 2 days.

For each of the last two years, I have spent about 5 hours of sitting on my ass and pedaling each day! And as I slogged away, part of what kept me going were the cheer squads dotted along the route – volunteers dressed in cowboy gear, pink tutus and Elvis costumes… but the craziest and most entertaining bunch were the Onesie Warriors.

They wore one piece animal suits, sang and danced, cheered, rang bells, hooted and hollered, and got up to all kinds of crazy antics that made us riders laugh and smile when we needed it the most. They made such a big, happy difference to our journey, lifted our moods, and pumped SO much energy and fun into the event.

I remember (during a relentless uphill slog on the bike in the pouring rain) looking at the Onesie crew thinking… where do they get their energy from?? They have been dancing and jumping around for hours! They must be drunk! They must be completely sugared up! They must be pumped full of Red Bull! Were they all fit, young 18 year olds, who are just used to all this raving!?

Anyway, that was the team I joined on the weekend.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

There were 12 of us in the Onesie Warrior team, and we split into 3 groups of 4. We positioned our teams at different locations, where the route was most boring (20kms of flat farm land) or most difficult (long, slow, uphill climbs that go on forever) for the cyclists.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Basically the whole Onesie Warrior experience was… a crazy, roadside, dance party, with insane amounts of bad karaoke, bad dancing, raving and jumping!

We had pop music blasting from our car. We were shouting, cheering, whooping, waving clappers, ringing cowbells, shaking tambourines, tooting horns, blowing whistles… for 10 hours!

Oh man, it was sooo much fun.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

I couldn’t even recognise myself. I was doing the most silliest, shameless and stupidest dance moves I’ve ever done in my whole life. And I did it on purpose! In front of people! To make them laugh! In broad daylight!

If you know me in real life, I’m usually very contained, calm, possibly soft spoken and maybe a bit shy. I am in no way a natural show pony. I don’t walk into a room and have a presence that commands people to take notice of me. In fact, I’m striving for a kind of quiet gracefulness.

But once I put on my giraffe onesie, I felt like I had permission to act like an exploding, hyperactive, crazy person!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

With our encouragement, all 1311 riders made it safely to the night camp – the half way mark for the weekend.

They did SO WELL for their first day. They rode 105km. There was a very strong head wind blowing against the riders, and I could see them all pushing into it, grimacing in pain with every down stroke of the pedal. I knew their pain! They must’ve been exhausted!

There were a lot of cancer survivors who rode too. They rode with a yellow flag attached to their bikes to distinguish themselves. I thought of my husband, who has survived cancer twice and thought whether he would be able to ride this distance. His health is excellent, but fragile, and shouldn’t really be pushed to this level of exertion. Not to mention he was at home looking after the blessing of our three kids… while I was spending the weekend having this unusual, out of character experience.

I got a bit teary every time I saw a person with a yellow flag that reminded myself why I was here.

In fact, it only took a few minutes of chatting to a complete stranger to find out that every rider had a story or a connection to cancer, and that they were determined and inspired to do something about it. I was constantly teary and inspired!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

As for me, I had woken up at 4am that day, started cheering at 7am, had only a few small breaks, and finished my shift at 5pm (to cheer the very last rider to arrive at camp).

So I went to bed at 7:30pm!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

The next morning I woke at 4am again, and the weather looked REALLY BAD.

There was a 100% chance of rain, thunderstorms, hail and strong winds. Oh my god! I hoped the wind would be behind the riders and push them along.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

For the second day, I was a frog. It was an apt costume for the wet weather. And apt, because my voice was very croaky.

At 6am, I hopped over to the start line and I bumped into these two ladies – Brooke and Sam. Er, well I actually just randomly walked up to them, because hey I’m in a frog suit, and I asked to take a photo with them because their cycling jerseys matched my green costume!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Then our team quickly drove to our first designated spot for the day and waited for the riders to come through.

We waited and waited.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

In fact, we waited at the zebra crossing.

When the riders went by, we waved signs like “SAFARI SO GOOD!” and “KEEP THOSE CALVES MOOVING”! And other really bad animal puns.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

We placed ourselves in silly positions to wave at the riders. Our chipmunk climbed a tree. Our cows climbed a hill. Our penguin sat on a branch.

I was a squashed frog on the path, but I only took this photo after the last rider rode past haha!

We made our way to several other positions along the route, and then back to the finish line to cheer the last rider through.

We danced and cheered for hours! We were projected up onto the big screen, we were photographed and we were on TV (did you see us?!). It was definitely one of the most crazy, fun and rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It certainly gave me an unusual perspective of the event.

In total, we raised $5.2 million that will go to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (used to be WAIMR), with all the funds going directly into cancer research projects. I was choked up with pride and happiness!

A HUGE thanks to all the organisers, the crew, the riders, the sponsors and the supporters who donated!!

I’ll see you all next year!!


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Miss Kitty’s Saloon, Inglewood, Perth

21 October 2014

I recently organised to go on a double date with some good friends. Our friends didn’t mind where we ate, but I particularly wanted to try out a cool new restaurant in Perth, therefore I was in charge of booking a restaurant. Unfortunately it completely slipped my mind until two days beforehand! Oops!

Every place I wanted to try out was booked out for a Friday night. Or they didn’t take bookings because they are so popular. So I desperately scrambled to find any place with a great review… and came up with: Miss Kitty’s Saloon, serving “modern American/Canadian tapas” style cuisine in Inglewood.

My first thought was: Yay! I got a booking for Friday night!

But my second thought was: OH NO, what’s wrong with this place that they still have bookings available on a Friday night at two days notice!?

Then my third thought was: I hate the name! It just makes me think of cheap steaks, greasy chips, stale peanuts and beer. I’m not a fan of those stereotypical American steakhouses, and “modern American/Canadian tapas” could mean: really small AND expensive serves of chewy steak in barbeque sauce.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

When we arrived, the place was fully booked (which made me feel much better about my choice).

I was completely surprised. I loved the weird, mismatched décor. The place had a great vibe and atmosphere, with recycled wood palettes, barn doors, metal drums, random farm equipment sitting around the place as part of the furniture. So I felt better!

But then I realised my next mistake. My friends have special eating requirements! I forgot! One is a vegetarian and the other is on a reduced gluten and carb diet. OMG and I’ve taken them to a Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Western Texan steak house?!? I felt bad again.

They assured me they’d be fine. They are well travelled and they always manage to find something on the menu that will suit them. But I was almost dying of embarrassment.

With some help from the very well informed waitresses (in very pretty arty-punk Western themed dresses), we de-coded the menu.

We ordered 5 main dishes; with intent of ordering another if we were still hungry. But it turned out that we were full at the end that we didn’t need a 6th main. Having said that, all four of us are light/healthy eaters.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

First to arrive was a vegetarian dish, crisp tortilla with spiced tofu, peanuts, lime ($9).

It was so delicious! It was light and fresh. The tangy dressing didn’t overpower the subtle flavours of the tofu and cucumbers. The crisp tortilla was out of this world. It was fried to a crispy perfection, yet it still had a slight softness in the middle.

To be honest, I would have been completely happy to eat just this for my dinner haha!

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Oh then this OTHER dish arrived. And I thought… No way. I think I would happily eat JUST. THIS. DISH. FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!!

It was the salmon tostada with avocado, green chilli, orange ($18.8)

The salmon and the vegetables were all wonderfully fresh. The bursts of salmon roe mixed with the orange added a delightful wow to my mouthfuls. Seriously, so yummy.

(My vegetarian friend ate fish, so he was all good with this dish.)

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Someone suggested the brussel sprouts, with bacon, curry, yogurt ($12)… everyone was intrigued so we ordered it.

Personally, I would have never ordered something like this off the menu. Mainly because the combinations sounded much too strange.

But do you know what? The brussel sprouts were marvellous! They must have been fried somehow, because they were crispy on the outside and still firm on the inside. I’ve never eaten brussel sprouts like this before. They didn’t look pretty, but they were yummy and tasted like broccoli. I love broccoli!

The mixture of curry, bacon and yoghurt was so different and well combined. It wasn’t stewy or heavy. It was almost like a stir-fry with a fresh curry flavour. I would definitely order this again.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

The charred corn salad, smoked almonds, coriander, lime ($14.8) was my choice.

I think it was a let down compared to our first three dishes. It looked nice, with charred corn bits, baby corn and puffed corn… but it just didn’t have that wow combination. Didn’t think it was worth $14.80 either.

Moving right along.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Ah ha! Finally some meat!

This was the charred lamb ribs with mint, peas ($24.8). It was absolutely delicious! The lamb was soft, succulent and tender. The meat fell off the bone, yet it had these globs of crispy fatty bits along the bone, which were a gorgeously caramelised and crispy.

I didn’t notice what marinade was used, but the flavour wasn’t overpowering, nor was it bland in any way. I could really taste the sweetness and freshness of the lamb.

By the end of the 5 shared mains, I was full, but I probably could have fit in one more dish. However I KNEW I didn’t need it, I knew I would be over-stuffed and feel awful/heavy/bloated if we shared one more main dish.

So I insisted on sharing one dessert between the 4 of us.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

We chose the hazelnut chocolate crack, banana ice cream, salted milk crumb ($13.8).
It came out nicely presented, and it hit the spot in terms of sweetness to round off my palate.

The slabs of chocolate were hazelnut flavoured mixed with rice crackles (I think?), which was really yummy. I didn’t like the banana ice cream at all. The white powdery stuff was powdered milk with a bit of sweetness (I think?!). The crumbled chocolate biscuits had a smear of caramel beneath it and it was ok.

Overall it was an OK dessert and as I said, it hit the spot.

Miss Kitty's Saloon, Inglewood Perth

Also… I thought I should mention that were sitting in a 4 person booth, and the placing of the ceiling speakers meant that the music blasted straight into our booth and echoed around us. It was pretty loud and couldn’t hear my husband speak from across the table… so we asked if they could turn the music down. I thought they would roll their eyes and huff at us, but they were so cool about it. All the wait staffs were super friendly, cheerful and helpful.

My final thoughts.

You know, honestly, if I had my way with the initial ordering, I would have automatically gone for my top choices – lamb, duck, pork belly, charred beef and octopus. Which meant I would have missed out on the tofu, salmon and brussel sprouts… so I am really glad we ate with my vegetarian friend and that I didn’t choose ALL MEAT dishes.

In the end, the bill came out to be about $30 per head, a very reasonable price for dinner. This included 5 mains, 1 dessert, 2 glasses of wine and a coffee. I’m sure if we ordered more meat dishes (and ate ourselves silly) that would have brought the price up.

I was completely surprised by Miss Kitty’s Saloon. It was nothing like I imagined, and so much better. The food we ate was fresh, light, tasty and delicious.

ALL four of us thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We left feeling really good that we didn’t over-stuff ourselves and very happy about the price and our overall experience.

I will definitely be back!

(Particularly so I can try all the meaty dishes haha!)

Miss Kitty’s Saloon
882 Beaufort St, Inglewood, WA 6052
08 9272 6669

Monday – CLOSED
Tuesday – Saturday 5:30pm-11:00pm
Sunday – CLOSED

Miss Kitty's Saloon on Urbanspoon


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Fitness Motivation 0.00000001

13 October 2014

Wow. So I totally FELL OFF THE EXERCISE TRAIN! I fell down and rolled in between the train tracks, I dug a hole, I made myself a nice home, I put my feet up, and I haven’t moved since!!

Here’s the round up of my last 4 weeks…

Running – Close to none. I think I ran a total of 3km in the whole 4 weeks.

Cycling – none.

Boxing, boot camp, pump classes – none.

Yoga, pilates – none.

Strength, weights, core workouts – pretty much none.

Motivation to start again – none.

There was a point in the last 4 weeks where I was really, really angry, stressed agitated and disgusted by my lack of motivation.

But I’m past that now. I’ve just accepted that I can’t fit everything in. I’m not Super Woman. I can’t do everything. I’m just going to be happy where I am for now. I’m just going to cruise through life and work on what’s more important right now. Why stress about it?

On the up side, I play netball once a week (which is like high intensity interval training yo!) and I go for evenings walks with my family, where I get to hold hands with my husband. That’s real nice.

I’ve found a happy slow place. This is just the current normal.

Later on there will be a new normal, and I’m sure before I know it, I’ll be back to running marathons!

 


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Please Don’t RICE MY OUCHIE

9 October 2014

Growing up, I’ve never been a rough kid.

I’ve never broken my arm or leg. I’ve never hurt my knee, or twisted my ankle. I’ve never had a cast or crutches. As a result, I’m very unfamiliar with injuries and what to do with them.

So when I get a minor injury now, I just ignore it… because it’ll just get better after a few days right?

Thumb Injury

Well, while I was playing netball one evening, I slammed my thumb into the ball at full speed and got this impressive bruise. Of course it wasn’t a bruise to start. It just felt like my thumb had SPLIT IN TWO, THAT’S ALL.

Being the well brought up lady that I am, I held back the “F” EXPLETIVES SCREAMING IN MY HEAD and just turned to my opponent and said, “Ouch, that hurt.”

I played the rest of the game like a one-handed elephant seal, slapping the ball without using my thumb.

I was a bit embarrassed about it after. Silly me. Got an ouchie. Hurt my thumb. I casually mentioned it to my netball team mates, who just said, “Just rice it babe.”

I thought to myself, “Why yes, I’m Chinese. I can subscribe to that kind of thinking. Rice is usually the answer to everything. But surely they don’t mean to eat rice or rub it with rice. So I’m sure it stands for something like “Rub It Carefully Everyday”??

(It means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation for all you perfectly coordinated people who don’t fall over, like me.)

Anyway, I stumbled along with my sore thumb. I refused to whinge about my pain. I didn’t complain or make a big deal about it. I was secretly all high and almighty and proud of myself. “I DON’T DO INJURIES. Pfft I don’t need ice. Or rice.” I turned door knobs. Held sandwiches. Flipped pancakes. I did all the things that a being with opposing thumbs is destined to do.

But after 3 weeks of pain, I swallowed my pride and asked various people for advice about my injury.

I got no sympathy. Everyone seemed to tease me about how minor my injury was. They told me stories about the MUCH bigger knee, ankle, neck, arm and back traumas they had suffered over the years. And they told me that it was too late for self applied RICE. Apparently, I needed professional advice…

And the advice came in the form of a wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

You see, throughout my research… I heard that a girlfriends’ husband’s friend’s sister… swears that there is a hot-looking, young physiotherapist with “talented” hands, who specialises in netball injuries, who will assess everything from ankle injuries, to ahem, groin injuries… (and presumably thumb injuries?) and who gives excellent RICE. WINK WINK.

Hmph. Thanks A LOT guys.

I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m sure the pain will just go away after a few days right? It just needs more time to rest. And less netball.

But… is this rumour true? Is this mythical Physio actually real? Is he really talented? Is he really hot? Does he really see all the injured netball girls in town?

I guess I’ll never know the answers to these questions… because I’m *much* too proud to let some Physio-cassanova RICE my ouchie :P


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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 7:30mins/km and my overall time was 1hour 30seconds – which is pretty slow for me. That pace is like a brisk kind of jog, 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.